Sunday, May 25, 2008


Yes, I realise that some of you in the US may not even know what a crumpet is. I had heard of them but had no idea what they were when I arrived down here. They are SOOOOO tasty! I prefer them with just butter, but you can slather anything on them you can think of. Whatever you'd put on toast, waffles, or pancakes goes great on crumpets.

When a friend of ours visited in 2001, she had crumpets for the first time ever. Everyday she was here she had crumpets for brekkie. When she got back to Anchorage she tried in vain to find a place that sold crumpets, but to no avail. She had to wait 6 and a half years before having another crumpet (she visited recently).

Anyways, I thought I do a public service recipe for those of you starved for crumpets and are in a land where you can't get them. Even if you are in a land where you can buy them premade at the shops you definitely want to make them yourself. Much, much better than pre-packaged. My mum-in-law is from the land of crumpets and she says that mine are much better than store bought ones.

When I started to formulate my crumpet recipe, I did a bit of searching around on this internet doohickey (you may have heard of it) and found that most from scratch were yeast based. I didn't want that cus I wanted mine to be quick and easy.

So I did what any good kitchen bloke would do: Made it up as I went! And guess what? First time was a charm! Am I good or what? No, don't answer that.

You'll want some good quality cooking rings, 10 cm (4 inches) in diameter. I make mine on my big ole outdoor grill hotplate so I can make several at once. If you're doing them on the stovetop you'll want a good, thick, flat griddle pan (cast iron is best) and you should be able to make 2 to 4 at a time depending on your griddle size. Grease the rings and griddle surface well (I like to use bacon fat) unless your cooking rings are nonstick like mine :)

Dave's Quick Crumpets

What you need:
4 cooking rings
one good griddle surface
2 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar
4 tbsp butter
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups of water

I know it seems like a lot of liquid for only 2 cups of flour, but the batter should be just runnier than pancake batter.

What you do:
Melt the butter, and then set aside to cool. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Beat the eggs and water. Chuck it all together (make sure the butter is cooled) and mix the heck out of it. You want it to be smooth, not lumpy like waffle or pancake batter. Don't be afraid to use a whisk.

Consistency: Thinner than pancake batter, that's for sure. I started with 1 1/2 cups water and added 1/4 at a time to the batter till it got as thin as needed.

Crank the heat on your hot plate or flat griddle. Grease your rings and the griddle and put the rings on the cooking surface (they get hot, careful!). Then turn the heat down as LOW as possible! These suckers will need 4 to 7  mins before flipping so you don't want the bottoms to burn.

Pour the batter into the rings till each ring is half full. They will rise all the way to the top during cooking, no worries. Holes and bubbles will form as they cook: that's supposed to happen! You'll know they are ready for the rings to come off cus the tops won't be "wet" when they are ready. This'll happen after 4 to 7 mins of cooking depending on your griddle temp. Carefully take the rings off (use tongs, they'll be hot) and flip the crumpets over to brown the top --takes about a minute.

Taadaa! Perfect, quick crumpets! Eat them hot with anything slathered on them or let them cool and pop them in the toaster when you're ready to eat them. They freeze great and can be toasted straight out of the freezer.

Aren't I so nice to share this with you?

Here's a pic of the finished product so you'll know I'm not pulling your leg:

The choice of toppings in the pic are butter, strawberry jam, and lemon butter.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008



Hmmmm, now how many different spellings are there for hummus... humus, humous, hummos, humos, hommus, homus, homos, hommos, hommous. I think that about covers it, no worries.

How many different ways are there to make hummus (sp)? An unimaginable amount! Really, there's lots. There ain't nothin special about mine. But what will make this post special, you ask? I'm going to give you a bunch of tips, tricks, variations and more info than you could possibly want about humos (sp) and it's ingredients.

Ready? Here we go!

Firstly, let me say that if you buy premade humous (sp) in a store then you are wasting money and your health. Make it fresh! Cheaper and better for you (meaning no preservatives nor trans fats). It is also the EASIEST thing you'll ever make. Well, except for maybe that cracker plate you served with processed cheese goop on top of each cracker and thought you were being clever and sauve; you naughty person you.

Back to the post.

Some of you in the US may have heard of garbonzo (garbanzo) beans and some of you may have heard of chick peas. Guess what? They are the exact same thing! They are also one of the most healthiest things you could eat, and when made into humous (sp) you'll have pretty much a super food.

Canned or fresh chick peas? I use canned, but only because down here in Oz the ingredient list is: chick peas, water, salt. I can handle that, no worries.

What the heck is tahini? Quite simply, tahini is ground up sesame seeds. That's it. This is also one of the best things you can eat, and it has a very long shelf life even without preservatives. Why? Cus it's got something that other seeds don't have: Sesamol. Sesamol is a natural preservative so your jar of stone ground sesame seeds (which is tahini) will last a long time without the oils breaking down.

You can make your own tahini, but most shops sell it in a jar. How do you know which to buy? Just look for the brand where the sesame oil has separated and is on top of the goop. That's the one you want. Oh, and make sure the ingredient list has only one thing: sesame seeds. Just give it a quick stir to re-emulsify it. Also don't worry about it getting cloudy if you store it in your fridge; it's supposed to do that at cooler temps.

Alrighty then; on with the recipe!

Hummus (and all the spelling thereof)

What you need for the basic recipe:

One food processor
One can of chick peas --425 grams, drained (I think that'd be about a 12 oz can for those of you in that other hemisphere)
2 tsp tahini
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp sea salt
1 or 2 tsp olive oil (if needed)

Supplemental bonus stuff:
Please note: I wouldn't try all of these together

cumin powder
coriander powder
chilli flakes
white pepper
lemon juice
lime juice
roasted garlic
powdered sumac
black pepper
curry powder

Mix and match depending on the style you'd like.

Moroccan: sumac, aniseed, cardamon, lemon
Mexican: cumin, coriander, chilli, lime
Indian: curry powder, black or white pepper
Eastern Med: roasted garlic, oregano, onion

this list can go on...

What you do:

This is easy! Chuck it all into a food processor and push the button. "Push the button, Max!" Ummm, that quote is a reference from Jack Lemon shouting to Peter Falk about 50 or 60 times during the movie The Great Race, circa 1960's. I have it on DVD (good sword fight scene in it too).

Back to the recipe...

Ahhh, ummm... that's it! Now wasn't that so easy? And very very very very healthy too.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Garlic, and the roasting thereof.


In case you didn't guess, I kinda like garlic. Hell, I can eat a whole clove raw. Chomp down on it, chew it up and swallow. However, I don't recommend that for beginners.

In case you haven't guessed, there are no vampyres in this household, but I do have to keep my horns filed down and the leathery wings tucked under cus you do know I can see in the dark.

There will be a recipe here, but bear with me while I talk a bit about garlic.

Firstly, it's EASY to grow your own. Just push a single clove into good, moist soil about an inch (pointy end up). And magically, just like ANY other bulb, it'll sprout soon. Water regularly, fertilise if you feel the need to. Plant multiple cloves 8-10 cm apart (3-4 inches). It'll grow year round down here in South Oz, but up in that other hemisphere I'd imagine you'd want to plant in early spring.

When it's grown (you'll know, duh), dig DON'T PULL the bulbs out. Don't forget to use the greens, they make a nice addition to many many thing and can be eaten raw or steamed or whatever. I actually harvest the greens for use as the plant grows. Chop em up and use as you would chives. There's also lots of other good uses for them: be creative!

Garlic Cloves

You don't need a garlic press, nor any type of garlic peeler. To quickly peel garlic, put a clove between your palms and rub your hands quickly back and forth. You'll soon figure out the pressure to get the outer 'paper' off without mashing the clove.

To mash the clove without a press, just place the clove on a wooden cutting board, then put the flat of your kitchen knife on the clove, then lightly and quickly tap the flat of the knife with your fist (NO, you won't cut yourself, sheesh). Then just mince it up and use it, simple. You also get a lot of good garlic juice. Just scrape it off the board with your knife to add to whatever.

You can blanch garlic, boil it, or (my favorite --favourite) roast it.

Roasting garlic softens it to a buttery, squishy consistency and mellows the taste out so much you wouldn't even guess it's garlic. The taste is so smoothed out you can spread it directly on bread.

Good things about garlic: It's anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and a powerful anti-oxidant. It's GREAT stuff. If used properly you'll never even know it's there. My bro-in-law says he hates garlic and can't stand anything with garlic. Hmmmm, he eats a helluva lot of it! Ahhh, Mike, if your reading this: I'm sorry.

Ok, here's how you roast garlic:

What you need:

4 or 5 whole heads of garlic
Little bit of olive oil
some kind a oven roasting pan

What you do:

Slice the tops off each garlic head (that means take a half cm (quarter inch) off the pointy end). Place them bottom side down (that's the side with the roots) in your roasting dish. Drizzle the top of each head with olive oil. Cover roasting pan and chuck it in a hot oven for a while. You can also sprinkle some grated parmesan over the top of each head before drizzling the olive oil on top.

How hot? around 190 C (375 F) works.
How long? 45 mins or so (every oven is different). You'll know they are done when the cloves look like they are trying to squeeze themselves out the top of the head (as soon as you see this once you'll know what I mean), and they are very soft.

Remove from oven and let em cool. Once cool, just grab a garlic head and squeeze the garlic cream out.

Uses: Way too many to mention! You'll figure some out on your own, I'm sure.

Oh, roasting dish: you don't need a pricey ceramic garlic roaster, sheesh! A glass dish, an enameled one, or even a cookie tray with an aluminium (aluminum) foil tent over the garlic. ANYTHING.