gemfyre: (Cooking with Superman)
Time to post another recipe. I made a batch of this last week, then mum nicked half a jarful to take away on her holiday and I had loads of tomatoes left, so I made a second batch today. This stuff is great for pasta sauce, in sandwiches, on meat or veggies, whatever you can think of.

Easy Roast Tomato Sauce

You will need

- A large baking sheet, one with sides, because a bit of liquid will come out of the tomatoes and you don't want it ending up on the bottom of your oven.
- A blender/liquidiser/thing that purees (I guess a stick blender would work as well, just stick everything in a pot first).
- Glass jars, to store the sauce.
- A funnel - useful for getting the sauce into the jars.
- A spatula - useful for getting the sauce out of the blender.

Ingredients

Measures vary according to what you like. If you like the ingredient, add more, if you don't, add none/less.

- Tomatoes - as many as will fit on your baking sheet/s. Riper ones are better, in Summer you can usually get bulk, overripe tomatoes at any fruit and veggie store. (Often sold as "Tomatoes for sauce", fancy that! Variety of tomato doesn't matter.
- Onion, I usually use about 1.
- Garlic cloves - I use about a head.
- Salt - I use Maldon sea salt, but I don't think it matters terribly.
- Dried basil.
- Olive oil.
- Pepper if you like.
- Any other herb or spice or thing you think might be tasty. I had some thyme leftover in the fridge this time 'round, so I added some of that.

Method

- Preheat your oven to... 160C, about that, doesn't matter if it's a smidge hotter.
- Quarter the tomatoes and place them on the tray. I put them skin down, that way at least not all the juice falls out into the tray.
- Chop the onion into large chunks and scatter them on the tray.
- Peel the garlic and scatter it over the tray.
- Sprinkle some salt, basil and whatever else you fancy over the top.
- Drizzle with olive oil.
- Stick the tray into the oven and let it roast for... oh, about an hour. The tomatoes should be squishy and the garlic and onion browning up and softening a bit.
- Remove the tray of roasted goodness from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
- Scoop all the contents of the tray into a blender and puree.
- Stick the resulting puree in jars, refridgerate and use as you like. I find the stuff lasts fine for at least a few months in the fridge.

TASTY!
gemfyre: (Swedish Chef)
Seafresh usually has a few bargain trays available - $10 for a few random fillets. Last time I was there I bought 2 - one had 2 kinds of white fish and a chunk of tuna it, the other had 2 salmon cutlets.

We had the salmon last night - this is rapidly becoming my favourite fish, the fatty parts near the skin and the bone are so damn delicious, and the meat just falls apart in your mouth. Matt and I had a brief discussion about what we could have with it and I mentioned I could do up some sushi rice and do a lazy sushi of some kind (this is actually authentic - it's called Chirashizushi) with what I could find in the fridge and cupboard.

The end result was delicious, so I figured I'd post the vague recipe.

Miso salmon on Chirashizushi

Ingredients (serves 2)

2 Salmon cutlets
White miso paste
1 cup Nishiki (sushi) rice
Rice vinegar
Mirin
Salt
White sugar

Red capsicum
Fresh coriander leaves
Dried wakame (a type of seaweed)
Dried shittake mushrooms - soaked in boiling water for about 20 minutes (if you have them fresh you don't have to soak them)
This is just what I had on hand, you can chop and change things to suit your tastes and leftovers.

- Spread miso paste onto the cutlets - I quickly found that miso paste doesn't spread that easily, so I kinda used my fingers to rub it over as evenly as possible. Allow to sit for 10 minutes or so - the longer it can sit the longer the miso has to penetrate and flavour the fish.
- Cook the rice using your preferred method. I have discovered that sushi rice cooks perfectly in the microwave rice cooker (1 cup rice, 1.5 cups water, white rice setting on the microwave), so that's what I did.
- Season the rice. I'm a bit slapdash with this nowdays. Bit of vinegar, bit of mirin, sprinkle of salt, small spoonful of sugar, mix, taste, adjust until it's how you like it. Keep the rice warm (I just stuck the lid back on).
- Cook the fish. I just put a teeny bit of oil in a frypan and fried it. The miso will burn a bit, don't worry. Hold the skin to the heat for a bit to crisp it up. Don't overcook! The middle should be pink and look almost raw.
- Serve rice into bowls, sprinkle sliced capsicum, coriander leaves, wakame and sliced mushrooms over rice. Place fish on top of rice.
- Eat. Watch out for bones.
gemfyre: (iEat)
Matt and I just enjoyed a delicious dinner. It took all of 15 minutes to make as a bonus. I first made this after grabbing a marked down salmon cutlet from IGA. I figured I'd just cook up some sushi rice in the microwave rice cooker, guess as to the seasoning, stick some wakame on it, and top it off with the pan fried cutlet, which I'd marinated for about 15 minutes in tamari. It was awesome. Today I went past Seafresh (consistently voted the equal best fresh seafood outlet in Perth), and couldn't resist grabbing two of the lovely looking Tasmanian salmon cutlets there. I decided to make the same dish tonight and it was just as good, the fattiness of the cutlet just makes it moist and delicious. So, here's the recipe for anyone else who wants to try it.

Ingredients

Salmon cutlets - one for each diner. I used Tasmanian Salmon. Anything with good lines of fat through it (go those Omega 3 Fatty Acids!)
Sushi/nishiki rice - half a cup for each diner.
Dried Wakame - a dried seaweed, available from Asian food stores.
Tamari - Japanese soy sauce.
Mirin
Rice vinegar
Salt
Sugar

Method

1. Marinade the salmon in the Tamari. Give it at least 15 minutes.
2. Cook the sushi rice. I discovered that cooking it in our microwave rice cooker, using our microwave's rice setting and a bit more water than recommended was fine. But cook it however you fancy.
3. Once the rice is cooked season it with the mirin, rice vinegar, salt and sugar. You can find recipes and ratios for sushi rice seasoning, but I just guessed and adjusted here. A splash of mirin and vinegar, a little bit of salt, about 4x as much sugar as salt, taste and adjust as required until it tastes good. Keep the rice warm while you cook the fish.
4. Heat a frypan or skillet on the stove until hot. Don't even worry about oil. Once it's hot plonk your fish on the hotplate and let it cook for a few minutes. Again, I did this by instinct, but I guess 3 minutes is a good time.
5. Turn the fish over and cook for about 3 minutes on the other side. You don't want to overcook the fish, if it's still a bit pink on the inside that's fine.
6. Serve the rice onto plates or into bowls. Sprinkle some wakame on top of the rice and place the fish on top of the rice.
7. Enjoy! Watch out for bones.

Yum.
gemfyre: (Foodporn)
I meant to make a post closer to my poll about chefs, but I got sick. I put my vote in for Heston because he is bloody amazing and inspiring. I would love to sit down to one of his "Feasts" and try every little thing. I can't believe people turn their noses up at his creations just because he pushes the boundaries, it's not like he's going to poison you people! Just eat it!

But in all honesty, Jamie Oliver is an equal favourite, for completely different reasons. Jamie is down-to-earth and tries to design his recipes with families and gatherings in mind. The ingredients are easy to get - well, they are if you're in England, being in Australia I have to substitute a lot. But that's the point, I'm not sure if I've actually followed ANY Jamie recipes to the letter - and I've made a lot of them. His recipes are great for chopping and changing and getting inspired by what you have around the house. I quite often make his cabbage sauteed with bacon and lamb stock - but I do it a bit differently, I don't add as much butter, and come to think of it, I think he uses chicken instead of lamb stock (I usually have both in the freezer, but I found that lamb stock tasted really good). And then there is the breakfast that involves a slice of Ciabatta, asparagus, a soft boiled egg and prosciutto. I use my own homebaked bread and bacon most of the time. Sometimes I don't have asparagus, so I'll use sauteed mushrooms, it doesn't really matter, the end result will be delicious. And the resulting meals are rough and ready (or as Jamie would put it - "Rustic"). You don't have to worry about plating or arrangement, just bung it in a dish, make sure it's mixed decently, then dig in.

For a while now I've been considering making a sweet version of this recipe - http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/19395/mediterranean+bread+bake. Again, another recipe I have never made directly to the recipe - it's so easy to just substitute ingredients to what you have. I figured I could use cinnamon and mixed spice and some dried fruit and maybe a fresh cheese and make a version of bread and butter pudding. My main concern was getting the bread moist - I use the crusty ends of homemade loaves for these dishes, and sometimes they are rather thick slices. Maybe I could make an egg, milk and spice mixture and soak the bread in it first? Then arrange it in the dish and bake it. Browsing through cookbooks seeking ideas I found Jamie Oliver's recipe - http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/bread-recipes/good-old-bread-butter-pudding-with-a. Considering the dish I intended to use resulted in 4-6 serves, it seemed this recipe used suitable quantities of things. Right-o, I'll make his egg mix and pour it over my arranged leftover bread slices, which I'll butter with his spiced butter - that will soften the bread up a bit.

My bread consisted of white, multigrain, wholemeal, fruit loaf, and even a couple of slices of a yummy cranberry and pistachio loaf I made once (I keep all the endy bits in the freezer waiting for opportunities like this). Lucky I had some oranges in the fruit basket, so the butter got some rind in it.

NINE EGGS! Woah. Okay, I had that many. Hmmm, the recipe only calls for 1 white and all the yolks. Wow, lucky I had my first practice at meringue yesterday! I can see a lot more in my near future with 8 egg whites languishing in my fridge now.

I had a little bit of cream leftover from the Balti Chicken Curry last week. Nowhere near what the recipe calls for. Oh well, I'll substitute the leftover coconut cream from the lemongrass and lime rice a few nights back. Still not enough. Oh well, top up with more milk.

Now I was realising that Jamie's instructions had me making a proper custard, there was no doubt about it. Another thing I have never made before, but always wanted to try. I even checked the temperature with my new food thermometer. Cooking For Geeks tells me that the protiens in egg yolks denature around 67C. So I let it come to that temperature. Still not thickening, but the recipe doesn't mention that it should. (Oh yeah, I also used imitation vanilla essence, no vanilla pods around right now). Shrug and pour the resulting liquid over the bread, which I'd scattered with sultanas and cranberries for good measure. Wow, there is just a smidge too much custard, which I notice has curdled a bit on the bottom - oops. After waiting 20 minutes the bread had soaked up enough liquid that I was able to pour the rest of the custard in and hope for the best. Pudding dish in roasting tray with water in it was HEAVY and I spilled some custard on the way to the oven, but it just ended up in the water so it was no great disaster.

While it was cooking I searched for marmalade. Nope, don't have any. How about this cumquat jam some old bloke gave me when I collected his Census form? Yep! That tastes a lot like marmalade, that'll do nicely!

I was absolutely delighted to find that the custard had set in the oven. The end result looks delicious and I can't wait for dessert.



But before that, dinner, which is Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic - a recipe in the latest Super Food Ideas magazine. And another substitution - I couldn't find tarragon in the 3 stores I went to, so I subbed with some fresh marjoram growing outside and a sprinkle of fennel seeds.



Forgot to take a photo before serving up. We've eaten half of this already.
gemfyre: (Salad)
I have a few pasta cookbooks, pasta being one of the most versatile, best value, staple foods you can get (along with rice). My favourite of these books has 3 recipes involving a pasta shaped called Ziti, which looked interesting. A while ago I actually found some Ziti in a shop so I grabbed it. It wasn't until last night I actually cooked a dish with it, and I discovered that Ziti isn't as easy as it looks.

If Bucattini is "fat Spaghetti" then Ziti is downright obese. It's long tubes of pasta, about 1cm wide. Figuring it was just like a fatter version of Spaghetti I decided I could cook it like I cook Spaghetti/Bucattini, so I boiled up some water in a medium sized pot, I would have used the large one, but it was already dirty (used to make another batch of chai concentrate). Never mind, I often use the smaller pan and it works fine.

Ziti is NOT Spaghetti. With Spaghetti I place the pasta in the boiling water and about half of it still stick out, but it softens quickly and I can use tongs to gently bend the pasta strands and immerse them fully in the water. This doesn't happen with Ziti. The bottom half of the pasta was cooking away in the boiling water but the tops were still in the cold air. The pasta was just too thick to bend quickly. I decided maybe I could just turn the pieces around so the other half got a bit of a boil, but some bits slipped through the tongs and I lost track of which ones I had turned and which I hadn't. Then, being straw shaped, the boiling water started to shoot out the tops of the pasta onto the rest of the stove! Wow.

I quickly grabbed the stockpot and placed the Ziti and boiling water into it and covered the pasta with more water. Of course this meant that the whole lot had to reboil. The Ziti was actually cooked just before the water managed to come back to the boil.

Then I had to drain it. Usual story, place colander in sink, drain pan into colander.

Because it's long tubes, the Ziti holds water like a garden hose. I shook and tossed it and water just kept coming out. In the end I think there was still quite a bit of water inside the tubes, but I had no practical way of removing it. So I just continued to finish the pasta dish (it involved roasted cherry tomatoes and bocconcini and evoo and balsamic vinegar).

It looked pretty in the bowl, even though serving it was a little messy. Then I realised I didn't really know how to eat this stuff! You can't wind it around your fork like Spaghetti. Eventually I kind of just dangled the strands over the fork and bit off a mouthful and it was all a bit messy. But tasty.

I'm not really sure that Ziti is worth the trouble. Sure, it looks interesting, but unless there is some technique for cooking/handling/eating it that I don't know, it's just too awkward.
gemfyre: (Salad)
The other day I restocked my fresh fruit and veggies (and eggs, I'm eating an awful lot of eggs lately, seems to be my primary protein source right now). I noticed some pale coloured beetroots and asked the guy in the shop if they were the ones with the stripes inside. He nodded and indicated the price tag so I bought a bunch. I had a feeling that they probably were not going to be the stripey ones (it seems to be a language barrier thing – she asked me a question, instead of confirming what she's asking I'll just nod because 'yes' is always positive right?) I figured either way, they'd be edible.

They turned out to be golden beets, not the candy-striped Chioggia Beets I had hoped for. But seeing as I had never tried golden beets before either it was hardly a setback. I peeled and steamed a couple and was quite impressed.

Golden beets have the sweetish, beetroot taste of regular beetroot, but they lack that strong earthy flavour (honestly, fresh red beetroot is liking eating a mouthful of dirt). And being golden, they don't make a big reddish purple mess everywhere! Tonight I had one roasted with a bit of truffle oil and salt – delicious. I might have to buy some more of these.

But now I want to talk about something else – chilli. Those small relations of the capsicum (peppers to those in the U.S.) that are full of capsacin, a chemical that causes the tongue and mouth to feel a sensation of heat (and subsequent pain).

Chilli is very popular among a lot of people but not me. I can handle pepper to an extent, and wasabi, and mustard. All of those things have heat that goes away. Chilli however lingers and I just don't enjoy being in pain while I eat. The burning sensation takes over my whole mouth and I can taste nothing else apart from an unpleasant bitterness. My tolerance has increased a little in the past years, but I'm not that motivated to improve it, because I simply do not find chilli the slightest bit enjoyable.

There are two main issues with being a self confessed “chilli wuss” when you eat anything somebody else has prepared. The fact that my perception of hot varies wildly from other's perception of hot, and the use of the word “spicy” to mean “chilli” or “heat”.

On Friday I went to an Indian restaurant buffet. I really love these, because, despite my dislike of chilli, I adore every other spice and therefore love Indian food. A buffet allows me to try small amounts of all the dishes, if they are within my heat range, I'll eat more. On Friday a mild dahl on offer turned out to be way too hot for my liking, even after adding a few spoonfuls of yoghurt raita. But two of the curries labelled medium (a goat curry and the Goan fish curry) were fine for me to eat.

I like to make curries at home, because I can enjoy the melding of all the lovely spices and making something from scratch, but I can omit the chillies completely if I like, or at least severely limit the amount. I have made Rogan Josh and even Vindaloo with no chilli at all. It was great to actually be able to see what these curries taste like without everything being overtaken by burning pain.

Which leads me to the second issue. It would seem “spicy” is often used to describe hot food and that bugs me. Spicy should mean what it sounds like – “full of spice”. But when I ask people if something has chilli in it, I often get asked, “Oh, don't you like spicy food?” I LOVE spicy food! I just don't like chilli. It's not that tough a concept. It completely weirded me out to learn that cumin is sometimes considered a hot or warm spice – it has no heat whatsoever on my tongue, and I love to add it to many things (the latest is roasted pumpkin tossed in cumin and sea-salt). So maybe separating the meanings of “spicy” and “hot” or “chilli” would make communicating a lot easier.

There is only one person I trust these days to tell me truthfully whether a food is hot or not. Unlike me, he adores chilli and tests himself on “Volcano sauce” and “Hot sauce from Hell” just for kicks. But at least he knows my tolerance levels and will let me know honestly if something is probably going to be too hot for me. A good ballpark is that if he can taste the chilli, it will be too hot for me. I still ask others if a dish is hot or if it has chilli (because not all hot flavoured things contain chilli, I appreciate a sinus-cleansing whack of wasabi on my sushi as much as the next person), but I take their response with a grain of salt. Once I expressed my wariness over a green curry a friend made and was assured that there was no chilli at all. Upon trying it it was way too hot for me to eat. I later looked at the sauce packet and discovered the main ingredient in it was green chillies.
gemfyre: (Salad)
The other day I restocked my fresh fruit and veggies (and eggs, I'm eating an awful lot of eggs lately, seems to be my primary protein source right now). I noticed some pale coloured beetroots and asked the guy in the shop if they were the ones with the stripes inside. He nodded and indicated the price tag so I bought a bunch. I had a feeling that they probably were not going to be the stripey ones (it seems to be a language barrier thing – she asked me a question, instead of confirming what she's asking I'll just nod because 'yes' is always positive right?) I figured either way, they'd be edible.

They turned out to be golden beets, not the candy-striped Chioggia Beets I had hoped for. But seeing as I had never tried golden beets before either it was hardly a setback. I peeled and steamed a couple and was quite impressed.

Golden beets have the sweetish, beetroot taste of regular beetroot, but they lack that strong earthy flavour (honestly, fresh red beetroot is liking eating a mouthful of dirt). And being golden, they don't make a big reddish purple mess everywhere! Tonight I had one roasted with a bit of truffle oil and salt – delicious. I might have to buy some more of these.

But now I want to talk about something else – chilli. Those small relations of the capsicum (peppers to those in the U.S.) that are full of capsacin, a chemical that causes the tongue and mouth to feel a sensation of heat (and subsequent pain).

Chilli is very popular among a lot of people but not me. I can handle pepper to an extent, and wasabi, and mustard. All of those things have heat that goes away. Chilli however lingers and I just don't enjoy being in pain while I eat. The burning sensation takes over my whole mouth and I can taste nothing else apart from an unpleasant bitterness. My tolerance has increased a little in the past years, but I'm not that motivated to improve it, because I simply do not find chilli the slightest bit enjoyable.

There are two main issues with being a self confessed “chilli wuss” when you eat anything somebody else has prepared. The fact that my perception of hot varies wildly from other's perception of hot, and the use of the word “spicy” to mean “chilli” or “heat”.

On Friday I went to an Indian restaurant buffet. I really love these, because, despite my dislike of chilli, I adore every other spice and therefore love Indian food. A buffet allows me to try small amounts of all the dishes, if they are within my heat range, I'll eat more. On Friday a mild dahl on offer turned out to be way too hot for my liking, even after adding a few spoonfuls of yoghurt raita. But two of the curries labelled medium (a goat curry and the Goan fish curry) were fine for me to eat.

I like to make curries at home, because I can enjoy the melding of all the lovely spices and making something from scratch, but I can omit the chillies completely if I like, or at least severely limit the amount. I have made Rogan Josh and even Vindaloo with no chilli at all. It was great to actually be able to see what these curries taste like without everything being overtaken by burning pain.

Which leads me to the second issue. It would seem “spicy” is often used to describe hot food and that bugs me. Spicy should mean what it sounds like – “full of spice”. But when I ask people if something has chilli in it, I often get asked, “Oh, don't you like spicy food?” I LOVE spicy food! I just don't like chilli. It's not that tough a concept. It completely weirded me out to learn that cumin is sometimes considered a hot or warm spice – it has no heat whatsoever on my tongue, and I love to add it to many things (the latest is roasted pumpkin tossed in cumin and sea-salt). So maybe separating the meanings of “spicy” and “hot” or “chilli” would make communicating a lot easier.

There is only one person I trust these days to tell me truthfully whether a food is hot or not. Unlike me, he adores chilli and tests himself on “Volcano sauce” and “Hot sauce from Hell” just for kicks. But at least he knows my tolerance levels and will let me know honestly if something is probably going to be too hot for me. A good ballpark is that if he can taste the chilli, it will be too hot for me. I still ask others if a dish is hot or if it has chilli (because not all hot flavoured things contain chilli, I appreciate a sinus-cleansing whack of wasabi on my sushi as much as the next person), but I take their response with a grain of salt. Once I expressed my wariness over a green curry a friend made and was assured that there was no chilli at all. Upon trying it it was way too hot for me to eat. I later looked at the sauce packet and discovered the main ingredient in it was green chillies.
gemfyre: (Swedish Chef)
Last night was another case of, "What do we have in the house? Let's get a few things and mix them together." It was a particularly successful one I think.

Smoked Fish Linguine

Smoked fish (ours was hake, but cod, haddock, whatever - my mum always just called it 'orange fish'
Fennel - finely sliced
Evaporated milk
Sundried tomatoes
Garlic (we had some garlic infused oil hanging around in the fridge)
Mixed herbs (we had some garlic/herb butter I'd made the night before leftover. The herbs were Italian Herbs from a squeezy tube).
Linguine pasta
Parmesan cheese

Matt added nasty things like onion and chilli to his.

I sauteed the fennel in the garlic oil and herb and garlic butter until it got a bit soft then poured over most of the evaporated milk (and quickly sculled the rest, man I love evaporated milk!) and let it cook for a bit to thicken up.

Meanwhile we cooked up the pasta and did the fish in the microwave - about 4 minutes on a plate with a bit of water over them and plastic wrap. Worked fine.

Once the pasta was cooked I drained it and added some to the frypan with the fennel mixture and combined it. I threw in a few sundried tomatoes and a fillet of the fish, which I broke up as I mixed it in. Top it with grated parmesan and eat! Yummo. Will have to make this again sometime.

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