Fennel, Ratatouille, Tomato

•July 25, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Caramelised Fennel/Egg Plant/Ratatouille/Slow Poached Tomato.

 

Came across this recipe the other day, sounds a bit Ottolenghi  to me, but none the less delicious.

 

Fennel is one of those things that looks so damn good you feel that you must be eating it for the utter sophistication and jolly hocky sticks good health, look a me I am just back from the Med, sporting moment. It has eye appeal, multiple ticks of approval from food Mafia, in fact sort of sits in the same high esteem as Eggplant. Two vegetables that are derigeur for any serious would be or fully formed cook. The secret is how.

 

On occasions I have struggled with cooking both the above veg, I have of course eaten it often, what else could I do? No self respecting foodie would do less. Have I always eaten them with joy, no that I cannot claim, there have been times when the Eggplant in particular did not appeal, too oily, too salty or too mushy. I am still on the hunt for the perfect Aubergine recipe… dipped in breadcrumb, fried and then napped with a gorgeous lush tomato sauce redolent with herbs and garlic will do the trick I think.

 

Fennel is also know as Finnocchi in the Med, should you want to ponce it up. Everybody eats it, relentlessly, devouring kilos of the stuff. So many ways to cook it or eat it raw! The bulb itself comes in a variety of sizes and the plant has just two types, one the vegetable the other is grown for the herb and the seed. The bulb needs to be well trimmed, as it ages, the outer layers of the bulb can be tough and discoloured and should be removed. The leafy feathery top needs removing.(keep a little for the final zooshing of the dish) Use a small sharp knife and remove the inner core from the bottom of the bulb. The bulb is usually then sliced into a 15 mm slice and it is ready for cooking or eating.

 

The taste of Fennel is a mild aniseed crunch that goes well with all other vegetables. They can be roasted, fried, or used in casserole, stews or braises. The following recipe is particularly good, a great accompaniment to fish, but not shy of being paired with chicken. (should you be lucky enough to locate any chicken that actually tastes like chicken as opposed to cardboard).

 

1 large bulb of fennel trimmed as above and sliced.

1 large red onion sliced in the same size as the fennel.

125 grams of butter

splash of olive oil

Juice of one lemon and rind of same

1 level dessertspoon brown sugar

salt and pepper to taste

 

Melt the butter in a large frying pan add the oil and allow to sizzle. Add the onion and begin to fry, when a little colour has been achieved, add the fennel and continue to fry, as the vegetables begin to brown and soften, add the sugar and allow the onion and fennel to become quite dark and caramelised. Add the lemon rind and cook a little, add the lemon juice off heat and season with salt and pepper. If you want, scatter a bit of parsley or some of the dill tops.

 

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Ratatouille

 

Ratatouille is one of those dishes that has options, not options with regard to ingredient, that is constant, more in the way it is cooked. The main ingredients are good sweet ripe Tomato, Red Onion, Bell Pepper (known in France as Poivron, most will go for Green), Egg Plant (Aubergine), Zucchini, Olive Oil, 2 – 3 cloves of garlic chopped (optional – tomato paste and herb choice, most go for Thyme but this is a Provencal dish, so Herb de Provence is also a good choice , squeeze of lemon juice).  The three cooking methods are as follows.

 

You should have about double the tomato to other vegetables, the onion should be 2. If you have been clever and bought small ripe tomato, then leave them whole. Onions should be cut into 2 cm squares, Peppers should be likewise, the Egg Plant should be about 3 cm square and  to 1.5 cm dice. The Zucchini I prefer in reasonably hearty 3 cm wedges of the whole. The Olive Oil must be a good EVO as you are going to consume it.

 

The four pot method… take four pans, saucepans. In saucepan one, add olive oil and cook the tomatoes until they beginning to give their juice, put aside. In saucepan 2, put some olive oil and fry the bell pepper until they are cooked through, but not completely wilted, put aside. In saucepan 3, add EVO and cook the Egg Plant to desired doneness, I don’t like it going mushy, put aside. In pan 4, add evo and on a hot gas fry the Zucchini, put aside.

 

Take the largest of your pots and empty the contents into one of the other cooked vegetables, place on the heat with EVO add the garlic, onion and fry until the onion and garlic are semi cooked, but not wilted. Add a good heaped desert spoon of Tomato Paste and fry this with the onion and garlic, add the fried tomato and allow to melt together, add then the rest of the vegetables and cook for just a minute or so to amalgamate. Salt and Black Pepper to taste and a good squeeze of lemon juice off the heat and allow to stand before eating. Many like this reheated lightly the next day, I prefer it on the day of cooking at room temperature. I love it with crusty bread or baguette.

 

The quick method is to use one large pan and cook all at the same time, this method produces a dish that is mushy and the individual flavours lost.

 

The third method is roasting, it involves placing all ingredients in a roasting tray, a liberal dressing of oil, some fresh herbs and roasting in a 180 Celsius oven for 45 minutes, allow to cool, season to taste and pile onto a serving plate. Often a splash of red wine vinegar is used.

 

Of the methods, I prefer the one that gives the most flavour of individual components, I like just a splash of red wine vinegar, and I prefer it to be eaten at room temperature.

 

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Very Slow Poached Tomato.

 

From the South of France, a delicious way of eating ripe sweet tomato. Use the small tomatoes you buy on the stems, I used two packs, chop up some garlic into slices and slice some brown shallots thinly, take a sharp knife and stab each tomato. Use one cup of very good olive oil, place all in a pan and very very gently cook for about 25 minutes. The tomatoes should be still holding there shape, but just beginning to give up their juices. Allow the mix to cool to room temperature and crush it on griddled bread. A little tapenade and a leaf or two of basil are great.

 

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So Long…

•June 16, 2017 • Leave a Comment

So long and thanks for all the fish…

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There are times when the prospect of a Vogon super highway blasting the earth into mini matter, seems like a plan.

 

I adored Hitch Hikers Guide to the gallaxy. I also adored Douglas Adam’s work and then the bloody man up and died. If it is not abundantly clear to you by this, we need Adams more than ever. The world is very short of Adams like folk. The past had produced them in volumes, even in this far flung bit of the empire. We had some genius creative artisans of pen, brush and batton.

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The world is being Trumped, ironed flat, homogenised, financially flattened, religiously terrorised, food diversifed, motorised, in general it’s a little tough keeping up.

 

Bring on the Vogons… it can only help!

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Nostalgia is a dreadful thing, painful, dangerous. Thinking about a batch of scones, a passionfruit sponge, a roast dinner or for that matter, steamed fruit pudding with lashings of creamy custard. Fear is the enemy of nostalgia, the antidote. Fear makes you shrink away from fat, sugar and carbohydrates. Fear and television make you run around like a headless chook not knowing what to eat. Not until some food guru has added his or her imprimatur. Or a celebrity chef or would be CChef has wept, gnashed their teeth and spent hours using a list of ingredients that are beyond comprehension, cooked it and made you feel deeply inadequate.

 

Of course no imprimatur is worth the paper/time it is written on, or the computer it is uploaded to. Fact is that it is fleeting, butter is good/bad, eggs are good/bad. Think what has been done to tomatoes to enable world markets to sell them, who gives a fig about taste. Think what is done to the fruit and vegetable growers by major supermarkets imposing imposing size, shape, colour but no mention at all of taste, in order to present perfectly tasteless fodder to a non discerning public, who have been seduced into believing that if the shape is good, taste follows.

 

God knows I have tried, fought the good fight, been up and down every new food fad, even started a few before I decided that celebrity sucked. I now seem to have reached a time in my life that makes me long for the things of the past. The simplicity, the (thought of) good flavour. Think blackberry jam, apricot jam. I now have to travel to Tasmania to find fruit that makes pies, jams and preserves taste like they did in my salad days. But why? Why should I have to endure a Tasman crossing on a boat that is not completely charming (think bogons and unruly young folk and not a lot of style). My father’s garden in Port Fairy produced abundant fruit of exceptional flavour, we hunted for wild blackberries, stalked paddocks for mushrooms and looked for wild fennel at the State School.

 

My rural idyll is in Gippsland’s rolling hills, in the past I am assured they grew wonderful stone fruits, they don’t now, it all went cow shaped and the bum fell out of that corporatised mess and many farmers are now scratching their heads and ordering lambs. I asked a few, what about making cheese, what about value added farm grown fruit products, what about fishing. Looks of bewilderment soon cross faces. The ‘new’ way is farmers markets, sadly not working in my region. After wading through the litres of home made (badly) jams, hand stitched this and that’s, there is little on offer. I am reminded of how wonderful the rural markets of France, Italy, Greece and Spain are, how wonderful are home made cheeses, preserved meats, freshly caught fish and such a great variety of fruit and vegetable which all fill the stands. How in some regions of the Med, you can buy edible weeds, so much deliciousness my mouth is salivating. Sadly, perhaps it is the name, perhaps the local health authorities. We are a narrow minded, narrow focussed bunch these days.

 

This is a sample of the requirements for selling food in a road side operation… wee bit daunting.

https://streatrader.health.vic.gov.au/media/41816/running-a-market-stall-in-victoria_2016.pdf

 

My way would be different…

 

Markets in the country would be called Rural not Farmers.

Adequate food/health regulations, but not overbearing.

Local growers both in town and country should be encouraged to participate.

Meat should be included in the market.

Fish should be included in the market.

Preserved meats MUST be included.

Preserved food of all kinds to be encouraged.

Local cake makers and biscuit makers.

 

Timing, every week, doesn’t have to be a weekend, just must be weekly. The local retailers of market product need to be invited to participate. Don’t invite the involvment of local authorities, council etc, they are bound by regulation that is ever growing since something, anything must be done to keep our civil servants gainfully employed, what better than build huge fences of ever more complex regulation, shows how clever they are and how much the public need you!

 

Perhaps what I would not encourage…

 

Sewing bits and clothing (not appropriate)

Hand made furniture and bits (not appropriate)

Old bits and pieces (not appropriate)

Plants and seedlings (not quite appropriate)

 

Lets see what we can do, in con

A few days in my bonkers life.. food et al

•April 20, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Some days are just too much, Jennifer is in hospital getting some well deserved testing on a bad back, Arna just had her water break and she is sitting up in hospital awaiting the arrival of number two. I spent yesterday, totally discombobulated, unable to make decisions. Went home. Today, after a decent sleep, some good food and a glass of wine, apart from annoying real estate agents who will not fix the floor in the factory and have the temerity to moan because I won’t pay the OC fees until it’s done, I am coping, just!

 

Baking and cooking are the answer. And perhaps a cup of tea and a few teddy bear biscuits, but I didn’t say that! I am however demanding a corned beef sandwich for lunch, none of your modern stuff, not today, I need something to hold on to, something of the past. In the end I missed on the corned beef, tried a Sango from the mobile food van, ham cheese and pickle and the bloody bread was like some sort of soggy sponge and stuck to my teeth, two mouthfuls only and in the bin. Ended up with a few slivers of water melon and a cup of tea. And the waiting game continues.

 

I did hear that Jennifer had some more tests done, not without some argy bargy though, the ward staff forgot to order the tests and had she not become impatient, they would not have happened. Aran is still doing what mothers have done since time began, no news there. So I baked some bread.

 

There is some issues swirling in my baking, just don’t seem able to get it right, somehow conflicted between the sour dough versus yeast. Always been a yeast bloke, even like the taste of a good yeast, foodies from every side harass about the benefits of sour dough and I try. Frankly I have killed more that my fare share of sour dough starters, but why? I have done what for me seems crazy, killed off a spoon or two and replaced it with fresh flour and water, still seems like I am paying the price for my destruction, the bread of all sorts is simply not behaving.

 

Wholemeal has always been the go to for me, not about health, but about taste. Yet even that has shat on me. The wholemeal loaf I made earlier this week is undercooked, way too dense and horrid. I have a couple of thin slices with too much butter and vegemite for breakfast and it was a struggle. Todays loaf, as I turned my back on sour dough, having once again met with failure earlier in the week (I am too impatient I suspect, sour dough is not to be hurried and often takes twelve plus hours and I am never in the same place for twelve hours, carting fermenting dough around on a scooter seems a bit eccentric wouldn’t you say!) should be better.

 

Not bad, I have been struggling with salt, many recipes call for two heaped teaspoons to about 4 cups of flour, I think that’s a bit much, todays loaf was two, good texture, good colour, but I think excessive, salt is a yeast killer and I suspect was why I ended up with a sandwich loaf, not the domed beauty I was after. Tastes good, cuts well. I can’t complain too much.

 

And the world turns again, another reminder of life and death, the great wheel, Aran just gave birth and so a life begins. Such a thrill. Another boy in the family.

 

All sort of melted into some sort of miasma of self indulgent moaning after that. I had a hankering for a simple Brandy and Dry, only one on hand was cooking brandy and it is 60% proof… dying of alcohol poison is not fun, I watched my sister do it. The wine that I had open was average, the pie I made with a combo of left overs, including a large piece of chuck that had been long semi braised (I was going for a roast beef and gravy experience, so very little liquid… was not bad). Again I am reminded that domestic ‘cuisine Provera’ remains one of the great food styles along with the often maligned slow cooker. Just have to know how to drive it.

 

My slow cooker is not a high end machine, 5 litres only. Its not difficult to buy Chuck Steak, it’s a common cut that is usually sliced quite thick, has a band or two of fat and is richly flavoursome. Get a couple of decent slabs to feed four. I was trying to emulate a roast beef and gravy. Slice a couple of brown onions, make a cup of braising liquid (1 heaped teaspoon vegemite, 1 heaped teaspoon beef stock powder, 1 cup of hot water). In a pan on the gas, quickly brown the two chuck steaks either side, pan should be good and hot with a bit of butter. Lightly browned is OK. Remove to the bottom of the slow cooker, add the onion rings to the pan and add the 1 cup of braising liquid, allow to bubble and pour over the meat in the slow cooker on high. Lid on and leave it alone for about 4 to 5 hours.

 

Because I am so bloody Irish, potato can be had with every meal. Indeed I have been known to sit down to a large plate of potato, either mashed, steamed or boiled and then crushed, some decent bread and butter and a sprinkle of sea salt with black pepper. Satisfying, but not good for a Diabetic 2 person. Point is, I sliced up 2 or 3 potatoes, skin washed but on, bout 1 cm slice and roughly an hour before I was planning to eat, placed the potatoes on top of the meat and allowed them to steam.

 

Remove the steak to a warmed platter along with the potato, skim off some of the fat (my grandfather would have been scowling here, he would have licked the fat up with a thick slice of Tommy Digby’s bread) you can thicken the juices, this can be done with a Beurre Manie (equal parts of soft butter and plain flour mashed together) in the cooker, but be sure it is on high. If the heat is insufficient, pour the juices into the frying pan used for browning and place over heat.

 

The meat will be very tender, the juices rich and delicious, serve with some green peas. I did.

 

A similar dish can be done with pork neck, give it some Asian flavours and use onion, garlic and ginger, toss in a star anise or two. Make a braising sauce out of soy, fish sauce, dark sweet soy, sweet chilli and follow the same procedure as above, but, the cooking time will be longer. Pork can also dry out, so in order to prevent this scrunch up a bit of baking paper to sort of act as a cover for the meat. Don’t use foil, it is not suitable. I have been known to drape a piece of pork skin over the top to moisten and add flavour, you can justify this as pork neck is very low in fat, at the end of cooking time, remove the fat and place under a very hot grill, it will reward you with great crackling. Serve with rice.

 

Its not that I want to become a sprucer for Slow Cookers, but… for the price they represent very good value for money. Most cookers are under $100 and perform well. Confession… I was a unbeliever, I thought it was a silly confection dreamed up by the marketing arm of an electrical company. God those marketing dudes/etches of all electrical and electronic companies must be so under the thumb… how do car manufacturers get to do new models each year? And keep selling them? Clogging our streets and roads.

 

Well, 7th Grandchild just became Oscar, he’s a cutie too and the absolute pride and joy of his Mum, Dad, brother Charlie and I suspect, to be much loved by his crazy extended family. Welcome Oscar.

 

Now where was I! And Yes, last night I got a brandy and dry, simple drink, but with a reasonable brandy, quite satisfying.

 

Slow cookers. You do need to keep a good eye on things. Bought some corned beef and pickled pork from a local purveyor, in the past it has been average, it is long past that any butcher in the city will salt and brine his own beef or pork, in the country it is still done and much in demand, Cucina Povera is alive, many prefer a well brined piece of pork for a celebration, in light of some of the god awful tasteless ham I have been asked to endure, I am inclined to be with them. At least you can cook the pork with some great flavour additions, bay leaves, carrot, celery, onion, peppercorns and a clove or two, do it slowly and you will be rewarded with a stunning piece of meat. Personally not keen on it hot, but cooled absolutely. It was the go to pink meat on my mother’s  celebration table and I loved slabs of it with the turkey, gravy and mum’s own apple sauce. Delicious memories.

 

Back to the corned beef… it was a smallish piece and I over cooked it. Put it in the slow cooker, water, bay leaves, sugar, drop or two of vinegar, peppercorns and bay leaves. On low for eight hours, it was too long, should have programmed it for six hours, I need a refresher course. To make myself feel better I decided to run up a mustard sauce, that too was awful. Mustard sauce is simple, melt some butter, add some flour to make a roux, use some of the cooking liquid to make a sauce, add some mustard, sugar and a splash of malt vinegar. I played with it and it was vile. The two or three salads we had to go with it sort of made up. I should add that I am not up for ‘pulled’ anything, I find it has no mouth appeal and the tendency to make me gag.

 

Jennifer just got the results from the doctor/s… they say that there is a small fracture in the 11th (what ever that is) and needs to be cured with time. Bloody prednisolone, that is one heinous drug, Jen took it for some relief from a zesty form of rheumatism and her normal doctor didn’t tell her it can attack the bones. Nothing to do with getting old, all about over medication and lack of information. Having just said that, Jennifer is now home and has, if you can believe it, been told to take Prednisolone again, just 5 mg but it is scary.

 

No more news on the cracked floor nor on the damaged cooler system. Frankly, the sooner I get out of this factory the better. The games these real estate agent play are silly, You don’t pay GST on rates and in fact on most outgoings, my lot claim that they are OBLIGATED to charge GST under some sort of spurious law. I am diligently pursuing that one. We pay rates, council offers it as a monthly thing, for us much better, but for some reason they are unable to facilitate us.

 

In light of the above, the factory has just been sold, right out of the blue, definitely did not see it coming. I am told, but not yet confirmed, it has been bought by the next door neighbours and further, suggested that they want to occupy. Got a seven year lease, someone is going to have to buy me out. For the moment, business is so abysmal, I am just able to hang on and not even think of major moves and expenditures. Yet, in moments of positive lucidity, I think a move to the country could be a very good thing. Await further developments.

 

Meanwhile, couple of foodie things. Easter Buddhist Buns turned out to be ripper, it was Mary Berry’s recipe

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/mary_berrys_hot_cross_65003

and it is good, even the tip of ‘glazing’ with golden syrup is ripper. Three left over and I am debating their fate, could be Easter Bun Pudding with a silky baked custard, but since I seem to have lost my desire for sweetness, this seems unlikely. And on that point, I was deeply disturbed by Dr Mosely and his expose on sweeteners, the final upshot, they are very bad for you and actually make you fat… see, I knew it was not me over eating! Threw the lot out.

 

In the endless quest for Pork satisfaction I had a pork belly, I had some white bread that was a bit stale, I cut it into 2 cm chunks times three, laid those on the base of the pan, topped then with some finely sliced onion, fresh sage leaves (think bread seasoning) and the pork on top of that. Baked high then slow for four hours. Resulted I in the bread being crisp and filled with the cooking juices from the meat. The meat was cartable, the skin crispy and the bread, gorgeous. I was even able to make a gravy.

 

You cannot begin to know what is around the corner, a family member on the other side of eighty, has come down with shingles and becoming a little toilet challenged. Good grief. The price of lamb has become insane, not so many years ago they were euthanasing whole flocks of sheep because they could not even be given away. I think I will buy some lambs for the country estate… sounds like a very uncertain investment.

 

I suspect that we must look in the area of corporate greed, individual greed, government ineptitude for allowing way too much freedom and self regulation. It has been an experiment that has just not worked, look at the dairy industry, look at the pig industry, look what the beef and chicken industries have done to the tastebuds of a nation. Celebrity Chefs are trying to persuade us to cook ever more complex foods, while turning their backs on foods that are healthy and sustaining (think a damn fine lamb shank soup with pearl barley). Mind you it was compelling news that a couple of TV Chefs have been underpaying and over working their staff. You have to watch thrones that are too high. A return to simplicity would seem an option.

 

Last night because I could and because I find them a challenge, I made fritters. Pumpkin and Zucchini, some Haloumi, grated onion and garlic, a few spices. I used the newly unearthed ice-cream scoop (circa 1950, wooden handle) scooped into the pan of sizzling oil, flattened them a little, turned down the heat and cooked them through. Meanwhile opened a can of chic peas, a can of cherry tomatoes, into the pan after cooking the fritters, added some Berbere spice mix, returned the fritters to the tomato bath and warmed them through. I think vegetarian food is alright! Just not to be compared to a leg of Lamb roasted and some rich brown gravy.

Pork

•February 21, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Belly Pork occasion

I am a Pork lover, it smells great as it cooks, tastes great, so enticing.

Sunday morning at the country estate (all 15 acres) are laid back, stay in bed sort of occasion. So I did. Then I began thinking about the chunk of Belly Pork I had bought, I also love(d) as a kid, roast seasoned ‘pocket of steak, (topside) it was always my go to birthday request meal. Why didn’t I try and stuff the belly Pork and slow roast it in the Falcon. My modern AGA stove and one of the passions of my life.

There is no reason why it should not work I reasoned. Belly Pork is fatty, or it is when I buy it. Seasoning if made properly can cut the fat… a scrape of lemon rind, the sharpness of sage, finely chopped uncooked onion, of course with some bread soaked in milk and a small slab of butter, after all, don’t want to take the chance that the meat will dry out. I have Dad’s boning knife, its good and sharp, narrow blade.

Mum’s go to all purpose stuffing is simple, sage, onion, breadcrumbs, butter, salt and pepper. Used two slices of day old white bread, broke it up in the basin a splash of milk, half a brown onion chopped finely and six sage leaves shredded, a pat of butter, salt and pepper, ended up with about 1 1⁄2 cups.

My belly Pork was on the larger side, I cut the pocket on the side of the roughly square piece of meat, you can see the bottom and top by the way the ribs run. I made the pocket as large and as spacious as I could without piercing the skin or the meat. I did make a small hole in the pocket, but it caused little issue. I stuffed the pocket with all of the stuffing mix, stitched the opening and congratulated myself.

Belly pork often has a sort of valley in the centre of cut, I used the stuffing to give me a flat surface or in fact slightly domed. I had cut the rind into 1 cm strips before stuffing. Heated the Falcon to 150° c and placed the meat on two slabs of sweet potato, this was I reckoned a way of keeping the pork from the bottom of the pan and adding moisture. I also added 1⁄2 a cup of water. No salt and no oil. Into the oven for a three hour cook.

We had a cauliflower, three tomatoes and plenty of onion. Two of my favourite things are cauliflower cheese and what Mum called tomato and onion ‘savoury’. I was a bit puffed up with success on the stuffed belly Pork, so thought I could keep the thing going. I used half the large caulie, sort of sliced it into 1 cm wedges, Cut up the tomatoes and one red onion into slices, combined all put some salt and pepper over and the made 750 ml of cheese sauce (I like a fair wedge of parmesan in the sauce), poured it over and a sprinkle of breadcrumbs along with a few bits of bacon. Baked for about 75 minutes at 160° c fan forced.

By way of comment, this could also make a great baked dish, the large very full cauliflowers, heavy and densely packed are great sliced in 1.5 cm wedges, laid on an oiled tray, drizzled with good olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted in a hot oven until browned, the same can be done with tomato and onion, so to with fennel, then all can be layered in a casserole dish, in dispersed with fresh herbs, dressed with some olive oil and a scattering of breadcrumbs, baked in a 180° c oven until cooked, about 20 minutes. You can also do this with canned beans in the layers and top with some tomato passata. Beautiful.

My go to gravy method is always the same, the pan drippings (gorgeous) with a tablespoon of plain flour and a good teaspoon of vegemite, use a flat whisk and make this into a paste, then add a cup and a half of cold water and begin blending the paste over heat, more water may be necessary as the gravy may be too thick. But it will be delicious.

It’s true that I prepped the food, but it is time to again praise and eulogise and carry on a treat about how great the Falcon is. You pay a fare bit for a good cooking appliance, in the main it seems that the European models all come with many bells and whistles, the Falcon does not have lots to twiddle with. It could not be called basic, five top burners, one top hot plate, one fan forced oven, one standard oven with top and bottom heat sources, one grill and one plate warmer. What is so great about the Falcon is that it is reliable, it works and better yet, does exactly what it is called on to do. My one groan is that the country requires us to have bottled gas and that is not as effective. Other than that, love the Falcon.

Suffice to say, it was delicious, slabs of butter tender meat, crispy crackle and moist seasoning, all crowned with a rich brown gravy and a serve of cheesy cauliflower tomato and onion.

We usually get back from the country late Sunday, if I can, I will con Jen into a batch of scones, the last lot because I ate them too fast, gave me a little indigestion. In order to not have to make scones, Jennifer reminds me of that moment and at the same time, appeals to my inner healthy person and elevates her own status in my health’s regard. It sometimes works!

We had returned home with half the Belly Pork, half the cheesy cauliflower and a slug of gravy. I am not averse to a meat and salad moment and that was my plan to tonight (Monday). That left Sunday nights meal unattended and Jen was not happy about scones. I thought I would channel my inner American mid west housewife and make soup from the left over vegetable dish.

I took one decent sized saucepan, put in the remaining cheesy cauliflower etc, rinse out the cooking dish with about 750 mil of chicken stock, added 1 can of crushed tomato and heated. My idea was to blend it, I didn’t do it in the end, I just used the potato masher and crushed it a little. Hot patooti, it was delicious. One crusty breadstick, a large bowl of soup and yum.img_0471

Meat – must have died

•February 21, 2017 • Leave a Comment
Meat do/don’t Abattoirs and killing…
It is vexed, but for me as clear as a bell. It has to be completely accepted, that in order for you to eat flesh, then it must have died. This is the case no matter what the flesh, be it a sausage, fish, a sardine, it is flesh and must have died.
I don’t see the issue being difficult, if you cannot accept the death of animals, if you have issues of animals dying well or even not well, then you must choose not to eat meat. There is no way die with ease. I watched my father slaughter many animals, I think Dad was a kind, gentle man who did care for the beasts he killed. His brothers, less so, his father was ever the pragmatist and killing animals did not enter into his thinking, it had to be done.
Would seem to me to be of much greater importance, having made the decision to consume meat, that the meat be of the best and highest quality, that the animal lived a full rich life as close to nature as possible, was not subjected to cruel practices and was slaughtered humanely.
We have this tendency to be a very fractured society, we fall over ourselves to be politically correct, we become shocked should someone over step a sensitive mark, we no longer share the idea of Australian mateship, no matter the race, our political overlords are more concerned about their re­election than fearless governing. We have developed non caring attitudes when it comes to some in the world being murdered, bombed, killed, maimed, so long as it does not impact on our own world or space we can live with it. We are seriously over governed.
We campaign rigorously for rights and privileges, we become alarmed at what is happening in other countries on this shrunken globe. We debate the issue of global warming and it’s impact, without ever changing anything in our own lives to combat it. We empower political leaders not elected by ourselves, but by disenfranchised in their own country, we allow ourselves to be influenced. The below both appeared as headlines in the ABC News Online 25th November.
Who has Donald Trump appointed to his White House so far? Australian shares set for quiet day on back of Thanksgiving holiday!
Australia seems to have lost the plot.
We have choices, we can decide many things, its time to stop allowing newspapers, overseas politicians, religious zealots and lobbyists, undue influence. What we loose now will never be regained, that is the nature of things. Eat meat, don’t eat meat, the choice is yours.

Potato Salad

•February 20, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Interestingly one of the most universal recipes or styles, it is found in almost every country and cuisine style on the planet. It is deliniated by flavour (spices etc) and depths of cooking, some like it mushy, some crisp, some very crisp. There are even roasted potato salads. Sweet potato in some regions is more popular.

When you consider that the potato came to Europe in 1536 from South America and spread around the world from there, along with the onion, it must lay claim to the most consumed vegetable on the planet. It is certainly the carbohydrate of choice when it comes to the UK and vies for position for that with rice, pasta and flour in the rest of the world. In my childhood potato was the major force, along with red meat, dominating every meal. My mother’s version of potato salad was somewhat scewed, it was called ‘Russian Salad’ and was a melange of chopped cooked potato, carrot, green peas, beetroot all dressed with a creamy dressing and often served in a lettuce cup.

Potato was introduced into China and Asia after 1600 and quickly became popular as a food, particularly in the cooler regions where it was easy to grow. Europe was slower to be colonized by the potato and never reached the same popularity that it did in the cooler climes. In the far parts of Northern Europe, it rapidly became a food for the poor peasant population along with cabbage and beets.

In pre Columban North America, potatoes were very much in evidence, along with tomato and peanuts and many vegetables that were unheard of in Europe, corn, pumpkin, wild rice all were comon in the native diet. It may even be claimed that some vegatables found their way to Europe via this source and not always from the European exploration of South America. Where ever they came from, they gained ready acceptance and quickly became part of the local cuisine.

This amazing data is a list of potato dishes in various world regions

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

This is a list of Potato salad dishes from round the world.

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

This all got started because I was having a roam around youtube, call it an instant holiday, and came across a link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVm0CaOxEQY

This is all about a take away food shop in Richmond Virginia and quickly got me in, when the part about potato salad came I was fascinated, it was a style I had never ever heard of, mashing the potatoes and eggs, adding diced onion, dill pickle, yellow (USA style) mustard and mayonaise. It is much more mashed than what I am used to and contains much more egg, recipe will follow. It is definitely much loved in the American South and is found on all celebration tables.

It is a curious thing that we are starting to get to know more and more about North American food and it may be time to start not dissing it as much as (I have) in the past. There are, like every cuisine on earth, specially those from such massive countries as India, China, Europe and America, enormous differences of quality, taste and style. Much of what we see in Australia and in the United States is to do with the influx of migrants over many years. As the waves of migrants arrived they brought with them their own take on food, the Italians brought pasta, pizza and style of eating, the Europeans brought weighty foods that had evolved because of the climate. Spain had already influenced vast tracts of land in the America’s, the French influenced not main cuisine style of the USA, but the food of Louisianna and then that of Canada. We in Australia were more influenced by first the Brittish then the foods of the Mediterranean, we later started to absorb the tastes of the Middle East. No one cuisine has influenced more or less and so in the USA a very polygot food style has grown.

In the Mid West of the USA, also known as the Bible belt, a very homey food style has evolved, influenced largely by European foods. Preserving has remained as something important, indeed styles of preserving not seen as a domestic practice, are done in this region, tinning foods is an example. The most radical difference in the foods in the USA and other colonised countries is the use of fat, sugar, salt and serving sizes. There are some things that have evolved in the USA and this is one of them, well worth trying.

Southern Potato Salad recipe and very very good.

1.5 kilo of red potato, unpeeled and washed

6 hard boiled eggs chopped

1 small red onion chopped fine

4 dill cucumbers chopped fine and a little juice.

1 cup of whole egg mayonnaise

½ cup yellow mustard

½ teaspoon salt

splash of EVO

 

potato-salad

Cook the potatoes and as allow to cool, crush a bit, don’t mash them, just break them down. Add to a bowl with the rest of the ingredients (not the evo) Mix well and add a splash of EVO to top. It is very delicious even the next day.

 

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.

picvqIdQ1

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