Tuesday, April 26, 2011

slow cooking lamb

this little experiment started with a plastic container of cheap lamb offcuts from Woolies*, the kind of meat that normally ends up in the butcher shop sausage machine.

By the time I had finished, I had a tasty little platter of succulent juicy meat and 3 veg.

For the cheaper cuts of meat all you need is a little patience, a small amount of technique and a nose for delicious aromas.

roughly 1kg lamb offcuts, on the bone if possible
2 potatoes cut into 2.5cm pieces
1 carrot, cut into 2.5cm pieces
sea salt/ cracked black pepper
green veg ready for the steamer

trim the lamb of large pieces of fat.  season the meat well with sea salt and cracked black pepper, rubbing well into the flesh
Place in baking dish with a little water, roughly 100ml and cover with a lid or tightly with foil
Bake in a low oven 110degC or 220 farenheit and bake for 2 hours.
Pour off the fat and juices into a jug, the liquid portion can be used for making stock
Place the potatoes and carrots into the roasting dish, seasoning with salt and pepper.
Place back in the 180degC oven for a further 45minutes-1hour with the lid

Keep the meat and vegetables warm while you make a gravy from the reduced pan juices combined with a little red wine vinegar if u like.
Serve the lamb pieces on a platter with green vegetables steamed until al dente, with the gravy juices poured over the meat

There's meat on them there bones

*retail supermarket chain in Oz, the meat cost just $4

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How to create your own recipes

I like to create my own recipes, quite often from scratch. But how do I do it?

Here are a few tips

  • learn a few basic rules about what flavours work together. Pork and fennel. Lamb and rosemary
  • learn a few basic techniques
  • start with 1 ingredient and build a dish around it.
  • watch the professionals on the tv shows, they know how to make something tasty from basic ingredients, and they jazz it up. At home we don't need to jazz it up as much
  • learn a basic white sauce recipe (who needs a packet when it is so damn easy: 1tbsp white flour to 1 tbsp butter to 1 cup of warm milk. Add grated cheese for a bechamel, and herbs as well)
  • learn a basic tomato sauce recipe: 2 tins canned roma tomatoes, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1-2 cloves of minced garlic, salt, pepper and whatever herbs you have on hand. simmer it all for 1/2 hour and add 1tbsp of tomato paste.
  • read widely, and use other people's ideas and recipes. Don't try to reinvent the flavour wheels - so many contestants on the cooking shows don't know the flavour combos, or they experiment too widely.  don't mix strong flavours, use 1 strong flavour and 2 subtler flavours. Look for texture in the dish. Create good looking meals, we eat with our eyes first.
if you had 1/2 head of brocolli,  cream and a handful of leftover mushrooms, what would you do?

I would make a creamy pasta sauce, and serve on spaghetti or fettucine. Or you could make a soup with the brocolli and cream, using powdered vegie stock (good standby), and the leftover mushrooms could be sliced and panfried to serve on toast as a side.

If you had these 3 ingredients:

tomato, peas and ham

I would slice the tomato, slice the ham, and make a toasted sandwich for lunch, the peas would be made into a soup, just simmer in stock until soft and whizz.  Or you could make a green pea and ham soup, with the tomato served sliced finely with salt and pepper on a sandwich.  You can make a ham and tomato pasta dish (omit the peas) but serve the peas dressed in olive oil as a side

Try this: leftover roast chicken and vegies.  Pull the meat from the chicken carcass, warm in the oven with the vegies in foil, and serve on a platter of salad leaves dressed with olive oil and sherry vinegar. The chicken carcass can be used to make a lovely stock to use in soups or risotto.

Bake some pork sausages with tomato, sliced fennel (including the green tips) and white beans. serve with crusty bread

Try to include a protein element (meat/fish/eggs), a carbohydrate element (bread/rice/pasta/starchy veg) and something fresh and green (brocolli/peas/leafy veg). You have the basis for a tasty, nutritious meal

Have fun

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Love Food Hate Waste Campaign

I came across this campaign whilst at the Shopping Centre today.   apparently it's a campaign to raise awareness of the great waste going on in our homes: food. We throw away so much food it isn't funny.  But it isn't just the food we are wasting, think of all the packaging going to landfill, and the transportation used to bring us this food to the supermarket.  And we don't even walk to get it, most of us drive!

I'd thought I'd share the link and invite comments, and put a few tips up for reducing food waste, helping the environment and saving hard earned $$
  • buy only what you need
  • plan what you need (ie use a list..i'm guilty of not doing that..)
  • freeze leftovers
  • purchase local produce (by doing that you will get fresher longer lasting fruit and vegies. I've had silverbeet-Australian spinach bought fresh from the markets that lasted a week in the crisper)
  • keep fruit and veg in the fridge.  I know the fruit looks good in the fruit bowl, but just keep a few there for snacks, and keep the rest in the fridge
  • avoid impulse takeaway purchases, especially when u have leftovers in the fridge. or take the leftovers to work, in fact many leftovers taste better the next day, think of the leftover curry
  • keep bread in the freezer; it stays fresher and doesn't go mouldy. if u keep it in the fridge, it just doesn't last. u can always microwave it for 10 secs to defrost.
  • only make what you need. if you make more, chances are it will get thrown out.  If you do, just freeze it.
  • avoid making too much boiled rice or mashed potato, they don't freeze very well and usually it gets hoiked.
  • party and celebrations are so much fun, but gee we waste a lot of food. avoid spending too much on the junk food, make or purchase better quality food like dips and they will be eaten, and your guests will be delighted. whats the point of those stale half opened packets of chips..
see more at http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.nsw.gov.au/

Monday, April 18, 2011

Andy’s Yummy Cream of Cauliflower Soup

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
½ cup of cream
1.5 litres of good chicken stock, warmed
1 potato, chopped into pieces

Cook cauliflower and potato in stock until soft, seasoning with just a little salt (be careful the stock may have salt in it) and plenty of ground white pepper
Blitz the softened vegies in the food processor until almost a puree but not quite (u don't want baby food)
Add the soup back into the pot with the cream and warm gently

To serve:

In a bowl ladle the soup and top with fresh chopped chives and chopped crispy fried bacon to garnish.  Drizzle with good quality olive oil

On the side:  toasted cheese sandwiches (grilled on a oiled griddle) for a lovely Autumnal lunch...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Andrew’s Yummy Beef Stew with Baked Cheesy Dumplings

Ok the dumplings are basically a savoury scone, but they are quite light and nice with a little butter and dipped in the gravy. They make a nice alternative to pastry
750g Oyster Blade steak, cut into 2cm cubes
1 medium carrot, cut into a small dice
1 medium onion, cut into a small dice
1 medium stick of celery
1/2L or so of beef stock
1-2tbsp seasoned flour
Olive oil
In a good heavy fry pan, cook veg in oil for 5 minutes until soft
Take out of pan
Chuck steak into a plastic bag, with the flour
Add a little more olive oil, brown meat in batches
Add veg
Add stock
Cover tightly and simmer gently for 1.5 hours stirring occasionally.
You might need to add a little more stock or water if the meat sticks
Baked Dumplings
2 cups Self Raising Flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
½ cup butter
Small pinch salt
¼ cup milk
Pinch pepper
Pinch mixed herbs
½ cup grated tasty cheese
Rub butter into flour, until it resembles breadcrumbs
Add other ingredients
Mix together
Turn out onto floured bench and cut into 4 cm rounds, about 2cm high
Bake for 15minutes at 225Deg C
Serve with the stew, and a knob of butter in the middle, a glass or 2 of red

More Italian Simplicity

Spotted this recipe in the paper* the other day, it's by Karen Martini, head chef at various Sydney and Melbourne eateries and TV presenter on Better Homes and Gardens here in Australia.

I've adapted it to suit what is available out here in country New South Wales.  Like most of her recipes, it is pretty easy: the method involves making a delicious chicken broth, then adding chicken balls and noodles with garden peas and italian parsley for freshness.  I would serve this with a crisp white wine, somefing like an early drinking Hunter Semillon, or if you are in the Northern Hemisphere, a crisp dry white wine from your local area..

Mushroom, Chicken Ball, Pea and Noodle Soup

The stock

using a leftover roast chicken carcass and bones, simmer in about 2 litres of fresh water with an onion, carrot, celery, coupla parsley stalks, 2 bay leaves, a couple of peppercorns and 1tsp sea salt.
u can halve the carrots and onion and chop the celery into large pieces.  U can use a packaged chicken stock instead, but this soup really needs a good freshly made stock.  It tastes so much better then cardboard and msg.  Simmer the stock for about 45minutes, thats all, turn off stick a lid on it and go out for a while. The house will be smelling devine when u return.

Drain the stock thru a seive, into a clean saucepan, and bring back to the boil, simmer and skim any skum off the top (this helps clear the stock, stockmakers usually do this sort of thing)

The chickenmeatballs
olive oil
2 or 3 french shallots (√©schallots)  little brown onions
2 or 3 thyme sprigs, or 1tsp dried thyme
4 buttom mushrooms, or swiss brown mushrooms sliced and diced or
30g dried porcini mushrooms revitalised in a little boiling water  & dice them up
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
500g minced chicken or u can mince your own in the food processor, just don't overwork it or u will get rubber.
1 egg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Fry up the french shallots, thyme, garlic and mushies in the olive oil. Let it cool for 5 minutes
Combine all the ingredients and make into small meatballs about 3cm round. use water on your hands to shape and make round.

To make the finished dish:

Put a good handful of broken spaghetti into the simmering stock and cook for 6 minutes, stirring
Add the chicken balls and cook for 5 minutes
Add 2 eggs (adds richness, cheap protein,  and thickens it), juice of 1 lemon, check seasoning and add roughly torn parsley leaves,  and a good handful of frozen peas. Give it a stir and leave for 5 minutes to rest while u cut up some bread and chat with your friends.

* as seen in Sunday Life magazine