Monday, May 31, 2010

Sautéed Onions with Chili and Garlic

This is a simple, wonderful topping for many things. They can, obviously, be put on a hot dog or burger, no worries. They make a great addition or topping to any omelet. Pile them on top of your nacho platter! Heck, I'm sure I could even incorporate them into sushi rolls!

The possibilities of uses are limitless. Provided, of course, you like onions, garlic and chillis.

A note about the chilli paste you'll be wanting to get: make sure that it is at least 90% chilli (and they should at least be as hot as Thai or African Bird's Eye) and the only other ingredients are water and salt. Well, there might be a preservative and a thickener in it... But nothing else!

What you need:

1 small onion, either rough chopped or cut into half rings
1 tbsp of chilli paste (or less if you are a wuss)
1 garlic clove, crushed
dash of sea salt
1 glass of chardonnay, or any white wine
a bit of olive oil

What you do:

Heat up a wok on medium/mediumhigh heat. Add a splash (like 1 tbsp) of olive oil to it. Just before the olive oil starts to smoke (like after around 45 seconds) toss in the onion, chilli paste, garlic and salt. Toss or stir constantly till the garlic juuuuuuust starts to brown and things start to think about sticking --this should only take 2 minutes at most. At that point, add a half glass of the chardonnay (the other half is for the cook) and give a quick stir to de-glaze the wok.

Cook it down till there's no liquid left BUT that the onions have not started to fry again.

Turn the heat off. Splat the onions over or in whatever you'll be having them over or in and ENJOY!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Biggest Morning Tea

Each year, the Biology dept up at our local Flinders Uni hosts what they like to call "The Biggest Morning Tea". It only costs $4 to get in (that's just a couple of Aussie $2 coins). All the cooking is done on a volunteer basis.

My BIL works at the Paleo lab in the Bio dept so he's on their email list. Last week he received an urgent email asking for more cooking-type folks. So far only 4 people had volunteered, and none of them featured any savory dishes.

Mike (BIL) told them about my cooking prowess, and I got in email contact with the lady in charge. She is very thrilled with what I said I could make for them.

Here's the list of what I'll be making between now (monday arvo) and thurs morn:

Cheese and bacon muffins

soft pretzels w/ cheese sauce

mexican chocolate fondue

zucchini bread

cumin seed crackers

wholemeal chia seed bread w/sunflower and pumpkin seeds

morrocan seasoned pan bread w/ grana padana cheese

fresh homemade ricotta cheese (it's easier than you think) to go with the cumin crackers and whatever.

They are expecting 100 to 150 people... This will be challenging, especially as MIL has a couple of doctor appointments this week.

Wish me luck folks!

Oh, the proceeds from it go directly the Flinders Med Centre (right next to the U) for their cancer research.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Creamy Potato and Pea Soup

And it is best served with a crusty, fresh, loaf of french bread for dunkers.

No pics of this as the batteries died when I turned the camera on (ooh baby, what big lenses you have!) and I didn't have time to charge another set --of batteries.

But trust me, it is delicious! If you'd like I can take a pic of an empty bowl and you can sorta imagine the soup in it... maybe not.

I shall now try to remember what went into the soup and the procedure I used...

What you need:

8 to 10 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 litre of water (4 cups)

1 cup cream
2 glasses chardonnay (and a 3rd one for the cook)
1 can garden peas (should only have 3 ingredients: peas, water, salt)
3 or 4 wild onion greens, minced (or garlic greens)
1 tsp dillweed

sea salt
white pepper

2 thai chili peppers, minced (optional)
1/2 small onion, finely minced (optional)
1 wild onion green, minced (optional)
1/2 tsp mint (optional)
1/4 tsp turmeric (optional)

What you do:

Take the first 4 ingredients and chuck em into a big ole dutch oven. Put the lid on it and simmer till the spuds are soft --around 45 mins. Remove from heat and remove the lid.

Take a spud masher and mash the heck out of the contents. You'll end up with a slurry-type liquid. Now add the next 5 ingredients and give a a good stirring to thoroughly combine everything.

Put the lid on and bring it back up to a simmer. Give it a taste test and season with sea salt and white pepper till it suits your palette.

Serve it up with a crusty bread for dunking!

Optional stuff:

Add the mint at the same time you add the dill. Ditto for the turmeric. The onion greens and chili are for garnish; just sprinkle over the top of the soup. I also sautéed some minced onion in a bit of olive oil and a bit of salt, then deglazed the wok with a splash of chardonnay and cooked the liquid down (that whole procedure took all of about 2 minutes). Those onions were then sprinkled over the top of my soup, along with the chili and greens.

Be creative with this, just try not to overpower the subtle taste and creamy texture of the soup with too many additions.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Leek & Beef Soup

Otherwise known as Mock Oxtail Soup. Oh heck! Let's just shorten it to Moxtail Soup!

This recipe is kind of a cross betwixt a traditional UK oxtail soup, a Scottish Cock-A-Leekie soup, and a Sri Lankan mulligatawny soup.

Given all that, it is SSSSOOOOOOOOOOOO GOOD!

And you don't knead an oxtail either. But you do need a leek. And some ground (minced) meat. I used beef this time but I've also made it with ground kangaroo, ground moose, ground lamb, and ground caribou.

It's very easy, few ingredients, but it does take some time for the flavours to develop. There are also many additions to this, I'll mention a few at the end of the post, no worries.

What you need:
500 grams beef mince (ground beef)
1 fresh leek
water (H2O)
1 can of roma tomatoes (diced, whole, whatever; as long as the ingredients are: Tomatoes, water, salt)
2 or 3 glasses of red wine --I usually use shiraz for this
1 to 4 tbsp vindaloo paste (not vindaloo sauce, but the REAL stuff)
sea salt
ground white pepper

What you do:
Slice the leek into 1 cm disks. Put the disks into a colander and rinse them well. If you've never used a leek before then you may like to know that dirt can hide in the darnedest nooks and crannies of the leek --so rinse the disks well.

Lightly cook the meat in the pot you intend to make the soup. As soon as the meat is JUST barely cooked through then remove the meat from the pot so as to leave all the wonderful juices behind. Set the meat aside.

Add the leek disks to the meat juices along with 1 litre of water. Simmer till the liquid is reduced by half. Add a half litre of water (or so) plus 2 or 3 glasses of red wine. Simmer for a few mins to bring it back up to temp.

Toss in the can of tomatoes --oh, make sure you OPEN the can first and only add the CONTENTS of the can. This is a good time to add the cooked meat too. A sprinkle of sea salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper should be added now.

Give it a taste. Rather bland, eh? Now add the vindaloo paste a tbsp (or tsp if you are a wuss) at a time. Stir well after each addition and give a taste test. Once you've got the spiciness up to where you want it then (obviously) stop adding the vindaloo paste.

Turn the heat off. Cover and let stand for the afternoon. Crank the heat up before serving so it's close to piping hot. A good hunk of crusty, homemade, buttered, bread goes great with this.

What else can be done with this soup? Well, pretty much any red, ground meat can be used, game or not. Yes, that includes emu and ostrich. Use the ground (minced) meat as you would the minced (ground) beef.

Celery and/or cabbage make nice flavour additions. For the cabbage, shred it as thinly as possible and add it at the same time as the leek. I'd add the celery (very thinly sliced) a little bit through the simmering though. Carrots are a nice addition too. The softness of the carrots depends upon when you add them to the simmering leeks, your call.

For a slightly different flavour you can sear the leek (and whatever veggies you are using) in the pot first with some butter or olive oil along with a sprinkle of sea salt. Deglaze with the meat juices and a bit of red wine and then continue on with the recipe.

Anyways, loads of variations and loads of flavours can be yours just from this one simple soup.