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In the summer time, when the weather is hot

14 Feb

BBQ’s play a big part of the Australian summer and burgers are a pretty popular thing to cook on a BBQ and coleslaw is pretty standard salad to be served alongside. It gets pretty boring after a while.

But then, you change it up. You add some different flavours and it’s all fresh and new you are suddenly the star of summer with your amazing Thai Chicken Burgers!

To assemble these, I was inspired by Banh mi,  the Vietnamese sandwich served in glass fronted cabinets on every street in Vietnam. Banh Mi is a crusty white bread roll, usually with fresh herbs and salad, pate, cream cheese, and various meats like BBQ pork or crispy chicken. It is assembled to order while you wait and it’s a quick and delicious snack to grab on your way.

These too are pretty quick and easy to make. I think less than half an hour from start to finish and I make the salad while the burgers cook.

THAI CHICKEN BURGERS

600g chicken mince

1 lemongrass – white part only, chopped

4 coriander roots – washed well, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 tsp white pepper

1 red chilli – optional, finely shopped

2 tsp fish sauce

2 tsp sugar

In a mortar and pestle (or a food processer), crush the lemongrass, coriander roots, garlic and pepper to a fine paste. Mix the paste,  fish sauce, sugar and chilli (if you want) with the chicken mince. Divide the mince into four and BBQ or panfry in sesame and sunflower oil.  The sugar will caramelise and give nice brown colour to the burger, but it may also make it stick to the pan a little bit, so be careful when  you flip it.

Tip: shape your burgers according to the shape of your bread. If you have long rolls, make them long, if they’re round, make ’em round. It makes eating a burger a bit easier when your  burger fits your bread and you get less of those empty bites.

COLESLAW

2 cups shredded cabbage

1 julienned carrot

1 small julienned  daikon radish

2 sticks finely sliced celery

a handful each of fresh coriander and thai basil

4 finely sliced spring onions

Combine in a large bowl.

DRESSING:

3 tbs kewpie doll mayonnaise

1 tbs lime juice

1 tbs fish sauce

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp finely grated ginger

1 crushed garlic clove

Mix dressing ingredients well together and pour over the vegetables. Using your (clean) hands, toss the salad. Your fingers are the best salad tongs!

Spread a crusty white roll with some cream cheese (I love the ‘laughing cow’ brand, which is the one usually used in Vietnam in Banh Mi). Pop in one of those fragrant, juicy burgers, top with the ‘slaw, some slices of fresh tomato, a few batons of cucumber, a scattering of coriander and a few pieces of crunchy lettuce, like iceberg or cos and voila! Eat, and enjoy with a nice cold beer or a fresh coconut.

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Where I make tomato relish and pick up crochet (again)

18 Mar

Well it’s been a busy few months with Christmas and holidays and work and new babies (not mine) and birthdays and celebrations  and catching up on my reading and even a brief overseas trip to Thailand. Needless to say, I have once again neglected my blog to enjoy the long summer days. But, alas!  Summer has come to an end. The days are shorter, the weather doesn’t know what to do with itself and I am spending more and more time on the couch with wool and tea.

I have re-learned how to crochet  as I had deserted it in disgust at my wretched attempts  of failure but have since been taught what I have been doing wrong (thanks Kree!) and now I am realising the sweet simplicity of it and how easy it is to create different shapes and textures. And so, I have retired my needles to the back of my cupboard and have become a ‘hooker’.

Last week I made a huge batch of tomato relish in my new 14L pot – an 11th anniversary present from my gorgeous partner – and now have several jars sitting around the kitchen.  And as I was learning how to crochet in rounds, well I combined my two hobbies and I made bonnets for the jars.

You see, my housemate’s friend has a pickle club and she was heading there today. I was planning on going, but was too tired and also Frankie Magazine was going to be there doing a piece on the club and I definitely did not feel like being there for that! All the people who attend  seem to be graphic designers and make these amazing labels that look so professional, so I thought I would make mine look ridiculously kitsch as I didn’t think brown paper and twine would fare so well.

So I downloaded a free ’70’s style font off the net and printed off some poor quality labels that were colour-coded to match my ‘bonnets’ and voila! I have retro style preserves. So groovy.

I think the funniest thing about them is that my printer is so terrible that the colours look really faded and so it appears as if the jars have actually been sitting around since the 1970’s. I love them for how ridiculous daggy they look!

My housemate, Padma, made amazing  eggplants stuffed with walnuts and pomegranates  from a middle-eastern recipe and covered the tops in arabic newspaper. I thought they looked gorgeous!

The aim of pickle club  is to take 6 jars of your preserves and they all go into the middle and then you choose 6 of someone elses to take home. Two of my jars went off today without me as Padma was two  short and she bought home: beetroot marmalade, preserved lemons, piccalilli, pickled zucchini, pears in ginger syrup and a plum spread. I can’t wait to see what they all taste like!

Tomato Relish

I doubled the recipe when I made it this time and it only just fit into my 14L pot. It does cook down though, but you will need a very large and heavy-based pot to do this in. I BURN IT EVERY SINGLE TIME WITHOUT FAIL! So my suggestion is: PAY ATTENTION! Do NOT wander off to do the weeding or some knitting or read a book unless you set a periodic timer so that you remember to stir it!

So here’s the recipe for ‘Kathy’s Tomato Relish‘ (not doubled), which I have taken from Stephanie Alexander‘s ‘The Cook’s Companion’ which is my kitchen bible.

1 tablespoon  cloves

2 tablespoons whole allspice

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

5 kg tomatoes, roughly chopped

6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

30g salt

600ml wine vinegar

1 kg sugar

Tie cloves, allspice and peppercorns in a square of muslin.

Put all ingredients EXCEPT SUGAR into a large, non-reactive stockpot.

Bring to the boil and boil steadily for one hour, stirring occasionally.

Add sugar and continue to boil, stirring every 20 minutes or so for a further 2 hours.

Remove the muslin bag and press it well over the pot to release all of the juicy flavours before discarding it.

Pass the relish through the coarse disc of a food mill and, using a funnel, bottle at once into hot, sterilised jars.

Cap and allow to cool before storing.

Omelettes and Festivals

8 Dec

I’m heading to Meredith Music Festival this weekend, and with so much going on at the moment, I’m leaving everything until last minute to get ready. I am, after all, notorious for this.

A group of us go to this festival every year and every year we leave at a ridiculous hour from my house so we can get to the campsite  early enough to grab ‘the best spot’.

Of course, the older we get, the later we get. Some of the group aren’t coming this year due to weddings and pregnancies, and life in general, although some are coming even with a belly full of baby and dragging a toddler along beside them. But that’s what kind of festival it is.

Every year there are fights when people are late. Every year there are bickerings about the camp spot. Every year it rains. Every year we have a fantastic time. Every year, I spend the Thursday night cooking food to take with me so I don’t end up spending tons of cash on all of the delicious food stalls (and there are REALLY good food stalls) and every year I end up taking a Spanish Omelette.

I love omelettes. They are quick, easy and delicious: hot or cold. You can make them vegetarian, you can spice them up, you can have them plain. Add herbs and yoghurt and you have a Persian Omelette. Add goats cheese. chives and tarragon and it’s French. The possibilities are endless!

I just use whatever I find in the garden, fridge and cupboard at the time and tonight it was cauliflower, tomato and zucchini. You’ll also need an omelette pan or a frying pan that can go in an oven and with sloped edges so that you can slide the omelette out easily. My frying pan is 24cm in diameter.

I have never followed a recipe for this, just made it up as I go along. That’s just the kind of cook I am. My quantaties are general and this recipe is possibly a bit vague as  it’s pretty late and I’m tired and  I really have to go bed! But it should work (I hope!).

Zucchini, Cauliflower and Tomato Omlette

1 onion sliced into half rings

3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely

a handful of chopped cauliflower

6 eggs

a small zucchini, sliced into thin circles

a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

handful of chopped silverbeet

olive oil

Preheat oven to 180°C

Heat  some olive oil in the frying pan with  onions and the garlic and sautee until transclucent (did you know that the French do not heat the oil first when sauteeing onion but heat it together? This makes lovely soft onions and stops them frying)

Add cauliflower and cook on medium-low heat until soft, then add silverbeet (or spinach if you wish) and cook until wilted.

Take off heat.

In a large bowl, lightly whisk together the eggs and season.

Add the onion mixture and the rest of the vegetable to the eggs and whisk lightly or stir to combine.

Wipe out the frying pan with some papertowel and add some more olive oil – about 1/2 a cm deep – and heat on a medium-low heat until the oil is warm –  but not hot so that the eggs burn.

Pour the omelette mixture into the frying pan and cook for about 5 minutes – until you see the edges start to brown and firm.

Put frying pan into the pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes or until the egg has cooked in the middle.

When you take it, run a wooden spoon or a spatula around the edges to loosen it and then gently slide it onto a flat plate.

 Too easy!

Different things you can add:

Chorizo

Bacon

Slices of par-boiled potato

Herbs – parsley, tarragon, rosemary, thyme, basil etc

Fennel

Mushrooms

Capsicum

Chillis

Yoghurt

Goats Cheese

Mozarella

Really, the list is endless. Just keep experimenting; every combination is sure to be delicious!