Sunday, October 21, 2012

Shaken, Stirred and all over the bench!

I'm not a fan of alcohol.
There will be friends reading this who may have possibly choked at this statement.
What I mean to say is I'm not a fan of the taste of alcohol. I like a good red or white or beer, but when it comes to spirits I need a good dose of mixer. Call me Sir Mixalot.
It is strange really as I started drinking when I was quite young, I was 6. The drink of choice for the grown ups at the dinner table was Boronia (Marsala) and coke, mine was coke with a faked pour that wouldn't have amounted to 1ml. Saturday mornings would see me up early to watch the Smurfs while the family slept, which of course would be accompanied by a Boronia and coke. OK I need to be honest, the bar was closer to the TV than the fridge so there was no Coke. Drinking straight Marsala oh how I loved the Smurfs.
With Marsala at 6 it was time to move onto the hard stuff at 12. I remember having a sore throat that was so painful I couldn't sleep and was in tears from the agony. Being a caring parent, who would like to have got some sleep at 2am, my father gave me a tumbler of orange juice. He said to drink it all in one go, that because it was cold it would numb my throat and help me sleep. Being the obedient child I was I sculled it down in one, a tumbler of straight scotch! It was not cold it burnt, but I did sleep.
I thought the martini drinker to be the height of class and sophistication so I was devastated when I had my first one and loathed the taste, oh it was awful. So when I was offered an espresso martini I politely declined, till my friend said "it just tastes like coffee." OK I'll give it a burl.
She was right it was a delicious iced espresso with only the faintest taste of alcohol, 4 more, just to make sure and I was hooked.
That week I hit the liquor store and got all the equipment (when I say "hit the liquor store" to my overseas readers I mean "went to" not robbed)
 restaurant quality
I'll share the recipe I used but I reduced the vodka and Kahlua to 1oz each. Also just a quiet tip, don't double the recipe and make 2 in the one cocktail shaker, yes Miss Moneypenny, it ended up all over the kitchen bench. It is much more elegant to drink it from a martini glass than slurp it off the laminex.
Espresso Martini
  • 1 oz  espresso
  • 1 1/2 oz Absolut® vodka
  • 1 1/2 oz Kahlua® coffee liqueur
  • 1 oz white creme de cacao
  • Pour ingredients into shaker filled with ice, shake vigorously, and strain into chilled martini glass. It should be somewhat frothy.
  • I used hot espresso straight from the machine rather than cold.
I would also advise to drink responsibly and it is not a good idea for 6 and 12 year olds to be drinking even with the Smurfs.  And please don't drink drive, not only is it illegal and dangerous, it's a laundry detergent and tastes vile.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

It's a mystery

AB has been the inspiration for some of my best cooking triumphs, remember the meat lovers ice cream, well the chico ice cream was a success. No matter what is plated up there is always praise even though I may sit there and do my best Mary Berry or Manu Fieldel and over critic each element of the dish. "oh it's is verging on a soggy bottom" "mmm butter, but there needs to be more sauce" The only time I knew I had missed the mark and risked being eliminated is when I heard "it's a strong flavour". Really you couldn't buy support like that, although I will be in trouble for writing about it.
I will in the coming weeks bring myself to blog AB's favourite dish, Catfood, it will take some time. Till then he provided this mystery box challenge after I asked him to pick up some meat for dinner.
"what do you want?"
"i dunno surprise me"
"OK...I could make you do a masterchef mystery box?"
"bring it on!"
Pasta south of the border

serves 4-5 and on the table in 30 minutes
Ingredients as above
  • 6 italian sausages
  • 360g oyster blade steak
  • 1 brown onion
  • 1/4 of a pumpkin
  • 200g green beans
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 bag pasta
  • 1 red chilli*
  • 250ml sour cream*
  • olive oil*
  • bottle of pasata*
*pantry item

  • Add boiling water from the kettle to a boiler with a good dash of salt
  • Put steak and sausages into food processor and mince
  • Dice onion and saute with olive oil in fry pan
  • Add meat to onions
  • Dice pumpkin and add to boiler
  • Add pasta to pumpkin, try to cut pumpkin the same size as pasta or smaller.
  • Add pasatato meat and season
  • Cut green beans into 2cm pieces
  • Drain red kidney beans
  • Just before the pasta is cooked, add green and red beans to sauce.
  • Drain pasta and pumpkin
  • Stir through sour cream, save a bit to garnish
  • Add pasta and sauce to boiler and mix through
  • Serve with dollop of sourcream and sliced chilli
There seems to be way too many steps but it really is just chop, add, cook, eat. Can't wait for the next mystery box, although I know you are all still thinking AB's favourite dish is catfood.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

If I only had a grain.....

I am lucky enough to share my journey of baking with one of my dearest friends. We are our own appreciation society, regularly scoring our dishes an overly generous 15 out of 10. 

I love it that after we have eaten our latest creations there will be an text the next day, "how much butter in your scones was it again?" "which recipe did you use for the bagels" "was that a stretch or a knead?" The best part to this relationship is there is no competition as to who is better.

The latest adventure was a multi grain loaf, her is amazing, so in the spirit of no competition I thought I better get my grain on.

The Internet has many multi grain loaf recipes but most call for pre-packaged grain mixes. I didn't want to use a pre-done mix so have experimented a couple of times and come up with this recipe.

You can mix up the different grains to suit your tastes, if it turns out bad, blame it on the grain!
(I'm sorry, at least I haven't subjected you to It's graining men...OK now I am truly sorry)

Grain Class of 2012
Top row L-R: black sesame seeds, chia, basil seed, sesame seeds, pepita seeds, rolled oats
Bottom row L-R:  Linseed, Sunflower seeds

Multi grain loaf
makes 2
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 3/4 water
  • 14g dried yeast
  • good splash of olive oil
  • 500g flour (I use 300g strong and 200g wholemeal)
  • 15g oats
  • 20g pepita
  • 30g sunflower seeds
  • 50g linseed
  • 30g chia
  • 5g basil seeds
  • 25g sesame
  • 25g black sesame 
  • 10g salt
  • you can vary the grains but a 200g total works well
  • Combine hot water and honey in a bowl and stir to disolve
  • Add remaining water and yeast to bowl and let sit for 5 minutes to activate.
not a cappucino
  • Combine flours, grains and salt in mixing bowl.
  • Make a well and add the liquids
If using a mixer add the liquids first, it combines better.

  •  Knead till dough is elastic and then put it in an oiled bowl to rest.
  • More flour may be needed depending on the day, it should come away from the bowl cleanly but still be a wet dough
  • Depending on the weather it should take about an hour to double in size.
  • Stretch the dough and then let rest for 30 mins and repeat.
  • Divide into 2 loaves and place in greased and floured (I use course semolina) loaf tin. 
  • Let rest for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 220°C for about 45minutes-1 hour.
  • Spray top of the bread with water and sprinkle with some extra grains.
  • Add a cake tin of water to the bottom of the oven to achieve a crusty loaf.

This bread makes the best banana sandwich ever!!!!!!!

Best breakfast bread with avocado, poached egg and diced bacon sprinkle..well chucked on the top.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

No soup for you.

Faced with the challenge of needing to devour any medicinal ingredient I could get my hands on, garlic, ginger, onions, chili, but it not being soup, I had to come up with a plan B.
Instantly rich curries and tagines come to mind, but lets not forget the man flu, it had to be ready in about 15mins and with a little effort as possible. So close to death you don't want to risk a delicious slow cook if there is a chance you won't live long enough to taste it.
The answer???

Man Flu Fried Rice
  • Olive oil.
  • 2 onions chopped (any colour)
  • 4 cloves of garlic chopped (or as much as you or your beloved can stand)
  • 4 cm ginger finely chopped
  • 2 red chili sliced (seeds in or out it's up to you)
  • 2 carrots grated
  • 3 stalk celery sliced
  • Garden fresh broccoli or any other vegetable you can get your hands on.
  • 3 spring onions chopped
  • 3 cups of cooked rice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Kecap Manis, as much as you like.

  • Saute onions, garlic ginger and chili with a good splash of olive oil in a fry pan.
  • When the onions start to soften, add the carrot and celery and other vegetables and saute for about 5 mins, you can add a little bit of water or stock if it is too dry.
  • Add the spring onions and rice.
  • Add Kecap Manis, salt and pepper to taste.
  • This version was meatless but you can add any meat of your choice...if you have the strength to go to the shops.
  • grab a box of tissues, a blanket, pillow, boxed set of your favourite DVD and pray you have enough strength to eat.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

50 shades of phlegm!

About a month ago our home was hit with a double dose of Man Flu.  A near death experience, I even had 2 days of work, not consecutively, 1 day a week times 2. This was pretty dire as I left my last job taking about 3 sick days in 2 years. Thankfully I can report that all is well and we have survived.
I'm blaming my incapacitation for the lack of blog updates, where as others may attribute it to my hoity toity laziness, but they would never say it to my face.
The staple diet of any man flu casualty is chicken soup, mothers milk. I guess you could add noodles but that would be dependant on the man patient having enough strength to chew.

This is my version, I drank it breakfast, lunch, and dinner till I mentioned having more soup and AB gave me a look that advised against it toot sweet. My solution will feature next post.

Clear Chicken Soup
  • 500 grams chicken necks
  • 2 large red onions (or any colour you have)
  • 2 chilli
  • half a bunch of celery
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 4cm ginger sliced
  • small cinnamon stick
  • salt and pepper to taste

There are options here depending on your level of Hoity Toity laziness.
Options 1
  • Brown the onions, peeled garlic and chicken necks
  • Add the remaining ingredients and cover with hot water.
  • Simmer for about 45mins-1hour.
  • Strain through a sieve and serve.
Option 2 Lazy version
  • Put everything in the pot and cover with water
  • I don't even peel the garlic as it is strained anyway.

No glamour photo shop here, this pot only has 1 handle, I must replace it!