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.


Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Steamed Egg

NAME: _Steamed Egg TEdDLES Style

2 eggs
(see Notes for next three ingredients)
1 cup stock
1/2 tsp salt
pinch fivespice
steamer (see Notes)

(For every instruction that says to "mix," I mean mix gently so as not to include any air. Not "whisk," not "beat," just mix slowly._

(Preheat the steamer, ensure you have a basket or rack depending on your configuration, and ensure that the bowl you want to use is easily able to be placed and removed. Remember the bowl will be hot when removing it from the steamer.)

Allow everything to come to room temperature, then mix the eggs in a bowl until yolks and whites are combined. Mix stock and dry ingredients in a jug, and mix most of the cupfull into the egg. Pour the egg mixture into the bowl, place into the steamer, close the lid, and check after ten minutes and then every five minutes or so. You're aiming for a smooth custard consistency.

Remove from steamer.

Serve as a main or a side.

STEAMER: I use a small electric steamer - saves all the hassles of finding a rack to go into a saucepan, pot, or stovetop steam setup. If you must use a conventional steaming setup, make sure it has a rack that will keep the bowl out of direct contact with the boiling water. My other reason for having a standalone electric steamer is that I can preheat it, put the bowl into the first steamer tray, and put that on top of the steam without needing special tongs.

BOWLS: I use a lot of those stainless steel dishes, bowls, curry bowls, and table serving bowls. These fit the steamer well, transfer heat quickly and efficiently, and are probably the reason why my steamed egg only takes about 12 minutes to cook to the beautiful creamy consistency. The smaller deeper curry bowls could probably make it possible to do four or more batches in one larger steamer if you're feeding a family or guests.

STOCK AND SPICES: One cup of stock is probably just a touch too much. This is how you adjust the consistency of the custard aside from the length of time steaming it. Chicken stock is best, vegetable stock not too bad either.

I use the ingredients above except I use home made chicken stock, and I reduce the amount of salt to a quarter teaspoon, add half a teaspoon of the relevant stock powder, and half a teaspoon each of light soya and fish sauce.

QUANTITIES: Most recipes call for 4 eggs and a corresponding doubling of ingredients, and I have no idea how it would affect steaming time. If making this in quantity I think I'd make it in individual two-egg batches. It just works out perfect for one person, or two as a side.


Thursday, 24 October 2013


NAME: _Hasenfaker

500g chicken (or rabbit) pieces
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
3 - 4 brown onions
1 - 2 carrots
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup chopped sage leaves
1/2 cup chopped celery leaves
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup malt vinegar
1 cup red wine
2 cups water and 2 chicken stock cubes (or 2 cups chicken stock)
1/2 cup olive oil
salt to taste

Put the flour and tsp salt in a sturdy plastic bag and shake. Add the meat pieces and shake until they are coated in the mixture, shake off excess and put the pieces aside. Put half the oil in a heavy saucepan and bring up to smoking, fry the meat pieces, turning often, until they are golden brown. Retain the oil and saucepan, set aside.

Peel and slice the onions into 5mm thick rings, add to the saucepan along with the rest of the oil. Cut garlic into 2mm sticks and add to the saucepan, put saucepan back on heat at medium and allow the alliums to start browning. Add the pieces of meat back, recduce heat and add the chopped leaves and pepper. Keep frying for a few minutes, but before the leaves start to burn, add the vinegar, wine, and water. Bring to a simmer, allow to simmer for around an hour. The liquid should reduce by about half, add water if it thickens too quickly.

Peel and slice the carrots (about 5mm thick) and add to the saucepan, add the dijon mustard and stir in well, return to a simmer for another 30 - 60 minutes.

Serve immediately with pasta or gnocchi.

I've made this with both chicken and rabbit, I prefer the taste of rabbit in this, but your mileage may vary. The sauce and onions over fried Gnocchi Parisien is just the best flavour combination.


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Potato Savoury Rissoles

NAME: _Potato Savoury Rissoles

These are distant relatives of latkes. 

2 medium-large potatoes (See Method)
1 small brown onion
1 medium-large carrot
1 medium zucchini
50g cheddar cheese
1/2 cup plain flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground fenugreek seed
1 tsp assafoetida
1 tsp fine ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground turmeric (optional)
3 - 4 eggs
1/4 cup water
1 cup olive oil

Peel the potatoes and grate into the longest strips possible. Grate into a bowl lined with a clean teatowel, then use teatowel to wring as much liquid as possible out of the potato. If you want the potato starch that's dissolved in the liquid, catch the liquid in a large flat plate, cover with a teatowel and set aside to evaporate. (See Notes) The amount of grated squeezed potato should be between 2 and 3 cups. Place in a bowl large enough to hold all ingredients and still allow spoon or hand mixing. Now similarly grate the carrot and zucchini, but do not squeeze. (Carrot doesn't need it, and the zucchinin will lose texture. Cut the onion into similarly thin strips or half-rings and squeeze that out in teatowel, too. Add these vegetables to the potato, gently mix all together.

In a smaller bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and spices well. Take about four teaspoons of this seasoned flour one at a time, sprinkle over the grated vegetables and gentle spoon or hand mix each teaspoonful in before adding the next. At this stage grate the cheddar and mix it through the vegetables as well.

Now add three of the eggs to the remaining flour in the other bowl and whisk until well combined. Add the water. If the mix isn't a pourable batter, add the fourth egg. Pour the batter slowly over the grated vegetables and gentle spoon or hand mix, until the vegetables are well coated.

Use egg rings to fry a dollop of the vegetable mixture in a hot frypan of olive oil. Turn when the underside smells done (two - four minutes depending on your particular setup) and remove the egg rings. When each rissole is cooked, (another two - four minutes) lift it and drain on paper towel.

Serve hot, with your choice of sides. Can also be served cold but not as nice.

A LOT of liquid comes out of the grated potatoes. The reason we want to squeeze it out is that otherwise the liquid will make the rissoles soft and sloppy. The starch (if you kept it from previous potato recipes) is okay to add back if you have some, but the water is definitely not needed. Keeping the starch is a good idea beacuse it's useful for other recipes such as (well, this one,) or carbonara, or in bread, and a few more. To save the starch, you need to let this dry out at room temperature and in the dark, because otherwise the starch will blacken. To aid in drying, the more surface area, the better, hence use a wide and relatively flat plate. To keep dark, cover with a teatowel. To keep the teatowel from falling in the liquid, use small spacers to keep it off the surface of the liquid, I use baking weights and old bottle caps, whatever comes to hand and that I can brush any adhering starch off afterwards. I've also laid a cake rack over and laid the teatowel over that - whatever works for you.

There are several things you can do with this mixture, actually. Proceed as above for rissoles with crispy browned exteriors and soft insides. For a thinner crispy latkes-like effect, reduce the number of eggs to two, add more water to make up, and barely moisten the floured vegetables with this batter, then spoon directly into pan and flatten with the egg slice or spatula, allow to become definitely browned and preferably almost over-cooked before lifting out and draining.

The dredging of the grated vegetables in the flour is one of the secrets - it allows the batter to really cling.

When spooning mixture into the pan, be aware that some liquid will always pool in the bowl, your call if you mix this back before spooning or just use whatever clings to the mixture. Recombining produces a slightly heavier more flavourful rissole, using the drained mixture results in a lighter rissole that will take on more crispiness.


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Gnocchi Parisien

NAME: _Gnocchi Parisien

1 cup + 2 tbsp water
100g butter
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 cups plain flour
2 tbsp choppped chives
2 tbsp chopped basil or parsley (See Notes)
1/2 cup fine grated mild cheddar or mozzarella (See Notes)
3 or 4 eggs (See Method)

Put the water, butter, and salt into a good saucepan (NOT non-stick, you will be beating the dough in this) and bring to a boil, stirring. Tip in all the flour and begin to mix and beat with a wooden spoon, keep going until you have a dough ball that pulls away from the sides, reducing heat as required to prevent flour burning.

Once you have the dough ball and have kept mixing it for a minute or two over low heat, remove from heat and mix in the dry ingredients and the cheese, making sure they are all beaten well together. Now add one egg at a time, beating until each egg is absorbed into the dough before adding the next. When you get to three eggs it's decision time. If the dough feels too hard, add the fourth egg.

The change in the dough as it incorporates the egg is quite abrupt and sudden. You must make sure each egg is incorporated before adding the next, The ghost of Escoffier himself will haunt you if you don't do this right.

Let the dough cool for 15 - 25 minutes, meanwhile prepare a pot of salted water, bringing it to a slow simmer. When the dough's ready, put it in a piping bag with a 1cm nozzle, and begin piping the dough straight into the water, cutting into 1cm - 2cm sections with a sharp knife as it extrudes, and letting the pieces fall into the water. Work fast, and as soon as the first few pieces start to float to the surface, stop making more gnocchi and let the batch poach for a further three to five minutes, then lift out with a strainer or similar and lay on paper towel to dry off.

Meanwhile, make the next batch, and while its poaching, take the last batch and lay them on a tray covered with oiled greaseproof paper. When all the batches are done, let the tray rest until the gnocchi are all cool and dry to touch. At this stage you can freeze them  on the tray if you like, then bag up the frozen gnocchi for storage, or proceed to the frying stage.

Place 100g - 300g butter in a good frypan (depends how many gnocchi, size of frypan, etc - aim for enough butter to 1/2 cover gnocchi when the pan is full but not crowded) and add dry gnocchi until the pan is full but not crowded. Fry, stirring often, until the gnocchi are golden brown outside. Lift out with a slotted spoon or similar and allow to drain, preferably on paper towel.

These can be used in a number of ways - add grated cheese while still in the pan for a delicious stand-alone course, or place in a baking tray and top with cheese and fried finely shredded bacon and bake until cheese melts, or drizzle sour cream and chives over and serve, use them like dumplings in stews etc

These gnocchi aren't like the gnocchi con patate, they are a bit lighter and fluffier on the inside, and they are versatile. If you'd like to make them more Parisian use the parsley and a relatively mild cheese, if you're after a more robust Italian flavour use a good mozzarella and basil and oregano in addition to the chives. Fresh chives preferred, but I've made them with dried herbs and they taste good enough for my meals - I'm not a food critic, and near enough is good enough for me...


Friday, 20 September 2013

Baked Cauliflower Bolognese

NAME: _Baked Cauliflower Bolognese

1 whole cauli
3 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp mayo
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic minced finely
1 tsp salt
1 tsp raw sugar
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup beef stock
1 cup olive oil
2 cups water
150g mixed sharp cheddar and romano grated finely.

Cut cauliflower in half and trim leaves and central stalk. Mix together the other ingredients and pour into a plastic bag large enough to contain the cauli halves. Add the cauli halves and massage the marinade into the florets (known as "curds") until every surface is coated, manipulate as much air as possible out of the bag, and tie it closed, then allow to marinate for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

When ready to cook, massage the marinade into the cauliflower through the bag, add the oil to a baking dish, and place the two cauli halves cut sides down in the dish. Add one cup of water, and bake at 180C for 20 minutes, then baste all over with the pan juices. Most of the juices will be absorbed into the curds, so add the second glass of water and return to the oven for a further 20 minutes, take pan out of oven, baste the pan liquid over the outside of the cauli halves again, then top with the grated cheese mixture.

Return to oven for a further 20 - 40 minutes until the outside has baked to dark brown and a wooden skewer meets no resistance until the core, indicating that the cauli is cooked.

Serve immediately. Can be a main or a side, I generally serve it with a green vinegary salad.

The flavours are bolognese style, that's all. The recipe (as far as I know) is my own and has no connection to the Bologna region.

You could serve more grated cheese with this, but it seems to have a pretty good flavour just as is. Experiment, make it yours.


Thursday, 29 August 2013

Piquant Sauce a la Ted

NAME: _Piquant Sauce a la Ted

2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tbsp raw sugar
2 tbsp tomato sauce (or tomato paste)
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sambal oelek or other fermented garlic & chilli paste
1 tbsp light soya sauce
2 tbsp malt vinegar
1 cup water

In small saucepan over medium heat combine the flour, butter, raw sugar, and cayenne pepper, keep stirring until it bubbles and the flour starts to colour slightly. Add about half the water, stirring continuously, then add remaining ingredients. Use remaining water to adjust consistency.

Like, uh... Just splash it on stuff like your BBQ meats or on chips or whatever... %)

I've used harissa paste and sriracha sauces with equally nice results. Also, use honey or golden syrup to vary the sweetener, and try apple cider vinegar or straight white vinegar for different flavours.


Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Sage and Mushroom Stuffed Capsicums

NAME: _Sage and Mushroom Stuffed Capsicums

2 large capsicums
1 egg
2 tbsp milk

1 cup basmati
2 cups water (beef stock)
12 small button mushrooms
1 tbsp butter
4 tsp dried sage
1/4 nutmeg
1 tbsp caraway seeds
2 tbsp pine nuts

Prepare the rice, boil 1 cup rice in 2 cups stock or water, reduce to simmer once boiling and simmer until all water is absorbed. Set aside.

Stem and skin mushrooms, cut caps into 8 sections. Place in saucepan with the butter, caraway seeds, and pine nuts. Fry until pine nuts smell toasty, add the rice and toss while still frying, add the sage and ground nutmeg, stir, salt to taste, and take from heat. Allow to cool before use.

(If you didn't use beef stock for the rice, add a tsp beef stock powder at the same time as adding the sage and nutmeg.)

Cut capsicums in half lengthways, remove ribs and seeds, trim the stem and seed mass without puncturing the capsicum. Over a medium flame, hold capsicums in tongs and char-blacken the outside.

Arrange in glass ovenproof dish, microwabe on 50% power for around ten minutes, until they have partly softened. Fill with the stuffing, brush over filling with a glaze made of the egg and milk beaten together. Place in oven for 60 minutes at around 190C.

Serve hot, or cold as mezes.

I tend to use the stock powder option a lot, as I often have rice left over from another meal. I use one of the milder stock cubes and crumble it to powder.


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Austrian Style Pork Hock

NAME: _Austrian Style Pork Hock

1 sliced shank of pork (see Notes)
150g bacon
150g Strassburg section
1/2 cup lard
1 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 nutmeg
1 green apple
2 glasses red wine
1 tbsp grape molasses
1 tbsp german or dijon mustard
1 tsp ground black pepper
200g brine sauerkraut (see Notes)
2 medium potatoes
2 medium carrots
12 small brussels sprouts
150g pickled beans (see Notes, need to be prepared ahead a week at least)
1 litre water
salt to season

In a heavy-bottomed pot, place the lard. Wash and then pat dry the pork slices, add to the lard on medium heat, and fry until the meat takes a bit of brown colour. Chop bacon, onions, and Strassburg sausage, and add to pot.

Core, peel, and slice the apple around 5mm thick slices, add to pot. Add the caraway seeds, and grate half a nutmeg over, add the fresh ground black pepper and a pinch of salt,fry for about five minutes turning often.

Pour the red wine over, stir in the mustard and grape molasses, add a litre of water. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer for at least one hour and up to two, until the pork skin is soft enough to cut with a fork.

Peel and dice potatoes to 2cm cubes, peel and slice carrots to about 2cm slices, wash and trim the brussels sprouts. Add these to the pot along with the sauerkraut and pickled beans, try not to rinse them beforehand, Bring back to a simmering boil and leave to simmer for another half hour or until vegetables are tender.

Serve with crusty bread or dumplings or - why not? - with both. Good if made a day ahead, too.

The shank is pre-sliced at the butchers as "casserole" pork. If not, get your butcher to slice it into 1.5 cm slices for you, unless you want to spend ages with a hacksaw and washing bone chips off. Skin definitely on for this dish.

Pickled Beans:
Make a brine 2 water 1 vinegar 1/2 salt by weight, top and tail green beans, fill a clean sterilised jar with beans, then pour hot brine over, put lid on, and shale to release any air bubbles. Add more brine to completely cover, allow to cool, store in a cool place.

The pickled beans are something I like to have in the fridge because they keep for several months like that, and I can buy beans when they're cheap and still have them available in off-season. I also pickle raw cauliflower florets, baby carrots and julienne carrots, and radishes this way, same reason. They store for months in the fridge or a cool spot.

The sauerkraut I discuss in another recipe on this blog, you can use the salted sauerkraut that you find in delis and some supermarkets. Don't use pre-flavoured and prepared sauerkraut for this, it needs the salt/lactic acid flavour.


Sunday, 18 August 2013

Baked Fish Italian Style

NAME: _Baked Fish Italian Style

2 - 4 fish fillets (I used Australian Flathead x 4, you could use flake or something similar)
1 clove garlic
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup thickened cream
1 cup milk
2 tbsp cornflour
1/3 cup crumbled sharp cheddar
1/2 cup shredded mozarella
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cauliflower
1/2 cup bread crumbs
a few sprigs of fresh parsley

Fish Spice
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried garlic granules
2 bay leaves
2 tsp dried juniper berries
1 tsp salt

For Fish Spice:
Crumble the bay leaves, place in spice blender, add all the other ingredients, blend to fine powder. Place in an airtight jar for keeping.

For Main Dish:
Trim cauliflower to small florets, blanch in boiling water for 1 - 2 minutes. Use plenty of water to carry some of the pungency away. Trim and clean the fish fillets of bones and traces of skin. Lay cauliflower florets on the base of a glass-lidded casserole, lay the fish fillets on top, aiming to cover the surface from edge to edge.

In a saucepan put the olive oil and gently warm, peel and mash the garlic and drop into oil, allow to warm until garlic is translucent and fragrant, then add three teaspoons of fish spice and stir through. Whisk the cornflour in a few tablespoons of milk, add the rest of milk and cream to saucepan and increase the heat, stirring gently. When almost simmering, add the crumbled cheddar and stir until melted.

Remove pan from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes, then stir in the milk with the cornflour, mix well in, and pour all over the fish fillets. When the cream has run to the base of the dish, sprinkle the remaining two cheeses over the fish, and then sprinkle the breadcrumbs over that.

Put lid on casserole and place in moderate oven for around an hour. At one hour, check with a skewer that cauliflower and fish are close to done. Remove lid and turn oven to 210C - 220C. (hot)

Pprepare the rice (1 cup Basmati rice 2 cups water 1 tsp salt) bring to boil with the lid on, simmer until all water is absorbed, then stir and set aside.

Check the fish in the oven, cheese should be browned well. When it is, the dish is done.

Allow to cool for five minutes, then plate up atop a bed of rice, dress with a few parsley sprigs.

I used a bit more oregano than is usually called for in fish spice, but then I like oregano. Play with the fish spice recipe until you get it the way you want. Also, parsley - I generally pluck off just leaves from the sprigs, but that's because I expect my garnish to be eaten along with the dish...


Friday, 16 August 2013

Penne Marco Polo Mio

NAME: _Penne Marco Polo Mio

300g penne or similar
salt to boil
150g section of strassburg or gypsy ham
1 medium brown onion
2 - 3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup basil leaves or 1/3 cup dried basil
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes in oil
1 cup broccoli florets
1/2 cup black dry salted olives
1/2 cup fine grated parmesan or romano
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
a pinch ground cinnamon

Toast the pine nuts in a heavy frypan until golden to brown. Transfer to temporary bowl, set aside. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pan and return to low heat.

Put on enough salted water to boil the pasta in, (I generally drop the pasta in at the same time, it really doesn't make much difference, believe me.)

Chop the onion around 5mm chunks, add to pan, stir. Square up the Strassburg or ham section, cut into straws about 2mm - 3mm thick and 3cm - 5cm long. Add to pan and stir. Finely chop the garlic, add to pan and stir. Add half the basil, chilli, pepper, and cinnamon. Chop the sundried tomato into 5mm wide strips.

Check the pasta and stir to separate. Increase heat under frypan and stir in the broccoli. Continue to stir regularly until broccoli has turned deep green, add the olives, sundried tomato, and remaining basil, turn off heat and set aside.

As soon as pasta is just soft enough to eat, drain and quickly rinse, then return to pot and place back on medium heat. Stir in the fried mix and toasted pine nuts, add remaining olive oil and mix that in, then stir in the grated cheese and serve immediately.

Can be served as above, or toss a handful of washed spinach leaves through and then serve.

Pasta Marco Polo isn't precisely what this dish is, but it's close. Putanesca isn't precisely what this dish is, but it's close. Also feel free to substitute ham or any other such charcuterie meats for an experiment. Use strips of red capsicum or zucchini. The important thing is not to overpower the basil/cheese/oil/garlic combination too much. Mine was an "opportunistic" meal, made with what was to hand. Go wild!


Sunday, 11 August 2013

Masala Chicken Eggplant

NAME: _Masala Chicken Eggplant

2 cups eggplant flesh (see Method)
1/2 tin tomato pieces or 1 cup chopped Roma tomato
250g chicken pieces
chicken stock
1/2 brown onion
6 curry leaves
1 tsp harissa or minced chilli
1/2 tsp salt (more or less, to taste)

For Garam Masala:
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp seeds from green cardamom pods (about 2 -3 pods' worth)
1cm stick of cinnamon

For Garam Masala:
Crumble the cinnamon stick into a hot heavy pan, add the other spices, and roast until they're fragrant. Grind to powder, store remainder in airtight jar, keeps a month or two.

For Masala Chicken Eggplant:
Put stock, tomato pieces, and chicken pieces in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add a teaspoonful of the Garam Masala, the chilli, and the salt. Finely chop the onion, and add. Leave to simmer for an hour, then remove chicken from pot, remove all bones and skins, put just the meat back.

Eggplant should be peeled and cubed to around 1cm - 1.5cm size, soaked in plain water for around an hour before use. Add the eggplant to the chicken about 5 - 10 minutes before serving.

Serve as a side dish or as a main with basmati rice.

I make this as a part of a larger meal, you could double the quantities and make a full meal of this.


Tandoori Roast Whole Cauliflower

NAME: _Tandoori Roast Whole Cauliflower

1 cauliflower head
2 tbsp crumbled paneer or similar white cheese (cottage cheese crumbles?)

For Tandoori Spice
3 tsp cumin seeds
3 tsp coriander seeds
1/3 stick cinnamon, broken in chunks
5 - 10 whole cloves
1/3 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp garlic granules or powder
1/3 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp dried onion flakes

For Marinade
4 garlic cloves
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp tandoori spice
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup besan flour

For Chutney
2 cups mint leaves
1/2 a brown onion
1/3 dried red chili (or 1 tsp harissa)
1 lemon
1 large or 2 small ripe Roma tomatoes
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp besan flour
A couple pinches of salt
1 tsp honey

For Tandoori Spice:
Toast the cumin, coriander, cinnamon and cloves in a small pan until they start to get fragrant and a bit toasted brown. Medium heat. Grind in spice grinder or powder in mortar and pestle along with granulated garlic and onion flakes. Add the powdered ingredients, mix well. Store whatever you don't need in an airtight jar in a cool dark place, it keeps for around a month or two.

For Tandoori Marinade:
Put garlic and salt in mortar and pestle or food processor and mince to paste. Add tandoori spice, besan flour, and buttermilk and mix well / process

Finally! The Cauliflower:
Make sure cauliflower is washed, clean, and dry. Remove the bottom part of stalk and all the leaves. Put a plastic bag in a bowl just big enough for the cauliflower to sit in upside down. The bag should be open and the edges rolled over the rim of the bowl so the bag in effect lines the bowl. Put the cauliflower into the plastic bag, and drizzle the marinade around so it gets in all the cauliflower. Lift the plastic bag out and makes sure to squeeze marinade so it covers every part of the cauliflower. Push as much air out of the bag as possible and twist it closed. Leave for at least an hour before removing from the bag and proceeding. Overnight is better.

Preheat oven to 190C - 200C. Put cauliflower upright in a baking tray lined with baking paper, place in oven lower half and roast for 45 - 60 minutes, until the stalk feels cooked when you prick it with a wooden skewer and the outside is brown.

Chop the onion and tomato finely. Put in food processor, squeeze lemon juice over, add other ingredients and blitz for a minute or so, until it forms a chunky, salsa-like consistency.

Drizzle a bit more olive oil over the cauliflower and sprinkle crumbled cheese over, let people carve off their chunk and spoon chutney over.

I pilfered part of this recipe from the 'net, but it's only vaguely like the original by now. %) I added the section on making Tandoori spice rather than relying on premade store-bought spice mixes, because that way you can adjust it to suit. I made this very mild compared to the original recipe, because I like the other flavours to come out.

I used buttermilk where yoghurt was called for - I like buttermilk and figured by adding a spot of besan flour would give the necessary consistency and also add a nice flavour note, and it does.

You can use lime in place of lemon for the chutney, I only had lemons and it's still bearable...


Saturday, 10 August 2013

SoakTEd Walnutses

NAME: _SoakTEd Walnutses

Walnuts (quantity to fill a jar of your choice, see METHOD)
Olive oil

Sterilise your jar and lid in boiling water, also sterilise a slightly smaller plastic lid that will fit inside the jar mouth to hold walnuts down from floating out of the brine. While you're dealing with hot water, make a brine of around 4tsp - 6tsp salt per litre of water, allow this to cool before using.

Shell as many walnuts as you'll need to fill your jar. (I've generally made this in 250mL jars, just enough for a TV snack for two people.) Separate the walnut halves and remove the dried membrane and discard.

Put walnut halves and other stray pieces into the jar, shake down to compact. Leave about half a centimetre at the top - depends on the lid you're going to use to hold walnuts down. Add the cooled brine to cover walnuts, put the smaller lid in upside down to hold the walnuts submerged, and put a few layers of cloth over the jar, or put the lid on but leave open.

Leave in a cool dark spot (pantry, kitchen cupboard, etc) for a few days. Check daily - if it begins to bubble or fine white yeast pinpricks star to form, the walnuts are done. Also, after four days, no matter whether bubbles or yeast have formed, consider the walnuts done.

Empty walnuts onto a teatowel or cloth, and shake vigorously to shed the excess brine. Don't wash them, instead spread them out on a baking tray, brush lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast at 180C for about 15 - 20 minutes, stirring them around once to ensure even roasting. You want them just starting to brown a bit.

Serve hot, eat right away. Or allow to cool, and use in cooking. Warning: These may cause you to explode with bliss. Seriously...

There's a lot of stuff online about "activating" nuts, so I thought I'd try it with a fermentation process, only I didn't want to fully ferment them, just start them. Four days is about the limit. I may try a bunch done fermented vegetable style, left for a month or so with a starter of lactobacillus. (From whey or sauerkraut liquid.)


Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Definitive TEdAKRAUT Sauerkraut

NAME: _Definitive TEdAKRAUT Sauerkraut

This is a simple recipe but has a large number of notes, That's because I wanted to cover the "definitive" part of the name pretty thoroughy %) That said, it's simple, it's amazing, and it's delicious so you should give it a go!

Ingredients (see Notes)
Couple of large cabbages (around 6kg each with outer leaves etc)
Around 1/2 to 3/4 cup salt per cabbage.

Equipment (see Notes)
Bucket large enough to hold shredded cabbage.
Plate that fits the bucket internally
Around three 750ml jars per two kilos of cabbage
A weight of around 5kg, clean and non-reactive.

Clean the cabbages by removing straggly outer leaves, cut into quarters or convenient size. Cut the core and a portion of the heavy white stems from each quarter by cutting from the heart of the cabbage to the stalk end on a diagonal. Cut the quarters into fine strips around 2mm to 4mm wide. You should finish up with about 4kg of shredded cabbage per head of cabbage, give or take half a kilo.

Start packing cabbage into the bucket in layers around 1cm a time, sprinkling with salt as you go. Try and pace yourself with the salt, err on the side of caution if anything. As you place the layers, periodically press them down to grind some salt crystals into the cabbage to start the leaching process.

When all the cabbage has been layered in with salt and packed down by hand as much as possible, place the plate on top in such a way that there's no air to get trapped under the plate (i.e. generally that means normal side up) and then place the weight on top. Assist the wight by gentle pressure, being careful not to crack the plate.

Cover with teatowels so as to exclude insects and large debris from falling into the bucket. Store in a place with relatively even temperature at about 18C - 22C and out of direct light. Liquid should be drawn out of the cabbage within a few hours, if it doesn't, remove the plate and pack down a bit more to press salt and cabbage together. If there's still no appreciable liquid after six hours, add a sprinkle of water and press down.  Over the next two weeks or so, check regularly (every few days) for the following things:

Remove the weight and set down on a clean teatowel. Check the weight for mold. Remove the plate and check for mold. Wash the plate and the weight in clean hot water. Replace them, again pressing down manually to assist in settling the sauerkraut down. Check the liquid with a clean teaspoon. Is it beginning to taste sour? This should happen at around a week, depending on temperature. The warmer the average temperature, the sooner fermentation will take place. Always use a clean teaspoon, draw about half a teaspoon of liquid or less, just enough to taste. Don't return any liquid back to the bucket once you've drawn it. Always use a clean spoon and never take a second sample with a spoon that's been in your mouth.

Once the liquid begins to taste sour, keep repeating the above procedure for another week or two, until very few bubbles are released when pressing down the plate and weight, and the volume of the cabbage has reduced to around a quarter. At this stage, transfer with tongs to sterile jars, distribute the remaining liquid between the jars, close the lids loosely and store. Check for the next few weeks and once all fermentation has stopped, close the lids down tight. (see Notes)

Pretty much from the time it hits the jars it's ready to eat, but leaving it longer results in progressively better flavour. Serve as a side dish or adjunct, also prepare it by cooking with various flavourings (there will be a separate recipe called "Sauerkraut Preps" when I get around to it) and serve as a side dish. Once a jar has been opened, keep it in the fridge.

This sauerkraut is very much a "busk it and see" type approach. I'd never tried it before, checked a couple of recipes out, dimly remembered what our relatives on the farm in Austria used to do, back when I was a toddler, and gave it a shot. The result is just healthy and delicious and needs sharing.

Ingredients: I used large commercial cabbages, but I've translated that into rough weights. Cabbages I used generally weigh in at 5.5kg - 6.5kg, and the tough outer leaves and core make up between 1kg and 2kg (depending mostly on how much of the thick centre parts of the leaves I decide to forego) so estimate around 4kg - 4.5kg of product per cabbage. For each two kilos of cabbage it's appropriate to use around 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of salt, so I've loosely based my measurements around that. On the subject of salt, people recommend kosher salt, rock salt, and all sorts of specialty salts - I used slightly coarse cooking salt, and I think any pure salt without iodine or "free-flowing" chemicals would be fine.

Equipment: I have a 10 litre plastic bucket, which pretty much holds 8kg of cabbage, but the preferred utensil is a crock of some sort. That would be because the crock holds temperature steady, and that's one of our aims in this, to keep the temperature stable as possible. The plate I use, would generally be a disk of wood in the real sauerkraut crock, made of some wood that is compatible. I use a plate because it's non-reactive and allows me to exclude all the air. (see further down, the section "Mold.") The weight, similarly, needs to be non-reactive and compact, I use a plastic 5 litre oil bottle that some olive oil came in, filled with water. I recommend large plastic jugs, either filled with water or filled with some other heavy material.

The plate needs to be small enough to go down to the last 1/4 of the bucket or crock (if this is tapered - my bucket definitely is) without leaving too much gap for cannage to float up when it's near the top. The weight has to be the size of the plate or smaller, for much the same reason. The larger the diameter of the plate, the more weight you'll need on it to press down with the same force per square inch.

Method: Pretty straight-forward. I tend to add about a level teaspoonful of salt per layer, and then every 2kg of cabbage, if I have a bit of extra salt left over from the assigned 1/4 - 1/3 cup, I sprinkle that evenly over the last layer, then start on the next 2kg worth of layers. That way, the salt ends up pretty evenly distributed throughout the product.

Also, it's the natural yeasts and bacteria on the cabbage that will cause fermentation. If the cabbage has been grown in an unsanitary bed, you may wish to remove outer leaves and rinse the cabbage before proceeding to quartering it. Bear in mind that if you remove too may layers, A) your yield will go down, and B) you may be removing the very yeasts you want. Best is if you know the cabbage has been grown in a sanitary garden bed, and you only remove the few tough and ragged outer leaves.

The act of checking every few days forces liquid between the spaces of the product, which mixes the salt evenly throughout the bucket. The first fee days I tend to check twice a day, for the reason that it takes a while to build up enough liquid for mixing to take place. If you use more salt, then the liquid will be drawn out of the cabbage faster, but the fermentation process will take longer. If you use a lot more salt, you might be in for a six week wait before fermentation takes place, for example. That leaves time for salt-tolerant molds to grow. If you don't use enough salt to kill off rot organisms, the cabbage will rot and become foul and inedible. If the cabbage is very fresh and well ripened, then it will have a lot more moisture than a cabbage that has been in cold storage and picked young and immature, which changes the concentration of the salt as well. If you have to add water, do so by sprinkling it over the whole surface of the cabbage in the bucket.

Once it's in the jars you *could* close the lids down tight, but that runs the risk of a jar exploding if fermentation takes off again. I generally wait a few days and test - if air escapes when I unscrew the lid, it hasn't stopped fermenting yet. Once lids are tightened, keep this in a cool stable temperature, and once opened, keep in the fridge. Never use your fingers after the initial pack-down, never use a utensil that's been in your mouth, because those bacteria are what cause the nasty scum to form and spoil the sauerkraut.

Mold MOLD Mold: There are several things that can affect sauerkraut. I'll list them here because some of them are not pleasant.

1. White "scum" or mold appears on the surface of the liquid, plate, or weight. Sometimes this may happen, and it also happens to home preserved olives. It's a normal part of the olive process, and acceptable in sauerkraut too. In sauerkraut, though, it generally indicates that the tea towels let through local natural yeasts, and you may wish to use a finer weave of teatowels (or two layers) next time.

White scum is probably the only form of contaminant I'd allow, all contaminants listed after this point should be considered unsafe and be reason to dump the batch, thoroughly clean all the equipment, and try again.

2. Black mold appears on the surface of the cabbage, liquid, plate, or weight. This is an aerobic mold and can be seen if you leave a cabbage laying around uncovered and then peel layers apart. It can be washed off, but it means your equipment or the cabbage has air pockets surrounded by liquid. I'd tend to throw the batch if this happens, because it won't taste good or probably be good for you.

Black mold is a good indicator that your cabbage is cut too thick (forms air pockets) or the plate is concave on the underside, and that cabbage was perhaps not weighted down enough and consequently projected out of the liquid.

3. Cabbage is soft and/or slimy after processing. Some slime-producing mold has grown in the bucket. Throw out the batch, thoroughly clean (perhaps even in dilute bleach solution) all the equipment and tea towels, and start again/

4. Pink, green, blue, or other colours than white or black mold appear on the surface of the cabbage, liquid, plate, or weight. Proceed as for number 3 above. These are all molds whose spores float around in the environment, and all tend to produce toxic wastes that will, while diluted in the liquid, still be strong enough to cause nausea, serious illness, and in extreme cases can even cause death. Not worth testing each one out when a fresh cabbage and a bit of salt only cost a few dollars, is it?

Lastly - it's a fermentation process. That means that the ultimate aim is to get organisms to begin digesting the cabbage for us, then stop them from consuming the cabbage altogether before we get a chance to consume it. %) Temperature matters, too warm and nasties will grow and steal our cabbage, too cold and it will take ages to ferment and thus provide a longer window for opportunistic organisms to infect the product.


Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Bak Kut TEddles %)

NAME: _Bak Kut TEddles %)

2 cups stock (beef or chicken or pork)
6 cups water
1 tsp chinese five spice (heaped, depending on tastes)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
several cloves garlic
350g - 500g pork bones (see NOTES)
1 cup straw mushrooms or shiitake
6 - 10 pieces of cubed fried bean curd
1 - 2 cups sliced vegetables (see NOTES)
1 tbsp light soya sauce
a few drops sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste

Peel garlic and slice thinly. Place in saucepan with the stock, water, five spice, black pepper, and pork bones.

Bring to a boil and simmer for an hour or two, as long as it takes your pork to become quite soft.

Add mushrooms and sliced vegetables, (see NOTES) top up liquid if necessary, return to boil, then simmer for a further 20 - 30 minutes. Add any greens (see NOTES) and the fried bean curds about five minutes before end. Also add sesame oil and soya sauce at this stage., and adjust seasoning.

Pork should be fall-from-the-bone soft. Remove from heat and let stand for a few minutes.

Serve with steamed rice or noodles, and a soya sauce with sliced chilli condiment. Generally also a serve of stir fried vegetables is traditional, but (see NOTES) I've put some vegetables in the soup for the last half hour.

Pork should be something like riblets, belly, etc. The main thing is to have bones with a thin covering of meat. I got about a quarter of a pork ribs/belly and cut the skin and some fat off, then split into ribs, and cut the ribs (and the odd strips of belly that protruded past the ribs)  into about 6cm lengths.

Sliced vegetables - it's more usual to have the vegetables as a side dish but as I don't have a stir fry pan going, it's more convenient to add a few diagonal slices of celery, some carrot slices, etc. If your vegetables include pak choi and/or spinach (highly recommended) then add these for the last five minutes of cooking only.

If you want, by all means stir fry the vegetables and serve as a side dish instead of with the soup.


Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Ted's Exotic Crumbing Mix

NAME: _Ted's Exotic Crumbing Mix

1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup besan flour
1/2 cup plain flour
2 eggs
1 tbsp water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp red paprika
1 tsp ground cumin

Mix breadcrumbs, besan flour, and spices together in a bowl. Mix eggs and water in another bowl.

Follow standard crumbing procedure: dredge in flour, dip in egg, roll in crumbs, fry. Preferably at slightly lower temperature in olive oil.

Really good as the crumbing on the potato and lentil burgers. Also good on cauliflower florets.

Every so often, I want to crumb something to go along with a spicy curry or similar dish, and I experimented a bit and came up with this. It tastes really good with curries, and some Arab dishes. The turmeric and paprika give a nice colour, and are also really healthy. It kind of balances out the frying in oil... %)


Friday, 7 June 2013

Fried Spice Veg Curry

NAME: _Fried Spice Veg Curry

2 - 3 medium potatoes
equal amount pumpkin
1 medium carrot
2 brown onions
1 cup natural yoghurt
1 cup cream
1 tsp each of mustard seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, black peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom seeds, cooking salt, chilli flakes, sesame seeds
2 tsp each ground turmeric, ground Indian red paprika.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp rice bran oil

Peel onion, cut into lengthways crescents. Peel potato, pumpkin, and carrot, cube potato and pumpkin to about 1.5cm - 2cm cubes, slice carrot 1cm thick.

In a heavy saucepan, fry the seed spices in the oil until you hear them crack, then add the onion, fry for another five minutes then add the ground spices and reduce heat. Add the vegetables and about 750mL of water (3 cups) and allow to simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Mix together the yoghurt and cream to serve with the curry.

Serve with basmati rice and add a dollop of the yoghurt-cream mixture. Good served with Potato and Lentil Burgers or similar crispy side dishes.

This is a very flavoursome curry, and depending on the chilli flakes you use, can pack quite a wallop. If you're unsure about the chilli flakes, test by frying a teaspoonful of flakes gently in a teaspoonful of olive oil and then dipping a wooden skewer or toothpick into the oil and tasting that.

Lentil and Potato Rissoles

NAME: _Lentil and Potato Rissoles

2 medium potatoes
1 cup dry red lentils
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp besan flour
1 egg
1 tbsp milk
1 - 2 cups breadcrumbs
1/2 cup olive oil

Simmer lentils in 2 cups of water until all absorbed. Peel and cube potatoes, simmer until just soft enough to mash. Mash potatoes, adding in the turmeric and salt and besan flour. Add cooked lentils and mix in, set aside and allow to cool.

Whisk egg and milk together in a bowl, put breadcrumbs in another bowl. Form potato / lentil mixture into rounds about 1cm thick and 4cm diameter, cover in egg wash, then in bread crumbs. These can either be fried right away and served, or kept in the refrigerator to firm up before frying. Fry in batches to prevent the oil getting too cold.

Serve on their own with a sauce like yoghurt/cream, or hummus. Or serve as a side dish to curries etc.

Besan flour is chickpea flour. You can substitute plain flour instead, but besan gives a better flavour.


Thursday, 23 May 2013

Leek Buttermilk Bake

NAME: _Leek Buttermilk Bake

3 leeks
2 medium waxy potatoes
2 medium brown onions
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tsp dijon mustard
50g butter
1 egg
1 to 1.5 cups cottage cheese
1 - 2 cups grated sharp cheese

Either sheets of puff pastry
or make a bread dough with
150g baker's flour
90ml water
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp instant yeast

If making the pastry, take about mix and knead as for bread dough, let rise for 40 minutes, punch down and roll out as thin as possible, fold in sides to middle and then ends to middle and roll out again, ensuring the pastry is big enough in every direction to cover the pie/flan dish.

Lay dough into pie/flan dish pressing into the bottom edge all the way around, and all the way up the sides. Set aside to rise for about 20 minutes, then place in refrigerator to stop further rising and set the pastry. Save scraps of pastry aside for the topping.

Slice leeks into 1cm slices, onions into 1/2cm slices, peel potatoes, quarter lengthways, and slice each quarter in 1/2cm slices also. Chop the two cloves of garlic. Place potatoes into a pan with the butter and a few spoonfuls of water to promote steaming of potatoes. Once they begin to soften add onion garlic and leek, cook until soft. Add mustard and buttermilk, heat until it's thickened and almost dry.

Use stick blender to mix egg and water, add shreds of left over dough and blend until it achieves a consistency, set aside.

Place about 1/3 of the cottage cheese on the bottom of the pastry shell. Add the cooled filling, the rest of the cottage cheese. Spread the egg batter over the top, then sprinkle the cheese over.

Bake in 200C oven for up to 45 minutes, until done.

Serve with steamed vegetables.

See also Chicken Leek Pot Pie once I put the recipe up.


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Wholemeal Honey and Buttermilk Loaf

NAME: _Wholemeal Honey and Buttermilk Loaf

200g wholemeal flour
150g baker's flour
210ml buttermilk
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp water
2 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp salt

Egg wash (if desired)
1 egg
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp bicarb

Place flour in dough mixer, start on medium speed and add the yeast and salt. when mixed through, add the honey and allow to mix, then add in the buttermilk, reduce speed to medium low. Allow mixer to knead the dough until well come together, about 7-10 minutes. Keep switching off and lifting the mixer and unsticking the dough ball from the bowl to allow it all to knead thoroughly.

Remove the dough ball with floured hands, work a few sprinkles of flour around the outside. Place in a bowl that has been brushed with olive oil, brush the top with olive oil, and allow to rise for between 30 and 60 minutes depending how long it takes to double. Turn out onto a baking tray lined with baking paper, punch down and shape round, leave to rise the second time.

If desired, mix up the glaze and brush top of loaf, slash 4 - 6 times, place in oven preheated to 185C and bake for 45 minutes or until done. (Depends on your oven.)

Heavier flours don't rise that well, and form a dense crumb. This same recipe can also be made with spelt flour and baker's flour.


Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Cottage Cheese Lasagne Roll-ups

NAME: _Cottage Cheese Lasagne Roll-ups

Pasta: (If making from scratch)
400g OO flour
3 eggs plus two yolks from filling (see below)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp water
(Otherwise, 12 - 16 premade fresh lasagne or canneloni sheets)

1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 tsp chopped salt-preserved lemon rind
1 brown onion chopped
8 cloves garlic (See Method)
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Grapeseed oil mixed
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

1 - 2 cups cottage cheese
1/3 cup fresh fine grated Romano
3 roma tomatoes
3 halves oven-roasted roma tomato
2 egg whites (add yolks to the pasta dough if making from scratch)
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

Cooking salt to season.
Around 1 cup shredded sharp cheese such as cheddar.
Around 1/3 cup of finely grated Romano.

Make the sauce.
Chop half the garlic cloves roughly. Add the oil to the saucepan, heat close to smoking, add the chopped onion and the rough-chopped garlic. When onions are just beginning to turn golden, add the tin of chopped tomato and the chopped salt lemon rind, the basil, and bring to a simmer. Season with salt, leave simmering for at least half an hour, preferably two. Depending on which pasta you are using, you may add half a cup of stock or water. (See Notes)

Make the filling:
Mix the egg whites and grated Romano into the cottage cheese, add salt to season, mix some more. Set aside. Slice the fresh roma tomatoes and the oven roasted romas, set aside.

Prepare the pasta. 
If making from scratch, place flour in a mixing bowl, add a teaspoon of salt, mix through, make a well in the centre and add the 3 eggs and 2 spare egg yolks, mix through. The mixture should initially be crumbly but slowly come together after around five minutes mixing (by hand) and form a hard dough ball. Add water as necessary to achieve this very hard consistency.

Make a well in the dough, add some olive oil, knead on a board, keep making a well and adding more oil a few drops at a time until all the oil is absorbed into the dough. Keep kneading for at least five minutes, then roll the dough out into a log about 3cm diameter and as long as it makes. Cut in halves successively until you have 16 slices, roll these out as quickly as possible using a pasta roller, to the #7 setting. Try to get the patches of dough as wide as the pasta machine will allow, and lay the pieces out interleaved with waxed paper.

If using prepackaged sheets, cook in boiling water until almost done, and allow to surface dry without washing.

Prepare the dish itself:
Spoon enough cottage cheese mixture onto each sheet of pasta to cover completely, lay several slices of fresh tomato interspersed with slices of oven roasted romas along one edge, sprinkle a little chopped fresh basil over the tomato. Roll each sheet so the tomato edge ends up inside lengthways.

Spoon a bit of the sauce into a baking dish, lay the lasagne roll-ups in so there's a little space between them, top with the remaining sauce. Place in 185C degree oven for 45 minutes, then remove from oven, sprinkle the cheddar and Romano evenly over the top, increase oven temp to 200C, and return the baking dish to the oven for a further 15 - 20 minutes.

Serve immediately, spoon a little of the sauce over each plated pair of roll-ups.

Technically, this is a form of canneloni, but not quite. You could use ricotta but cottage cheese makes this a much heartier meal. Fresh pasta may take a bit longer at 185C to cook properly, as it goes in fresh and uncooked. That's okay, the way to test is to cut a pinwheel slice off a roll-up and see - if there's white showing in the pasta dough where you cut it, it isn't cooked through yet.
If using prepackaged pasta, it will be 3/4 cooked when you pull the dish together so the sauce can be quite thick. If using fresh pasta, you may want to add half a cup of water to the sauce to better cook the pasta, which will absorb some of the liquid.


Friday, 17 May 2013

Bigos #1

NAME: _Bigos #1

1 cup prunes
20gm dried porcini or (wild forest) mushrooms (See NOTES)
2 cups stock, beef preferred, or chicken or vegetable
1 tbsp pork lard
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 onion
half head cabbage
half a kilo of sauerkraut  (See NOTES)
1kg Polish sausage (See NOTES)
1kg kabanossa (See NOTES)
1kg leftover boneless meat (See NOTES)
150g bacon cubes, around a cupful (See NOTES)
1 tin chopped tomatoes (See NOTES)
1 cup red wine
1 tsp heaped of caraway seeds
Salt and black pepper to taste

If necessary, pit the prunes. Put prunes and mushrooms into enough boiled water to soak them, set aside.

Rinse the sauerkraut and drain well. Cut sausages into 2cm - 3cm slices, meats slightly larger.

Slice the cabbage thin, place in a large heavy saucepan along with the fats. Peel the onion, quarter lengthways, add to saucepan. If using uncooked meats, add them now as well. Add caraway seeds, and saute until cabbage is reduced to about half.

Add remaining ingredients sauerkraut, tomato, stock, the soaked prunes and mushrooms and the clear liquid they were soaked in, preferably leaving the cloudy sediment out, and red wine, bring to a simmer.

Simmer for one and a half hours. Add water if needed to prevent burning, stir often.

Serve in bowls with smallish boiled peeled potatoes.
Bigos is even tastier if kept in a cool place for 24 hours and re-heated.

"Bigos" is almost a Polish national dish, it's also known as "Hunter's Stew" and was often made to use up leftover meats and smallgoods and the last of the season's sauerkraut.  It's delicious served fresh, reheated, or even frozen and reheated.
  • There are mixes of dried mushrooms available that are every bit as good as porcini in this recipe. I've used home-dried portobello, dried field mushrooms, and whatever comes to hand.
  • Use salt-pickled sauerkraut, either home-made or store bought.
  • Sausage/bacon - smoked Polish sausage can be used in place of Kabanossa, just omit the bacon or the smoked flavour becomes quite strong.
  • Meats - can use fresh beef, fresh pork, leftover roast, leftover ham - pretty much whatever. Mutton is not recommended.
  • If using bacon, 1cm cubes is about right, but again, whatever is to hand.
  • Use 2 cups of fresh chopped tomatoes instead of the tinned tomatoes, if you prefer. 


Borscht Soup #2

NAME: _Borscht Soup #2

3 - 4 beetroots
1 turnip
1 large potato
2 medium carrots
1 kg beef, cubed around 2cm
1 large brown onion, cut into 1/8ths
2 ltrs beef stock
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups fine chopped fresh cabbage
1 cup chopped fresh dill
1 cup sour cream

Place the beef and onions in a large saucepan along with about 1/2 the stock. Set to simmering, for around an hour and a half.

Meanwhile, peel and dice the root vegetables to around 1.5cm cubes, place in remaining stock, add the dill and vinegar, set aside.

Allow the cooked broth to cool, skim off any froth and excess fat. Add the remaining stock with vegetables in, return to heat for around 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Add the shredded cabbage, boil for another ten minutes or so. Add the cream and serve.

Serving - can be done immediately, when the soup is hot, or served cold later, or (best by far) kept cool for a day or two, gently re-heated, and served.

In any case, serve with rustic bread.

Variations include adding pork meat and sausages, cubed potato, parsnip, etc. I made the recipe above with cabbage that had been shredded and slow-cooked in butter days before as part of another meal, and was rewarded with a beautiful flavour. Don't be afraid to experiment a little. Add red wine as well as red wine vinegar, use caraway and fennel seeds when boiling the meat. All these variations work.


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

My Fried Green Tomatoes

NAME: _My Fried Green Tomatoes

green tomatoes
1 cup flour
1 cup fine corn meal
2 raw eggs
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp fine ground cumin
1 tsp fine salt
pinch of fine salt
1 - 2 cup oil. (EVOO, rice bran, grapeseed mix is good)

(See notes) Prepare tomatoes as per the Notes. Place plain flour in a small bowl, corn meal in another small bowl mixed with cumin and salt, Beat eggs, milk, and pinch of salt in a third small bowl.

Put oil into a heavy frypan and heat just under smoking heat, maintain this temperature.

Dip tomato pieces into egg, dredge in flour, dip in egg, and finally dredge in corn meal, then place in frypan and fry, turning often, until golden to lightly browned, drain on a slice of bread or some paper towel.

Prepare in small batches, as if you leave coated pieces laying around for five minutes, the salt will draw moisture, and the coating may try to drip off the pieces.

If you turn them gently, and only turn them once the underneath side has browned, you should be able to keep all the coating on the tomato rather than crumbling all into the frypan.

As a side dish, best served hot.

I was lucky enough to have a crop of cherry tomatoes late in the season that were not going to ripen, and they are too small to slice, so I just cut them in half. That meant a large surface of smooth skin, which the initial flour would not have stuck well to. Hence the double dipping procedure.

If you have larger green tomatoes that can be sliced about 7mm thick, do so, if you have cherry tomatoes, halves should be no thicker than 7mm, if they are larger (grape tomatoes) perhaps quarter them. The idea is that the thickness should be such that the inside of the slice/half/quarter cooks just soft in the time it takes for the crumbing to brown.


Friday, 10 May 2013

Stuffed Kale Rolls

NAME: _Stuffed Kale Rolls

24 large Black Kale (Kavolo Nero) leaves
12 smaller Black Kale leaves
250gm beef mince
4 small brown onions
8 cloves of garlic
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
Bunch of fresh oregano leaves
Bunch of fresh mint leaves
100g Crumbly Fetta cheese
100g Drained salt pickled sauerkraut
1 cup Basmati rice
Olive Oil

This dish is prepared in several stages. The mince can be prepared a day in advance, and in fact I generally make about 3 times the amount of mince and freeze the rest for other dishes. I'll deal with each stage separately to make it easier.

Finely chop 2 small onions and two peeled cloves of garlic, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan and add the chopped onions and garlic, fry until onion goes slightly glassy, and add the mince. Chop oregano and mint leaves until you have about quarter of a cupful of each, add that to the mince, stir through and allow the flavour to permeate, then add three quarters of a tin of chopped tomatoes and the tablespoon of tomato paste, plus a cup of water. Add two more cloves of garlic, minced. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for around 45 minutes, adding water if it becomes too dry. (But you do want it relatively dry.) Set aside to cool.

Chop about a quarter of a cup of mint leaves, and in a bowl stir together the mince, the mint leaves, the sauerkraut, an extra teaspoon of salt, and the cupful of uncooked Basmati rice. Cube or crumble the fetta and fold into the mixture. Set aside

Finely chop the remaining two onions and peel and finely slice the other four garlic cloves. Fry in a saucepan (perhaps the same one as the mince was cooked in) in about a tablespoonful of olive oil, until the onion becomes golden with occasional brown bits. Add the remaining tin and a quarter of tomatoes, about three cups of water, salt, and about a quarter cupful of chopped oregano leaves. Simmer for around 30 minutes.

FINALLY, The Rolls:
Take the 24 large kale leaves and shave the thick spine down to the same level as the leaf. Boil a large saucepan of well salted water, and put the leaves in stalk end first, then slowly press down into the water. Leaves should turn bright green when blanched, and be softened but not so soft as to tear. At this point, empty the boiling water and flood the leaves in cold water to stop the cooking process.

With the stem end towards you and spine side down, place a tablespoonful of the filling mixture in the centre of each leaf, fold the sides in, the bottom up, and then roll to the tip, forming a parcel with the filling inside.

Roughly tear the remaining kale leaves and put about half on the bottom of a large saucepan, probably the same one as was used to blanch the larger leaves, then arrange the rolls in a layer so that they wedge each other so they will stay closed, then add the sauce. lay the remaining kale leaves on top, and if the liquid from the sauce hasn't covered the rolls, add a bit more water until the rolls are covered to a depth of about a centimetre.

Put a lid on the saucepan, bring contents to a gentle boil, then reduce to a simmer and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.

Discard the covering leaves when done, remove the rolls from the sauce, arrange on a plate, and spoon some sauce over. Serve hot or cold.

This was an experiment, because I like dolmade and cabbage rolls, and I LOVE kale and especially Black Kale. You could leave out the sauerkraut and perhaps use very finely shredded cabbage, but I liked it the way it was.


Saturday, 16 March 2013

Savoury Mince (Sloppy Joes)

NAME: _Savoury Mince (Sloppy Joes)

500g minced beef
1/2 brown onion
1 - 2 tbsp tomato sauce
2 tbsp raw sugar
1 tsp powdered garlic or fresh minced
1/2 tsp curry powder or cayenne pepper (see Notes)
1/2 cup grated carrot
1 tsp beef dripping
salt and pepper to taste

chop onion finely, fry in pan in beef dripping with the minced beef until browned. Drain off liquid and add other ingredients, adjusting consistency with the tomato sauce. Cook at medium heat until carrot is cooked soft, about 15 - 25 minutes.

Serve on toast with a side of salad or baked beans. Or go the whole sloppy joe route, slice open a bread roll, butter lightly, spoon in some mince and if desired top with baked beans and/or grated cheese and a side salad.

The Sloppy Joes recipe would probably not use curry powder, feel free to use cayenne pepper and/or a mix of Worcestershire Sauce and tomato sauce, and feel free to toast the rolls if serving like a traditional sloppy joe.


Monday, 14 January 2013

"Lassaka Mousagne"

NAME: _Lassaka Mousagne

3 - 4 baby eggplants
3 - 4 courgettes
2 brown onions
4 cloves garlic
fresh oregano leaves, chopped (enough to make about 1/3 cup)
fresh mint leaves, chopped (enough to make the above to 1/2 cup total)
bunch of silver beet
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups chicken stock
fresh lasagne pasta sheets
1 cup blended EVOO and RBO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Rice Bran Oil)
2 cups water, or chicken stock, or one of each.

100g butter
1 cup milk
2 tbsp plain flour
200g grated cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste

Peel the eggplants and courgettes (as you fry off each lot, preferably, to avoid the eggplant turning brown) and cut into 7mm or so slices. (Thicker than 1/2cm, thinner than 1cm.) As you peel each eggplant, fry the slices to a crisp brown on each side using the oil as necessary. Place on absorbent paper or slices of stale bread to drain, set aside.

Slice the onion to a similar thickness, add two cloves garlic sliced thin, and fry until onions are light brown, transfer to pot. Deglaze the pan with about 1/2 cup water or chicken stock, set aside. Add chopped oregano and mint to the pot, turn over medium heat until fragrant, then add the deglazing liquid from the pan and the remaining stock, the tinned tomatoes and the tomato paste, season with salt and pepper. Add the remaining two cloves of garlic, crushed to paste. Simmer for an hour, until reduced.

Wash the silver beet and trim out the stems. Assemble the lasagne by lining the bottom of the pan with silver beet leaves, placing a few fried eggplant and courgette slices, and the first sheets of lasagne pasta to line from edge to edge.

Spread a few spoonfuls of the reduced tomato sauce over the pasta sheets, add slices of eggplant and courgette, spread more sauce, then some more silver beet leaves, spread more tomato sauce. Continue these layers until dish is close to full. (Don't put the top layer of pasta on until ready to cover with bechamel, otherwise it will curl.)

Make the bechamel by melting butter over medium heat, adding the flour, then the liquids, then the grated cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Adjust to a quite thick consistency. Place last layer of pasta over the silver beet, spread the bechamel over the top.

Bake in 170 degree oven for an hour. Allow to stand for 10 - 15 minutes once cooked.

With a green side salad, can serve up to 8 people.

I started off with ingredients for a moussaka, then decided to make a vegetable lasagne instead. The secret is to use HEAPS more herbs than you'd think comfortable, because the flavour consolidates over the hour of simmering. Also, because of using fresh pasta sheets, the tomato sauce and bechamel need to be less moist than normal.



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