Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pumpkin flour

One decent sized pumpkin, roasted in the oven whole until soft. I had cut a hole in the top and scooped the seeds out prior to cooking. I then puréed it and passed it through a sieve, and then spread over a lined tray.

It was then placed in to an oven at 50 degrees Celsius, with the door held ajar with a spoon. it stayed in there for about 8 hours, near the end I tore up the 'leather' and placed it on a rack, and back in the oven until completely dry.

It was then blitzed in a blender (it still needs a bit more grinding). I'm not 100% sure what I'm going to do with this, I'm thinking pasta or gnocchi.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Salt, Salmon and grapefruit!

The Grapefruit

No, not together. I mentioned a couple of posts ago that we bought a few bits and pieces and smoked salt was in the basket. Well it got put to good use again for a quick and easy dessert, nice big chunks of grapefruit and smoked salt. The great thing about salt is it blocks out bitterness, unlike sugar which just masks it.

The grapefruit was juicy, not overly sweet, and had 0% bitterness because of the salt, and a slight hint of smoke.

Try taking a glass of tonic and adding salt to it, you'll be hard pressed to taste the bitter quinine in it. Also good with coffee. I've had a bit of a hunt around and can't find a reason exactly why the salt works. I've dropped a line to cookingissues, hopefully they answer it on their next radio show.

Update: The question was answered, go here to listen to the radio show. Basically the salt alters the way your taste receptors interrupt bitterness (maybe). Subscribe to the radio show via podcast

Salmon and Pasta

AND yet another super quick dinner. 1 packet of good (the best you can afford) hot smoked salmon, cream, shallot, peas (frozen are fine, in fact usually better than fresh, unless you grew them yourself), wine, salt, pesto.

Get your pasta on to boil (I used spaghetti). In a pan soften finely diced shallots in a little olive oil. Add wine and reduce. Once reduced, add pesto, and then cream. Turn the heat to low, and add peas. By now your pasta is cooked. Put your pasta in to the sauce (a bit of cooking water is OK, it helps spread the sauce), flake in the hot smoked salmon and stir through until warm. Serve.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Well the better half insisted on dessert last night, and I have been saving a tin of black doris plums for a Clafoutis.

Preheat the oven to 180C

In a bowl mix:
1 1/4 cups of milk
1/3 cup sugar (vanilla if you have it, other wise add vanilla too)
3 eggs
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup of flour

Generously grease a brownie tin with butter, and I mean generously! and place in to the hot oven for about 3-4 minutes to heat the dish up. Pour in about 1/4 of the mix in to the dish and cook for about 5 minutes until it firms up, take out of the oven and place the fruit onto the batter (you can use any fruit you want, cherries are very tasty and traditional) and then sprinkle over another 1/3 of a cup of sugar. Pour over the rest of the batter and return to the oven, cook for 45-60 minutes. Its cooked when it's golden brown and all puffed up, set in the middle but still has a slight wobble.

Orange Salad

A good day out shopping in the weekend, slightly disappointing lunch (they had just sold the last lamb brain before I ordered). But got home with some goodies, elderflower cordial, buffalo mozzarella, smoked salt, paprika and more vacuum bags.

I whipped up a quick salad for a light afternoon tea, and really wanted to taste the smoked salt. I tore up some of the mozzarella, sliced a little onion paper thin, supreme an orange, laid it out on the plate drizzled some olive oil and orange juice over it, and sprinkled over the smoked salt.

Went really well with my elderflower (vodka) & soda.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Snack Attack

Late at night watching Anthony Bourdain chow down on some tasty food in Macau, gave me one serious case of the munchies, but nothing all that suitable in the pantry, farmhouse cheese-yep, tomatoes-yep, carb vessel to put them in my mouth-nope.

So cracker making time it was, and sped up by my recent purchase, the vacuum sealer.

The recipe is dead simple, I use this ratio
1 Cup Flour
80 ml Water
25 ml Oil/Fat
Salt & Pepper

Mix the flour and fat in a processor until forms a sand like crumb, then tip into a bowl and mix in the water a bit at a time until a firm dough forms.

Wrap the dough tightly and let it rest for about 60 minutes so the flour can hydrate. Or seal it in a vacuum machine and rest for about 10-15 minutes. (While it rests, heat the oven to 230°C).

Between two sheets of baking paper (or use a pasta machine) roll the dough out thinly and evenly. Score the rolled out dough, so it's easy to break apart when cooked, a pizza wheel is pretty good as it reduces drag on cut edges that happens with a knife.

Bake for about 10-15 minutes, keep an eye on it, as it goes from cooked perfectly to burnt mess pretty easy. Take out of the oven and cool on a rack.

The recipe is pretty adaptable, you could make a fat free version, or a no water version, or a cheese instead of fat version.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The pressure cooked shin

Pulled out the trusty pressure cooker for stewed beef shins.

Firstly, get you're vege ready, a fine dice of carrot, mushroom and onion, roughly chop some garlic. That's for the sauce.

Turn on the pressure cooker (mine's a plug in one), and set it to browning, brown your beef shins with a little olive oil until a nice golden crust forms. Then remove from pot.

Heap in your prepared vege and let them soften, then deglaze with a shot of brandy and once that has evaporated pour in about half a bottle of red wine, a couple of bay leaves, some thyme, pepper (salt at the end) and mustard. Reduce until you have about 1/3 of a cup of liquid left.

Once reduced put the beef back in, lock the lid and cook on high pressure for about 25 minutes.

While the meat is cooking cut up some mushrooms and carrots to bite size pieces, turn a few small potatoes and slice up some fresh herbs.

When 25 minutes is up, let the pot release its pressure naturally for 10 minutes then release it manually. Remove the beef and if needed reduce the liquid further.

Then add the new vege to the pot and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes and at the end release the pressure manually.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

24 hour bread

Butter chicken was the plan for dinner the other night, we had the thighs defrosting in the fridge and when we got home from work and pulled them out, they we're still frozen, bugger. And we had already whipped up a batch of dough to make flat breads with too.

So like all resourceful cooks, I suggested making a dal or vege curry, the other half insisted in ordering in curry, I lost.

At the end of the night cleaning up the take-away mess, we realised that we hadn't used our bread dough sitting on the bench. So there it sat for a full 24 hours, bubbling and fermenting away.

It finally got cooked last night, turned into a focaccia style bread, with thyme, salt and olive oil drizzled over it. turned out light, and tasty with a nice sour bite from the extra long fermentation.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sirloin and sun-choke

Sirloin marinating with garlic, bay leaf and lemon peel (in a vacuum bag, yay to new toys)

Served medium rare, with crushed potato and sunchoke (Jerusalem artichoke), sauteed green beans and finished with a Calvados sauce

Best steak for a long time, melted in the mouth and had a great taste, totally in love with the vacuum sealer.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Vacuum Sealer

Well I finally bought one, a Food saver 4400, which seemed like an OK choice, the next model up cost $100 more, and had, as far as I could tell the same pump in it, just more buttons.

I got it home, and it has only the one option for vacuuming bags "vacuum and seal", which quite frankly I could get similar results with a zip-lock bag and sink full of water.

The other buttons on the machine are "canister" for connecting a hose from a nozzle on the machine to a proprietary canister sunbeam produce or a wine bottle. And "seal", which obviously seals bags.

I had a look into the next model up and they had a button called "pulse" which lets you control how hard or soft the vacuum on the bag is. That's what you pay $100 more for.

But I didn't want to give up on my purchase. I figured, the model I bought and the model above it were essentially the same machine just different programming (although, I think they probably use the same controller board and the model above has additional buttons, a lot like some brands of washing machines do).

Not wanting to open it up (as i could still probably return it and pay the extra $100 for the next model up), I thought about how the canister function would work, it sucks out air and doesn't stop until you release the button. Surely they're not going to cut of suction from the internal nozzles of the machine to use the external nozzle, more moving parts cost more.

So I chucked in a bag, hit the canister button, and what do you know it started pulling air out of the bag. So for a $100 less I get the same functions as the next model up, just from a slightly different approach. And I get as hard or soft of a vacuum as I want on the bag.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chicken in cream sauce, and a couple extras

Sometimes you can't be bothered trying too hard for dinner. Tasty bacon, farm house cheese, rocket, onion and mustard in a hot toasted bun.

Mint Julep, oh so tasty

Some chicken stock with mushroom stalks and peel simmering to extract the mushroom goodness

Mixture of shallots, diced mushroom, carrot and herbs sweating down

Browned chicken added to the mix and topped up with some of the mushroom stock

The liquid was reduced and finished with some cream to make a sauce. Served on top of crushed potato and celeriac and smothered in rich creamy goodness.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Recipe found in a 1970s preserving cookbook, I cant read it tho!

Bed of veg for some pork shoulder

Pork Shoulder, scored and ready for the oven (it got the tinfoil treatment, see here)

Layers of potato, fennel, and shallots repeated and then topped with stock and baked.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Photo post part 2

Roasted Chicken drumsticks with fennel/potato salad and glazed carrots

Sliced fennel

There are heaps of photos in this post so you'll have to click continue to see them all...