The Grumpy Dumpling

Dumplings9The Grumpy Dumpling.
This is the name of my local dumpling house. Catchy huh!
It’s a great place to hang with loved ones, friends, kids or by yourself to gorge  on awesome house-made dumplings until you burst.

The  Grumpy’s  menu is suited to all comers and tastes. The hand folded dumplings come steamed, fried, pan fried or  in soup. Impeccable, friendly service is dolled out by the trolley load.
There are comfy seats, sweet tunes from local musos, screens and games for kids, the coldest of beers, ample dipping solutions on the tables, forks for the co-ordinatedly challenged, stays open late AND HAS MORE THAN ONE TOKEN VEGETARIAN DUMPLING ON OFFER.Dumplings

‘Wow!’ I hear you say. ‘You’re like, sooo lucky. I’d love to go there sometime’

Well, I’m sorry, you can’t.

I made it up.

Grumpy’s is my dream local dumpling joint. Sometimes the Doctor has severe dumpling urges and in sweet little Brisbane town you are lucky to find that one token vego gesture if any at all.

Maybe where you live there is a Grumpy’s? I’d like to hear about it.

So, if you haven’t guessed already, today Kid and I are filling the void by filling  some dumpling pastry. Vegetarian like, although carnivores will enjoy these as well.

Shiitake, Tofu and Garlic Sprout DumplingsDumplings3

Fresh shiitake mushrooms – 1 punnet, 4 dried shitake mushrooms, 1/2 a punnet silken tofu, 3-4 garlic sprouts.

Soak the dried mushrooms for 3-4hrs and drain well. Slice all the mushrooms and saute on a good heat with a light oil until they get a nice colour. Add the chopped garlic sprouts and cook a little longer. Cool and fold through the tofu. Silken tofu will smoosh easily. Wrap in dumpling pastry. To cook, brown one side in a pan with a little oil. Add water to cover them by 1/3 and put a lid on top. In 2-3 minutes you are ready. Makes about 30 dumplings.

Eggplant and Kim Chi WontonsDumplings4

1 small eggplant, 1/2 a cup kim-chi (we used a store bought), 2 spring onions.

Slice and grill the eggplant in a little oil. Chill. Drain the kim chi a little and chop along with the spring onions. Now chop the eggplant and mix it all together. Fold in wonton pastry and pan fry or deep fry until crispy. Steaming is good also. Makes about 20 wontons.

Pumpkin, Soy Bean and Coriander Gow GeeDumplings2

1 small piece of pumpkin, 1 tablespoon Korean bean paste, 1/2 cup chopped coriander.

Grate the pumpkin and sweat in a little oil in a fry pan until tender. Add the bean paste and coriander. Chill. Fold in some Gow-Gee pastry and steam. Makes 15-20 dumplings.Dumplings11

Soy, vinegar and chilli sauce to serve.Dumplings7

This way everyone can mix their own dipping sauce on their own plate. Use a light soy, find plum or apple vinegar and use your favourite chilli sauce if that’s what you like. Or use this recipe here. A little hoi-sin is a nice dipping option as well.

All of these ingredients or something similar are available in your local China Town, Asian grocers or even some supermarkets. Dumpling pastry is very easy to make too, just a little time-consuming, so don’t put extra pressure on yourself if you don’t need to. It’s basically just boiling water and flour. Wonton pastry has egg added. My recipes are just ideas. Each filling will go well in any dumpling pastry in any shape or cooking style.

What Kid DidDumplings8Kid pretty much rolled all of these dumplings. After an initial instruction and with the occasional follow-up, Kid had a good time being left to do these on her own. There was also help with picking herbs, grating pumpkin and mixing the fillings.Dumplings5 From the outset I made it clear that it doesn’t matter what they look like as long as the seems are secure. This is fun stuff for kids to do, particularly when they know they’ll be scoffing them very shortly.PicMonkey CollageI think she did an ace job, don’t you?Dumplings10We three sat around the kitchen bench, chatting whist waiting for each batch to cook. Well, those two sat while I cooked but you get the idea. A great communal activity and dumplings for dinner. Can’t go wrong!

Happy Cooking.

See you at Grumpy’s sometime 😉

Dumplings12

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

Duck1

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.
Duck2HOW
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

Duck5

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

Duck4

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.

Duck3

 “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.”

🙂

Pea – Gnocchi – Oh!

Gnocchi1
‘Once upon a time there was a little boy made of wood…..’

One thing I’ve cottonned onto since getting Kid in the kitchen is that the best activities, the ones where she can really get involved, are the ones with batter or dough of some sort. Pizza, empanada, tortillas, crumpets or whatever. These are really satisfying, tactile  adventures. Making the dough, rolling, cutting, cooking, then eating. Hands-on involvement with a directly tangible  result that Kid (and I) can be proud of.

I’ve always been a big fan of making gnocchi. Not so much in a restaurant context because chefs are always so pushed for time and you need time to enjoy the process and get it right.

It can be made in numerous ways, the most ardently traditional will tell you gnocchi is potatoes and flour and nothing else. Rolled and cut by hand. Then there is the classic Gnocchi Romaine which is made with semolina and set in a tray then cut out and baked. Or it can be done choux style as well and piped into a pot of hot water.

It is a classic Italian dish and just like the classic Italian story, you can’t tell lies with gnocchi, or take short cuts. Your nose won’t get bigger but it will end up doughy or tough (the gnocchi).

‘A lie keeps growing and growing until it’s as clear as the nose on your face…’

We’ve replaced potatoes with the infinitely versatile ricotta cheese for this relatively time friendly version. Totally legit and you don’t have to wait for the spuds to cook.

Baked Ricotta Gnocchi…tomatoes, olives, peas etc…

500g ricotta
2 eggs
a pinch of allspice or nutmeg
1 cup parmesan
50g feta
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 bunch chives
s & p

HOW

Pre-heat the oven to 250*c. That’s not a typo. Get a large pot of salted water boiling, I added 3 fresh bay leaves because I have them but don’t feel obliged.
Whip the ricotta, eggs, chives, salt, nutmeg, feta and parmesan until it’s a bit fluffy. I used an electric beater. Gently, I said gently now, fold in the flour until it is just incorporated. This is the important bit, as with a lot of dough recipes, the more you work it the tougher it will turn out.
Gnocchi2
Tip it out onto a well floured bench, cut off a third (always cut dough, don’t pull it) and roll it gently into a long snake the about 2-3 cm in diameter. Use your fingers to guide the dough, once it’s rolling back and forth it will spread without much force from you.

‘Always let your conscience be your guide…’
Gnocchi3
Cut off 1.5cm pieces using a little flour on your fingers to make little dumplings.
Place them on a tray with grease proof paper whilst you prepare the rest of the dough.
Plunge the gnocchi into the boiling water. Do this in 3 batches, if you do it all at once you’ll have troubles. When the gnocchi floats to the surface, give it another 30 seconds and remove into some ice-cold water.

‘That night, something magical happened..’

If you over cook here, the gnocchi will be tough. The water must be absolutely arctic to stop the cooking process. Drain well.
Place the gnocchi in a large non-stick baking tray, cover with some grated parmesan and put aside for now.
Gnocchi6
The Sauce Ingredients
2 punnets bella rossa tomatoes (mini roma, or similar),quartered.
6 cloves garlic – we used 10 because that’s how we do.
1 cup green olives – pipped and halved
1 cup green peas – defrosted under hot water if using frozen. Blanched if using fresh.
1/2 bunch fresh basil
1/2 cup good olive oil
Sea salt and cracked pepper.
Parmesan for serving
*Warm some olive oil in a fry pan, add the garlic and saute until just golden, add tomatoes, pipped green olives and cook until the tomatoes just start to soften. Add the peas and a little salt. Turn off the heat.
Gnocchi4‘into the belly of the whale..’
Now put the gnocchi in your raging hot oven for 5 minutes. No more. The cheese will melt a bit and the gnocchi will go golden on the pan. Pour your sauce and fresh basil over the top and stir gently. Serve. With extra parmesan and salad.

Insalata di Spinachi Bambino, Pera e Finochio – Salad of baby spinach, pear and fennel.

Slice some nice ripe pear, shave or grate a baby fennel bulb, slice some cucumber and toss with baby spinach, a squeeze of lemon and a splash of extra virgin.
Gnocchi5

 

What Kid Did

Kid was totally engaged in this one. You can see how busy she is in the pictures.
Like I said when you can get your hands on some dough or mix a batter it’s really very satisfying. I also pushed the envelope with the salad today. I thought baby spinach and fennel might be a bit grown up but she was into it. The pear helped no doubt.
Gnocchi7
Jiminy Crickets, that was a good meal.
Our bellies like Monstro the whale as we licked the last of the glistening red oil from our plates.

‘Toodle-oo Stromboli..’ Image result for pinocchio and jiminy cricket

Starting from scratch. ( Beam me up, Roti ? )

Today my Mum walked all the way over to my work on her lunch break just to bring me some lychees.
‘Because these ones are really yummy and I have too many of them.’
I love my Mum. (and Dad.)

Coincidentally G.F is coming for dinner.
I’ve been wondering throughout the day what I’ll be making.

The lychees helped make my mind up.
Lychees feature heavily in Sth-east Asian cuisine, in salads, drinks and particularly Thai red duck curry.

We’re NOT making that.
We are however making a G.F friendly dahl and because she doesn’t do rice much lately, we’re gonna give roti bread a go.
My new job is near an Indian supermarket so I went on a little excursion.

The lychees have been assigned to a yummy Lassi to accompany instead. ( As it turns out G.F doesn’t like lychees, but Kid and I do. Winning.)

Roti7

Dahl is any of a variety of curry based on either lentils, peas or other legumes.
Dried mung beans are another example. The lentils or peas are themselves sometimes called dahl.

Yellow Toor Dahl w/ greens beans. Serves 4-6
Ingredients
Spice Blend – 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds ( these are missing from the photo), 1 cinnamon quill, 12 cardomon pods, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns all toasted and ground in a mortar and pestle or spice blender then sieved.
Add 1 tablespoon ground turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon ground clove, 1 teaspoon raw sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt. I’ve also added some saffron, it’s not necessary though.
Roti1Dahl
Yellow Toor Beans – 2 cups – dried
Green beans – about 400gm
1 medium brown onion
2 celery sticks
6 garlic cloves
bay leaves – 4 fresh
fresh coriander – about 1/2 a bunch – washed and picked
1 lemon
Spice blend.
Roti8HOW
Heat a little oil or ghee in a thick based pot. Sweat the onions and celery, then add the garlic and cook until soft. Add the spices and sauté gently until aromatic. Add the toor, stock, coconut cream, bay leaves and a little salt. Add a cup of water too and simmer gently for about 40 mins or until the toor are just soft. Now the green beans go in for about 5 mins. Turn the heat off, add some chopped coriander and lemon juice and let sit until you’re ready to serve.

Roti bread is a flat, unleavened bread made using ( in this instance ) atta flour. Atta is fine ground wholemeal flour with any husk removed via a fine sieving process.
Roti turns up in a few different cuisines, namely sub – continental, Sth East Asian, Sth Pacific and even Sth American.
Roti3Ingredients
2 cups Atta flour
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup olive or ghee
HOW
Combine the flour, salt and water to form a dough. Move this to a lightly floured bench and knead for a solid ten minutes. Brush with a little oil or ghee and leave to rest for an hour at least.
I didn’t have an hour so mine were good but a little lacklustre.
Pre – heat a solid based pan.
Next cut the dough into 10 even sized portions and roll each one out to about 20cm diameter.
Even is more important than round. Sprinkle a little flour in the pan, if it goes brown, you are ready. Place the rolled out dough in the pan for a couple of minutes either side. It should puff up. Press it back down gently with a tea towel to protect your hand. Remove from the pan and brush liberally with ghee or olive oil. Repeat, stacking them as they come off. Keep them covered with a warm damp cloth until ready to serve.
Roti4

What Kid Did

Kid helped with a lovely little salad of cucumber (a little salt on your cucumber goes a long way), mint, spring onions, tomato  and lemon.
Roti6Kid made and rolled the roti dough.
I had a moment when I had to go and calm down because they weren’t round OR even.
Really? So what. We’re meant to be having fun here. Right?!
Occupational hazard. Soz Kid. You do a great job.

One thing you learn pretty quickly when you become a head chef is that not everybody is as excited about what you’re doing as you are.

Kid also toasted the spices in a fry pan,  peeled and pipped the lychees for the lassi, which she’d never done before, picked some coriander and set the table. After dinner we all played a geography quiz game at Kid’s insistence.

Pretty sure I won 😉
Roti5

Lassi- lychees, natural yoghurt, milk. It’s pretty much a smoothie.
It shouldn’t need sweetening if the fruit is ripe.
Otherwise you can add some cardomon and a little salt for a more savoury version.

What Else?
That’s enough, surely.
I’m pretty happy that there’s heaps of dahl left for after work.
Next time I’ll take a little more time with the roti.
Cooking them on electric probably didn’t help.
The salad is a great contrast here, very fresh.
Lentils, mung, or split peas will all work as well here but cooking times may vary.

Thanks for the lychees mum.
X

A Toast(ie) to you and yours. Merry Xm..no wait.. Happy New Year! .

Hai!

Happy New Year to you all. This was originally planned as a post xmas post but I got too lazy on the couch with the cricket and booze and chocolate and leftovers and G.F.
Oh and I’m a chef, so busy 😉

Leftovers, right?! What to do with all that ham and those plump delicious cherries?
(you’ve probably eaten them all already but keep it mind for next year huh.)

toastie5

French Toasties!
Basically a ham and cheese sandwich dipped in egg, then pan-fried. The past couple of Xmas breakfasts I’ve made French toast using brioche and served it with cherries.
They’ll work well here too.
The French love to serve fruit with savoury, as do we here in Queensland.

Ingredients
Ham –
Cheese – I used some mozzarella left from the pizza post.
You could use something with more flavour – brie would be a welcome substitute.
The French would approve 🙂
Bread – we are using sensible thick cut multi-grain.
Eggs
Milk
Butter for cooking
S&P
Cherries – other fruits are nice too
toastie1

HOW
Pip the cherries – or have your Kid do it like I did, and put them aside.
You can crush them or stew them a little with some sugar to make a compote but we left ours raw and yum.

toastie2

Make sandwiches with the ham sliced nice and thin and plenty of cheese.
Be generous, this is meant be a little decadent.
Make sure everything is tucked inside nicely, no dangly-outy bits.
You can easily omit the ham for vegetarians.
You don’t need to butter the bread in this instance.

toasties3Beat the eggs with a little milk and a pinch of salt.
We found that 1 egg and a splash of milk  per sandwich was ample.

Pre – heat a non-stick fry pan to moderate. Add a good chunk of butter.

Dip a whole sandwich into the egg mix and let it sit for 10 seconds and then carefully flip it over, let it sit for 10 seconds, lift it out carefully and place in the fry pan.
Repeat with the next sandwich. And the next.
I don’t know who’s at your place but we’re just making two.
toasties4Use a spatula to check your progress, turn over gently when ready and repeat on the other side.
A moderate heat means the sandwiches are slowly going golden on the outside whilst the cheese melts in the middle.
Don’t rush them. 4 – 5 minutes each side maybe?
See if you can get them as golden as ours!
Remove from the pan, drain on a little paper towel and serve hot with plenty of cherries. This is very much a knife and fork sort of sandwich.
toastie5

What Kid Did
Kid was very productive today. She pipped the cherries using a small cheese knife, apparently they have a la-di-da cherry pipper at her other home ;p
Kid made the sandwiches, beat the eggs and put it all together.
All I did was cut the ham and supervise the pan frying.
Nice work Kid X
Kid also watched me lose my shit at the electric stove for not working to my standards. Wow.

What else?
When I was a kid there was always a ham in the fridge at Xmas, I’m sure a lot of you can relate. Mum was very particular about the ham and I inherited some quirks/skills thanks to her. Nobody was allowed to cut the ham other than mum.
It had to be sliced in a particular way (against the grain, which is absolutely correct as it turns out) the outer layer of fat would be meticulously removed and then the whole ham would be stored in a cloth bag (or an old pillowcase?) in the fridge until just the bone was left.
And mum knew if someone had ‘hacked into the bloody thing’ while she wasn’t around.

At Xmas this year I was not only asked to cut the ham but asked my professional opinion on the preparation and baking of said ham.

Good skills thanks mum. Great memories.

This post was largely written before the outrage that occurred in Paris.

Je Suis Charlie
Can’t we all just get along
X

Less is more, more or less. (Get stuffed, crust)

PIZZA!
Because this ……
Pizza1For my birthday last week I received this pizza oven from uncle brother (my brother, Kid’s uncle). Hence the inevitable pizza post. It’s been on the cards for a bit. Today is a balmy, rainy Brisbane pre-summer sort of oppression, the doors and windows are open, the fans are on cyclone and it’s still hot.

Pizza11

(Oh it’s not hot, it’s just humid. Shut up. It is hot.)
Anyways, we are inside with time to cook.

Basic Pizza Dough
As a cheffy I’ve spent time in a couple of different pizza restaurants with wood fired ovens. We make the dough everyday, sometimes twice a day. I’m used to making a lot at once. Like 20kg of flour at a time. I’ve done some sums and reduced it to this.
This will make 3 thin based 30cm pizzas.
Ingredients
400gm plain flour – 00 is better if it’s available but not essential.
300ml warm water – think of ‘warming a babies bottle’ warm.
1 x 7gm satchet dried yeast
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pizza2HOW
Combine everything bar the flour and stir well. Allow to sit for about 10 mins or until it goes fluffy. If it doesn’t go fluffy, turn back and start again. This means your yeast isn’t ‘activating’. Sift the flour into a bowl, add the yeast mixture and stir together.
Use a mix master if you have one or use your hand as a paddle to combine the ingredients. When it’s a sticky mess turn it out onto a clean bench top and knead until it forms a dough.
Keep kneading until the outside becomes smooth.
This now needs to rest (prove) for about half an hour.
Pizza3

15min Pizza Sauce
Ingredients
4-5 really ripe cooking tomatoes – chopped
5 cloves garlic – more or less – crushed
Fresh basil – about 10 leaves – sliced
S&P

Pizza4HOW
Sweat the garlic in a little oil for 2-3 mins. Add the tomatoes and S&P and turn the heat up. Stir occasionally to stop it burning. After about 10 mins add the basil and blend.
Or in my case, smoosh with a fork and push through a sieve (I left my blender at work).

Pizza5

Pizza Dough
When the dough has doubled in size you can now ‘knock it back’. Knead it again until the air has gone out of it. Cut it into 3 pieces – I know the pretty picture says 2 pieces, I know better now.
Now roll each of these pieces into balls with the palm of your hands.
Now let them rest (prove) again, as in the first instance. I made 2, the first one a little thick, and had dough left  for a small lunch pizza.
Next time I’ll just make 3.

Pizza6Toppings
Less is more here. A thin smear of sauce, a fine scattering of cheese, fresh basil, 1 or 2 toppings and a little cheese again. Too much topping turns a good pizza into something less. A thin crispy, chewy base is nice to eat and won’t fill you up.
The things you buy in boxes with dots and snazzy jingles are great at midnight after too much good cheer but they’re not a good way to feed your family satisfying, nutritious food.
Those toppings are made in a factory, not in a kitchen.
Did someone say ‘stuffed’ crust?

Pizza7

Cooking
We cooked ours in the nifty new pizza oven and they worked a treat (anyone need a pizza oven promo out there?) which was a nice surprise. Otherwise pre-heat your oven nice and high, like 260*c.Use a lightly greased baking tray and cook on the bottom shelf until the bottom has some colour and the cheese gets a little golden.

Pizza9
What Kid Did
What didn’t kid do? If you want to get kids involved just make pizza. Kid made the dough, kneaded the dough and rolled the dough. She picked the basil, stirred the sauce and arranged the toppings gently on the pizzas. Kid washed the lettuce and put together a simple garden salad. You can’t have pizza without salad, I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before.
Kid also took out the rubbish and helped choose/sample the toppings.
We had a really good time today.

Pizza8In the car after school I asked Kid what sort of things we should be thinking about to make a good pizza. She responded with ‘the crust has to be just right’ ‘we need to have toppings that will cook in time with dough’ ‘good cheese’ ‘olives’.
I think we covered those bases – no pun intended.

Don't try this at home ;)

Don’t try this at home 😉

Vegeramalamadingdong! (The Post Katy Perry Post)

We’ve been away. I’m sure someone noticed. Road trip and hiking for me and G.F, holidays for Kid and family, new job for me, etc….

Vegerama1We just haven’t had time to be here.
Oh and somewhere in there I turned 40. Yay!

Vegerama2

Last night we went to Katy Perry. Holy Wow!
I’ve been to loads of gigs in my life but never the full Popstar experience.
There was me and Kid and Kid’s BFF. Show was great. What a good fun night.

Vegerama6

We ate Fish and Chips, icy poles, lollies, chocolate, popcorn and as we were leaving I decided we’d need a late night ice-cream. Because, that’s why.
I asked Kid the best thing about her family holiday?
‘The gelati shop.’ Of course.
We need vegetables.
Along the way on our road trip we were often left with less than inspiring choices for vegetarians so G.F and I would just order chips, vegetables and gravy. ( What’s that? The vegetarian police are knocking at the door? Well we did eat gravy.)

Go. Away.

So I thought I’d recreate something similar. A nostalgia dinner of sorts.
Roast  Vegetables, Greens and Vego Gravy
Ingredients
Vegeram4Roasted
Potatoes, Pumpkin, Carrots, Sweet Potato or whatever.
HOW
Chop and apply a little olive oil and salt. Roast on 180*c until everything is cooked nicely.
Greens –
Broccoli, Beans, Peas or whatever.
HOW
Simmer gently in lightly salted water until just tender. Beans first, then peas, then broccoli. Drain and serve.

Vego Gravy
Ingredients
2 medium carrots
1 large onion
5 cloves garlic
1 cup red wine
100  ml light soy
3 cups veg stock/water
a pinch of thyme or rosemary or sage.

Vegerama5HOW
Slice the vegetables thinly and sauté in a pan until really soft. It’s good to get some colour on them too, for flavour. Make sure they’re really soft and caramelised. Add the red wine and simmer gently until the wine has all but disappeared. Add soy and repeat. Add stock and simmer gently for 3-4 minutes. Puree in a food processor or with a bar mix or vitamiser.
You won’t need to add salt. There is plenty in the soy and on the vegetables already. Pepper or sliced sauté mushrooms will give you that authentic rural bistro feel.
Serve liberally over your vegetables.
Vegerama7We also had vegetarian sausages. Because, that’s why.

What Kid Did
Kid was up until after midnight on a school night so after the beans were picked and the table set I let her roam free. On the couch.
Well done Kid.
Baby, you’re a firework!

The Wash up
Awesome, nutritional, yummy dinner that left us all flopped on the couch Al Bundy style afterwards. Just the effect I was hoping for.
If vegetarian isn’t important to you, use beef or chicken stock. You’ll find my chicken stock recipe in the tags list. Serve liberally over your favourite roast.
Carrots are naturally very sweet once you get them cooking. It is also the carrots that will determine the consistency of your gravy.

Get cooking 🙂

Vegerama3

Barbaliboos and Pollywaffles.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am currently not  in possession of a barbecue (or a barbaliboo for that matter). GF however has a fabulous, shiny beast of a thing in her backyard that gives me massive bbq envy.

Tonight Kid and I are sleeping over and we’re taking over the kitchen to make dinner because that’s what helpful house guests do (and so we don’t have to wash up). This means vegetarian is on the menu (we’re not eating a vegetarian obviously although I reckon you could fit one on this cooker) and I’ve committed us to doing everything on the barbie.
Dessert too.
And we have guests coming.

Neither of us know how to smile for the camera

Neither of us know how to smile for the camera

We’ve started with a pile of vegetables – sweet potato, broccoli, asparagus, capsicum, corn and some tiny desiree potatoes I found at the grocer.
The spuds go on whole because they are small. The sweet potatoes and corn are sliced and smothered in olive oil and a little sea salt and then cooked over a moderate heat on the grill side of the barbeque. When they’re past half way I put them up on the resting rack to finish.
Next the softer vegetables. Broccoli is sliced and peppered with sesame seeds and gets olive oiled along with the asparagus and capsicum. A high temperature is good here, we want them to cook quickly and leave them crisp.
All the vegetables come off around the same time. Simple, fresh and yummy with that smoky, charry flavour you can only get with a barbeque.

ken6

For something a bit different we put edamame beans on a hot flat plate with a little lemon, butter and salt. Just about 1 minute and they’re ready. Edamame are young soy beans normally served in the pod after a light boiling and salting.
They are popular in Japanese and Korean cuisines and  you can buy them from Asian grocery stores in the freezer department.
The little green peas inside are sweet and salty.
Be careful though, you can’t just eat a few.

Salad too, it’s not a barbie without salad. Just tomato, lettuce and cucumber for us. Washed by Kid, chopped by me, arranged by Kid.
There should have been beetroot. There just should have been.

Ken7

Oh and Falafel. With Haloumi. These are a hit.
Ingredients
1 tin chick peas (we were pushed for time here)
1 block ( about 200gm) of haloumi – grated
1/2 bunch parsley
1/2 bunch coriander
1 egg
HOW
Wash, pick and chop the herbs. Smoosh the chick peas really well with a fork, then mix everything together really well. It’s good to get your (or Kids) hands in here and really squish it together. Then make it into patties to cook on the flat plate.
Brown them well on both sides over a moderate heat.

Ken3

And then hotcakes. On the bbq. With grilled banana, chocolate sauce and fresh blueberries. These are pancakes made with a waffle batter (hence the name polly waffles). The waffle batter stands up to the heat of the bbq a little better than pancake batter.
Hotcakes (polly waffles)  Ingredients.
350gm self raising flour
1/2 cup sugar – I used raw, white is fine
3 eggs – separated
2 cups pouring cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
80gm melted butter
pinch of salt
HOW
Blend the egg yolks and sugar well then add the cream and essence. Flour, butter and salt next and blend well. Whip the egg whites until stiff and fold through the batter. Allow to stand for at least 30 mins before using.

Ken1
I started these on the flat plate and moved them to the grill to get them crispy and a little charry. If you’re cooking meat or anything really saucy that’s going to dirty up your barbeque then I suggest you do these first and re heat them later.

I also barbecued some banana in butter and made a simple chocolate sauce with cream, chocolate drinking powder and a little melted chocolate. All in a saucepan on the edge of the barbeque whilst I got the hotcakes cooking.

Ken2

What Kid Did.

Kid had a very preparation sort of day today. I did all of the cooking on the bbq because I am the dad and even if it’s not my bbq, stay the hell away from my bbq, you know?!
GF has a great big bench where we could spread ourselves out. Kid did the usual herb washing and picking then all the smooshing for the falafel. We agreed it’s good fun to smoosh stuff with your hands. I showed kid how to make them round and even by starting with a ball of the mixture in your hand then working it on a bench top with just the tips of your fingers, turning them gently.
There was also the blending together of and measuring of the hotcake batter, arranging salad and helping to keep tidy.
Alfonso and She-ra (the dogs) also needed constant playing with and once our friends little Miss R and her mum arrived, that was the end of Kid’s cooking day.

A girl’s gotta have fun, right kids?

Happy barbalibooing  😉 !

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.
DSC_0642
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

A Nice Bit of Crumpet?

Did someone say BREAKFAST !?

Yes. I did. And thoughts of bacon leapt to mind but then I remembered.

I’m having a meat free month.

Don’t tell my work mates, I won’t live it down.
Questions I just don’t want to have to answer.

Anyway it’s no big deal. I still like meat but sometimes I think it’s important to stop and look at what we eat and why. I have done that and decided that after ‘chocolate free August’, September would be meat free month. (Welcome back chocolate!)

I found some good lookin’ golden corn at the fruit shop whilst looking around for options.  We are out to family dinner tonight (my brother is buying in chicken and chips so it’s chips and coleslaw for me) but tomorrow morning we’re having these.

Golden Sweet Corn Crumpets

Ingredients –  makes about 12.
2 cobs corn
500ml milk
2cups plain flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 a 7gm packet of dried yeast
Crumpetingredients

HOW

Heat the milk until just warm, add the yeast, honey, salt and melted butter. Let this mixture stand for 20 mins in a warm place to activate the yeast. It should go fluffy.
Cook the corn in salted boiling water for 5 minutes. Cool under some running cold water. Hold one end and use a sharp knife to cut the kernels from the cob (make sure the knife is facing away from you). Chop them up a little.
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. When the yeast mixture is ready stir everything together.
Now let this mixture stand for about 45mins to an hour. This should swell and go fluffy also.
Heat a pan with some butter in it. A moderate heat is ample. These will burn pretty easily if it’s hot.
Add the mixture to some egg rings. Cook gently on one side until the batter is set and then flip them over. Cook for a further 5 minutes or so, remove from the pan and eat while hot.
I served them with some pan fried banana, Greek yoghurt and honey.
Crumpetmaking DSC_0541

Crumpet

Breakfast. Served w/ pan-fried banana, Greek yoghurt and bush honey

ALSO
These would go well with  savoury or sweet  toppings or a combination – bacon and ice cream or whipped miso butter and grilled pineapple for example.  Fried eggs and chilli sauce.

We had them cold after school too. Cut in half and topped w/ hommus, avocado and a little mayo. Yep.

CORN- Look for bright yellow, shiny kernels. It’s okay to pull back the husk and look inside before you commit. You could use tinned corn kernels to save time. It won’t be as good but you either have time or you don’t.  In some parts of the world corn is white and sometimes blue. Yep, blue.

Corn

YEAST– the milk must be luke warm. Think of warming a baby’s bottle. Too cold it won’t activate, too hot and you kill it. You should be able to smell the yeast after a minute or two. The honey and salt are like food for the yeast.

WHAT KID DID – Kid helped pull the husk off the corn and did dome stirring. She liked the crumpets, especially the afternoon tea version. When Kid met GF she decided that she would be a vegetarian too. That was until she realised that chicken is not a vegetable.

Hommus, avo and mayo.

Hommus, avo and mayo.

Post Script – When I was 20 I became a vegetarian and lived that way for about 3yrs. Chefs are not supposed to like vegetarians for some ridiculous reason so I copped it everyday. I would try things in the kitchen if duty called but then the vegetarian police would be out in force.
“How can you call yourself a vegetarian when you just put that gravy in your mouth?” or “how can you call yourself a vegetarian when your  shoes are leather?”  All uttered with a smug sense of superiority. Some people just don’t like things that challenge them huh.

Whatever. Our personal choices are just that obviously. My girlfriend is vegetarian for her own reasons and I respect that. I eat vegetarian with her when we get  to dine together. I love to.
The head chef of one Brisbane’s smartest fine dining restaurants is a vegan. Respect.
Chips and coleslaw is really yummy. I used to eat it a lot back in the day.
Sometimes I get sick of the sight of meat. There is a lot of it in my kitchens. There are so many other good things to eat out there. I’d like to see a subtle shift in our current perception of food where meat is the centre piece and everything else is an after thought.

I like the idea of using less, better quality meats  to make lots of beautiful vegetables, pastas, sauces or whatever taste really good.

I’m not going to go any further, this is not a rant.

Time for a nice bit of crumpet 😉

Peace.

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