March 26, 2012

Spiced Yoghurt Snapper

Want to hear something not so funny, but made me laugh (and cringe a little)?  I fell down half a set of stairs last Thursday.  Idiot I know.  I’m ok, nothing broken.  Got a sprained wrist and massive bruise on my thigh (by massive I mean like 12cm round).  The truth is, I’m exhausted.  And I clearly can’t walk down stairs with heels (PS I wasn’t drunk when I did this – I was as sober as one can be!)

We’ll move on now.  Perth has had some beautiful weather lately – nice warm days and cool nights.  It’s been bliss.  I get to sleep with my window open wrapped in my sheets as a nice breeze comes through.

Due to the change in weather I’m also starting to crave heartier food.  I’ve had this recipe ripped out of Gourmet Traveller magazine for at least a year now, waiting for the right time to make it.  It looked so perfect in the magazine, with the rice, roti and cucumber that I wanted to follow it as is.  I made a couple of slight alterations as I went, but basically what you have here is a very light, slightly spicy and tangy curry, that is so simple to make.  I also made some roasted spiced cauliflower to go with it, as I felt I need more vegetables.  The chilies I bought were pretty weak so the cucumber wasn’t that important to the meal in the end, but it did compliment the sauce.

1 heaped tablespoon ghee
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
4 cloved garlic, finely chipped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon garam masala
10 fresh curry leaves
400ml coconut milk
1 cup natural yoghurt
1 tablespoon grated palm sugar (brown sugar will be ok)
4 green chilies, finely chooped, plus extra to serve (amount optional based on preference)
4 snapper fillets (about 200g per person) cut into 10cm pieces

Basmati rice, roti and cucumber to serve

Heat the ghee in a large pot over a medium heat.  Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes or until softened.  Add the ginger, garlic, spices and curry leaves, and cook for a further few minutes.  Add the coconut milk, yoghurt, chilli and palm sugar and allow to simmer for 10 minutes so sauce thickens slightly.  You can add the chilli bit at a time to taste strength – chilli will become a little less intense after the fish is added.

Add the fish and simmer for a further 10 minutes or until fish is cooked and starts to flake.  Add a little extra chilli on top when served.

Serve with rice, roti and cucumber.

Serves 4.

March 19, 2012

How to make Italian pasta sauce!

Did that need an exclamation mark?  Probably not...

This is something I have been meaning to share with you for weeks now, but keep forgetting about posting it.  My family makes pasta sauce every year / second year (depending on supply).  Whenever I tell you about using a pure tomato purée in a sauce, I'm talking about this stuff.  What's in there?  Tomatoes.  Lots of them.  And that's it.  No preservatives, no salt, no flavour, niente!

Without the equipment I'm not really sure how one would make this at home.  Maybe a juicer might work?  That would separate the skins from the juice.

Well anyway, I'm going to tell you how we do it...  (PS there is an obscene amount of red in this post...)

We start with ripe tomatoes that have sat out for a few days.  There was around 100kgs here.  We then put them in a MASSIVE pot of boiling water so the skins can come loose. 

They then get transferred to a basket lined in an old sheet.  This lets all the excess water run through (stops the sauce from being watery).  Then using highly-advanced utensils, we mash the tomatoes up.  This gets rid of even more water.

What's left gets put through machine that separates the skin from the juice.  The juice goes in to a big bucket, and skins into another.  The skins go through 4 or 5 times.  This part makes the sauce thicker.  We then head to bottling.

The sauce gets poured into clean bottles, sealed, then put into a drum that's sitting over the flames, filled with water, and boiled to vacuum seal it.

And there we have it.  A sauce supply to last a year!  As much as we dread doing this every year, we actually love it.  The smell though - gas and tomato - gross.

March 12, 2012

Triple Chocolate Gelato

I read a post by David Lebovitz once, where he discussed how cooks and chefs spend a lot of time and effort perfecting a recipe so it works perfect for the home cook.  It was in relation to blogging and altering original recipes to create new ones.  In some respects I completely agree with him.  Altering a recipe (especially one that you’re not familiar with – for me this is mainly anything baking) can end in disaster.  You result in feeling peeved off with the recipe and sometimes writer.  I’ve done this many times.  I think “yeah, I don’t want to add that, I’m just going to take it out and use this ingredient instead”.  Fail.

For Christmas my mum bought me an ice-cream machine.  For months she asked me what I wanted for Christmas and all I said was “ice-cream machine”.  She wanted to get me something nice and meaningful, not another kitchen appliance.  In the end, I won, and got my machine.

First attempt at ice-cream failed.  I had never made custard before, and it split, giving me milky scrambled eggs.  I didn’t follow the recipe properly.  (PS anyone out there who can make custard but thinks risotto is too hard – man up!  Custard is the trickiest thing I’ve ever made!)

Second attempt, just saved the custard – was bordering on splitting.  I couldn’t be bothered chilling it for hours so I stuck it in the freezer and stirred it occasionally.  When it was cool I thought, yay, ready for ice-cream!  What happened, it never set, so when I freezed it, ice particles formed.  Again, I didn’t follow the recipe properly.

Enter this weekend.  It was a terribly hot weekend.  I thought ice-cream would be perfect.  I found a recipe, and when I took it home realized it had store-bought brownies added in the end.  Hrmm.  No thanks.  I flipped through the ice-cream manual, found a rich chocolate recipe.  Seems ok.  Read it.  Thought “that’s not exactly what I want”.  So I made up my own recipe.  I did exactly what I’m preaching you shouldn’t do.  I took my knowledge from two fails, and started cooking.  I added ingredients bit at a time and tasted.  I added more chocolate.  I chopped up ingredients, added half, thoughts that’s enough.

And people.  It worked.  I made the creamiest, most intense chocolate ice-cream I’ve ever had.  It’s rich, and slightly bitter without being too sweet.  It’s good.  I’m still in shock that it worked.

Triple Chocolate Gelato
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
600ml thick cream
2 cups full cream milk
200g dark chocolate (70%), melted
30g white chocolate
30g milk chocolate
30g dark chocolate

In a large saucepan on a medium heat, add the cream, milk and vanilla, and bring to the boil. Turn off and set aside.

In a medium bowl, add the eggs, egg yolks and sugar, and beat for 5 minutes until thick and creamy. 

Return the cream mixture to a low heat.  While beating on a slow speed, slowly add one cup of the hot cream mix to the egg mix and continue beating.  When well combined, slowly pour the egg mix into the saucepan with the cream and stir.  Continue stirring for 15 minutes until the mixture thickens - you will have a custard now.  If you have a thermometer, the temperature should be 150°F/65°C.  If you notice 'bits' in the mix, strain with a fine sieve and return to the pot.

Turn the heat off, and slowly add the melted chocolate, stirring until completely combined.  Pour the mix into a bowl and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours or overnight.

When the mixture has completely cooled you can add the chocolate bits.  You can either chop or grated the chocolate, depending on whether you like it chunky or fine.  I placed mine in a food processor using the grater blade to get a mix of fine and chunky.  Fold the chocolate into the cream mix, then pour into an ice-cream machine, and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Makes around 2 litres.

March 7, 2012

Time out!

So let’s get straight to it – working full-time, studying part-time, trying to maintain a house, trying to make my pilates and yoga classes, and generally have some spare time to sleep (!), is um, well, not easy.  What suffers in all this – my blog.  I’m sorry.  I want to cook amazing things and post them but I haven’t cooked a new recipe in, shock, over 2 weeks.  (Oh and thank you to those wishing me well in my studies, I need it!)

I guess while I have a minute free I’ll share these photos with you.

These are of my too-short holiday to Dunsborough, in which we ate, drank, cooked, fished, played cards, listened to my brother play the guitar every night, half got sick as we started the holiday, the other half as we finished up.

If we weren't drinking tea or coffee, it was wine, champagne or my favourite g&t's!

This is the amazing beach just a 10 metre walk from the house.  The water was always flat, and you could walk for ages before the water hits your waist.

We planned to do lots of fishing, but after a first failed attempt, we gave up.  There was also the case of the mysterious blood in the water that freaked us all out a little.  After the many shark attacks in WA of late, we decided one attempt was enough.

I should share this breakfast recipe idea with you, nothing fancy, but try pancakes with fresh fruit, yoghurt and maple syrup.  Amazing!  It's best to add a little sugar and lemon juice to the fruit first so you get this tangy syrup.  As for the yoghurt, we like using a Greek vanilla.

One thing I really wanted to do on this holiday was make some more fresh pasta.  I followed this recipe again, and it was perfect!  I seemed to have been really concentrating this time...  To go with the fresh pasta, we cooked some clams in oil and garlic and added a splash of white wine and parsley.  I'll share this recipe with you some time as I make it quite a bit.  Oh and excuse the washing basket - we didn't have anything to hang the pasta over to dry out a little.

There are so many cool places to explore down south, here we found some rocks near Meelup Bay, so decided to "walk" all the way to big-big rock in the background.  Along the way we found a seal who may or may not have beached itself.

More pasta and clams!  Can't get enough of it.  This time we added some fresh tomatoes.

On our final day, the weather turned.  It rained, it was cloudy - dark clouds.  We stumbled on a surfing competition down at Yallingup, and after hanging around a bit, we then ventured to Canal Rocks - an amazing place that after 20 years or so of going down south I have never seen!

So all in all an amazing holiday.  Just sad that it's over.  However next year is already booked!

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