Posts archived in Food

This is the rough template I tend to use when making up a (tomato based) pasta sauce.
On it’s own it’s great over pasta, or in a lasagne. I’ve even had it on toast for breakfast.

As with all sauces, it gets better with age. If you can cook it the day before, and put it in the refrigerator and re-heat then it’s great.

Quantities are generally indicative but based on what I actually used just recently. Feel free to add other vegetables that you have (olives, mushrooms, etc) – it’s a good way to use up what’s in your fridge. Don’t be put off by the the amount of olive oil indicated – it gives it a good body, and as the sauce cooks the oil will be absorbed.

 

Vegetable Pasta Sauce

  • 2 Brown Onions, Peeled & finely chopped
  • 8 Cloves Garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 Carrots, Grated
  • 1 Zucchini, Grated
  • 1 Cup (approx) of grated/finely chopped celery
  • 8 Tomatoes, Peeled – Chop roughly to break up.
  • 1 Jar Pureed Tomato (Approx 600ml)
  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
  • Dried Italian Herbs to taste:
    • Rosemary
    • Thyme
    • Bay Leaf
    • Oregano
    • Parsley
  • 2 Massel Chicken-Flavoured Stock Cubes (NB: Contains no meat product)

Substitutions:

  • Peeled tomatoes can come from a can, or fresh.
  • Pureed Tomato could be replaced with approx 6 tablespoons of Tomato Paste Concentrate.

Directions:

  1. Add a tablespoon of the oil to a very large frypan (with lid), or large pot on medium heat.
    Test the temperature of the oil by placing a wooden spoon into the oil – it should sizzle.
  2. Add the onions.
    Sautee/Fry until softened (but not brown) – stir frequently.
  3. Clear a small space in the middle of the pan and Add garlic
    Allow to cook for a minute.
  4. Add grated carrot, zucchini, and celery
    Continue to sautee until softened (approx 10 minutes). Stir frequently.
    You may need to place a lid on the pan if the vegetable begins to dry out.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients, including the remaining oil.
    Increase heat to high, and cook with lid off for 15 minutes on high – stir frequently.
  6. Test consistency. If sauce is very thick, add water.
    Reduce heat to medium, and add lid. Cook for at least 30 minutes. Stir regularly (every 10 minutes or so).
  7. You could serve now.
    Ideally though: Reduce heat to low, and allow to continue to cook with lid on for several more hours, on a low heat.  About 4 hours is ideal. Stir regularly, and monitor consistency – adding water as necessary.

Serve over freshly cooked pasta of your chosen variety. Top with Parmesan Cheese.

Variations:

  • Minced Beef, Lamb, or Pork. Add while frying the onions.
  • Bacon. Fry in the pan before adding the onions. Retain the bacon fat, and remove some (or all) of the olive oil.
  • Chilli, Fresh or Dried. Add with the herbs.
  • Use pasta sauce as the tomato layer in a lasagne.

 

Cooking Time: 1-4 hours.

Produces: Approximately 2 Litres of Pasta Sauce.

I’ve decided to share a recipe that we’ve been using in our family for years. I don’t know the origins of the sauce, but I believe mum did get it from a friend.  I’ve only rarely seen it in asian restraunts, and usually it’s some variation on the basic sauce.

Typically we have this sauce with steamed chicken, rice, and some sort of steamed asian veggies.  It does have a strong flavour, so it might not be to everyone’s tastes.

Other suggested uses are to add it to a chicken or fish soups, or with noodles. But I’m a fan of the basic chicken and rice addition.

Disambiguation: Shallots, Shallots, or Shallots?

When I say Shallots, I’m referring to the vegetable also known as Scallions, Spring Onions, or Green Onions. And, because that still doesn’t necessarily clarify things, look at the pic on the left. Those are what you need to make this sauce.

Do not, under any circumstances confuse these with French Shallots, which also known as “eschalots” in NSW, Australia. Someone I gave this recipe to once got the two mixed up, and ended up with this godaweful mess with a horrible aftertaste.

 

Ingredients

These are approximates only, please adjust to taste.

  • 1/2 Bunch Shallots (3-4 medium size shoots)
    Washed carefully and trimmed of any roots, dead/dry bits, etc.
  • 1-3 tablespoons of salt (adjust to taste)
    I use rock salt, but ordinary table salt is fine. Especially if you don’t have a good mortar and pestle.
  • 1 ‘knob’ of fresh ginger (not from a jar)
    Aproximately the length of a thumb, peeled.
  • 3-5 tablespoons of good olive oil.
    I use olive oil, others may choose to use another type of oil suitable for salads.

I recommend that you also have a good quality solid stone Mortar and Pestle, however this can be prepared in a food processor, but it does significantly change the look (it goes whiteish due to the air introduced).

Preparation

  1. Trim the shallots (scallions) so that you remove all bar about 5cm of the dark green hollow tops. Discard the tops, keep the bottom of the shoots.
    (We want to keep all of the white, and light green sections – but only a small proportion of the hollow dark green portion)
  2. Slice the shallots finely and place into your mortar or food processor.
    Note: If your mortar and pestle isn’t large enough to hold all of the shallots comfortably at once, you can just add a smaller amount at first and come back later.
  3. Dice the peeled lump of ginger finely, and place about 3/4 into the mortar/food processor.
  4. Add a tablespoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of oil to the mortar/food processor.
  5. Using the pestle, grind/crush/pound the contents of the mortar – or pulse in a food processor – until the shallots and ginger are pulverised.
    Note: When using a food processor, be sure to use quick bursts.
  6. Taste the sauce, and if necessary add more ginger, or salt. and pulverise
    The sauce should definitely be salty, but still allow the flavours of the ginger and shallots to intermingle.
  7. Once to taste, add more oil to ensure there is a good covering.
    Adding more oil will allow you to ‘dilute’ the strong flavour when used on rice/vegetables.

Serve it in a shared bowl on the table, and let people drizzle a small amount on their rice/chicken/etc. Don’t go overboard with the sauce until you’re used to it :)

This sauce can be stored inside a sealed glass jar for several days in the fridge. Don’t use gladwrap/saran wrap to cover, as the flavours/smells will contaminate everything else in the fridge.  Despite how much I like this sauce, Shallot flavoured milk is *not* something you want with your tea/coffee/cereal.

Preparation Time: Approximately 15-20 minutes (about the same amount of time as it takes to cook rice using the Absorbtion method)

Serves: Between 2 and 4 people.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

It might’ve taken a day or three, but here’s the pics a few folk wanted to see…

Let me just say first up, that the pie was great… and it’s all gone (I had the last bit for dessert tonight)

_MG_7159 

Unfortunately, because I was trying to help serve (we had folks over for dinner) -  I didn’t have a huge amount of time to get the exposures right.

_MG_7160 

A slightly too large piece of Mulberry pie… they’re messy things. _MG_7164

Apologies to the colour-space fanatics – I tried to get the colour of the pastry to match between each of the three shots and still show as much detail as I can, but it’s difficult.

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Mulberries

There’s a recurring Food theme here at the moment, but work’s keeping me pretty busy handing over all the applications I support to colleagues.

Today we got a big bag of Mulberries ~3KG I think – they had their stalks on them, so I had to remove them before they are made into Mulberry Pie(s) tomorrow.

_MG_7145

_MG_7148 Needless to say, my hands got, err… a little stained from the mulberry juices. I imagine the stains will hang around longer than the Mulberries themselves will last (in pie form or not). Mulberries are kinda like little tasty packages of anti-theft dye.

Photos of the mulberry pies will come later.. Yum.

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Cookies

I made some cookies recently… and took some photos for the heck of it.

Slightly over-done on the left, slightly under-done (but chewy) on the right. _MG_7126

 Acres (not really) of cookies…. _MG_7118

Via Your Daily Awesome, comes Time’s Photo Essay on what 15 different families around the world eat in a week.

Very interesting to see.

There’s plenty of useless quizzes and things like that around, so what’s one more to add to the bunch? Hey, atleast I didn’t send it to you with “OMG. Send this on to all your friends – it’s SOOOOO funny”

I scored 40 on the foodie quiz. Apparently I’m

“a gastro-warrior, a culinary thrill -seeker with a palate that knows no barriers, no shame – and no frozen potato waffles and mass produced condiments.”

That’s good, right? 

(And no, this isn’t the “thing” I was referring to… I’m keeping you in suspence. Think of this as like a mid-break teaser. And no, it’s nothing to do with food.)

Slashfood has a post, related to a SF Chronicle article about the practice of Tipping in restaurants in the US, and how some establishments are switching to a service charge.

Coming from a society where tipping is (except for high-end restaurants) considered non-necessary – I can only see the tipping practice as a way for someone to get undeclared income. Then again, they’re supposed to declare it on income tax.

Apparently, some establishments in the US are adding a service charge, in lieu of a regular tip, others are adding the service charge to pay back-of-house staff.

Honestly, I think menu prices should adequately compensate all staff. Some (like several commenters on Scott Adams’ post about tipping last month ) give the argument that it encourages staff to be more attentive, or give better service.  Sure, that may be true – but imo, you should be giving good service regardless.

In Europe a lot of places had service or “plating” charges, which would compensate staff – I think that’s a slightly better alternative to tipping. I still think that the business should have all staff on a salary.

I will rarely tip in Australia – and when I do, it’s usually only to the next $5, unless I’ve had exceptionally good service. 

These Meyer Lemon Loaves look awfully similar to my Gran’s Lemon syrup Cake.  (We make more syrup, and pour it over the cake whilst still in the tin – using much more tart lemons)

Candy Blog has these… strange looking Pumpkin Kitkats.  They’re limited edition – I’m really NOT wondering why.

No worries, ’cause they review some more good looking Organic Dark Chocolates, and some very interesting flavoured/scented hard-boiled candy.

I saw these Banana and Nutella Crepes whilst I was in Paris, but never actually had one.

I guess they’re a good enough reason to head back, just on general principle. :)