Monday, December 13, 2010

Chips and Gravy = Yum!


Who ever invented the idea of having french fries and gravy is a complete genius. And the ultimate expression of this combination of foods has to be poutine, french fries topped with cheese curds and lavishly drenched in rich gravy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Asparagus and Eggs tonight


This is from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, a super simple and tasty way to enjoy asparagus [original] [River Cottage Spring]

Ingredients
2 large eggs, at room temperature
A dozen slim stems of asparagus, any woody ends trimmed
A knob of unsalted butter
A few drops of cider vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Carefully lower in the eggs, then simmer them for exactly 4 minutes. Steam the asparagus over the top of the boiling eggs, or cook in a separate pan in boiling water for a couple of minutes. The asparagus should be tender but not soft and floppy.
  2. Transfer the eggs to egg cups. Cut the top off each egg and take them to the table with the asparagus. Drop a nut of butter, a few drops of cider vinegar and some salt and pepper into the hot yolk (alternatively, just sprinkle some salt and pepper on the plate), stir with a bit of asparagus, dip and eat.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Artichokes


Before I cooked my first artichoke, they fell in to the hard much easier to avoid category. But nothing could be further from the truth, they are easy to prep and just as simple to cook.

To prep the artichoke make sure you have a lemon half handy and a bowl of cold water with lemon juice in it (this stops it oxidizing and turning brown). Trim the tough outer leaves off near the stem, wiping the cut surfaces with the lemon half, then trim the stem down so it's about 2cm long (or all the way off if it's particularly thin), wipe all cuts with the lemon. Place the artichoke in the bowl of water until ready to cook.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a simmer (with a squeeze of lemon). Place the artichokes in the pot and cook for 15-30 minutes. When they're done an outer leaf should pull easily away from the base.

Now the fun part, eating! First melt some butter (seasoned with whatever you like. Garlic, anchovy, lemon etc). Then pull off a leaf and dip it in the butter and scrape the flesh off the inside of the leaf. Once you've worked your way through all of the leaves, you'll get down to the choke (soft fuzzy center of the flower) scrape it out with a spoon and discard. Then you'll be left with the soft tasty heart.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Silverbeet (chard)


We have a good bunch of Silverbeet growing in our pots at home (Ruby & Yellow Chard), along with a several varieties of spinach.

With a big bunch of leaves I trimmed the steams of and roughly chopped the leaves into large pieces, and sliced up the stems. In a frying pan sautéed some chopped bacon until it had rendered all it's fat out and started to go crispy. Then I added some sliced onions and let them soften and slowly caramelise in the oh so good bacon fat. Next the stems get thrown in and left to soften slightly and finally the leaves which take no time at all to wilt down.

Dish up in a bowl and devour. The salt from the bacon combats the bitter from the Chard, very tasty snack.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hydrocolloid

Got a sample of N-Zorbit (Tapioca Maltodextrin) coming my way from National Starch (www.foodinnovation.com), so looking forward to experimenting with it. I have a couple of ideas I want to try out so quite excited.

A couple of links..
Texture – A hydrocolloid recipe collection
Powdered Yuzu
Powdered Chocolate
Olive Oil Powder

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bread Dough


basic bread dough (great for pizza)

1kg Strong(Bread) Flour (a mix of fine semolina (flour) and strong wheat flour makes for a crunchier crust)
600 ml Warm Water
1 Tbsp Yeast
Salt to Taste (flour can take a lot of salt)
Pinch of sugar

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water and let it sit for about 10 minutes until the yeast blooms (froths).

Work the flour and salt in to the the liquid bringing together and then tip out on to a work surface and kneed for about 10 minutes (until the dough is smooth and elastic).

Put in a covered bowl and let sit for about 30 minutes to an hour (until it has at least doubled in size, depending on room temperature etc this could take longer than an hour).

Once it has doubled you could pull off balls and roll out in to pizza bases, but it is better to knock it back and let it double in size again.

Take a chunk of dough about the size of an orange and on a floured surface roll out with a rolling pin making sure it doesn't stick. I prefer a thin base for my pizza but you can have what ever thickness you desire, just add a minute or two for cooking times.

Place a tray on the middle shelf of your oven and heat to 225°C (fan if you have it)

Once the oven is hot, and your pizza assembled (best to do this just before it goes in the oven).
Take the tray out of the oven and slide the pizza on to it and put back in the oven (I find it easiest to have the pizza on a sheet of baking paper and transfer that to the tray).

If you have a thinnish base and not overloaded with toppings the pizza should only take 10 minutes max.

You can easily get 6 - 8 thin crust pizzas from the quantities in this recipe.

You can also use it to make pita breads.
  1. Don't use semolina in the dough mix.
  2. Use a smaller ball of dough and don't roll too thick.
  3. Have the tray in the lower third of the oven and temperature the highest your oven will go.
  4. Place the rolled out dough on the tray (don't take it out of the oven, but be careful not to burn yourself)
  5. They will take about 2 minutes to cook.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tortillas (pancakes/omlette) with shrimp

OK, well pics may come later, and this recipe comes from Mark Bittman, his blog/show is a guilty pleasure, I can't stand his personality, but he comes up with some great things to cook.

1 cup water
1/2 cup chickpea flour (besan/gram flour)
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup shallots/spring onions
1/2 cup shrimp
3 tbspn coriander (or other leafy green herb)
1/2 tsp baking powder
Enough Olive Oil to cook with...

1. Mix dry and then add liquid to make a thick batter (like double cream).

2. Heat oil in a hot pan then cook on a med-high heat 3min 1st side, 3 min 2nd side, 30 sec 1st side,

Butter makes the world better


Is there nothing butter can not improve?

Butter Burgers

In a bowl mix together with your hands minced beef, a couple of good tablespoons of tomato paste, garlic powder (if using fresh garlic, finely grate it in(or crush it) you can also add grated onion too, but make sure you use a fine grater so it produces a pulp), and grated butter.

Then roll up balls of the meat mix and flatten out in to patties, ready to fry or bbq (I usually can't be bothered with the clean up that comes with a fry up on the stove, so chucked them in a super hot oven)

The meat patty, slice of tomato, cheese, and tomato relish with a bit of aioli on a toasted bun = super tasty burger. After it had been scoffed down, i remembered i had some home made pickled beets in the fridge that should of got between the buns but oh well next time.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A couple of quackers


Roast duck was on order for the weekend (above photo is after the birds had been drying out in the fridge for 24 hours).

As I had never roasted a whole duck before, a bit of research was in order, and in the end decided Crispy Chinese Duck was in order.

Salted Caramel Peanuts


These are super simple and great tasting.

Put into a pot over a medium heat about 1 cup of raw peanuts, 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sugar.

Let it simmer until the liquid caramelizes (stirring occasionally, too much stirring will cause crystals to form which can seize the caramel), be careful near the end as there is a fine line between burnt sugar and a nice dark caramel.

Sprinkle into the pot about 1/2 tsp of salt, pour onto a tray lined with baking paper and spread out to a single layer.

When cooled slightly, sprinkle over salt (if it's too hot the salt with dissolve in to the caramel).

When completely cool, break into individual nuts.

Should store well for about a week, but they wont last that long.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lotto...

NZ lotto simulator, find out just how much money you need to spend to win! [here]

Semolina...


It's crazy how supermarkets bury away the cheaper options on their shelves. This weeks shop we were hunting for some polenta (we have a preferred brand) but could only find $6+ packets of the stuff, after a hunt managed to find our favorite brand in the "international" section (which is usually more expensive) for only $3. Also the same for fine semolina, 500g packs were all above the $6 mark, which is crazy expensive, but then when checking out the Instant Pudding section found a pack for $3.

Well the polenta and semolina got put to good use last night, Polenta with grilled sausages and ratatouille. Semolina apart from being able to make tasty pudding from it, and creating a great crust on breads/pizza, loosens polenta so it doesn't set into the firm brick it usually does.

Semolina/Polenta
125g each of Fine Semolina & Instant Polenta
2 Litres of Water/Stock (+salt if just water)
Big knob of butter

Bring the water with the butter to a boil and then scatter in the mixed polenta/semolina while whisking so no lumps form. Stir on the heat until the desired consistency is reached. Take off the heat and serve as is, or stir in some cheese (last night stirred in a good portion of ricotta which enhanced the creamy texture).

Ratatouille
Well probably not the traditional recipe but was tasty. Browned off some onions, shallots & garlic in a pan then added cubed eggplant, sliced carrots & diced capsicum with a good bunch of sage, thyme & bay leaves. Seasoned and then added a can and half of good quality tomato.

Either leave it to simmer on a stove or chuck it in the oven for about 45 min (although I think you could probably leave it longer).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Quick and Easy


Nothing to complicated for us tonight, we had some good beef sausages, and a whole heap of veges.

We had beetroot, parsnip, onion, carrots and potatoes, seasoned them and then roasted them for about half an hour and then added in the sausages with a dressing made from mustard, cider vinegar and capers, and then finished them off for about another half hour.

Bit too lazy tonight, but thought a nice mushroom gravy to finish it off with would be nice.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wrapped up...



Had some tasty skirt steak last night, coated in white pepper, coriander, garlic and chili powder. Grilled it on the stove and finished in the oven. We had it in tortillas with a raw beetroot salad and sour cream.

Beetroot Salad: Peel and julianne Beets, grate in carrot, thinly sliced spinach, dress with oil, lemon and mustard.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A must do pork dish...

Caught a recipe by Michael Chiarello on Food TV the other day and had to try it out.

Check out the recipe here

We served it with tortillas, pickled onions & salad greens, very tasty.

Pesto



This is a really simple, cheap and tasty pesto.

Ingredients
Parsley (I used Curly, not the continental parsley)
Basil (about 1/4 the amount of parsley)
Chunk of Parmesan
Clove or 2 of garlic
Cashew nuts (I find the sweetness and high oil content of these nuts balance the parsley really well)
Water (a couple of tablespoons)
Olive Oil (about 1/4 of a cup or more)
Salt and Pepper
Lemon Juice

Method
Chuck everything (minus the oil and water) in a blender/food processor and blitz until roughly chopped up (you may have to scrape down a couple of times). Then add the water and blitz again, then the oil (add enough until you get a thick paste).

Season with salt and pepper to taste, and toss through some hot pasta.