Food & Drink

Piss-easy Home-made Bread

This may have come from the big fella on Masterchef so if it doesn’t work, don’t blame me…

Ingredients

  • 1kg bread flour, plus extra to dust
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant dried yeast
  • 950ml lukewarm water

Method

  • For the bread, combine flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Stir in water until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap, then refrigerate overnight
  • Remove bowl from fridge 1 hour prior to cooking, and allow to come to room temperature.
  • Preheat oven to 220C.
  • Line two baking sheets with baking paper, and generously dust sheet with flour. Place half of the dough onto one tray and place in oven for 1 hour or until golden and the inside sounds hollow when knocked on the base. Make rolls and a smaller long loaf with remaining half of dough. Bake in oven for about 40 minutes or until golden and hollow inside.

Notes: Makes 1 large round loaf, 1 long loaf and 6 rolls.

Soy Sauce Eggs Recipe (Shoyu Tamago)

These are as simple as George W Bush to prepare but can make a boring leafy salad interesting and gives the kids something to talk about at school over lunch.

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

4 hard boiled eggs
5 tablespoons tamari soy sauce

Method:

1. Pour the soy sauce into a pan that is approximately 10 inches in diameter. Heat the soy sauce of medium-high heat. When the soy sauce starts foaming up, reduce the heat to medium heat and carefully add the eggs. Roll the eggs around in the soy sauce to coat them, and continue rolling them around the pan until the eggs are a dark mohagony color and the soy sauce has been reduced to a thick sludge.

2. Remove the eggs, letting any extra soy sauce drain off, and place on a plate to cool.

3. When the eggs have cooled completely, pack them into lunches or enjoy one as a snack. Just don’t leave them near my daughter, or else you’ll never get to have a bite!

 

Nepalese Pork Mince Curry

nepalese-pork-mince-curryHere’s my take on what is considered a Nepalese curry. Although other pork mince-based recipes found on the Net refer to a dry and fragrant dish, I needed mine to go a bit further using what I had.

The result is still a fragrant but subtle curry which relies heavily on the use of fresh coriander and is as wet as a weekend in Wales.

 

 

 Ingredients

2 tbsp oil (peanut? I used olive oil)
1 tbsp yellow mustard powder
2 onions diced
1 celery stalk finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp coriander minced
3 large cloves garlic minced
1 tbsp ginger minced
500g pork mince
1 cup chicken stock (closer to 2 by the time I finished)
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tin cannellini beans (or substitute with green beans)
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup fresh coriander leaves rough chopped
1 tbsp flour (optional)

Method

Chop the onion and celery and toss into the heated pan with olive oil. You could substitute with peanut oil or even ghee. Gently fry until the onion begins to soften and then add the garlic.

Add the mustard, cumin, turmeric and garam masala along with the minced ginger and cook for another couple of minutes.

Add the mince and continue stirring until browned.

At this point I added the minced coriander but if you are not a fan, leave this out.

Add the stock and mix thoroughly.

Add the cannellini beans and let it simmer gently for 20 minutes before adding the freshly chopped coriander and season as desired. If you prefer, use fresh green beans instead; they add great colour to the dish. It’s at this point you may want to add a little flour to help thicken it up a bit.

Serve alone with fresh green beans or with wholegrain rice. Try wheat instead of rice for something different. Just because I can, I’m serving with boiled potatoes tossed in butter and a little white pepper.

Enjoy!

Leftovers Part 1 – Red Chilli Chicken and Sour Cream

With five kids, I’m always looking for ways to make the most of meal times and so I expect that this will be the first of many posts on the subject of leftovers.

Being head chef in our house means I usually get the proportions and amounts just about spot on but from time to time, particularly when we have a late omission or two from the guest list, leftovers are inevitable. Such was the situation on the eve of the Queen’s Birthday.

So if you are wondering what to do with half a roast chicken, a couple of roast parsnips and a good handful of roast potatoes, read on.

After a mooch about in the fridge, I pulled out garlic, onions, a fresh red chilli and a pot of sour cream, chicken stock (I used Chicken Oxo), cayenne pepper, sweet paprika and fresh ground black pepper.

Dice and fry off one large brown onion in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.

As the onions start to go translucent and soften, add about a heaped teaspoon of chopped/minced garlic. I’ve been using the minced garlic in a jar from Coles and while it is very handy, it doesn’t seem as strong as fresh. If you are using fresh, I’d suggest you use 2 or 3 medium to large cloves.

Next, take the red chilli and split down the middle lengthways. I used a teaspoon and scraped out the seeds but if you like the heat, leave them in. Chop finely and add to the onions and garlic.

Sprinkle about half a teaspoon of cayenne and about the same of paprika over the onions.

Pick remaining meat from the chicken carcass and add to the pan.

Chop up and add the potatoes and parsnips.

Once the ingredients are combined, add a little boiled water. I started with a cup and added an additional splash or two throughout the rest of the cooking but it’s all about your own personal preference. In this instance, if you like it thin add more, thick less. Bear in mind that you will be adding sour cream next.

Add three large tablespoons of sour cream and gently combine. As an afterthought, I blended in a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste.

As everything comes up to heat, both in terms of temperature and taste,  you can add more cayenne if you wish.

You could probably serve this with green beans or mangetout (snow peas) and some crusty bread.

 

Hearty Hogmanay Haggis & Baked Bean Pizza

Traditional Scottish/Italian fare with a baked bean twist.

Chop half a small onion and fry gently in a little butter.

Next, break up a generous slice of pre-cooked haggis from Rob’s in Dandenong, mix with the onion and combine with a small tin of baked beans before plastering the mixture evenly over your  home-made pizza base. Call me a snob but you can’t go wrong with Heinz Baked Beanz.

Cover with an equal mix of grated cheddar and Mozzarella, then finished off with a good pinch of mixed/Italian herbs.

Cook in the oven as you would any less exotic pizza and Robert’s your uncle!

Slice, serve and wash down with your favourite Scotch.

There is a fun bonus if you wait until after the kids have finished before listing the ingredients in haggis…..

 

haggis pizza
Haggis and Baked Bean Pizza

 

 

NAAFI Tea for Tough Guys Sold to Soft Civvies!

NAAFI Break tea, the only thing keeping the British Army’s front line troops fighting fit (a thinly veiled reference to the controversy surrounding their sub-standard kit), is to be sold to civvies. That’s right, civilians or regular non-serving members of the British public, can now get their laughing gear around it. It’s the first time in their history that the NAAFI has released one of its own brands to the general public.

NAAFI tea
NAAFI tea. It’ll put hairs on your chest!

The reason I decided that this news blog-worthy was twofold. Firstly, and most importantly, it will raise funds for Help for Heroes, the charity which helps injured service personnel and secondly, I grew up on the stuff. You can learn more about Help for Heroes by visiting their site and you can make a donation now by clicking on the h4h image.

help for heroes logo
Click to make a donation now!

NAAFI, the Navy, Army and Air Force Institute, supplies British military personnel throughout the world, with a ‘taste of home’. From a tent within spitting distance of the front line to the plush supermarkets and leisure facilities found on British military garrisons, NAAFI offer all the usual comforts of home such as British bread, biscuits and newspapers, British fish & chips and a traditional British pint. These days the British squaddie can even buy tax-free cars!

NAAFI Break tea has been served to British Forces since 1921 and is said to differ from the average cuppa due to its “premium quality blend that gives a rich, strong taste and a real military flavour”. Now I can’t tell you what that ‘real military flavour’ is precisely, because it has been a while since my last cup but I certainly remember it being full-bodied and not for the faint-hearted. I remember being gently woken by Sgt. Owen and the NCO’s serving us morning tea with a generous measure of Navy Rum to the sound of the regimental band playing Reveille on the square; a festive traditional treat to Parachute Regiment recruits, if my memory serves correct and in stark contrast to the usual screaming and bed tipping which passed for a wake up call on any other day. I would seriously like to reacquaint myself with it if only for nostalgia’s sake – the tea, not the wake-up calls.

NAAFI Break is being sold in branches of the Spar supermarket chain in the UK and 50p from each sale goes to Help for Heroes.

It’s a Baked Bean Pizza But Not as we Know it

If there is a more heinous crime than serving short measures (of beer), it has to be chucking fruit on a bloody pizza.

What a tart!

Pineapple is a prime example of when culinary creativity meets Mr. Stupid Bollocks. Coming in a close second with ways to totally bastardize an otherwise perfectly good pizza, is the desire to load it with meat. But just to clarify, it’s not simply the addition of meat, it’s the apparent need to stack so much of it on. You may as well rip the horns off a cow, shove your ball of dough up its backside and call that a pizza.

Other than ham or perhaps pepperoni, I don’t understand why anyone would saddle the humble pizza with lumps of assorted animal flesh. Don’t get me wrong, I love a steak as much as the next carnivore but the humble pizza is, in my humble opinion, simply not the place for it, it never was and there’s probably a rule about it somewhere.

One exception to the rule however, should be using minted lamb sausage meat with baked beans! Please, control your retching and hear me out.

Not really my pizza!

Do yourselves a favour and buy a shit-load of minted-lamb sausages from the butcher in Strath Village. His web site is bloody awful but his snags are great. Treat yourself to bangers and mash one night but save one or two sausages for the pizza.

Chop and gently fry a small red onion in a little butter and a teaspoon of honey. Squeeze the meat out of the skins and add to the pan, making sure it’s well broken down. I use a potato masher for this. Add ground or crushed black pepper if you are so inclined.

Chuck in 1/3 tin of baked beans and mix together. There’s no need to cook the beans, we’re just making sure everything is well mixed.

Spread your tomato sauce thinly over your dough. You can skip this stage if you like, especially if your meat and beans mixture is quite wet.

Spread your sausage meat and baked bean topping evenly over your pizza base, top with mozzarella and a good pinch of mixed herbs and wack it in the oven until it starts to brown.

I kid ye not, it’s delicious but very, very rich. I only managed a small slice but the great thing is that I can have another slice for lunch and another for supper! There may even be some left over for breakfast!

 

9th Feb is International Pizza Day!

Believe it or not, and I prefer to believe, tomorrow (February 9th) is International Pizza Day!

Have a look at my simple pizza dough recipe or my first ever effort in the shape of Australia!

I’m sure that many would upchuck at the thought of baked bean pizza but take my word for it, it is awesome. The boffins over at Heinz were obviously on to something when they came up with the frozen one.

heinz baked bean pizza
Mmmm…Heinz Baked Bean Pizza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is even a Facebook page dedicated to ‘Bring Back Heinz Baked Bean Pizzas‘!!

These days my kids go wild for my own homemade version. It’s not complicated and any baked beans will do. Spread over your tomato sauce or just tomato paste if you prefer, and top with cheese. The bulk of the cheese is simply cheddar of one sort or another but you can finish it off with a little mozzarella if you like. Sprinkle some mixed herbs over if you like and voila!

So if it’s not baked bean pizza, what’s your favourite?

[poll id=”2“]

 

 

 

 

Chicken Fettuccine with Wild Mushrooms and Gobbledegeek

To give this scrumptious Italian number it’s full name….Peppered Chicken Fettuccine Tossed with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Wild Mushrooms & Spinach. It may very well be known by another name but I’m afraid I have no have no idea what it might be. The original recipe was passed to me by a talented young chef in Bendigo named Adam and so the credit, and thanks, go to him.

You will notice, perhaps with some panic, that I have omitted the proportions. The reason for this is that after making it a few times, I discarded the recipe and made it to taste. For instance, I love mushrooms but the kids balk at their texture and so the amount and the variety will vary. We all adore pesto but it can make the dish a little rich and heavy, so if you have plenty of chicken to go around, cut down on the pesto and vice versa. Experiment by adding and tasting as you go. Add more of what you like and less of what you don’t but don’t go mad otherwise it will become too salty or overly rich.

Referring back to the long-winded title, if you are partial to it, you might like to add more pepper and reduce the amount of pesto. Heck! Leave out the pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and substitute cream and you have yourself a completely different meal!

 

Ingredients

Fettuccine or Tagliatelle
Chicken Breast Fillets
Sun-dried Tomatoes
Mushrooms
Spinach
Pesto
Cracked black pepper
Garlic
Butter
Olive Oil
Parmesan Cheese

 

Method

Start by cooking the pasta in well salted water. This should take between 8 and 10 minutes once the water is boiling, just long enough to let you prepare the rest of the dish.

Slice the chicken into equal pieces and marinate in olive oil and black pepper while you get on with the other stuff.

Slice the mushrooms and cook in an equal butter oil mix. Season and add a little garlic. Personally, I prefer to just heat them through so they remain quite firm but not still crunchy. You can experiment with wild mushrooms and I would suggest Crimini (Cremini, baby bellas, Italian Brown and Portabellini) for their richer, more earthy flavour or for the more adventurous (and if you can get them), Pied de Mouton or Porcini (Penny Buns) but any mushroom imparting earthy or nutty flavours such as Portabello, would be great in this dish. If you manage to get your hands on some good ‘uns, reduce the impact of the other ingredients and make it more about the mushrooms.

cremini mushrooms

Fry the chicken in olive oil, add mushrooms and the sun-dried tomatoes. Add the pesto and garlic. Season to taste. Other than the pasta, the chicken is the only other ingredient you actually cook, everything else simply requires warming through!

Add more olive oil for the sauce. You may leave this step out if you’re not a fan of olive oil but you don’t want it to be too dry.

Drain and add the cooked pasta, toss and add shaved Parmesan. Potato peelers are great for shaving but a standard grater will probably have the necessary grating slot.

Add the spinach, toss and add a knob of butter. If you’re not a big fan of spinach, try it anyway because it’s the marriage of flavours that make this dish so bloody lovely. If you really must, leave out the spinach, it won’t lessen the dish noticeably. You might also like to add lightly toasted pine nuts or even almond slivers.

Serve with shaved Parmesan on top and accompany with a chilly crisp white of your choice.

Perhaps I’ll add a few black olives when I do this next and I must remember to take photos. Here’s one I borrowed but it doesn’t have sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, Parmesan or any chicken for that matter!!

pesto fettucini