“Yeah, well you don’t know quack about duck!” Roast Duck & Brown Rice Congee.


I could have been a Marx Brother with lines like that 😉

Duck Soup.
A classic film and also this weeks dish.
Duck and corn congee to be precise.

Mrs. Teasdale: Oh, your Excellency!

Rufus T. Firefly: You’re not so bad yourself.

Congee, for the uninitiated, is a simple soupy porridge affair of rice cooked in broth or water, using the rice to thicken the soup as it breaks down.
As for its origins, I can’t say. Certainly Asia.
Everywhere from China to Indonesia has its own version. Almost certainly a peasant dish created to feed the many with limited resources, but now appearing in all forms on menus everywhere.
This is a 24/7 dish, great for anytime of day. You’ll even find it on trendy breakfast menus, with a trendier 63*egg on top.Duck8A Chinese chef that I trained with years ago (hi Jimmy Lew) always talked about congee being more than just the broth, that it becomes a meal with its condiments and accompaniments. Vegetables, spices, pickles, greens, sauces, nuts and seeds. That’s what makes congee exciting.
I agree. This is our version.
Rinse the rice well and drain . Strip the flesh and skin off the duck. Rinse the bones. Place the rice along with the garlic, ginger, bones, corn, corn cob and liquid (we added a little rice wine and a bay leaf as an after thought) in a pot and bring to a gentle boil. Turn it down to a low simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally to keep the rice from sticking.Duck10 Remove the bones, cob and bay leaf. Discard. The rice should be breaking down and thickening the broth. Season to taste and serve with these extras. Alternatively, substitute duck with left over roast anything. Or seafood. Shitake mushrooms and tofu will satisfy vegan and vegetarian alike.Duck8*Our soup condiments included chopped duck made crispy in a pan. Chopped coriander, spring onions and sugar snap peas for freshness, toasted sesame and fried shallots for crunch. Lemon, soy, chilli and hoi sin for flavour. Eggs are a popular addition as well. Boiled, fried or poached. Or to give the soup a dash of creamy elegance, fold a couple of yolks through the pot just before serving. Transformation.Duck1

*Ambassador Trentino: I didn’t come here to be insulted!

Rufus T. Firefly: That’s what you think!”

With a good base congee and lots of sides you can really tailor this to everyone’s needs, making it great for a shared family meal. Kid had hoi-sin, I like chilli sauce. Not salty enough for you? Add a little soy. You get the idea. We used a slow cooker on high and it was done in around four hours. Apparently some rice cookers have a congee setting so you can set and forget, all day or overnight. But the stove is quicker. On that note, white rice is quicker again and more commonly used. We just happen to be a brown rice house.

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”

What Kid Did


Well. What DIDN’T kid do? There was rice to be washed, corn sheathed, sugar snaps topped and tailed.


Herbs and spring onions to wash and pick. Sesame seeds to toast on the stove. Duck to pick off the bones and bones to wash. Jiu-jitsu to get to, homework to finish, bags un-packed after the long weekend away.

Duck7A discussion came up somewhere on social media this week about kids using knives at home. The big knives. I’m probably a little paranoid about it, having seen adults commit some pretty heinous assaults on themselves (me included) at work. So I’m in no hurry to go down that path. When she’s ready I think we’ll know and frankly, I’m in no hurry. She’s 10 and so far  a small knife for topping some beans is fine.


 “Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don’t let that fool you: he really is an idiot.”

Duck11At that same restaurant where I trained with Jimmy Lew I also worked for a time with Kid’s uncle Pete (way before Kid had even been thought about.) Sometimes on a slow Sunday night we’d roll our chef pants up and waddle around the kitchen pretending to hold cigars, singing ‘Groucho, Groucho, Groucho Marx!’
It still cracks us up 20 years later.

“Either this post is dead or my watch has stopped.”


Broken and Beaten (Eggs part 1).

A week at work in a restaurant can certainly have you feeling a little this way, ask any chef. Not that I’m complaining, it’s just a nifty title – and relevant to today’s post.


High protein, low cost, easy to do something tasty and healthy with.

I am flying by the seat of my pants till pay day this week. I’ve gotta feed me and Kid dinner (and leave some left over for mid week) on the cheap. Meat Free month is still in full swing at my place too. (I went to a friend’s bbq the other day and took an eggplant. They were very understanding.)

I think when you grow up and leave home you should at least be able do something with eggs. I’m going to put together a whole heap of egg recipes over time (use the egg tag) that Kid and I can make together . I will avoid terrible egg puns where possible.
This should also fit the ‘five items’ profile.

Let’s get cracking! (sorry)

We are starting with  a Tortilla. A basic potato omelette with a Spanish background.*

Roast Potato and Green Pea Tortilla 

250gm un-shelled green peas
500gm Kipfler potatoes
8 large free range eggs
2 stalks of spring onions
2 cloves garlic.
tortilla ingredients


Cut the potatoes in four lengthways, toss them with olive oil and salt and roast them for 40 mins on 180*C. They should be golden and crispy. Leave the oven on.
Crack the eggs into a bowl with the chopped spring onions and some salt and pepper and whisk well.
Next heat a fry pan (oven proof) on a moderate heat and add a little olive oil. When the oil runs ribbons add the crushed garlic and give it a stir until almost golden. Add the peas and potatoes and lastly the egg mix. Keep the heat moderate and let the omelette cook on the bottom for 3-4 minutes to form a golden outer layer. Next put the pan into the oven on 180*C for 15 mins.
Remove from the oven and let sit for a good 20 minutes covered with a cloth before you touch it.
Place a large plate upside down over the fry pan. Holding the pan in one hand and your other hand on the plate, invert the whole lot to tip the omelette out onto the plate.
From here you can slice it like a pie and serve.
We had a ‘Little Green Salad’ made by Kid.

What Kid Did
Kid made ‘A Little Green Salad’ for us to have with the Tortilla.
Shaved cucumber and carrots – I had Kid shave strips of cucumber and carrot with a peeler for the salad, it’s more fun and safer than kids using knives.
Always make sure that any sharp objects being used are facing away from the user.
Tomatoes we tried to cut with a cheapo egg slicer I bought on what I thought was a genius whim.
Instead I cut the tomatoes and vowed to go buy a good quality egg slicer for this.
Kid tells me she uses one to cut strawberries at her other home. Tops.
Mint was picked and washed, iceberg lettuce washed and broken up with little hands
and then kid made a dressing with a little mayo, lemon juice and a bit of water.
Then everything was  tossed  in a bowl and served  up.
Kid had a particularly fun time with the shaving of the cucumber.
We shelled the peas together. Use frozen peas for the same result without the fun. I’ve always got frozen peas in my freezer just in case.
When I was a kid I would sit at the bench across from my mum and shell the peas. It felt good to be involved plus I loved to eat them raw when mum wasn’t watching. We had a golden cocker spaniel named Mandy that would chase any peas that fell on to the floor and eat them.
Kid also cracked the eggs into a bowl and beat them well with a fork. (Broken and beaten!) When I had the hot pan ready with the vegetables she poured the egg mixture into the pan.
I’m going to by one of those bench top electric fry pans. I think this will be a great way to introduce Kid to actually cooking some food. I can put it somewhere that we can both reach it and really cook something together. Fried rice maybe? Or pikelets?
The Wash Up.
It was a simple, tasty dinner that I will make again one day when I’m pushed for time and $$. The salad was a great accompaniment, so light and fresh against the potatoes and eggs.
Kid was way more eager to come and help out now that I’ve made more space for her to work.

I used Kipfler potatoes, a small waxy potato with a long irregular shape and sweet nutty flavour. Originally from Austria.
Use what you will but a good sweet and waxy spud will give you a nicer finish.
Ask the fruiterer if you’re unsure.
Almost anything could go in a tortilla like this. Traditionally potato is featured, but left over roast vegetables or meat could be used here.
Seafood works nicely too.
It makes a good lunch or late night snack the next day as well.
Totally vegetarian as well.

*On 2 consecutive breakfast menus I had  a hot smoked salmon ‘tortilla’ and then a pork’n’beans w/ guac and soft tortillas. This was my explanation to staff and customers –
Tortilla in Spanish cuisine refers to a simple pan omelette, normally served at room temp in tapa’s bars.
In Mexican cuisine the word Tortilla refers to flat bread normally made from wheat or corn.
Both come from the same origin ‘torta’ which means cake.

Until neggst time (bahaha).


Bacon and Egg Pasta ( Carbonara?)

Welcome to our first ever post.
A couple of years ago I took Kid to dinner at a local pasta joint (the name escapes me, it doesn’t exist anymore as it was destroyed in the 2011 Brisbane floods).  We ordered a garlic bread, a salad and a spaghetti carbonara. It sticks in my mind because Kid really loved this pasta, she thought it was the best thing ever. Since then I’ve been making it at home occasionally and still get the same reaction.  It is quick and easy and filling. And eaten. And pretty cheap.

My home version is a little different to my professional version. In restaurants we go through a process called ‘liaising’ which means thickening the sauce with an egg at the end. I will be doing this. I won’t be adding white wine or a large amount of cream. We like our pasta lightly dressed around here. Perhaps you like it a little different. I’ll leave that up to you.
Same goes for the garlic. I love it and don’t care if you can smell me from there. Kid has just learnt that she likes it too. Especially as garlic bread or in a pesto.


I’m also adding peas. You could add some fine strips of broccoli or sliced green beans if you’re interested in your vegetable consumption like us. We’ll be having salad too. Always lots of simple chopped up salad.


We  love protein so as well as putting egg in the sauce, I’m going to put a runny fried egg on top. Kid LOVES this. You’ll see us repeat this with some other dishes.

Remember – ALWAYS read a recipe from start to finish before beginning. It will save time.

Here goes. I’m going to boil a pot of water with some salt in it. I’m going to use a big pot. Don’t try and squeeze pasta into a little pot. Pasta will expand considerably as it absorbs water and it needs room to move around so it can cook evenly. The salt is to add flavour. You need to make a whirlpool with a spoon when adding the pasta and remember to stir it off the bottom occasionally here. Use any pasta you like to eat.

I’m cooking for two and hoping for leftovers. So four really. Per person I’m using 1 rasher of bacon, 2 clove of garlic – chopped, 1 stalk of spring onion, 1 handful (metric) of peas (defrost them in some boiling water) 1 egg per two people (plus an extra egg each if you want to eat this like kings), 100ml cream, 100 gm dried pasta. As much cheese as you like to grate on top. Fresh parmesan,romano or pecorino is best but some grated whatever you have in the fridge is fine (and some kids prefer it).

Cut the rind off the bacon and sweat (slowly without colour) gently until it releases all of its oil into your pot. Remove the rind, pat it dry on some paper towel, add a little salt and eat it all to yourself while no-one is looking. Or don’t. I would. Next add your chopped up bacon, onion and garlic and sweat until the garlic is soft. Add cream and let simmer gently for a few minutes. Don’t let it cook too far otherwise it will go stodgy. Turn off the heat.



Now you need to work quickly for just a minute. Lightly beat your eggs for the sauce (do this in advance) now fold it into your cream sauce, add the egg slowly and beat sauce rapidly. Nothing will go wrong here other than your sauce getting bits of cooked egg in it if you don’t incorporate it properly. Eggs coagulate at a low temperature. Add your spring onions and pasta, fold and serve with some cheese and a fried egg on top (poached is okay too).

Eat this with a good amount of salad, otherwise it can seem like a rich meal. Our salad tonight, like so many other nights has tomato, cucumber, avocado, raw broccoli and some great Queen green olives I get every week from a providore near kids school. Sometimes we have beetroot or carrot or celery too. Or cheese. Aim for variety in colour and texture and you’ll be on a winner. It will look appealing and will have good nutritional value.

I know that Kid will lap this up and take some to school for lunch tomorrow. I will eat it with more salad when I get home from work late and be so goddamn happy that I made too much.

Pesto bread – spread pesto on bread (we use fingers of Turkish bread) and bake at 160* until a little crispy. This is totally unnecessary as you’re already eating a plate of carbs. But it IS very yummy.

What kid did – Kid was a great help today. Grating cheese, spreading pesto, peeling and grating garlic, stirring the pasta whilst it cooked, playing Frere Jacques on the clarinet, setting the table, clearing the plates and just being present and part of the process. Thanks Kid.

The Wash Up – The pasta was tasty and not at all heavy. I had seconds and there was enough for 2 small helpings left over. The egg on top is delicious but just indulgence so don’t worry about leaving it off. Kid enjoyed the pasta, especially the egg. I’m going to invest in a garlic press for Kid to use instead of the grater. Next time we’ll make our own pesto. One day our own bread.

A Couple of Points on Pasta – Dried pasta is best for this style of dish, even the Italians agree. Fresh pasta is best for delicate dishes and  filled pasta – ravioli, tortellini etc.

There is an old guide line that suggests long and thin goes with lighter sauces and shorter dish shaped pasta goes with heavier meatier sauces. This throws Spaghetti Bolognaise right on it’s ear so go figure. Use what you will. I’m using orecchiette (it means ‘little ears’ in Italian). On that, another rule of thumb with pasta names is if it ends in ‘ini’ – fettuccini, linguini it means smaller. If it ends in ‘ oni’ – rigatoni, cannelloni it means large. This will help you next time you go out for Italian, which I fully encourage you to do.

My research tells me the name carbonara comes from an old Italain word ‘carbonero’ meaning charcoal burner. Not from carbohydrates as I’ve heard suggested. Early American Italians called it coal miner’s spaghetti, others claim it to be named after an Italian secret society. I like the coal miner version myself. This takes it back to a dish like so many that derive from peasants and workers meaning it would have had a very rustic beginning anyway until they polished it up in spiffy pasta joints. .

I once travelled to Bologna, the home of bolognaise. What they call bolognaise and what we call bolognaise are worlds apart.

I know chefs that won’t add salt to the water for fresh pasta because they believe the salt toughens the gluten in the pasta.


Buon  Appetito !!

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