The Best Mulled White Wine Ever


Who needs red wine? Mulled white wine is where it’s at.

Ingredients

1 bottle of cheap (but not nasty) white wine
1 litre cloudy apple juice
1 large granny smith apple, cored and sliced thickly
1 large pear, cored and sliced thickly
6 fresh figs, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
6 cloves
6 cardamom pods

Method

1. Chuck everything into a large pot.
2. Simmer on super low heat for about 30 minutes.
3. Pour into glasses using a soup ladle and drink away those winter chills.
4. When you get to the end and have more fruit than mulled wine, strain and put in a smaller pot.

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Blue cheese sauce

I’m Australian. I know fuck all about blue cheese sauce. But this is one I cobbled together after scouring the Internet and putting together what tastes good.

Please bear in mind this recipe makes fuckloads. I love this sauce. Halve or quarter the recipe if you do not want gallons and gallons of this delicious sauce (what is wrong with you).


Ingredients

300mL sour cream
300mL pouring cream
200mL buttermilk (you are probably using the rest for something like deep fried pickles)
100g blue cheese
1 tbs mild German mustard
1 tbs Cholula hot sauce (use Cholula. Trust me on this)

Method

1. Dump it all in a saucepan.
2. Put the saucepan on low.
3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Stir occasionally until you have the best sauce imaginable.

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Umami Bombs

I used to be a food purist. I would never use pre-made sauces or stocks in my cooking. It all had to come from the meat, vegetables, or grains I was cooking. If it didn’t, I just added more salt.

But then I discovered umami bombs.

I discovered it largely through an American food website called Serious Eats, particularly The Food Lab. I first started following them because of their dedication to determining recipes for the best of the best of junk food. Then I discovered the Managing Director, J.Kenji Lopez-Alt and his dedication to boosting umami in his All-American dishes. This recipe helps illustrate what I’m talking about. I thought there was a whole post talking about umami, but Google is coming up with nothing.

What is umami? No one fucking knows. No one. Alright, maybe it’s glutamate, which is an amino acid, but it’s more than that. People say it’s savoury, but it’s more than just that. It’s that combination of salty-sour-sweet-tiny-bit-bitter-wait-is-that-a-bit-off-check-the-use-by-date. It just makes everything better.

Anyway. To my ‘umami bombs’.


Pictured are my go-to umami flavours. I will try to describe how best to use them, but remember there are really only two rules, in my book:

1. Use your own instinct and, most importantly, sense of taste.

2. You must wait.

The second point is just as important as the first. You cannot rush umami (unless you are cooking Asian food, then, by all means, go nuts). If you are cooking Western style stews, soups, and braises, you must wait for the umami to develop. You can’t rush it, or you’ll end up with a beef stew that tastes mainly of soy sauce. Or worse, Vegemite.

Anyway! In order of (my) preference:

German mustard: It says it’s hot, but it’s not hot. American mustard is a good substitute. It’s got the sourness and saltiness a number of dishes need, without the in-your-faceness of fish sauce or Vegemite. I use it in vegetarian stews and in fish chowder. Use it where a light touch is needed.

Soy sauce: This is mainly salty with a touch of bitterness. It’s useful for all meats, except creamy fish dishes, but definitely use it in robust fish and vegetable dishes that use tomatoes.

Vegemite: I use with all dark meats, especially kangaroo. I have also used it in my Tofurkey recipe, to give the tofu a more meaty flavour. Beware – I believe using Vegemite in my Tofurkey was a gateway drug to using umami bombs.

Fish sauce: But not just any fish sauce, Red Boat brand fish sauce. It comes from Phú Quôc Island in Vietnam, where, I have heard, the anchovy fish are put in a barrel, fresh, with a heap of salt, and nothing else, and just left to ferment. The sauce is the liquid that comes out of the funnel at the bottom of the barrel. Apparently other fish sauces are not as pure. Use it sparingly, when your dish needs a big kick in the pants, like a hearty beef stew or the like.

I don’t think I’ve ever used one type of umami alone. All of my dishes use a combination of two or three, four if I’m feeling lucky. I usually start with mustard or soy sauce and build from there. It’s not like adding salt. There are layers. It’s almost an art form.

Also, remember to season with salt and pepper well after your umami has been built. Don’t do it at the same time, or it will be too overpowering.

There you have it. Go forth and make flavourful dishes!

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Savoury ‘protein’ muffins


I’m not actually sure of the amount of protein per muffin, only that they have a lot of protein-y ingredients. I put this together as a breakfast food I could grab out of the freezer of a morning and pop the microwave at work. I also accidentally found it they are popular with 18 month olds who refuse to eat their dinner.

Makes 12 large muffins.


Preheat your oven to 180C

Ingredients

3 cups of self raising flour
2 teaspoons of salt
6 eggs
1 cup plain yoghurt
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup quinoa, cooked
2 cups kale, finely chopped
200g feta, crumbled

Method

1. Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl, and make a well in the centre.
2. In the well, crack in the eggs, and add the milk and yoghurt. Mix until just combined. It will be a wet mix. That’s a good thing.
3. Mix in the kale, quinoa, and feta.
4. Line two 6 cup muffin trays with baking paper.
5. Distribute the batter evenly between the cups of the muffon tray, filling each to about 4/5 full.
6. Bake in the middle rack of the oven for about 25 minutes, testing with a skewer. Remember when testing that the feta cheese might coat your skewer and look like uncooked muffin batter. Use your eyes and your noggin to determine whether they are cooked enough. If in doubt, just cut one open. You can always put it back in the tray if it isn’t cooked through.


The muffins will be dense, thanks to the quinoa and number of eggs used. They should come out very moist, but not sticky in the middle. 

If freezing, I recommend using resealable sandwich bags.

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Muffins!

This is my basic muffin base. I will try to separate it out into both savoury and sweet, without being too confusing, but don’t count on it. 
  
Ingredients

Base

  • 2 1/2 cups of self raising flour
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 25g melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 2 eggs, beaten

For sweet muffins

  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup plain yoghurt
  • About 400g of filling (such as 200g chopped strawberries and 200g white choc chips)

For savoury muffins

  • 2 good pinches of salt (or probably about a teaspoon)
  • 1/2 cup of yoghurt OR 1 tablespoon of mustard mixed into milk
  • About 300-400g filling (such as 100g bacon, 150g feta, and 50g kale)

The acidity in the recipe is important. The acid in the yoghurt or mustard reacts with the bicarbonate in the flour and helps the heavy batter rise. Without it, you’ll end up with a flat dense round thing, and not a muffin.

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to about 190C (my oven sucks, though, so if this sounds too high for yours, try 170-180C).
  • Mix the dry ingredients together, the dump the wet straight on top. Mix well.
  • Mix in your filling.
  • Grease and line a 6 cup muffin tray with baking paper.
  • Bake for about 25-30 mins. Test with a skewer before removing from the oven. If the tops are getting too brown and the middle is still wet, cover with foil.
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Finally, my Tofurkey recipe

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I have been threatening to post this recipe for about 3 years now. Christmas comes, I start making tofurkeys for the vegetarians in my family, people ask for the recipe, and I say, “Absolutely, I’ll blog it later!”, then promptly forget. Repeat. I have finally remembered. Hooray.

This recipe is for individual serve-sized tofurkeys, rather than one large one. I find they are easier to cook, serve, store, and reheat that way.

Ingredients

700g firm tofu
About half a loaf of stale sourdough bread (you can use whatever bread you like, but I usually use the leftovers of sourdough loaves that have gone stale before they can be finished).
Parsley, 1/2 cup, finely chopped
Sage, 1/4 cup, finely chopped
Rosemary, 1/4 cup, finely chopped
Thyme (for no other reason than they are in a song), 1/4 cup, finely chopped
100g butter or vegan spread
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tbs vegemite
2 cups of hot water in two separate containers

Method

For the stuffing

1. Process the bread in a food processor or blender, until you get bread crumbs.

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2. Melt the butter or vegan spread in a large pan. Fry one half of the herbs, and the garlic and onion on medium heat, until the onion is translucent. Add the breadcrumbs to the pan.

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3. Fry the breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly with the herbs and onion. Turn off the heat and start to add hot water to the pan. You want enough water so that the mixture will stick together, but not enough so that it become a soggy mess. Season VERY well. Stuffing is supposed to be salty.

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4. Set aside to cool while you prepare the tofu.

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For the tofu

1. Crumbled the tofu into a food processor.
2. Add the tablespoon of vegemite to one of the cups of hot water and stir until dissolved.
3. Add the remaining half of all of the chopped herbs.
4. Add about a quarter of the vegemite stock and a quarter of the plain water and process. Taste the result. You are looking for a smooth, but firm, paste, with a bit of body to it, not overpowering vegemite flavour. Keep adding vegemite stock and water until you get the right consistency and flavour.

Processing tofurkey
5. Line a 6 cup muffin tin with baking paper.
6. Fill each cup with tofu mixture to about 2/3 way. Form a well in the centre, so that the tofu comes up the sides. Don’t use all of it, because you will need enough leftover to cover the top of your tofurkeys. The ‘top’ needs to be thick enough to form a base.

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7. Put about a tablespoon or so of the stuffing mixture into the well of the tofu.

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8. Cover the stuffing with the remaining tofu. Leave no gaps, as it will fall apart when you try to remove it from the tin.

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9. Brush the tops of the tofurkeys wit olive oil and bake for 20 minutes, or until brown on top.

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10. Serve as is, or store in the refrigerator until Christmas Day and reheat for 15 mins in the oven, so that the tops are browned. If storing for longer, freeze and defrost in the fridge when required.

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Vegan Wednesday: Kale and Cashew Pesto (on pasta)

Kale and cashew pesto

I have decided that our household should have Vegan Wednesdays. Vegan because I firmly believe that Western societies should eat far less meat than they do, and Wednesdays because there are no whinging children here on Wednesdays to complain about it.

I love kale. Absolutely love the shit out of it. People say it’s a hipster food. I try to tell them I was into eating it before the hipsters were and they laugh at me. No idea why.

Ingredients

A bunch of kale (I don’t know how much was in my bunch. I just get it delivered to me as a bunch)
75g roasted unsalted cashews (It was a 100g tub, but I ate some)
2/3 cup olive oil (maybe)
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped roughly
Salt and pepper to taste

To serve: 250g fettuccine, juice of half a lemon

Method

1. Peel the kale leaves off the ribs and rip them into large chunks.
2. Place the kale leaves in a food processor with the cashews, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
3. Pulse the food processor until the pesto is very smooth. Taste the pesto and adjust the olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.
4. If not using straight away, spoon into a sterilised jar and store in the fridge. Use within a week. Chuck it out if it grows mould smells bad.

With pasta

4. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling water, according to instructions.
5. When the pasta is almost done, fry off 2-3 big spoonfuls of pesto in a large frypan. Don’t overcook it, or the kale will use its flavour.

Frying off kale and cashew pesto

6. Turn the heat off the pesto and spoon the cooked pasta straight from the saucepan and into the frying pan. You want it to bring some of the starchy pasta water into the frying pan. It will thicken the consistency of the pesto to make it sauce-like.

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7. Squeeze lemon juice over the pasta and serve.

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