Category Archives: Cooking at home

Pirags!!!!!!

The finished product :)

Well, I finally managed to make my own Piragi!

I was somewhat deterred by my mum constantly telling me it was an ‘all day job’, but when I had a day free & was in the baking mood I thought I’d give it a whirl… turns out mum was drastically over exaggerating – it took far less time than what I found it took me to bake a batch of piparkukas only days before!

So – on with the process… my mum didn’t have a recipe & my aunt who has all of our Latvian recipe’s was overseas at the time I decided to bake so mum suggested that I use the one for ‘piroshki’ in my much treasured Margaret Fulton cookbook.

It looked pretty straight forward – and would have been a whole lot easier had I actually made sure I had all the ingredients before I started *read mad run to the store to get more eggs mid-way through combining the ingredients* – oops…

Donny & Ritsy Cook Christmas Lunch

My first Christmas Pudding

Traditionally Christmas lunch is spent with my dad’s family, but this year lunch was relegated to a 7:30am breakfast (which we couldn’t bring ourselves to commit to) so we decided to cook Christmas lunch for a party of 3!

Our Christmas morning started with what has become a tradition for us – Waffles with fresh berries and vanilla ice cream – yum!

After breakfast we began to work on lunch. We chose a pretty simple menu to make things easy on ourselves…

My dad loves duck, and there was a delicious looking recipe in the December issue of Gourmet Traveller for Roast duck with cherries and roast kipfler potatoes so that was main course sorted. As the weather was going to be warm, I was toying with the idea of a family favourite – shredded duck salad with jellyfish. Donny was slightly apprehensive, wondering whether a duck duo would be a bit too much, but the $7 ducks we stumbled upon sealed the deal. What a duck feast we were going to have!

Don’t trust the recipe

We have made quite a few tasty recipes from the Longrain cookbook, Modern Thai Food, with a great deal of success. Until the other night. The recipe in question was “Grilled Stuffed Calamari”, which was stuffed with minced pork and Chinese black fungus.

Midway through preparation, with my hands full of minced pork, coriander roots, and fish sauce, Ritsy grabs the 100g packet of dried mushrooms, empties them into a bowl, and moves towards the sink to rehydrate them. All of them.

I tried to explain that there was no way anywhere near that many dried mushrooms were necessary for a 200g quantity of minced pork – but she insisted that the recipe said 4 0z dried black fungus – which, indeed, it did. I decided that the only way to teach Ritsy rule #1 in cooking (don’t trust the recipe), was to let her follow it.

An Ezard inspired mothers day (with a little help from Bill Granger!)

Professional!

Perhaps I shouldn’t have joked about how long it might take me to blog about our mothers day lunch in an earlier post, it’s somewhat embarrassing that it’s nearly fathers day!

Mothers day lunch is a tricky proposition in our house as my mum’s partner is somewhat of a fussy eater, thankfully though I have a mum that eats everything! After about a week of consulting our various cook books, we finally settled on a menu of steamed scallop tortellini, roast chicken and a five-spiced creme brulee. Aside from the fussy eating factor, we also wanted a menu that required little effort on the big day.

Entree – Steamed scallop tortellini w/ verjuice and citrus better sauce, crispy leek and herb salad

The Fat Boy wasn’t quite right…

Whilst we had the utmost success with the Fat Boy in the beginning, as the Propane cannister emptied out it started to behave quite unusually.

Although it still worked perfectly fine when it was standing upright, when it was turned upside down the super-hot blue flame turned into an over-oxygenated yellow flame – which meant that it wasn’t blowtorching things properly anymore.

I did some research and found out that this is a common problem as the cylinders empty out, and that you actually need a regulated blowtorch nozzle.

After searching online, I found a suitable model – also sold at Bunnings – the TS3000T. It comes in a pack with a propane cannister, under the code TS3000, which cost about $68.

Cuisinart MP-14NA Food Processor

We had been thinking about getting a decent sized food processor for quite some time now. As good as our Cuisinart Mini Prep is for smaller tasks (see our writeup here), it’s obviously impractical for the bigger jobs.

Having being blessed with the almighty Robot Coupe R301 Ultra in most of my previous commercial kitchens, I knew that I would not be easily satisfied. Budgetary requirements prevented us from spending upwards of $2000 on that piece of luxury – which meant that I had pretty much decided on the Sunbeam Cafe Series LC8900 food processor – which retails for a more modest $399AUD.

Mini Pavlova, Donny Style

This has to be one of my all time favourite desserts, and it’s a snap to make. It takes me about 5 minutes from getting all of the ingredients out, to having the meringue mixture in the oven.

My recipe is based off the ever handy Margaret Fulton Cookbook. I cook them for a lot less time, as I prefer them to have a slight chewy texture in the middle. This recipe makes enough meringue mixture for two good sized mini pavs.

Just make sure that the mixing bowl is completely dry, and the egg whites have no yolk in them whatsoever.

Ingredients 1.5 large egg whites 1/8th teaspoon Cream of Tartar 1/2 cup Caster Sugar 1/2 cup Cream Fresh fruit for the topping Method Preheat the oven to 120 degrees Line a tray with baking paper, or if you have one, just use a Silpat Beat the egg whites in a kitchenaid or similar mixer if you have one, until the egg whites are a bit frothy, but have not changed color to white Add the Cream of Tartar and continue beating until stiff peaks form Gradually add in all of the sugar – aim to have added in all of the sugar no sooner than 1.5 minutes. The mixture should be smooth, and the sugar should have dissolved thanks to the Cream of Tartar Turn off the mixer, and spoon out onto the Silpat / baking paper – you should have enough for two portions Place the tray in the oven, and set a timer for about 45 minutes

Stir-fried Crabs with Chilli Jam

Yum!

Last night we made Stir-fried Crabs with Chilli Jam, from the Longrain book Modern Thai Food.

Preparation for this dish was made simple considering we had already made Chilli Jam for Longrain’s Tom Kha (this was over four months ago!). The book recommends that the Chilli Jam is kept for up to 2 months, but I think it can be kept for about 6 months no problems. They are probably just covering themselves against a lawsuit I guess!

We bought four Blue Swimmer crabs from Prahran Market – which ended up costing us $18 – less than the cost of an entree in most restaurants. Once we had the crabs, we went to The Essential Ingredient to pick up some seafood crackers and crab / lobster forks so that we could make the most of the feast we were about to indulge in.

First, we steamed the crabs for 7 minutes. Once they had cooled, they were ready to be cleaned up. This involves ripping the top part of the shell and the “tail” off, cleaning, and cutting them in half.

The dish is surprisingly straight forward. Fry off the garlic, chilli, and kaffir lime leaves, add the chilli jam & stir fry sauce, add the crabs, cook for a few minutes, then toss through the spring onions and some thai basil.

…one a penny, two a penny…

The finished product

As I sit down (finally) to write about hot cross buns I begin to reflect on the fact it’s taken me nearly two months to write about my baking experience…. it sure does highlight the fact that I’m the worlds greatest procrastinator – but enough about me!

We didn’t have any plans for the Easter long weekend this year so I decided I was going to make my Good Friday count and bake my own (sultana free!) apple cinnamon hot cross buns – yum 🙂

My recipe came from the April issue of Gourmet Traveller and was quite easy to follow – my only complaint was that when measuring out the ingredients first you ended up in a bit of a pickle as you progressed through the recipe because the whole portion measured out wasn’t necessarily required for that part of the dish! Why not make it simple & mention this at the start?!  (Shhh – no it’s not up to me to read ahead & measure accordingly from the start!!)

Fat Boy in the Kitchen

Update: See here for our revisited review of the Fat Boy

Dissatisfied with the retail selection of “culinary” blowtorches, most of which need to be refilled using a butane cannister, and most of which range between $50 and $90, I went searching to find something more suitable. My good friend (not that he knows it), Thomas Keller, recommended that I purchase one from a hardware store.

Enter: The Fat Boy. I picked this supersized and superpowered blowtorch up from Bunnings.

The cost? Around $30AUD. The verdict? Awesome. The sugar on my porridge? Caramelised. The cheese on my omlette? Perfectly melted. The hot cross buns? Slightly burnt – perhaps I was getting a bit carried away 🙂

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