November 2003

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2003.

Bircher Muesli

Everything muesli promises and more without the masticative toil. The only trick to this is being able to prepare for events over 8 hours in the future. I often lack this skill so spend my mornings filled with regret.

The night before:

3 cups of rolled oats, 1 cup of OJ, two cups of milk and any chopped up dried fruits on hand. Mixed in a bowl, gladwrapped and left in the fridge.

In the morning:

Add a chopped banana, a grated apple, some yoghurt, a bit of honey, and some nuts ,one of which was sunflower seeds, for crunch.

Stir well and that’s it.

Tastier, healthier and easier to eat than muesli and day long carbo power.

Noodles with Beef and Oyster Sauce

I learnt two things today. Bruce Lee’s original name was a girl’s name in Chinese because his parents had already lost a son and wanted to fool the evil spirits – and this is seeming pretty stupid as I’m typing this but then again he’s the original Boy Named Sue. Anyway he was big on protein and would use raw beef in his smoothies which also seems a pretty stupid story, regardless, his favourite dish was Beef with Oyster Sauce. Quite reasonable no?

My wife who, with her two sisters, happens to have homophonic boy’s names because her father feared evil spirits would take away their car fixing and football playing skills, wanted noodles. Interestingly enough, her Dad is also called Bruce.

Beef: thinly sliced rump marinated in a splash of oil, sesame oil, and soy – purely out of habit

Flavour – one thinly sliced red chilli pepper, a tablespoon or so of ginger, crushed garlic clove and a few thinly sliced white ends of spring onions.

Greens – chopped bok choy

Heat the wok until hot hot, add some peanut (groundnut) oil, added the falvour bits and stir-fried for 30 secinds before adding the beef and stirring until almost cooked.

In went the bok choy for a quick stir and then in went a packet of egg noodles (microwaved for 90 seconds to soften although soaking in a boiling water takes out the oil) with a cup of beef stock. Covered and left for two minutes, then a tablespoon or two of oyster sauce, All stirred and served.

Crepes with Bananas

Skipped dinner and went straight to desert. Couldn’t remember how to make batter. Tsk Tsk.

So here it is. Cup of flour, an egg, teaspoon of baking soda, a cup of milk, a dab of melted butter and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Is the first pancake always a dud? The successful two had the slice banana put at one end with a line of golden syrup and rolled with some ice cream on top

Black Pudding with Poached Eggs and Mushrooms

More or less taken from a Jamie Oliver recipe in Delicious magazine

Not quite the fry up I really needed as most of the booze had worked its way off in the 3k walk home at 1:30am in the optimistic hope that a taxi would eventually come along. The beer drinking also tapered off after the 98th minute loss by the Wallabies to England. Not normally one for displays of nationalism, I kicked out the jams here and spent the last half of the game in a kind of anxiety usually reserved for those awaiting the outcome of a biopsy. No joy but had to be gracious in defeat and the only bum note was watching our spotlight mugging PM handing out the medals to the English team like a tubby kid being forced to share his Tim Tams with his friends. Shameful really.

Anyway nothing tricky here. Eggs poached as before, mushrooms fried whole in a pan, the black pudding sliced to about half a cm and fried until cooked then all put on a bit of lightly toasted rye bread. The black pudding distintegrated while cooking so it looked a mess.

Not bad, the pudding was mostly salty and probably gave me all the iron I needed for a month.

When’s cricket?

Porterhouse with a Green Peppercorn Sauce

Having my wish for pizza collectively declined we decided to go for steak and four bits of porterhouse sitting there at closing time at the butchers at Herdies.

A bit of olive oil and pepper chucked into the bag with the steaks and left while I made the sauce.

I think this is the first time I’ve made a peppercorn sauce and did a bit of guessing, not having the recipe handy. A single shallot very finely chopped and sauteed a little in some olive oil (no butter). A cup or so of beef stock was added and left to boil away until reduced by half, then a tub of (King Island Dairy on special) cream went in too. I also added a splash of lemon juice as I’ve got some idea in my head that it stops the cream from curdling when boiling. This may be complete rubbish but I’m too lazy to find out otherwise and it seemed to work. The cream was added a spoon at a time and whisked in.

I wasn’t sure when the peppercorns went in so I added a teaspoon, and then another later and kept tasting to see how it was going along. I ended up using about half of one of those tiny tins they come in. After about 5 minutes of simmering and whisking every the sauce was ready to go on the BBQ cooked steaks with the slices of eggplant, asparagus and yellow squash also cooked on the barbie.

I don’t know how similar it’d be with pedestrian cream but it was fantastic.

Black Pudding

Found some at Herdies Growers Fresh. Never had it, always wanted to after watching the

Goodies. Probably for Sunday fry-up after recovering from Wallaby victory in World Cup Rugby Finals.

Mushroom, Spinach and Polenta Lasagne

My grandmother told me off for talking about polenta like someone would, Fellini, as this charming peasant food was actual peasant food for her in the old country while she cooked for her two brothers as a girl. So this is not my grandmother’s recipe but was modified from Loukie Werle’s Splendido which I hadn’t looked at for a while.

This took about 2 hours plus all up so no not food for busy people but I had some time so why not?

A few parts:

-Polenta cooked (if you don’t know how, go and find out now and look up bechamel sauce while you’re at it) and spread out to a centimetre depth and left to cool in a shallow pan.

-Make some bechamel sauce.

-Swiss brown mushrooms cooked with some sauteed onion and garlic with some chopped FL parsley added at the end.

-Chopped spinach with some pine nuts goldened in olive oil for a bit of crunchy texture. Although my lazy spinach washing had already done the crunchy bit for me.

In a dish a layer of the cooled polenta, followed by a layer of the mushrooms , then half the white sauce, then another layer of polenta, then the spinach, then the bechamel sauce, then some Parmesan.

Cook covered in foil for 40 minutes at 180C then take off the foil and brown the top for 10.

That was it. It doesn’t have the neat layered look of the pasta lasagne, sort of spilling out into a kind of stew. Actually it reminded me of bread and butter pudding.

A nice enough substitute for time-rich people with a wheat allergy who hanker for lasagne.

Mmmm mmmm mmmmmm driving back from the Innaloo fish markets with two bits of salmon. A rare treat and while not thinking about this , I wondered what to do with it. Grilling is good but pretty pedestrian in Japan where it’s the breakfast equivalent of bacon. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

First look was in my copy of Cordon Bleu at Home which offered salmon in a lemon butter. This was the fallback. Next was Donna Hay’s book which is always good but miso with tahini seemed contrived and the jar of tahini in my fridge had become a keepsake. Next was a Japanese Orange Page omnibus which led me to the following.

Two salmon steaks with a marinade of:

a tablespoon of red miso

a tablespoon of cooking sake

a teaspoon or so of finely grated ginger

and marinated for 30 minutes

They were then wrapped in foil and cooked in the oven for 12 minutes at 180C. Nicely largely sized they weren’t quite cooked so I finished them off for a couple more minutes on a stove top griller. Then served with the spinach and a bit of lemon.

The Spinach:

This was saved from the juicer and chopped with a couple of spring onions. The spring onions were gently sauteed until a little soft and then the spinach was added with a splah of sake, cooked until softened and then a splash of garlic chili soy sauce* was added and then cooked a little longer.

Both were great the spinach was saved from my usual butter and nutmeg combo and the salmon was exquisite (all gushiness aside), the miso just adding a hint of saltiness and sake is a great keeper of moistness.

* this is just some soy sauce in a jar with a few dried chillies and a few garlic cloves.

Poached Eggs

Poaching liquid was as follows:

Equal parts one week old bottle of white wine and water.

2 dried chillies

2 bay leaves

12 peppercorns.

When simmering gently in went the eggs and out they came when cooked.

Very good.

Penne with Mushrooms

Pretensions of making a simple pasta sauce here and although I had a bunch of spinach to get rid of, it could wait until tomorrow’s juice.

The sauce was a tbs of olive oil, heated in a fry pan with a couple of thinly sliced garlic cloves. Next in went four reasonably finely chopped field mushrooms and left to saute adding a bit olive oil here and a dab of butter there to keep it moist as well as some chopped flat leaf parsley and sage and later, some pepper.

Onto the penne went the sauce. There should be about a tbs or two of juices, oil, and butter to coat the penne and it was all topped with some romano cheese.

It was good, I was happy, simple is good.

Sino-Indian Kentucky Cobbler

Putting liquor stores aside for a moment, there are few stores with a higher figure for (desirable stock/stock) x (variety/average price) than a fishmongers. They do, therefore, take a while to get out of. There are also a lot of status issues. Do I get a small amount of a better fish and be aspirationally cheap or go for the mullet special and hope that I’m regarded as a kind of low cost cognoscenti such as with whitebait or tripe? Today was cobbler fillets, which translates as budget boho.

Cobbler is also known as catfish, which calls for cajun spices. I didn’t have any so it became sino-indian with Kentucky skin cobbler. This came about because of Mike Brady Obsessive Disorder. The MBOD is for anything where one success is forever transferred into other inappropriate contexts. The best bit of 1990s Brady Movie is where Mike unveils his plan for a recreation centre which looks just like his home. Hitler, Jimmy Barnes, and Economics Rationalists – all sufferers.

The first spice was ground cumin seeds, which I think is usually part of cajun spices, is certainly part of a lot of Indian dishes, and is good with fish. Out of cayenne pepper so I reached back to an earlier success and used dry roasted for two minutes and crushed szechuan peppercorns. A teaspoon of both went in with half a cup of flour. Fondly remembering how good the crispy chicken was, I added a couple of tablespoons of potato starch (hence the Kentucky Fried skin). Plates are always messy for dusting so I just chuck the flour mix into a freezer bag. The fillets then follow, having been dipped in a beaten egg, and then the bag is given a shake.

Butter in the skillet until getting to brown and then in went the fillets until cooked.

The result was tasty for my wife but perhaps she was being nice or just not biting the hand that feeds her. The mix is worth a try but the peppercorns were quite sweet and so was the cumin which didn’t sit well with the egg. Perhaps a dry dusting with the flour mix would have been better. Worth a try though.

Asparagus Steached in White Wine

Asparagus is $1.50 a bunch.

Another small experiment. Given the size of my lidded frypan and the amount of white wine I had, the half submerged asparagus got both a steaming and a poaching.

A cup of white wine, half a cup of water, a few peppercorns in a lidded frypan and then in go the asparagus for a gentle steamy simmering for about five minutes.

I then kept the asparagus warm, boiled the wine until reduced to about a half. I also should have kept it as a base floavour for research purposes but chucked a few sprigs of thyme from the erb garden in as well. No harm done.

Melted a tablesoon of butter add a tablespoon of the reduced wine, stirred and then poured it over the asparagus.

Oh I’d also quickly seared the asparagus in the remnant grease of the mutton chops I’d cooked on one of those oven top grilling plates. The chops had been marinated in some balsamic vinegar and rosemary olive oil.

Eggs with Spinach in Ramekins

or as somebody kindly pointed out – you could also use a muffin tray.

Eggs with Spinach in Ramekins

I saw something like this somewhere but forgot where so I reconstructed it from memory. It was triggered by breakfast on Saturday at the New Norcia bakery which is part of the bakery owned by Catholic Monks in New Norcia. I’m not sure of the degree of their involvement, but in the light of current theological debates about exclusion, that they could find a place in their hearts, and cafe, for the miserable of wait staff. To the point, they had a special which was a piece of toast with the corners turned up to make a bowl and then the eggs are baked in the toast bowl. Simple but nifty.

Come Sunday I dug out four ramekins. Cooked some chopped spinach in the microwave and added a bit of butter and some nutmeg. Meanwhile I chopped up some asparagus and field mushrooms into small pieces and cooked them in some olive oil until the asparagus was cooked but crunchy. I then evenly distributed the mix into the ramekins, leaving a large enough indent for a whole egg, plus a bit. Broke an egg into each one and then topped up with some cream and ground some pepper on top. They were then put into the oven until cooked which took about 10 minutes I think and then eaten with toast. Good and less of a hassle than poaching.