Sunday, May 25, 2008

Baked Eggs

Going out for a lazy breakfast on the weekend is one of the things I miss most living in Asia. You cannot really laze about over a noodle soup or bowl of rice congee - although it has been tried, the atmosphere in the street side food stall is not really right. A lazy breakfast needs reading materials, comfortable chairs, good food and coffee (or tea if you are me). In Melbourne my favorite breakfast is at Ray’s cafĂ© in Brunswick, where despite not even having an oven they managed to make the most superb baked eggs using a salamander grill. There were two options one veggie and one meaty with chorizo (which is my second most missed food item here after salt and vinegar chips) and they were both delicious.

This recipe is for baked eggs is super simple and can be adapted and changed to suit everyone. Apologies for no picture but my camera has died.

Ingedients (Per person)

2 free range eggs
3 slices of smoked ham (or any other yummy pork product. For veggie option I would use sliced portabello mushrooms)
6 cubes fetta (or goats cheese, haloumi, stilton)
3 slices of tomato
4 spinach leaves
3 basil leaves
1.5 tbsp of red pesto (or green pesto or olive tapenade or tomato relish etc)

Heat oven to 180°C. In an oven proof bowl (I have been meaning to buy nice ramekin things but just use normal bowls at the moment) spread half the red pesto. Layer ham, then tomato, spinach, torn basil leaves and crumble over half the fetta. Break eggs into bowl. Crumble over remaining fetta and red pesto. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 20 minutes in medium oven. The eggs should still look slightly uncooked. This is ok as they will continue to cook a little once out (and they are yummy when you mix them up and they are still a bit runny). Serve with slices of Turkish bread or baguette for dipping.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Corn Soup

Whenever I miss Melly, I make this soup.  Throughout the many years of dining together, we ate this regularly.  It's a Stephanie Alexander recipe that usually includes crab meat which strangely, and for no particular reason, I have never included.  Over the years, I've adjusted Stephanie's ingredient measurements, basically adding more of everything. This recipe makes around 2-3 bowls.  We (Luke and me) like it really thick but you could always add a little more stock which would stretch it out a little.

6 x corn cobbs grated 
4 x spring onions finely chopped
2 x tbsp grated ginger
600mls vegie stock
2 x tbsp light soy sauce
2 x tbsp mirin
1 x tbsp corn flour
2 x tbsp water
2 x tsp sesame oil
big pinch of salt
2 x eggs
2 x tsp vegetable oil

How to make:
Grate the corn from the cobs.  A messy experience but the luscious colour of yellow will make it all better.  

Grate the ginger, and finely chop the spring onion.

In a large pot, fry up spring onion and ginger in a little oil.  

Pour in 600ml of vegie stock then add the corn, soy and mirin.  Bring to boil, then simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Mix the cornflour, water and sesame oil together in a cup then add to the soup.

Beat the eggs with salt and vegie oil (in the same used cup) then trail into the soup. Then stir, stir, stir.

Adjust to your taste adding either soy or mirin.
Garnish with a little chopped spring onion and a dash of soy and there you have it - a delicious, sweet, corn soup.  So, whenever you need a Melly fix, make this soup, crack a beer and reminisce of the good 'ol days, like I do...

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A Family Affair

I call this an old family recipe because it has such a personal history and so many stories that surround it, such as: when it almost blinded my Burmese-Italian cousin: “Darshan, I’m blind….IM BLIND!!”, or when it almost helped my sister lose her first boyfriend [we hoped], or when my dad [Pa], true master of the recipe, woke up the morning after the very same sister’s wedding to find a trail of rose petals leading from his bedroom directly to the szechuan chicken recipe [hint hint!].

But as experts in Chinese geography might have guessed, and as you can see from the scan below, the recipe is not Sri Lankan. Its ripped from Charmaine Solomon’s Asian Cookbook [a must have] and I still follow her pretty much to the letter. It may look slack [and sorry about the sm. type] but I’ve included a scanned version of our original family copy below to show the amount of use it has had over the years [notice the ‘tick’ up the top which must have been the first time Pa chose to cook it].

A word in favour of deep-frying: This is not a cooking technique to be derided or looked down on but a fine art of precision, texture and fish & chip shop sound effects. A few of the other contributors to Family Pies are responsible for purchasing my deep-fryer and well, its been a hot, crispy, slightly salty, 3rd degree burning love affair ever since. In short: don’t try shallow frying this chicken – Pa and Charmaine just won’t have it.

WARNING: Szechuan chicken is extremely tasty before you put it in the sauce [kinda like KFC] and will be snapped up by any kitchen hangers in the vicinity. It is also one of those slow-melding, burning dishes that pack extra punch and flavour on day two: often devoured with toast or in a Brewell in front of the Sega Mega Drive. So make extra – perhaps triple the current recipe?

Friday, May 2, 2008

doin it for the kids

along with my naturopath encouraging me to change my diet. so is my g.p.... i am on a kind of vegan/candida diet..doesn't that sound awesome!!!
so i'm becoming a bit of a hippy health freak.
and this is what i eat for breakfast..... enjoy!!!!

quinoa porridge with bananas, strawberries, cinnamon and warm honey

quinoa [pronounced KEEN-wah] is a fantastic grain. high in protein, lysine, magnesium, iron and is gluten free. so this little bowl of porridge packs a punch! you can cook it the same way you do for rice but you must rinse the grain well.

this makes 1 serve so double the quantity for two and so on. this combo is my fav but if in season blueberries are gold! you can use honey instead of maple syrup. oh and please cook it on the stove as to a tastes a whole lot better!

1/2 cup quinoa* [or replaced with organic rolled oats]
1/2 cup water
1/2 milk rice, cow or soy
1/2 banana, sliced
few strawberries, sliced
maple syrup to drizzle
ground cinnamon
extra milk to serve

*quinoa needs to be rinsed well or alternatively you can soak for a couple of hours or even overnight then rinse and drain.

put grains, water and milk into a small saucepan and cook over medium heat.
bring the mixture to the boil, cover and reduce heat to a slow simmer for about 10-15 mins
if using oats do not cover just stir constantly, cook for 5-10 minutes until the oats are tender.

place in a deep bowl top with fruit. drizzle with syrup and a sprinkle of cinnamon. i like it with an extra splash of milk so i can eat it straight away without burning my mouth!

variation: stewed apples and cinnamon - place diced apple into a saucepan when starting the porridge. with 2 tablespoons of water, a drizzle of either honey or maple sryup and a sprinkle of cinnamon. cover and cook on gentle heat for about 5-10 mins until apple is soft.

muesli bars

for the quick breakfast start and an extremely good snack for the li'l ones is my own homemade muesli made into a bar. good for those mornings you don't even have time to make yourself a cuppa... so just grab one of these and go!

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup bran
1/2 cup LSA*
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
2 cups dried fruit roughly chopped. i used figs, dates and barberries
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2/3 cup of honey or rice syrup
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

pre heat oven at 175 deg C and lightly grease an 11" x 7" tray
mix all dry ingredients into a large bowl
put honey, peanut butter and oil into a small saucepan and stir to combine over low heat.
once at a runny consistency pour over dry ingredients and mix well.
the mixture should be a sticky mess.
press mixture into tray and smooth out evenly with the back of a spoon.

place in oven and cook for 10-15 mins till golden brown

allow to cool then cut into bars, wrap individually with baking paper and keep in fridge if hot weather.

*LSA is Linseed (Flaxseed), Sunflower and Almond mix, is used to provide essential fatty acids, soluble fibre and other nutrients. LSA is prepared by grinding up 3 parts Linseed, 2 parts Sunflower seed and one part Almond.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Lamb pita pockets

This is one of John's specialties but I never complain when he wants to make it as I am a bit of a lamb fan and this is one of the best ways to have it. It is not always possible to get lamb and this recipe works well with beef mince too, but the lamb mint combo is so heavenly that it really is worth seeking out lamb. You also need to have lots of good mint for this recipe too.

300-400g of lamb mince
1 egg
1 small spanish onion finely chopped (if we have a large red onion we will use half here and half in the salad)
1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 cup chopped fresh mint
Mix everything together and shape into golf ball size meatballs with wet hands. Cook in pan or on barby.

Mint Salad
3 large tomatoes sliced
1 small spanish onion finely sliced
a handful of fresh mint leaves
juice of one lemon
slurp of good olive oil

Serve on halved pita pockets and top with natural yoghurt. Delish.....