hello 2013

January 4, 2013 § 2 Comments

beans close up

I was camping at the Grampians for new years, watching birds and stars, climbing mountains and drinking lots and lots of tea. It was such a peaceful way to start 2013, and I feel like this year is going to be great! It is just a feeling, which is perhaps more important than any materialisation of the thought, but that’s ok too.

This festive time of year always makes me think of my mum and her bean salad. It often ends up on the table on special occasions and Christmas and new years are no exception.

As easy and very simple dishes often are, this has always been one of my favourites.  This year however, I have started making it with some fresh apricots chopped up and thrown in too. There is something lovely about the tartness of the vinegar with the sweet freshness of the apricots and the greenness of the beans and basil. Below, I have put mum’s recipe but feel free to add some apricots if you would like.

beans w feet

Mum’s Green Bean Salad

2 huge handfuls of green beans
A splash of olive oil
A few splashes of balsamic vinegar
A good sprinkle of sea salt
A very good handful of roughly chopped basil

Top and tail beans, cut in half and steam until fluorescent green and crispy.  Take off the heat and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking. Whilst the beans are still warm add the olive oil, vinegar and salt and mix in. Once the beans are cool add the basil.

This salad can be served straight away or left to marinate for a couple of hours and served at room temperature.

Beans

the way I like it

December 12, 2012 § 5 Comments

flowers

I have always taken on a rather flippant character in the kitchen and I have always been very hopeless at following recipes. It’s a bit like an uncontrollable desire to not do as I am told. But I think this also comes from being an impatient kind of person – I can never be bothered to measure things properly, I can’t stand all those different sized measuring spoons, and never seem to be able to find the measuring cup in our chaotic and unruly cupboards.  I’m also impatient enough to forget that it is this very nature that is the reason for unruly cupboards in the first place. Things get thrown on shelves with doors slammed and a quick prayer that nothing will come tumbling out when displaced by the new object that has descended upon its turf.

I admire those people, who don’t seem to notice the things that slow them down, those that can measure flour down to the milligram, who level a cup with the scrape of a knife, who follow a recipe methodically.

The recipe below for beef rendang is one I first ate at my friend and colleague Noel’s house. Noel and his wife Jenny are amazing cooks. The recipe came out of an old and battered book, with pages yellowing and crinkled at the sides. They picked it up when they were in Indonesia, perhaps more than 30 years ago, and they have been cooking out of it ever since. It is very much my kind of recipe – humorously vague with a few Indonesian words for ingredients thrown in here and there. It leaves much to the imagination. But it is also an absolutely beautiful recipe. The meat becomes lovely and tender with hours spent cooking and the flavours are rich and creamy.

Below I have written the recipe directly from the book, but with some added notes in honour of people who like things more precise, and in an attempt to be more like that myself.  I hope you enjoy.

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Rendang Padang

1 lb steak (I used 600g)
2 – 4 tsp chilli
1 scant tsp laos (galangal powder – I used fresh)
1 medium onion grated
1 small clove garlic crushed (I used 2)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
3 cups thick santan (coconut cream)
1 knob ginger (I used about 1 inch)
½ tsp turmeric
1- 2 stalk/piece lemon grass pounded (and chopped)
Asam (juice of half a lemon)
(I also added 2 small potatoes and a small sweet potato)

Cut the meat into serving size pieces and place in a wide saucepan (with hot oil – brown the meat).
Crush Ginger and add, with onion and garlic and other spices (stir until fragrant).
Add Santan (coconut cream).
(Add potatoes and sweet potato)
Bring quickly to the boil, stirring frequently to prevent catching until the oil comes out.
Continue the slow cooking until the oil is re-absorbed. This can take 2-3 hours told, even up to 8 hours (I cooked for about 2 hours, being impatient offcourse).
The dish should be completely dry when served (I think they mean thick here).
(Serve with rice)
Note: New potatoes, red beans (previously soaked over night), or pieces of young jackfruit, can be added to this dish when the santan has come to the boil.
Instead of beef – can use chicken, prawn, duck, liver, egg, goat, or kangaroo meat.

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there’s time

October 24, 2012 § 7 Comments

Hello…

Well, I made it. I am on the other side of something quite big, something that has kept me rather distracted from myself and all the other things I have wanted to do for the past two years. I have finished my masters! And there is a very peaceful knowledge that time is now on my side. It belongs to me again. This is nice. Well very nice actually. Overwhelmingly fantastic!

So here I am with some space, to do something for myself, slowly and how ever I want to. Thats a lovely feeling.

The garden is caught between winter and summer and remains positively neglected and wild. But, this is not so bad, because I know that it doesn’t have to be that way.

Its wonderful to know I can now spend more time taming broad beans, if thats what I want to do. But perhaps more importantly, more time nourishing my wicked taste for very fine delicious things.

Thanks to a very delicious breakfast eaten here and to Jamie Oliver for the idea for this recipe.

Smashed Broad Beans and Peas

2 cups fresh podded broad beans
1 cup fresh podded peas
a decent handful of fresh mint
a decent couple of splashes of olive oil
juice of one lemon
about 1/4 of a garlic clove crushed
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the peas and beans in boiling water for no more than two minutes, drain and rinse in cold water immediately. Pull the outer skin of each podded broad bean – and puree all ingredients together.

Its that easy

Serve on toast with a poached egg and a smattering of finely grated pecorino.

kimchi

September 30, 2012 § 2 Comments

Here is a vegetarian version of kimchi, a korean type of sauerkraut. I have had a craving for this for a while now, so yesterday I headed on down to the CERES market to pick up the ingredients .

What you will need

6 cups shredded cabbage
2 cups grated carrot
2 cups grated daikon radish
1 Tbsp grated ginger
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 – 1 tsp chilli flakes or chilli paste
1 Tbsp Salt
4 Tbsp Tbsp whey (or alternatively use an extra 1 Tbsp salt)

Place all  ingredients in a very large ceramic or glass bowl. Pound with a heavy spoon, potato masher, or a meat hammer to release the juices. Sterilise, a wide mouthed 2 liter jar. Place the pounded ingredients inside the jar and push down firmly so there is a layer of juices above the vegetables. There should be at least 1 inch between the top of the jar and the vegetables. Cover tightly and leave at room temperature for 3 days before transferring to the fridge. You can eat straight away, however it will improve after another week or so.

quinoa pancakes

July 8, 2012 § 7 Comments

I have been eating a lot of these lately, drizzled with maple syrup, fresh grated pear and creamy yoghurt. Its a lovely way to start these cold days. Pretty healthy too given that they are gluten free and full of protein. Instead of using buckwheat flour you can add double the amount of almond meal or vice versa. Up to you!

Recipe for quinoa pancakes

3/4 cup quinoa
1  1/4 cups water
2 eggs
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup additional water
1 tsp baking powder

First you will need to cook the quinoa: Rinse and drain the quinoa and then place in a saucepan along with 1  1/4 cups water. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer until all the water is absorbed and the grains are soft, much like you would cook rice.

Allow to cool before adding  all the remaining ingredients including the additional water. Beat with a fork or whisk until you have a fluffy and well combined batter.

Cook as you would any pancakes in a heavy based greased frying pan, over a medium flame and tilting once you have added the batter to help it spread a little. Cook until golden brown on both sides.

Have a lovely day…

xx

Osso Bucco

June 22, 2012 § 2 Comments

Here is a simple recipe for a hearty stew, perfect for winter evenings. The carrots we have been getting lately, have been so sweet which I think is important to make this stew work. So try and use organic ones if you can.

Marinade

4 pieces of osso bucco (try and get smaller pieces if you can)
1 ½ tsp paprika
1 ½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp coriander seeds ground
¾ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp sea salt
Juice and lime of 1 lemon
3 Tbsp oil

Stir spices, lemon and oil into a smooth paste and coat over the meat. Allow to sit for half an hour before searing on both sides in a hot oiled pan.

For the Stew

1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
a few good sprigs fresh thyme
4 carrots sliced
4 – 5 celery sticks
1 ½ cups chicken stock
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 can tomato or one cup tomato puree
1 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

Pre heat oven to 190 °C/374 ºF. Saute onions and garlic until soft and translucent. Turn down the heat and add the thyme, rosemary, carrots and celery. Pop on the lid and allow to sweat for 5 – 10 minutes stirring every now and again as needed. Add all other ingredients minus the meat and bring to the boil. Add the meat and bring to the boil again. Transfer to an oven proof pot with a lid and place in preheated oven for 1 hour. Alternatively you can continue cooking on the stove top for an hour.

Serve with brown rice and enjoy.

Oma’s cabbage

May 18, 2012 § 6 Comments

I grew up with this recipe but never learnt to like it until recently.  Passed down from my flemish heritage its great on premature winter days like this one. Served by my Oma and mother the traditional way with sausages and potatoes makes a warming dinner. A more recent discovery of mine is having the leftovers on toast with a poached egg and chutney.

Recipe for Red Cabbage with Apples

1/4 cup water
1/2 red cabbage sliced
1 Tbsp brown sugar (optional)
Salt to taste
A handful of pitted prunes
2 apples sliced and cored
A good few splashes of apple cider vinegar (about 1/6 cup)

Place the water, cabbage, sugar and salt in heavy-based (and if you have it oven proof) saucepan. Cook very gently using a simmer mat for about 1 hour. Add the prunes, apple and vinegar. Either place in a pre-heated oven or continue on the stove top until the apples are soft but not completely mush.

Stay warm

strawberries and basil

March 7, 2012 § 6 Comments

This recipe is really very special, so much so that I was almost tempted not to share it. I used to make it when I worked at Friendly Beaches Lodge – indeed I even served it to the Prime Minister of Australia, but thats another story.

Recipe for strawberries and grapes with macerated basil sauce (serves around 6)

500g fresh strawberries
300 – 500g green grapes
3 tsp raw sugar
I cup fresh basil leaves loosely packed
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves loosely packed
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup raw sugar

Cut strawberries into quarters and grapes into halves. Place in a bowl and sprinkle 3 teaspoons sugar over the top (for an extra tangy end result drizzle 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar over the fruit as well). Cover with a plate and leave to marinate for a couple of hours.

In the meantime combine the basil, mint and additional sugar in a mortar and pestle. Grind and pumice into a paste. Alternatively, use a food processor or coffee grinder.

Add the lemon juice to make a moist smooth mixture. Allow to sit until sugar dissolves.

Divide the marinated fruit into serving bowls and top with basil mixture.

Serve with pouring cream and be glad I shared it. xx

harissa

February 26, 2012 § 5 Comments

Im a little tired of late, and pulling my thoughts into words seems to get stuck somewhere far back in my brain, unable to reach the nerve endings of my fingers to type anything audable  or useful. So I am keeping this simple… just the recipe and a few photos. I know it has been a bit of a trend of late – perhaps some quite moments when life slows down will solve this problem and my thoughts will be inspired to carry themselves to my limbs. Until then, here is a recipe for Harissa. I was dreaming of this all winter, waiting for capsicums to come into season, it is a delicious spicy sauce great on curries, fried tofu, burgers, lamb cutlets….


Recipe for Harissa

2 red capsicums
2 tsp cumin seeds roasted
2 tsp coriander seeds roasted
5 small bullet chillies de seeded and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic crushed
1 tsp salt
100 ml oil

Roast the red capsicum in a hot oven until black. Place in a bowl with a plate on top in the fridge until it cools. Once cool, peel off the skin, remove seeds and finely dice.

In a hot saucepan toast the cumin and coriander seeds until fragrant. Roughly crush the seeds in a mortar and pestle before adding roasted capsicum, chillies, garlic and salt. Grind and pumice until smooth. Stir in the oil.

This will keep under a thin layer of oil in the fridge for up to a week.

not your average poached pear

November 10, 2011 § 3 Comments

Not your average poached pear – well, average in that everyone does them, but not so average in that this one is particularly good. Coming from a friends mother, you can tell this recipe is from a gourmet trend passed not quite long enough ago to be trendy in a retro way. But over done and ‘so last decade’ is half the charm. Its sweet and intense, simple but very good. These pears come poached in a thick and syrupy red wine sauce with a gentle taste of star anise. This is also a recipe I served at friendly beaches lodge.

Recipe for Red Wine Poached Pears with Star Anise

6 firm pears
40 g butter
2 cups red wine
1 cup brown sugar or honey
4-6 star anise

Peel the pears and cut their bottom flat so they will stand upright when served. Heat the butter in a medium sized saucepan (you want a saucepan that the pears will sit in snug), and lightly brown the pears in the butter. Add the red wine, sugar and star anise and bring to the boil. Simmer with the lid on for abut 45 minutes or until the pears are soft and cooked through. During this time you should turn the pears and spoon over the sauce to keep them moist on all sides. Finally, remove the lid and simmer until the sauce reduces and turns syrupy. Serve with cream.

And there you have it, not so average red wine poached pears with star anise.

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