Monday, March 30, 2009

potato wedges with rosemary and garlic

i'm finding that all potatoes i've been buying lately have been sprouting in no time, so i really have to buy them and cook them straight away. problem is, at the moment, there seem to be some wonderful varieties available, they are irresistable.
since the potatoes in the roasted greek vegetables were very delicious, i thought i would apply the same principle to potato wedges.

1 kilogram potatoes, cut in wedges
2 cloves garlic, crushed
several sprigs rosemary
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil

combine everything together and place it into a large baking dish.
bake for 1 hour at 200 degrees celcius, stirring around every 15 minutes. this will rough the potatoes a bit and provide extra crunchiness.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

cinnamon toast crusts and dyslexia

i was reading about someone's love for cinnamon toast crunch and mistakenly read it as cinnamon toast crusts. in my mind, i was imagining what i thought this cinnamon toast crusts thing should look like and taste like. i imagined thick buttery white bread crusts heavily dredged in cinnamon and sugar, toasted to golden perfection. you can imagine my disappointment when i reread what was written and googled cinnamon toast crunch.
boy, was i disappointed. cinnamon toast crunch was a breakfast cereal. imagine, i was thinking crunchy with a moistish interior, slightly chewy, warm out of the oven, fresh.....not some dry, packaged breakfast cereal (i'm sure it's delicious, but it wasn't how i imagined it to be). at that point, i decided that i would stay dyslexic just for this one thing. think about it, buttery toasted crusts of bread with loads of cinnamon and sugar......
after some experimentation, this is how i achieved what i imagined.

preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius.
butter thick strips of white bread - 2 centimetre batons if possible, on all surfaces.
roll in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar - 2 teaspoons of cinnamon to every half cup of sugar; pressing it on firmly doesn't hurt.
place the strips on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden.

they shouldn't be at all dry, but crunchy outside and light and fluffy within. they should also be buttery, but not dripping in it. the sugar should also be slightly caramelised......yummm..... i don't know if this was a freudian slip of the junk food kind, food dyslexia or just wishful thinking, but i'm glad of it because cinnamon toast crusts ain't half eat, that is.....i'm sure that on another level, they'd be classified as something totally lacking in nutritional value, but hey, it isn't everyday i'm dyslexic.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

apple pie

i've been making apple pie like this ever since i was in high school. it's not the traditional looking pie we are accustomed to with a crust on the bottom and top. it starts life with a crust on top with when cooked forms the base, much like a tarte tatin. i don't call it tarte tatin because i don't think it is a tarte tatin, not authentically, anyway.

1 cup plain flour
a pinch of salt
60 grams butter
1/8 cup sugar
1 egg yolk

2 quantities cooked apples

place the flour, salt, butter, sugar and yolk in a medium sized bowl and use a hand mixer to combine together to form a soft dough (if you like, you can use a food processor).
wrap the dough and place it in the fridge for 1/2 an hour.
preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.
place the apples in a 20 centimetre oven safe dish.
roll out the pastry to fit over the apples and tuck the edges of the pastry.
place the apple pie into the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until golden.
once golden, remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes.
place a dish larger than the pie dish over the pie dish and invert.
serve with cream and/or icecream

Friday, March 27, 2009

apple crumble

i like my crumble quite plain, not oaty, not coconutty, not nutty ....... i like it made just with flour, brown sugar and butter. and i like lots of it and lumpy. very often, i've seen it dry and not at all generous. if you're going to have crumble, have it.

160 grams butter
1 cup plain flour
3/4 cups brown sugar

a quantity cooked apples

preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.
for the crumble, place the butter, flour and sugar in a medium sized basin and use a hand mixer to combine them (you could use your fingers to rub the butter throught the flour, but i don't like to dirty my hands).
place the cooked apples in an oven safe dish and sprinkle the crumble mixture on top.
bake the apple crumble in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden.
serve with cream and/or icecream.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

cooked apples

wenty got carried away on saturday when he went shopping with mingay and paul at flemington markets. their mission was to buy some lobsters for lunch but wenty obviously couldn't resist all the cases of fruits and vegetables around him. after several exchanges on the phone, he not only came home with 10 lobsters, but also figs, apples, pears, sweetcorn, and limes. the limes were beautiful, the pears were nice and firm, but the apples needed attending to ....... immediately.
whenever there's a glut of anything, the temptation is often to make jam and preserves so we can enjoy the bounty through the year. however, i decided that i should cook the apples and go from there.
i realise that there are different apples out there which are better for some things than others, but very often, when i make cook apples, i never worry about the apples i use as the apples i use tend to be past their prime. this has never posed any problems as we just love the apples cooked this way.

1 kilogram apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
1/4 cup sugar
30 grams butter

place the apples, sugar and butter into a frypan over medium heat. the butter will melt, the sugar will dissolve and the apples will release their juices.
increase the heat and stir the apples around so the apples don't catch.
continue cooking until the apples are cooked to your liking; we like the apples soft, but still retaining their shape, with most of the liquid evaporated.
at this stage, the apples can be eaten as they are, made into a pie, made into a crumble, eaten with icecream, used as an accompaniment....getting the drift?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

roasted greek vegetables

wenty took me to a greek restaurant on valentine's day and i had my favourite roast lamb and vegetables. i love how the greeks cook their meat and vegetables - such an easy way to eat vegetables and get the five vegetables (and more) the way they cook it. tasty, comforting....

i am just going to list the vegetables which can be used - the list is endless.

kumera (probably not authentic, but i liked it)
beans - all sorts - green, white, borlotti
you can see i'm listing anything and everything i can think of - it's for my benefit more than anything

in addition to vegetables, you will also need
olive oil
garlic - tons is good - i use half a head of garlic, but this depends on the amount of the vegetables,of course.
greek basil
salt and pepper

decide what you want to use, prepare it (ie, wash, peel, chop etc) and place it all into a large baking dish. make sure you put in more than you think you'll need because the vegetables collapse and there is significantly less bulk than what you started with; i always cook much more because it's delicious the next day as well.
drizzle a liberal amount of olive oil over the vegetables, not so much so as to drown them, but enough to coat them all over.
strip the leaves of the herbs off and toss them over the vegetables. i like to use masses of herbs and eat them as a green after the vegetables have finished roasting (this has nothing to do with the fact that i have masses of herbs in the garden at the moment.....of course).
crush the garlic and toss that in as well.
season with some salt and lots of pepper.
pour in about 1/2 a cup of water, and give everything a good tumble around.
pop it into the oven at 200 degrees celcius.
give it a stir every 20-30 minutes and leave it in the oven for 2 or 3 hours.
this can be served as a main vegetarian course or as a side dish.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

my dad's version of satay

having given you a version of pretend satay sauce yesterday, i thought i'd give you a version of pretend satay today.
my dad never cooked much. this isn't to say he didn't know how, but he just never did. this was something he concocted when he did. for me, this is comfort food because it has memories of my dad with it. i love my dad.

a splash of oil
1 onion, cut into eight wedges
a piece of skirt steak, sliced across the grain, sprinkled with a little salt
1 or 2 tomatoes cut into wedges
pineapple pieces
some satay sauce, according to your liking

heat the oil in a frypan over high heat.
throw in the onions and give them a good toss around every so often. you want them to have a little colour here and there. set aside.
put in another splash of oil in the frypan, again over high heat. pop in the slices of meat to cover the pan evenly and allow to colour on one side for about a minute. flip it over and brown the other side. set aside. the meat should be golden outside, but undercooked.
in the same frypan, again over high heat, return the onions and add the tomatoes, pineapple and satay sauce. once fully heated and boiling (and no doubt splattering, so have a lid handy), add the meat, give it a good stir and remove from the heat and serve with plain rice and vegetables.

Friday, March 20, 2009

satay sauce - the non authentic version

this is not the real thing and i am not going to try and pass it off as such. it's just a spicy, peanutty sauce i like to have with the thai meatballs, cold roast meat, eggs, salad, as a dip....whatever.....i'm sure you'll find your own niche for it too.

1/4 cup oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 clove, crushed
1 red chilli, chopped, with or without seeds - your choice
3 tablespoons curry powder
3/4 cup super crunchy peanut butter
440 gram tin crushed pineapple

heat the oil in a medium saucepan and soften the onions.
add the garlic and chilli; be careful not to brown the garlic - you just want it to perfume (yes, that's right, i said perfume) the oil.
add the curry powder and do not let it catch - you just want to let it lose any rawness it may have.
add the peanut butter, followed by the crushed pineapple.
give it a good stir and thin it to the consistency of your liking with the juice from the crushed pineapples. if you poured the whole tin, that's okay - that's what i do - the sauce will be saucier, but still quite thick - peanut butter has that effect - it's thick.
now serve it the way YOU want to.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

thai dipping sauce

this is yummy. it has those elements which make thai food popular - it's sweet, sour, salty, spicy - it possesses the four Ss and it's tasty. let me get on with it before i get myself into a pavlov's dog situation.

1/2 cup lime
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon finely ground lemon grass (grind it in a mortar and pestle; ignore any recipe which tells you finely chop lemon grass, nobody worth their salt in thailand finely chops lemon grass, they use a mortar and pestle)
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 clove crushed garlic
1 chopped red chilli

combine well. taste and adjust to your liking.

i was very tempted to just give a list of ingredients for this sauce because you really want to get it to taste the way you like it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

thai chicken meatballs

many, many moons ago, i used to make tons of these; there was always something on which i could take these to, and they were easy to eat, being savoury, spicy and a finger food.....finger food is always popular - people just open their mouths and these meatballs just pop in.

1 kilogram chicken mince
2 tablespoons green or red curry paste
1 bunch coriander, chopped finely
1 bunch basil, chopped finely
1 cup breadcrumbs (this may seem like alot, but the meatballs stay moist and tender, not dry and woody)
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup sweet thai chilli sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar, or if you want to be authentic, gula melaka
toasted sesame seeds (optional)

place everything except the sesame seeds in a large bowl and mix it all until it's well combined; i like using my handheld mixer to do this - it mixes things better than i ever do and my hands don't get smelly.
at this point, i like to don a pair of disposable gloves and form the mix into balls. i do this sometimes by rolling, other times by extruding it, but a favourite is to use two spoons - the meatballs aren't perfectly round, but they aren't bad considering that you don't get mince all over your hands and because you don't get mince all over your hands, you know the phone won't ring (that's the real reason why i don't like to dirty my hands - the phone always rings when i'm in no position to pick it up).
once all the mince has been formed into balls, you can cover them and pop them in the fridge and cook them at your leisure, or cook them straight away.
here, i give you choice again!! you can pan fry, deep fry, grill or do as i do - microwave them. since everyone's microwave is different, you have to work out the intricacies of your appliance yourself. i place the meatballs around the edge a of a microwave friendly plate and nuke them until their done - make sure they are fully cooked - raw chicken is a definite no no (read food poisoning, and we don't want that). if you want to pan fry, deep fry or grill, do so, and again, make sure the meatballs are full cooked.
choice here again - once all the meatballs are cooked, you can cool them and refrigerate them to heat and serve later, or serve immediately with a sauce of your own choice - sweet thai chilli sauce is a popular choice. (other sauce choices to follow in later posts)
if the meatballs are microwaved, you can brown them a little under a grill to give them a bit of colour just before serving or use some of the optional sesame seeds to sprinkle on them - that makes them look special.....

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

steamed minced pork with salted eggs

whenever i want something comforting and i'm feeling somewhat jaded with cooking, i turn to the simple things in life. this is one of them. i don't really have a proper recipe for this, but i used these approximate quantities the other day.

3 or 4 salted eggs
500g minced pork (i usually buy the lean mince, but it is really good with the fatty mince)
a little stock or water
2 tablespoons cornflour
1 or 2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
grated ginger
spring onions to garnish

separate the egg whites from the yolk - this is easy because the yolks are solid. set the yolks aside and place the egg whites in a large bowl.
place the pork, stock/water, cornflour, sesame oil, pepper and ginger in the bowl with the egg whites and stir together until well combined - i like using the hand held electric mixer to do this - less elbow grease. pour into a shallow bowl large enough to contain the mixture. place the egg yolks on top and steam for 20 minutes or until done.
sprinkle with spring onions and serve with rice or congee and vegetables.

some recipes also add in a fresh egg or two while mixing the mince and also add soya sauce; i do sometimes, but i didn't this time because i had so many salted eggs of my own.

Monday, March 16, 2009

the thrills are alive - singalong sound of music

two saturdays ago, wenty, brrr, gazza and i went to the sound of music singalong....and it was alot of fun. being my first singalong, i wasn't sure about what to expect. wenty was under the impression that it might have been an alternative gay mardi gras thing, since it was on the night of the mardi gras. well, it wasn't. all sorts were there - families, older couples, younger couples and there were some gay guys dressed up as nuns. apparently, there is quite a gay following with the sound of music that i didn't know about (is nothing sacred?). whatever..... what i did find interesting was that there were the 20something year old (straight) guys (or i assume), who were sitting with their girlfriends, singing along. this was an all out dagfest and these otherwise cool dudes were indulging in something ....well....daggy....
anyway, some of the people dress up, children, adults and gays alike, and to get the ball rolling, the hostess invites them all on stage so we can have a look at them and have a chuckle. some are clever costumes - two ladies dressed up as mountains - climb ev'ry mountain.....two girls dressed up as girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes and when asked who they were, broke out into song - they'd obviously come prepared. in case you're wondering, no, i didn't get dressed up, but if i were to go again, i'd probably go as the baroness. i've always love the simplicity of the dress she wore to the ball.
before the movie commences (yes, it is THE movie), the hostess goes through our props bag with us and the the actions and sounds we are to make through the movie. i'm sorry if i make this sound hideous.
in our props bag we find flash cards to flash as we sing how do you solve a problem like maria? there's also a piece of curtain to wave you know when, and a piece of plastic edelwiess to also wave you know when. we boo at the nazis and hiss at the baroness. and when it's time for the captain and maria to kiss, we pop our party poppers....exactly at the moment they kiss....not before, not after.....exactly at that exact moment. needless to say, there were premature poppers and late poppers. and of course, we get an invitation to THE ball.
naturally, there are words on the screen to sing along to the music, but there isn't a bouncing ball to follow.
it was a good night and it's nice to see how well the movie has stood up to the test of time and has brought joy to so many generations and different walks of life.
unfortunately, miss k was out for the weekend and miss c had to study, otherwise they too could have joined in and had themselves a ball as well.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

sweet and sour sauce

yesterday, i my post was about making wontons...and there were no specific quantities given, but now i give specific quantities for sweet and sour sauce. i know people who eyeball this, but i like my sweet and sour sauce consistent.
i love deep fried wontons with this. i really do.....

1/3 cup vinegar (i use apple cider vinegar)
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
3 tablespoons tomato sauce

2 tablespoons cornflour/1 tablespoon wheaten cornflour
2 tablespoons water

place the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper and tomato sauce in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil.
meanwhile, dissolve the cornflour in the water and pour into the boiling vinegar, whisking the whole time. once the sauce has come to the boil, it is ready to serve with the deep fried wontons....or whatever you like.

if you want the sweet and sour sauce they have with pork, just add some stir fried capsicum, onion, carrots and pineapple to the sauce. if you decide to do this, don't waste the syrup from the pineapple (if you're using canned pineapple) and use it to replace the water whilst making the sauce.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


there was a time i was making these all the time because i'd be buying the 2 kilogram packets of wonton wrappers because they were so cheap. so everytime there was something on, i'd turn up with a huge basket of deep fried wontons and sweet and sour sauce. my friends don't associate me with wontons, but i do wonder if miss k and miss c's freinds do....maybe not, because i haven't done them for a while.
anyway, i thought i'd better post an entry today, and why not this?
i'm only going to give a list of ingredients and leave it to your own discretion as to the quantities. i do use more greens (garlic chives, spring onions and coriander) than meat (minced pork/chicken/beef/lamb) - i had dumplings in hong kong once from the roadside and there was hardly any meat! the greens i use are usually treated as herbs, but i use them by the bunch as vegetables in wontons. in fact, i use bunches of each to very little meat.
i also add eggs, fried eggs....eggs fried in tons of oil.... i was watching this girl from china make the filling once, and she used eggs fried in tons of oil. if i wasn't mistaken, i'd say that there was half the quantity in oil in the frypan to the quantity of eggs. need i spell it out? one cupful of eggs is fried in half a cupful of oil. the eggs are beaten lightly, stirred into the hot oil to cook, left to cool in the oil, chopped up and placed, oil and all, into the mixing bowl with everything else.
so what's everything else? i better list them:

mince (your choice)
soya sauce, both light and dark
sesame oil
chinese rice wine
salt (if you use tons of soya sauce, this is optional, of course)
spring onions
garlic chives
chopped, fried egg
chinese mushrooms
chopped spinach
water chestnuts
cornflour, 1 or 2 tablespoons per kilogram of meat
wonton wrappers

for some reason, i don't measure anything for this, even the cornflour is a bit hit and miss.
i use an electric handheld mixer to combine everything together because i don't like getting my hands dirty and smelly, and also, because i think it does a much more thorough job and quicker than i could ever dream to do it.
at this stage, it's really useful to have a large area to work on and a friend or two - that really speeds thing up, especially if you want to make tons like i always do. yes, i like to make a ton of wonton.......sorry.
layout the wrappers on the work bench and place a small amount of filling in the centre of each one; don't try to use to much filling because that will only lead to tears of despair when the filling cannot be enclosed properly and falls out either before or during the cooking process. you have been warned....try to be a little frugal here.
brush the edges of the wonton wrapper with a smidge of water and seal the filling in the wrapper. you can be fancy with the wrapping and put little pleats in the edge, as miss k does, or do as i do and simple fold the wonton wrapper in half to form a triangle and roughly squish to make pretend pleats, or just put the wrapper in your palm and squeeze, as i have seen some people do.
once an adequate number of dumplings have been made, it's up to you to decide as to whether you want to boil or deep fry the dumplings. that's it.

Monday, March 2, 2009

hazelnut rosettes

the big book of beautiful biscuits by the australian women's weekly was the first book i bought from the weekly library, and for all i know, it may well have been their first book (i'd love to know if anyone does know) from that collection. after buying this book (some nearly 30 years ago), i was hooked and now have a good number of books from the collection. i'm sure i don't have the entire library, but pretty close. there were some things which didn't interest me, believe it or not.
i'm not sure whether i'm stuck in a time warp, but i find the books from this collection a joy to own; the newer ones, while slick and stylish don't have the same appeal. i have many of the newer ones, but cannot say i have used them to the extent i have used the older ones...they're just nice to look at, but don't inspire me to get up and make something from them. to be really honest, i don't think i've cooked anything out of them....there, i've said it.....major confession, major sin.
but this biscuit book is my redemption. there are many biscuits i have made out of it and each one delicious. i haven't made all the biscuits, yet, but given the opportunity (read: finding people outside this household to help eat them) and the time, i intend to at least give it a try. other people's ambitions in life are to conquer mountains; mine, to conquer recipes (i'd really like to have the opportunity to travel more, especially america and europe, but making something out of a cookbook is more within my reach).
the recipe i offer today is a favourite. as a beginner cook all those years ago, this gave me the confidence to continue cooking and baking.

hazelnut rosettes
from the big book of beautiful biscuits by the australian women's weekly

250 g butter
1/3 cup sugar
60 g ground hazelnuts
1 2/3 cups plain flour
choc bits to decorate

beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
add ground hazelnuts, beat until combined.
add sifted flour.
mix well.
put mixture into a piping bag fitted with a fluted tube. pipe small stars into small paper patty cases and top each biscuit with a choc bit.
bake in a moderate oven approximately 15 minutes or until biscuits are light brown.
makes about 50.
note: the small paper patty cases used for confectionary are an ideal size for these delicious biscuits.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

salted eggs

i remember making salted eggs a couple of decades ago (it's so funny that i can talk in decades now....) where i used to dissolve salt in boiling water, wait (very patiently, unlike maggie, who put the eggs in when the water was still warm .....) until the brine was well and truly cold, season it with some rice wine and immerse the eggs and allow them to do their thing for a couple of weeks.
because this was some decades ago, i thought i should refresh my memory and see what people had to say about salting eggs on the net. there were 2 methods. the first was same as what i did all those years ago; the second, involved dipping the eggs in rice wine and coating the eggs with salt and leaving them to do their thing. because i wanted to be different (read: lazy), i thought i would put the eggs in a glass jar, pour in a pile of sea salt to totally bury the eggs and then pour
in bottles of rice wine to fill in the gaps. i felt this was easier than coating the eggs with wine and salt, you see.....
well, i am happily able to report that this method works and the eggs are deliciously ready after three weeks and very fragrant from so much rice wine. i think, to date, this is my preferred method of making salted eggs. i used very fresh, very extra large hens eggs. the yolk is totally delicious mooshed on toast......the whole egg is great for steamed mince pork, one of my very favourite comfort foods.