Can’t Cook – Grand Final Is On!

Falafel Rolls with Blue Cheese & Roasted Macadamia Dip

So, this is it! Grand Final Day! Footy season is over.

Congratulations to Sydney Swans who beat Hawthorn in a nailbiter…awesome! (I hate Hawthorn almost as much as I hate Carlton!)

We may not be big into religion in Australia, but Aussie Rules (the footy) is your religion if you come from Melbourne and Grand Final Day is Easter Sunday and Christmas all rolled into one. Me, I’m no exception…I loves me ma footy!!!

I had to pick up my daughter from a nearby suburb today but she had to wait until half time as the Grand Final was on! My team didn’t make it this year (actually beaten last week by the team who won today and I was supporting them…go figure!), but that doesn’t mean you don’t watch the grand final!

Driving to pick her up, there was not a car on the road, except for mine, and only about 2 people walking their dogs along the waterfront in Williamstown…great view of the city skyline across the bay…I love living here, and by here I don’t just mean the suburb but the city…Melbourne is wonderful, even if the weather is crap most of the time. Such is the dedication of Melbournians to their football, that not a soul was out on the street today but rather indoors at home or at a pub or at the MCG watching the game. Even my parents, little old Greek people stayed home to watch the grand final!

So, the ritual is potato chips, dips and alcohol throughout the game and the scalding hot meat pie with sauce at half time. As I had to pick up my daughter at half time we had to move the pie eating to an earlier time in the game…they were hot…I love a good meat pie with sauce! (see earlier post about my pie nights).

I blame the Grand Final for not making dinner so by 8:30pm we were really hungry as we ate the pies earlier than we would normally have. Luckily being so obsessed with food and my pantry, things are always fully stocked. Being on holidays also meant that I’ve had time to prepare lots of little bits and pieces, handy for occasions such as this.

One look in the fridge and there was that blue cheese and roasted macadamia dip I found online and made yesterday staring back at me. A further look in the fridge and out came the falafels and pickles and salad…fresh bread rolls in the pantry? of course!…there was dinner!

I am usually a very neat and tidy eater but I just tear into these and it ends up looking like a dog’s breakfast but that most certainly doesn’t detract from the taste…delish!

 

 

Killer Breakfast

Waffles, Maple/Bacon Butter and Eggs

After a heated debate on world politics and the death penalty with my handsome man early this morning, I felt a little bad that I used my years of research against him and hammered him with arguments he was unable to respond to…so I made him a killer breakfast!

I found these awesome waffles in a gourmet deli and knew they would be deadly…and they were! I also wanted to try this maple syrup with chopped bacon mixed in with french butter I saw in a recipe book about a year ago and added a fried egg…just because!

We may not agree on some political issues but we do agree on a good breakfast and good food and for me, that’s a very good thing!

That is all…

Rock Star Antipasto Platter

No Recipe Required

So, I’m on school holidays and I’m supposed to be in really great spirits but yesterday I found myself bored out of my brain and I’d only been on holidays for half a day!

I think there’s something wrong with me!

I find it really hard to wind down from teaching – I think it’s the quiet that I’m not used to. Over a thousand students and more than a hundred staff makes for a loud work environment and to be honest I’m not always great when left alone for too long.

When I get in these moods I don’t even feel like cooking. Stir fry was on the menu but I couldn’t be bothered.

It was a night for the big platter but even the thought of taking goodies out of the fridge seemed daunting to me UNTIL I read the most AMAZING news!

Now, I’m giving away a lot about myself here and many judgments will be made about the type of person I am but I’m a rock chick at heart and grew up totally obsessed with KISS! Not the “I Was Made For Loving You” KISS (that was total crap) but the 1970’s  awesomeness of KISS! “God of Thunder” KISS…so the news that KISS and Motley Crue (not a big fan) are touring here next year sent me into a bit of a heavy bass, crazy assed tail spin! My dragon tattoo was tingling and that meant only one thing…get the cd’s out and blast my boredom to oblivion.

‘Destroyer’ cd on with “God of Thunder” blasting the shit out of the whole street and not only did we have that antipasto platter but I found myself char grilling eggplant and zucchini and making garlic herb crouton thingys just because…because KISS are coming to Australia (again…didn’t they break up?) next year!

Actually, that sounds so stupid – KISS are coming so make an antipasto platter – more like throw down a kilo of raw meat and just tear into it!

Anyway, I didn’t and antipasto platter for dinner it was…Oh! and Vodka! I had lots of Vodka!

So go out, buy some awesome stuff like marinated octopus and fennel salami and spicy stuffed char grilled red peppers and delicious anchovies and well, just whatever you like and put on some loud music and have a blast…and a drink!

I know I did 🙂

Holidays are great!

Oink Balls are the bomb!

Pork  Meatballs

I love pork!

I re typed this first sentence so many times…first it was “I like a good pork”..then…”I could be porked every night and never get tired of it”…finally I came up with “my butcher gives good pork”…but it all sounded a bit crass so I will stick with “I love pork!”

I want to know one thing from bloggers out there…how many of you buy meat from a local butcher or market or wholesaler and how many of you buy meat from the supermarket? I don’t think I’m a food snob (actually, maybe I am) but I just don’t see how anyone can justify buying meat from the supermarket in those awful cling wrapped containers.

I guess I love shopping for food and don’t mind spending my Saturday driving from place to place in order to purchase my favourite food items from my favourite places. If I have to drive half an hour just to buy my favourite cheese, I will. I’m busy just like everyone else  but Saturday is my food day, unless I’m on school holidays, then everyday is a food day with one trip out to a winery with friends guaranteed.

Get to know your butcher people! Don’t give more money to those fuckers at the stupidmarket! Coles and Woolworths bloody brands everywhere forcing people to buy their shitty products…so tired of it!!!

If someone can tell me where I can buy toilet paper and cleaning products without having to go into a supermarket, please tell me, and don’t say bloody COSTCO because I’m not giving them my money either!

OK! On a lighter note…

I love my butcher and he minced up some wonderful pork, veal, chicken and beef for me this morning and this made me soooooo happy! Did I mention that I love my butcher?

I used the pork mince to make these tasty meatballs tonight and they were so…well…tasty! With herbes from the garden and a little bit of mashed potato and mustard in the pork balls and cooked in a fresh tomato, onion and garlic sauce, I was feeling pretty self righteous!

A great meal with not one cent of my hard earned money going to these horrible stupidmarkets!

Eat well and fight on!

 

Nothing Special!

Steak with fried Gnocchi

A lot of people post about great food they have had at a great place or about something new they have tried at home and don’t get me wrong, I do that too.

But tonight I’m too stuffed to be fancy. Last nights’ Parent/Teacher Interviews did me in. Having a 70th birthday party to go to straight after this talk fest with parents that finished at 7pm didn’t help. Today I dragged my arse into work looking haggard and after having spoken to 70 parents was not in a talkative mood…difficult when you are a teacher… apparently communication is a key part of my job!

I wanted to be curled up on my couch in my pjs watching the hail come down but I was teaching my Year 7 English class…well, not really teaching as every single kid had their faces plastered to the window watching the hail storm…not much teaching going on. I had no interest in the storm and so just sat in my not too comfy chair and thought about my dinner…steak, fried gnocchi and creamy mustard stuff poured over the top!

I love gnocchi done this way and I like my steak rare and usually like it cooked on a grill but tonight I wanted it just like my mother used to make – fried in a pan on high heat in loads of wonderful butter. My work here is done!

Later tonight I’m going to brew me some strong coffee and finish off that cake I brought home for myself from the birthday party last night – a sponge cake soused in frangelico, filled with nutella and topped with icing sugar – life is much better now!

Lighten Up! We’re having Lamb!

Lamb

Not an exciting or witty post.

I have to speak to many parents tomorrow for Parent/Teacher Interviews and this sets me up for a night before gloomy mood. Time to down some wine and eat some serious meat and not much else. Need to bring out the animal in me in order to steal myself for a 7 hr stint of speaking to parents about their precious teenagers. Maybe lamb wasn’t the best option as unleashing the little lamb in me is hardly going to enhance my reputation of being one tough mother but wild wolf or grizzly just wasn’t an option…also we had beef on Sunday night.

I wonder how much the kids have said about me at home – not much I’m guessing as I still have my job!

Teenagers are great! They are starting to understand sarcasm and if they didn’t at the beginning of the year, they are experts by the end after having me as their teacher! They learn about grammar and persuasive writing but they also get great lessons in how to ‘read the signs’ – which they now know means “look at my face! Do I look like I’m in the mood?”

They are pretty awesome really and they rarely do much to really annoy me – that wonderful prize usually goes to other teachers! I tried to convince some colleagues yesterday that I really was quite a friendly person but they all laughed!

So, back to getting myself ready for tomorrow. I have my kicker boots ready and my black eye liner pencil has been sharpened. Yep! I’m ready. My belly full of wonderful lamb is just a bonus! Remember that I marinate my meat before it goes into the freezer? Well, that just made it even more wonderful!

Quickly seared in a pan and popped into the oven for another 10 mins was all that was needed. I just sliced and dipped the slices in the pan juices and ate it from the pan. Classy I know! The rest of the family ate in a more civilised manner with salad and veg but not me! Crusty bread and meat and I was in heaven!

I promise to be nice tomorrow but I have been known to lie on occasion.

 

 

Bring on the Bourguignon Baby!

Beef Bourguignon

I love to say ‘Boof Bourguignon’ a lot! I also love to make it and of course almost dive face first into it, if I didn’t care much to layers of my face peeling off in the process. I also enjoy watching the TV show ‘Food Safari’ although I never remember when it’s on so watch an episode every now and then online. It took me a long time to stop being annoyed with Maeve O’Meara’s “that’s yum/yummy” and “mmmmm’s” … I used my skill as a secondary school teacher to tune out the things I don’t want to hear and tune in to what I do…great skill to have let me tell you!

My favourite episode is the French one, where beef bourguignon is made. Maeve loved the dish “her knees were weak” and now I like her (although she is no Nigella – I love her – she’s my girl crush!). Beef Bourguignon sounds fancy but is not and making stews and casseroles is something I do often in Winter. It’s what I love about the Winter months. Looking back over these Winter months, I have realised that I haven’t made this classic dish and haven’t made any mashed potato at all!

WTF!!!

I haven’t made Shepard’s Pie either come to think of it. Something is definitely amiss here. Must make a mental note that while Spring is here, the weather is still cool enough to make it…who am I kidding? I live in Melbourne there will be plenty of opportunities to make it! Such is the magic of Melbourne weather…”if you don’t like the weather in Melbourne, wait a minute!”

Back to Beef Bourguignon! It has been so cold, wet and windy this past week that I have been going to bed every night with this on my mind (no, there is nothing wrong with my relationship, but I do think about food – a lot!) and decided that Sunday was going to be a Beef Bourguignon dinner…and of course in true Melbourne style, it’s a beautiful day!

Don’t care! I’m making it!

Beef Bourguignon, mashed potato with so much butter I may keel over right after eating it, but what a way to go and great bread for mopping up!

This is the Food Safari recipe…love the carrot puree to thicken and sweeten the bourguignon.

Bon Appetit!

Ingredients

1kg beef, cut into large chunks
300g speck, cubed
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 carrots, peeled, halved and sliced
2 celery sticks- leaves intact, halved then sliced
1 leek, halved and sliced
1 onion, peeled and chopped
5 shallots – halved
10 sprigs of thyme
bay leaves 
1 bunch of parsley
½ litre red wine, brought to the boil and simmered to remove acidity
Salt & pepper to taste
300g button mushrooms

Carrot Puree
5 carrots, peeled and chopped

Mashed Potatoes
6 large desiree potatoes, skin on
100g butter
200ml milk

Sourdough bread – to serve

Method

Heat oil in a pan over med-high heat.

Seal the beef in batches until golden brown then drain and set aside – reserve the oil.

Repeat until all beef is sealed – reserve oil.

Using the same pan and oil as the beef, add all vegetables except the mushrooms and cook for 5-8 minutes.

Place meat in a large casserole dish, top with the vegetables, bay leaves, thyme and speck. Stir to combine.

Pour red wine over the beef and vegetables, season with salt and pepper and cover with lid.

Place on the stove and bring to the boil, then reduce heat to very low and cook for 40 minutes.

While the bourguignon is cooking prepare the carrot puree and mash below.

Just before serving, add the carrot puree and mushrooms, stir through and cook for a further 10 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Serve with mashed potatoes and bread.

Carrot puree
Add chopped carrots to a pot, cover with cold water and bring to the boil.

Add salt and cook until just soft.

Pass through tamis, fine sieve or hand blender.

Mashed potato
Place whole unpeeled potatoes into a pot of cold water.

Bring to the boil and add salt.

Cook until soft.

Peel while still hot.

Pass through a tamis, fine sieve or use a fork.

Heat milk in a saucepan until warm.

While the milk is heating, return the mashed potatoes to their pot and stir over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes to remove excess water (this will also add air to the potatoes and make them more light and fluffy).

Add warm milk in small amounts and stir in the butter – mix until combined.

Place cling wrap on top of the potatoes and set aside until ready to serve.

Bougatsa sounds like a swear word!

Bougatsa (Greek Semolina Custard in Phyllo Pastry)

A lot of Greek words sound like swear words and that’s probably why I have a Greek background and not a French one! I love to use certain Greek words toward certain people to make them think I’m swearing at them when in fact I’m not…plays with their mind! Mean? Probably! Fun? Totally!

‘Bougatsa’ is one such word. Although I don’t recall ever having called someone a ‘bougatsa’ but it sounds so good I just might have to…of course it’s the Greek swear words that I teach all my friends. My Greek is not perfect but my swear words are awesome!

Bougatsa is different to the Greek sweet ‘Galaktobouriko’…it’s the street version. You can buy these from little Greek men and women who sell them fresh on the side of the road and eat them while you walk. They are wrapped in pastry and are not drowned in sugar syrup. Don’t get me wrong, I do love a good drowning in sugar syrup but that sweet is time consuming to make and you have to make a huge tray of it otherwise it’s not worth making. When you buy Galaktobouriko, you need to sit down and have a coffee and lounge for hours (not a bad idea either).

This is much simpler. Doesn’t take long at all to make and it’s one of the few times I use phyllo pastry. Taste sensation and fun with words!

Ingredients

  • 4 1/4 cups of whole milk
  • sliced peel of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/4 cups of granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup of semolina
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 12 sheets of commercial phyllo dough
  • 6 ounces of butter, melted

Method

Warm the milk and lemon peel in a saucepan. Stir in semolina with a wooden spoon until the mixture is thoroughly blended and thickened. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla until light and add to the pan, stirring over medium-low heat until it reaches a creamy custard consistency. Remove from heat, take out and discard lemon peel, and allow to cool completely. Stir occasionally to keep the custard from forming a skin on top.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Lightly brush a baking pan (13 X 9 X 2 or equivalent) with butter. Line the bottom of the pan with 8 sheets of phyllo, brushing each sheet well with the melted butter. Add the custard filling. Fold the excess phyllo that overlaps the pan in over the custard. Top with the remaining phyllo, brushing each with butter. Use a scissors to trim the top sheets to the size of the pan. Spray the top lightly with water and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Remove from oven, sprinkle with icing sugar and cinnamon while hot, and serve warm.

 

Strike! Strike! Strike!

Chinese fried eggs

Victorian teachers are on strike today – second strike in 3 months with another planned before the year is out. Our State Government is run by a clown..a really sad, ridiculous looking clown not your funny, make people laugh type of clown. I now understand why so many people are scared of clowns and don’t like them at all!

Victorian teachers are afraid of this clown. If he gets his way our schools will be worse off than they already are – and that’s a pretty bad way anyway. With all levels of Government taking away money for government run schools and handing it to private schools in order to upgrade their tennis courts and swimming pools, I am left working out of portable classrooms and hoping that I won’t freeze to death before the heating switches back on.

So, as I didn’t get to go to the rally today to protest and was house bound, I decided that my favourite breakfast was in order. Not only is this my favourite food, if teachers continue to be paid as poorly as they are, eggs just might be the only thing I will be able to afford to eat from now on. Of course that is if I switch to low quality eggs that don’t really taste like eggs but more like the greyish carton they come in!

Lucky for me I know how to cook eggs in many different ways. Lucky for me I had spring onions, coriander, chilli and oyster sauce on hand to make these eggs as special as they are. Lucky for me strike money won’t be deducted from my pay until next pay day which means I can still afford a few luxuries.

If you have never tried eggs this way, make sure you do ASAP – I usually make this with steamed rice and place the eggs on top which makes a full meal for lunch or dinner but as it was only 10am I left out the rice and had them on there own. Just as wonderful.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 large free-range eggs
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • small pinch ground white pepper
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
  • bunch coriander
  • 1-2 red bird’s eye chillies, finely sliced

Method

Heat oil in a hot wok until the surface seems to shimmer slightly.
Crack the eggs into a small bowl, then pour into the hot oil.
After 2 minutes, reduce heat to allow the bottom of the eggs to become firm and crisp.
The yolks should still be runny at this point.
Carefully slide a fish slice under the eggs, lift out of wok and pour off oil.
Return eggs to wok and place back over the heat for another 1-2 minutes to crisp further.
Gently remove eggs from wok and drain off any excess oil before easing onto a plate.
Drizzle eggs with oyster sauce and garnish with pepper, spring onions, coriander and chillies.

I love the lady who brings me soup!

Chicken and Sweet Corn soup

My daughter loves chicken and sweet corn soup. However, where she got the idea that supermarket country something or other was real soup I have no idea! It certainly did not come from me! Anyway she buys it all the time and stinks out the whole house with this vomitous stuff.

Finally I had enough and banned it from the house. That didn’t work! She sneaks it in and makes it when I’m not home but as the smell of that stuff lingers (I can smell it when I pull up in my drive way) I know that it’s here.

So, there’s a lovely lady at work who made a pot of her home made chicken and sweet corn soup for one of our morning teas at work about a month ago. It was a cold day and the group making morning tea for the staff decided we should have different pots of soup and bread rolls. Awesome idea (although people who have worked there for years will remember that it was my group who came up with the idea of pots of soup and crusty bread rolls…anyhow we shall let that one pass even though THAT was the BEST morning tea ever and raised the bar for the following groups!)

Yesterday this lovely lady brought in some of her wonderful soup for me to take home and show my daughter what it’s all about.

Yep, that worked, she loved it! This, however has created another problem and one that I cannot believe I failed to anticipate. I’m usually a lot quicker with these things. She now wants home made chicken and corn soup, exactly like this, from now on! As I didn’t make this and in fact have never made this, I’m going to have to have a few goes until I get the egg bit right.

Happy that I won’t be smelling that horrible bought stuff anymore but have been faced with that ‘careful what you wish for’ thingy!

Ingredients

  • 1L (4 cups) chicken consomme
  • 2 (about 200g each) single chicken breast fillets
  • 1 tbs light soy sauce
  • 2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tbs cornflour
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) water
  • 1 x 300g can corn kernels, rinsed, drained
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 6 spring onions, ends trimmed, thinly sliced diagonally
  • buch of coriander
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method

Place the consomme and chicken in a large saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Transfer chicken to a heatproof bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Finely shred.

Add the soy sauce and ginger to the consomme mixture. Place the cornflour in a small bowl and gradually stir in the water until smooth and combined. Gradually stir the cornflour mixture into the consomme mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes or until consomme thickens slightly. Add the chicken, corn and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes or until hot.

Use a fork to whisk the egg whites in a small bowl. Gradually pour the egg whites into the soup, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.

Cook for 2 minutes or until white ribbons swirl though the soup. Remove from heat.

Add the sesame oil and half the spring onions and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup among serving bowls and sprinkle with the remaining spring onions and coriander. Serve immediately.