Saturday, March 27, 2010

Squid Chili

The other day I actually got to make a dinner JUST FOR ME! Ahhhhhhhh, bliss. Of course I had to make other stuff for the rest of the clan. Why? Well, firstly, I thought B.I.L. would be heading out to teach before dinner so I hadn't planned anything for him --turned out that not only would he be around for dinner but that I would also have to give him a ride to the U. And M.I.L. is having teeth probs so it was going to be something soft yet tasty for her. Wifey-Poo had some tummy probs so she was wanting something very mild and light.

Needless to say, I ended up making four completely different main courses. But the one I had was THE BEST! Mine was the chilli, of course.

Normally if I'm going to make chilli then I'll get the beans soaking the night before. I did not have that luxury this time so it meant extra cooking time for the beans, but that's ok since I can do loads around the house and grounds while the beans simmer, no worries.

So, here is what I did for my Squid Chilli!

To a large pot, I added the following:

150 gm dried berlotti beans
8 dried curry leaves
1/2 an onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
sprinkle of sea salt
lots of water

I put it on to boil and boiled till almost no liquid left, added a few more cups of water and boiled it down again till the beans were soft.

Into a hot, oiled wok I added the following:

1 squid tube --cleaned, sliced into rings, and blanched*
1/2 an onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 tbsp chilli paste (use the kind that's at least 90% thai chillis)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp dried basil
sprinkle of sea salt

*if you blanch the squid rings after cleaning and slicing then you can use them in any sauces and any cooking length without them going "tough" or "chewy".

I seared all that in the wok for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring/tossing regularly. I deglazed the wok with 2 glasses of shiraz and cooked it down till there was only a bit of liquid left.

The contents of the wok were then added to the pot with the cooked beans (and all that other stuff). One can of peeled roma tomatoes was added along with 2 tsp of chilli powder.

Simmered down till it was thick but not sticking and then served up! I did grate some fresh onion and cheddar cheese over the top of my bowl and I used some of my wholemeal flatbread as scoopers.

This was darned good! No reason why this can't be done for pretty much any type of meat you want to use in the chilli. Ground roo (kangaroo) instead of the squid would be particularly nice I think, as would moose.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sloooooooow Gravy

Now I can whip up a quick gravy for mashed spuds or whatnot in about 30 seconds. It's so simple I'm not even going to go into the making thereof.

This gravy IS NOT like that.

This gravy is the main course for my extra special biscuits n gravy dinner that everyone down here loves. There are 2 keys to making this dinner... An awesomely good biscuit recipe (which I have) and the makings (and 8 hours) to make the gravy.

Yes, this gravy takes 8 hours. Most of that is "resting" time and some simmering time so it's not like you are going to slave over the stovetop all 8 hours. I usually do about 5 mins on my way through for each step.

You don't get an ingredient list since this changes depending on just what sort of meats and pan juices I have lying around. In fact, I think I'll just tell you what I did.

Here's what I did:

Half a can of mushrooms plus one glass of port wine went into the food processor and it was processed. That was put into a large saucepan along with 1/2 a minced onion, 2 cloves of crushed garlic and a sprinkle of sea salt. I simmered it till no liquid was left. Saucepan was de-glazed with 2 glasses of chardonnay and then simmered till almost no liquid was left. 3 glasses of shiraz were then added and it was simmered till the liquid was reduced by half.

It was then left to sit for 3 hours. I do believe I had a swim in the pool and then a nap during those 3 hours.

3 thick slices of a small, cooked, beef topside roast were diced along with the other half of the onion. It was all added to a wok along with 2 more crushed garlic cloves, sprinkle of sea salt and ground black pepper. That was dry seared in the hot wok for a minute or two, then deglazed with 1 glass of shiraz and 1 glass of chardonnay, and then simmered till the liquid was reduced by half.

That then sat for an hour.

Everything was combined into the large saucepan and roasting pan juices from a corned silverside and a beef topside roast were added --about two cups total. Plus 2 cups of water.

Whisked and heated, then checked for seasonings --nothing more was needed! Brought up to a boil and thickened with cornstarch/cornflour (in Aus it's called cornflour, in the US it's called cornstarch --same thing and it comes from WHEAT, not CORN) and then massive amounts of it were ladled over fresh, hot, flaky biscuits.

Very tasty, clean bowls all around!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Char-Grilled Eggplant

Eggplant is one of the most under-rated veggies (it's actually a berry) around. Very nutritious if you eat the skin too.

Aaaaaaannnnnnnnddddddd if you do one simple trick there won't be any perceived bitterness nor will the eggplant soak up loads of oil --this means if you are making eggplant parmesan then you are forgiven for frying the breaded slices of eggplant instead of baking them.

But we aren't making eggplant parmesan today, we are just going to simply grill the slices. First though, we'll "treat" them so they aren't bitter (even if they aren't fresh) and so they don't absorb the olive oil and go mushy.

What you need:
1 eggplant
1 or 2 tsp sea salt
olive oil

What you do:

Slice the eggplant into slices 1 to 2 cm thick. I try to slice them around 1.5 cm which is 3/5 of an inch. Make sure you get the last slice or two under the "hat" of the eggplant as that's the most succulent part. Lightly salt all the slices and let them set for 30 minutes. You'll notice the slices start to sweat a yellowish liquid, that's ok cus they are supposed to.

After 30 minutes, go crank your gas barby on high (if you are using charcoal, then you had better've started the coals 30 minutes ago!). Next, rinse the eggplant slices and pat them dry.

Drizzle olive oil over the slices and gently toss them in a bowl to lightly coat the slices with olive oil.

Grill them slices! 2 or 3 minutes a side is enough. You'll only turn them once so check after 2 minutes that you've got a nice grill pattern on the bottom of a slice before turning them.

After both sides are char-grilled, serve them up as a side dish to pretty much anything. You'll find the skin has a pleasant, nutty flavour and is very tender. The flesh won't be "heavy" or "greasy" since the eggplant didn't absorb the oil!

You can use various spices when you are oiling the slices. I'll be using a combo of turmeric, cumin, and coriander along with the oil next time.