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 ūüôā

Descent into auntie-food (like lotus stir-fry)

Lotus root as a bit of a bad rep sometimes as being very traditional, and boring, and possibly not-food (I know some people who refuse to eat the lotus in soups as it is considered not-food and therefore not-edible).

Yes, I did get funny looks when I very excitedly found an ugly  potato-root-looking thing in the market. Yes, it was an effort to persuade Bigfoot that I did in fact want to buy this rather expensive thing that looked a bit like a petrified hotdog bun. But it was worth it in the end.

I didn’t think it was ugly at all. Or even auntie-ish. In the end, you can’t beat simple, tasty, and most importantly quick food ¬†after a long day.

I swear it tastes good

Lotus Stir-Fry

Adapted from Just Bento’s version.

1 lotus root, peeled and sliced
2-3 cm ginger, chopped
3-5 cloves garlic (depending on size), chopped
1 bunch of spring onions, chopped into approx 1cm lengths

chilli flakes or whole red chilli, to taste – I used around 1/2 teasp red chilli flakes
1 teasp brown suger
1 teasp rice / balsamic vinegar
1-2 tablesp sesame seeds
1.5 tablesp soya sauce
2 teasp sesame oil
white pepper to taste

  1. Slice lotus root and leave it in some slightly vinegared water while preparing the other ingredients.
  2. Fry ginger and garlic in oil until fragrant, over medium heat. Drain the lotus slices and add to the pain in a single layer, flipping as needed.
  3. Add chilli, spring onions, sesame seeds, pepper, soya sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, and vinegar. Cook until slightly caramelised.

A prettier pie than previously anticipated

Or is it a galette? I don’t know what the rules are for naming pies. It is in a pastry. Therefore, it is a pie. Feel free to elucidate if you know the pie-rules. Don’t report me to the pielice (get it, pie-lice/po-lice?) Let’s leave it on that terribly embarrassing¬†note and proceed to the recipe, shall we?

This is a pretty flexible recipe. The only requirement is that the filling is dry and solid enough that it is able to stand by itself in the centre of the puff pastry and not leak out. And the smoked cheese really adds something. By adding something, I mean in the sense of fancy food bloggers “oh my goodness, it really adds a special something!!!” as opposed to the view that, of course, if you add cheese then you are adding ‘something’, i.e. cheese, to the pie.

I think this is one of the tastiest pies I’ve made so far, and it tasted awesome over the next 4 days as cold lunch. If you want to crisp up the pastry again, reheat it in the toaster oven for a couple of minutes.

Soon to be pie See ugly folding - but it didn't fall apart! Isn't it pretty

Seafood Leek Smoked Cheese Galette 

1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg
2 handfuls of grated smoked cheese – I only had enough for 1 handful, so I used a second handful of cheddar
1 handfuls mixed seafood
2 small fillets of fish
3 large leeks
1 tablesp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablesp sugar
1-2 teasp black pepper
A pinch of salt
A dash of chilli flakes

1 egg + a splash of milk for the eggwash

Oven temperature: 180 degrees C

  1. Slice the leeks and fry over medium heat with a little oil until soft. Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar, and continue to heat until the leeks caramelise slightly on the edges.
  2. Mix the egg, cheese, leek, salt, pepper, and chilli flakes – reserve a couple of tablespoons of cheese for later. Add the mixed seafood.
  3. Place the puff pastry on a sheet of baking paper, and scoop the pie filling into the centre of the sheet of pastry. Leave around 2 inch clearance on each side of the filling.
  4. Cut the fillets into strips, and place on top of the filling, skin up (if the fillets have skin).
  5. Fold up the edges of the puff pastry into a pie shape, starting with one corner and working around until all sides are folded up. Take a look at the picture above for an idea of how to fold it up.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the assembled pie. Rub a little eggwash (egg mixed with milk) on the exposed puff pastry.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes, until the pie is a nice golden colour.

Ode to pie

Everyone likes pie. Do you like pie? I like pie.

Far too cutesy pie beads

Pie is not really a thing that one can say no to. And today, in the silence of the still morning, amongst the clackings of my keyboard, I suddenly decided: I want pie.

Why? Does pie need a why? One can never deny the pie.

* end of self indulgent poorly written rhyming *

Pre-caramelised leek Post-caramelised leek

Also, I work from home at present and so I can do these odd things like make pie in the middle of the day. Of course, that means I am back here at the computer working at midnight. Very clever. The sacrifices we make for pie, sigh. (Pie? Sigh? Geddit? snigger snigger)

Hello pie!

Caramelised Leek and Feta Pie with Zaatar Crust

I had leeks in the fridge so cobbled something together. I didn’t like the pie crust I used, and will update the recipe when I find one that I do like.

3 leeks
2 tablesp balsamic vinegar
1 tablesp sugar
Approx 1/2 cup feta, cut into small cubes
3 eggs
150ml milk
Black pepper

1 portion of your favourite savoury pie dough + 1 tablespoon zaatar

  1. When you make your pie dough, add the zaatar to the flour and then continue to prepare the pie crust as per normal. 
  2. Slice the leeks so they are approx 3cm long each. Stand them all up in a frying pan. Pour over a little oil and fry them standing up that way for 5 minutes on medium-high heat.
  3. Slosh the vinegar into the pan, and wait for a couple of minutes so it drys a little. Then sprinkle in the salt.
  4. If you want, gently flip all the little leek cylinders upside down, so both sides char. The easiest way to do this is with a pair of chopsticks, in my opinion
  5. When cooked (and the pie crust is ready to be filled), arrange in the pie crust and place cubes of feta between the bits of leek.
  6. Whisk the eggs and milk together. Pour over the leeks into the pie crust.
  7. Bake for around 15-20 minutes until browned. Use the same temperature as required by your pie crust.

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.

Baked What’s-Left-In-The-Cupboard Rice

The story behind this is that I needed to use what was left behind in the cupboard, and it had to be something that went with the broccoli-feta thing. And I wanted rice, and you can’t really do Asian style rice with broccoli-feta. And I wanted something that would taste pretty nice, because I thought I was going to hate the broccoli-feta.

Ingredients check

This isn’t really a fair way to describe a happy accident. I don’t want you to think that I’d only made this because I wanted something that went with broccoli-feta. Actually, I made this because I needed something that would taste way more awesome than broccoli-feta to compensate for what I thought was going to be a veritable vegetable disaster.

It only marinated for about 15 minutes Partially cooking the seafood Starting the caramelisation process... Almost completely caramelised here Pre-baked rice Covered with cheese slices..grated would work too

That’s a pretty large set of shoes to fill, especially since this is a recipe which was entirely made up based on what was left in the cupboard. I’m happy to report that it did deliver.

Nice and crunchy on top

It’ll also be a pretty good one-pot meal if you add the vege directly into the rice. Don’t use broccoli though. Please? I suggest perhaps little cubes of eggplant. Soaked in salty water and dried. Then added into the rice.

As you can see it's a bit crumbly, not like the usual sticky baked rice

Baked Rice with Caramelised Onions and Spicy Seafood

Inspired by The Little Teochew. The method is mostly taken from there, but the ingredients used are pretty unrelated. You can pretty much put anything in here, depending on what you have in the cupboard. Not broccoli though.

1 cup rice – uncooked / raw. Equivalent to 2 cups cooked.
100g mixed seafood
1 red onion
A handful of raisins
A handful of cashewnuts – roasted, preferably unsalted. I used some from a snack packet.
1/2 a lime’s worth of juice – for the seafood marinade
1 tablesp of chilli flakes or less – for the seafood marinade
2-3 tablesp balsamic vinegar
1/2 – 1 teasp sugar – to caramelise the onions
1/4 cup water – optional, I didn’t add it because I like my rice less clumpy
Enough hard cheese to cover a baking dish Рany cheese is alright really, I used cheddar but you can probably us mozeralla or something else

Oven temperature: approx 220 degrees C. Or you can use the grill setting.

  1. Cook your rice according to the instructions. Or better, use old rice.
  2. Sort out your seafood:
    1. Marinate the seafood in the lime juice and chilli. Add a pinch of salt. A Tabasco sauce marinade would probably work too (= soak it in some Tabasco sauce).
    2. Fry the seafood until partially cooked. You just want to make sure it’s fully cooked by the time you eat it later, basically. If you want you can skip this step but you’ll need to leave it in the oven longer. That would probably work.
  3. Sort out your balsamic sauce:
    1. Chop the onions, and brown over low heat with a tablespoon of olive oil.
    2. Add the balsamic vinegar and sugar. Stir occasionally, leaving it to caramelise. It’s done when the edges of the onion are a bit blackened, and it tastes good. Sweet yet tart.
  4. Mix the raisins, and cashewnuts into the rice.
  5. Put the rice into the pan with the balsamic sauce, and fry it for a bit. Then put it in the ovenproof dish. Add the water at this point and mix in. The water isn’t really necessary (I didn’t add it), but if you want it to clump together more then you should.
  6. Smooth out the rice and poke the seafood bits into it at various intervals.
  7. Cover the top with hard cheese. We used cheddar, and added a bit of grated parmasan and almond dukkah for good measure. Only because we had a little leftover. You don’t need to do that.
  8. Bake / grill until the cheese melts. Keep it in a little longer for a more crusty finish. If you haven’t cooked the seafood, you should probably leave it in the oven for a good 20 minutes.