Saturday, 10 December 2016

Mallow Yellow

NAME: _Chicken Molahia Lasagne

I only made two layers of filling, and yes, it does go that lovely
yellow from the curry. Sorry we'd already devoured half of it... 

250g - 500g chicken pieces, your choice dark white or both
40 - 80 fresh mallow leaves
(optional) similar volume of silver beet leaves
1 medium brown onion
3 cloves garlic
1 potato
1 carrot
1/2 cup grated pecorino
1/2 cup grated parmesan or romano
salt, pepper
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
chicken stock cube
plain flour
olive oil
7 corn tortillas

Wash the mallow leaves (and silver beet if using) well and set aside. Slice the chicken to 1cm square x 3cm long approximately. Chop the onion fine, chop the garlic very fine. Set each aside Grate the cheeses into separate bowls. Peel and dice the potato and carrot into 1cm dice and set aside. Chop the mallow leaves and the silverbeet leaves.

In a heavy base large saucepan place about a tablespoon each of butter and olive oil, heat. When hot enough to sizzle, add the onions and fry for about 3 -5 minutes, then add the chicken, fry for another 3 - 5 minutes then add the garlic, potatoes, carrots, cumin, and curry, fry for the same amount of time again. Add the mallow and silverbeet leaves.

Crumble the chicken cube over and add about half a cup to a cup of water, reducing the heat and then let simmer very low for about 30 minutes. You want the vegetable cubes soft but not too soft. (The mallow and silverbeet will be very soft by that stage. Perfect.) Add about two tablespoons of flour made up into a paste, stir through and warm gently until it thickens. Set aside. (You want a fairly stiff consistency to prevent the filling running, but not a floury stodge.)

Prepare an ovenproof dish that's wide enough to lay the tortillas in by brushing lightly with olive oil. Lay down the first layer of tortilla. (I cut two in half and space them round and interleave to make sure and cover all the way to the edge, Maybe cut a square from a spare one if you need to cover a hole in the middle.) Add a layer of the chicken/mallow filling, then lay another layer of tortillas, and so forth, finish with a layer of tortillas.

Melt butter in another saucepan, a splash of olive oil, then add around half a cup to a cup of plain flour, stirring constantly, Add the curry powder and cumin, plus half a teaspoon of salt. Begin adding around a cupful of milk while stirring, then add water to make a very thick roux, add in the grated pecorino cheese and stir until the cheese is all melted.

Pour the mixture over the tortilla layer and bump gently to remove air bubbles, top with parmesan cheese. Bake in a 200C oven for around 45 minutes, turning if your oven has hot spots. (Mine does, so I turn at the 30 minute mark to get all edges more evenly browned.)

Allow to cool and set for a few minutes, then cut and serve.

Very forgiving recipe, I like using chicken but you could use lamb or beef, as long as you trim the fat away. Anyone that's made molahia will recognise the start or the dish as a molahia soup base. That's pretty much what this is, except for adding flour rather than stock or water.

Mallow is a weed. You can find it growing wild, we have some in our garden that we tend to. The better you care for it, the better it grows. Looks like this:

This mallow is our spindly original one. This is about a quarter of the leaves -
just cut the leaf off the stem and wash, then chop into strips for this recipe. 
You can use the seeds and the flowers as well if you want, not in this recipe though. There are other recipes out there online for the seeds / fruits / whatever they are.


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Using Lumina Ice-cream Maker

NAME: _Using Lumina Ice-cream Maker

(Using "homely measures, i.e. I read a few recipes and guessed what I'd need. It worked...)
about a cup and a bit of blended loquat fruit
three tbsp raw sugar
about quarter of a cup of water
about quarter of a cup of sweet white wine
about a tsp and a bit of lemon juice

Cut the flower and stalk bits off the washed loquat fruits, took out the seeds and membrane, got enough to make a bit over a cup of blended fruit.

Mixed raw sugar up in hot water until dissolved (this goes way easy if you have a small cocktail or turbo shaker thingie) and added lemon juice and white wine.

It made just short of two cups of mixture,

Added that to the blender, whizzed it to a slightly frothy creamy sort of texture, and then started up the ice-cream machine and poured it in, let it run for 20 minutes and that's really all there was to it.

Are you kidding? It's cooling and delicious, I did exercise some self-control and saved a small tub for our dessert after dinner, apparently (ha!) you can keep this kind of stuff in the freezer for a few months, good luck if it lasts that long... %)

Ice cream maker needs the inner bowl part to be placed in the freezer, ours was in the feeezer for about a week before I got around to trying it out. But apparently 6 - 12 hours is a minimum, and I'm just going to leave ours in the freezer between batches, it isn't costing anything to keep it there, in fact it probably helps even out the temperatures.

After 15 minutes my mixture was probably ready already - instead of sticking to the sides, it slid around with the paddle as it's supposed to, and I let it go a bit longer because I wanted to see if it made a difference - it didn't.

(I saw one really rude review of the machine by someone who used "granny's old recipe" for ice-cream and it got stuck to the inner bowl, but I reckon they might have started with too thick and creamy a mixture. They said the ice cream got stuck, and from what I've just seen of our machine, that can only happen if you use too thick a mix or if you've scrubbed the inner bowl with something scratchy rather than a soft cloth like they recommend. YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary.) )

At the end of the exercise, the inner bowl was still cold enough to stick my fingers to it when I cleaned it, and turned the wet cloth to sludge. Keep the cloth wet when cleaning and eventually you'll have a clean bowl to put back in the freezer, and since it's still frozen, you save the energy needed to refreeze it. Okay, you could let it thaw to clean it but that does waste around two kilowatts of energy to refreeze. Your choice. I also put a few fluffy tea towels around the machine because that keeps the room temperature out and hopefully it saved a few more cents of energy.

(I saw another bad review written in very bad English complaining that the ingredients stayed liquid and the person then threw their machine away, seems that the most probable way for that to happen would have been if they didn't read the instructions and put the inner bowl in the freezer. Maybe they expected it to go cold all by itself and thus wasted their twenty-five bucks or whatever these machines cost new. Sucks if you don't RTFM hey? )

So - don't expect miracles from such a basic and tiny machine, but it performed extremely well and is going to become a Thing this summer to make sorbets and ice-creams and things.

PS: I Do NOT get anything for endorsing a product, I just happened to have had the luck to find this machine in an opp shop. This post confers no endorsement and is not associated with ALDI or Lumina.


Saturday, 24 September 2016

Warrigal Pesto

NAME: _Warrigal Pesto

(This is a recipe for Grow Lightly Food Hub Shop, and almost everything can be sourced there. See NOTES.)
Bunch Warrigal Greens (Miner's Lettuce) to make 1 cup wilted greens.
6 - 8 walnuts
1 clove garlic or half a dozen spring garlic shoots
2 - 3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp salt
3 - 4 tbsp grated Parmesan
Optional sprig or two or parsley.
Optional mint leaf or two.

Blanch the greens by picking the leaves and discarding stems, putting in a bowl, pouring boiling water over them, and leave for around 1 - 2 minutes. This step removes excess oxalic acid from the warrigal greens, and once the time is up, rinse with cold water and press as many leaves as will fit into a 250ml standard cup, that's around about what you'll need for this recipe.

Shell the walnuts, and remove the membrane between the halves. Put in the blender and give a short pulse, don't blitz them too fine as they have to go back for another pulse later on. Put crushed walnut in a bowl and set aside.

Squeeze the lime juice, put in the blender, add the garlic or chopped spring garlic sprouts, the salt, and half of the olive oil, and blend fine. (Add the parsley and/or mint as well, if using.)

Now add the warrigal greens, blend coarsely, adding olive oil as needed to maintain texture and consistency. Add the crushed walnuts and parmesan cheese and pulse to mix through.

This pesto makes a good dip or a good spread for crackers as well as being a good accompaniment to pasta dishes.

Additionally, we enjoyed a Prom Country Cheeses "Woolamai Mist" soft brie-style white mold cheese which actually paired up really well, and Swan & Oak light rye bread. 
Grow Lightly is my local F&V of choice, all organically grown, local, whole foods.
Everything for this recipe except the parmesan cheese and the salt was procured from their Food Hub Shop:
Fish Creek Mount of Olives olive oil
Fresh Warrigal greens
Spring garlic


Monday, 8 August 2016

Oriental Eggscitement. (No, really.)

NAME: _Oriental Eggscitement.

3 - 4 eggs per person
1/2 cup besan flour per person
1/2 cup atta or other wholemeal flour per person
around 1/2 a brown onion per person
peanut or olive oil around 1/4c per person (but see Method)
chilli powder
cumin powder
cumin seeds
chilli flakes with seeds (if you like a bit of zing)
garlic powder
lemon juice (preferably fresh squezed)
fresh green coriander
around 1/4 to 1/2 cup of uncooked rice per person
Handful of boiled peanuts per person (See NOTES)

Boil the eggs to hardboiled (starting from cold water, about 25 - 30 minutes) then drain and place in cold water. Peel, and carefully remove the complete yolk from each egg. Chop the egg whites roughly the size of dried peas, put whole yolks in one bowl and egg whites in the other.

I'll go ahead and describe a meal for two here just as I made it for us, but just multiply everything up for more guests.

Put a cupful of rice, a teaspoonful of salt, a teaspoonful of peanut or olive oil, and two cupfuls of water in a saucepan with a good lid,

While waiting for it to boil start making a batter in a suitably sized bowl - take one cupful of besan flour, half a teaspoon of chilli powder, a teaspoon of cumin powder, a teaspoon of powdered turmeric, and a teaspoon of salt, the juice of about one lemon, then slowly add water until you have a thick to medium batter. Roll the egg yolks in the batter.

Start the wok with about a cupful of your chosen oil and when hot enough, gently place the batter coated yolks in the oil and to begin with roll them around a few times so they don't develop a crck in the batter. Drain the egg pakodas (which is what they actually are) on a paper towel or slice of bread/ Remove the wok from the flame or turn off.

Cover the rice pot once it's boiling and reduce heat to a simmer.

Now add half a teaspoon of garlic powder and about a cup of atta (or wholemeal flour) to the batter, and add water to make a medium - loose batter. Drain the oil from the wok to a heatproof container and turn the heat back on, when hot, mix a scant half teaspoon of bicarb to the refreshed batter mix, stir through, and pour about two tablespoons of the mixture at a time into the wok, allow to brown on one side, flip over and allow the other side to brown, remove, and also drain on paper towel or a slice of bread.

While the last few of these savoury pikelets are cooking, peel and finely chop a medium brown onion, add that to the wok as soon as the last pikelet is made, also add the cumin seeds and peanuts, and fry until the onions are a bit limp.

The rice should be cooked by now (water mostly absorbed into the rice) so turn it off and leave to sit with the lid firmly on to allow moisture to even out.

Add the egg whites, about a teaspoonful of cumin powder, a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of turmeric powder to the wok and fry everything, tossing often to stop burning. When onions have golden bits, turn off the heat and toss about a tablespoonful of chopped fresh coriander through the mix. You can also toss a bit of yoghurt through at this stage or allow people to add what they want on their own plate.

Serve a bed of rice with stir fried egg whites in the centre and pakoda egg yolks and pikelets arranged around the edges. Allow guests to choose between chutneys, chilli sauces, tomato sauces, yoghurt, curry sauces, or similar. Think about perhaps setting up a masala tin. (See NOTES)

Oil. changes the flavour profile but use what you prefer, I often re-use frying oils from a previous session (allow to cool and store in fridge in between time) and add enough to fulfil the needs at hand.

Peanuts. You can buy boiled peanuts which you then have to shell and skin and set aside to get  dry pellicle form on the outside (just a dry layer that will brown and crisp nicely) or you can use raw or roasted peanuts, matter of preference, I like a crispy outside with  slightly soft centre so I simmer mine for a few hours the day before, slip the skins off, and then let them dry on the outside overnight.

Masala tins: look up "masalla dabba" online you'll get the idea, A common one to serve with curries has fine chopped raw onion, sultanas, grated coconut, salt, crushed peanuts, pickled ginger, pickled garlic, chutney, and/or other various garnishes and is generally adjusted to suit the meal.


Sunday, 3 July 2016

Soubise S'prize

NAME: _Soubise S'prize

3 - 5 brown onions
50g butter (around half a stick)
1 scant tsp bicarb
salt, pepper to taste
2 tbsp water
1 cup cream

Peel and dice the onions, place in a saucepan  with the butter, water, a pinch of salt, and the bicarb. Bring to a boil and allow the water to evaporate, then reduce the heat a lot and allow to slowly cook for around 30 - 60 minutes. It will turn yellow but as it slowly cooks that colour will fade. Don't let it brown, the aim is to keep the onion just cooking without browning.

Once the onion is at that stage whisk or blend it to a creamy consistency, add the cream, and then season as required. May be returned to gentle heat to thicken a bit, or used as is, depending on what you're serving with it.

This is a great sauce for plainly cooked or roasted fish, chicken, or lamb, and adds guts to a beef steak.

This sauce can be made with a lot of variations, it was traditionally made with bechamel sauce or a veloute, but cream or even creme fraiche makes for a lovely light sauce.

You can add curry spices, or just simple herbs, or cook off a pinch of mashed garlic with the onions towards the end of the onion cooking time, or cook the onion in olive oil rather than butter. This sauce has been made a variety of ways from region to region, and I see no reason to stick to any one recipe or make it the One True Way. (Which varies from one person to the next anyway...) So have a go at adapting this.

As I said, the recipe has had a number of variations, and is generlly made with the onions as white as possible. But that's a preference, I prefer a richer yellow to brown appearance, and if you allow the onions to cook to a medium brown and then think it with beef stock and a few other ingredients it makes a very acceptable French Onion soup basis as well. It's also a great start for an onion gravy.


Sunday, 19 June 2016

Remnant Pies

NAME: _Remnant Pies

No pics, blame the tastiness!

1/3 of an orange sweet potato, about 150g
1 cup cooked lentils
1 small cauliflower
100g - 200g grated Parmesan
2 cups plain flour
1 cup tomato paste
1 - 2 tsp garlic powder
salt, pepper, raw sugar (see Method for how much)
110g - 150g butter (divided, see Method for how much)
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock, warm.
1/4 tsp ground allspice (pimento)

Peel and dice the sweet potato (1/2" (1cm) dice so it cooks quickly) into a small saucepan with a pinch of salt, the ground allspice, 10g of butter. Cook until the sweet potato is soft and the water almost completely evaporated, then mash with a fork and set aside.

Divide the cauliflower into large florets and half cook in minimum water, drain, set aside.

Mix about half the Parmesan with the tomato sauce, as much garlic powder, salt, pepper, and raw sugar as you prefer. (A good starting quantity is 1 garlic powder, 1/2 salt, 1 raw sugar and adjust from there.)

Put the cauliflower pieces into a casserole or pie dish that's just big enough to comfortably hold them all, then spread the Parmesan / tomato mixture thickly over  the top of them. Set aside again

Melt the remaining butter and allow to cool a bit, then mix the remaining Parmesan, a pinch of salt, and about 4 - 5 tablespoons of butter into the flour, rubbing it in with fingertips. The idea is to have fine crumbles of uniformly buttery flour. Add the stock a bit at a time until you end up with a very stiff dough. Best to add about half a cup, mix briefly, check if it will press out without tearing or crumbling, add more water if needed. Don't over mix, you want that some of the texture to remain.

Divide into two balls and press each one out and roll it to quite thin (around 1/8" or 2-3mm) then use 2/3 of each ball to line a non-stick 5" - 6" oval pie dish with a good margin for sealing the top on. Mix the lentils through the sweet potato mix, and fill the pie dishes to within a smidgen of the top, then add the remaining pastry as a lid, seal with a smear of water and pressing with fingers.

Trim off, keep the remaining pastry, and quickly remold and roll that out to cover the cauliflower in the dish. trim to size. Discard any remnants. Reheat the butter if necessary and brush over the tops of all the pies. More butter is better. Trust me. %) Use all of the remainder...

Heat the oven to 190C, put the pies in a bit over halfway up, and leave for 30 minutes. Check that the cases aren't browning too much yet (turn down to 180C if they look as though they are) and rotate all the pie dishes, cook for another 10 - 30 minutes depending on the speed of your oven. The Parmesan crumbs in the pastry should be browning, the pastry itself golden. Remove the sweet potato pies from the dishes and place on a rack to set for a few minutes.

Break the crust of the cauliflower into chunks, serve. With the pies, just serve with your choice of accompaniments.

I made these two together because I had a cauliflower to deal with, some left over sweet potato, and we could have fed four people with the addition of a salad, but we just buckled down to it and did our culinary duty and enjoyed it. So -


Saturday, 18 June 2016

The Inevitable Sweet Potato Thingie

NAME: _The Inevitable Sweet Potato Thingie

A big orange sweet potato or two
6 eggs (see NOTES)
teaspoon of dijon mustard
salt, pepper
a few tablespoons of milk
teaspoon or two of lemon juice
chicken stock cube crumbled and dissolved in part of the milk.
Assorted goodies such as:
  • Cream cheese (room temperature)
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado (slice into 1/4" (half cm) slices)
  • Capers (if you like)
  • Smoked salmon slices (if you like)
  • Cous cous (more for a dinner style meal than breakfast)
  • Haloumi cheese sliced thick and crumbled.
  • Pickles? Up to you
  • etc

The sweet potato needs to be sliced lengthways into 1/4" (half cm) thick slices. Much thicker and they won't cook through, thinner and they'll collapse. Start your first two slices off in the toaster on the longest (highest) setting. You'll pretty much have to do each set of slices twice at that setting, so a four slice toaster would be magic. Our toaster has six mnutes at the top of the dial, so twelve minutes for every two slices. Sheesh. Once the slices are done, set them in a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile start some water simmering, add a bit of salt and a bit of vinegar. Have a bowl half full of warm water to hand. Break each of four eggs into a wire strainer, which will drain the thin egg white off them. Save the whites in a small mixing bowl. As you strain each egg and leave just a yolk surrounded by the glutinous white, float them gently into your just simmering water. Gently stir the water to stop the eggs sticking to the bottom.

Reduce the heat so it remains only just simmering, deal with all four eggs, and as each egg gets to about three and a half minutes in the water, lift it out with a slotted spoon and float it in the bowl of warm water. That stops it from continuing to cook, and also prevents it drying out. You can then leave the eggs in that bowl for up to a day, so now the pressure's off for those, and you can make the savoury egg custard and other stuff. Leave the water simmering.

Break the two remaining eggs into the bowl with the thin egg whites. Waste not, want not. Add the teaspoon of mustard, the milk with the chicken stock cube, and any dried powdered herbs (basil is delish in this) you may want, whisk briskly for about five minutes, adding a bit more milk if it seems too thick. You want something like normal dairy milk cream, not as stiff as double or whipping cream.

Float the bowl in the simmering water and put a lid on it. It'll take about ten to fifteen minutes of simmering to get to the right level of done-ness. Once it's set all the way through to the middle, use tongs or a pot mitt to lift the bowl out and set it aside.

Are all the sweet potato slices done and cooling off? Then you're done, from here on in it's assembly.

Suggestions for topping slices:
  • Cream cheese, avocado slices, a poached egg or two
  • Cream cheese, smoked salmon, a few capers
  • Slices of the egg custard topped with slices of tomato, sprinkled with fresh shredded mint
  • Lay two slices of potato on a plate, cover with roast vegetable slices, crumbled haloumi. Add a pile of couscous on one slice, two poached eggs on the other, add some Greek yoghurt, fresh shredded mint leaves. 
  • Much as the last suggestion, but top with cooked rice, a few slices of chicken breast and a few shredded vegetables cooked Asian style, and fried eggs or some of that egg custard for a nice fusion dinner, drizzled with thick soya sauce and sriracha if you like some pizzaz. 
  • Sliced and shredded pickles are okay for all these meal ideas, too. Also drizzles of olive oil, paprika oil. Olives are good. 

Everyone's jumped on this bandwagon now, so I thought we should give it a go. Made it for breakfast, but this set of assembly instructions would also be suited for dinner. Using this only as a substitute for toast kind of misses the point - sweet potato grows well in all sorts of soils and climates, and is a very nutritious food that also just happens to be delicious.

Look at Mediterranean recipes for inspiration as to what flavours and ingredients would go well with this. Even a savoury lamb or goat mince and a fetta would work on top of these toasted slices.

The fresher the eggs are, the better your poached eggs will turn out. I'm indebted to Kenji Lopez-Alt for putting his wire strainer method online at Serious Eats, and this is how I'll be making all my poachies from now on. Which leads me to the

I luckily have a selection of strainers both big and little with various types of mesh, and I found that a smaller strainer was best, but with reasonably open mesh. (As in, I can get a standard round toothpick point about halfway into a mesh hole.) Any more open and all the egg just oozes through, and with too fine a mesh, it took too long for even thinner older eggs to separate out. You need to be putting the eggs into the simmering water pretty close together, otherwise you lose track and end up with some under and some over cooked.

I tried the grill (broiler) and the toaster, and the toaster method is superior, slices come out a nicer texture, colour, and more consistent from one batch to the next.

The grill tended to leave the underside soggy, then when I turned the slices over, the lovely grilled top (which was now underneath) went soggy.

I haven't tried oven roasting these slices at 200C yet, but I don't think that'd end happily either.

You're aiming for a slice that's *just* cooked through, has some browning and blistering on the outside, and the outside needs to be a bit dry so the slices don't collapse into mush.

Frying in a very hot and only lightly oiled pan may also work. I haven't tried any of these methods with olive oil brushed on the slices, that may very well be a game-changer. Experiment!



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