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.


Friday, 27 March 2015

Bear's Bread Crisps


stale bread French stick
fine grated parmesan cheese
seasonings (see NOTES)
olive oil

Slice the bread stick into rounds 3mm - 5mm thick, lay out as tightl packed as will still lay fflat on a shallow baking tray or baking sheet, brush liberally with olive oil, sprinkle seasoning (see NOTES) over, sprinkle parmesan cheese over.

Bake in oven preheated to 180C for 10 - 20 mintes depending on your oven, until lightly browned on top. Remove from oven and immediately spread out on a cooling rack or tea towel, or stacked on each other as pictured. This lets the crisps dr and develop their crispness.
(Please note this was my first batch, it really
needs the olive oil spread all the wa to the edges
in order to cook nicely. These were still okay though.)

Serve as a snack once cooled. Will keep in an open container covered loosely with a teatowel for a few day, but will go stale quickly due to the olive oil so eat ASAP. (Shouldn't be a problem %)

Seasonings can be as simple as Vegeta stock powder, or any other dry seasoning you like. I used:
1 tsp fine cooking salt
2 tbsp Vegeta powder
1 tbsp tomato powder (see below)
1 tsp celery powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp carrot powder
2 tsp basil powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
but you can vary these as you wish. The cayenne is fantastic, as is the garlic powder. Tomato powder also is good.

You can make your own tomato powder by either saving the skins and seeds of tomatoes when you make sauce, or just use whole fleshy saucing tomatoes, boil gently until most of the liquid is reduced, spread out on a drying sheet or baking sheet and either dry in the oven on low heat with the door open, or in a dehydrator if you own one. Once the tomato pulp is completely crisp dry (but not burnt) you whiz it in a blender until it's a fine powder.

Dry tomato pulp, skins, and seeds, just before going in the blender.


REAL Breakfast Crumpets

NAME: _REAL Breakfast Crumpets

2 crumpets per person
1 egg per person
grated sharp cheddar
grated parmesan
crumbled bacon bits

Melt around a tablespoon of butter in your frying pan, sprinkle a few pinches of parmesan where you'll lay the crumpets, hole side up. Drop the crumpets directly onto the parmesan, sprinkle crumbled bacon, grated cheese and some parmesan onto each crumpet, sprinkling evenly to cover. Reduce to medium heat and wait for cheese to start sweating, then add a bit more butter and flip each crumpet over and keep cooking until done, around 3 - 5 minutes. You're aiming to brown the cheese and cause some crispy crust.

Meanwhile, fry your egg (in an egg ring or a large enough ring of onion or capsicum if you prefer) using the last smidgen of butter in another pan and then assemble stacks of one crumpet, one egg, topped with a second crumpet.

Serve immediately. Two crumpets and one egg are a portion for one person.

Bacon can be omitted if you're not a bacon fan.


Friday, 6 March 2015

Beef and Yoghurt Kofte

NAME: _Meat and Yoghurt Kofte

300g minced beef (or lamb)
200ml greek yoghurt (or sour cream)
2-4 tsp dried mint
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tsp sugar
1 medium brown onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp powdered cardamom
2 tsp powdered coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp salt
375ml tomato passata (or a tin of diced tomatoes)
2 tsp powdered tomato or 2 tbsp tomato paste
4 tbsp beef, mutton, or goat dripping (or high temperature oil)

Cut onion in half lengthways. Finely chop one half, cut the other lengthways into crescents. Mince the garlic. Put chopped onion, minced garlic, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp cardamom, 1 tsp sugar, 2 tsp mint, both tbsp flour, and the mince into a mixing bowl and mix well, slowly adding half the yoghurt (or sour cream) until the mixture becomes sticky enough to hold together. Form the mixture into balls around 1cm - 1.5cm diameter, set aside.

Heat the fat close to smoking point, drop the kofte in a layer to cover the bottom of the pan, shake around until they're browned evenly, then lift from the oil and do the next batch, until all completed.

Pour off all but about half a tbsp of the oil in the pan, throw in the crescent onions, fry until translucent, then add the remaining spices, fry for about a minute more, then add the tomato passata to deglaze and continue to warm it. Add the remaining yoghurt, keep stirring until simmering begins, turn off heat.

Serve kofte over a bed of rice, ladle the tomato/yoghurt sauce generously over.

I made this recipe up using existing Middle Eastern recipes for a guideline, I was aiming for the sweet/yoghurt/cardamom flavour and this nails it pretty much as I remember from my childhood.


Thursday, 26 February 2015


Mezzes Made Myself!

4 Capsicums, medium size
12 button mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
600g pumpkin
6-8 medium roasting type potatoes
4 corn cobs
2 cups coarse bourghul
150g lean bacon
150g sliced virginia ham or similar (larger slices preferable)
4 slices of cheddar or nacho cheese around 2mm thick
2 tbsp Tuscan seasoning mix
1 tbsp dried basil
2 tsp dried mint
1 tsp caraway seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
half tsp ground nutmeg
cooking salt
1 lemon
2 cups chicken stock
100g semi dried or fully dried tomatoes
olive oil (a cup or so)

Yes, I know, a huge long list but you're making four dishes here...

In a small saucepan, place the caraway and cumin seeds, chop the garlic coarsely and add that too, add about two tablespoons of olive oil and salt and half a cup of stock, light the burner. Chop the sundried tomato and bacon into strips. When the water has evaporated and the spices are beginning to roast, add the bourghul and the sundried tomatoes and bacon, toss for a minute or two then add the rest of the chicken stock. Add the mint and toss through, then juice the lemon and add this and toss through. Set aside to cool.

Wash and dry the potatoes, set on baking tray. Cut pumpkin into four slices, clean and set on baking tray. Clean the corn and cut ends square. Core the end out of the capsicum and remove the seeds and webs through the hole. Boil the corn in lightly salted water, then lift out and set aside. Put the capsicums in the water and parboil then set them aside to cool  Stem and peel the mushrooms and halve them.

When the vegetables are cool enough to handle comfortably, lay slices of ham down, lay a slice of cheese on each, and roll the corn cobs in them, place on baking tray. Put alternating teaspoonful of the bourghul stuffing and mushrooms in the capsicums, place on baking tray. If there is stuffing left (and there should be around two thirds left) lay this down as a bed to keep the capsicums from rolling. Arrange vegetables to a pleasing design, then brush with olive oil and sprkle with Tuscan seasoning and salt.

Bake in oven at 185C for 45 minutes, at which time brush with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning and salt again, and return to oven with tray reversed to help even out the cooking process, bake for another 30 minutes or until the potatoes and the ham have browned in spots and all are cooked through.
This tray will fill four plates quite adequately.

May be served hot or cold. Serves four as a main meal.

Mezzes are pretty much hearty finger food, and the stuffing mix can also be used to stuff large tomatoes that have been hollowed out. They're served as sides at a party or feast, or (as in this case) a filling meal for four people.


Thursday, 5 February 2015

salsiccia coniglio speziato in modo mio

NAME: _salsiccia coniglio speziato in modo mio

1 kg rabbit meat, diced fairly small. (Or use cute fluffy chicken meat if you're squeamish... %)
100g diced pork fat
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
2 tsp powdered turmeric
1 tbsp red paprika powder
1.5 tsp plain salt
1.5 tsp raw sugar
splash of water for consistency

Mince the rabbit and fat on the coarse disk of your mincer (around 5mm - 8mm hole) and place in a bowl in the freezer or fridge. The rabbit should be cubed to minimise the length of sinews, as they are VERY tough and will clog the mincer unless they're pretty close to frozen. I tend to take out the longest thickest sinews in the leg meat anyway. Do chill or even partly freeze the rabbit and the fat, the sausages will be the better for it.

Toast each of the seeds separately in a hot pan, place in mortar, and grind to a fine powder. add the sugar and salt and grind them fine also, then mix into the meat along with the turmeric and paprkia powder, mix well to thoroughly combine, then put back in fridge again to marinate for a while.

Set up for stuffing 20mm casings, a kilo of meat will make just about a metre, I'm using collagen because that's all I have to hand, and they seem to work okay. Fill and either make convenient length links, or form into a spiral and skewer flat.

If not using right away, freeze ASAP and use within a safe time. (Generally a kilo is enough for two to four people, depending on sides, hunger, etc)

Fry and serve, or use in a recipe such as the Spanish Casserole dish I make.




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