Monday, 4 June 2012

Rel's Spicy Prawns

Rel's Spicy Prawns

Crispy, spicy and succulent, these fried prawns are popular.  It doesn't matter what they are served with, whether for an entree or as an accompaniment to a main course, these prawns are desirable.  They tend to be rationed out,  'How many have you had' we all ask each other.  Rel's Prawns are infamous among our family and friends.  Indeed, friends of friends have heard of Rel's Prawns.
I think it is the tasty simplicity, the firmness of texture and the easy manner in which they are prepared then served at the table that makes them so popular.  'Oh yes, Rel's Prawns' is a catch cry in our household.  Try them for yourself and see how easy and delicious they really are ...

Make sure your green prawns are with shell removed but tail still on and remove the vein.

Mix 1/2 cup cornflour with 1 teaspoon of Thai seasoning mix.
Coat the freshly washed prawns with the cornflour mixture.
Place on plate to rest for 10 minutes.

Chop 1 fresh red chilli and 10 grams fresh ginger.

Heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil in a griddle pan over med-high heat

Using a griddle or ridged pan helps to keep the prawns crisp as they are not resting in oil.
Cook the first side for approximately 2 minutes.

Turn over using tongs and add the chilli and ginger.
Fry for 1 - 2 minutes until crispy but tender and golden in colour.

Rel's Spicy Prawns

20 large green prawns, tail on, deveined
1/2 cup cornflour
1 large teaspoon Thai seasoning mix (readily available in the spice section at supermarket)
1/4 cup vegetable oil for frying
1 fresh red chilli, chopped
10 gram fresh ginger, chopped or finely sliced

Mix the cornflour and seasoning mix together in a bowl.  Wash the prawns and while still wet dip them into the cornflour and seasoning mix.  Coat and place on plate to rest for 10 minutes for the flavours to mingle.
Heat a griddle or ridged frying pan to medium heat.  Add vegetable oil and heat to medium-high.  Add prawns in a single layer.  Fry 2 minutes then turn over and add the chilli and ginger.  Fry for 1 - 2 more minutes then remove to an absorbent paper lined plate.  Serve sprinkled with fine rock salt, extra chilli if desired and some fresh coriander sprigs.


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Green Pickled Figs

Green Pickled Figs

When the warmth of the summer sun is waning and the autumn leaves are falling as red and yellow wisps to the ground, you know winter will soon be casting it's cooler fingers around.
The fig trees are semi-leaved yet laden with plenty of small green figs that are unlikely to ripen.  
It is a shame to waste these gorgeous offerings as figs are delicious, healthy and unique.
The solution is simple - to preserve them by pickling them.
Pickling ensures the greenest, hardest, smallest figs can become useful and tasty pantry additions.

View 1.  Hard, green figs picked on the last day of Autumn

Give them a rinse, removing any bad ones and let drain.

View 2.  Cider vinegar, green figs and raw sugar

View 3.  Green figs simmering in the cider vinegar and sugar mix with cloves + ginger

View 4.  See how the fig has softened

View 5.  Pack into a sterilised bottle

Green Pickled Figs

1 kilo hard green fresh figs
1 cup cider vinegar
350g raw sugar
1 teaspoon whole cloves     
15g slice fresh ginger

Rinse the figs and let them dry.
Bring the cider vinegar and raw sugar to a boil in  a large saucepan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
Turn down to a gentle simmer.  Tie into a piece of muslin the cloves and ginger then add these to the pot.
Gently pour in the figs, mix, place lid on and simmer for approx 1 - 11/2 hours on the lowest possible setting, stirring occasionally until the figs are soft.  Remove lid and let cool to a slightly warm temperature.
Sterilise your jars by placing in a cold oven then heating to 150 celsius.   Turn off heat, open door and let jars cool. Place lids into a jug of boiling water and leave 2 mins before removing them to cool.
Pour figs and liquid into cool jars, seal immediately, label and leave in pantry for 4 weeks before using.  
When opened, store jars in refrigerator.  

Green pickled figs are delicious as a compote, served alone or accompanied by ice cream or vanilla yoghurt.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

My Massamum Beef

My Massamum Beef

An authentic quick version for busy people

We love curries.  The rich delightful broth with many flavour nuances and a combination of meat with vegetables.  Massamum curry is a favourite and whilst it is acceptable to use the bottled varieties of curry paste, there is nothing better than making your own curry paste.   This paste keeps refrigerated for at least 6 months, mine is usually used in less than 2 months anyway.
It is a pleasure making your own curry paste.  The aromas of the spices frying is seconded only by the enjoyment of pureeing your own ingredients.  When your paste hits the hot oil it is a fragrant moment, one that ensures your family pops into the kitchen to ask what is for dinner.   

View 1.  The essential paste ingredients; lemongrass, cloves, black pepper, nutmeg, cumin, coriander,
              shrimp paste, cardamom, garlic and red onion.

View 2.  Fresh and dried red chillies.

View 3.  Over a low heat fry the dried spices until aromatic, about 3 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally.

View 4. Roughly chop the onions, garlic, red onion and put in a food processor to puree with the spices and shrimp paste.

View 5.  Have your onions and potatoes peeled, and beef diced.

View 6.  Over a high heat, add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil then quickly brown the meat in 2 batches.
              Remove from heat and let rest on a plate. 

View 7.  Heat up rest of vegetable oil and brown the onions and potato, then remove to the same plate.

View 8.  Put 2 heaped tablespoons curry paste into the pan and stir for 1 minute, then add coconut milk    
              and tamarind puree.  Boil for 10 minutes until slightly thickened without the lid.

View 9.  Return the meat, potatoes and onions to the pan, discarding the juice from resting the meat.
              Add bay leaves and brown sugar.  
              I used a pressure cooker, with lid on, bring to boiling point, lower heat and cook for 25 minutes.
     If you do not have a pressure cooker, simply turn your pan to low, with lid on and simmer for 1 1/2 hours

View 10.  Serve with boiled jasmine or long grain rice and enjoy!

My Massamum Beef

Curry Paste
20 black peppercorns
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon cloves
6 cardamom pods
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
7 dried red chillies, roughly chopped
3 fresh red chillies, roughly chopped
1 bulb garlic, skinned
1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
4 stalks lemongrass, tender part only, crushed and chopped 
2 tablespoons shrimp paste
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Fry the dried spices in a pan for about 3 - 4 minutes, until just roasted and fragrant.
Puree in a food processor, blender or mortar and pestle with all other ingredients until a fairly smooth paste is achieved.  You will need 2 heaped tablespoons for this recipe.  Store the remainder in a sterilised jar and pour a little vegetable oil on top, then store in refrigerator until required.  

Massamum Curry
1 kilo topside or rump steak, cut into 1 inch (2.5cam squares)
1/4 cup vegetable oil for frying
4 small white onions, peeled and left whole
4 baby potatoes, peeled and left whole
3 cups coconut milk
2 tablespoons tamarind puree with 1/4 cup water  (or 1/4 cup tamarind water)
3 bay leaves
3 tablespoons brown sugar

Heat oil in pan over a high heat, add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil then quickly brown the meat.  Remove and add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and brown remaining meat, remove to a plate.  Add potatoes and onions to brown as well, then remove to the same plate as the meat.  Add 2 heaped tablespoons massamum curry paste and stir for 1 - 2 minutes then add the coconut milk, water and tamarind.  Lightly boil for 10 minutes until the mixture is slightly thickened.  Add bay leaves, brown sugar, meat and vegetables. 
If using a pressure cooker, place on lid and boil until whistling.  Turn down heat to low and cook for 25 minutes.
If using a pan, bring to simmer, place on lid, drop to lowest temperature and cook for 1 - 1 1/2 hours until meat is tender.  Add more water if required.
Serve with boiled rice.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Making Crostoli - The Easy Way

Delicious Crostoli

Crostoli is a wonderfully light, fried Italian pastry.   Sprinkled generously with icing sugar - it really tastes as good as it looks. First introduced to Crostoli by my mother-in-law Mrs G who made it for special occasions, or to occupy a rainy day.  I have very fond memories of diantily nibbling on Crostoli whilst sipping an espresso or iced coffee with my extended family.  While it was often offered, and I was occasionally in residence when it was made I had never made this sweet treat.  When the good Mr and Mrs G first visited us in Sydney, after our second child was born I said that now we had been married for twelve years, perhaps she would be kind enough to share her secret Crostoli recipe.  'Don't you have it?' she replied 'oh, but of course, here it is'.  I still have her treasured hand written recipe in my favourite Italian cook book.

View 1. Crostoli dusted with icing sugar

Crostoli is not hard to make, but definitely easier with a pasta roller than with a rolling pin - my first attempt! Attach your pasta roller to the kitchen counter top.  I use a little wooden wedge between the bottom of the benchtop and the tightened screw arm to prevent any damage to the underside of the counter top. 

View 2. Pasta roller attached to the kitchen bench

View 3. Place the flours and sugar into a large mixing bowl

View 4. Add the eggs, vegetable oil and brandy.  Add the grated zest of one lemon.

View 5.  Mix together by hand, then knead until you have a firm dough ball

View 6.  Starting with the largest setting, roll dough balls, the size of golf balls through the pasta machine

View 7. Place the sheets of rolled dough onto a lightly floured surface. It is quicker to run the whole batch through on the largest setting, then reduce the machine thickness by two twists and run them all through again

View 8.  Keep adding plain flour as needed to keep the dough supple and not sticking to your work surface.  When all dough strips have been rolled through the thinnest setting, it is ready to cut into strips.

 View 9.  I use a fluted roller for a nice edge and twist 1 1/2 cm strips into rounds, bows or simply, strips

View 10.  Heat some vegetable oil, enough to deep fry in a large pan, fryer or wok to about 120 degrees celsius.  When you drop a bread cube in it should start sizzling gently,  immediately.
Gently drop in about 10 crostoli, fry for 1 minute then turn over and fry the underside for 30 seconds more

 When still pale but a light golden colour, remove with tongs and drain on kitchen paper.  The Crostoli will harden upon cooling.  If you are called away, cover the dough with a tea towel to keep moist.  When you have fried all of them, place some on a plate and sprinkle with sifted icing sugar.  Brew the coffee and enjoy!

 Only put icing sugar on servings as Crostoli will stay fresh in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks.

Mrs G's Crostoli

3 cups plain flour
2 cups self raising flour
1 cup sugar
6 large free-range eggs
1 small shot glass vegetable oil (50 ml)
1 small shot glass brandy (50 ml)
grated zest of 1 lemon

Mix flours and sugar together.  Add eggs, oil, brandy and lemon zest.  Mix to a soft dough and knead for 2 - 5 mins until pliable.   Divide into golf ball sized balls and flour your work surface.
Attach pasta maker to bench and turn to the thickest setting.  Run each small dough ball through and place on bench whilst you work on the next one.  Turn the pasta roller to the next setting and run each strip through again.  Keep flouring your bench.
Adjust the pasta maker to the next thinnest size and continue to run each strip through.  Cut the dough strips in half if getting too long to handle.  When they have gone through the thinnest, or even the second thinnest setting they are ready to be cut into strips.  Twist into bows, or loose round shapes or simply leave straight.
Heat vegetable oil for deep frying up to about 120 degrees, when a cube of bread dropped into the oil sizzles immediately then the oil is ready.  
Drop into the oil gently, 12 strips, fry for 1 minute then turn over and fry the other side for about 30 seconds or until a pale golden brown colour.  Remove with tongs and drain on paper towels.  Store in air tight containers when cool and serve dusted with icing sugar.

* For a variation, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with cinnamon instead of the icing sugar.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Red Roasted Chili Jam

With the abundance of peppers; Serrano, Cayenne, sweet Banana Peppers, Capsicums and unknown long red mild peppers, it is definitely the time to preserve some for winter.
Harissa is always a welcome standby, pureed chili is handy too, but we just love the warm and aromatic
Red Roasted Chili Jam that accompanies everything from crackers with cheese to a fine chicken schnitzel.
You can leave the seeds in but this will produce a very hot jam.  I take the seeds out and roughly chop the remaining ingredients one night, then puree and cook the mixture the following evening, ensuring this is a pleasure to make and not a chore.

View 1.  Chillies and capsicums seeds removed, onions, shallots, ginger and garlic peeled and chopped.

View 2. After preparation is complete, the vegetables are pureed with 1 cup of vegetable oil.  
You may need to do this is batches,  Puree until almost smooth.

View 3. In a large wok or saucepan add the mixture, stirring for about 10 minutes over low heat.

Add brown sugar then cook stirring often for another 10 minutes.  Then add tamarind paste and fish sauce,  cooking over a low heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 1 1/2 hours 
or until thick and dark red/brown in colour.

View 4. After cooking for 1 1/2 hours the mixture is thick and dark red/brown with a roasted flavour. 

View 5. Pour while hot into sterilised jars and bottle immediately.
This jam will keep for at least 2 years in the cupboard.  When opened, store in refrigerator.

Red Roasted Chili Jam

500g fresh long red hot chillies, deseeded
100g fresh mild red or green chillies, deseeded
2 red capsicums, quartered and deseeded
3 brown onions, quartered
10 golden shallots, peeled
10 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup vegetable oil
200g brown sugar
80g tamarind paste
80ml fish sauce

You are sure to enjoy this delightful accompaniment.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Summer's Bountiful Harvest

Beautiful Summer Produce

When Summer arrives so too does the fresh sun-ripened produce that is just delightful to behold and taste. Juicy, flavoursome vine fresh tomatoes bursting with goodness.  Especially those grown against a north facing brick wall.  The heat from both the sun and the warmth of the red bricks combine to ensure optimum  flavour.  We grow many varieties from San Marzano which are suitable for bottling to cherry tomatoes just perfect for lunch boxes, Tigerellas, Heirlooms and everyone's favourite, the Grosse Lisse. 

Lovely red peppers, long cayennes, bell peppers and capsicums all create an amazing burst of colour and pure enjoyment in picking them from their bushes.  Peppers are a vegetable we cannot grow over the coldest winter months so the pure delight when they burst forth is indescrible.
I make a gorgeous roasted red chilli jam which I will post on a later date.  Making this from the wonderfully hot peppers is a pleasure and we relish the jam throughout the course of the calendar year.

With the long days of summer come my very favourite fruit - figs.  Fresh figs, opening on the tree with their ripeness is a gift.  The wonderfully heady sweet scent of the tree and the sublime flavour of the figs is what epitomises Summer to me.  They fruit for about four months, slowly ripening in a long and delightful season.
Fresh, roasted with blue vein cheese and balsamic, fig jam, semi dried or fully dried figs to keep for baking, figs are bliss, even better than the juicy peaches which abundantly riped in January and February.  Peaches too are a perfect summer explosion, peach tart, peach melba - clafoutis or simply, fresh peaches are a treat.