Just Sous Just Me

Musicians, inspired recipes, songs and food adventures.


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Slice Of Heaven

photo (1)If there ever was a song best paired with a dessert there’s only one that can be attributed to this little concoction – that very memorable and unforgettable instantly up-lifting little 80’s ditty by Dave Dobbyn. No doubt some people would find the song irritating but the same cannot be said about this divine combination of frozen Kiwi Fruit and Chocolate.  And when you bite into this delectable creation, if ‘Heaven’ is the so-called place where only good things happen, this is promptly where you will find yourself along with wanting more of course. We’ve been putting strawberries and chocolate together and fonduing since the Ice-Age but Kiwi Fruit and frozen at that takes the tried and tested fruit-chocolate combo to a new dimension as the moon shines over your horizon.

photo (2)Is it my imagination or is anyone else noticing the abundance of Lindt Chocolate cutting us off at the path every turn of the trolley during food shopping expeditions? I always thought Harris Farm was primarily a fruit and veg marketplace. I realise other items besides produce have been appearing on their shelves for some time now but the special that hit me square in the face upon entering the store last week was three one hundred gram blocks of Lindt Chocolate for five dollars. Contrary to my local IGA selling them for a weekly ‘special’ of three dollars forty-nine cents per one hundred grams, the Harris Farm deal looked like a true bargain. I only needed some continental parsley and a bunch of eschalots, but my basket now had blocks of exotic sea-salt, chilli, coconut and zest of lime sensations thrown in as well. It’s only a matter of time before Lindt takes over the world as we know it.

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Even dearer in North Sydney CBD….

Wrappings can be torn off and the chocolate consumed in that state immediately which of course is what is intended by the manufacturer but I like to experiment and find other ways with chocolate other than an instant fix. The Texans invented a Chocolate Chilli Con Carne and Nigella Lawson (the unsurpassed Chocolate Queen) uses it in her recipe too. Yes, it’s generic dark cooking chocolate they use rather than luxurious Lindt, but I never had a problem eating dark cooking chocolate straight from the packet either finding it perfectly edible. I struggle to find a reason why Lindt’s Sea Salt variety wouldn’t also work in the Con Carne.

If you can muster the strength and resist temptation to eat all the chocolate before you melt it for ‘Slice Of Heaven’ you’re doing well. Afterall you’ll be eating it eventually so it’s a healthy will-power exercise. With the knowledge you’ll also be rewarding yourself with a good Vitamin C dose from the Kiwi Fruit the guilt from chocolate consumption is a minor consideration. And kids love this, even the ones who are defiantly fruit-intolerant. Here-in probably lies the original reason fruit started being smothered in chocolate in the first place. Would it work the same with a member of the Brassica family I wonder, ‘Choccoli’ anyone?

SLICE OF HEAVEN*

6 Kiwi Fruit; topped tailed, peeled and sliced into thick rounds

2 TBS Coconut Oil

1 Cup Chocolate Pieces (Lindt or any other chocolate you like)

1/2 Tsp Chilli Powder (only for the Chilli fans, absolutely optional)

Catering cocktail forks to insert in Kiwi Pieces

METHOD

1) Insert forks into Kiwi slices, place in a single layer on baking paper and pop in freezer 30 mins

2) Melt chocolate and coconut oil in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Take off heat and bring to room temperature.

3) Remove Kiwi slices from freezer and spoon melted chocolate over each making sure they are covered evenly.

4) Place them back on the tray and put back into the freezer till ready to eat. OR

5) Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 for a decadent double coat.

* The inspiration for this recipe can be found here.

 

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Orange Is The New Soup Ingredient – Carrot, Fennel and Orange Soup

IMG_9377 Surprisingly several songs exist with ‘Orange’ in the title like Orange Crush by REM, Clockwork Orange by Kraftwerk, Bruised Orange by John Prine, Orange Wedge by the Chemical Brothers and Orange Blossom Special of course. My favourite is ‘Orange Juice Blues’ by Bob Dylan & The Band. Not so surprisingly the term ‘Orange’ in these songs is purely metaphorical having nothing to do with the actual fruit itself. I tend to side with cooking exploitations of the very versatile Orange rather than writing or listening to songs about them. And no ducks were harmed in this recipe either!

My earliest memories of Oranges stems back decades ago to my childhood netball ventures. It was during rigorous Saturday afternoon games, when juicy segmented pieces of oranges presented in Tupperware containers was our hydration of choice. Fancy electrolyte sport drinks and bottled water hadn’t even been thought of back then and when H2O was required this entailed a trip to the bubbler queue. I still opt for an Orange segment over a swig of sugar-loaded Gatorade anyday. IMG_9380The quest is on-going during this long cold Winter to come up with tasty, to-the-bone warming and at the same time healthy, flu-fighting soup recipes and so far have succeeded in avoiding being bed-ridden with any un-welcome ailments even though have been in the front-line of exposure to sniffly individuals on pretty much a daily basis. (It could very well be due to the large amounts of garlic I consume which contributes towards the distance kept between us). More elaboration on this here – Flu-shot in a soup bowl.

IMG_9385The proven immune-boosting ingredients used in Carrot and Orange Soup takes flu-shot in a soup bowl to a new level and there is no compromise in taste either. The citrus bursting Orange flavour in this, next to robust beta-carotene ant-oxidant loaded Carrots, and Fennel which incidentally is also loaded with Vitamin C produces an extraordinarily delectable and moorish bowl of goodness indeed. For added eupepsy properties, I added a good lug of grated fresh ginger to further heighten the experience. Once assembled, this soup becomes a vision of orange exquisiteness due to the high carrot and orange content.

My new go-to version of Sea-Salt, combined with Chilli Flakes. 10 out of 10!

My new go-to version of Sea-Salt, combined with Chilli Flakes. 10 out of 10!

During the past week I prepared two different versions: One where the peel was removed before the blending process, and the other where I left the peel in. It made a difference to the end result, the second being far more zesty plus after recently discovering orange peels contain a ginormous amount of nutrients and should be consumed rather than discarded! Who’d have thought…

Carrot, Fennel & Orange Soup

(Serves 4-5)

Ingredients: 1 TBS Coconut Oil

1 Red Onion, chopped

1 Stick Celery, chopped

1 Kilo Carrots, peeled and chopped

1 Medium Sized Fennel Bulb, chopped

1 Orange, peeled

1 TBS grated Ginger

4 Cups Organic Chicken Stock or Veg Stock

Method

1) Heat Coconut Oil in large saucepan over medium heat then add onions and sauté gently for a few minutes.

2) Add Carrots, Fennel, Ginger,  Orange Peel and cook gently for five minutes, stirring often

3) Add Stock, bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

4) Turn off heat, let cool slightly then transfer contents to a blender, whizzing till smooth consistency. (Remove orange peel before blending if you don’t want it too orangey).

5) Pour back into saucepan; juice the orange and stir through soup then gently reheat till ready to serve

(Optional: A scattering of toasted sesame and a bit of chilli sea-salt (pictured above) goes very well with this). No need for any green garnishes, as detracts from the orange flavour).


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The Wrap Artist

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‘Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams’, ‘Wrapped Up In You’. Anything that comes in wrapped form usually means there is a hidden treasure inside just waiting to be revealed. Brown paper packages wrapped (yes I realise it’s actually ‘tied’ in the lyrics) up in string must be favourite things for all of us. ‘Wrap it up’ (I’ll take it) by the Fabulous Thunderbirds, ‘Christmas Wrapping’ by the Waitresses or who could ever forget ‘Wrap Your Arms Around Me’ by Agnetha Faltskog.

How about food being wrapped up, how about that. Who hasn’t experienced the wrap? Who hasn’t ordered a mystery parcel in the form of a sour dough or wholemeal wrap at a lunchtime sandwich bar? You may have ordered a salad, teriyaki chicken or a roasted vegetable wrap. A ham and swiss, a bacon and egg, or a smoked trout, beetroot and horseradish wrap, how divine.

Whatever sort of wrap you have chosen, it will undoubtedly be wrapped. Unless you unwrap the wrap and who would do this unless it’s not been assembled correctly in which case easier to consume in the unwrapped version where the ingredients just spill-out everywhere. This scenario is fine considering all contained ingredients are thoughtful, tasty, fresh ones plus a knife and fork on hand. Wrapping a wrap is indeed an art-form, it’s all about placement.

And then there’s avocado wrapped eggs.

Eggs and Avocado

Eggs and Avocado

For the last few weeks have seen pictures flung all over the internet of eggs inside avocados, you may have seen similar visions. Sometimes cooked, sometimes even raw which would be a major protein hit and highly nutritious mono-stereo fat hit. This has been intriguing and have clicked on the links only to find that this is not a recipe at all but a site selling the miracle weight-loss cure called Garcinia Cambogia. I didn’t want to lose weight only wanting to find out more about those eggs and avocados. There is no recipe or any other mention at all but of course further googling uncovered several recipes for avocados and eggs. If there is any food that is going to wrap up another food, avocados and eggs are pure chemistry at its best. (Possibly only surpassed by grated lime-soaked carrot, garlic, mint and ginger wrapped up in chinese cabbage leaves).

IMG_8852As you’d expect, there are varying recipes for this type of dish – some calling for roasting the avocado with an egg cracked into its cavity. Personally am not a fan of baked avocado, finding the room-temperature sublimated flesh of a fresh, uncooked avocado irresistible. Poaching or boiling an egg and then placing into the avocado cavity splashed with lime juice and a dash of olive oil, seasoned with sea salt, cracked black pepper and a sprinkling of smoked paprika is truly something else. So basically simple and easy to assemble, this dish would appear to be a breakfast option but can be experienced any time of the Night Or Day.

Spicy Avocado Wrapped Eggs

Ingredients:

1 Ripe Avocado, sliced in two and pit removed

Juice from 1 Lime

1 Organic Free-Range Egg – Hard boiled and cut in half lengthways (Or two small poached eggs)

1 Tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea Salt and Black Pepper

Pinch of Smoked Paprika.

Method:

Remove a decent scoop of avocado flesh from each half. (Just enough to make room for the egg and at least half of it left as texture – don’t bother reserving the flesh for another use, consume immediately).

Drizzle each half with Lime Juice and Olive Oil

Place boiled egg halves or two poached eggs individually in each cavity and sprinkle over sea salt, pepper and smoked paprika.

Love Lettuce Wrap

(Ingredients pictured at top, such a gentle alternative using lettuce as the wrapping as opposed to a wheat-flour dough variety)

Iceberg Lettuce leaves, whole

1 Lebanese cucumber, thinly sliced with a mandolin

Avocado flesh for spread

1/2 Green or Red Capsicum, thinly sliced

Lemon Juice

Shredded Basil Leaves

1 Tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Grated Cheddar Cheese

1 Tsp Airlie Beach Chilli Sauce (optional)

Method:

Wrap all listed ingredients inside the iceberg leaves same as you would do with San Choy Bau.

It’s a wrap.


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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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All-Green Broad Bean Salad; Pre-Xmas Detox

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December is absolutely upon us, the finale to a lightning-speed elapsed year of 2013 and all of the celebratory carry-on and over-indulgence that will accompany the season right up to the New Year and beyond. There’s no easy escape for anyone, best just to go with it. Musicians particularly will most likely be following a hectic schedule right now playing at Xmas parties and participating in Candlelight Carol events around the country. This can mean hours of rehearsal then being placed on a stage to read endless charts of Xmas songs, like Mariah Carey’s epic arrangement of Joy to the World including three key changes, multiple chord-subsitutions and references to the ‘Three Dog Night’ song thrown in as well just to keep us on our toes. To keep up the level of concentration needed in these situations, being well-nourished is vital. Take a bag of almonds and some bananas  to the rehearsal.

I have decided this year to be well armed for the onslaught figuring a few weeks of healthy eating will put the body in ship-shape preparedness for the upcoming weeks and damage-control can be enforced prior to excessive consumption.  For this task am thinking along the lines of Green.

IMG_8708There are no limitations to an All-Green Salad, truly fresh being the most important element. Make sure every green ingredient of your choice (or follow list below) is fresh and clean by washing all leaves/herbs free from residues – organic included. Even if you’ve grown it all yourself  it still must be rinsed thoroughly. If you have cultivated your own greens you’ll be aware of the freshness and taste sensation as opposed to you know what. If you are purchasing from markets or grocers, go for the most vibrant looking and use that very same day.  The French approach – shop seasonally and if you are good with time-management, daily for optimum zest.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABroad Beans are the stars of this salad and are in season now, but really anything green and lush will work. Don’t be afraid of Broad Beans. Yes they are fussy and time-consuming to prepare but the results, both nutritionally loaded with protein and fibre also taste wise are worth it if you set aside the time to prepare them. Based on top of an all-green salad and served with Green Tea for the ultimate de-fox, this is a nice early Xmas present for your body. You could also serve this up with some cooked prawns and basil oil tossed through as a Turkey alternative on The Day itself.  You’ll have yourself a very merry little Christmas indeed.

All-Green Broad Bean (Pre-Xmas Detox) Salad

Ingredients:

1 Cup prepared Broad Beans

1 Bunch of Rocket Lettuce

1/2 Cup of Green Peas

Mint Leaves, shredded

Basil leaves, torn

Bunch of Chives, chopped

Lime Juice

Sea Salt

Method:

* To prepare Broad beans – Split the pods and remove the beans, discard pods. Blanch beans in boiling water for a few minutes, drain then place into ice water. Slip the skins off simply with your finger, or make a small incision with a knife and pop the inner bean out (this is the time-consuming part)

* Place the rest of the salad ingredients in a bowl with the beans, toss gently.

* Sprinkle with Sea Salt and Lime Juice

For a bit more of a zing, try the salad with this Basil Oil Recipe (which also is delicious with prawns)

Basil Oil

1/2 Cup Basil Leaves

1 Garlic Clove

1 TBS Lemon Juice

1 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar

1/2 Cup good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea Salt and ground Black Pepper

Method:

* Place all ingredients in a food-processor and blend well.

* Pour what you don’t use straight away into a jar and store in the fridge, it will keep for a week. (Just bring it to room temperature before next use as the oil solidifies).  Once you try this oil, you’ll find you want to put it on everything – it’s spectacularly good on poached eggs for breakfast 🙂


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Baking Bad Scrambled Eggplant

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Sometimes you need to look outside the proverbial circle to source food and recipe inspiration, or maybe it just occurs naturally if you trust your instincts in certain situations. Usually I find green-grocery shopping nothing short of a rejuvenating sensory experience with display after display of fresh, multi-coloured fruit and vegetables beautifully presented like paint on an artist’s palette. They haven’t just been dumped randomly, serious thought has gone into these displays for maximum visual appeal which turns into enticement and ultimately (in my case) more purchases than needed at the time – like the four inviting artichokes I bought yesterday just because they looked so content nestling happily next to the eggplants, not because I was going to be using them in my recipe but solely for decorational purposes in my kitchen.

Thyme from the Wall Garden

Thyme from the Wall Garden

Right now it appears the planet is collectively obsessed with, either just starting, completely finished or half-way through that ubiquitary TV series Breaking Bad which has presented me with an inspiration for a dish. How is this be possible you ask? If you are familiar with this completely compelling piece of Television excellence you’d be familiar with the character Marie who, as the series goes on you eventually notice is constantly surrounded by the colour purple. Not only is she wearing purple (contrasted with yellow or other complimenting purple colour-matches) the kitchen is also full of purple appliances, the crockery, shopping bags, curtains, the bedroom theme, furniture and even a purple cork-screw makes an appearance.  I also wonder if she she eats eggplant every night for dinner? It’s entirely possible she does.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe more I watch this series and am blasted with visions of purple the more thoughts I have about eggplant and other assorted purple coloured vegetables to the point of Marie Schrader’s obsessive behaviour. Red Onions (which are really purple and should be called purple onions), Raddichio, Beetroot, Purple Garlic, Purple Carrots, Purple Chillis and the King of them all, Eggplant. Traditionally serving sliced, drenched with olive oil, grilled and consumed just like that is sensational but there are other ways to incorporate eggplant in your cooking if you like to experiment. This recipe is based on an Iranian dish ‘Mirza Ghassemi’ plus a few additions and omissions. Baked with thyme the night before, then folded through scrambled eggs the following morning the sweet, smokey flavour intensifies over night. Baking has to be one of the easiest and tastiest ways to prepare eggplant.  Chop the skin and flesh up, fold through the scrambled egg and serve on a bed of rocket topped with dollops of dill yoghurt. and a squeeze of lemon. For the Chilli freaks, throw some chopped fresh purple chillis over the final result.

Baked Eggplant Scramble

1 Large Eggplant; Cut in half lengthways criss-cross scored without piercing skin

2 tsp Sea Salt

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

Few sprigs of fresh Thyme

* Sprinkle salt in the slits of the eggplant and set aside for 30 mins

* Squeeze all liquid from eggplant (like a sponge)

* Pre-heat oven to 200 C

* Brush flesh sides with Olive Oil

* Place flesh side down on top of Thyme sprigs in a roasting tin and bake for 1 hour or till skin starts crisping up.

Creamy Scrambled Eggs

4 – 6 Free Range Eggs

1/4 Cup of cream or Milk (or if dairy issues, just plain old water)

50 gms Butter

Salt and Pepper

Smokey Paprika for dusting

* Crack eggs into a bowl and whisk with a fork

* Add milk then use an electric beater to whip them up till well mixed, light and aerated

* Melt butter in pan till sizzling, pour in egg mixture and let settle for around a minute before moving it all with a spoon.

* Do not over stir, just gently fold cooked parts over each other till barely cooked; just slightly un-cooked as off the flame it is still setting. (Over-cooked scrambled eggs become watery rather than what you want light and fluffy)

* Chop the eggplant at this stage and gently mix through the scrambled eggs.

* Serve on a bed of Rocket drenched with lemon with the dill yoghurt sauce and a sprinkle of smokey paprika

Dill and Yoghurt Sauce

1/2 cup of Greek Yoghurt

2 Tbs finely chopped fresh dill

* Mix together till well combined

Note*

For the full ‘purple explosion’, grate some purple carrot over the rocket and add some caramelised red-onions before the eggs go on top, sprinkled with some edible purple flowers. (Sorry there is no picture, am only imagining this but am sure would look great)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy cute little Artichoke 🙂


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Yellow Polka-Dot Zucchini Linguine

Zucchini Linguine

Judging by warmer temperatures and Christmas decorations now appearing in department stores, Winter is officially over in Sydney. As a cold weather lover always happy to embrace the commencement of Winter I actually look forward to the oncoming months of slow cooked roasts and stews brewed up all day to be consumed in my kitchen next to the glowing  Jøtul cast iron wood stove. If I could afford the luxury of regularly travelling to any destination in the world I’d be pursuing the Winter climates over basting in sunny-hot, humid and balmy conditions any day. There’s just something about rugging-up, slipping on Ugg Boots and sipping a nice glass of spicy-sweet mulled wine that is much more appealing than enduring a sun-burnt sweat-fest.

Suffering a mild case of denial and not yet ready to put away the Ugg Boots or my cast-iron Chasseur pot, inevitably it’s time to start thinking about culinary choices that will suit the warmer weather approaching. And unlike Eggplant, there are countless songs written about Summer and all things Sunshine to get a bit of kitchen inspiration. Mostly positive, happy and upbeat songs like Heat Wave, Summer in the City, The Boys Of Summer, California Dreamin’, Surfin Safari, Under the Boardwalk, Summer of ’69 and that’s just the tip of the equatorial iceberg. Conversely Cruel Summer by Bananarama paints Summer in a darker light as does Summertime originally sung by Ella Fitzgerald.

Zucchini Flowers

Zucchini Flowers

The most quintessential summer song I can think of has to be the Brian Hyland recording of Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka dot Bikini. Mostly because I had to sing this song for the Bushwackers Beach Party in Tamworth a few years ago so is the song used as inspiration for Zucchini Linguine. How can this song inspire a recipe you say? Easily. Apart from the obvious rhyme of Zuchini and Bikini, think yellow with polka dots and the possibilities are endless. My thoughts straightaway leaned towards yellow capsicum, capers, preserved lemon and black sesame seeds. And Zucchini sliced thinly into lengthways strips I have recently discovered, surprisingly is an excellent and far healthier alternative to pasta. If you want your Bolognese sauce to stand out next time both visually and textually, try serving on a bed of Zucchini Linguine.

Slashed of high carbohydrate content and also gluten-free, who knows you might just be able to squeeze into that teeny weeny bikini this summer, or at least not be afraid to come out of the water wearing one 🙂

Yellow Polka-Dot Zucchini Linguine with Crunchy Parmesan:

Ingredients:

4 Zucchini, topped and tailed, sliced into thin strips lengthways, then again into linguine style strips like this:

Zucchini Shredded

1 Yellow Capsicum, sliced thinly in strips

1 Tbs Coconut Oil

2 Tbs Olive Oil

2 Cloves Garlic, minced

1 Birds-eye Chilli, de-seeded and chopped finely

1/4 Piece of Preserved lemon, chopped finely

1 Tbs Baby Capers, rinsed

1 Tbs toasted Black Sesame Seeds

Coriander Leaves chopped roughly

Method:

1) Melt coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat

2) Add Zucchini and Capsicum and sauté for a few minutes until just tender

3) In a new saucepan, add Olive Oil, Garlic, Chilli and Preserved Lemon and gently simmer over medium heat till fragrant, one minute tops

4) Pour Olive Oil mixture over Zucchini Linguine and stir till well combined

5) Scatter with toasted Sesame Seeds and Coriander

Crunchy Parmesan:

Ingredients:

Handful of Raw Almonds, ground up in a processor

3 Tbs finely grated Parmesan Cheese

4 Zucchini Flowers with baby zucchini attached

Splash of Olive Oil

Sea Salt

Method:

1) Preheat Oven to 180 C

2) Mix Almonds and Parmesan together in a bowl

3) Place Zucchini Flowers in roasting pan, splash with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

4) Bake for 15 Minutes, remove and let rest

5) Detach flowers from baby Zucchini, crush up with fingers and add to the Parmesan mixture

6) Either eat the roasted baby Zucchini now, or throw into main dish

6) Sprinkle on-top of Zucchini Linguine