Just Sous Just Me

Musicians, inspired recipes, songs and food adventures.


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Airlie Beach Chilli Sauce

Sauce

This is a recipe created by some dear friends in Airlie Beach many years ago and is my adaption of the original one.  You can add as many chillies as you can stand, up to you.  Being a chilli fanatic I go full throttle with the amount.  For extra zing, a pinch of the sauce can be added to many dishes such as pizza, Bolognese or napolitana sauces, scrambled eggs or anything your imagine comes up with.  Add a few teaspoons to a cup of natural yoghurt as an accompaniment to fish and chicken or for the vegetarians, smothered on top of roasted vegetables (particularly eggplant) is also very tasty. If you are a chilli fan, you will use this in everything. Even if you aren’t a chilli fan you will still like this sauce, I promise you.

Ingredients:

Birds Eyes Chillies (depending on the heat factor you can stand – I used 500g, that’s heaps)

4 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 brown onions, roughly chopped

2 red capsicum, roughly chopped

2 cups white vinegar

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp coconut sugar (or brown sugar)

Sea Salt

Method:

1. Place all ingredients in a blender (not olive oil and brown sugar) you will have to do this in two batches and blend well.

2. Heat oil in a heavy based saucepan and add the blended mixture, bring to the boil slowly and let bubble away for a while.

3. Reduce heat to a simmer, add the brown sugar and cook uncovered  for several hours. *

The sauce will begin to change colour to a lovely deep, vibrant, orangey red and at this point turn the heat off, cover and let the sauce rest over night.  Put into sterilized jars and it will last for a few months refrigerated.

* Make sure the kitchen is well ventilated during this time as the brewing chilli aroma will be strong!

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Tangled Up In Darwin and Rudd

Tangled Drumkit

The life of a full-time travelling musician is rarely dull. Not only are we lucky enough to have the privilege of performing alongside greatness on stage, we also on occasion get to travel to some tasty destinations for work and today is no exception.  Just the mention of the name Darwin conjures up exotic images of sun-drenched harbour walks, vibrant markets, dangerously seductive crocodile-infested waters, vivid coloured skies blanketing bright red Northern Territory dirt and general tropical thoughts of all kinds. It’s been seven years since I last visited Darwin so am thrilled at the opportunity to be a part of the Bob Dylan Tribute ‘Tangled Up In Bob’ at the Darwin Railway Club.

Any air travel needed to be undertaken within Australia with more than one hours’ duration, and I know Dobe Newton from the Bushwackers will whole-heartedly agree can only be on Qantas. Tiger Airlines has been putting in a valiant effort as of late, as has Virgin (who have relaxed their rules of baggage allowance for musicians through APRA). And ever since they provided ‘all-responsibility and no-care’ with my accordion on one ill-fated trip, Jetstar remains an all-round disappointing experience. There is a certain amount of tactility and romanticism associated with Qantas like the intoxicating aroma of a soft, well-worn leather jacket. Complimentary SMH at the gate, your own personal iPad with movies, a free hot-meal are just some of the features that Qantas won me over with when it was time to book the flight to Darwin.

Railway Club Beer-Garden

Railway Club Beer-Garden

In 30 Degree temperatures, a fairly mild but ever so gentle ferocious humidity blasts me on arrival. Feels like a storm is on its way to this troposphere town but turns out is a tease only and more a sign of whats to come over the next six months. As soon as I check into the hotel, am out of my tight black Sydney Winter jeans and boots and into the Havianas and shorts quicker than you can say ‘Story of the Hurricane’.

Slightly peckish and with a few hours to kill before sound-check at the Club I get pointed in the direction of the Parap Village which is directly across from the hotel where I discover a fabulous supermarket, Parap Fine Foods. This establishment has been run by an Italian family for years and they have an extensive stock of top-shelf gourmet selections of all kinds. It takes me by surprise and spend the next hour perusing labels of local and imported jams, sauces and spice mixes. The fruit and veg section is all local and mostly organic. Then I spot the Deli with an incredible display of chocolate sweet delights and macarons, salamis and a cheese component equating the quality and quantity of anything found in a French Fromagerie.

Parap Fine Foods Deli

Parap Fine Foods Deli

I can’t decide on a cheese and this must be obvious to the woman behind the counter as have stared glazed-eyed for some time. She offers assistance and decides for me, giving me a sample of a German Sheepskin Milk Picasso which is divine. Being the end of the role due to the popularity of this cheese, she wraps it up and hands over 200 gms worth with a discount at $14 adding she likes her cheeses to go to a good home and I reassure her this will be the case. This woman knows her cheeses. I also purchase local vine-ripened tomatoes, Kalamata Olives drenched in lime and garlic and a 2010 Mount Benson Merlot from South Australia. Forty-five dollars later, and all I wanted was a snack 🙂

Wheelbarrow Basil at the Railway Club

Wheelbarrow Basil at the Railway Club

The Darwin Railway Club is a fascinating place. This is the first time I have performed at a Club that raises their own chickens and uses the eggs for spinach pies, grow their own herbs and also harvest ducks for consumption. They recently held a feast night where these ducks were (sorry vegetarians) after being raised lovingly, then put to sleep, prepared and served up for the members. Welcome to Darwin! Before the gig, I order a glass of Shiraz and forgetting am in the NT for a moment, shudder at the fact that the bottle comes out of the fridge. After mentioning this to the bar-girl she responds in her NZ accent to just give it two minutes when it will arrive at room temperature. Of course it will.

Beergarden Buddha

The Green-Room where we are hanging before the gig with the local Darwin Musicians in the Tangled Band tonight is the hottest room in the building. I learn later this room is also a completely cyclone-proof bunker made of solid concrete. Unlike performing at the Gympie Muster last weekend in arctic temperatures where the lights on the stage being LED based no longer generate any kind of heat, we are exposed to the old faithful R & R full-on-heat emitting old-school globe variety. The Band also cooks, renditions of Maggies Farm and Subterranean Blues are well executed by these local talented Darwinite Musicians.

Parap Market Flowers with Ginger

Parap Market Flowers with Ginger

Thanks to the Qantas In-Flight Magazine, I have already read about the Parap Markets held every Saturday being touted as a must-do on the Darwin tourist agenda. How serendipitous that I am here on a fleeting twenty-four hour visit, staying directly opposite where these markets occur. The produce is primarily of South East Asian flavours – mountains of chillis, coriander, paw-paws, mangoes, garlic, ginger and accompanying spices. Lebanese flavours are also represented along with reams of tye-dyed clothes and locally crafted silver jewellery. But it is the food that is impressing me here and I circle around in a holding-pattern deciding on what just to go for. Instinct tells me that anything will be good so I go for a Thai spicy chicken larb style salad, a watermelon, lime and ginger juice plus a Lebanese custard desert drenched in rose-syrup. Heaven. I also purchase a Chilli Sauce, made with only birds-eye chillis, garlic and lime. NO SUGAR or preservatives of any kind and is very hot according to the grocer who has made it himself.

Oddly, there appears to be some media action rustling up with TV cameras all assembling in the vicinity of where I am. A quiet buzz turns into frenzy as none other that Kevin Rudd appears out of no-where. All of a sudden I am engulfed by a sea of zoom-lenses and a tsunami of paparazzi, surreal indeed. Now there’s a traffic jam and general mayhem surrounding the previous serenity of the Parap Markets and people are asking Kevin to move-on. Something tells me he’s not here for the Laksa 🙂

The Rudd Circus at Parap

The Rudd Circus at Parap


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Chillies and Love Affairs

Chilli Oil

Chilli Oil

I am addicted to chillies.  Did I mention that I love chillies? This love affair has been going on for around twenty-five years now.  A bit of background here, this relationship did not start harmoniously or gently feeling our way by any means.  Our introduction to each other was rather hurtful and very painful, and almost set us on the path never to be reunited again as I really did bite off more than I could chew and didn’t see the point of pursuing connections any further, the memory still resounds firmly.

I persisted though, and had no choice as the musicians and people I was associating with at the time were all big chilli freaks and was surrounded by all things chilli, constantly.  If it wasn’t in the cooked dishes, it was on the side as sauces, in marinades, salads and even fried up till they were black and used as sandwich filler.  (I never actually tried this, but an old flatmate used to cook this up from time to time, you had to vacate the premises because of the associated breathing difficulties).

Eventually, I started to introduce my taste buds with chilli correctly, in small doses and gradually. A resistance level to the pain must be built up with this fiery fruit, you need to feel your way with it.  The pain threshold is now no barrier, I have reached the point where it’s no problem to consume large amounts and am no longer fearful, I am in love.

You see, chillies are actually physically addictive. They contain a compound called ‘capsaicin’ which is a natural chemical sending the burning sensation from the nerve endings in the mouth directly to the brain. Endorphins, natural painkillers in the body are then secreted causing a physical ‘rush’. This natural ‘high’ is what keeps us coming back for more, and just like any other addiction, you start craving higher doses the more you use it and your tolerance level builds. However, there is no evidence that eating too much chilli is unhealthy or ulcer causing and capsaicin is actually used in anti-inflammatory creams to treat arthritis and shingles.

Although, on the other extreme I would advise against entering into a chilli-eating competition any time soon.  A greatly talented musician friend I have worked with over the years has recounted a story of this to me. The contestants were made to eat chillies during a few rounds, where after each had to open their mouths to show the chillies had been chewed up firstly, then swallowed and no water in between. The overall winner had to be hospitalised!

I think best to just stick with the Chilli Sauce for now. Or try this recipe for Chilli Oil, a great way of using them when you have a chilli bush loaded with fruit and not sure what to do with them all.

Chilli Oil

1 cup of Birds Eye Chillies (or more depending on your heat threshold)

3 cups of good quality olive oil

1) Pre-heat oven to 180 C

2) Spread chillies evenly in a roasting tin

3) Roast chillies for approximately fifteen minutes or until well roasted, but not completely black, cool slightly

4) Place chillies in a jar, pour in olive oil

5) Cover with glad-wrap and place in a dark cupboard for three days

6) Strain oil into a bottle and discard chillies.  If it’s too hot, pour in some more olive oil to dilute.