Sunday, 19 August 2018

Smokey beans with chorizo

Over the last few months I have been trying to bulk cook either for the week ahead or to freeze leftovers for a later time. I know that I have written about bulk cooking and freezing and how it didn't really work for me. Well, like a massive amount of things my life has changed and habits change too. I usually take my lunch to work with me 4 days a week and treat myself on the 5th. Some weeks are better than others. My work place offers amazing facilities. We have a full kitchen with cook top, oven, microwave, toaster, sandwich press and I have seen one of those pizza ovens in the cupboard. Our pantry and fridge are amazingly stocked. We are provided with both fresh fruit and fresh bread each week. I tend to have my two pieces of fruit at work each day. I have morning tea of vitawheat with vegemite and sometimes with cheese. I think that the only down fall in our office kitchen is there is so much chocolate and other sweet foods. I think there is all and every type of chocolate biscuit there is in our fridge at the office. I do love a mint slice but it really isn't good to be frequenting the chocolate biscuit drawer and it would be lovely to have some healthier options, not sure what they could be.

As I said I do meals for the week or freezer when bulk cooking but I have also taken to making breakfasts as well. If I don't have breakfast ready for the week I tend to have corn thins with peanut butter and banana, not exchange bad but it could be better. I often make a baked oatmeal, which I thought I had previously blogged but I cannot seem to find so I will do that one day soon. That will usually take me through 5 - 6 days. It was time for something different though. I found a recipe for Smokey Baked Beans and the idea sounded good but not so much the recipe. My first issue with it was that it wasn't baked.... in the end mine weren't either hence there is no "baked" in the title. So I used it as a base and went my own way. I did find that part way through the cooking it wasn't really tasting all that smokey to me so I added a couple of tbsp of a bbq sauce I had in the fridge. I think part of the issue was that the recipe I was using as a guide had water and it was just too much liquid so I lost some of the flavour. As part of my bulk cooking and freezing, I cooked a large amount of kidney beans, borlotti beans and chickpeas and have them in the freezer. It makes life so much easier and so much cheaper than buying the tins. So I thawed some of them overnight and cooked it up in the morning. I think this gave me 4, maybe 5 breakfasts. I served it on a piece of toasted sourdough for the first couple of days but then just heated a bowl up in the morning and ate it without anything else.

Smokey beans with chorizo
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 chorizo, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 400g tin chopped tomato
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp smokey bbq sauce (I used Stubbs smokey mesquite which I got from Harris Farm Market)
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (I used a hot smoked paprika)
  • 2 cups cooked beans (I used kidney & borlotti)

Heat large frypan over a medium heat and add chorizo. Cook until it is starting to brown and then remove from the pan. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent then add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring for 1 - 2 minutes, I find the flavours better if tomato paste is "cooked off".
Add the remaining ingredients and reduce to a low heat until it has thickened and is the consistency that you desire.


Thursday, 9 August 2018


Hello...hello....hello. It's probably an echo chamber in here. Such an incredibly long time since I even looked at my blog let alone posted anything.

There has been lots of changes here. The biggest being I moved to the city! No more country life for me. I do miss my friends but there are other options to see them then living there. I've been here in the city for 18 months now! It's amazes me when I think about it. Seems like just yesterday that I packed everything up and moved on down. People ask me if I'll ever go answer is a rapid "no". I love living in the city. So much to do and so many places to go. If I do get to a point where I decide that city life isn't for me there is a whole world to places to go, although backwards isn't one of them.

Besides all the places to go and things to do I so love the access that I have to ingredients down here. All those recipes I used to pour over and think "if only I could get the ingredients", well I can now. So many options. Near where I work there is a most wonderful fruit, veg and deli place. I will rave over it regularly. Such a wide range of produce and other things. Some cheap, some not so. I do have access to some other cheap fruit & veg places plus butchers nearer to where I live. Although I admit to thinking the other night that with the meat in these butchers being so cheap, and it really is, how much are the farmers getting screwed down. We are in the midst of a dreadful drought and having grown up on the land it suddenly occurred to me that cheap meat, whilst good for my pocket, effects those down the line. I'm not sure what the answer is though. Now I'm on a stricter budget every little saving helps. Plus it does mean that I am still eating meat reasonably regularly. If I was relying on other butchers or the supermarket there would not be much of it on my table. Not that that would be a terrible thing.

I have no idea if I've mentioned quinces here on the blog before. I love quince. When I was a kid we lived on a farm that had some old quince trees. We had to compete with the codling moth for the fruit so we didn't always get a lot of it. I don't really remember what I mum used to do with them either. I know there was jam, perhaps pie. I do remember them being really good. Not that you can eat them uncooked. Perhaps you could...I wouldn't recommend it though. I had bought them at supermarkets occasionally but they were expensive. I found them here, first at Harris Farmm market where I have also bought a lot of produce but mainly from the deli. I've made a number of things from them.

First I used this Stephanie Alexander recipe for Baked Quinces. It was excellent. So very delicious with some yoghurt as a dessert. I also added them as a sweetener to my morning porridge. They would probably be fabulous with an oozy rice pudding. I will admit to not being overly keen on the skin being left on. Whilst you can eat it, I found it didn't soften too much. I guess that was part of the idea to hold the quince halves together but I'd most likely peel them if doing the recipe again. They were sweet and delicious though.

Baked quince with yoghurt

My next foray with quince was Roast Pork with Quinces, Honey & Red Wine. Now, this was good but I'd definitely make some changes to the process if making again. All of the elements were wonderful, although I replaced the parsnips with carrots and chokos. I found that the quince and vegetables ended up a tad over cooked and, s you can see in my picture, almost black with the sauce having excessively reduced down I will admit that I have a very big roasting pan and it would probably been beneficial to be in something smaller. However, I think it would have been best do the pork at high heat and then add the quince and liquid following that. I would also wait a little longer before adding the other veg. Although parsnips are quite a bit more dense than carrot and chokos so that could be one of the reasons for the slight over cooking. It was delicious but there are definitely changes that could be made to make it better.

Roast pork with quince, honey & red wine

My pièce de résistance with my quinces, although I do have one left, was this Quince Upside Down cake. O.M.G. Amazing. It is a long process. I mean there is the poaching of the quince. The only change I made to the poaching process was that I added a cartouche over the fruit before adding the plate to the top and putting the lid on for part of the cooking too. I didn't like that the cores were left in. I would remove them next time. They were just a pain trying to remove them after they had been poached & cooled. Sometimes quince cores can be difficult to remove and have a hard surrounding to them that really needs to be removed and it was hard since the rest of the fruit was softened. I was very concerned when I was putting the cake batter in the tin and throughout baking that there was too much of the syrup in the pan. I mean it was coming up around the cake batter. However it turned out perfectly. I was surprised but very pleased. I hate to waste ingredients. I work in a larger office now and they are very grateful for any baking contributions that I make to the office. I am happy because I get to bake and I don't have to eat it. Most people were convince there was ginger in the cake. Perhaps the combination of fresh grated nutmeg and the cloves threw them off. I'm not sure. I got some raves for it. Plus I have some left over poached quince. I had some one night with a drizzle of cream for dessert. It was lovely. I'm not exactly sure what I will do with the rest of the left cream maybe, rice pudding perhaps. I would highly recommend making this if you can get your hands on some quinces.

Quince upside down cake

Quince upside down cake

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce

Hi! It's been ages, actually I don't really need to say that. I have made a bunch of things and keep telling myself "I must blog that" but never seem to get around to it but here I am. I've been on holidays for the past 10 days. Well, sort of, since I did go to work for 3 days but it was fine because I got a heap of stuff done and didn't have to put up with anyone else. Unfortunately I have to go back to work proper tomorrow. I don't really feel much like interacting with people so I might end up in my separate little office on the guise of finishing stuff I didn't get done in those three days. I suppose it will depend on how I am feeling tomorrow.

It is raining here today which makes it a lovely day to be sitting here writing. I will most likely end up on the lounge reading and/or napping at some point today. Although there is house work that needs doing. I keep telling myself that I can do it later however the problem with that is that it continues to build up. Yes, you can do it later but it becomes a bigger job. Will get out of the chair and off here soon.

I started this with this Eggs in Purgatory recipe from Nigella. As I started to cook it dawned on me that it was a pretty boring recipe so I just started adding things. It turned out really well so I thought that I should sit down & blog as quickly as possible so that I remember it. One thing I did put in it was  3 smoked mushrooms. I bought a jar of them when I was on my cruise to New Zealand. That was over a year ago now and I hadn't opened the jar. They added a lovely little smoky flavour, not too much, just a hint. I will make this again. The sauce will make enough for two eggs, possibly 3. I cooked 1 egg in it and scooped it out. I will use the sauce again, probably tomorrow. Next time I would either make half the amount or, more likely, take out half the mix before cooking the egg. I would also sprinkle with chopped parsley but I didn't have any inside and it is raining out there.

Eggs poached in tomato sauce

1/2 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
shake of chilli flakes
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 roasted capsicum, torn into pieces
1 zucchini, grated
125g can four bean mix
3 smoked mushrooms, chopped
400 g can crushed tomatoes
1 egg

Saute onion 1 - 2 minutes, add garlic and chilli flakes and saute another minute.
Add remaining ingredients. Cook 10 minutes.
Make an impression in the sauce and crack egg into it. Cover and cook 2 - 3 minutes. Until the white is firm and yolk still runny. I cooked a little bit too far today. Serve on toast.

Egg poached in tomato sauce 1

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

July 2015 - Colin Fassnidge Pot Roast Chicken

Back again with another dish from this issue. There really is a lot of good food in it. Although I haven't made as many as I had planned when first reading through. I am still having fluctuating cooking mojo. Along with that sometimes I just want to make something familiar. The only things I have made lately have been bolognaise sauce, curried sausages and a beef stew (that tastes great but looks vile in a photo). All good food just not all that exciting or really worth blogging. The most recent bolognaise sauce was just a quick, easy version. If I make my long slow cooked version again then I may blog that. Mince, some veg, various tomato substances, wine & herbs really isn't all that thrilling. 

Anyway, I made Colin's pot roast chicken one night. It had quite a lot of flavour to it but there was something about it that I just didn't like that much. I don't even know what it was. Mine didn't colour up that much. Not nearly as much as the one he has pictured. Although I have heard quite a bit about how in some cases you don't want your food to look like the photo. I wonder if that happens in food magazine photo shoots? There was a tv show here in Australia called Gruen Transfer that was all about advertising. One of the guests on there one night was talking about how to get that "wisp" of steam coming off a steak. She said that they soaked a tampon in water, microwaved it and then shoved it under the steak for the photo. It weirded me out then and does again now. There was also talk of gluing sesame seeds onto buns, nailing pizza to get the perfect cheese pull and using brown paint for the pour of chocolate... All fascinating stuff and, well, a bit gross too. 

The flavour of the chicken was great. It was juicy and all. I just didn't like it for some reason. The recipe is available here on the website. 

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Pancake Sunday

Do you have any family food traditions. There are a few in our family that I think it is time that I start going through them. I am starting with the easiest one because a lot of them involve a bit of preparation. There are a couple that will not be hitting my kitchen leave alone my dining table. They can be explained along the way when it comes to supposedly "paired" dishes. Anyway, on to pancake Sunday. 

One very clear memory that I have from throughout my childhood is of pancakes. Fluffy, yummy pancakes. My mum & I lived with my grandparents for quite some time when I was young. I think I have mentioned before what a good cook my Gramma was, especially when it came to desserts. However her pancakes were the best. It was a tradition, a major tradition. I am sure there was the occasional Sunday when pancakes weren't the breakfast made however they would be the exception rather than the rule. What do I remember the most. Well, my Gramma would make the pancake batter and put the bacon on to cook. My Grampa would cook the pancakes. They had this great big huge round electric griddle (well that is what they called it) and Grampa would make four smallish pancakes at a time. As they were ready they were moved to a plate in a warm oven so that more could be cooked. When the bacon was cooked Gramma would fry eggs, fresh eggs from the hen house. When they were cooked it was just a matter of assembling it all. 

The table would be set with an array of condiments. There was maple syrup, Log Cabin syrup, homemade saskatoon syrup, jams, cream and yoghurt (especially for my uncle). We all started mostly the same. Pancake, syrup, egg & bacon. Oh, wow it makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Next, for me, was usually pancake, raspberry freezer jam and cream. If, on one of my frequent trips home in my twenties, I was late to rise I would squeeze in another pancake with saskatoon syrup in lieu of lunch. 

I don't have pancakes every Sunday anymore. They are an occasional treat here now mainly because I over eat when I make them. I do make half of this recipe but it still makes 6 pancakes. I have thought about freezing leftovers but there is nothing like fresh pancakes so it usually means that at least 3 go to waste. They aren't the same without the freezer jam or saskatoon syrup either but since neither of those are possible I make do. I have even found myself a very old electric "griddle" to cook them on. Okay, it is rectangular but it is much better than a frypan on the stove.

Gramma's Pancakes 

2 c flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt 
2 tbsp sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 c milk
1 tbsp butter, melted

Combine dry ingredients. Whisk eggs & milk together and then combine with flour mix then add the butter. Let sit 20 - 30 minutes before cooking. 

You may need to add extra milk. I find that sometimes it is a bit thick. 

My pan