Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Chinese New Year

The dishes for Chinese New Year were wontons shaped as a nuns hat, salads, fried prawns, mussels, spring rolls, white cut chicken, lap chong sausage, steamed snapper and mushrooms.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

From the Garden

Several meals over the past few days have featured greens, tomatoes and cucumber from the garden. There is a difference between freshly picked tomatoes ripened on the vine and still warm and thick skinned supermarket tomatoes transported hundreds of miles and ripened in a gas filled room.

Pickled cucumber are a family favourite. This is a simple dish created by peeling and slicing cucumbers into thick sticks. The cucumbers are blanched in a heated mixture of water and vinegar. Blachan, tumeric, garlic, and candle nut are pounded into a paste. The mixture is fried in a small amount of oil. The blanched cucumber is added to the cooked mixture. Fresh chillis both red and green from the garden are added. The mixture is stored in the fridge and may be served as an accompanyment to many dishes. This one was sprinkled with grated fresh peanuts.

Minced pork is marinated with light soy sauce and a small amount of corn starch is mixed with the meat. This is fried with a small amount of oil and garlic. Fresh sprouts from snow peas before they are formed along with chinese chives are added. Finally fresh tofu is added along with soy sauce and it all broken up in large chunks. Quick simple and delicious.

This is another family favourite. Chicken pieces are coated with corn starch and fried in a small amount of oil until the skin is crispy. The tomato sauce is made by heating together fresh tomatoes, chillis, garlic, oil, and salt. The chicken pieces are added to the sauce and cooked some more. Add vinegar if the tomatoes are too sweet.

This fish soup dish gets a distinctive flavour from the lemon grass. A fish stock is made with the bones from cheap fish and prawn heads. The pasta is cooked separately and served separately. The prawns and greens are added to the strained soup. A few chillis give it a tang. This turns even the cheapest fish into an excellent dish.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Gundaroo Grazing

Tomatoes are fruiting at the moment and we have an over abundance. Some of them appeared in the sauce on this dish of lamb cooked as a stew.

Because of a trip to Sydney most meals over the past few days have been in restaurants. I tried portugese salted cod in Petersham's Costa Del Sol, Beef and Jelly Fish in Marrickville, Tasmanian Mussels at Carlos in Watson and the following Smoked lamb with humus and tabouli, bread with oil, pepper and salt and Duck Confit at Gundaroo Grazing.

We have a large number of flowering plants in the garden and by accident many flower at different times. At the moment the bees are feasting on the pink Callistemon.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

January 06

Another family favourite - shrimp filled wontons in soup.

Mullet cooked on the barbecue in foil. It was stuffed with preserved lemon peel and wrapped in vine leaves. Served with kifler potatoes fresh from the garden.

Two meal duck. The first meal was duck soup made from the bony bits. Soup included fermented (cheesy) bean curd and fungus. The second meal was duck confit from the meaty bits. It was served with a drizzled reduced balsamic dressing.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Pork Chops, Vietnames Rolls, Greek Salad

Today was a typical summer's dinner with some standards and some experiments. First the standard was a Greek Salad with Australian fetta, chilli olives, fresh cucumber, fresh garden tomatoes a little garlic oil and vinegar.

Vietnames wrappers were packed with sliced cucumber and almost dried fried in contrast to deep frying featured elsewhere on this blog. The experiment also tried double wrapping and less liquid - but the end result was not as good as the original which was much more "chewy". The rolls are wrapped in lettuce and other herbs and for those who like it some fresh chilli sauce. The chilli sauce was another experiment being done in the blender rather than pounded in the mortar a pestle. Again this was not as good as the original - probably because the seeds tend to stay whole.

The other dishes were barbecued pork chops without any marinade or coating and unadorned pieces of water melon.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Hokkien Noodles

Today we feature another 'generic' soul food dish - fried noodles. This one used soft packet Hokkien Noodles from Woolies chilled food area. The noodles are not dried but are soft, wet and sealed in a packet. They are as good as fresh noodles.

To get to this state we combine noodles, cucumber, shallots, chinese spring onions, prawns, fish sauce, soy sauce, chicken stock, previously prepared blachan sambal. The dish is served with fresh from garden small tomatoes and a freshly ground chilli sauce.

The sequence of operations is - first cut up and prepare the ingredients.

Fry the shallots in a lot of oil until they are crispy brown then drain.

Clean the noodles by pouring boiling water over them. Continue to remove the surface starch by washing in cold water.

Stir fry the prawns and add in the Chinese chives and season with a little fish sauce.

Finally add in the noodles add some soy sauce, stir together and add the cucumber strips and finally top with the fried shallots. Serve with garden fresh tomatoes and chilli sauce.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Family Favourite

There are some meals that appear regularly in every household. Braised pork in soy sauce with boiled eggs is one at our place. This one was served with rice, freshly ground chilli sauce, brocolli and eggplant.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Malaysian/Indonesian Curry Recipe

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This is one of those recipes that gives a different result each time you use it. It can also be the basis of a whole range of dishes by changing some of the ingredients, by missing out some of the steps or by changing the order of doing things.

The Dry Ingredients

This time we used coriander, cummin and dried chillis. More than required was ground in a coffee grinder used only for grinding dry spices. For this dish one teaspoon each was used. The extras were saved in jars in the fridge.

Wet Ingredients - chopped

There are two sorts of wet ingredients. Some are blended and some are not. A critical component is blachan. A generous lump was wrapped in foil then heated on the gas - but it could be heated on a barbecue or grilled. The other ingredients used this time were onions, garlic, tumeric, fresh chillis and ginger. These were all placed in a blender and chopped to a paste.


Often this curry is made from beef. In this case a leg of lamb was cut into large chunks. There is no reason not to try anything and I expect that venison and kangaroo would work well. The wet ingredients are lightly fried with oil until it "sticks" together. The dried ingredients are added and then the meat is added and covered with the mixture. A tin of coconut cream is added.

Wet Ingredients - unchopped

Other ingredients are placed into the dish after all the above. These could include lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, pandanus leaf and galang.

The dish was cooked until the meat became tender. It can be served hot or cold and is often better on the second day.

One variation is to lightly fry fresh grated coconut until it becomes dark. This is then pounded into a paste and added to the dish. This thickens the mixture and gives a very distinctive texture and flavour.

Another variation is to use the wet chopped ingredients and coconut and to cook for awhile then add in deveined prawns or some other sea food like calamari.

Serve with?

White rice is preferred. This time we had stir fried thinly sliced cabbage cooked with chillis and a little fish sauce plus some sliced bananas in plain yoghurt.
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