Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Worldwide BBQ

In summer 2009-10 the Webber and I attempted a BBQ world tour, cooking a meat dish and an accompaniment from each county. Here's a recap before the 2010-11 season begins.

Africa and the Middle East


The Americas
South Carolina


Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Pumpkin Soup

We're moving away from thick soups this time of year, but we did enjoy this is a vibrant tasting version of pumpkin soup several times over winter.

Hot Carrot and Pumpkin Soup
Serves 4
Adapted from Gordon Ramsay

2 tbsp olive oil 2 red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
270 g carrots (3 medium), peeled
1.1 kg  butternut pumpkin, peeled and deseeded
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 birds eye chillies
1.5 litres water
150 g small pasta shapes
Freshly grated parmesan, to serve

Sweat the onion and garlic in the oil over a medium heat for 5-7 minutes until soft. Chop the carrots and pumpkin into 1.5cm dice and add to the pan. Finely slice the chilli and add. Season and cook for another 5 minutes until the vegetables start to soften.

Add the water, stir and bring to the boil. Simmer for 25-30 minutes until the carrots and squash are soft and beginning to break down. Remove from the heat and puree the mixture.

Add the pasta shells. Stir well and return to the boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the pasta is cooked. Check the seasoning and sprinkle with parmesan and serve.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Golden Temptations

How am I supposed to resist lovely miniature golden lemons hanging, unwanted, over somebody's back fence? These seven fit snugly in a 500 ml preserving jar, perfect for a batch of preserved lemons.

Preserved lemons
Adapted from flavours of Morocco and

7 small, thin-skinned lemons
7 tbsp sea salt
Freshly squeezed lemon juice

Wash and dry lemons to remove any surface dust or dirt. Cut one end of each lemon, about 5mm from the base, so they sit flat. Place 1 lemon at a time, cut-side down, on a chopping board and cut lengthways into quarters without cutting all the way through to the base. Repeat with remaining lemons. Fill each lemon with as much salt as possible. Salt extracts juice from the lemon, softening the rind. Push lemons into jar. Sprinkle over remaining salt.

Place the lemons, in a single layer, in a zip lock bag or a covered bowl. Seal and place in fridge for 3-4 days to soften the skins.

Wash and dry a 500 ml glass jar with a plastic or plastic-lined lid (a metal lid could corrode). Transfer the lemons to the jar. Pour over enough lemon juice to completely cover lemons. Seal, label and date. Place in a cool place, away from direct sunlight, for at least 4 weeks.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Birthday Feasts

Walnut and honey tart from Skye Gyngell's A Year in My Kitchen. Made with fresh local walnuts, cracked on the day of baking. Fantastic!

Lemon self-saucing pudding (aka lemon delicious) from olive magazine April 2008.

The dragon cake! This was a spectacle was made form a base of chocolate Mayan bundt cake, glommed together with a chocolate hazelnut spread and covered with black chocolate buttercream icing. The lolly banana spines were the most fun to make.

Monday, May 31, 2010

May leftovers

Other recipes from the internet that I used this month:

*In the spirit of trying new things, I made a bitter gourd curry (kayippakka vartharacha curry). Despite its name, I was a bit surprised by the intense bitterness, it's definitely not one for the unadventurous. 

*A Mark Bittman Spanish influenced chickpea and chorizo dish. I made it mid-week and had no fresh spinach, so I grilled some large chunks of tomato and chucked them in before the whole dish is covered in breadcrumbs and grilled. It was really quite good.

*When Aldi had cheap bundt pans I bought one and made this orange bundt twice; it's a great cake for a crowd.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pumpkin Loaf

Pumpkin loaves amongst the mess of a Sunday cookathon

Sweet and lightly spiced, this loaf is a great way to use up left over pumpkin.

Pumpkin and Ginger Loaf
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes 2 loaves

450 g pumpkin
2 cm piece of ginger
170 g  unsalted butter, melted
315 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
225 g white sugar
200 g brown sugar
3 large eggs

Peel and de-seed the pumpkin and cut it in to large chunks. Crush the ginger and add it and the pumpkin to a pot of water. Simmer until the pumpkin is soft then remove the ginger and drain well. Puree with a food mill or food processor.

Preheat oven to 190°C. Line 2 loaf pans with baking paper; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, ginger, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugars, pumpkin puree, melted butter, and eggs; add flour mixture, and stir until just combined.

Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centre of loaves comes out clean, about 60 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes; invert pans and transfer loaves to a wire rack to cool completely.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Moroccan BBQ

We had the final barbecue of the season about a month ago. On the menu, grilled harissa chicken legs, made with a hastily prepared harissa paste when my tube ran out.  A stew of broad beans and pumpkin made also well seasoned with harissa from a Sheridan Rogers recipe for the vegetarians and the table and cous cous.

Dessert was the remarkable part, a simple salad of watermelon and lemon balm.

Watermelon Salad with Lemon Balm
Adapted from Flavors or Morocco by Ghillie Bassan
Serves 4-6

1.5 kg of seedless watermelon
2 tsp white sugar
2-3 tablespoons of orange blossom water
A small bunch of fresh lemon balm

Remove the skin from the watermelon and cut into bit size cubes and place in a serving bowl. Add the sugar to the orange blossom water and stir until the sugar has dissolved Pour the mixture over the watermelon, mix gently then cover the bowl and leave to chill in the fridge for about an hour.

Toss the watermelon again before serving, and scatter the lemon balm leaves over the top.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tomato Chutney

In February I bought a big box of tomatoes, I wanted to make chutney using the other fruits I had in the house and came up with a tomato and apricot combo. It was devoured with home made samosas last night, and will appear on many sandwiches in the weeks to come.

Tomato and Apricot Chutney
Makes 2 litres

2 kg ripe tomatoes
260 g granny smith apples (2)
480 g brown onions (3)
25 g fresh ginger
120 g raisins
350 g brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
10 green cardamom pods
2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
650 ml white vinegar
300 g Turkish dried apricots

Score the tomatoes, place them in a large bowl. Cover them with boiling water and leave them for about 30 seconds, then drain and peel. Peel, core and chop the apples, chop the tomatoes and onions and stir these ingredients together in a large saucepan. Grate the ginger and add it, the raisins, sugar, turmeric, cardamom, and salt. Season with freshly ground black pepper and then pour in the vinegar.

Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring frequently, and simmer uncovered for an hour. Cut the apricots into halves and add after the first hour, and leave to simmer for a second hour stirring from time to time to makes sure that it does not stick to the pan. Transfer the chutney to warmed sterile jars and cover immediately with airtight lids. Allow the chutney a month to mature.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

April Leftovers

April was filled with visitors, books, birds and perfect autumn weather. We also ate very well.

For my recollection, internet recipes we enjoyed were
*This sweet potato and chipotle soup, topped with sour cream and a handful of crushed corn chips.
*Pasta with broccoli and ricotta,  which although simple, is worth remembering.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March Leftovers

*Youtube is a great resource for learning to cook International cuisines. I made cookingwithdiog's yakisoba noodles and I really liked them.

*I made Nigel Salter's onion soup to use up some Gruyere, I think I prefer a onion soup with more onion.

*The Accountant loved this chickpea salad from Gordon Ramsay. So I made it too. It's very nicely balanced and delicious with some finely slices medium-rare lamb steak mixed through.

*I've been trying to eat more fish, we had teriyaki salmon with pickled vegetable salad. I liked the salad a lot, but I wasn't convinced by the salmon - it's probably better pan fried to achieve some different textures.

*I made these blueberry pancakes, but used all yoghurt instead of butter milk. They were great, but it's uncommon to go terribly wrong with a pancake recipe.

*Nigel Slater's oven method for rice pudding got well-tested this month, but I still haven't decided on the optimal amount of sugar, and the timing is off too. Letting the pudding cook slowly in the oven is much more convenient that the stove top method.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Barley, Beans, and Greens

A simple vegetable soup, with lots of greens. Season well or it's slightly bland.

Barley, Bean and Vegetable Soup
Serves 4
Adapted from Bill Granger, delicious March 2009

115 g barley
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small bunch silverbeet (about 700g), finely shredded
2 red skinned potatoes, cut into 2 cm cubes
1 L chicken or vegetable stock
400 g cooked cannellini beans
2 zucchini, cut into 2 cm pieces200 g green beans
85 g peas
Grated parmesan to serve

Place the barley in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer for 45 minutes or until barley is tender. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Add garlic, silverbeet and potato, and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until the silverbeet has melted.

Add the stock and 1 litre of water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the cannellini beans and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Add cooked barley, zucchini, green beans and peas and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Season, then serve topped with grated parmesan.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Portuguese BBQ

The Portuguese have a popular charcoal grilled sardine dish called sardinhas assadas; I recreated it using whole blue mackerel to great success. The traditional accompaniment, a salad of roasted capsicums, tomatoes and onions, cut through the oily fish beautifully.

To finish we had arroz doce, or rice pudding, flavoured with lemon peel and cinnamon. Next time I may try to make this in the Webber too.

Salt Grilled Blue Mackerel with Portuguese Salad
Serves 4
Adapted from Jill Dupleix, delicious November 2008

2 large potatoes, peeled, cut into 2cm rounds
2 tbsp olive oil1 tbsp hot smoked paprika
1 red capsicum
1 green capsicum
2 tomatoes
1 red onion
Handful coriander or parsley
4 blue mackerel
1 lemon quartered

Parboil the potatoes, when cool slice into rounds 1 cm thick, coat with oil and paprika and bake in the barbecue over indirect heat with all vents open for 45 minutes.

Cook the capsicums over the coals until blistered, then put them in a bowl and cover it with cling film. Peel the capsicums when cool and slice into strips. Finely slice the tomatoes and onion and mix into the capsicums, add the herbs. Dress with a little vegetable oil if not serving immediately.

Salt the cavity of the fish and the outside, cook over indirect heat for 10 minutes a side, or until the flesh comes away from the bone easily. Serve the grilled  fish with lemon quarters, the roasted potato slices and capsicum salad.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lebanese BBQ

Tonight we had a Lebanese inspired barbecue. I grilled the lamb kafta and served them with a fattoush salad with Shepard avocado. An appetising, light, end of summer meal.

Kafka Mikli
Serves 2-3
Adapted from New Flavours of the Lebanese Table by Nada Saleh

1 onion
Large handful of parsley or thyme
8-10 mint leaves
450 g lamb mince
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp salt

Place the onion and herbs in a food processor and blend until smooth. Mix with the mince, spices and salt. Divide into six even amounts and shape each around a long soaked bamboo skewer.

Cook over direct heat in a kettle BBQ with all vents wide open for fifteen minutes, then turn and leave for a further ten minutes.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

My current favourite pizza sauce is so simple and delicious that you should make it for your next pizza night. Char-grill some red capsicums and peel them. Blend the peeled capsicum with some olive oil, about 1 tablespoon of oil for every 100 grams of capsicum, the spread over your pizza base as you would a tomato sauce.

I often buy lots of red capsicums when they're cheap; they freeze well after roasting and the roasted peppers make a great addition to soups and home made baked beans.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spanish BBQ

Spanish BBQ, just prior to covering the patatas bravas in luscious sauce

BBQ season has taken us to Asia and the Americas, this week it's off to Spain. I got all my recipes for the meal from Cooking in Spain by Janet Mendel.

The meat portion of the meal was chuletón a la vasca or beef chops Basque style. The beef is marinated in lemon juice and oil, then grilled over charcoal, while grilling the meat is sprinkled with chopped garlic and parsley. It's served with grilled green peppers.

I also made Catalan speciality calçotada de valls (grilled spring onions) and tapas favourite patas bravas, roasting the potatoes in the BBQ makes this dish a bit less fatty than the regular deep fried preparation. So good.

Patatas Bravas
Serves 4
Adapted from Cooking in Spain by Janet Mendel

800 g waxy potatoes
4 tbsp olive oil
90 ml tomato sauce
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne

Parboil the potatoes. Drain and cut into 3 cm tubes, coat in oil. Place the potatoes in foil tray and bake in a covered BBQ for 40 minutes or until crispy and golden. Drain, salt and serve with the following sauce.

To make the sauce mix the tomato sauce, mayonnaise, garlic, vinegar, paprika, cumin and enough cayenne to make the sauce picante - spicy hot.

February Leftovers

I cooked a few internet recipes this month:

*I made the Alice Mendrich cocoa brownies that seem to be doing the blog rounds this month. The recipe is great because it uses ingredients that you're bound to have in the house and produces a rich, fudgy browine. Expect to cook them for 30-45 minutes in a conventional oven.

*I made a celebratory flan to accompany a pseudo-Mex meal using a Diana Kennedy recipe, as I hadn't made a flan before I found the instructions from the Science of Cooking really helpful. Slightly panicked when the water bath almost dried out, I learned that this would just cause a bubbly flan, it will still be quite delicious.

*Similarly, then I bought a heap of tomatoes these instructions for freezing them came in handy.

*I also made cornbread and tuna melts that I mentioned in earlier posts and some internet regulars - black beans and Korean tofu.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Indian BBQ

Last weekend we had Indian BBQ. I cooked from The Food of India by Priya Wickramasinghe, making parathas, pork tikka and a delicious salad dish called kosambri.

To convert the pork tikka recipe for the BBQ I skewered the marinated pork and grilled over indirect heat. I made the sauce the recipe calls for in the food processor using red onion, garlic, ginger, green chilli, coriander, and added about 30 millilitres of vegetable oil. This was served alongside the pork like a fresh chutney, it was refreshing and complemented the lightly charred pork well.

The salad was worth repeating, make a larger batch so you also have some for lunch the next day. For the coconut I used McKenzie's moist flakes, which worked really well here.

Serves 4
Adapted from The Food of India by Priya Wickramasinghe

50 g moong dal
200 g carrot or white radish
25 g grated coconut
25 g coriander leaves
1/2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp yellow mustard seed
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tbsp lemon juice

Cover the dal in boiling water and leave to soak for at least 3 hours. Rinse well and drain.

Finely grate the carrot or radish in to a bowl and add the coconut, dal and coriander. Heat the oil in a small fry pan over a medium heat and add the mustard seed. When the seed begins to pop add the chilli and remove from the heat. Add the lemon juice and stir, pour over the salad once cold and toss well.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tuna Melt

Saw the tuna melt on the menu at Sweet Mothers Kitchen while in Wellington recently, I was curious, but I got a burrito. With my amazing (ha!) powers of recall I thought to make it for lunch today. One of my few food issues is warm canned tuna, but this was surprisingly tasty. Needs about ~1/4 the mayonnaise and I can't imagine the celery is necessary or essential, Swiss or Emmental cheese probably is.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Summer is a bad time for impulse buying fruit at the markets. This week I couldn't pass up ten kilograms of roma-ish tomatoes for $12, for that price they were in great shape and I only threw out about 250 grams of squashed fruit.
  • 1.0 kg became tomato soup with Christmas ham bone stock and lot of sweet basil
  • 1.5 kg were slow roasted for 4 hours to make Skye Gyngell's tomato and chilli jam
  • 2.0 kg were simmered with spices, onions, raisins, apples and apricots to make tomato and apricot chutney
  • 2.0 kg got peeled, chopped and frozen in 400g packs since I'm trying to stop using most tinned food
  • 3.0 kg of the smallest tomatoes were slow roasted overnight with herbs, salt and black pepper to pack in oil for later use

Hot Chilli

When we had the Texas barbecue I served a big pot of vegan chilli made from a kilogram of dried pinto beans and loosely based on a recipe I found online. I didn't try any but the guests really liked it and several requested the recipe, so I have recreated it with a more manageable quantity of beans.

There are several ways you could prepare beans; I like to precook them and then cook them with the spicy sauce in the oven, allowing everything to become rich and well-incorporated. Blending the onions and other aromatics is a trick I have picked up from doing lots of Indian cooking, it gives you a smooth and even sauce. Since the beans have been fully cooked this dish is good eating from the day it's made.

We ate chilli with this fresh corn and basil cornbread (as written but sugar reduced to 1/4 cup). It wasn't as fluffy and delicious as some other corn breads that I have made, but when cut into batons and served with the chilli the textures contrasted nicely.

Vegetarian Chilli
Serves 6-8 as a main

500 g dried pinto beans
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 brown onions
3 jalapeños
2 chipotle peppers with adabo sauce
3 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chilli powder
1-2 red capsicums (about 350 g), diced
700 ml tomato passata
4 tsp fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried
4 tbsp fresh coriander

Preheat the oven to 120°C. Put the dried beans in a large oven-proof dutch oven, add the salt and water to cover by 4 centimetres. Bring to the boil, then cover and bake for 75 minutes or until soft, check the water level at 45 minutes and top up if necessary. When the beans are soft pour them and the cooking liquid into a large bowl.

Increase the oven temperature to 150°C. Add the oil to the dutch oven, peel and dice one onion and sauté until brown. Peel and quarter the other onions and place them, the jalapeños, chipotles and spices in a blender or food processor to make a smooth purée. Pour the purée onto the sautéing onions and cook until fragrant, then add the tomatoes, diced capsicum, oregano, cooked beans and their cooking liquid and bring to the boil. Cover and bake for 2 hours, then remove the lid and bake for a further hour. Add the fresh coriander just prior to serving.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Asado is a South American variety of barbecue. To accompany some slow cooked barbecue veal ribs and chorizo I made chimichurri. Chimchurri is a hot vinegar sauce, this version is from Argentina and is really invigoratingly intense. To serve it with the grilled meats I shredded some fresh coriander and spooned over some chimichurri so that the leaves were coated and just suspended in the sauce, leaving a lot more sauce for later use.

As usual dinner was ready too late for photos.

Makes about 300 ml
Adapted from The Book of Latin American Cooking by Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz

3 tbsp olive oil
240 ml red wine vinegar
2 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp hot Spanish paprika
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp salt

Mix the oil, vinegar, cayenne and paprika in a jar or bottle. In a mortar and pestle crush the garlic, peppercorns, oregano, bay leaf and salt to make a paste. Add the paste to the container and shake well to mix. Put the sauce in a cool place or refrigerate for four or five days to allow the flavours to develop.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Texas BBQ

We had a few things to celebrate, so we threw a huge BBQ before departing for summer holidays. I was keen to try out some Texan BBQ, since I still think about the brisket sandwich I had in the Fort Worth airport last September. Twenty-four people turned up for the BBQ, including several vegans and vegetarians, so the menu had to have something for everyone. I settled on the following:

Barbecued Texas Beef Brisket
Vegetarian Texas Chili (I changed the recipe a lot ans will post the modified version later)
Grilled corn
Peach ice cream, vanilla ice cream with pecans, and peach sorbet

Acquiring brisket was problematic, three days before the barbecue I couldn't get one from any of the butchers in Belconnen and then my shopping patience ran out. I could get a few large pieces of silverside which in the American meat vocabulary is known as top round (and coincidently is the preferred cut for Baltimore-style barbecue). To make something with a similar texture and flavour to my recollection of to brisket from silverside I followed these instructions for barbecuing bison top round, the meat was cooked for 90 minutes per kilo with the barbecue set up for indirect heat and a tray of water placed in the centre to create some steam. The barbecue was about 135 °C for the duration, I wanted the meat cooked medium to avoid potential toughness, so left it cook until it reached and internal temperature of 63 °C, then took it out of the BBQ to rest for 30 minutes wrapped in foil. It wqs really good, but a thinner and fattier cut may have been even better.

The dessert required less experimentation. Peach ice cream is a Southern US speciality, this version comes from Texan former First Lady Ladybird Johnson; it was extremely delicious.

Mrs. Lyndon B Johnson's Peach Ice Cream
Makes about 2 liters
Adapted from The Texas Cookbook by Mary Faulk Koock

1 kg ripe peaches
1 cup water
600 ml cream
250 ml milk
1 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 egg yolks

To make peach purée halve, pit and quarter the peaches, then cut the quarters into smaller pieces. Put the peach pieces and the water into a saucepan, cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the peach skin has separated from the flesh and the flesh can easily be pierced with a knife. Let the peaches cool then process into a purée with a blender, pass the blended mix though a sieve for a very fine purée.

To make the custard, mix the cream, milk, sugar, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan and heat gently. Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl, remove the cream mixture from the stove and gradually whisk in half of the warm milk. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over a moderate heat, stirring constantly, until the custard has thickened.

Strain the hot custard into the puréed peaches and stir until well mixed. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions, for a standard ice cream machine with a 1L bowl divide the mixture into two portions .

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cabbage and Potato Curry

Clockwise, rice, sour chickpeas (khatte chhole), papadum, cabbage and potato curry

I made this Pakistani curry for the first time last May, I remember choosing it because it used up staple vegetables. I really enjoyed it when we ate it then but I didn't make any notes and the recipe was a bit vague in places.

The version below is quite hot, you could easily use the same spice mix and increase the vegetables to make a more mild curry that feeds more people, just maintain the 2:2:1 ratio of cabbage, potatoes and tomatoes.

Bund Gobi Aur Aaloo
Serves 4-6
Adapted from Asian Spicy Recipes

400 g wedge of cabbage
400 g potatoes
200 g tomatoes
2 tbsp oil
1 medium onion
3 cm piece ginger
1 tsp chilli powder
1\2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander seed, ground
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
2 green chillies, chopped

Remove any tough cabbage leaves, shred the leaves and discard the tough core. Peel and cut the potatoes into a 1.5 cm dice. Roughly dice the tomatoes. Set the vegetables aside.

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Peel and dice the onion, peel crush and chop the garlic. Add the onion and garlic to the hot oil and sauté until soft or about 5 minutes. Add the chilli powder, turmeric, coriander, and salt and cook for a further 3 minutes stirring frequently, add a little water if the mixture sticks.

Add the diced tomatoes to the pan and fry the mixture until the tomatoes are reduced to a pulp and the oil begins to separate from the mix. Add the cabbage and potatoes and stir to cover them with the aromatic tomato mixture. Reduce the heat and cover the pan, allow to cook for about 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and the curry looks quite dry

Add garam masala, fresh coriander and green chillies and serve.