Saturday, October 29, 2005


I was the cook this evening and so the meal was simple without much cutting and few spices. The spring clean of the freezer had turned up some lamb chops that had long past their use by date. Things left too long in the freezer dry out and these chops were a little desicatted - but still tasty. They were cooked on the new barbecue along with some onions.

They were served with baked potatoes (pontiacs baked for about 40 minutes), broad beans from Justine's garden and a salad of cucumber, tomatoes, and boiled egg. The dressing was Japanese vinegar, oil and garlic.

A selection of chutneys and mustards were available for the baked potatoes.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Chicken with ginkgo

Chicken with gingko nuts, dried fungus, dried mushrooms, shallots, ginger and fresh chilies has almost become one of our soul food dishes.

The half of a chicken consisting of the legs wings and back were cut into bite sized pieces. The back bones were boiled in water to make a stock. This was strained and cooked further with Chinese spinach. At the end a piece of fresh tofu was added. This was served as a side soup.

Broccoli with some of the stock was stir fried as another dish.

The main dish was prepared by steaming the chicken, gingko nuts, fungus and mushrooms. Once this was cooked then shallots, finely sliced ginger, finely sliced fresh chilies were added and steamed a little longer.

The dishes were served with white rice.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Indian Stew - alias Rogan Josh

The freezer is having a spring clean and specials purchased a few months ago are seeing the light of day. Today was the turn of mutton. This was turned into a Rogan Josh although the result was not the same Rogan Josh as you would get in your regular Indian Restaurant. This one had little oil, relatively little gravy and only those spices we had in the pantry at the time.

The other reason for cooking Rogan Josh was to use up the garden coriander which was reaching its use by date and needed to be eaten before it turned to seed.

Our Rogan Josh started with a little oil into which coriander, garlic, onions, fresh chillis, tumeric and ginger were blended then fried until the onions were translucent. A dessert spoonful of yoghurt was added to the mixture stirred and fried until the yoghurt reduces. Continue with more spoonfuls of yoghurt until it looks OK. Add garam masala and curry leaves. Finally add the meat. Add some more yoghurt. Stir and cover and cook on low. Before serving stir in chopped coriander leaves.

The meat dish was served with white rice, dahl, popadums and a cucumber, mint and yoghurt mix.

Mustard seeds were cooked in oil until they popped then add dried chillis and garam masala. The dahl was cooked in a little water and the aromatic mixture added towards the end of cooking.

The poppadums were lightly brushed with oil then cooked one by one in the microwave. The puriests would miss the oil from deep frying but I preferred the crispy dry effect.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Duck Confit

Duck Confit is one of the dishes we use to test restaurants. If they can produce a good one we will likely return as we have often to the Sante restaurant in Thredbo who have reliably produced a good Duck Confit.

Confit means to preserve and Duck Confit was a way for people before refrigeration to conserve their surplus ducks. Our duck had been purchased a few weeks ago when it was on special and it had been preserved and stored in its own fat (but we took no precautions and kept it in the fridge). It was served with creamy mashed potatoes. Salad dishes of rocket, mango, cucumbers, and tomatoes were served separately. The cook declared the duck too salty and is going to prepare duck confit again but with a Chinese style recipe.

The duck and potoatoes were served with a small amount of sticky balsamic vinegar on top. We had purchased our sticky balsamic vinegar in South Australia from Vine Valley but I can find no reference to it on their website nor is there any reference on the web on how it is made. Sticky balsamic vinegar is to balsamic vinegar as ketchap manis is to soy sauce.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Tuna Steak and Vegies

The tuna steaks from the Farmer's market found their way to the barbecue Sunday evening. They had been marinated with a little salt and a few springs of rosemary then cooked. We cooked them until there was still a tinge of red in the middle. The dipping sauce was sugar vinager and red sliced chillis.

The garden salad contained tomatoes, lebanese cucumbers, and rocket. The dressing was a regular vinagarette. Broad beans had been boiled until just tender and served with a dob of butter. Some left over grilled red capsiscum was reheated with a little oil and garlic. Potatoes were boiled until almost cooked, divided into bite sized chunks, then pan fried in olive oil until brown until completely cooked.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Farmer's Market

Saturday's Farmer's Market at the Exhibition Grounds in Canberra is a thriving relatively new market. I read recently that there are 300+ such markets around Australia. There is an online market place with a few of them - but not the one we go to.

This morning there were the favourites where I purchase apples and mandarins for the office. The goodies today were fresh tuna from Bateman's Bay, bean curd made locally, a local white sour dough, some broad beans, and a coffee grown on the Atherton Tablelands but roasted locally. It is interesting but we seem to prefer the vegies and fruit not to appear too perfect. I think we associate perfection with chemicals and we like to see a few blemishes in the Markets whereas in the supermarket we reject the spotted broad beans or the misshapen mandarins. The other attraction of the markets is that we often deal with the people who make or produce the goods and many of them are passionate about their wares.

This afternoon we had a late lunch at Babar's next to Electric Shadows. As usual there was too much food for one and we should have ordered one dish and shared it. The Beef and Guiness Pie with mashed potatoes was excellent but the club sandwich was nothing like a traditional American Club Sandwich which is served with thin bread, not a super abundance of filling and with smaller triangular sandwiches.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Quick Japanese Nabe or Chinese Steam Boat

Tonight was a one pot meal that is similar to a Japanese Nabe or a Chinese Steam Boat but with less effort.

We look for specials like chicken bones and previously we had made chicken stock frozen it and removed the fat. The chicken stock formed the base of the dish which was prepared in a large earthenware pot. Some ground pepper was added and brought to the boil. The hard white stems of a Chinese cabbage were added and the mixture brought back to the boil. Some left over frozen mussels, peeled but uncooked prawns and a couple of pieces of filleted white fish were included. This was brought back to the boil. The final ingredients were the tender green leaves of the cabbage and some bean curd white cake before the whole brought to a final boil.

The dish was served as a single "soup" dish with a dipping sauce of sesame oil, finely sliced hot chillies and soy sauce.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Makan Padang in Swanston Street

Today I am visiting Melbourne and as is my habit I visit the Minang restaurant in Swanston Street. I wrote about it previously at Restaurant Reviews back in 2003. The restaurant is much the same as in 2003. The difference today were the extra vegetarian dishes in the selection of about 16 dishes. Today I had stir fried mixed vegetables, fried fish with chillis, finely sliced liver and bean sprouts.

I was asked if I really wanted the finely sliced liver. As offal is one of my favourites I of course said yes. I expect it might come as a shock to many who might mistake it for finely sliced beef so it was kind of them to ask me.

One thing that has remained the same is the price which was very reasonable and probably cheaper than you could do at home.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Kedgeree for Dinner

I know Kedgeree is supposed to be a breakfast dish but with a few variations it becomes a one pot evening meal. The rice is cooked in a rice cooker. We had some smoked cod from the local supermarket. This was gently poached in milk until cooked. Onions garlic and a few fresh chillies were gently fried and at the end some Keens Curry powder was mixed in. The green vegetables lying around were blanched and then included. We had aspargus, coriander and chinese spinach. All parts are now mixed together.

A couple of boiled eggs halved or quartered are the final touch.

The accompanying salad was tomatoes and mignon lettuce lightly sprinkled with a mix of olive oil and lemon juice.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Vegetarian Dinner

Cauliflower in white sauce baked with cheese topping, leeks cooked until tender with fresh tomatoes, and grilled red capsicum peeled was tonights dinner. It was followed with fresh cantaloupe, kiwi fruit, banana and a couple of spoonfuls of creamy vanilla yoghurt.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Steamed Fish, egg custard and young pea pods

This evening we had a more traditional Chinese meal with white rice, steamed fish, salted duck egg custard and young pea pods.

The steamed fish was a large piece of ling. It is probably just as well ling comes as large pieces of white fleshed filleted fish because it looks something like a conger eel. The fish is very sweet (in the Chinese sense of the word) and has a texture much like crab and could even pass for the white flesh of scallops if appropriately cut. The ling was steamed with plenty of wood fungus and spring onions. Towards the end of cooking thin slices of ginger and leaves of coriander were added. Before serving it had a liberal sprinkling of sesame oil.

Young peas in the pod - not sugar peas - were fried in fresh garlic and oil. This is an uncomplicated dish and would work just as well with snow peas or with fresh young soy beans. We will try it with any young fresh beans.

The third dish was an egg custard made from regular eggs for the custard and salted duck eggs. I have been unable to find a recipe for this dish. The closest is at ChowHounds Home recipes but that is too complicated. For this dish cut up some salted duck eggs, mix up some regular hens eggs like an omellette, add pepper and salt then pour over the cut up duck egges and steam. Spring onions and other herbs can be added.

A sauce of red hot chillis finely sliced and covered in light soy sauce accompanied the dishes.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Poached Pears

Dessert this evening was poached pears. These were prepared by boiling in water with a quill of cinammon, a few cloves, sugar and some lemon peel. A little bit of a shiraz wine was added to the mixture to give a bit more colour.

When the pears were soft they were removed as were the other ingredients and the liquid reduced to make it more of a syrup. Everything was left to cool.

The pears were served cold with a creamy yoghurt and the cooled syrup from cooking.

Lamb Shanks and chick peas

It is still chilly in Canberra and this evening's meal of lamb shanks was welcome after a hard afternoon at the golf course. The lamb shanks had echoes of a French Cassoulet but was a unique dish. The lamb shanks were cooked in the oven with water, fresh thyme and rosemary for a couple of hours. The herbs were removed. The juice was poured off and cooled so that the fat could be removed then the juice returned to the lamb shanks.

The dish was then cooked with a can of chick peas (which were washed and drained). A few minutes before serving coriander leaves, raw garlic, spring onions and a few fresh chillies were added to the dish. I am told a lemon zest would improve the outcome but we had no lemons.

Leftover cooked potatoes were added in long enough for them to be warmed through.

Lamb shanks is one of those meat cuts that has gone from being one of the cheapest cuts to one of the more expensive. People are realising that meat that is closest to the bone is often the sweetest.

Trip to the South Coast

13th and 14th of October we travelled to the NSW South Coast and stayed at the Ulladulla Guest House. On the way we stopped at Braidwood and had home made pasties at a cafe on Wallace Street. The pasties were good with the potatoes cooked but el dente, with plenty of filling and thin pastry.

As Ulladulla is a fishing port we decided we should have fish. On a previous visit we had seen someone eating a fish platter and it looked good. Unfortunately the restaurant where we had seen the dish had closed so we went to the second oldest restaurant in town on the assumption that something that has survived should be OK. Unfortunately we discovered that it was being closed and the owners were packing up after 25 years. When we had our meals we found out why they were closing. The fish was cooked in a microwave even though they promised they would be grilled. The wines we selected were unavailable and we had the alternate but at a higher price. The chips were soggy and the seafood - such as the oysters - were overcooked to the extent that they were only vaguely recognisable.

Next mornings breakfast at the Boardwalk was good. One of us had ham and the other salmon with hollandaise sauce and english muffins. The hollandaise was very "runny" but it tasted good and the breakfast was fresh and tasty. The fresh orange and ginger and apple and ginger drinks were excellent as was the coffee.

For lunch we visited Mogo and had an excellent lunch of haloumi salad with grilled pieces of haloumi, chick peas, butter lettuce, french beans, tomatoes with a lemon dressing. This was washed down with a fresh berry Lassi.

What this is about

This blog is mainly for myself and my family. I have been married since 1968 to an excellent cook and we have enjoyed numerous meals together. Unfortunately my memory fades and many of the excellent meals we have had together have been forgotten. This will be chronicle of food we eat particularly at home.
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