Saturday, October 31, 2009

Recipe: Selvie's Goat Curry

Like me, I know a lot of people who think their mum is the best cook in the world. The difference is that most people think my mum is the best cook in the world. It's only as I get older and travel the world and sample the myriad of cuisines out there that I realise how good my mum truly is. Most of her repertoire is based on her South African Indian cooking traditions - curries, briyanis, pilaus and vegetable braises.
She prepared this goat curry for dinner last night in Melbourne after my Ch10 7pm Project appearance. From acting the goat to eating the goat....

1.5 kg goat meat including bones
2 chopped brown onions
1 tspn crushed garlic
1 tspn crushed ginger
2 cloves
2 cardomon pods, cracked
2 cinnamon sticks
4 medium chopped tomatoes
2 tspns tumeric
2 tspns coriander powder
2 tspns fennel powder
2 tspns smoked paprika
1 tspn crushed chilli flakes
1/2 tspn chilli powder
3 tablespoons oil
1 tspn salt
1 tspn pepper
4 cups boiling water

Preparation time: about 15 minutes
Cooking time: 2 1/2 hours

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a thick-based casserole pot on medium heat. Fry 1 chopped onion for ten minutes until it begins to colour. Add crushed garlic and ginger and cook gently for a minute. Add cardomon pods, clove and cinnamon sticks, then add the spices -  tumeric powder, fennel powder, coriander, smoked paprika, chiili powder and chilli flakes and fry gently making sure spices don't burn. Add another tablespoon of oil.

Now add the goat meat and bones, salt and pepper and brown making sure all the meat is coated in the onion and spice mix. Increase the temperature to medium-high. Add the 4 cups of boiling water. Boil, then turn down to high-medium and cook until goat meat is tender. Keep an eye on the water. It needs to cover the meat.This will take up to about 2 hours depending how young/old your goat is. Now add the other chopped onion, the four chopped tomatoes and cook for about 15 minutes until onion and tomato dissolve into the sauce. Simmer for another ten minutes and then add freshly chopped coriander leaves and serve with steamed rice.

the meat is unctuous, tangy and robust

give the bones a good gnaw

Friday, October 30, 2009

Edible balcony update - 8 weeks

from right to left: rainbow silverbeet, beetroot, carrots, tiny tom tomatoes, tom thumbs tomatoes

Well, it's been 8 weeks since most of my herbs and vegie seedlings went in. Looking back I'm really lucky I planted during a freak summer burst at the end of winter. That warm weather gave the plants a little pick me up and helped them establish good resistance before the insect and weather attacks. As the weather warms they are requiring watering every second day - the tomatoes need a drink every day. I fertilize with a seaweed fertilizer once a fortnight.

clockwise: parsley, mint, rosemary, oregano, thyme, tub tom tomatoes, tom thumbs tomatoes

This little corner doesn't get quite as much sunlight as the rest of the balcony so the herb plants aren't quite as robust .The tomatoes, on the other hand, seem to be thriving but I hope its not just all leaves!

tub tom tomatoes

I've counted about 100 tomatoes on this bush with at least another 100 flowers so this variety looks as though it may be a prolific fruiter. Let's hope so.

tom thumb tomatoes

This variety isn't as prolific a fruiter. Interestingly instead of the usual flower clusters it producers long branches of fruit.

sugar snap peas

I threw these sugar snap peas in with the tub tom variety. We're having these sweet crunchy pods in our salads most nights.

carrots and beetroot

beetroot leaves

I am really regretting putting the carrots and beetroot seedlings in the same pot. Even though they are a dwarf variety they are very cramped and I won't be getting many vegies.

rainbow silverbeet

The rainbow siverbeet is my favourite baby. Prolific, robust, delicious fresh or cooked, and looks so pretty

curry leaf tree

The curry leaf tree is now touching the balcony roof. Still covered with beautiful white flowers which are slowing turning into dark berries. I gave the curry leaf tree a little extra nitrogen and phosphate dissolved in water to help the extra leaf growth.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sushi Art

Sydney's Sushi Choo in George St recently asked local designers and architects to redesign the humble sushi roll. I loved the simplicity of this sushi-inspired interpretation of the Sydney Opera House by Lucette Qrelle.
But were there whackier challengers from around the world?

Sydney Opera House


the caterpillar that ate Tokyo

laptop sushi

I put my face on and then I eat it

The President never tasted so good..

Recipe: Julia Child's Famous Boeuf Bourguignon

                                A scene from 'Julie & Julia'

I saw 'Julie & Julia' today at my favourite cinema The Verona in Paddington in Sydney. When it comes to films I'm obsessively anti-social.I prefer seeing films by myself on a weekday morning when I can usually have the whole cinema to myself and pretend it's my own private theatre. All I need is a bag of cheese twisties and I'm about as close to heaven on earth as I can get!
While overall I found 'Julie and Julia' disappointing and the characterisation of both Julia Child and Julie Powell slightly cartoonish, I thought Meryl Streep was outstanding. And of course, the food was the real star - as it should be.

Julia Child's beef bourguignon was almost Julie's undoing in the film so I couldn't wait to challenge myself to the Julia Child Beef Bourguignon Pressure Test.
I found this adaptation of her famous recipe on the ABC News America website. This is a very fiddly recipe  involving too many pots and sieving and reducing for my liking. I'm sure if you browned all the ingredients separately, then combined them in the pot, added the liquid ingredients and then popped it into the oven for two to three hours you would get a similarly delicious result.

Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon
(Recipe Courtesy of Julia Child From the Kitchen of Julia Child)
Servings: 6
Difficulty: Difficult
Cook Time: Over 180 min

This recipe is adapted from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck (Alfred A. Knopf, 1961)

One 6-ounce piece of chunk bacon
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 carrot, sliced
1 onion, sliced
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du
Rhone or Burgundy)
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups brown beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
A crumbled bay leaf
18 to 24 white onions, small
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
Herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter
teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
1 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered

Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and lardons for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly.
Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the lardons. In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat.Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef
lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust).

Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees. Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a
simmer on top of the stove. Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet. Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly. Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb
Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside. Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms.
Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat.
When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan.
Wash out the casserole and return the beef and lardons to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top.  Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2  1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several  times.
Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley.
brown the beef, bacon lardons and vegetables separately

small onions in a delicious coating of browned butter

garlic and mushrooms are an essential ingredient of beef bourguignon

Add the red wine and beef stock and let your oven do its magic...


serve with rice, pasta or potatoes

You can obviously find simpler, far less time consuming versions of boeuf bourguignon all over the internet. Is it worth doing it Julia's way? Well, the flavours in her version are like no other boeuf bourguignon I've tasted outside France. Very rich and deeply flavoured. If you were cooking for someone who knew their boeuf bourguignon from their beef casserole do it Julia's way and you will have a food slave for life!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Win a copy of MasterChef Australia MasterClass DVD

Well it's that time of the week again. Tonight Miss Universe contestant Rachel Finch, SBS newsman George Negus and the Sydney Swans Ryan O'Keefe battle it out in Heat Five of Celebrity MasterChef.
What will they cook? Will Rachel be wearing a bikini? Will George be wearing a bikini?

For your chance to win a copy of the MasterChef MasterClass DVD (RR $39.99) just sign up as a follower of Saucy Onion and post an answer to this question -

'Which MasterChef judge would you like to have around for dinner and why, and what would you cook for them?'

The Winner will be announced on Saucy Onion on Friday 30th October at 0900 EST time. (The judge's decision is final and no negotiations will be entered in to - unless of course there's an uzi involved and then maybe something can be arranged.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Recipe: Mug Chocolate Cake

It's late and my mind is searching for distractions from a speech I am writing. Naturally my thoughts turn to chocolate cake. I do a quick web search and find a recipe for a 1 minute microwaved Mug Chocolate Cake. Has to be a gimmick, right? Best to put it to the taste test .....

Recipe: Mug Chocolate Cake
4 tablespoons cake flour
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons full-cream milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
splash of vanilla essence

oil mug then add and mix all dry ingredients

Then add egg, milk, oil and vanilla. Stir well.

put mug into the microwave and cook on high for one to three minutes depending on your wattage

remove the hot mug with a tea towel

dust with icing sugar and serve with cream or ice-cream

    not a chocolate cake for the purists but it certainly satisfies the craving and best of all there isn't much washing up!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cumulus Inc - Eating House and Bar

I love a restaurant that puts aside pretension and calls it like it is- Eating House. No mistaking what goes on in here!
I have been a devotee of chef Andrew O'Connell's food since supping on a humble roast chook dinner at his much-missed Dining Room 211 in Fitzroy, Melbourne. I had no idea how good roast chicken could taste when a master is conducting the orchestra. Va Va Voom!
Cumulus Inc, in Flinders Lane, with its open kitchen, ceramic chooks, and wooden shoe lasts as tribal wall art, has O'Connell's trade-mark down-to-earth-quirkiness but the food is still the star.
A selection of tapas sharing plates, charcuterie or traditional entrees and mains still keeps the focus on squeaky fresh produce with deft playful execution.
Monday lunch was positively jumping today. As I reluctantly peeled myself off my wooden bar perch to catch my plane back to Sydney I'm sure patrons were just about to form a congo line.....

 cumulus inc menu
a glass of prosecco with crispy school prawns sauted in garlic and chilli 

12 hour slow-cooked pork strap with poached lemon, cabbage, green apple and mint salad

 Asparagus polonaise

rich, runny egg yolk 

 a sauce all of nature's own making

 nab a seat at the marble counter overlooking the kitchen

...or choose a table amongst the botanicals

cumulus clouds are my favourite weather formation

What Rove's Stars Eat Behind The Scenes

Ever wondered what the stars eat while they're waiting to go on television shows? Sadly the catering at television stations is not nearly as lavish as you may imagine. Tight budgets, cutbacks, and the GFC mean the grub in 'green rooms' - where performers wait before they go on stage - can be very basic.Not at the production company Roving Enterprises which makes 'Rove', 'The 7pm Project' and 'Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?'. Sharing good food together is an important part of the company's family-focussed philosophy. And believe me you can feel the lerve.
Last night, during Rove's 10th anniversary special '60 Guests in 60 Minutes' on Channel 10, guests got to sample some of these gourmet delights including freshly-made sushi, aranchini balls, cockail quiches and morish salmon rillettes on croutons.

John Safran was a sushi devotee

MasterChef judge George Calombaris

salmon rillettes
Recipe:     Salmon rillettes (serves 6)

200 g fresh salmon, pin boned/skin off, ½ cm dice
½ shallot, finely diced
½ lemon zest and juice
pinch freshly ground white pepper
100 g smoked salmon, good quality, ½ cm dice
80 g crème fraiche or sour cream
2 tbsp chives, fresh, chopped
garnish with the best quality caviar you can afford

Mix the fresh salmon with the shallot, lemon zest, juice, and pepper. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Mix in the smoked salmon, crème fraiche and chopped chives.
Serve on thin croutons of "ficelle" baguette.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sailors Thai Canteen

staff having their lunch  

Sailors Thai on George Street, in The Rocks, Sydney, is an institution. Started by Peter Bowers and David Thompson two decades ago it has helped teach Australians about authentic Thai flavours and ingredients. Whether you're sitting at the stainless steeel communal table or on the outside shaded balcony overlooking Circular Quay, this is a quintessential Sydney experience. Make sure it's on your 'to-eat' list.

garlic chive dumpling filled with coriander, spring onions and garlic chives in a rich plum sauce

 green curry of beef with roti

unctuous and light-favoured

jasmine steamed rice

whole baby chicken in red curry sauce

rich and tangy

big and dumb