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Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Anguilla in Carpione

Remember my earlier eel adventures? Don’t panic, I’m not putting the twitching video back up.

When my friend and Italian chef Carla Tomasi heard I was frying fresh eel, she sent me her recipe for anguilla in carpione – a pickled eel dish traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve. It’s delicious and very easy to make, once you get past the squeamishness of handling pulsing slabs of flesh.

Cut the eel fillets into pieces, then dust them in seasoned flour. Keep them as cold as possible and work quickly to avoid the twitching! Fry the pieces gently in a combination of butter and oil until cooked through…

In the meantime, bring to boil ¾ cup oil and ¼ cup red wine vinegar, with a bashed clove of garlic, a pinch of fennel seeds, half a sliced onion, two bay leaves and a piece of chilli (dried or fresh). Drain the eel pieces and place them in a bowl, then pour the mixture over…

It will keep well in the fridge for at least a week – make sure the eel is submerged in the liquid, topping up with more oil/vinegar if needed…

The skin becomes quite rubbery when cold, so I trim it off before eating (it’s fine when first cooked). The tender pickled eel is tangy and delicious, and particularly good on buttered sourdough toast…

Thank you, lovely Carla, for sharing such an interesting dish with me! ♥

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Pete’s Baked Bean Pasta

My darling husband is very annoyed at me for calling his creation “Baked Bean Pasta”.

He thinks it’s misleading, but I disagree – I think it’s a dish that has to start with baked beans, because regular tinned ones wouldn’t be soft enough. Anyway, the point is, it’s a genius recipe. It doesn’t taste like baked beans and it’s a luscious and frugal alternative to a meat sauce.

Many of Pete’s creations are one-offs that disappear into the ether – this one was too good to lose, so I typed it on to my phone as we ate. Here’s the annotated version of what I wrote:

1. Fry two grated carrots and one chopped onion in oil (Pete used lard). Put a pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.

2. Add a few slices of finely chopped pancetta (we had that in the fridge, but bacon would work as well) and fry everything well for about ten minutes. Season to taste.

3. Rinse the contents of a 420g can of baked beans well to remove all the sauce, then add it to the pan with a tin of Italian tomatoes. Add a splash of white wine and half a tin of water.

4. Cook for a further 10 – 15 minutes, mashing the beans into a paste as you go. Add a little garlic oil and chilli oil (we have these on the bench, but you could add a little garlic with the pancetta and a pinch of chilli flakes instead).

5. Just before adding the pasta to the boiling water, add green vegetables to the sauce – we used topped and tailed beans and sliced zucchinis. Add a little water to the sauce to loosen if necessary. Continue to simmer gently.

6. Once the pasta is cooked and drained, combine everything together and serve with a drizzle of garlic oil and a little grated pecorino cheese. Enjoy!

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The Neighbourhood Loaf

Baking sourdough bread has become so easy that it feels effortless.

It doesn’t matter if I’m sick or tired or grumpy or overwhelmed (don’t worry, I’m not), there is always bread. It’s literally just minutes of hands-on work. But effortless doesn’t, shouldn’t and mustn’t mean joyless. To this day, thousands of loaves in, I still get a thrill when I lift the lid off an enamel roaster and see the risen loaf.

Unlike other household “chores”, baking bread has never become mundane or boring. I’m not quite sure why that is, but I suspect a large part of it lies in the enthusiasm with which the loaves are consumed.

These days I hardly ever do a small bake anymore – it feels wasteful to run Bobby II for a single loaf. My standard batch produces six slow-proved high hydration loaves for a total flour cost of $2.35 and $1 in electricity. This gives us two loaves to eat and four to share with our lovely neighbours. How cool is it that so much food can be produced for less than the cost of a takeaway coffee?

Last week I picked up a torn 12.5kg bag of bakers flour off the clearance pallet at Southern Cross supplies for $5, so the six loaves below cost me just 81c (technically $0.8072) in flour and flossy salt. I was pretty excited about that…

Five of those loaves went out to neighbours, fabric wrapped of course

You see, whilst baking sourdough makes me happy, it’s the sharing of it that brings me joy. Which is why I cheerfully bake twice a week, rather than simply stocking up the freezer once a month.

Of course, it’s also hard to beat a chicken and mayo sandwich with backyard lettuce on freshly baked bread…

Last week, Big Boy’s old school friend Gabby moved into an apartment around the corner. We’ve known him since he was nine years old and it was with great excitement that we dropped around a furoshiki-wrapped loaf as a housewarming gift. He didn’t have a knife or a plate at that stage, so I suspect he just ate it like a caveman…

The following evening, the indigo cloth came back wrapped around a six-shot Negroni cocktail in a jar (I love that The Screaming Mongoose unpacked his cocktail shaker before his cutlery)…

I suspect it’s contraindicated, but I’m sure it helped with the shocking head cold I had at the time…

. . . . .

If you’d like to bake and share, you might be interested in our basic yeasted bread tutorial or, if you have access to some starter, the basic sourdough tutorial and the overnight sourdough tutorial. Or try our step by step focaccia for 23 year olds – it’s the perfect treat to take to a party!

Sorry folks, I don’t have any dried Priscilla starter at the moment. I’ll let you know when I have more to share!

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Food Processor Scones

It’s International Scone Week!

I was keen to participate in Tandy’s round up, but with the imminent arrival of family, I wasn’t sure if I’d have time. Then it occurred to me that if I could make pastry in a food processor, maybe scones might work as well.

I was very chuffed with how these turned out – they didn’t rise as well as gently handled dough, but they were tender and delicious nonetheless. Here’s how I reworked our old recipe:

  • 300g (2 cups) plain (AP) flour
  • 8g (2 generous teaspoons) baking powder
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 75g (5 US tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 50g (¼ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 125ml (½ cup) milk*
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice*
  • 1 large free range egg
  • 1 egg extra, for glazing

*The original recipe uses buttermilk but I didn’t have any, so I substituted milk and lemon juice. Stir the juice into the milk and let it stand for a couple of minutes before using.

1. Preheat the oven to 190C or 175C with fan. In the large bowl of a food processor, pour in the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Pulse to combine. There’s no need to sift anything. Add the cold butter, cut into small pieces, and pulse again until combined. The texture should be similar to fine bread crumbs.

2. Stir together the milk and juice, then whisk in the egg. Add the liquid into the food processor bowl and pulse very briefly until everything just comes together.

3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured bench and very gently shape into a thick rectangle. Cut into six scones and lay them in a parchment lined tin.

4. Brush the tops with beaten egg yolk and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until risen and golden. If possible, eat while hot, smothered with butter and berry jam…

These were so quick and easy that I’ll probably make them this way from now on. I didn’t have to sift flour, or rub in butter, or dust a cutter, or clean up a huge mess at the end. So…are you baking scones this week too?

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My mother is completely adorable.

This is my favourite photo of her, but hopefully she won’t see this post, or I’ll be in trouble for posting a picture of her with grey hair…

Last weekend, she came over for lunch.

I made char siu bao (this recipe by Rasa Malaysia is brilliant)…

…and pig’s tail congee with homemade chilli oil…

…and potsticker dumplings. I normally make these with bought wrappers, but my friend Maree inspired me to try making the skins from scratch. They were a bit thick and wonky, but delicious…

Mum was  very impressed and told me in Hokkien…”you can go and live in the mountains now”. My Chinese is basic at best, but I think the implied translation is…”you can go and live in the wild places now”. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t thinking of Leura.

She made us laugh so much – we’ve been baking our own bread for a decade, growing fruit and vegetables in the garden, collecting eggs from our backyard chooks, making yoghurt, muesli, preserves, chocolate and generally living as self-sufficient a lifestyle as possible. But in my gorgeous mother’s eyes, this was the turning point. Once we could make dumpling skins, then we could surely survive in the wilderness. I’m smiling just typing this.

If you’d like to make your own dumplings at home, it’s hard to beat this fabulous instructional video by the aptly named Dumpling Sisters. Maybe you can go and live in the wild places too! ♥

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