February 17, 2012
by Anke
0 comments

Traditional Korean bbq beef – Bulgogi

The other night I felt like firing up the bbq. There had been a storm warning for our area, but the sky looked fine.

Feeling unenthusiastic about sausages, buger or steaks, I thought this famous Korean dish was much more representative of where my tastebuds were heading.  This is a very flavourful dish, lean and the kids love it, which is always a bonus.

There are a number of recipes on the net and of course they are all different.  I am sure I made this a few years ago and that recipe did not contain any fruit.  Since there were way too many version to choose from, I figured go to the most authentic Korean type person I can find.  KitchenWench is it.  I love the way she talks about her mother’s (and grandmother’s cooking) and how it compares to her own style.  It is very similar to what I remember growing up in Germany.  You can find her recipe and how it came about here.  I changed very little, apart from the wording so it doesnt look like outright plagiarism.

I turned on the bbq and while I waited for it to reach the desired heat I organised the side dishes. We had steamed rice, some baby bok choy and kimchi to serve with the beef.  When that was done I proudly carried my bowl of Korean beef out and was met by a torrential downpour.  When did this happen?

So guess who bbq’d in the rain?  That would be me.
Dinner plans quickly changed from outdoor to inside and everyone was happy.

Personally I thought a kilo of meat was too much for three adults and 2 kids, but not a morsel was left.

Ingredients

1kg ridiculously thinly sliced beef – Kitchen Wench suggests sirloin, I used rump
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium brown onion, peeled
1 nashi pear, peeled
1 sweet apple, grated
2/3 cup soy sauce
(Korean ‘kanjang’ would be best, but Japanese tamari is fine or Chinese light soy too if you have nothing else)
2 tbsp sesame oil
approx. 2-4 tbsp caster sugar
2 spring onions, finely sliced
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Method

  • Put the beef in a bowl, squeeze the grated apple over the top and set aside.
  • Grate the onion and pear as fine as possible. I used a microplane to turn it into pulp.
    You could use the belnder but that tends to be a bit too mushy.
  •  Add the soy sauce and crushed garlic to the pear onion mix.
  • Taste for sweetness. Adjust the flavour with as much or as little sugar as you like.  It is meant to be sweet, but not sickly.
  •  Pour the marinade over the top of the meat,  massage it through making sure that every piece of meat is coated.
  • Add the sesame oil, sliced spring onion and cracked pepper and again make sure everything is distributed evenly.
  • Cover and refrigerate at least a few hours, ideally overnight.
  • Cook on a bbq plate at high heat.  It doesnt take long at all till you get the dark edges you are looking for so make sure you have your side dishes prepared before you start cooking the meat.
  • If you dont have a bbq plate, don’t use the grill as the little slices will fall between the cracks.
  • You can also use a griddle pan or fry pan at a pinch.
  • Serve with rice and something green.

My Observations

This is one of those dishes where you need to have the thinnest slices possible. If you are lucky enough to have an Asian butcher nearby they will be able to slice the beef for you if you let them know. But if you are like most people you’ll end up doing it yourself.  The easiest way is to half freeze the piece of beef so it is almost solid. Then cut against the grain into 2-3mm thick slices.

Try not to fry up all the juices as the marinade makes a lovely rich sauce to pour over your rice.

Very tasty. Very worthwhile the grated knuckles.

February 12, 2012
by Anke
0 comments

Tarragon Strawberries with Rosemary Yoghurt

Love it or loathe it, Valentine’s Day is a huge deal for many people – certainly an awful lot of retailers.

There are so many people on their high horse about how one should show one’s love every day of the year, it shouldn’t require a special (commercialised) day.  And while on the subject of commercialism, those same people climb onto their sturdy soap box about the price of flowers, chocolates, stuffed toys, greetings cards etc.  For these people I have the same advice I have for anyone who complains about how trends are degrading the very fabric of society, yadda, yadda…….. “Don’t buy.  Don’t participate.”  That’s it.  If you don’t like it, don’t do it.  If there are enough people not doing it, it will change.

We do Valentine’s Day.  Sort of.
We don’t buy overpriced flowers or squeeze into the sold out dining room of one of the many restaurants around town filled with tables of two. We don’t do any of that but we make extra romantic gestures that don’t break the bank.

Everyone does chocolate at Valentine’s Day, but what do you do when your Knight’s horse is already suffering under all the chocolate I may or may not have spoiled said Knight with throughout the the year.   Why, gorgeous, red, heart shaped strawberries of course!!!

When I saw this recipe in the Januray edition of the Women’s Weekly I completely fell in love with the combination of fresh fruit, gorgeous herbs and a touch of creaminess.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste (or 1/2 vanilla bean split lenthways)
2/3 cup (160ml) cream
1 cup (280g) plain Greek yoghurt
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh tarragon leaves
2 tablespoons caster sugar
500g strawberries, washed & sliced

Method

  • Combine rosemary, vanilla and cream in a small saucepan.
  • Bring to a simmer and simmer gently, uncovered for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat.  Strain and cool.
  • Combine the yoghurt and cream. Cover and refrigerate till needed.
  • On a chopping board, place tarragon leaves in a small pile, cover with sugar.
  • Coarsely chop together to make a tarragon flavoured sugar.
  • Divide straberries between 4 servings.
  • Sprinkle with tarragon sugar and serve with rosemary yoghurt.

My Observations

Fabulous flavour combination!

I found that the cream and yoghurt made a runny combination. Next time I would either use less cream, or maybe substitute quark, which would give a nice flavour too.

Cute, heart shaped strawberry slices on the cutesiest (is that a word?) day of the year.  Chocolates be gone!

 

February 8, 2012
by Anke
0 comments

Chicken with Lentils

School is back and life is s.l.o.w.l.y returning to what passes as normal in our house.  Our Little Professor (almost 6) is busy bringing home incredibly fascinating bits of information he has picked up during the day and asking to have percentages explained to him.  He is not even 6.

So much is learned in those early years and those things will stick with us for life.  Same with our food preferences, wouldn’t you say?  Sure we can develop preferences later in life but I believe we always fall back to our first loves.

From birth until 14 I lived in rural Germany. In hindsight, I was very lucky to have been raised in an environment where fresh local produce was the norm.  My father was a plumber, he did a lot of jobs for people in the village which were paid in kind.  This meant that it was not unusual on a Saturday morning to receive a boot load of asparagus, or cucumbers, or beans, or …well you get the idea.  If such bounty arrived it was all hands on deck for us kids too to form a production line of peeling, slicing, washing, marinating – whatever method of preparation was required on the day. We had a large cellar where there were rows upon rows of jars of peaches, cucumbers, pears, pickles, jams, juices, sauces and more – right next to the rather large freezer.  There were several generations in our home as  my maternal great grandparents lived in the same house.  This meant recipes and techniques were old school.

To this day I have this picture in my head, a memory, of an afternoon in the garden, sitting with my father peeling asparagus.  To me, the PERFECT asparagus dish is a small mountain of asparagus freshly cooked in lightly salted water, drained….plopped on a plate with paper thin BLack Forest smoked ham (Schwarzwälder Schinken) and Dad’s homemade hollandaise.   That’s it, nothing else. Oh, did I mention that asparagus has to be WHITE? Thick, white and sweet and not stringy.

Of course it wasn’t just fruit and vegetables making their way to us, being a good German family with hearty appetites there was plenty of meat to go around as well.  Mum had a deal with the local ranger and in autumn there was usually 1/2 a deer in the freezer.  Mum & Dad helped out on slaughter day at local farmers’ , a day where everyone chipped in, and from there too came 1/2 pig, plenty of beef, chickens and home made smallgoods.  No matter where we lived, my mother always had a brilliant relationship with the village butcher.

I still love German food a lot, although it is often too rich for the hot Queensland climate.  One of the many things I did learn however was that food doesn’t need to be fussy and complicated, in fact the simpler the better the flavour and that has followed me regardless of the cuisine I am trying to recreate.

So here we have Chicken & Lentils – very French, very simple, very cheap, very tasty.

I adapted this recipe from Blue Kitchen who adapted it from Poulet aux Lentilles out of  Bistro Chicken.

Ingredients

1 small chicken halved, back bone removed

1 cup lentils, preferably French
3 cups water
4 baby leeks
2 medium-sized carrots, peeled and sliced on a diagonal
1 ½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup water
1/2 cup white wine

For the rub:
1/4 cup coarse sea salt
15 juniper berries, coarsely chopped
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 ½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • In a bowl mix all the rub ingredients.
  • Place chicken halves  non-reactive pan (go for glass or ceramic if you can).
  •  Sprinkle the salt mix both sides of the chicken, then massage it into the skin.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours or longer.  I think I did 5.
  • Preheat oven to 180º C (350ºF) .
  • Add lentils to 3 cups of water bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • While the lentils are cooking, rinse the chicken REALLY well and pat it dry.
  • Drain the lentils and place in the bottom of an overproof dish.
  • Lay out leeks and carrots on top of the lentils.
  • Combine the garlic, 1 teaspoon of the thyme,  1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  • Sprinkle this over the lentils and vegetables.
  • Place chicken halves on top of the vegetables and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon of thyme.
  • Carefully pour water and the wine around the chicken.
  • Place baking dish in oven and roast for about 1 hour or until chicken is cooked and golden.
  • Remove from oven and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

My Observations

The juniper berries remind me of many German meals, or the odd gin 🙂 and give the chicken a fabulously subtle flavour.  The salt rub is a way of dry brining but you must make sure you rinse it REALLY well, to not have an overly salty chook in the end.

I personally believe that lentils benefit greatly from a tiny drizzle of vinegar and I have recently found out that there are many other cultures that do the same. I chose apple cider vinegar, my KnightInShiningArmour chose malt vinegar, PixieBoy didnt have any and Little Professor decided that at this stage his life is quite complete without eating lentils *sigh*

Of course you can use chicken pieces instead of halves, double the lentils, add celery, bay leaf, a shot of cognac, maybe a smidge of bacon too. Use this as your base recipe, then let your personal taste guide you to come up with a family favourite.

It tasted delicious, is very easy to make and once again, a super cheap dish too.

If you are left with a shedload of lentils, here is a nifty storage idea I found on Pinterest

Source: flickr.com via Anke on Pinterest

The Organised Housewife

The Organised Housewife

February 5, 2012
by Anke
0 comments

Creating with leftovers

We all have them.  We all stare at them, sitting there, these little bits of lots of things that aren’t enough to do anything with.

So what do YOU do when you find in your fridge ….

  • some left over rice
  • some left over spaghetti
  • a 2 inch butt end of Chinese BBQ pork
  • same again  for a piece of speck
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 baby pack choy
  • 1/2 zucchini
  • 1/2 French shallot
  • one king oyster mushroom
  • bit of coriander
  • and a bit of parsley

If you were like me you would make family dinner for two nights.

With staples from the pantry like soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic oil , seasoning and pickled cucumbers I fed two adults and 2 halves without having to compromise on flavour…. or worse, resort to what passes as take away in our neck of the woods.

First a very unauthentic fried rice. This took care of the rice, bbq pork, 2 eggs, pak choy, zucchini, shallot, mushroom and coriander.

I made an omlette from the eggs, a few drops of sesame oil, pinch of white pepper and chopped coriander.   Once that had browned and set I put it aside and started frying the diced bbq pork , sliced mushroom, sliced shallot and a bit of the speck. Add the rice, heat through, stiring all the time so it doesnt catch.  Splash on soy sauce.  Hey presto, fried rice.   I blanched the pak choy and the zucchini, drained really well, sprinkled a couple of drops of garlic oil and served it along side the rice.

On the second day came one of my favourites, a German bubble and squeak if you will. Actually, come to think of it that is made with potatoes not pasta, and isn’t called bubble & spueak but a Farmer’s Breakfast.  Uhm…ok…moving right along…..

Leftover pasta is fried with bacon/speck till it gets brown and crispy ends, season with pepper, sprinkle parsley, throw over 2 beaten eggs and stir it all around so everything has a bit of egg on it.  Finish cooking till the egg is set.  This is usually served with pickles of some sort.
This one leaves itself open to all manner of variations – try salami instead of bacon – and I will always cook too much pasta just so I can use up other things in the fridge.

Now I know that the pictures looked sort of….brown…and beige….with bacon.  But let me assure you that whateverboth these dishes were lacking in colour was more than made up in taste.

So what are your go-to dishes to get rid of leftovers???

February 1, 2012
by Anke
4 Comments

Victoria Sponge with Strawberries & Cream

I’m a cooker, not a baker.  Having said that, I do love baked goods – fresh artisan breads, old traditional cakes, cookies, biscuits – yep, pretty much all of it.  Just because I love eating it doesn’t mean I can actually make them though.  When our good friend Jo announced that she doesn’t “do” birthdays I figured it was absolutely necessary she have a cake, and I was going to bake it.  Uhm, sure.

There were hours spent looking for inspiration on the internet and scouring cookbooks. I consulted a Twitter buddy who is a bit of a baking hero and we thought I might try my hand at her latest invention – a symphony of chocolate in 4 processes.

Then I thought maybe I should actually ask her what she likes and it turns out she likes a sponge cake with strawberries and cream.  Easy!

Or not.  I’ve never made a sponge before and I have heard that there is a bit of a knack to it, which is probably the reason why it is still a constant contestant at fairs and fetes everywhere.

I wanted to make a Victoria Sponge but at the last minute changed my mind to make a recipe out of Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion. This one I managed to stuff up TWICE.  The first didnt even make it into the oven, the egg whites just wouldnt fluff up.  The second went into the oven, rose to amazing heights, and deflated to next to nothing a few minutes out of the oven. Sweet pizza base anyone?

So at the last minute I grabbed Nigella Lawson’s Victoria Sponge recipe How to Be a Domestic Goddess.
Thank you Ms Lawson for keeping it sane. No separating eggs and whisking whites till firm, nothing delicate here……apart from the final product.

Of course I adapted the recipe to fit in with my brief of straberries and cream.

Ingredients

225g caster sugar
225g soft butter (at room temperature)
4 eggs (at room temperature)
200g self raising flour
25g cornflour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk (at room temperature)

punnet of strawberries
2 tsp caster sugar
whipped cream
strawberry jam
pure icing sugar

 Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350°F or gas mark 4.
  • Wash, hull and slice strawberries.
  • In a bowl combine strawberries with caster sugar. Pop into the fridge until later.
  • Put ALL the ingredients in a food processor and pulse for a few seconds until everything is mixed.
  • Split the batter between 2 greased 20 cm round tins, and bake for 25 minutes.
  • Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes.
  • Turn out onto a cooling rack and leave until completely cooled.
  • Spread a thin layer of jam onto one sponge
  • Cover with whipped cream and strawberries.
  • Put second sponge layer on top and dust with a layer of icing sugar.

My Observations

Sponge cake making observation #1 – Just because the books says anyone can do it, doesnt make it so. Give yourself extra time to try again. (and again)

Sponge cake making observation #2 – When an English woman says room temperature, that may not necessarily apply to an unairconditioned Queensland kitchen at the height of summer.

Sponge cake making observation #3 – Room temperature butter in an unairconditioned Queensland kitchen at the height of summer is not perfectly soft. It has melted. Not only has it melted but the milk solids have separated.

It tasted great.  The birthday girl was happy, it reminded her of the cakes her mum used to bake when she was little. Yay me.

It was heavier than I wanted it to be.  I envisioned this fluffy, airy spongy texture that a Victorian Sponge is known for but really, working with butter in 30+ degrees C and 98% humidity, I should not have gone with the soft, soft option but kept it a little more solid.

Overall I am happy with my first ever sponge cake.  I am sure there will be many more down the track and I will learn my own little knack that our grandmothers are famous for.

January 30, 2012
by Anke
5 Comments

Berliner Potato Soup

Germany has 16 ‘states’ and each has a very distinct regional cuisine with very distinct flavours.  Since Germans love potatoes there are a myriad of potato dishes in each state too.  Yesterday it was a miserable, rainy day in Brisbane and although it was quite warm it made me crave a very popular German dish from the Berlin region.

Berliner potato soup is a very old recipe said to have been a favourite of the last German emperor, William II. The base of his recipe would have been made from ham bones (just like I usually make) but the man on the street would have made his with whatever was on hand, maybe a sausage on the side.  Berliner soups are not starters.  These are rich, full on stews meant to warm and fill you up.

Here is a brilliant dish that is made from very humble ingredients. This particular soup is enriched with cream, but it really is great without it too. So if you can’t do dairy, leave it out.  If you dont eat meat, use vegetable stock and leave out the bacon. If you feel rustic, leave it chunky, if you like smooth, stick a blender in it.  I go half way and use a potato masher, that way I still have some texture but not a broth with big chunks of potato (husband prefers the semi mushy version).

Ingredients

1 lb/ 500g floury potatoes
soup vegetables – (1 large carrot, 1 large stick of celery, white part of 1 leek, parsley stalks)
1 medium brown onion
1 tbsp clarified butter/oil
4 cups/1 liter hot meat stock
1 tbsp rubbed marjoram
salt & pepper
1/4 cup/65ml cream
1 tbsp chopped parsley

2 pieces of sliced bread diced into croutons
4oz/120g lean bacon, diced

Method

  • Peel potatoes, dice finely.
  • Dice soup vegetables and onion.
  • Heat up butter or oil in a large pan. Fry onions and soup vegetables until onions are transparent.
  • Add potatoes and fry briefly.
  • Pour on meat stock, add marjoram and boil for 20 minutes.
  • Stir in the cream, heat through.
  • This is where I would now mash some of the potatoes with a masher or fork.
  •  Or, blend soup with stick mixer or in blender.
  • Fry diced bacon and diced bread in butter until golden.
  • Sprinkle croutons, bacon and parsley over soup and serve straight away.
  • Serves 2-4

My Observations

I’ve adapted the recipe a little, as I am sure every housewife in Berlin does too. I didnt use the croutons and bacon featured in the ingredient list as my butcher gave me the end bone off his ‘ham off the bone’. This had plenty of meat on it to use in this soup and I kept the bone for another time. As you can see in the final picture, I served up with a cripsy sourdough roll on the side.

If you grow you own herbs like I do, don’t be tempted to use fresh marjoram.  Dried marjoram packs a much bigger punch, no idea why. And you can’t leave it out, it makes ALL the difference to this soup.

We were saying that adding more leek would be really nice too.

In the past I have used beef stock, chicken stock, a bit of both stock, all work well.  If you want to add meat you can grab ham or left over bits you have in the fridge and there are also all manner of sausages you could add. e.g. sliced frankfurts (REAL frankfurts please not those weird red things), knackwurst, cookwurst, smoked mettwurst, all sorts.

Seriously easy, seriously basic ingredients, full on perfect flavour.

 

January 25, 2012
by Anke
5 Comments

What’s a foodie anyway?

Are you a foodie??

I have been called a foodie by some, but I am not sure the term fits because a lot of people I consider foodies are way more into the techniques and the nitty gritties of food than I am. There are also those self professed foodies who are just wankers.

So what is a foodie?

TheFreedictionary.com defines foodie as:

food·ie 
n. Slang
A person who has an ardent or refined interest in food; a gourmet

I think Urbandictionary.com reflects my views a lot better with its definition:

* A person that spends a keen amount of attention and energy on knowing the ingredients of food, the proper preparation of food, and finds great enjoyment in top-notch ingredients and exemplary preparation.

* A foodie is not necessarily a food snob, only enjoying delicacies and/or food items difficult to obtain and/or expensive foods; though, that is a variety of foodie.

* A douchebag who likes food.
Douchebag – “I’m a big foodie.”

Non-doucher – “Really? I like food too, but I’m not a tool.”

So for want of a better term that applies to you and I, people who really like food and everything about it without the pretension or weirdness – we are foodies too.

Have you ever noticed how foodies know stuff? They know what horiatiki salata is and feel quite comfortable discussing the various uses of quinoa, freekeh and fregola.  They will have tried to cook their salmon sous vide, and start breathing heavily when passing a Thermomix.

If you really like your food but haven’t got a clue what these words mean, you are not alone.  Luckily the lovely Anne Stanfield has dedicated 10 years of her life to help you out. I recently received her book “foodiewords” – a food & dining lexicon that will help you tell your buckwheat from your burghul.   It’s an easy to follow A-Z format, small enough to sneak into your handbag and it covers “all manner of cuisines from Australian Bush Tucker, modern Australian to foods from France, UK, Greece, Italy, Thailand, Middle East, Indonesia, India, Morocco, Nepal, South America, USA and more.”

I thought I was pretty cluey when it came foodie words but it turns out I have a lot to learn.   This little book is a fabulous quick reference guide and I was über happy to see that Quark made it in as well.  This is a term I am often asked about and it’s about time this gorgeous ingredient finds its way into everyday food language.

“It’s a 200 page pocket book, about the size of a traveller’s language phrase book with over 2300 food and dining terms with meanings, origins, pronunciations of foreign words.  It’s peppered with personal food and travel anecdotes.”

I really like it and I think it will make a great gift idea for your foodie friends or those that look really scared when they encounter foreign menus.

NOTE:

Horiatiki salataGreek salad made of ripe tomatoes, onion, cucumber, feta, black olives (no lettuce)

QuinoaAncient South American grain, high in protein with a nutty, crunchy texture often used as a cereal or side dish similar to couscous.  The leaves of this plant are eaten as leafy greens (think silverbeet).

FreekehMiddle Eastern – Green wheat harvested unripe, sundried, roasted and cracked.

FregolaNorth African – Made from semolina, similar to couscous.

Sous videCooking method where food vacuum sealed in a bag then cooked in a water bath for a long time at low temperature. This means everything is cooked evenly, without the outside getting all the attention and retention of moisture.  There is no browning on the outside which means that sometimes food needs to be finished off in a pan to gain colour.

ThermomixIf I say it’s a kitchen appliance I know I’ll have some friends write nasty letters because it is a bit more than that.  Ok, a lot more.  It’s a blender, steamer, scales, food processor, grater, juicer, slow cooker, beater, kneader and 4th year chef apprentice all in one.  Plus it does everything it does in a fraction of the time it would take you to do it the old fashioned way.

Buckwheat – A herb, not a cereal. Often ground into a dark, nutty flour it is very nutritional especially high in potassium. Since it is not actually a wheat it contains no gluten, hence a recipe like buckwheat pancakes will combine wheat and buckwheat for the right consistency.

BurghulMiddle Eastern – Wheat grains steamed, dried and crushed.  Reconstituted in dishes such as tabbouleh

QuarkGerman – Often compared with cream cheese, curd cheese or cottage cheese, but “traditional quark is not made with rennet. It is soft, white and unaged, similar to some types of fromage frais. It is distinct from ricotta because ricotta is made from scalded whey. Quark usually has much lower fat content (about the same as yoghurt) than cream cheeses and has no salt added” (source wikipedia).  It is used in sweet and savoury deishes, makes for a killer cheesecake.

 

 

January 23, 2012
by Anke
9 Comments

Scotch Eggs from Scratch

Have you ever had a scotch egg? It’s a quintessential English snack that is often found, plastic wrapped in roadhouses and supermarkets.  Now if you are partial to squashballs wrapped in mystery meat which have been crumbed and fried within your lifetime, then this would be a heavenly thing indeed.  I however prefer to know where my food comes from and how long it has been around.

My darling husband is English, have I mentioned that?  Anyway, I thought it would be nice to make him scotch eggs as it is something he rarely finds in Brisbane.  There is one stall, Wensley’s, at the Moggill Markets who make and sell a very nice version and some to-die-for eckles cakes *swoon*.

When I researched recipes they usually involved boiling eggs and wrapping in pre-bought sausagemeat which is all very well when you have palatable, regional sausagemeat available.  So I had three options.

  1. Visit a decent butcher and have him tailor make something for me.
  2. Buy my favourite sausages and take the meat out of the casings.
  3. Make it myself.

I chose door number 3, making up my own recipe for the sausagemeat component of the recipe.

Ingredients

500gr pork shoulder
100gr pork fat
zest of one lemon, grated
5gr salt
1 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
6 eggs, very soft boiled.
2 eggs, for eggwash
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
oil for frying

Method

  • I am reasonably sure I dont need to walk you through how to boil an egg to soft boiled stage, so I’ll skip that bit and assume you’ve done it.
  • In a food processor mince up the meat and fat, add lemon zest, spices and sesoning. Process until you get a sticky smoothish paste.  I could still identify bits of meat in mine but you dont want it too coarse or it wont stick to the eggs.
  • Divide meat mixture into 6.
  • Lay out a piece of clingwrap, take one ball of meat and smooth out into a thin, round shape.
  • Place one egg in the center and lift the sides of clingwrap to help shape meat around the egg.
  • Repeat another 5 times.
  • Roll each meaty egg through lightly beaten eggwash, drip off the excess.
  • Roll each eggy, meaty egg through breadcrumbs till it’s evenly coated.
  • Heat oil to 180C, fry your scotch eggs till an even brown colour and the meat is cooked through.
  • Serve warm or cold, with a salad and chutney.

My Observations

The clingwrap method of wrapping the meat around the eggs is brilliant. I am very glad I saw that mentioned on the web somewhere, it made that part of the process much easier than I thought it would be.

Instead of breadcrumbs I used Panko crumbs, which are Japanese breadcrumbs that just seem to result in a dryer, crispier finish. No idea what they do to their bread to achieve that, so I just grab a bag at the supermarket.

Traditionally scotch eggs are deep fried.  Since I have an unreasonable aversion to depp frying anything without an actual deepfryer, I chose to shallow fry my beauties till they were the right shade of brown and then finish them in the oven (7 minutes at 180C) to make sure the meat was cooked through.

The finished product was spectacular!  The egg was still soft, meat cooked through but not dry and crumbs perfectly crisp.

He-who-reckons-if-you-havent-grown-up-by-40-you-dont-have-to loved them.  The sausage meat was very tasty, the lemon zest stood out but nicely so.  We have decided that next time I’ll up the spice a little bit more.

No two scotch eggs are the same.  Well, except the supermarket ones.  Different regions have different flavours in their sausages and a great many people have experimented with completely different slants on the same process.

For example:

Confit Goose and Quail Scotch Eggs

Black Pudding Scotch Eggs

Japanese Teriyaki Scotch Eggs

Vegetarian Scotch Eggs

January 19, 2012
by Anke
3 Comments

Rhubarb Champagne

I love making drinks for the family, you’ll usually find cordials and syrups made with gorgeous flavours such as elderflowers and hibiscus/rosella.  Recently however I heard of rhubarb champagne and I loved the idea for two reasons.  Obviously to make another natural drink but I really liked that you can use the rhubarb twice, this appeals to the frugal side of me.  Firstly you soak the chopped stalks in a sugar syrup with lemons and then, once you strain it all you can still use the flesh to make crumble or other deliciousness. I think that’s brilliant!

So while rhubarb can still be found at my local farmer’s markets (Moggill Markets) I thought I better get into some pink champagne making.

Ingredients

500 gr bright red rhubarb
3 cups of sugar
7 tablespoons of Cider Vinegar
Juice of 4 lemons (1/2-3/4 cup)
4 litres of water

 Method

  • Dissolve 3 cups of sugar in 1 litre of hot water.
  • Add 3 litres of cold water,cider vinegar and juice of 4 lemons.
  • Add chopped rhubarb.
  • Cover with a tea towel and leave for 48 hours.
  • Strain and bottle.
  • Leave at least 14 days in sealed bottles before opening.

*Use the Rhubarb pieces for crumble, pie, or my rhubarb ice cream!!

My Observations

The avearge bunch of rhubarb comes in at just UNDER 500gr once you chop off all the leaves.  In my case it was 395gr. For the sake of adjusting quantities without using a calculator or breaking into a major sweat I pretended I had 400gr.

The hardest parts about the recipe are finding a container large enough to hold everything and then finding enough space in the fridge to store the bottles.

The first bottle I opened after 2 weeks was not fizzy.  I was disappointed but the taste was so amazing it made up for it.  The second and subsequent bottles all had lovely fizzy pink rhubarb champagne.
As I said, the taste was great.  But it was very strong and very sweet.  We found, for it to be perfect, to dilute it with water at a 1:1 ratio.

Will make this again next time I buy rhubarb, especially since I am not using up the rhubarb and can still use it for something else. Oh!!!  I could make my rhubarb tart tatin *swoon*

January 16, 2012
by Anke
3 Comments

Achacha – Invite your tastebuds to dance

 Last week my supermarket trip unearthed something I hadnt seen before. Supermarket shopping rarely holds any great thrill, unless of course you are in a foreign country and get to discover all sorts of fabulous new things. So when I saw this new fruit in the produce department I just HAD to know what it was.  Naturally there was no label, no name, no price. Not to be discouraged I grabbed the nearest shelf stacking teenager and what do you know, he was a fountain of knowledge. YAY.

“It’s called Achacha, and you sorta twist it to open it, would you like to try it?”  What a charming young man.  Long story short, I tasted, I liked, I bought 5.

Originally from Bolivia, it’s real name is achachairú (Garcinia humilis), which in true Australian fashion had to be shortened thus became achacha. Apparently this little gem is quite difficult to grow, which is why it has taken this long to get it to market.

Here are some more bits of info I have picked up:

  • Achacha will not continue to ripen once picked.
  • Do not refrigerate. “A household refrigerator stores perishable food at about 5°C; this is too cold for the Achacha, unless you are planning on eating it that day. At about 20°C – room temperature – it will keep for days in the fruit bowl, and weeks if stored in a closed container or bag so that it does not dry out. Refrigerate for an hour or so before eating if you would like to sharpen up the flavour!”
  • A rich source of essential nutrients like potassium and vitamin C, but they’re also one of the highest fruit sources of folate, also lighter in sugar than many other fruits while still having a subtle sweet taste.
  • The seeds and skins contain hydroxycitrate which has hunger suppressant properties. This makes the achacha a popular addition to any weightloss plan.  (www.achacha.com.au)

Since I didnt know how to best utilise the fruit I bought I figured I’d stick to trialling the flesh on the family and make an infusion of the skins.

The taste test went well.  One of the 5 fruits was a lot softer than the others and since I didnt know if that was good or bad we tried it all. Turns out, soft is not good.  The taste is very much like a tangy mangosteen and as I have since found out the two are of the same genus.   Everyone in the family liked it, HeWhoRefusesToGrowUp was intrigued by the texture.

The flesh pops out of the skin really easily, but unfortunately there are seeds.  One big one and sometimes a couple of smaller ones too.  I chopped up the skins and popped them, with the seeds, into a jug, added about 600ml of boiling water and left it overnight in the fridge.

Now on the achacha website it just mentions water, neither hot nor cold, to make the infusion, so I relied on experience gained on Herbology.com.au I chose to use hot water.

The next day I strained out the solids and sweetened with remaining liquid with sugar syrup I made from equal parts water and sugar.   The result was a surprisingly refreshing drink.  If you see this fruit at your local greengrocer and you grab a few, do not throw away the skins.  They give a gorgeous flavour which can be used for quite a few recipes.  The achacha website suggests granita, jelly, icy poles, cocktails, sorbets and more. And that’s just for the skins!