Category Archives: Comestibles

Some postings about what I’ve cooked, what has been cooked for me, maybe an occasional restaurant review …

When your friends give you lemons …

The month of June 2013 was the wettest in Sydney since 2007. With double the historical average, homes were left soggy, damp, and leaking, but many of our gardens flourished. In particular, citrus trees were delighted with the downfall, setting many fruit in the conditions.  Fortunately, the very dry and mild July has allowed the fruit to grow and ripen, and some of my friends have bumper crops of citrus, branches groaning under the weight.

My lovely friends Anthea and Gus have a couple of healthy citrus trees in their backyard, and put out a call for friends to come and help themselves to oranges and lemons (and they’re nowhere near the bells of St Clemens).  Prior to my mountains writing retreat, figuring that cooking was a necessary and enjoyable distraction, I raided the lemon tree to transform some of the harvest into delicious treats for friends and family.

The three most traditional ways of keeping a lemon for future use are through the preserving agents of salt, sugar or fat.  In Moroccan cuisine, lemon quarters are rubbed vigorously with salt and packed into sterilised jars with spices (cinnamon, coriander seed, bay leaf) for the traditional L’hamd marakad (literally ‘sleeping lemons’).  I used Stephanie Alexander’s recipe from her iconic A Cooks Companion – you can look it up via this link. I won’t be able to open these beauties for another 2 or so weeks, but they should last the rest of the year. Once ready, the flesh is scraped off and you only use the rind sparingly to add complexity to savoury dishes (tagines, soups, etc).

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Preserving fruit with sugar will give you a jam or marmalade. Apparently the word marmalade comes from the Portuguese word marmelada, which means preserved quince, and the first written usage of the word is from a play published in 1521. Of course in Portuguese tradition, marmelada is the famous quince paste, a delicious accompaniment to a cheese course. Coincidentally (before even knowing this), I actually flavoured this year’s batch with  quince jelly, a delicious by-product from some baked quinces. When you bake quinces in the oven (with water or verjuice, sugar and spices), at the end of the cooking process there is a delicious, sweet, quince-flavoured liquor that remains. Because of the high pectin content of the quinces, you can boil this down to a concentrate that sets naturally: hey presto, quince jelly with no horrid gelatine! Here’s my effort:

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Last year’s marmalade was quite different to this batch. I used a more simple approach via the BBC Good Food site, but with some important modifications. I added more fruit (1.2kg), reduced the sugar to 1.5kg, added in 4 tablespoons of quince, 3 passionfruit and a vanilla pod for some different flavours. So far the reaction from punters has been very good!

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The final, most perishable and indulgent form of preserving fruit flavour is in fat: specifically, butter. Lemon butter, or lemon curd, is a wonderfully versatile ingredient: you can spread it on toast, use it as a pie filling (I made a blackberry tart with lemon curd last year) and even make a delightfully retro “tropical meringue roulade” (with lemon butter, whipped cream and a brown-sugar meringue, all rolled up together).

According to the British Food website, lemon butter has been mentioned in cookbooks from the mid-19th century, and prior to that it was referred to as “lemon cheese”.  My partner’s mother Betty always refers to it as “lemon cheese” rather than lemon butter or lemon curd.  Apparently there’s also a difference between the North and South in whether one says “cheese” or “curd”.  In the past I’ve made lemon butter on the stove by incorporating butter, slowly whisking it in on a double boiler; I’ve made it in the microwave (shudder – but it worked as a fast solution); and this time I followed a really wonderful Lemon & Passionfruit Curd recipe by one of my contemporary food heroes, Poh Ling Yeow. It has worked a treat, and just as Poh says, it looks curdled at first, and as you stir there is a miraculous transformation into silky smooth deliciousness.

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So that’s this year’s lemon preserving efforts. In total, from a bag of about 40 or so lemons I made 10 jars of marmalade, 8 jars of lemon curd and two jars of preserved lemons. It’s a great way of continuing the lemon bounty for some months to come: you avoid buying commercial products that are loaded with extra artificial rubbish; you are using a local, sustainable product without a great deal of outlay; and you can  give them away as gifts to your loved ones!!! Last pics are of my lovely friends, picking the bounty from THE tree of plenty. Thanks, gorgeous ones!

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Winter baking and marmalade making

When the temperature drops and the wintry rain discountenances outdoor activities, a gratifying distraction on such occasions is to formulate an indoor cooking project.  We retreated to the mountains hideaway this weekend accompanied by our friends Tim and Karl, and later Marty and Kel.  Tim is an accomplished baker and preserver.  (Is there an elegant word for a person who makes jams and preserves? I haven’t found one as yet.)  With such auspicious alignments in mind (that is, bad weather and a cooking collaborator), I thought that the weekend would be perfect for my first foray into the world of preserves, jams and marmalades, guided by one who had gone before me with many successes.

But what to preserve?  I had some lovely red grapefruit that had been purchased with the intention of being used in a fennel salad; and mum and dad’s meyer lemon tree had also yielded an amazingly good crop of lemons in its first year.  With such a bounty, what could one do but make Lemon and Grapefruit Marmalade?

The recipe was fairly easy.  2 grapefruits, 4 lemons, sliced finely, the seeds and some pith preserved in a muslin.  Soak the fruit overnight in 2.5L of cold water.  The next day, pour into a pot, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes. Then add 2.5kg sugar which had been warming in the oven for the last 15 minutes of the simmer.  Remove any scum that rises to the surface. Cook, stirring for 10 minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Then bring back up to the boil, and cook for up to an hour, or until the jam has set.  Let cool, pour into sterilised glass jars, and admire! If you want the recipe that I based mine on, here’s a link to it.

There are a whole series of nostalgic memories surrounding marmalade. My grandmother Essie (z”l) was an excellent cook, and was the first person to introduce me to marmalade as a child: in particular, Rose’s Lime Marmalade.  And my maternal aunty Wendy had a cumquat tree at her house in Killara, and I remember as a small boy visiting there, and enjoying the most intensely sour and sweet smell of cumquat marmalade cooking on the stove.  We had a small sample on hot, crusty bread with butter.  Delicious.

Tim and I decided to make another nostalgic treat: melting moments.  The recipe was easy – basically a shortbread by any other name, with the crucial ingredient of custard powder added, for flavour and colour.  I creamed butter with the seeds of one vanilla pod.  Then I combined icing sugar, custard powder and plain flour in a bowl, and beat it into the butter with a wooden spoon.  It’s crucial to beat it in lightly, so that you do not work the gluten in the flour.  Then we rolled it into small balls, made the characteristic prong marks with the fork tines, and baked in a medium oven for 18 minutes.

Here’s the controversial part.  Essie used to make very special melting moments with dulce de leche rather than the lemon or passionfruit icing.  For this, she would boil a can of condensed milk on the stove for 2 hours, making sure that the water was always in the pan so the can did not explode.  Two hours later: caramel, or dulce de leche.  Sandwiched between the shortcrust biscuits, these are incredibly rich and delicious.  I can’t ever eat more than one.

 

 

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Yoykhs and Away!

Yoykh (f): Yiddish word meaning broth, most usually referring to chicken broth or chicken soup.  “Tsores mit yoykh iz gringer vi tsores on yoykh” (Troubles with soup is easier than troubles without soup)

Sorry vegetarians, but this is another meat-based food post.

This is dedicated to my friend and colleague, Chris, who is expanding his culinary repertoire and wanted some help with the making of stock.  The journey of a thousand soups begins with one stock.  It’s taken me many years to work on my stock technique. I’ve used every part of the chicken over the years: veal bones, chicken feet, giblets, heart, just carcasses, sometimes roasted, sometimes using the remains of a roast chicken.  All have produced different flavoured stocks. If you use a roasted carcass or cooked chicken, then the stock will be a little richer; if you use feet, it will be more gelatine in nature; if you use giblets or heart then it will be stronger. In the past I’ve sweated the mirepoix (the crucial mix of celery, onion and carrot) in olive oil before adding the bones. No more. Now I have developed my own fool-proof method.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3-4 chicken carcasses. Get the very best quality that you can find – kosher is good, organic is also good.
  • 2-3 stalks of celery, or half a small fennel including the fronds.  I use fennel because I find celery disgusting.
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 small brown onions, or 1 large one (keep the skins!)
  • 6 peppercorns (optional)
  • 1 knob of ginger, peeled and sliced (optional)

Now, first things first.  An essential part of making a good stock is removing the scum (the impurities).  My way of doing this comprehensively is to do two boils. First, place your bones in the pot, cover with COLD water and bring to the boil.  While it comes to the boil, chop your vegetables finely, and keep the onion peel – you will throw this into the stock and it will impart a nice colour.      

Once the bones have come to the boil, tip them into the sink, clean the pot, clean the bones, and start again.  This time, put all your chopped vegetables into the pot with the carcasses on top.  Then fill to the top with water.

Bring to the boil, then turn down to the absolutely lowest point you can.  Let it cook for 6 hours.  Yes, that’s what I said. 6 hours.  Set it and forget it. Here are the pictures at 3 hours and at the end:

   

Leave to cool.  Find yourself a muslin tea-towel, and drape it over a mixing bowl. Pour in the whole mixture, and squeeze away until you have all the liquid in the bowl, and a fairly dry mixture in the muslin.  Throw that away.  Put the bowl into the fridge for the fat to rise and set.

         

Next day (or in a few hours) take the bowl out, and with a spoon, carefully remove the fat. Discard it – it’s no good for you.  No, don’t use it for shmaltz. It’s NO good for you. Now you have a delicious stock – you should get about 2 litres from this recipe, and it will have cost you about $4 – a lot better than that tetra-pak rubbish they sell in the supermarkets.  If you need to adjust for salt, add some salt!  Now you can make delicious soups like lokshen yoykh mit zakhn (chicken noodle soup with yummy additions) as seen on the front cover of this post.  There is medical evidence to suggest that yoykh may be a better treatment for colds and flu than that stuff you buy over the counter.  Don’t believe me?  Read this article:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/12/the-science-of-chicken-soup/

And go make some … winter is coming in Australia, for goodness sake!

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Savoury treats for the Allkie talkie

 

 

 

Our friends Stephen and Beth are coming over for an afternoon of fashion documentaries and chats. I suggested to Beth that we name such events “Allkie talkies” because they involve a lot of chatting, and Stephen’s last name is Allkins. She loved the idea.

But what to cook? Beth usually brings the best hummus in Sydney (made by Erciyes in Crown Street, Surry Hills – others may dispute this and nominate Abduls, but I like the Turkish version more).  I thought I would make something a little nostalgic: an onion puff pastry tart – something a little like the delicious Pissaladière of southern France.

Why would I dub this nostalgic?  Well, the first recipe book to get me back into cooking after an 8 year hiatus was Jill Dupleix’s New Food. Contained within its enormous covers was a delicious recipe for caramelised onion, as the basis of an onion soup. In 1994, the Dupleix’s book was an inspiration for two reasons: the language contained within was plain, simple, and unpretentious; almost larrikin in nature, the humour and personality of the author shone out; secondly, the food styling was seriously beautiful, clever (often focussing on ingredients and their beauty over the finished product of the recipe) and mouthwatering. The recipes weren’t genius – they were simple, delicious, accessible and easy to prepare. New Food was my gateway back to the love of cooking, and without it I would never have been able to approach the austere scholarship and comprehensive knowledge of Stephanie Alexander’s (my most treasured cookbook, along with Claudia Roden’s Book of Jewish Food).

So today I will make a couple of variations on the traditional Pissaladière. Beth is vegetarian, and I will make one of the tarts without anchovies, but with the addition of some cherry tomatoes and a splash of A’s homemade tomato jam to add complexity. Second, the pastry will be pre-purchased puff (PPP) – I’m not going to make a bread dough, nor will I make pâte brisée (shortcrust pastry), because short-cuts are quite acceptable in my book. Here’s what you will need for these delicious goodies. If you can’t find vino cotto at your specialist wanky delicatessen, then you may substitute it for 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Alternatively, leave out the 2 tablespoons of red-wine vinegar, and substitute with 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.

  • 1 packet puff pastry
  • 8 Spanish (red) onions
  • 3 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped from stalks
  • 50g butter
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons sherry or red-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vino cotto
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes AND/OR adequate reserves of anchovies
  • 100g olives (pitted)

Preheat the oven to 190ºC.


 

 

 

 

 

Peel your onions, and slice.  There’s no need to chop into fine dice – the sliced onions will give a lovely texture.  Heat your butter and oil, and when foaming, throw the onions in. Turn the heat down to about low-medium. You want the onions to cook slowly, get soft and caramelize as they go – it will take between 30 and 40 minutes, with occasional stirring.  In the last 5 minutes, stir in the vino cotto and the red wine vinegar (alternatively the balsamic vinegar; third alternative, dissolve the brown sugar in the red wine vinegar and then stir it in).

 

Let the onions cool.  Now get your frozen puff pastry out of the fridge. Score a ridge along the side of it with a knife, but be careful not to cut right through!  Then spread your onion mixture onto the pastry, and arrange the ingredients (olives and/or anchovies and/or tomatoes and or whatever) on top.  Place on a baking sheet, and into the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Easy peasy!  I forgot how easy and fun these are to make.  The only irritant is all that onion peeling and slicing at the beginning.  They went down a treat as we watched three special documentaries: Florent, Queen of the Meat Market (about a restauranteur activist and icon of New York’s Meatpacking District, Florent Morellet); Elizabeth Taylor: Auction of a Lifetime (the auction of Her jewellery) and L’Amour Fou (about the art collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé).  What a nice Anzac Day treat!

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Krim Spinach

So, you vant to know how to mek krim spinatch?

Nothing says the Double Bay of old to me more than creamed spinach. Twenty-One, Georges, the Double Bay Steakhouse …
Well, many years ago I found this recipe in the Canberra Times (I was working for a press clipping agency at the time), and cut it out so I could try to emulate the delicious memories.

For years I was a purist. Nothing but English spinach would suffice. Silverbeet? The very mention of the word would cast a pall over my face. I didn’t even consider chard as an option. Well, I’m glad to say that my snobbery has been put to rest: in the past year I’ve experimented with English spinach OR Silverbeet, and in this latest version I was brave enough to go with a beautiful bunch of organic rainbow chard. Save the red stems and use as part of a gratin recipe (see Stephanie Alexander for a great gratin recipe, under the Silverbeet section).

Here’s the general principles if you’re kosher. If it’s a milkhig meal, use milk instead of chicken stock. Although it’s called creamed spinach, you do NOT need to use cream. If it’s a fleyshig/pareve meal, use chicken stock (or vegetarian stock) instead of milk.  Vegetarians can eat this with impunity if you use either vegetarian stock or milk.

Step 1: Wash leaves thoroughly. Grit is disgusting and gets in your teeth. Then boil a kettle, put your leaves in a large bowl or the sink, and pour the boiling water over them. This will cook them perfectly, and save washing up a saucepan.

Step 2: Soak a bread-roll in stock or milk. Don’t make creamed spinach without the bread roll. Don’t make creamed spinach at Pesakh, you shmendrik! Squeeze some of the liquid out of the bread roll once it is nice and soft.

Step 3: Place the drained leaves and bread roll in a food processer, and blend. Now you are ready to make the roux.

Step 4: Cut up 3 garlic cloves, and cook them incredibly slowly in 3 tablespoons of neutral oil (I use light olive oil). Do not let them colour or burn!
Step 5: Then add 3 good tablespoons of flour to the mix, incorporate and stir constantly, and wait until the flour is ‘cooked out’, that is, turns a nice blond shade. This is called a blond roux. See? I told you not to cook this on Pesakh!
Step 6: Add the spinach/bread mixture into the roux. Stir well. Add stock/milk to make a sauce-like consistency, and continue cooking on a low heat until you get a nice coating on the back of the spoon.

Enjoy! Krim Spinatch. MMM.

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Festival of the Quince

I really love quinces. They undergo an incredible transformation over the process of about 8 hours. Although they have a delicious fragrance, they also have a strange furry coating, and after being cut open they oxidize immediately. Baking them is the easiest treatment, and you need not worry about oxidization. I washed the quinces, peeled the skin, cut the cores out of the slices and placed them in a cast-iron pot, with a heavy sugar syrup (flavoured with vanilla pod and the juice of a lemon). The cores also went into the pot, in a muslin bag. Then they were baked slowly for 8 hours in a low oven (about 150º C).  Then they were ready to use.

But I’m all about utilising ingredients to the fullest extent. So I made part of the cooking syrup into a beautiful pink custard, with the addition of egg yolks and cream.

            

I boiled the rest down into a thick, incredibly rich glaze, and used spoonfuls of that on top of the dessert.

 

Here it is in its final iteration, assembled in some brandy snap baskets, and later on with a scoop of ice-cream on top.  I must say that it was VERY sweet – next time I would use a pastry shell, or even just have the quinces with the custard and ice-cream, and leave the brandy snap out of the equation.  But it was still very delicious!

Huge credits to the one and only Stephanie Alexander for her quince recipes.

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Best. Matseh Klays. [Thus Far]

Some people call them kneydlakh  … but in my family, my parents always referred to Matzoh balls as “Matseh Klays (Matzah Kleis)”. Some like them small and floaty, others like them huge and heavy. One of the strongest food memories of my childhood was going to 21 Restaurant in Double Bay in the 1970s, having my cheeks squeezed by the owner Janczi, receiving a packet of chewing gum, and waiting for my father to order Matzah Ball soup.

Back to the present:  I have been experimenting with recipes for matseh klays for some years now.  As a novice, I started using the instant Osem brand of Matza balls.  They are extremely consistent, but fairly bland in character.  And having made them, I figured out that it was probably just as easy to make from scratch.

First rule: I use coarse matseh meal. Fine matseh meal will produce a much more dense dumpling, if that’s what you want (bleh).  Vary the meal (coarse+fine) if you like.  I prefer Snider’s coarse matseh meal, but the Australian Solomons brand is just fine.

Second rule: separate the eggs, and beat the whites to stiff peaks. This will give you a  lightness to the dumplings, even if you want the heavy sinker types. Oh, and use the BEST eggs you can possibly get. Free range, organic, biodynamic – this will make a huge difference to the taste.

Third rule: you may add any spices that you like … but the most traditional besides the regular salt and pepper is ground (powdered) ginger.  I used white pepper this time instead of black, and also grated in some nutmeg.  Finely chopped fresh parsley is often added.

Fourth rule: you need to add a fat to bind them more thoroughly. Shmalts (chicken fat) is traditional); but olive oil is perfectly acceptable. You can fry a chopped onion in either, and add that to the mixture if you like.  I didn’t add the onions this time, but I did add a slug of oil. I think it gives a lighter feel to the dumplings than shmalts.

Fifth and most important rule: after having beaten the whites until stiff, you beat the yolks lightly with the spices, and then fold together with a large metal spoon. Then add the matseh meal, and mix extremely sparingly (i.e. only barely combine).  Put the mixture into the fridge, and let it rest for 30 minutes minimum.

Sixth rule: boil a light stock (using powder will be fine); when it comes to a rolling boil, take the mixture out of the fridge, wet your hands, and form the balls into the size of a 20c piece (US – size of a quarter; UK – size of a 50p coin). Drop them straight into the stock, turn the flame down.  Roll the dumplings around so they absorb the stock evenly. They will take 30 minutes to cook.

Once the klays have been made, they can be refridgerated and then heated in the boiling chicken soup (goldene yoykh) before being served.  Klays take up a lot of liquid in the initial stage, so if you have an excess of stock then by all means, use that during the initial stage … but if not, instant stock will do just as well.  It won’t take long to reheat the klays in the fresh stock.

Special credits and thanks to the great Claudia Roden, upon whose recipe I based my own matseh klays (Roden uses the term kneydlakh). Her work, “The Book of Jewish Food” (Penguin, 1996) is one of the greatest cultural resources: a comprehensive history of the Jewish diaspora as well as a superb cooking book.

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Risk it for the Brisket

Okay, I don’t usually blog about meat-based recipes, because my partner A and I have a mostly vegetarian or fish-based diet, supplemented by the occasional free range chook (that’s chicken in Australian).  But on Pesakh (Passover) I usually become a bit of a backslider, and cook a brisket for 1st and 2nd night Seder.  It’s probably the most traditional Passover meat to eat in Ashkenaz households. This year’s brisket worked rather well.  I had about a 6 lb. piece (about 2.5kg), and started at about 9:30am on Erev Pesakh by rubbing the meat with a dry herb rub: chinese five-spice powder, a spice rub from Tasmania which included ginseng and bush pepper, some olive oil to bind and a bit of golden syrup.  Then after leaving it to rest for about 20 minutes, I sealed the brisket in our outdoor barbeque.  Brisket is a cut of meat that barbeque devotees in the United States consider very highly, but here in Australia we don’t tend to use it in the same way. Butchers usually chop it up for stewing meat.

 

Having sealed the meat all over, I brought it back inside and added more eastern spices: whole cinnamon sticks, star anise, some grated nutmeg and some green (spring) onions. Then I added root vegetables: carrots, fennel (instead of celery – I hate celery), red sweet potato (kumera), spanish (red) onions.  I also added about a punnet of baby tomatoes.               After this, I made up a weak stock with some kosher stock powder; then also added about half a bottle of red wine, and a bit more salt and pepper.  I covered with tin-foil,  and put it in a slow oven (140°) for 2 hours.  Then I turned the oven fan on, and baked for another 1.5 hours.  Finally I took the cover off and cooked it for a final 30 minutes. I took the meat out to rest in silver foil.

 

 

 

 

I also removed the vegetables carefully, and put them in a roasting pan along with par-boiled Dutch Cream potatoes (a particularly good roasting spud) that had been roughed up, tossed with olive oil and salt, and some thin cut parsnip pieces.  The vegetables would go in later to crisp up, and they were a treat!

 

Meanwhile, we had this enormous amount of really fine braising stock at the bottom of the pan … what to do?  Well, I decided to put it on the heat and just reduce it to about one quarter of its original volume.  You can’t use thickening agents on Passover except matzo meal, and it’s pretty yuk to use in such circumstances. The reducing method worked a treat.  The sauce was like a classic demi-glace, without all the irritation and labour of preparation.  And the proof of the pudding was in the eating – it was, beyond doubt, the best brisket I had ever cooked.  You could taste the spices in all their complexity, thanks to the sauce.  All this goes to prove that sometimes, you really need to risk it for the brisket.

p.s.  If you want to see les décorations séduisante and A’s haute couture for the evening, visit his blog:

http://ratherbeinthefrontrow.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/passover-2012-one-for-the-books/

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Raie Rosenberg’s Egg Salad

“So, you vant to know how to mek Ek Seled?”

Some years ago a group of friends (known by the arcane name of “the Mordies”) initiated our own Pesakh Seder – held usually between 2nd and 5th night. It was based on a traditional Seder, with some fairly queer sensibility thrown into the mix. As well as the usual fare, egg salad was de rigeur for all others sitting around the table, but not for me!

Oy – let me explain something about our regular fare at Pesakh.  Pesakh (Passover) in our family involves the formal food of the Seder (hard boiled eggs, salt water, green vegetable like parsley or rocket, horseradish, matza) and then elements of the traditional Ashkenaz meal.  We begin with gehakte leber (chopped chicken liver with onions) and gehakte beytse (chopped egg and onions) to accompany the extra matza.  Then we have goldene yoykh mit kneydlekh (clear chicken soup with matza balls).  We avoid gefilte fish.  After this is the main meal: usually roast chicken or brisket, roast vegetables, salad, etc.  And then a pareve dessert – usually a fruit based dessert.

So how is egg salad different to chopped egg and onions, and what makes this egg salad different from all other egg salads?  In the context of our family, my mother doesn’t like it very much – I don’t know whether it’s the onion, or the mayonnaise, or something else.  So she just minced eggs with spring (green) onions, and that was it.  Fairly simple.

HOWEVER: this egg salad, brought by Sue-Ellen Rosenberg, has particularly special meaning. First, it’s pretty much the nicest one I’ve ever eaten. Second, it has yikhes (lineage) – passed to Sue-Ellen from her mum Raie.  Third, it reminds me of those special Seders. So here is Raie’s recipe as interpreted by me, with extra input from Sue-Ellen’s great instructions.

Ingredients:

  • 12-18 eggs (I used 15)
  • Good quality mayonnaise (I made my own quirky one with egg yolks, tarragon mustard, lemon juice, rice bran oil, salt and fennel fronds, but you can buy a good quality whole-egg commercial variety – at Passover time I would replace the rice bran oil with a light olive or sunflower oil)
  • 1 spanish (red) onion
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • Sea salt

 

Sue Ellen’s instructions: Boil the eggs.. Not too long.. You don’t want them to turn grey. Like 8 to ten minutes.  Mum used to go off at me if I did and she would force me to work with soft eggs. Once she made me do this with two dozen eggs and it was a nightmare! Soft eggs…. Urggggghhhh

My input: I used this method to boil the eggs – it was perfect!  Use this link below:

http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_make_perfect_hard_boiled_eggs/

 

Sue Ellen continues: Finely chop spring onions by hand.
Chop Spanish onions finely in magimix and squeeze out excess moisture with your hands. Fun!  I always leave this step out. It’s entirely up to you.

   

My comment: I did this – actually it was a very good addition.  A helluva lot of moisture comes out of the Spanish onions when you squeeze them – see pic 2 and pic 3 above.

Sue Ellen continues: Chop eggs in your magimix too. I don’t have one so I use an egg slicer and mash with the fork. I think you get a better texture that way to be honest. My comment: I would agree about texture – the hand-chopped is better, but the magimix does a serviceable (albeit a bit uniform) job.

Sue Ellen: Combine ingredients in a large bowl. Add mayo and fold in. Avoid too much stirring. Mum used to go spack at me if I did, so it has stuck in my head! Season with sea salt and garnish with some more spring onions. Dead easy … The worst part is peeling the eggs really!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that is it.  Simple things are almost ALWAYS the best.  And I used this on sandwiches for my niece’s 1st birthday party today.  Within 5 minutes they were all gone.  You snooze … you lose.

 

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Zucchini and Corn Fritters

“Zucchini Fritters.  THEY’RE vegetarian. You know how to cook them.”

That was the pronouncement from my mother when we were discussing the celebratory lunch to be held at my aunt’s house, just after my graduation.  The truth was, I had never cooked zucchini fritters.  Corn fritters, yes, but not zucchini ones.  Moreover, mum cannot eat gluten, so this needed to be taken into account.

Cooking for vegetarians and also for those intolerant to gluten may appear to be a challenge on paper, but really there are many options available if one thinks outside the box.  This time, I based my recipe on a classic fritter from Bill Granger’s first cookbook, but changed fundamental ingredients, and added flavourings.  These would be delicious with sour cream or by themselves, and served as a de-facto latke around Chanukah time.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 cups rice flour
  • 1 cup corn flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 2 heaped teaspoons Spanish paprika (the good hot stuff, from the tin)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 80g Pecorino Romano
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • Kernels removed from two fresh cobs of corn
  • 6 zucchinis, grated
  • 4 spring onions, chopped finely

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, celery salt, paprika, cumin and sugar together.

Beat eggs until they emulsify, and add milk.  Make a well in the middle of the large mixing bowl, and gradually pour in the wet egg/milk mixture.  Beat well, making sure that there are no visible lumps.  The batter should look like it is holding together fairly well – somewhat like pancake batter.

Place corn, spring onions, pecorino cheese and zucchini in a large bowl, and stir well so that there is an even distribution.  Pour the batter into the dry mixture, and stir.

Heat some light olive oil in a frypan on medium-high heat, and add a large spoonful of the vegetable batter mixture.  Depending on the size of your frypan, you should be able to cook 4-5 at a time.  Cook until the underside of each fritter is golden (basically, cook until it is cooked – about 2-3 minutes per side).  Flip and repeat.  Drain on a paper towel, and keep in a warm place until the entire batch is done.

I think this made a huge amount of fritters … something in the order of 35.  But they were all eaten fairly rapidly!

 

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