I quit the weed today!

Yes indeedy! I no longer smoke. Following a heavy session last night, I finished the dust that remained in my pack of Golden Virginia and feel quite ill now. No more fags for me!

Link between Scientology and Bendigo Discovered!

Yes, fuck heads abound when you happen upon a room pustulously populated with that heady, if musty, mix of half-witted hoons and slow-witted Scientologists!

Spicy Roasted Pumpkin & Red Lentil Soup

One of the first things I do every morning is think about what I might prepare for dinner that evening. Today I have been offered a suggestion in the form of a ready disected and roasted pumpkin and a packet of red lentils, strategically displayed where I wouldn’t miss them.

In a scene reminiscent of Ready, Steady, Cook I lean on the counter staring at the two ingredients in an effort to draw inspiration. It wasn’t too difficult to come up with a few ideas but given the frosty morning and the hope of little improvement for the remainder of the day, I opted for an Indian themed soup.

This simple recipe requires no culinary prowess and I am not even going to proffer precise quantities for all ingredients as it’s mostly created by taste and in quantities you desire.

Lentils are bloody marvelous, so versatile and help lower cholestral too. I use them in a multitude of dishes from soups to stews because they are so quick and easy to use. Rinse and chuck them into your favourite stock or plain old H2O. For this dish, I’m using 500gms of red lentils but then I currently have nine mouths to feed! Don’t fret about making too much as it freezes very well.

Firstly, rinse the lentils in cold water. I’m using the Nature’s Selection brand which require no pre-soaking, so follow the instructions you have.

Spicy roasted pumpkin & red lentil soup
Spicy roasted pumpkin & red lentil soup

Finely chop a large onion and gently fry in a few tablespoons of vegetable oil. As the onion begins to very lightly brown, add a couple of cloves of minced garlic. After a further minute or so, combine a heaped teaspoon of turmeric, cumin and coriander but you can reduce or increase any combination depending on your own taste. Gently frying at this stage helps to release the flavours and aromas of the spices better than adding to the soup later. Having said that, keep tasting periodically and adding more until the moment you serve.

Add your shiny clean lentils to a suitably sized pot and drown in chicken or vegetable stock. I’m starting with a litre and a half but can easily add more later if required and probably will.

Now scrape the flesh away from the hard pumpkin skin if soft, else cut the skin away and chop roughly.

Throw everything into your pot, bring to the boil and simmer for approximately 45 minutes. If you prefer, you can liquidise the soup for smooth finish but this just adds to the washing up and I consider it excessive faffing about and in any case, I quite like the non-liquidised texture.

If you have any fresh coriander leaves, roughly chop and use as garnish. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or natural yoghurt and accompany with mini papadums or fresh crusty bread.

Bon appétit!
Mwynhewch eich bwyd!

Gobbledegeek’s Cauliflower Cheese

So I’ve had this cauliflower in the fridge for quite some time now, hoping it would gracefully grow old and black so that I could avoid preparing a cheese sauce but to my horror, and ignoring a barely visible amount of blackening, it looked as good as the day I dumped it there. So I must bite the bullet and prepare a sauce that in all honesty, is not so much of a chore but will require a little extra work if it is to feed several hungry mouths.

A fresh hoon brain
A fresh hoon brain

We’ll start by preparing the milk. Throw a couple of bay leaves, a quartered onion and half a dozen cloves into the milk, season with sea salt and black pepper and bring to the boil. I use between 1 and 1.5 litres and this expands considerably once you start adding cheese, so bear this in mind when selecting your pan. You can experiment with other infusions if you’re feeling adventurous.

Once your infusion begins to boil, remove the pan from the heat and discard the ingredients when cool. Allowing the milk infusion to cool will help avoid lumps later.

Moving on to the cauli, start by removing the stem and any unwanted foliage. At this stage you should have already removed it from the fridge, otherwise it could get a little cramped and quite likely dangerous too. You can remove any unsightly blackening with a potato pealer or a sharp knife. Cut into florets or if you prefer, simply cut into the required amount of portions.

Boil in salted water for 5 minutes and then drain. You could save the water for another dish if you wish and I’d suggest using it for a creamy cauliflower soup made with cumin, turmeric and fresh coriander, for instance.

While the cauli cools, we’ll do the roux for our béchamel sauce by taking equal quantities of flour and butter. Over a low to medium heat, melt the butter first and whisk in the flour to create a smooth, creamy mess akin to wet sand. That’s your classic roux, used as a base for several ‘mother’ sauces, which in turn are used as bases for all other sauces.

Still whisking, gradually add the cooled milk infusion until completely combined. As the mixture heats the fat reacts with the starch in the flour and thickens the milk. You should continue stirring over the heat until the floury taste subsides but before the mixture darkens too much, that is unless you need a base for a dark sauce, of course.

Now you can gradually add your cheese, transforming our béchamel into cheese sauce unless you wish to impress your dinner guests, then calling it a cheese béchamel is acceptable.

Quite cheesy
Quite cheesy
Cheesy!
Cheesy!

Did you know that equal quantities of Gruyère and Parmesan combined with your basic béchamel create the famous Mornay sauce? However, for our cauliflower cheese, we’ll stick with good old Cheddar. Continue adding the cheese and tasting regularly until the desired cheesiness is met.

Finally, a little more seasoning can be added or try a little nutmeg before pouring over the cauliflower which has been sat patiently in a suitable ovenware dish. Grate a little more cheese over the top and chuck it in the pre-heated oven at about 180°C for 20 minutes or until slightly singed on top.

Cauliflower cheese
Cauliflower cheese

Depending on whether the cauliflower cheese is for lunch, dinner or just a side dish, you can pad it out and make it go further by adding chopped bacon or peas and even pasta, to name a few. Equal quantities of cauli and broccoli make a pleasant change when accompanying the Sunday roast, although my personal preference would be to include very little cheese in this case.

Bon appétit!
Mwynhewch eich bwyd!

Bendigo Hoons – Top of The Fuck Head List Again…

…and still bottom of the gene pool.

Well, it’s not really news is it? Bendigo is again honoured with the prestigious accolade of being the state’s Hoon Capital! A label loved by many and one set to remain for the foreseable future, or at least until genetic manipulation becomes legal/acceptable.

If you’d like to read the article, try here.

What motivates these fuck heads? I mean, if dicing with death is something that substitutes Viagra for these homosexuals, why not simply shoot up an Ice/Crack/random semen cocktail once in a while? That way, you get the rush you crave while never really knowing whether you are going to die a horrible death or not but should it be the former, and we can live in hope, you only ruin the lives of your family.

I cherish the moment one of these Neanderthal toss pots crosses my path or puts my children at risk.

Of course, being of little intelligence, they often bemoan the ‘personal vendetta’ carried out by the local police force in the pursuit of their deemed innocent high jinks, rather than targeting paedophiles, murderers and well, any other criminal activity than theirs. Bendigo Police receive precious little praise for their work against Bendigo’s botty-boys who use hooning as a cover.

Read an article about Bendigo’s Traffic Management Unit here.

One dick-less wonder in particular seems not to understand that his actions have consequences. Poor Joshua Shelton lost his arm as the result of his misguided passion for hooning and while I wouldn’t endorse such radical and extreme body modification, especially for someone who seemingly enjoys driving, it doesn’t appear to have quashed his appetite for the socially repulsive activity. Donkey bollocks Joshua was caught twice in just 90 minutes, having already lost his license! Numb-nuts Josh is THE most effective argument for genetic manipulation if ever there was one.

Read about silly Joshua Shelton from Bendigo here.

Incidentally, this really gets my goat and, just between you and me, I don’t even own a goat! The social misfits, fortunate enough to harm themselves while hooning, are even eligible for compensation payouts from the Transport Accident Commission!

Even if they were deemed negligent and ultimately responsible for an incident, most were still entitled to a lump-sum impairment benefit, she said.

Read more on this insanity here.

I will give intelligent readers one guess as to who pays these dim-witted dick-nibblers? Hoons can obviously have several but I suggest you right in for the answer because you’ll be here forever otherwise.

Junortoun Central Post Office & Service Station

…….what a bunch of frackin’ morons!

I make a point of excluding profanity from my blog but for these dickheads, I am happy to make an exception.

A couple of weeks ago I received a Western Union order and knowing that Australia Post would be closed on a Sunday I phoned around a few of the agents listed on the WU website. The bint in the Junortoun Central Post Office & Service Station, assured me that they were able to perform the transaction. Arrived. Actually, she wasn’t permitted to perform the transaction.

This week I called again to potentially save a trip in the pouring rain. She assured me that she was able to perform the transaction. I asked again to be sure and explained the previous wasted trip. She gave me assurances that they were able and willing to perform WU transactions. Got there.

“Oh! We are able to send but not receive”, she said.

What a frackin’ goat!

I am now piss wet through, have wasted another hour and still have no money. Not a happy bunny!

Super simple pizza dough recipe

Several people have asked for my pizza recipe and while I often jot it onto a piece of paper for them, posting the ‘official’ version here might reassure them that ‘it really is that simple’. It certainly can be simple if you want it to be but there is a whole Interwebthingy strewn with debate, research, long versions, short versions, hints, tips and recipes from the pure and simple to the cluttered, chaotic and downright unnecessary.  If you’re looking for a tomato sauce recipe, you won’t find it in this post but I will certainly cover it soon…

Ham and cheese pizza
Ham and cheese pizza

This is my version of a simple dough which is identical to so many out there. It was a starting point for experimentation, trial and error and my own search for great tasting pizza. I’m not saying it’s great by any high gluten stretch of the imagination and I’m not saying there aren’t better recipes out there but it’s a quick and simple version that could whet your appetite and launch you on your own quest for the Holy Grail of pizza.

 

 

 

 

The short way down

  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 8 tbsp of warm water
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp of yeast
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Mix and knead for several minutes. Oil the inside of a bowl with a little olive oil or spray. Drop the ball of dough in and cover with Glad wrap or a damp cloth and leave somewhere warm. Leave to rise for a couple of hours or until it nearly doubles in size.

Punch the dough down in the centre and roll out on to a floured surface while the oven heats up to about 240° C. Add your tomato sauce and favourite toppings and bake for about 10 t0 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Top tip!

Once your dough is rolled out to the required size and thickness, transfer to a tray or other flat surface covered with semolina or cornmeal. This will enable the topped and finished pizza to easily slide off when you transfer it to the oven.

The long way ’round

For those partial to the convoluted, the following might satisfy your appetite. It’s the same simple recipe, just long-winded.

Doh!

Flour – Strong baker’s flour is best but I often use the super-cheap supermarket homebrand. You can also buy specific bread and pizza flour such as the Anchor brand (for those of us in Australia) but generally, a strong, high protein, plain flour is what you’re after. High protein means higher elasticity and a better rise. Get King Arthur Bread flour if you can find it.

Salt – Good old fashioned table salt. A possibly interesting variation might be to use rock salt for an added crunchy suprise but until I find the salt shaker empty, I might just leave the rock for other recipes and emergencies.

Olive oil – I add a tablespoon of olive oil to the warm water and sometimes drizzle lightly over simple pizzas. A drop or two should be used to line the bowl to prevent sticking during the rise. The spray version is quite handy for this.

Water – 8 tablespoons of warm water should be a guide but 9 shouldn’t harm. If the dough isn’t slightly sticky add minute quantities and continue kneading. It should pull away from the bowl but just stick the bottom as you knead. Conversely, if it’s too wet, sticking to both hands and the bowl, simply sprinkle small quantities of flour. Apparently, an acceptable dough should stretch nicely without cracking.

Yeast – A level teaspoon of ordinary bakers yeast is sufficient for this recipe but this is one ingredient that you don’t necessarily double up on when making larger quantities. I believe this equates to a sachet of the common brands found in any supermarket. During your quest for the perfect pizza, yeast becomes very important but we’ll talk about that another time.

Mixing

Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl. I use a hand whisk to disperse thoroughly. Make a well in the middle and pour in the water and olive oil.

Use a fork and mix until mostly combined. This saves getting all gooed up. Then again, so does using an electric mixer with dough hooks.  Now use a floured hand to knead the dough. I find, as many do, that the kneading process is quite relaxing. It’s also a more socially acceptable means of developing a strong right hand but I digress. This should be done for several minutes before covering and leaving in a warm place to rise. I usually use Glad wrap instead of a traditional damp cloth.

The Rise

There is much debate concerning ingredients, methods and temperatures etc and the length and size of the dough rise is no exception but if I’m in a hurry, I’ll roll it out whenever I damn please.

Many will say that you must wait until it doubles in size and there are arguments for overnight rising but as this is supposed to be a super simple recipe, leave it until it has risen by about 50-75%, usually between 1 and 2 hours. I have even kept dough covered in the fridge for days before using it and if you find regular kneading a chore, or the size of your kneading arm grows to the embarrassing proportions of Popeye, make up a batch, divide into single pizza balls, rub with olive oil, seal in Glad wrap or sandwich bags and throw in the freezer for a rainy day. Once solid, they can be dropped into a sock to manufacture a formidable weapon against burglars, door-to-door salesmen and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The roll

Once your dough has risen enough, dump it out onto a clean floured surface and punch the centre to expel the air. You can use your fist to start spreading the dough outwards. Purists will say you should use just your fingers to manipulate and stretch the dough to the required size and shape but this takes time. Personally, I more often than not use a medium sized empty jam jar. Starting from the middle, gently and evenly roll the dough outwards but avoid rolling the edge. Leaving a slightly thicker rim will result in a lovely crunchy hand hold and prevent hot goey ingredients from sliding off.

The bake

Once the dough is just about there or your patience runs out, whichever is sooner, wack the oven on at 240° C. If you are using a stone, then aim for a good 20 minutes or more to heat up properly. I have heard conflicting theories on stone placement, whether it be top or bottom of the oven and it may just have been luck but I have slightly better results by placing the stone at the top of my rather crappy fan-assisted oven. You’ll have to experiment. Keep an eye on it but at this temperature, 10 minutes should do but take it out when the cheese has melted and the crust is golden brown.

There’s more

If, like me, you catch the pizza-making bug, it will not be long before you begin the quest for the ‘perfect pizza’. However, you need not look much further than Jeff Varasano’s web site. Just ask Google for ‘the perfect pizza recipe’ and Jeff’s site sits in the number one spot. I’ve scanned it numerous times to glean tips but it makes my mouth water in a particularly undignified and wholly Homer-like fashion, every time I visit. I shall have to wear a bib should I ever be lucky enough to visit his recently opened pizzeria in New York!

In the end

The key to making great pizza, in my opinion, is to keep it simple and this recipe is certainly that. By all means experiment with every step until you are satisfied. Get yourself a pizza stone, cook quicker at higher temperatures or for longer on lower, try the top of the oven as well as the lower, add grated Parmesan or mixed herbs to the dough or vary the thickness of crust. All this I will endeavor to cover another time.

All said and done, you have to enjoy what you are doing, otherwise call Domino’s!