Saturday, October 30, 2010

Secret Chef Tips

After years of cooking in commercial kitchens and at home I have decided to write some of the little things that make cooking easier. I will now present you with some top tips for cooking.

Garlic - this easy way to cut garlic is to put the cloves lined up on the board. Now slice the root end off. Then place the cloves spread out flat on the board. Take a large knife and place the side over some of the garlic cloves and bash down with your hand to crush the garlic. Repeat with all the cloves. The garlic shell will fall off and it is now ready to slice with a sharp knife. This is very quick and an easy way to prepare garlic and after a few times of doing it you will find it a simple procedure.

Tomatoes - Always use a very sharp knife and it will be much easier to slice

Onions - If the onions are stinging your eyes then put the garlic in water to counteract it. Also, use a sharp knife when cutting to have fewer problems.

Boiling water - use a lid to boil water, it is much faster

Rice - Wash 2- 3 times in cold water. Put lid on and bring to boil. Turn heat down to simmer and let cook slowly.

Potatoes - Cook in cold water and bring to boil, then turn down and cook on low to medium heat. Keep the skin on for tastier and healthier potatoes.

Vegetables - Keep skin on veggies like carrots and potatoes for more fiber and texture plus as above, healthier too. Carrots take quite awhile to cook so it's better to put them on earlier or cut them small than other veggies. Don't cook leafy veggies too long, the less the better. Steam or blanch for healthier veggies. Only use minimal water when cooking in water for leafy and green veggies.

Pasta - Bring water to boil in large pot with plenty of water. Add pinch of sea salt (no oil needed) then place the pasta in. Put lid over the pot until it comes back to the boil then immediately take lid off and cook open. Take fork and stir a few times and then leave to cook until al dente. It’s better to under cook slightly than over cook pasta. The pasta should visibly look larger when it is nearly ready. Take fork and select a strand of pasta, take out of pot and bite it see if it is ready. When it is ready, drain in sieve quickly but leave the last drops of water still on, now lace the pasta back in the empty pot. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over the pasta and stir it in with fork and serve. Serve pasta on the plate first separately from the sauce, don't mix into sauce unless the dish is one that requires it or you want to do something different. In general pasta is better served on plate first and then you pour the sauce over the pasta followed usually by shaved Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rosemary Fried Lamb with Potato Fritters & Green Salad

Here is a fairly easy recipe to make for a delicious meal of lamb, potato fritters and a tasty salad.

Recipe serves one person.

Ingredients:

Potato Fritters 
Here is the recipe for the Tasty Grated Potato Fritters

Salad

  • 1 tbs of lemon juice

  • 1 tbs of fresh squeezed orange juice

  • small slice of Danish feta cheese

  • 1 serving of baby spinach leaves

  • 1/2 small courgette

  • ground black pepper & sea salt for seasoning

  • Extra virgin Olive Oil

Lamb

  • 2 or 3 lamb forequarter chops

  • 2 cloves of garlic

  • sprig of fresh rosemary (could use dried)

  • sprig of fresh thyme (could use dried)

  • ground black pepper & sea salt for seasoning

  • Extra virgin Olive Oil

Method:
Lamb Meal
Take the lamb chops and place in a shallow open container. Crush & cut the garlic. Sprinkle the olive oil over the chops and rub over evenly on both sides of the lamb chops. Take the garlic, pepper and herbs and rub on both sides of the lamb. Place a cover over the container & place in fridge until ready to cook. You can prepare the lamb a few hours earlier if you like to get the flavors to work.

Prepare the Potato Fritters according to the recipe and put aside.

For the salad, take the baby spinach leaves and wash in cold water then drain then place in bowl. Grate the courgette into the bowl, chop the feta into 1 inch pieces and place in bowl. Continue to place lemon & orange juice and a tiny sprinkle of black pepper into the bowl along with a sprinkle of olive oil. Mix the salad lightly, put over lid or cover and place in fridge.

Now start to cook the potato fritters according to the recipe. Once the fritters have started then heat a fry pan to high. Once heated place olive oil into pan. Take out chops from fridge and place each chop into the pan and cooked on medium high but not too high otherwise the garlic will burn. Once one side is browned nicely then turn over, it should take around 3 -4 minutes and depends on how you prefer your lamb. At the same time continue to cook the potato fritters.

Once these two dishes are ready, serve with the salad. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tasty Beef Soup

I made this soup this evening, improvising with what I had in my fridge and I was so happy with it I thought I should share the recipe.

You could have this dish on a cold winter evening and it really is a meal all in one. You don't need any additional rice or carbs although you could try it with a few pieces of toast.

You can be flexible as always with my recipes, try variations of vegetables and meat.

Ingredients:

1 serving of gravy beef sliced into large bite size chunks
2 large garlic cloves
1 large onion sliced into rings
2 small fresh or canned tomatoes
Fresh or dried chilli chopped or flaked to taste
1 tsp laska powder
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp of low salt soya sauce
1 large potato chopped into quarters
small piece of green capsicum
small piece of broccoli
olive oil
water
1 tbsp flour
pinch of salt & grown black pepper
1 tsp of marmite (optional)

tasty beef soup 
Method

Heat large saucepan
Place oil into saucepan when hot
when oil has heated place onion rings, a minute later place beef cubes in and brown lightly while stirring.

Place garlic & chilli in pan and continue to fry lightly for another minute.

Place tomatoes in saucepan along with enough cold water to cover sauce pan half way (about 3- 4 cups)

Place potatoes in to the saucepan along with bay leaves, salt, pepper, laska powder, marmite, soya sauce.

Continue to cook for 1 hour with lid on saucepan on low heat.

After 1 hour place other vegetables in and continue to cook with lid on very slowly for further 2 hours.

Take off heat after 2 hours. Mix flour into a cup with a tiny bit of water to make paste until smooth. Add flour paste to soup and heat for a further 2-3 minutes while mixing flour in as the soup thickens.

The soup is now ready, pour into large bowls and serve.

*Optional, you can substitute any vegetables like carrot or celery in place of broccoli and capsicum.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Special Chili Sauce

This is a recipe for a tasty sauce to go in b-b-q or fried chicken. It was inspired from Oporto's Bondi burger chili sauce.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups olive oil
4 fresh jalapeno peppers, coarsely chopped, stems, seeds and all
1 red capsicum chopped
2 small hot red pepper chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 tbsp water
1 small piece of ginger
juice of small lemon
1 tsp of lemon rind
1 tablespoon minced garlic

Method:
Combine all of the ingredients except the garlic in a saucepan over medium to high heat. Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes. Mix in the garlic, remove from heat before garlic browns, and allow to cool to room temperature. When the sauce is cool, pour into the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times until smooth. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve. Pour the sauce into a glass container and cover. Leave for 7 days before using.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Rustic Beef & Vegetable Spaghetti

rustic spaghettiI'm going to share with you readers my favorite dish, in fact I love it so much I have cooked it for my main meal for the last several years a few times a week at times. This recipe was developed over years of learning, listening, experimenting and of course tasting. What I like so much about this dish is that it is healthy, tasty and adaptable all in one. You can chop & change ingredients to suit your own tastes and if you only have dried herbs on hand instead of fresh ones then it will still taste great. In fact the picture I have provided is what I cooked for my own meal this evening and we never had any fresh herbs on hand so it was cooked with dried ones while it was still most enjoyable.

So let's start with an ingredient list shall we...


Ingredients for Rustic Beef & Vegetable Spaghetti (serve 1 person):

  • 1 serving of fresh or dried pasta, it's better to make your own but dried is fine. Use standard Spaghetti or fettuccine.

  • 4-5 small fresh tomatoes, chopped into medium sized pieces or a 1/3rd of a can of organic tomatoes, chopped

  • 2 large cloves of garlic, peeled, crushed and chopped finely

  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped

  • 1 small courgette, chopped into bite sized pieces

  • medium sized piece of green capsicum, chopped into bite sized pieces

  • half a cup of fresh baby spinach leaves

  • Fresh Danish Feta cheese, chopped into 6 -7 1 inch pieces

  • Fresh Permission Cheese, grated for serving

  • 3 -4 fresh basil leaves

  • 1 sprig of fresh oregano

  • 1 small bay leave

  • 1/2 tsp of Paprika

  • 1 small hot red chili or use to taste

  • Good quality Extra Virgin Olive oil

  • 1 serving of rump steak

  • 1 rasher of middle bacon

  • 2 small button mushrooms, chopped roughly

  • 1 small dried clove

  • sprinkle of sea salt

  • sprinkle of raw sugar

  • sprinkle of fresh cream

Method:

Prepare and chop ingredients and have everything ready to use. Use a food processor and mince the steak & bacon together until it is minced nicely. Do not mince it so it is too fine, stop the processor before it is minced to fine.

Pre-heat your oven and a casserole dish to medium heat (around 180 c).

Now heat a large chef quality fry pan until it becomes quite hot and put an amount of olive oil in to cover the base. When the oil is showing it is hot (which should be right away) then make sure the fry pan base is covered with the oil and place the mince in. Lay it flat so it covered the pan base while browning quickly. Your goal is to brown the mince on one side quickly, not to boil it slowly.

Once it has browned then quickly turn it over and then place the onions into the pan as well while turning the heat down a bit now. Stir and then proceed to introduce the rest of the vegetables starting with the mushrooms, then the courgette and then the capsicum. Keep stirring everything while it is frying lightly.

Now start placing the garlic, chili and the tomatoes into the pan and continue to fry lightly and mix. Now you can put most of the basil & oregano in ( you can keep some fresh leaves for later if you like). Proceed to mix in the rest of the ingredients, the paprika, clove and bay leaves.

Now place some fresh cold or tepid water into the pan to glaze it and give it some juice, about half a cup. Continue to stir on low heat for a few minutes. sprinkle a tiny bit of raw sugar & sea salt into mix. Pour in the fresh cream as well, maybe a large tbsp or to taste.

Now take the pre-heated casserole dish out and place the pasta sauce into the dish and quickly place back in oven.

Cook in oven for a further 15 minutes on low to medium heat.

You should now start to prepare & cook your pasta so it will be al dente & ready just as you serve the pasta beef & vegetable sauce.

Once everything is ready to serve, take the pasta from the water and drain with sieve. Leave a tiny bit of water before completely draining and place pasta back in the same pot. Now sprinkle some olive oil onto the pasta and mix quickly & briefly with a fork. Once all the juice has been absorbed by the pasta then serve on to plate.

Take the pasta sauce out of the oven and place on oven top. Take lid off and place the feta cheese & spinach into the dish. Mix carefully and place lid back on for 1 minute.

Now serve the pasta sauce mix onto the cooked pasta.

Sprinkle permission cheese over the top and a few chopped herb leaves for garnish.

Enjoy!