Sunday, 14 February 2016

Torta di pastore alla teddles

NAME: _Torta di pastore alla teddles

250 g minced (ground) beef
1 kg baby potatoes
2 - 4 g dried mushrooms
1 brown onion
3 cloves garlic
half tsp ground fenugreek seed
fresh baby green beans
a leaf of silver beet
carrot greens or parsley
half tsp golden syrup
50g - 100g sharp cheddar
half cup fine grated parmesan
half cup fine grated grana padano or romano
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp beef dripping
1 tin diced tomatoes (or 3 cups diced fresh tomato, seeds and all)
2 beef stock cubes
half cup red wine

Peel and crush the garlic, add a pinch of salt, set aside, Dice the onion coarsely and place in a heavy bottom saucepan with the oil and dripping. Begin to fry until onion is tramslucent, add the mince and the dried mushrooms, continue to fry until liquid has evaporated and things start to fry again, add the garlic, fenugreek, and chopped greens. Stir well and keep the heat on for a further three minutes,

Now add the tomatoes, beans, golden syrup, red wine, and stock cubes, stir until simmering, turn down heat, and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes while you boil the baby potatoes in plenty of salted water.

Turn off the sauce after twenty minutes, check the potatoes for doneness, they should be cooked soft enough to eat. Drain the potatoes.

In a casserole or other oven proof dish, ladle in enough sauce to about half cover the potatoes. Lay potatoes in the sauce until dish is about three quarters covered, then gently squash each potato, the idea is that they should finish just level with the surface of the sauce when all squashed. Experience is the best guide here.

Now cover the surface of the sauce and potatoes with the cheddar cheese, then sprinkle over the parmesan and padano (or romano) either in layers or in stripes or other patterns.

Place in a hot (210C/410F) oven for 20 minutes then transfer the dish to the griller (broiler) to brown up any cheese that hasn't browned yet. Allow to cool down slightly.

No special instructions.

Fresher is better. I managed to source locally grown onions and garlic, MILES better than supermarket produce. The beans came from our garden about an hour earlier ad did the silver beet, and the carrot tops (greens) and basil came from a local farm.

Use a nice red wine for this, it's sooo worth it! And as to the cheeses - you need a base of cheddar and then a stronger cheese or two over it.

Lastly - if you leave this in the oven for too long, the potatoes will be cooked mushy. If too short, they won't have had time to absorb some of the sauce liquid. Hence  twenty minutes at 210C, But the cheeses need to be brown - hence the few minutes under the griller.


Sunday, 7 February 2016

Eggplant Thick Chips

NAME: _Eggplant Thick Chips

2 eggplant fruit
2 cups white vinegar
4 cups water
1 tsp powdered cumin
1 tsp powdered coriander seed
1/2 tsp powdered cardamom
1 tbsp cooking salt
1 tbsp honey

marinated eggplant from above
2 cups wholemeal flour
1/2 cup chickpea flour
2 eggs
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil (divided)

1 eggplant fruit
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion
1/2 tsp Parisian essence
1/2 tsp each cumin, coriander
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cooking salt (divided)
1/4 tsp honey
1/2 cup water (divided)

Marinate the eggplant a few hours ahead of time. Mix the ingredients other than the eggplant thoroughly in a suitably sized non-reactive bowl. (Glass or stainless steel) Cut off and discard the ends of the eggpant, slice into 1cm slices.layer these into the bowl containing the marinade and press down with a suitable sized plate and weight. Set aside for two to four hours.

Make the sauce by cutting the skin off and dicing the eggplant finely. Melt the butter in a small frying pan, add the eggplant and a pinch of the salt, then add around 1/4 cup of water. Allow to boil and when the water has evaporated, fry the eggplant cubes for a few more minutes, then remove from the pan to a bowl and set aside.

Dice the onion, put the olive oil into the pan, add the onion and the rest of the salt and the water, repeat the procedure but keep going until around half the onion has browned. Add back the eggplant and stir to combine, then add all remaining ingredients. You may use further water to bring the sauce to the consistency you want. Remove from heat and set aside, warming again just before serving.

Making the fritters: Prepare three bowls, one containing a cup of wholemeal flour, one containing the two eggs, beaten, and a third bowl containing the remaining ingredients mixed well together.

Remove the slices of eggplant from the marinade and discard the liquid. Squeeze the eggplant slices between the palms just to shed any excess liquid, then firmly press each side of each slice into the plain flour, then shake off excess, transfer to the egg to coat both sides, then to the seasoned flour mix for coat the outside.

Put some of the olive oil into a frying pan and get it as hot as the olive oil is able to stand (medium heat) then fry the egg plant slices in small batches, adding olive oil as needed.

Serve with rice or burghul and a Greek style side salad. Spoon the sauce over the grain, and also over the eggplant if desired.

Burghul is cracked wheat, make it as you would rice, with two times as much water by volume, and allow it to absorb all the water, then let it stand for a few minutes to even out the moisture. It's definitely the nicer carb to serve with this dish...

The eggplant can be left un-marinated, and dipped as above and fried right away, but the flavour is better with the marinating time.


Sunday, 11 October 2015

Asparagus Cream Gnocchi

NAME: _Asparagus Cream Gnocchi

couple of bunches of saparagus
500g - 1kg of potato gnocchi
around 1/2 cup each of sour cream and thickened cream
50 - 100g butter

Wash the asparagus and cut as much as you can into 5cm cylinders. At a certain point along the stalk, it will become too woody to make a really nice dish, so I prefer to use that bit for stocks and other meals. (Leave the tips whole if you prefer.) Divide into two equal portions.

(Also, see NOTES for a way to save time by cooking ahead.)

Melt half the butter in a saucepan and add one portion of asparagus. Add a few tablespoons of water to steam asparagus. Keep an eye on it and stir as it simmers. Meanwhile start to boil enough salted water to cook the gnocchi in.

When the asparagus is deemed soft enough, transfer to a heat-proof bowl and blend / puree to a soft smooth paste. Put the other half of the butter and the remaining asparagus into the saucepan and again simmer with small amounts of added water to steam the asparagus to desired texture, meanwhile place the gnocchi in the boiling salted water and wait for it to float.

While the gnocchi are cooking add the pureed asparagus back to the saucepan with the second portion and stir, adding sour cream and cream. Don't let it boil, just keep it below a simmer, until the gnocchi have floated for around four minutes.

At that point, drain the gnocchi and place in a large saucepan over medium low heat. Add the asparagus sauce and increase heat, stirring constantly.

When the sauce is just about boiling you'll observe it to thicken noticeably, at this point, remove from heat and transfer to serving dish.

Serve immediately, with grated cheese if desired.

I've deliberately left the quantities vague, around three bunches of asparagus (18 or so thick stalks) is generally enough to use with a kilo of gnocchi.

Cook-ahead: I also buy asparagus when it's on special and process it to the puree stage and divide it into portions of approximately 9 - 10 stalks (around 1 cup of puree) and freeze, that way all I need to do is buy fresh asparagus to simmer and add a portion of pre-blended asparagus and the meal's pretty much made. Not sure how long it keeps in the freezer, ours never lasts more than two months. %)


Thursday, 13 August 2015

Vaguely Italian Chicken Marylands

NAME: _Vaguely Italian Chicken Marylands

2 chicken marylands (see Notes)
4 long middle rashers of bacon
1 head broccoli
150g sugar snap peas
1 bottle passata
2 cups mirepoix (see Notes)
1 white onion
3 cups red wine, used divided
1/2 cup soya
about 3/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese.
olive oil ad lib

Trim the rinds off the bacon rashers and set both aside, trim up the marylands (or whatever cut you use) ready for marinating. Make up the marinade of soya sauce, 2 cups of red wine, and (not mentioned in ingredients but you can if you like) crushed fresh garlic, cover the chicken cuts with the marinade in a bowl and weigh them down with a plate.

Meanwhile, slowly fry the bacon rinds in olive oil to flavour the oil, then discard the rinds when they are crunchy. Set aside the oil until the chicken has had at least an hour to marinate. Pat the chicken pieces dry and sear, flesh side first, then skin side, until the sides have taken a brown crusting. Do this as quickly and on as hot a pan as you can. Lay the pieces in a roasting pan or other oven proof dish and cover the top surfaces with the bacon slices.

Cut the broccoli into egg sized florets and trim the sugar snap peas and surround the chicken pieces with them.

Heat the mirepoix, passata, and the last cup of red wine and simmer to reduce to about half. Carefully pour over the vegetables and around the chicken pieces (try not to get sauce on the tops of these) then thickly sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake for about 90 minutes at 180C, turn off the heat and alow to set in the oven for another ten minutes.

Plate 'er up and put 'er down!

I suppose breasts or drumsticks might do, but marylands are just a good shape to work with and taste great. You need large pieces of meat but not too high in profile.

Mirepoix is finely diced carrot, onion, and celery sweated together in (usually) olive oil. I make mine ahead of time and freeze in ziploc bags.

I sometimes make parmesan crusted corn cobs with this, Weird combination but it works. Just take a few clean shucked corn cobs and brush with a bit of anchovy and / or olive oil then coat in grated parmesan and roast on a lower rack at the same time as the rest of the meal.


Friday, 31 July 2015

Blue Moon Mushroom Carbonara

NAME: _Blue Moon Mushroom Carbonara

500g sliced mushrooms (champignon, common button, flat, or field)
500g small gnocchi
250g (about two - three) thick cut bacon rashers
2 small-medium zucchini
1 cup thickened cream
40g-80g butter (divided)
40g-80g lard (divided)
1 small brown onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp fine grated parmesan or similar
1 chicken stock cube
pinch of raw sugar
pinch of salt (if needed)

Prepare the onion by cutting in half around the middle, then cutting each half into fine wedges. Cut the rind off bacon and then slice across the grain into about 1cm wide strips. Peel and chop the garlic cloves into about 2mm cubes, the peel four strips off the zucchinis leaving a ribbon of green in between, slice these to about 1cm thickness.

Put equal dollops of butter and lard into a hot frying pan, enough to half cover mushroom slices. Put in just enough mushroom slices to loosely cover the bottom of the pan (no crowding) and allow to fry golden brown then toss to turn over, allow to brown, reduce heat and retrieve the slices with a skimmer or slotted spoon, place in a saucepan large enough to hold everything. Continue to fry mushroom slices in batches turning heat up to fr and down between batches, then reduce the heat and add enough equal quantities of butter and lard to cook the bacon and onion.

Add them to the pan, turn the heat up slightly, and wait for it to begin to sizzle, adjust heat to keep a brisk sizzle going and turn occasionally, for around six to eight minutes, then add the garlic and zucchni. Keep tossing for another six minutes or so, then reduce heat again, then lift out of the frying pan as for the mushrooms, and add to the mushrooms in the saucepan.

If the base of the pan has no more liquid fat, add a few dollops of each, increase to medium heat, and throw in the gnocchi. Toss regularly for about six minutes, then add enough water to cover the gnocchi by about 1cm or so, increase the heat to start the water boiling them reduce to a simmer.

When gnocchi are cooked through but still firm, drain in a colander and refresh with cold water, then put the gnocchi, parmesan, and crumbled stock cube in the saucepan and place over medium heat, tossing gently to combine without breaking up the gnocchi, until some sizzling is evident as you toss. Add the thickened cream and toss everything gently again one more time, turn off the heat and let stand for a minute or two before serving.

Serve with Parmesan or similar, in bowls,

Today is the July 2015 blue moon, and I wanted to make something off my own bat without following a set recipe. If you make this and you don't swoon, you're obviously not eating it during a blue moon! %) It really is one of the tastiest recipes for such simple ingredients I've done in ages.


Monday, 29 June 2015


NAME: _PseudoSpanakopita

One pack of puff pastry sheets
Bunch of silverbeet
1 brown onion
2 cloves garlic
2 sticks celery
1 carrot
1 slice streaky bacon
3 tbsp olive oil
half a block of Philadelphia cheese
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 tsp salt

Dice the onion quite roughly, shred the bacon finely. Peel the carrot, then use the peeler to shave thin slices lengthways, set aside. Cut the celery into 5mm thick slices. Remove the stems from the silverbeet and cut into 5mm slices. Roughly tear the leaves across into 2cm wide strips. Peel and crush the garlic.

Now begin sauteeing the onion and bacon in a suitable saucepan with the olive oil and salt. When the onion appears glassy, add the garlic, silverbeet stems, and carrot and sautee for the same amount of time again. Add the silverbeet leaves, toss several times to mix the ingredients, switch off the heat and put a lid on the pot. Leave to wilt.

Cut your pastry sheets into two triangles each, (You'll need about ten or twelve triangles, so about five or six sheets.)

Crumble the philly cheese and toss it among the vegetables, which should still be quite warm, and then also toss the mayonnaise through.

Place a dollop into each triangle and fold to make a parcel, place the parcels on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and bake in a preheated oven at 210C for 30 minutes.

Best served hot but also good as a cold finger food snack.

It's a variant of Spanakopita, and it's delicious.


Sunday, 12 April 2015

Vegetable Frittata thingie

NAME: _Vegetable Frittata thingie
(Sorry, no picture, just imagine a generic frittata type thing %) What made this special was just that the vegetables were still screaming and kicking from being picked washed and prepared... %)

Home grown:
About a pound of new potatoes (fresh that afternoon)
About half a pound of  silver beet leaves
Three carrots complete with greens
A bunch of parsley (around a packed cupful when just torn from the thicker stems)
One brown onion

Home made:
one tablespoon each of lard and dripping
2 tablespoons of fresh ground flour
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Two stalks celery
Four eggs (not this year, but next year this ingredient will join the "home grown" section above...)
Chicken stock cube (or vegetable stock cube. or home made vegetable powders)
2 tbsp grated parmesan or romano
A few cups of water, divided, see recipe
salt to season

Wash the vegetables well and shake dry, slice the potatoes and carrot roots about 1/2cm (1/4 inch) thick and put in a large frying pan with the lard and the dripping and about a cup of water. Include the thicker parts of the carrot greens stems and parsley stems, chopped roughly, and the leaves and top of one celery stalk also chopped roughly. Tear the silver beet leaves away from the stems and set aside, chop the stems into chunky sticks and add them to the pan.

Salt lightly to draw moisture out of vegetables. Put the lid on the frying pan and bring to a simmer, turning occasionally.

Meanwhile, slice the onion into lengthways wedges about the same thickness as the vegetable slices, Slice the celery stalks about the same, discard the top and leaves of the second stalk. Roughly chop the remainder of the carrot greens and the parsley. Add them to the pan and leave the lid on for another ten minutes, then remove the lid and allow to evaporate until the vegetables are frying, turn a few times until some browning takes place, then take off heat and spoon into a baking dish.

Beat the eggs, half a cup to one cup of water, flour, and crumbled chicken stock cube until all dissolved and pour over the vegetables in the dish, lifting the vegetables to allow the mixture to penetrate. Aim to have a thin film of egg mixture standing, this will absorb and penetrate while baking. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese over. Stand for a few minutes to allow the breadcrumbs to absorb the remaining liquid. Bake in preheated oven 180C - 200C for 30 to 60 minutes, until the topping has a browned colour as you prefer it.

Remove from oven and stand for ten minutes or so, then serve. Also good cold served with a side salad.

Happy to say most of it came from our own garden or endeavours. (Breadcrumbs collected from bread made in house, lard and drippings rendered in house, and I ground the flour using a coffee burr grinder on finest setting, from wheat berries. Next year we're going to have our own eggs again, and I'll have celery growing in the aquaponics so we'll have a supply of that too.)

Adjust the quantities to your preferences, more flour if you like a firmer texture, baked darker brown if you like the more crunchy topping, etc. But carrot greens are a bit of a prerequisite, the fresher the better, which is why I like being able to grow them myself. Store bought carrots either don't have the tops on or if they do, they're several days old and wilted and flavourless.



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