Rice Cooker Khichdi

I have become an incompetent speller: I can’t spell “khichdi” without first googling it, and then copying and pasting the spelling. Brain, wherefore art thou? Grad school, what have you done to me?

In times of desperation, I make this.

So far, I’ve made khichdi about 4 times this week. I make this only because a) it’s delicious and b) it’s laughably simple. Mrs Y. should credit me for my stroke of ingenuity.

Rice cooker Khichdi (one serving)

1/4 cup yellow dal/mansoor dal
1/4 cup rice
2 cups water (add more if needed)
Salt to taste
1 tsp Ground cumin
1 tsp Ground coriander powder
1/2 tsp Paprika
Handful of frozen vegetables

  1. Soak dal for 30 minutes before cooking
  2. Put rice, dal and 1.5 cups water in rice cooker
  3. Check the consistency after 10 minutes
  4. Towards the end of cooking, add in 0.5 cup more water. Add more for a dilute consistency.
  5. Add in the spices and frozen vegetables
  6. Let it sit for 5 minutes in “keep warm” mode.

The vegetables should cook quite quickly in the heat of the rice cooker. I typically use frozen broccoli or cauliflower, but feel free to add whatever you please.

Cheap, ridiculously easy – and healthy! –  food. Trust me, if a hapless grad student is capable of this, you can too!

Salmon fish stock

Let’s travel back in time to that post a while ago, on salmon heads and how I was so happy I could get them for free from the market.

I’m still enjoying the benefits of those salmon heads. Weeks and weeks later. Gross, you say? Not at all, my dear friend.

We made a simple stock from the bones which we have been enjoying ever since, mainly in the form of soupy noodles (and also one day I made rice porridge using the leftovers). We’ve actually done this twice recently, but I keep neglecting to post it because I keep forgetting the recipe for the stock. Which tastes a little different each time. But this is the basic outline, so here goes.

No pictures by the way, unless you really want to see my slow cooker getting all crusty overnight (do you really??)

Salmon fish stock

One salmon frame, chopped into bits
1 large red onion, chopped
2 medium sized carrots, chopped
1 tablesp whole black pepper
Salt to taste

Water to fill up the slow cooker

A slow cooker

  1. Put everything in the slow cooker and leave it on overnight. Taste and salt as needed.
  2. After at least 8 hours, strain the liquid to remove the extra large parts. Crush anything that can be crushed through the sieve.

That’s it! 🙂

Lamb and Carrot Ragu

Not as hard as it seems. Really, I was surprised at how tasty it was considering I made it, and I’m bad at meat.

Lamb and Carrot Ragu

Lamb and Carrot Ragu

Inspired by a brunch I had somewhere in North Melbourne, but the recipe is mine

4 pieces round lamb bone chops – it has to be something with a bit of bone in it
8 tomatoes, chopped
2 carrots, diced small
1 red onion, chopped
5-7 cloves garlic, chopped
1.5 tablesp tomato paste
1 tablesp balsamic vinegar
1/2 teasp cumin seeds
3 bay leaves
1/2 teasp black pepper
Salt and sugar to taste

A pressure cooker

  1. Brown onion and garlic in some oil. Add the cumin seeds.
  2. While while that’s browning, chop the carrots. Then add the carrots.
  3. Same for the tomato – while the carrot browns, chop the tomato. Then add the tomato and a little salt.
  4. Mix it around and then close the pressure cooker lid. Pressure cook on high for around 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Clean the excess fat off the lamb. Open the pressure cooker (quick release), then add the lamb, tomato paste, black pepper, balsamic vinegar, and bay leaves.
  6. Close the pressure cooker, and cook on high for around an hour.
  7. Open the pressure cooker (quick release), then boil off the excess water until the sauce thickens. Taste and adjust the salt and sugar as needed.
  8. Serve over some small size pasta 🙂

Attempts to find tasty cheaper pesto: rocket hazelnut garlic pesto

I really like pesto but let’s be honest, I can’t really stomach paying a lot for a huge bunch of basil + pine nuts on a regular basis. For something like seafood, perhaps I would be more willing to pay. But not really for a herb and a nut, no matter how nice they are.

Hence the search was on to create a tasty pesto which doesn’t break the bank. Enter rocket.

Hazelnuts were substituted for the pine nuts, though I’m sure almonds and walnuts would be nice too, depending on what you can get cheaply at the time.

Cheese was removed because.. err well I ran out that day. You can put the cheese back in if you like but it masks the flavour of the garlic and hazelnuts a bit. Also depending on where you live, it might be costly too. Shavings of parmesan would probably be appreciated though.

Maybe my point is just that you can sub out basil for any green, and pine nuts for any nut, and cheese for something a bit pungent like garlic.

Or maybe I have no point and I just like garlic. That might be it too 🙂

Pretty green

Rocket hazelnut garlic pesto

Inspired by a pasta sauce a friend had at Crown Melbourne. Credit to the Kitchn for the idea of using rocket. 

A handful of hazelnuts, toasted
4-5 cloves of garlic
A big bunch of rocket
Salt, pepper, and chilli flakes to taste.

  1. Blend the garlic and hazelnut into chunks.
  2. Fry the garlic-hazelnut mix with a little salt in some olive oil until the garlic is fragrant.
  3. Return the contents of the pan (including oil) to the blender and blend in the rocket. If the mixture is a little dry, add more olive oil.
  4. Taste, add salt, pepper and chilli flakes as needed.

Things I never thought I’d do: homemade museli

Never in my life did I think I’d ever bother making home made muesli. I don’t even like muesli, usually. Toasted is okay.

But this one day I ran out of breakfast cereal and gave it a go (having too much free time on my hands on that particular, unusual day. Let me say this is not a regular occurance). From that point it sort of escalated out of control and I have decided that the best way to manage the process is to just teach other people how to make their own muesli so I don’t have to do it.

My mother in particular (who doesn’t even cook, ever!) made approx 2 kilos of toasted trail mix using this method and proceeded to eat them in a week. She said it was okay because I said it was healthy (and by healthy, I meant low sugar/salt + copious amounts of oats…all of which I suspect were disregarded).

With less sugar, low salt, and much more oats (!) I guess it is pretty healthy. And not thaat hard.

Anyway, so here we go. Learn because I will only make it for you once. Or twice if you ask nicely. Or if you are planning to pay me.

*sniff* I feel so pro

Homemade toasted muesli

Adapted from various other sources on the web – there were quite a number, but special mention to the first one I found on My New Roots which provided inspiration. 

The proportions of everything are pretty fluid so change as you will. The picture above had hazelnuts, cinnamon, figs, and coconut mixed in.

2 cups rolled oats
2 tablesp honey
2 tablesp olive oil
A pinch of salt (optional)

A handful of nuts – I’ve tried hazelnut, almond, and macadamia so far.

A teaspoon of spice – I like cinnamon but anything goes. Ginger might be nice.

A handful of mix ins – I’ve tried desiccated coconut, raisins, dates, and figs to date.

Oven temperature: around 180 degrees

  1. Pour the honey into a large flat dish and melt in the oven while it is heating up. Once runny, remove from the oven and mix in the oil. If your honey is already runny then you can probably omit this step.
  2. Pour in the oats, salt, nuts, and spices and mix until well combined.
  3. Now you start your toasting: depending on how fast the mixture browns, I start by toasting it for 15 minutes and removing it to stir. I then toast for another 5-10 minutes and stir. For a large bowl you might do 15 minutes +2x 5-10 minutes
  4. Once the oats are nice and golden all over, throw in the mix ins. These go in late because they can dry out or burn easily. Stir in and toast for another 5 minutes.
  5. Wait until it cools thoroughly before storing in an airtight container.

Cheesy Muffins with Balsamic Onions

Looks good yes? Nice pictures for once? I cleverly lost the recipe for these. Very well done, Lea.

Finally figured out how they do those paper wrappers

Ready to bake
Can you smell the cheesiness

I do this a lot, and recipe loss is probably the primary reason why I blog. This is the reason why I can write so much rubbish online – since I’m technically blogging to prevent recipe loss and don’t expect readers, any readers that do read are a bonus. Hence, I can write whatever garble I choose.

But, I had these pretty pictures and thought perhaps it might serve to remind myself to finally go look for the recipe again one of these days.

Will update when I find it.


Mussels! I can make mussels!

I love seafood. I eat pescetarian most of the time. This is not because I’m the type of person that names all their animal friends and talks to them all the time (I am, in fact, that person – one day this will probably cause me much mental torment). It is, simply, because I like the taste of seafood much better than all other types of meat, barring specific dishes. For example, oxtail stew, lamb ragu, chicken rice, and loh mai kai. 

Mussels!!

Most of all, I love all the things that live in shells. To eat, I mean. Not just the clammy types, but prawns, scallops, shellfish, crayfish, crab *swoon*, and all the rest of them. Of course, mussels, clams, lala, oysters, and those swirly looking things in twisty shells are part of this list.

First time I ever cooked fennel

And when I realised mussels only cost $4 for 800g at the market, my reaction was predictable. Despite the fact that I don’t know how to cook mussels.  These things make me far too excited.

In honour of my favourite mussels from Brussels, I had no choice but to learn. Shock and horror, it was pretty easy to do well. Mussels are going to become my staple dinner treat. Vongole, here I come!

Now I just need a pretty pot for them

Mussels with Garlic, Fennel and Parsley

After much internetting, I realised that you can pretty much put anything in mussels providing you steam by adding at least 1/4 inch of liquid on the bottom of the pot, and closing the lid tightly until the mussels are steamed. This is a bit of an ad-libbed recipe, based on looking at roughly 500 other mussel recipes. 

800g mussels
1 onion, sliced into rings
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 baby fennel, sliced into strips
~1 cup water
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt & pepper to taste

Yield: 2 servings as a main + 2 servings the next day as a side

  1. Assuming your mussels aren’t pre-cleaned – first thing when you start, dump them in very very salty cool water on your countertop and leave them there while you prep / chop everything else, for at least 15 – 20 minutes.
    • This is to make them expel the sand they are holding on to. They are alive, and when in salt water will open up and spew out all their sand.
  2. While waiting for your mussels to expel sand, put your stock on the stove in a pot:
    • Fry the garlic until light golden, then add the onion. Lower the heat and keep going until they turn transparant.
    • Add the salt and sliced fennel. Keep cooking, the fennel might get a little charred at the edges – that’s fine.
    • Once your fennel is cooked, add the water and lemon juice. Cover the lid and let it stew until you are done with the mussels. If needed, you can add a bit more water – but let it boil down to about 1/4 inch depth from the bottom of the pan before you put the mussels in. The longer you do this for, the better it will taste. Don’t worry if it’s a bit bland now, the mussels will make it approximately 1,000,000 times tastier.
  3. The not-fun part: now that your mussels expelled all their sand, you need to clean the shells and debeard them. Do this over the sink.
    • To debeard: find the hairy weird bits poking out of the shell, and pull them all off. You might need a knife. You don’t want hairs that look like they came from someone’s armpit floating in your steamed mussels.
    • To clean: scrub hard with a dish scrubber / steel wool until the shells look clean. You may need to chip off some especially stubborn bits with a knife.
  4. You’re ready to cook your mussels! Make sure you have the right amount of liquid (about 1/4 inch depth). If not, add water / boil off. Make sure the liquid is at a rolling boil, then throw in all the clean mussels and close the lid on the pot tightly. Count around 6 minutes. Look through the lid – are the mussels open? If not you can give it a little longer. If they are, your mussels are ready!
  5. Add pepper. After that, you can either serve immediately, or you can remove the mussels and boil the stock down further before pouring it back over the cooked mussels. Your choice. I cooked mine down 🙂

Baked Real Whole Fish

Oh woe is me, for the want of barbecued fish but lack of a barbecue.

Photo 25-02-2013 18 47 45 Photo 25-02-2013 18 57 26

Sympathy not forthcoming, I resolved to remedy this disaster.

I ended up making baked fish with a Thai inspired sauce (what is it with me and Asian adaptations at the moment?? Note to self, please don’t let your angmoh side start getting in control of things here. If you start adapting classics like claypot chicken rice, part of you will die inside.)

Photo 25-02-2013 19 23 54

Anyway, not that it makes any of this it more acceptable, but I did note that this style of cooking = moist soft fish while retaining a nice slight char on the sauce flavours at the end.

Photo 25-02-2013 19 56 30

Thai Style Baked Fish

Method from Thaifood.About.com, edited to suit the flavour I wanted. 

Medium red snapper

10 cloves garlic
2 sticks lemongrass – white part only
1 small red chilli
1 green chilli
4 tablesp soya sauce
1 tablesp oyster sauce
2 tablesp fish sauce
3 teasp brown sugar
Zest of 1/4 of a large lime
Juice of 1 a large lime
A large bunch of coriander

Tin foil
An oven-safe dish large enough to hold your fish – to prevent drips

  1. Clean and scale your fish, if this hasn’t already been done.
  2. In a good food processor, dump in all the sauce ingredients except for the lime juice and the coriander.
    1. Add 80% of the coriander, reserving the rest for garnish
    2. Add half the lime juice
  3. Blend everything. Taste, and adjust lime juice and sugar as necessary.
  4. When you’re happy, roll out enough tin foil to encase the fish and drop the fish in the middle of it. Pack a couple of tablespoons of paste into the fish cavity. Slash the sides of the fish vertically a couple of times, and pack some paste into there too. Make sure paste coats both sides of the entire fish. Reserve a couple of tablespoons of sauce / paste for later.
  5. Loosely wrap the fish in the tin foil, and place in the oven safe dish. This prevents drippage and makes your life easier later on.
  6. Bake at 190 degrees C for around 20 minutes, adjust if your fish is bigger. Mine was a medium sized fish.
  7. Check if the fish is done (i.e., flesh inside the cuts on the side of the body is no longer translucent). If so, open the top of the tinfoil, pour in the rest of the sauce. Turn the oven to max / grill setting, and grill the exposed fish for around 5 minutes, or until the top reaches your desired level of charred-ness.

Strawberry Balsamic Reduction

Otherwise known as “what I thought would be a waste of strawberries”.

Strawberries are pretty much perfection all on their own – they don’t need anyone fiddling around with them. Why would anyone waste good strawberries by cooking them?

Hence, I don’t really appreciate things like strawberry ice cream, strawberry pie, strawberry sauce, strawberry jam. Because I feel that it would have been better to gorge oneself silly on fresh strawberries.

Are you sure this is a good idea? Doesn't look like much but omg

But. I happened to buy a box of cheap strawberries, and some of them were pretty mushy. You know that feeling where you open the box and the middle part is all mushy and you feel really really sad? Yes, well. That was me.

However, I must not waste strawberries. I had heard strawberry balsamic reduction mentioned before on food blogs – but never really thought it was worth the strawberries. However, given that I had mushy strawberries, I figured I may as well give it a shot.

Oh my goodness.

My tastebuds have never known such heaven.

I need to make a cheese cake now, just to share this discovery with others. If all the strawberries in the world were 2D black and white movies, these are 3D technicolour with motion seats.

I ate mine over unsweetened greek yoghurt and some peaches / plums that I got from the market for $1 (for a whole box!!! more on that later)

Oh so unattractive pictures * embarrassed*

*cough* I ate it again later with caramel and macadamia ice cream.

Cheating Strawberry Balsamic Reduction

I don’t have a source for this, I just winged it based on the words “caramelised strawberry balsamic reduction”

1/2 a punnet of strawberries, washed and halved
1 tablesp balsamic vinegar
3 heaped teasp brown sugar

  1. I put everything in the toaster oven for 15 minutes on 200 degrees C. Halfway, take it out and stir. 
  2. Leave it to thicken as it cools. Control yourself, it’s really hot and you can easily burn your mouth / fingers.

On Asian Adaptations and Silken Tofu

I like silken tofu but I never know what to eat it with except soya sauce, spring onion + friends. Sometimes you need a little more kick than a peaceful meal of steamed silken tofu with soya sauce can provide.

Pre-sauce Post-sauce

Enter Szechuan inspired tofu.

Now, I hate Asian food adaptations as much as the next purist, especially because they are generally bland-ed down versions of the real stuff, but when you have just moved house and possess only half the necessary storecupboad staples, well, there isn’t really much else you can do.

Rest assured that at least this adaptation is far from bland.

A mess of peanuts

(Anyone else hate the words “silken tofu”?? Sounds so unappetising. I didn’t even know it was called that until a year or so ago).

Lunchtime!

Szechuan Inspired Tofu

No real source here – I checked out a couple of page for various other things then threw some stuff together. 

1 block silken tofu
1/4 cup peanuts, unsalted

4 garlic, peeled
1.5cm ginger, peeled
2 red chilli (or one large long red chilli)
1 tablesp kicap manis
3 tablesp light soya sauce
1 teasp white vinegar
1 teasp brown sugar
1/3 cup water
A pinch of flour – flour or cornflour are both okay

  1. Steam tofu!
  2. Meanwhile, put the garlic, ginger, and chilli in a chopper. Blend to a rough paste.
  3. Pour all the sauces into the garlic / ginger / chilli mixture, and let them all sit until the tofu is almost finished cooking.
  4. Toast the peanuts… for no more than 5 minutes! I used a toaster oven and burnt mine.
  5. In a pot, fish out most of the garlic / ginger / chilli and fry in a little oil over medium heat.
  6. When the ginger and garlic turns a little golden and becomes fragrant, add the rest of the sauce and 1/3 cup of water.
  7. Set the heat to high. Let the mixture come to a boil and simmer down until the sauce is black and reduced a little. Then, add the pinch of flour and stir until the sauce thickens.
  8. Pour sauce and peanuts over steamed tofu and serve hot, with rice.