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.

Eggs.

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 

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

HOW

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.
Kipfler
Crack the eggs into a bowl with the chopped spring onions and some salt and pepper and whisk well.
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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.
tortillacookingTorta
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.
Spencersalad2
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.
Spencersalad
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?
Tortilladinner
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).

X

Carrot and Feta Dip w/ Mountain Bread Crisps (or) Grandad’s New BBQ.

In recent times family catch up nights have taken place in my teeny apartment. It’s a “bring your own chair, I think I’m right for plates and forks but mum can you bring some dessert please,  someone will probably be drinking wine from a kids plastic cup” style affair. We squeeze into my lounge room, I squeeze food out of my little kitchen and we have a nice time. Kid will play her clarinet or entertain us with one of her joke books.

Tonight is different.
Grandad (my Dad) has a new bbq and bbq area out the back of the family house so of course it must be christened. Dad will be cooking. His bbq, his castle after all.
Can I bring dessert then? ‘Nah, nah I think your mother’s done something. You don’t need to bring anything.’

Rubbish, I have to take something at least. So I’m making this simple,healthy dip and some crackers that don’t come from a packet.

Carrot and Feta Dip.

Ingredients -( makes about 2 cups of dip)
2 good looking large carrots. About 100gm soft feta ( I used Danish, Persian would be great but is expensive), olive oil.

Carrotdip

How
Peel and grate the carrots. Sauté them in a fry pan or saucepan using about a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt, stirring all the while. They will begin to soften. Put a lid on after a couple of minutes and let them cook right through. Allow them to cool a little, crumble the feta in and process thoroughly until smooth. Refrigerate.

Carrots are full of sweetness and you want to use that here to get maximum flavour whilst sauteing. They are also full of water and we want to use that to help cook them instead of adding liquid and watering down the great natural flavour. That’s why I put a lid on, to trap in some moisture.

Mountain Bread Crisps.
Ingredients

3 sheets of mountain bread or similar, olive oil, 1 tspn sea salt, 2 teaspoons sumac.
DSC_0344

How
Brush the sheets of mountain bread lightly and evenly with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with the sea salt and sumac. Cut them into pieces.
Crispbreads

Arrange oiled bread pieces on a baking tray using some baking paper, it’s a bit like crispbread tetras

DSC_0352

Cook them on 150*c for about 10-15 mins, checking all the while.  When they are a light brown colour and snap when broken you are ready.

DSC_0358

Beware the bottom of the oven – the left hand tray are a little over done. If I was at work and I was my apprentice I would be making me do them again. Luckily we are at home where we celebrate some imperfections.
I used mountain bread because it is light and delicate. You could easily replace it with tortilla bread, pita or even some sliced up old French stick or burger rolls.

Off to Mum and Dad’s!
I also took along some nuts and green olives from my favourite deli. We were 8 people and that was plenty for pre dinner.
Dad cooked sausages, chicken and lamb. We had mum’s sought after potato salad, some green salad from their garden and there was a wonderful sweet potato pie for  my wonderful vegetarian girlfriend.
Then there was cheesecake.

Here’s ‘What Kid Did’ with Grandma.
Cheesecakes

Mum baked, kid decorated ( and licked the beater).There weren’t many left!

Just Another Pumpkin (soup)

JAP pumpkins- Just Another Pumpkin or Japanese pumpkin. I’ve been calling them Japanese pumpkins my whole professional life. That’s what my suppliers have always called them and I’ve never thought twice about it.
Until today.
Today my mother started to read my blog and the first thing she pulled me up on was the use of ‘Japanese’ in a previous post. Mum has spent her life thinking it stands for Just Another Pumpkin. She is not alone in this.
I’ve researched a little on the web and with some fruiterers, nobody has a definitive answer as to which one is right.
I don’t really mind which one it is.
Old wives’ tale or historical anomaly? It all tastes the same -sweet and nutty.
You can read my theory on it after we’ve done some cooking and shared a couple of ideas with you for the Jap pumpkin.

Pumpkin Soup – makes a couple of litres

pumpkin ingredients

Ingredients – we’re going to puree this so it doesn’t matter too much how you chop these. Aim for even sizes.
1 good wedge of Jap/Kent pumpkin (about a kilo)-peeled and chopped – use a sharp knife or a very good peeler. Wash it first.
1 medium brown onion – peeled and chopped
4-5 cloves garlic – peeled and chopped
1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons sour cream

Pumpkinchop

HOW?

In a heavy based pot or sauce pan add a little olive oil or butter or both. Sweat the onions and garlic with a little salt until translucent. Add the pumpkin and cook over a low heat until it begins to soften, stirring along the way. Now put a lid on it and let it really break down (just don’t let it catch on the bottom). This is where we can gain maximum flavour from the pumpkin as they are full of natural sugar. When the pumpkin is soft add the stock and simmer until the pumpkin is completely broken down. Add the sour cream and process with a little salt and pepper.

Jazz it up
There are so many ways to give this soup a little something extra. Here’s just a few ideas.
* Add a little red curry paste at the beginning and finish with some coriander
* Fresh ginger and a little mustard or curry powder
* Replace some stock with coconut cream
* Replace the chicken stock with fish or prawn stock and garnish with some seafood and yoghurt
* For a great vegan option, replace the sour cream with some silken tofu and blend
* Check my Potato Soup post and try the same variations
* Let your mind wander. Or just keep it simple and serve it straight up with a little sour cream and bread. I do.

Soupandme

What Else?

Roast pumpkin is great right. Pumpkin roasted with honey, lemon juice, olive oil , a little nutmeg and rosemary is even better.
Leftover roast pumpkin matches well with feta and pine nuts in a salad or on a pizza
Hommus is great too. Make/buy some hommus and blend it with some leftover roast pumpkin for a tasty dip or salad sandwich saver.
Pumpkin seeds (pepitas) are really tasty and good for you too. Roast them in a moderate oven for no more than 20 minutes. Apparently after this time the good oil in them loses some nutritional value. I eat them on yoghurt at breakfast.

Try making this one –
Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Pepita pesto
1 cup toasted pepitas,1 brown onion, 4 cloves garlic, 1 cup of coriander leaves,1/2 teaspoon cumin powder, 1/2 teaspoon sumac, 1 juicy lemon, 1/2 cup olive oil.
-Sauté the onion, garlic and cumin in a little of the oil. Transfer to a food processor and blend with all the other ingredients until pasty.

What Kid Did
Kid loved the soup. She said it reminds her of the pumpkin soup at sizzler but better. Thanks kid, high praise indeed. Kid spread the pepita pesto on some tortillas and grated cheese on top. Then I baked them like pizza breads. Pretty good. There wasn’t much else for kid to do here, she was busy getting her Hermione costume ready for Book Day at school tomorrow. They drink pumpkin juice in the Harry Potter stories apparently. No, I’m not trying that one thanks kid.

DSC_0412

JAP?
What we call a Jap pumpkin is also called a Kent pumpkin. The Kent is a style of Japanese pumpkin called Kabocha. I have a theory that they were always called Jap pumpkins here but at some point ( during the war maybe) it became unfashionable for them to be known as Japanese and were re-branded as Just Another Pumpkin.
It’s just a theory and I’m happy to hear others.
I spoke to a guy today who pointed out that if it is Just Another Pumpkin, we would just call them JAPs. Not JAP pumpkins. It’s like saying ATM machine. Or PIN number.
However it came about, thanks for the story Mum X

Potato Soup (yep, potato soup.)

potatosoup
Here’s another for the ‘Five Items’ file. Potato soup is about the most basic of soups you could come across. But it doesn’t haven’t to be bland or boring or even too creamy or rich. Even with just 5 ingredients you can put together a winner. Potato soup can be a hearty, tasty meal in a bowl and is very easy to pimp out with some extra goodies (see below).

Ingredients – 1.5kg dutch cream potatoes , 2 small or 1 med to large brown onion, 6 cloves of garlic (use as much or little as you prefer), 500ml of vegetable stock (I’ve used a salt reduced tetra pack), 100ml cream.

HOW– Wash the spuds if necessary. Peel them using a knife. Put the skins aside for now. Slice them about 1cm across. Peel and slice the onions and garlic. In a heavy based sauce pan heat a little oil or butter and sweat the onions and garlic with a little salt until soft and translucent. Add your potatoes. Now you need to keep sweating the vegetables over a low to moderate heat until the potatoes are just starting to soften. Add stock and simmer gently until the spuds are cooked through. Turn it off, add the cream and process with whatever means you have available. Taste it. It will probably need some seasoning, depends on you.

Skins – Just leave this out if you can’t be bothered or watch kids eyes light up when they realise there is pretty much chips going with this soup. Pat the skins dry on some paper towel. Toss in a bowl with a little olive oil and salt. Bake them on a tray with parchment on 180*. It takes probably half an hour and you’ll need to check them and turn them at least once. When they start looking golden and crispy, remove from the oven , drain on paper towel and serve with the soup. Yum.

What Kid Did – Not much to do for her here apart from wash the spuds. She used a clean green scourer and cold water. Kid watched me make the soup and enjoyed the hell out of the whole meal. Chips included.

Pimp your soup – 
Add washed and chopped leeks or fennel at the onion stage.

Sprinkle crumbled fetta, chopped nuts , toasted pumpkin seeds or chilli flakes on top as you serve.

Keep it vegetarian or add some bacon, ham or chicken for extra flavour and protein.

Leave out cream and butter for a vegan option.

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Spinach leaves folded in just before the processing stage gives you a vibrant green colour and all those nutrients.

Add fresh herbs – basil, parsley, dill or mint are all good extras. Add them at the end before processing or chop and sprinkle on top.

A runny poached egg dropped in the soup with some dukkah on top really adds a touch of style.

Which Potato is that?

It may or may not surprise you to know that there are hundreds of different varieties of potato in the world. For this soup I have used Dutch Creams. Partly because they are readily available to me from my local fruiterer and  make good soup but also because they are my favourite potato. Yes, I have a favourite potato. Do you have a favourite potato? Potatoes differ in texture – starchy or waxy, in taste – some are sweet and nutty others are creamy and savoury. This affects the way they cook and the style of cooking they are most suited too. You should ask the fruiterer about the potatoes you are buying. Here is a link to some more info on potatoes.http://www.moraitis.com.au/our-produce/potatoes.html

Enjoy the soup!

 

Viet style Pork Mince with Eggplant ( five items or less).

Sometimes we don’t have much time, energy or resource for lengthy recipes. Over time I am going to build a page of recipes containing 5 ingredients or less. Soups, pastas , curries, salad , sauces etc.. I am not including salt or oil or water or other absolute basics in the count. I’ll also include optional extras so you can take a basic recipe and build on it in your own way.

My friend at Champagne Cartel posted today looking for an eggplant recipe. I thought I’d put it to the Five Items test.

Viet style pork mince w/ eggplant. serves 4.
Ingredients
500 gm pork mince.
2 medium shiny eggplants.
8 cloves chopped garlic.
500ml chicken stock (optional, water will suffice).
1 good splash (metric) of sweet soy.
1 bunch spring onions.

1126
Peel the eggplants and slice into 1-2 cm discs. Shallow fry them in a wide base pot or saucepan. Remove and drain on some kitchen towel. Sauté the pork mince in a little oil. Stir it a lot to break it down and get rid of lumps. Add a little salt.
At first it will want to release moisture and begin stewing. This is fine.
Keep cooking it until the moisture starts to evaporate and the mince takes on some colour. Add the garlic.
Once you’ve got a little colour going add the eggplant back to pot and stir it through the pork mince.
The idea is to really break down the eggplant here so it starts to form part of the sauce. Add stock and soy.
Simmer gently for 1/2 an hour, stirring occasionally to keep it off the bottom. If it dries out, add some water.
The thing to watch now is consistency. Let the moisture evaporate so you have the consistency of a bolognaise.
Finish with the washed and sliced spring onions. Fold them through and serve.
Serving suggestions – serve this over some steamed rice or noodles or in lettuce cups. Or just shovel it into your mouth whilst no-one’s looking 🙂Eggplantme

Optional extras
Some basil or coriander would finish this dish well.
Fresh chopped chilli or chilli sauce even.
Cashews – toasted, crushed and sprinkled over the top.
Star Anise – add a couple when you add the stock and remove before serving. This really gives the dish some body.
Green peas – use fresh ones occasionally and get kids to shell them. I would love it when my mum let me do this.
A fried egg on top.

What Kid did-
Kid peeled the eggplants with a good potato peeler. This will only work with a sharp peeler and firm eggplants. Otherwise use a knife and do it yourself probably. Kid put away the groceries and took the rubbish out. It’s like having my own little home apprentice. She also washed the spring onions , stirred the pot sometimes and kept me company.

eggplants5

Eggplants
The British call them Aubergines. I wish we did too, such a lovely word to say.
Leave the skin on if you like, it’s just easier to get kids to accept it without.
A really versatile vegetable, a delight to eat when prepared properly and a great meat substitute for vegetarians.
There is a school of thought that says they should be salted before cooking to reduce oil absorption and bitterness.
It helps but doesn’t have to be the case. A lot of the bitterness in eggplants has been bred out through farming practises.
They do need to be cooked properly though until the flesh is super soft to be at their best.
Once thought to be nutritionally neutral, amongst other things they are now known to be high in vitamin B and B12 -a  great source  for vegetarians.
The best eggplant dishes I’ve eaten were in Vietnam and Italy. And now my place too.eggplant6

 

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