Recipe #99 – fried coconut

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The name of this recipe pretty much says it all – fried desiccated coconut – okay I added the ‘desiccated’ but the rest of the name says it all. This is one of those recipes in the book that is included in other recipes so it is hard to rate but I can let you know dear readers that it smelt pretty good.

Now the first time I make anything out of a cookbook, I like to follow the quantities in the recipe – which I did again this time. Now those of you who faithfully read this blog will know that I have, at times, banged on about Stephanie’s quantities. This time, it is entirely my fault. I made this recipe to include the fried coconut in another recipe from the book and made the full amount using 125g of desiccated coconut in addition to the garlic, spring onions, spices etc to then find that I only needed a tablespoon for its destination recipe. As a result, I now have about a cup and half (maybe more) of fried coconut. I hope it lasts a while.

Recipe #98 – herring fillets with potatoes and dill

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This dish (under Dill, page 267) is more assemblage than cooking but don’t let that deter you from trying this delicious taste combo. Apart from boiling some spuds, there really is no cooking in this recipe which means quick and easy food. We had it as a light lunch for which it was perfect I think. The combination of cold fish and hot potatoes (note that Stephanie forbids serving them cold!) is great and the different textures make for an interesting meal that is brought together with, in this case, mustard dill sauce – but you could use sour cream according to the recipe.

This was a definite make again meal – perfect for a light weekend lunch and was rated as such by the punters around the table.

Recipe #97 – mustard sauce

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This sauce (under Dill, page 237) is, according to Stephanie, the traditional sauce to serve with gravlax in Scandinavia. Unfortunately we did not have gravlax but we did have some herring fillets and, apparently this is also good with those. And we did have some dill growing in the herb garden.

This is a very easy sauce to make and tasty to boot – its a sort of dressing more than a sauce but with heaps of mustard to make it quite thick. It was destined to become the glue that held everything together for recipe #98 – herring fillets with potatoes and dill. More about that in the next post!

Easy to make + tasty = definitely make again. And not just with cured salmon or herring fillets!

Recipe #96 – fettuccine with bug meat and roasted tomato sauce

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This dish has one of those very few ingredients that are distinctly Australian – Bugs! And as Stephanie says in her introduction, ‘visitors to Australia must wonder what they are about to receive when they are told that there are bugs for dinner’. But fear not non-Australian’s these bugs are not the insects that some think will feed the world in some dystopian future but crustaceans that, apparently, most countries ignore. I can’t understand why, they certainly look delicious.

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Maybe its the cost of these little darlings. I mean given that this is a moreton bay bug and Moreton Bay is about 20 minutes away from where I live, should it really cost $36 for three bugs yielding about 240g of meat. Really? Nevertheless, purchased they were and then turned into Stephanie’s fettuccine with bug meat and roasted tomato sauce (page 148, under Bugs, of course).

Now I have eaten bugs before but I don’t think that I have ever cooked with them and so when it cam time to prise the flesh away from the body of the bug, I had no idea how to go about it. Luckily, Stephanie came to the rescue and the meat was separated from the rest of the bug and I had learned something new. Winners all round. Well, except for the bug.

photo 2 (5)Once the bug meat was separated from its shell, it was time to get on a cook. The meat was warmed through more than cooked with some tomatoes, onions, herbs and garlic that had roasted for an hour in the oven and then the mix was combined with some fettuccine for a nice dinner for three people.

Now a word on quantities. I have banged on before about Stephanie’s quantities and this is one of those recipes where I just think that they are wrong. The recipe says it feeds 2-4 people. I cooked half the fettuccine and half the quantity of bug meat (because of the price) and there was more than enough for 4 people. Think about that. At approximately $144 a kilo, you don’t want to be over catering on the bug meat right.

Now to ratings. This is one of those recipes where I think the cost affected the ratings. The overall rating was a ‘would eat again’ but there were several suggestions that the roasted tomato base could lose the bug meat and that nothing would be lost by substituting a different, cheaper source of protein – prawns perhaps or perhaps pippis (okay, clams for those of you not from this part of the world.

Recipe #95 – yogurt and pistachio cake

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One of the interesting things you have to deal with when you have backyard chickens is the fact that, at some point in time, you are going to have lots of eggs sitting the fridge. Now there are many things you can do with eggs – pasta, icecream, given them away to the neighbours and of course – the six egg cake. Or in my case, the eight egg cake (because I managed the break the yolk into the white while separating two of the eggs).

This cake (under yogurt) certainly fits the ‘cook something to get rid of the eggs’ mission this week. Six (or eight, depending on how you count them) eggs were combined with some beautiful pistachios and some creamy yogurt resulting in a moist cake that was sweet but not too sweet. You can certainly taste the egg and the pistachios which is quite nice and the yogurt should ensure it stays moist for a while.

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A ‘definitely make again’ rating is notoriously difficult to achieve for sweet things in my house – a result of the strength of the differing opinions about the deliciousness or otherwise of cakes and desserts versus more savoury fare amongst members of the household. Unfortunately, as a result, I think that this cake didn’t quite gather the votes for top billing but it was close. Very close. A solid “would eat again” rating is the result.

Recipe #94 – lablabi

photo (8)Lablabi (under the chickpeas chapter) is a Tunisian vegetarian breakfast dish that Stephanie says she has adapted and eats throughout the day. I decided to go back to its roots and have it for breakfast. And what a lovely tasty breakfast it was – despite the fact that I overcooked the eggs (slightly more cooked than soft-boiled so no runny yolk). The combination of spicy soup, still slightly crunchy chickpeas and the rich silky egg texture was great and the dish received the highest rating from my breakfast partner this morning – a ‘definitely make again’.

The good thing about this dish receiving this rating is that it is a very fast and very easy breakfast dish to make – less than 15 minutes. Of course, that does involve having to have some pre-cooked chickpeas on hand. And this requires some planning as they have to be soaked overnight and then cooked for 90 minutes or so before including them int he dish. But you can cook these the night before like I did and then its fast and easy. Don’t cheat though and get chickpeas out of a tin – they just would not have that same slight crunchy texture. Really, its not that much work – just some planning ahead. Oh and of course you need some harissa – which is why Recipe # 93 was made in the first place!

Recipe #93 – harissa

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Harissa (under the peppers chapter) is one of those items that you (or at least I) really need to have in the fridge for those times when i want to add some fire and spice to a dish. And after putting in a truckload of chillies and other spices into the food processor, I definitely got some fire and spice. It even smells spicy!

No rating for this recipe because it is used as an ingredient in other dishes – more of those later.

Recipe #92 – lamb shank broth

Clearly not on my game last night because I failed to take a photo of the lamb shank broth that we had for dinner last night. The broth (under the lamb chapter in the book) takes about 3 hours to cook so don’t plan on an early mid-week dinner or do what I did and cook it over two nights, leaving the last hour of vegetables for the night you are going to eat it. 

Now in writing this post, I did wonder what made it a broth rather than a soup and I realised that I didn’t know what the answer to that question was. So I did what anyone in my precarious state of culinary knowledge would do – I googled it. These are my favourite answers but I am not sure that any of them are

a) correct or

b) likely to make you want to eat a good broth.

You have been warned. 

What is the difference between broth and soup? for clarity, my comments are in italics

  1. Lumps and translucence (What?)
  2. Broth is soup without the good stuff 
  3. Soup has more stuff in it (note that the Stephanie ‘broth included carrots, celery, turnip, leeks and the meat off the lamb shank)
  4. Soup has solids in it. Broth looks like pee (makes you want to eat some broth doesn’t it)
  5. Soup has some stuff in it. Broth is only broth (not sure how this helps people!)
  6. For me the difference is the word itself, and its spelling (can’t argue with that)
  7. Broth is like the left over juice when you boil meat. It’s like seasoned water. (I can see this on the menu – “seasoned water”)

And if you don’t think people are not passionate about the thorny question of the difference between soup and broth, check out this response to a question posed by someone in relation to broth being soup of the day – 

“Soup is not broth so it shouldn’t be included in the soup of the day. Broths no really a starter in my book anyway more of a meal. Well my granny’s is. You shoulda stormed out telling the other customers about this fabricated menu. They shouldn’t get away with it.”

Got to love that passion. 

Ratings for the lamb shank broth / soup /seasoned water with lumps was a unanimous “would eat it again” from the diners sharing the repast last night. 

 

Recipe #91 – chicken stock

No picture I’m afraid because well, lets face it, I have already included a picture of stock stacked in containers waiting for the freezer and another just is not that exciting (and I forgot to take a photo).

Now we make chicken stock a lot in this house but this is the first time I have used Stephanie’s recipe (under stock in the basics section of the book). Its a lot more restrained than my usual ‘bung everything into the one pot and turn on the heat approach’ but basically its the same. Which isn’t all that surprising, how many ways can there be to boil chicken frames, vegetables and herbs and spices until it tastes (and smells) good. Not many I would think. 

Recipe #90 – bashed neeps

 

 

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Ahhh, this takes me back to my childhood – bashed neeps (page 747, under turnips and swedes). My father made this and I alone of all the children in the family, used to hoe into it, smothered with HP sauce just like my father. My tastes have changed slightly I guess because I included none of the brown sauce with my bashed neeps tonight, including instead the 60 grams of butter proposed by Stephanie. 

For those of you who don’t know, bashed neeps is mashed turnip. Or more correctly, mashed swede. (It is interesting to note that I would have been in my mid to late teens when I realised there was whole other vegetable called a turnip that didn’t look anything like the rough looking yellowy / purple things that occasionally got cooked in our kitchen and mashed up in a white bowl and left on the table for the two people who actually enjoyed this mushy concoction). Now like mashed potato, bashed neeps benefits enormously from the addition of butter (or what one french chef on some TV cooking show called “love”) and some pepper. Armed with the richness of the butter and the spicy pepper, this recipe was more than a match for the left over pork belly. 

I can highly recommend this dish and this recipe – even my daughter who is not the biggest fan of bashed neeps ate the entire plate tonight. A definite make again recipe!