Me and the Anchovy

•April 14, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Me and the anchovy…

One of the best things to eat is roast lamb … I like the leg best but this recipe can be done with those well trimmed racks of lamb or if you can get them, rumps. Take an anchovy or three and with a soft bladed knife, mash with some garlic cloves until you make a salty paste. Make some small trees 3 cm high of Rosemary, for a roast leg say 10 for a small rack 2 or for a rump, one is enough. Use a sharp small knife and make a slit in meat, fill with the anchovy paste and then tuck in the rosemary. Roast as you would normally and allow the flavours to go through the lamb. Delicious.

or

Roman Roast Lamb

1 leg of lamb (the leg can be whole or can be diced into a 2 – 3 cm dice)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 knob of butter

1 lambs kidney

6 large anchovy fillets

3 sprigs of Rosemary

4 – 6 cloves of garlic

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 glasses of white wine

salt pepper (add this just before serving to taste)

In a pestle and mortar crush the garlic, anchovies and rosemary to a smooth paste.

In a large heavy based casserole pot brown the meat in oil and butter, if whole, then brown it well on all sides, if cubed, then the same and place to one side.

If using the lambs kidney, then dice it and brown it, then add the paste, the two glasses of wine and the vinegar and scrape up the browned bits and cook. Return the meat to the pan and get back to heat… drop the temperature and place the lid on the casserole, cook over a slow gas for as long as it takes for the meat to become very soft and tender… should the liquid in the pot start to evaporate too quickly, add some water. At the end of cooking you should have about a cup of liquid or a bit more.

Serve with a good  rice, some pasta or couscous.

But..

Loved or loathed in about equal proportions, I am a lover. I love the added push it can give to foods, its spiky saltiness, the heady fishiness. What I hear most is that it is too strong and the flavour overpowering. Makes me think that the complainee has just simply had a bad anchovy experience.

Anchovies have been around on the food scene for a very long time, found mostly in the temperate zones, they adore the Mediterranean for obvious reasons ,in the tropical waters there is a sub species that has been used in foods for many hundreds of years. It is anchovies that form the basis of the much used, SE Asian fish sauce. (strictly speaking, along with any other small fish trawled up in the nets.)

Anchovies have found their way into food flavouring for many hundreds if not thousands of years. In Europe and the British Isles, they have long featured in the food chain and could be found in markets in great mounds, salted. They were also kept in barrels and this resulted in a mix of anchovies that was sold as a paste.

Anchovies were found in a fermented ancient Roman sauce called Garum. It was said to be very pungent and the sauce https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garum Dried fish was and continues to be a food in much demand around the globe https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombay_duck

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anchovies_as_food

I should suggest that anchovy haters now leave the premises, but I am nothing if not determined when it comes to the delights of the tiny fish. I do have one suggestion for the piscatorially challenged, soak the little beggars in milk before you use them… this does two things, reduces the salt and lessens the taste. No more than 30 minutes.

Take anchovies away from the cooks of Spain France Italy Portugal and to a lesser extent Greece and you would have a small riot on your hands and I am with them. I have a jar of anchovies that stands beside the stove and when I need a flavour boost, in they go. I can honestly tell you it would be rare for me to start to fry anything without tossing an anchovy into the warming oil… I must say here in my own family I have one or two who do not like the taste and so I never tell them that there is anchovy lurking in such things as the veal in cream sauce, the sliced potatoes cooked with garlic (anchovy) and cream… thank you so much Sweden for this. The fact is they just cannot taste the anchovy as the flavour spreads through the whole dish.

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Jannson’s Delight

2 Large Onions sliced

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 Large (baking) Potatoes

1 small can Anchovies, drained and chopped (reserve the oil)

1 1/2 cups cream

Fry the onions in the 2 tablespoons of butter until golden. Slice the potatoes length wise as thin as possible. Using a long dish, butter it lightly and layer the dish (several times if possible but finish with potatoes) with potatoes, onions and anchovies. Drizzle the reserved oil over the top and dot with 1 tablespoon butter. Pour 3/4 cup of cream over the potatoes and bake in a hot oven (220 c) for 30 minutes, pour the remaining 3/4 cup of cream over the potatoes, reduce oven to 180 c and cook for a further 30 minutes until the potatoes are cooked and the top is golden.

So for me, anchovy finds its way into a delicious Anchovy Essence that is stunning for rubbing on a good steak or some veal before you cook it. Great also in salad dressings and a million other uses. I have just today done the first (test) batch of the original Indian version of what is now called Worcestershire Sauce, we wont be standing it out in the sun, that would be frowned upon… mind you without the sun of India, very very many of the pickles, pastes and chutneys would not be possible. Those amazing condiments that are just simply various vegetables and spices in mostly oil but some lime juice as well, need the suns warmth to bring the character out.

Anchovy Essence copy

Why are we becoming so dammed obsessed with stuff like this. We are over regulated to hell and back and, it is getting worse.

I forgot to mention that this version of Worcestershire sauce is quite different to the one we have been making for years to a recipe passed onto me by my Auntie Mon. This one uses souring agents (tamarind) and anchovy along with spices and is allowed to steep for a longish time to let all the flavours meld.

Putanesca sauce is the sauce that working women in Italy liked between ‘jobs’. It is quite strongly flavoured and contains anchovy along with chilli. We also do a limited version of Tapenade (limited because the olive oil is hard to contain). I have tested a great Anchovy Butter but butter is hard to stabilise. The English Gentlemans relish, much loved

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentleman%27s_Relish

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Some of the great recipes of the world would be nothing without anchovy, Caesar Salad would not be without its anchovy, Bagna Cauda that great Italian butter sauce could not be unless it contained anchovy, Saltimbocca a delicious way of cooking veal with anchovy and sage leaves would not exist.

More importantly, there are just so many times when the home or restaurant cook reaches for that dash of flavour. In many Asian countries, anchovies are an absolute essential in cooking. In Malaysia they are called Ikan Billis, the same in Indonesia. In Korea and Japan anchovies are used in many many dishes. We owe this small fish a great debt.

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http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/nov/08/our-10-best-anchovy-recipes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gnocchi with Green Beans and Peas

•April 11, 2016 • Leave a Comment

 

Gnocci Beans and Peas.

Sometimes the stars align, the planets seem benevolent and the sun shines, tonights dinner was one of those times and a huge huge thanks to Italy.

In a nutshell it was Gnocci, with a sauce of bacon, red onion, green beans, peas and pesto. And it was ripper.

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Pesto… Make your own

2 large bunches of basil all leaves stripped from the stems put into the bowl of a blender or if using a stab blender, into a deep bowl.

1/2 cup of very good olive oil

3 – 4 garlic cloves peeled and chopped, in the blender.

1/2 cup toasted pin nuts (please take the time to roast them, they taste better)

Blend until all is chopped and pureed, if necessary add a little more oil.

Stir in 1/2 cup grated parmesan

Stir in 2 tablespoons cream

Blend again. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sauce

1 medium red onion sliced

2 or 3 anchovies

3 rashes of bacon diced into 1 cm wide strips.

1 tablespoon good EVO

Heat the pan, add the oil and then anchovies, bacon and onion. Fry slowly until the onion is cooked and the bacon done. Then add..

14 green beans topped and tailed and cut into 4 cm battons.

1 cup of frozen green peas

Continue to cook until the peas and beans are cooked aldente.

I use a gnocci I get from Mediterranean Wholesalers in Sydney Road Brunswick. I used one whole pack. I find it easier to cook the gnocci in a dish of boiling water in a frying pan, as it rises to the surface scoop it into the above sauce.

When all is scooped in, add enough pesto to make a decent sauce (about half).. Don’t cook it, it will split and the oil separate just stir it through.

I like a squeeze of lemon and some extra parmesan.

Delicious.

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CHICKEN WITH ROASTED MUSHROOMS.

•September 1, 2015 • Leave a Comment

There is the odd occasion when the creative juices flow and for some reason, dredged up from the very depths of taste and perhaps even some visual. Every now and then, something good comes of it. Last night I must have been inspired, it was delicious.

There was a tray of chicken thighs, some bacon, a bag of Swiss brown mushrooms, a red onion, some fresh garlic, a bottle of our very own PW Anchovy Essence, in the garden some fresh sage, a bottle of cream, a bottle of West Indian style Chilli Sauce, a bottle of good Balsamic.

My original idea was to wrap the beaten down thighs in bacon and grill them, but the thought that more flavour could be added was too enticing. As has happened many times in the past, I swung directions and let my eyes, taste buds and hands do dinner.

I think chicken thighs are a good thing, they are a much better flavour than breasts. I like to flatten them a bit, this can be done between two sheets of plastic and a food mallet, not too thin. I then took a tablespoon of Anchovy Essence, blended that with a couple of cloves of garlic I had crushed, added about eight sage leaves shredded, some black pepper. This mix I then spread on the thighs and rolled them, bacon covered the outside, these I laid in an oval white ceramic roasting dish accompanied by a large red onion that I had thick sliced into four, I then drizzled them with a small bit of olive oil and about half a cup of cream. Into the oven at 150 Celsius for an hour to slow cook. I then halved twenty medium mushrooms and after one hour, added them to the roasting dish, but not on top of the chicken, added some more cream, maybe a 1/4 cup and back to the oven for thirty minutes.

At the end of thirty minutes the mushrooms were cooked and I removed the chicken to a plate to keep warm, I then reduced baking dish with mushrooms and onions until the cream and liquids had become emulsified, a splash of balsamic and a dash of chilli sauce when the reduction had thickened. Placed the chicken on a serving bowl, put the mushrooms around the outside and poured the sauce over.

It was delicious served with rice.

http://goo.gl/5rFvQR20150603_181218 20150603_181228 20150603_181244

Tuna… in glass

•June 19, 2015 • Leave a Comment

http://goo.gl/fPFdqh

Butter Chicken… so delicious

•June 16, 2015 • Leave a Comment

http://goo.gl/4Qzh6B

The food world is fkuked and its all so sad.

•February 25, 2015 • Leave a Comment

We are part of Asia, irrefutable fact. Our food influences now, often confused. Our need for speed is evident. We have no time.

As makers and sellers of food, based on best principles, we are obligated to ensure the survival of tradition, the best food to consume and an acceptance of what is todays world.

It is far from easy, often confrontational, frequently at odds with established ways. We see food, its making and consumption in a fluid state, at once changeable and often threatening. We are challenged to make something decent of the food we eat in a rapidly expanding international consumerist driven market.

Control of food has slipped from the hands of quality driven consumers into the hands of wealth driven consortiums, made to be an entertainment and lost to home and hearth. It is interesting to hear comments from leading food importers who defend their position and say that we have no right to complain should Australian industry be effected by cheap imports.

Wresting back this most basic, elemental need of mankind, from the hands of those who clearly do not share thinking peoples concerns for sustainability, organic, natural and delicious food is hugely difficult. Farmers markets, sustainability movements and a growing populace demanding accountability and honesty whilst encouraging and necessary, are slow moving.

Hard to see any time soon that television producers will give up the awful foodtainment money machine, or that multi national corporations will stop the array of practices designed to make food conform to the financial paradigm.

In order to argue this better, it is necessary to face some realities. Big business is never going to loosen its hold on food as a money making device, winding back the clock is not an option. Food as entertainment is here to stay. The only way is to move forward, hopefully with a more balanced view.

I have found it personally confronting to think that the foods, preparation, buying, growing and consuming have, over the years, been challenged, pushed aside and generally made to feel diminished. Meat is a great example. My own family were in the business of meat, my father, his father and my uncles all were engaged in buying, slaughtering and selling meat. They chose the animals destined for the table with care, only the best, they were treated with honour, slaughtered with dignity (by my father) and much enjoyed by those lucky enough to get the meat.

The situation in the meat world today is vastly different, the whole business has been impacted by (occasionally over zealous) meat and health inspectors, imposing regimes designed in other countries. With the inclusion of meat into what we knew as ‘grocers’ and which became ‘supermarkets’, things changed at a very rapid pace. The buying power of these huge companies was such that they could and did dictate to the food growers. Red meat with yellow fat became pink meat with white fat in order to fulfil a perceived market (but actually imposed) need, aided and abetted by feed lot owners who wanted to feed their animals with grain.

The world wide migration of people displaced by war, natural phenomena and the shifting tide of human desire began, every country on earth experienced population changes, Australia began by hosting huge numbers of Mediterranean people, people from UK had long since travelled to this land. Australia began to see people coming to live from all over Europe, each bringing with them their own take on food. Australia was never to be the same again. The USA was such a mixture that no one food style ever dominated, hence the amazing diversity of foods now found there.

While most people welcomed the changes… garlic, pasta, rice, French food, Greek food, Italian food, as a great change from the stodge of UK food, the down side was confusion. In the past we knew where we were going when we went into the kitchen, it was to cook some meat and three veg, now we stood at the doorway and pondered menu. We became vulnerable.

Communication played its part, Australia was a long way from Europe, news took weeks to arrive. Making a phone call to the UK was a very expensive affair. We watched on the movietone news the comings and goings on the other side of the world. We looked in amazement at the complex and beautiful Asian lands. The Government had in place the ‘White Australia’ policy to keep us free of coloured people. Never worked of course. Television arrived, fast transport, instant communication. We were no longer a quiet backwater, we were at the coalface, with no way of getting the coal.

This country seemed to be suffering a crisis of identity, Out with the old and in with the new.

Stability had been a part of the nation for years, now it was no longer there. After the war, Asian countries began to flood world markets with cheaper goods, quality was a thing of the past, now it was all about possession.

Health and health issues became more and more front and centre as the world developed, and yet diseases seemed to multiply. We became confused, indeed still do, as we are told by experts that food we had enjoyed for years was no longer healthy, sugar was bad, butter was bad, fat was bad. We had to learn to consume oil, we needed to retrain our cooking methods, no longer Salad Cream, but a Vinaigrette. No more meat and three veg. My mother was confused, who ever heard of frying chips in oil.

Cities were the places were food was happening, the divorce had begun, city kids thought that eggs came in brown paper bags and milk in bottles. No compulsion existed to relate to food, it was all there laid out in neat aisles for us to fill our trolleys with. We started drinking wine, we had dinner parties using Mastering the Art of French Cooking as the bible. City back yards no longer contained fruit trees, vegetable garden beds and tanks for catching the rain water. All gone. You didn’t need them, all food came in plastic packaging from supermarkets.

We were confused. Retrained.

Think www when it came… changed us? Take a look at any strip shopping centre, many shops closed, the variety of shops now much reduced. I found a ‘haberdashery’ shop in Gippsland, it was like stepping back in time, balls of wool, fabric by the metre and all you needed to stitch, knit and sew. They don’t exist in cities any longer. Who ever has time to knit?

Jet planes, international communication, the world wide web, electronics, so much so soon. Men walked on the moon, we lived longer (not necessarily better) so many changes and so fast. It’s no wonder we could not keep up, we did not know how. Gone the simple pleasure of Jonny the Greeks meat balls in tomato sauce, a bit of crusty bread and some rough red. Too much meat, Jonny was Greek, so way too much olive oil, bread was high carb and rough red indeed!

The down side of a confused and bewildered society is that it begins to lack the will or even the desire to succeed, it begins to develop the prisoner mentality and simply become compliant, losing taste for life. This alone opened the doors to much that is now despised. We were told by the Governments of the day, ‘export or perish’, the opposite to that was import and make money. Its hard to tell someone on one hand to export without allowing imports. And the imports were terrible. Our market was flooded with foods that were less than amazing and avaricious business people very soon began to see opportunities to make money… feed lots, growth hormones, chemical fertilisers, spurious growing and manufacturing all began to be accepted. We saw things like milk undergo the most amazing changes and even today it continues. To the amazement of many, simple pure milk is now banned!!

Along side all of this grew a controlling infrastructure of ‘experts’ who deemed such things as hand cured ham, pure milk, organic vegetables as unfit or improper for human consumption. We witnessed increasing number of people who were gluten intolerant, nut allergies and a growing list. We see these ‘health’ officers growing in power with authority to destroy perfectly good food and close business down. We see food/health officers now with amazing power. This is of course aided and driven by much of the media who dig for news stories.

Having painted a picture that is far from illuminating, it still begs the question, where too from here? My perception is that it is impossible to go back, indeed who would want to, whilst we may yearn for older slower more halcyon days, there was down sides with them too… medical science, little or no equipment to help the busy housekeeper, a very limited cuisine, travel, communication, all less than thrilling. We need to move forward, accept that the world has changed and grown, but make it a better world.

It would seem that the most obvious issue that moves the world today is money. Big business is ever wanting to make greater and greater profits and the investors (us) demand it. Look at clothing, we spend more and more money every year, quality of the garments is awful, but since they are most likely only wanted for less than a year, who cares. Clothing is made in Asian sweat shops where it seems clear that workers are exploited. We follow the dictates of large supermarket chains who have clearly manipulated markets to their own ends. Because of the enormous fear of litigation, the costs, the resulting chaos people are loathe to follow this path. Take a look at the reactions of the big business legal teams, they will immediately issue legal summons should even a whiff of anything threaten their bottom line.

How to fix this, it is perhaps best not to see this matter as ‘broken’ just different. The era of tough and efficient Government it seems is done, we don’t like dictatorial leaders, yet this seems to offer one of the best means to control. The down side of that is Governments like the new income cycles and will be loathe to reduce it. Yet it could be one of the results. It is clear too that Health authorities at every level need to apply across the board regulations in a fare and even handed way. The Food administrations (FoodStandards in Australia) need to be much more rigorous in the way they control such things as labelling laws. The current situation with berries out of China is a case, clearly the issue there is exploitation of a loose regulation to not have to say the country of origin.

In the end it is not hard to see that social orders we now have it is going to change, that two groups will emerge, on the one hand those who simply have no way around issues of time, finance and the need to shop economically, on the other those who are determined to pursue quality, sustainability and natural, have the time to do so and the money. The cradle to grave care many expect does little to engender a need to follow a way of living independently and sustainably.

The changes we are now seeing, the proliferation of Farmers Markets, engendering in food growers and manufacturers a more caring and determined punter who does all they can to push natural product. Slowly because of many issues that are being thrust at Government, regulation will change and we will see situation that are not pitched at international money, but at ways to sustain and maintain living standards.

I would love to offer a solution to make it all right. There isn’t one. There is bewilderment and confusion all set against rapid change. How this will all play out is anyone’s guess. Yet I suspect that unless we do address this problem, then the Earth will one day simply shake us off. We have become too hard.

Skirt and Flank Beef Steak

•September 25, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Flank Steak and Skirt Steak ARE different.

They do both come from the same region of the beast, the bottom of the stomach, the skirt is towards the front of the animal and the flank towards the rear. The skirt is a long thin strip of beef and the flank is more ‘steak’ like. Both are full flavoured and both need to be treated with respect or both will give a very tough result. However, in Australia this whole thing has become a bit fraught and it is very hard to find both, you will find Skirt, but rarely will you find Flank.

Skirt Steak before marinade

Skirt Steak before marinade

Regardless, Flank and Skirt are cheap or should be, cheap cuts of meat. It is a dry almost fat free piece of heavily grained beef and will require care to both prepare and cook. It is best marinaded for a good few hours and then quickly cooked on a grill plate, BBQ or under a griller.

The flavour of the steak is great, very rich, beefy and must be eaten rare. I suggest for a family meal, two of these will be enough to feed six to eight people. I paid $6.50 per kilo at a butcher in the Asian section of the shopping centre, each piece weighed about 1 kilo.

  1. Steak mallets are useful, I am not convinced that it is necessary, but if you have faith in the ability of the mallet to break up course graining in the meat, then do it. I have also read that it can help to retain the shape of the cut? I preferred not to use a mallet.
  2. The marinade I used was as follows.

3/4 cup of olive oil. I used EVO

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tblspn of Worcestershire Sauce (usually these sauces have sugar as part of the ingredient)

1 tblspn of soy sauce (replaces the salt)

2 cloves of garlic chopped

1 tblspn of chopped thyme leaves

1 desertspoon of dijon mustard

Mix all together and pour over the steaks that you have placed in a non reactive dish (I used a white ceramic dish) turn the meat a few times in marinade and cover with plastic film, place in the refrigerator for a minimum of four hours, but for preference overnight.

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  1. I cooked mine on a ridged grill plate that I knew I could heat to pulsating, the pan has been well used and so I had a surface. No need to oil. Put the plate on a good 4 – 5 minutes before and allow to heat well. Remove the steaks from the dish, which should have been allowed to be at room temperature for an hour or so before cooking. Use a piece of kitchen paper and pat dry. Lower onto the grill plate and cook for five minutes on high heat on each side. Remove the meat from the grill and place on a board, cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  2. Carve the meat across the grain in thin slices, the meat should be rare, not raw. Serve on the board. I would not suggest using the marinade as a sauce, it has done its work. Accompany with a good mustard, perhaps some caramelised onions and a salad. I served it with some smashed potato, small baby Pontiacs that were simply boiled, smashed with some olive oil, garlic, parmesan, chopped parsley, salt and pepper.

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