31 May 2016

enter, the fabulous baker boys

The fabulous baker boys.  Not the 1989 Michelle Pfeiffer film.  Two men in the kitchen, making bread.  Awesome!  Everyone loves the smell of freshly baked bread, and what better way for a young man to learn to make it, than with his Dad?  I'm very lucky to have an other half who genuinely loves being in the kitchen.  It makes for a much more interesting meal repertoire, and it means there's another male for the young males of the household to learn from.  And men do tend to cook in a different way that women - more shooting from the hip, wild west style.  Throw it in, stir it up, see what happens.  Then add a little more (especially if it's chocolate chips, or chilli).  

Anyhoo, moving on.  Bread.  It's arguably one of the more important foods in the world.  Right up there with rice and potatoes as a staple in most cultures.  There are a myriad of different types - a seemingly endless array of flavours, shapes, ingredients and uses.  As a side, a holdall (think tortillas), for dunking, for a food ol' sandwich.  For breakfast, for lunch, with dinner - heck, even desserts can include bread!  

Bread fills an spot socially as well, significant beyond its importance as a basic foodstuff.  It plays essential roles in both religious rituals and secular culture.  Its prominence in daily life can be seen reflected in language - it appears linguistically everywhere from proverbs ("know on which side your bread is buttered") to slang ("dough" for money), and even in the basic etymology of words ("company" - from Latin com 'with' + panis 'bread').  

This particular bread recipe comes from my lovely South African sister-in-law Cindy.  She showed the boys how to make it and cook it on the BBQ when we were on a holiday at the beach earlier this year.  It made a beautiful tasting bread, and was incredibly versitile - the first had some herbs through it; the second Kyle and Cindy made in balls, pushed together on the baking tray, to make an easy-pull-apart bread, with each piece stuffed with garlic, herbs and cheese; the third (made by Harry and Kyle just over the weekend) was made into two smaller loaves, spiced with cumin seeds and dried oregano.  Next time I think cumin seeds and dried rosemary are on the cards... 

1.5kg flour (high grade, if you have it) - this makes a lot of bread, half will make enough for most situations
8 g active yeast (make sure this is fresh, or not been sitting for toooooo long in the pantry)
500 ml warm water
3/4 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt 
spices etc, if using 
  1. Put flour and salt in large bowl. 
  2. Fill cup with warm water, dissolve sugar in it then add yeast. 
  3. Once yeast has sunk to the bottom and begun to froth, mix with the flour.  
  4. Knead (in the bowl, or on a floured/oiled surface) for 15-20 minutes (it's a good idea to have a couple of you to share this job!)  Oil your hands, so they don't stick to the dough as it forms.  Add more water as necessary. 
  5. Clean bowl, lightly oil and place the ball of dough back in it.  Cover with a teatowel and place somewhere warm to rise (I go with the hot water cupboard, or in the oven - turn it on for a few minutes before you need it, then turn off).   Leave it for about an hour.
  6. Once risen you can either bake (180 degrees celcius for about 25-30 minutes), or repeat steps 4 and 5 first.  
  7. You'll know it's ready to take out of the oven (or BBQ) when you can start to smell it.  It should be a nice golden colour too.  You can brush the top with egg/milk prior to cooking, but it won't matter if you don't.  

05 May 2016

You put da lime in da crockpot and heat dem bode up...

How do you say 'fajita'?  It's fageeta mate.  Anyone remember that ad on TV about 15 years ago?  Anyhoo, I love fajitas.  Like an enchilada, but not baked; like a burrito, but without as much salad in them; like a quesadilla, but with less cheese (and not flat!).  And as with most tex-mex foods (the mexican variety of this dish is called arrachera), tasty as hell.  

These ones came along after I saw an idea for slow-cooker fajitas on a Facebook page 'Tasty'.   There is a list of ingredients on there, if you're interested in making your own taco seasoning.  I loved making these because it just looked so colourful in the pot.  And my hands smelled of lime juice for the rest of the afternoon, bonus!  And the best part - they were all done at the end of the day, which meant we could pour a glass of wine, enjoy a really tasty meal, and just relax.  

1/2 onion, sliced (I also used a red spring onion)
2 capsicums, sliced
2 carrots, cut into little pieces
500 g chicken breast, cut in half longways 
taco seasoning (I used Old El Paso)
3 cloves garlic, diced 
tin tomatoes, drained of bulk of liquid
  1. Sprinkle 1/2 of your onion, capsicum and carrot in bottom of crock pot (slow cooker).
  2. Add chicken, sprinkle with 1/2 taco seasoning (about 2 tbsp), turn pieces and repeat with remainder of seasoning.  
  3. Sprinkle garlic over chicken, pour tomatoes over all.  
  4. Layer other half of onion, capsicum and carrot over top of tomatoes.  Squeeze lime juice over.  
  5. Cook on high for 3-4 hours.  
  6. Remove chicken and cut/shread (chicken cooked longer will shred more than cut, so cook to your preference).  Return chicken to crock pot and simmer on low until ready to serve (not much more than half an hour - turn off and reheat later, if likely to be longer than that).  
  7. Assemble on your tortillas with grated cheese, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, refried beans...  

04 May 2016

Zucchini bolognese

It's been a long time, shouldn't of left you (left you), without a dope beat to step to...

Aaliyah and Timberland aside, it has been a long time.  3 and a bit months since I last put a post up.  Apologies mes amis, all I can say is that summer holidays were cray cray, and I just wasn't all that much in the kitchen.  

However, back into it people.  And to get things started, I'll introduce you to my newest kitchen toy - spiraliser!  So far I've only used it to make zucchini 'pasta', but the same can be done with carrots, beetroot, and I suppose potatoes and kumara.  I started with zucchini 'cause they're already fairly soft and flexible, so pretty close (even completely uncooked) to cooked pasta.  

I spiralised the zucchini (two medium sized and two small) and laid the lot on a paper towel, to absorb some of the excess water.  When we were ready to eat KB sauted the lot in a little butter.  We served the zucchini on top of the bolognese, so as to retain some of the crunch (it was still more or less raw).  If you wanted an even softer, more cooked 'pasta', you could fry for a bit longer, or even steam it for a bit.  

For the bolognese... 

1 small onion, diced
500 g mince (I used beef)
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp pesto (optional, but I had a heap of pesto cubes in the freezer) 
good dash worchester sauce
2 cups beef stock (I like fresh stock, less salty and more flavour)
1 tin tomatoes 

  1. Saute the onion in butter.  Add the mince and brown slightly.  
  2. Add all other ingredients and bring to the boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for a couple of hours, until the liquid has reduced to leave a nice, thick meat sauce.  
  4. Serve with pasta, vegetables (as above), and grated cheese.  Buon appetito!!