Wednesday, April 30, 2014

332/984 - Chinese-style trotters with ginger and black rice vinegar

It was piggy feet for dinner in our house tonight! 

I had quite a busy day planned and so I made a quick dash to the local organic grocer this morning for a pile of ginger which was to be used to flavour this lovely recipe. Stephanie mentioned that the taste of ginger in the finished product could be alarmingly strong for some people and so I reduced the amount from 500 grams to 350 just in case.

I used a tip that was kindly shared recently by a fellow foodie, Miss Food Fairy, which was to use a spoon rather than a peeler to remove the skin from the ginger. It rubs away very easily and certainly saves a lot of waste. Thanks Miss Food Fairy for that one!

I actually had to boil this quite hard for the final two hours to ensure the liquid reduced into a lovely rich syrup. I even transferred the trotters into a wider saucepan for the final thirty minutes to encourage the reduction of fluid. Needless to say, my kitchen was a crazy big mess by the time tonight's dinner was complete. Thankfully I had a couple of helpful small boys by my side for the horrendous clean up. 

We all loved this dish, and according to the lovely lady at Terra Madre, the source of my ginger and other lovely vegetables, it was very good for us too. Who knew that cooking cartilage would be beneficial to the health of our own cartilage. If my boys grow old without a sign of arthritis perhaps we can thank my love of cooking trotters for that. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

331/984 - Marinated mussels

Mussels on a Monday night? Yes please!

We bought these on the weekend from Western Port mussels and while I almost gave in to Trev's request and cooked these with chorizo (our favourite combination!), I thought I would try marinating them which seemed a little bit healthier. 

I decided that if I was going to marinate the mussels then I didn't really need to add anything to the wine when I steamed them. To be honest I was being a bit lazy but I still thought my logic was sound. The mussels went into the pan to steam (after a rigorous de-bearding session!), and then I popped them all out of their shells and mixed them with good olive oil, spring onions, beautiful Australian Harvest horseradish vinegar and almost a whole bunch of chopped curly leaf parsley. 

I let this sit for a bit and then we added them to piles of rocket on our plates. We ate this alongside raw vegetables and for a touch of decadence, a chunk of "Fermier" cheese from L'Artisan Organic Cheese Timboon which if you look closely you can spy peeping out from behind my little pile of rocket. Who said good cheese had to be eaten after a meal? 

A very satisfying dinner indeed.

Monday, April 21, 2014

330/984 - Erna's red cabbage with apple

This cabbage was bought with a lovely fresh, raw salad in mind....but then I found this! 

I halved this recipe and the amount was enough for four people with leftovers. I realised (too late) that we didn't have any cider vinegar and so instead used our beautiful organic horseradish vinegar from Australian Harvest for the final stage of cooking. The result was fantastic and I plan to make the same substitution when I marinate our mussels for dinner tonight (stay tuned for the post!).

This rounded out a lovely healthy dinner of chicken poached in master stock, feta, cucumber, tomato and grated carrot with lemon juice.

The only complaint was from Trev who contested the apple to carrot ratio...until he realised I had loaded most of the apples onto my own plate. 


Sunday, April 20, 2014

329/984 - Cauliflower and potato 'pie'

I really wanted to make this but it is a rare thing for me to have either cream or sour cream in my fridge. I do, however, always have Greek yoghurt! 

I cooked four potatoes and tipped them in a dish with the cooked cauliflower where I mashed them together roughly, figuring lumpy bits would be OK in a rustic dish like this. I went to town with the grated nutmeg and pepper and then added the yoghurt, doubling the recommended amount so that the entire mix bound together. 

With loads of beautiful parmesan on top, it went into the oven for about a half hour; just long enough for the top to get crunchy. 

I think the yoghurt substitute was fabulous, adding a lovely tang to the dish, and will definitely do it again next time.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

328/984 - Tea-smoked quail

Who knew tea-smoking would be so easy? 

I almost did something that destroyed this recipe, thinking that "one cup of oolong tea" meant a brewed cup of tea! Luckily I came to my senses and added a cup of dried tea to the smoking mixture. I guess steamed smoky quail may also have worked, but in a completely different, and possible a bit of a weird way.

As it was this recipe turned out beautifully, although our wok was clearly not as hot as it should have been, my little quail requiring double the allocated time in the makeshift smoker.

I cooked the quail until the meat was slightly undercooked in the middle and it was absolutely fabulous. We ate half a quail each and we were all surprised at how long it took to eat all of the meat off the tiny little bones. 

Jules was thrilled holding his little quail drumstick and pretending he was a giant eating a chicken leg. It's dinner and a show at my house! 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

327/984 - Fried bean curd with spicy ginger sauce

While I realise that anything fried tastes great, it's the sauce on this dish that takes it to a whole new level.

Every time I fry ginger I find myself wondering why I do not do it more often. The combination of ginger, chilli and garlic in the pan is simply one of my favourite cooking smells...and tastes! With the addition of spring onions, soy and black rice vinegar (I didn't have red) this dish was the most popular tofu I have ever served up. 

With this, the marinated fish and Trev's wonderful smoky roast we were definitely spoilt for choice last night. Oh yes and there were some vegetables on the table too...

Friday, April 11, 2014

326/984 - Baked fish in a North African ginger marinade

I really like snapper but I LOVE it with this marinade!

So, so easy, all of the ingredients (cumin, coriander, chilli, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, paprika, turmeric, salt, olive oil) were ground into a paste and rubbed on the fish. Left to marinate for one hour and then baked for thirty minutes, this was one of the easiest and most delicious meals I have created. 

I did something tonight I have never done before; I ate the eye of the fish. I was advised by the waiter at Urbane (amazing, amazing Brisbane restaurant) that the eye was considered to be a delicacy, but after discovering the hard little ball in the centre I have decided I will never do that again! Erk...

The family adored the fish cooked like this and honestly it was so easy I am thinking of heading out to get some more snapper soon just so I can see if I can make it taste this fabulous twice in a row.  

The best news is that we served up so much food for dinner that we still have a small pile of snapper left over. Now if only I can find a way to hide it from the men in my family...

325/984 - Curried beans with cashews

Oops...I think I am entitled to an underwhelming picture every now and then! 

This little dish was supposed to accompany last night's pizza but most of it is still sitting in the fridge today. Mostly because the pizza was largely devoured and the diners disappeared by the time I had finished this.

As with all curries, the flavour of this dish intensified overnight and was a yummy little snack to eat today. With two growing boys I am learning that no cooking goes to waste and have decided to cook whatever takes my fancy at any time of day. If it lasts longer than 3 hours in the fridge it will be a miracle!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

324/984 - Darina Allen's quick soda bread

I wonder if there is a type of bread I have not made?

One of the things I like about making bread is the lovely feel of the soft dough in my hands. Pastry provides me the same sensation as does any biscuit making that involves squishing or rolling into balls. While this bread is definitely easy and super quick to make, I did not enjoy the sticky dough and the way it clung to my hands! First world problem I know...

I actually did all of the mixing and kneading in the thermomix, buzzing the dough for about a minute. I sometimes think of my life pre and post thermomix purchase and wonder how many hours of my life I wasted in the kitchen before; kneading, chopping and battling with blenders that just did not want to play ball. For a sometimes cook it is probably an exorbitant purchase but I truly think mine has paid for itself twice over in two years. 

As instructed, I cut a cross in my bread "to let the fairies out" which made it look like a very large hot cross bun. (Note to self: make a batch of hot cross buns!)

The result? Fabulous! Somewhere between bread and a scone and wonderful with a smear of butter.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

323/984 - Cantonese spiced salt

I have been searching for Szechuan peppercorns for some time now and of course was thrilled when I found them at Parisi Foods near the Queen Victoria market. 

I made this spiced salt tonight in preparation for a tea smoked quail that I plan to make in the next couple of days (which I am very excited about by the way!). I think I will also try the variation suggestion, and will add some five-spice powder to the remainder of this salt so that I can rub it all over some lovely prawns very soon. 

I ground this with the mortar and pestle and found that the peppercorns fell apart very easily. It's always a good thing when I don't have to dirty a big appliance for a small job! 

Not much more to say really; salt, peppercorns, fry, grind, done.