Sunday, 9 March 2014

Seaweed Salad

NAME: _Seaweed Salad

Sheets of thin seaweed. (See Notes)
2 tbsp rice wine
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp light soya
1 tsp rock or sea salt
1 shallot

Cut the seaweed sheet into 2mm strips with scissors, place in a saucepan with plenty of water and bring to a boil, then immediately remove from heat, strain, and rinse. Set aside. (This step removes the sand and salt dust adhering to the seaweed and softens it preparatory to the next step.)

Meanwhile, in the saucepan, combine the liquid ingredients, salt, and a few thin slices of shallot, place over medium heat, add the seaweed back once the liquid has warmed through, stir several times, and allow to simmer gently until the seaweed is at the required degree of doneness. (I tend to leave a lot of texture in it.)

Turn out into a bowl and allow to cool in refrigerator.

As a side with many Asian dishes, or just over steamed rice, an excellent flavour and

I've used a few kinds of seaweed, the really crispy kinds that are used for nori and sushi rolls are NOT suitable, neither are the dyed green ones. You want naturally-dried seaweed and kelp for this dish. Or if you can pick it up fresh, that's even better. Remember that most kinds of seaweed are edible, but do consult a foraging website or manual first.


Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Roast Potatoes and Paprika Cream Vegetables

NAME: _Roast Potatoes and Paprika Cream Vegetables

8 small potatoes
1 zucchini
6 yellow button squash
1 green capsicum
1 medium carrot
1 tin crushed tomatoes
sprig rosemary
1 tbsp paprika powder
4 cloves garlic
1 litre chicken stock)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup yoghurt
100g sharp cheddar
small qty dripping or butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Scrub and then boil potatoes in salted water. Place sprig of rosemary in water for five minutes then remove and set aside. Keep boiling until potatoes are soft, then set aside to cool. Meanwhile, boil stock to reduce to about half, then add the tinned tomatoes, garlic cloves, paprika, and the sliced carrot.

While this is simmering place the potatoes into a suitable baking dish, and crush crush the top of each potato, then add a pat of butter or dripping, several rosemary needles, some flaked salt, and enough crumbled cheddar cheese to top. Use a spoon or ladle to drizzle some of the stock and tomato over the potatoes, place in the oven at 210C.

Quarter the zucchini lengthways and chop roughly into cubes, similarly dice the button squash and capsicum. Add to the sauce, as well as a few needles of rosemary. Once the vegetables have softened but are not yet mushy, stir in the sour cream and turn the heat off.

Potatoes are done when the cheese and sauce topping browns slightly.

Serve two potatoes pressed flat so they open up, top with vegetables, and spoon a dollop of yoghurt over. Serve at once.

Something about yoghurt/sour cream and a salty paprika/tomato sauce is irresistible. If you use vegetable stock and olive oil, this is a vegetarian meal.


Monday, 3 March 2014

Fennel and Turmeric Rabbit Stew

NAME: _Fennel and Turmeric Rabbit Stew

1 kg rabbit
3 tbsp fat (I used half rabbit dripping, half olive oil)
3 - 4 cm of turmeric root
1 large or two mall fennel bulbs plus some stems and leaves
1 large brown onion
3 cloves garlic
2 carrots
1 parsnip
3 potatoes
3 tbsp mustard (American or Dijon)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp flour

Joint the rabbit, salt very lightly, and fry the pieces slowly, reducing the heat to braise for about 10 further minutes once it has slightly browned. Remove pieces from pan and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, peel and rough chop the onion, garlic, and fennel and a few sections of fennel stem and leaves if you have them, add to the pan on low heat, allow to braise slowly. After ten minutes grate the turmeric onto the onions, add the mustard and stir through, then remove the meat from the bones and cube to about 3cm, add to the pan, cover and allow to cook slowly for around 20 minutes, adding splashes of water if necessary to keep it moist.

Peel and dice the carrots, parsnip, and potatoes, dice, and add to the pot along with a few glasses of water, season to taste. Keep simmering until the vegetables are at the desired softness, mix the flour with a few tablespoons of water and add just enough to thicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Can be reheated but doesn't really gain anything, and besides, it's going to get eaten up anyway...

You can add a sprinkle of nutmeg. And as to the rabbit dripping, you can use lard or beef or all olive oil or any combination - I just like that my rabbits have enough body fat to make dripping from. %) The mustard needs to have some bite but not overpower. I used Mild English in fact, but Dijon or American would have been better.


Thursday, 27 February 2014

Paprika Potatoes

NAME: _Paprika Potatoes

2 - 3 potatoes
50 g butter
3 tbsp water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sweet paprika
3 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp mayonnaise

Peel the potatoes and cube around 2cm in size. Place in a saucepan with the butter and water, add half of the half teaspoon of salt and about a quarter of the paprika. Bring to a gentle simmer and allow to simmer until all the water has evaporated.

Fold together the sour cream, mayonnaise, remaining salt and paprika in a bowl. When the butter in the saucepan begins to brown and the paprika becomes fragrant, turn off the heat, allow to cool slightly, and add the cream mixture.

Use as a side carb to tomato chilli based meals. Serve immediately. Sprinkle with chopped parsley if desired.



Sunday, 12 January 2014

Moroccan Chicken Wrapchiladas

NAME: _Moroccan Chicken "Wrapchiladas"

1 side of a chicken breast
1 brown onion
1 cup basmati rice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tin brown lentils
1 tbsp besan flour
1-2 tbsp ras al hanout
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup water
100g goat feta
1 cup rough cut parsley

coriander and cumin seed wraps.
6 lebanese flatbreads around 20cm diameter
3 tbsp coriander seeds
3 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp olive oil

tomato basting sauce
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp ras al hanout
1 tsp salt

Ras Al Hanout
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Make the Ras al Hanout by thoroughly mixing the spices in the ingredients list, set aside. Either make the flatbread wraps, or buy them ready-made. The ready made ones are a trifle thin, but they are useable. To make, brush lebanese flat breads with olive oil, sprinkle with the mixed spice seeds, and roll with a bottle or rolling pin to embed the seeds.

Simmer the rice in 2 cups of water and about a teaspoon of salt until water is absorbed, set aside, and fluff up once or twice while making other ingredients.

Skin the chicken breast and cut into 1cm or slightly smaller sticks, cutting with the grain of the meat. Peel the onion and slice into around 12 - 16 segments lengthways. Fry in the 2 tbsp olive oil until the onios begin to brown slightly, then add the ras al hanout and fry for about two minutes more, until the spices are fragrant, then add the tomato paste and water, allow to thicken to almost dry consistency again, take off heat and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, mix the tomato paste, water, spice, and salt to make the basting sauce. Cut about half the goat feta into small 5mm - 1cm cubes, keep the rest chilled until needed. Drain and rinse the lentils.

Hand mix the rice, lentils, chicken, and parsley in a large bowl, then heap 1/6th of the mixture onto each wrap, add some cubed feta cheese into each portion, roll into a tube, and place into baking dish with the seam side down. Brush with the basting sauce, crumble the remaining feta cheese over, and bake in a medium oven (185C) for 25 minutes.

May be served immediately hot, or cold. Serve with a green salad.

Ras al Hanout (there will be heaps left over) keeps in a sealed jar for months. It's not as hard as it looks so take it step by step, and -


Thursday, 14 November 2013

Plantain Peregrinations

NAME: _Narrow Leafed Plantain (plantago lanceolata)

Haven't posted in a while, been a bit busy with a local food issue. Narrow leaf plantain (plantago lanceolata) is the name for the plantain that isn't a cooking banana. It's a green leafed low plant that you can look up online, and it's an introduced weed in Australia. It's also classed as edible, grows in quantity around our area and probably elsewhere as well, and no-one's really considered its culinary uses.

I tried it in all the time-honoured but unimaginative methods that wild food people seem to suggest - steam it, use the seeds in stews, in a salad since it's a leafy green. The last one is a bit strange - it's the equivalent of saying "cabbage (or silverbeet) is a green, so you can just make a salad with it. It doesn't work with strong flavours like that, and plantain is bitter. So in this instance "edible" came with qualifiers that I didn't llike.

So my first order of the day was to get rid of some of the bitterness without losing the nutritional value (whatever that may be, see NOTES) of the vegetable. Enter Sandor Katz and his excellent books and website on wild fermentation. The rest, as they say, is history.

The thing that turned out the best for me has been a cross between pickling and wild fermentation, followed by processing as per normal. I dealt with the plants in mid spring, when the flowers have grown and dropped, and the seed production is about to start. It is a weed after all, so we should comply with directives to pull it up and prevent it reseeding. I just couldn't deal with the entire patch at one time....

I pulled up entire plantain plants roots and all, then cut the bunches and pulled out the flower head stems and browned leaves (about 10% of the leaves had too much browning for me to want to try them) and fed those to my livestock. About four large plantain plants was enough leaves around 15cm - 25cm in length to almost half fill a shopping bag.

These were taken indoors and to the sink, where I washed them, cut of the rest of the stemmy bits for the livestock, and pushed the leaves into around a one litre glass jar that has been sterilised for preserving. (A coffee jar was fine.) Then I made a hot brine by boiling about 1.5 litres of water with 5 dessertspoons of rock salt, allowed that to cool a bit, and filled the jar to the top, shaking often to get bubbles out, pressing with a wooden spoon to make sure all the air really was out between the leaves, and closed the jar up.

It takes about a week for the bitterness to migrate out of the leaves and the water will go a bit darker when that has happened. At that stage, you can use the leaves cooked with spinach or silverbeet, or as a last minute addition to a meal for the greens, or (this is about to be tested) with cooked fettucine pasta and lightly fried in olive oil with onion and garlic, pasta added last.

The seed or flower heads are quite solid, not quite as bitter as the leaves, and frying in butter seems to make them quite palatable. Could be used as a green addition to a stew or other meal, or in a stir-fry. Seems the salted butter is needed though to take the edge off first. (Or maybe I'll try experiments to test salting and brining before use, if so this article will be updated.)

As I said, leaves are a good supplemental green with stews and the like, or as a side dish. Once brined, I imagine that it would also be great in a frittata or vege/egg style bake. The seed heads make a good vegetable added to stews.

I'll add recipes as I try them and find them to be good, because this is another example of a good resource being wasted because of the classification as a weed.

I have no idea the nutritional value of plantain. Because it IS a weed, it by definition is good at absorbing nutrients from the soil, so it should provide a load of nutrients. Because the brining process will tend to concentrate the nutrients, that should make it a valuable supplement to meals.

Also because it is so good at absorbing things from the soil, perhaps avoid using plantains that grow by roadsides or other possibly polluted spots, to avoid ingesting whatever they may have gotten from here. (Roadsides = lead, rubbish tips etc = every industrial pollutant known to man, to name just two bad locations to harvest from.) It's probably still better for you at that than a commercially grown spinach or lettuce, but when a walk of a hundred yards more can get you clean healthy plants, why not go the extra?

Also, if a plant was to somehow able to drop seeds in a clean spot, the resulting plants wouldn't have any traces of the pollutants, so as self-seeded plants progress away from a less desirable are, they'd be okay to harvest.


Thursday, 7 November 2013

Stuffed Capsicum Rebooted

NAME: _Stuffed Capsicum Reboot

3 or four large capsicums
250g beef mince
250g cooked rice
1 medium brown onion
1/2 cup beef stock
1 tbsp beef dripping
1 tsp salt
additional salt to sprinkle
1 mediterranean red chilli
1/2 cup chopped sage leaves
1/2 cup mint leaves
juice of one lemon
about 50g goat cheese
(optional) another 100g goat cheese.

Dice the onion finely, add to frying pan along with the beef dripping and beef. Clean and finely chop the chilli, and when meat and onions have definitely browned in the pan, add the chilli, salt, cooked rice, chopped sage, and chop and add half the mint leaves, retaining the rest for garnish. Fry for about two more minutes then turn off the heat, add the stock, stir well, and set aside.

Cut capsicums in half lengthways and clean, remove the stems seeds and internal soft walls. Press out flat with the palm of the hand, then sprinkle lightly with salt on the flesh side. Now roast the capsicum halves over a flame such as the gas burner, until it begins to blacken in spots and starts smelling sweet.

Lay the roasted capsicum in the bottom of a casserole or other oven proof dish, and microwave on high for three minutes, then spoon over half the meat and rice mixture. Break up the goat cheese into fingernail sized lumps and scatter these over the mixture, then add the remaining meat and rice in a flat layer. At this point, if desired, crumble the optional goat cheese over the surface.

Sprinkle the lemon juice over and place in oven at 180C for about 45 minutes, until the surface begins to brown.

Serve hot or cold, garnished with remaining mint leaves.

I made this because I wanted to re-imagine the humble mezze of stuffed capsicum. Mezzes in the Mediterranean are made to eat hot or cold, and consisted of the ingredients to hand. Not limited to stuffed tomatoes and capsicums, either, mezzes are a convenience food of sorts, and served at any time as a starter, breakfast, or lunch, and consist of a whole range of snack-sized foods. We eat stuffed capsicums as a whole main meal, and I've often had disliked the way capsicums cook unevenly, fillings tend to get drowned in juices, and the fact that to me it is a snack and it looks wrong served as a main. The rebooted version takes away those perception problems I have with the dish.



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