Monday, July 18, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

An Open Letter To Mama Elias.

Dear Mama Elias.

I could faff about and start this letter proper like but I won't. You are far too practical for such nonsense so I'll just get to the point;

I miss your chilli.

It used to arrive regularly, when your daughter, Sabrina (aka as Saboobies) would bring me a stash when she came to visit you and Papa Elias. You were overjoyed to give me those gifts in a jar with your cute handwritten labels; 'Dry Chilly with oil,salt and ginger'- I still have one that I cherish.

That jar has long since been empty. I pine for that gorgeous chilli paste which makes all others die in its strong presence. Only half a teaspoon is necessary to give a dish that snap,crackle,pop and roar. A whole teaspoon would set your hair on fire- delightfully, I must add.

The last time I was in Sydney, you gave me 2 jars of this heavenly,hot,homemade joy along with another packet of your favorite Baba's spice mix. Saboobs gave me some of her home grown curry leaves. I took that armful of heaven back to Mel's where I was staying and made a lamb curry that made our whole being sing.  Since Saboobs has taken a job in Perth to make more cash, she is no longer able to supply me with this wonderful condiment. All my attempts to recreate that curry of a year ago have failed. Oh the memories of that meal.

I can't live on these memories much longer. I must throw down the gauntlet; Either you make me more and post it to me (or better still, send my gorgeous Saboobs over to deliver it personally) or give me your recipe so I can at least try to make it myself.

So, Mama E, it's all up to you. I either await a care package full of chilli paste or an email containing the recipe.

Or better still, handwritten. 'My Chilly Recipe'. How cute.

Post Script- Received a text from Ms Saboobies stating she had just arrived back in Sydney and Mama Elias is going to hand write her recipe for me. Stay tuned for that! YAY!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Easy Chicken & Spinach Curry

Oh Monday night.. when you work full time, it's the hardest day to get through. You get home,you want to eat but imagination is low and creativity in the kitchen isn't that high on the radar either. However, I was craving Lamb Saag like nobodies business. I went to the supermercado and all they had in the way of affordable lamb were shanks. So I bought them thinking a nice,slow roast would make them perfect with that sauce and a pile of spinach. I also bought some F.R chicken drumsticks thinking I'd get clever and make chicken & veg soup for a couple of meals this week.

Then I got home.

The hunger gland kicked in and I knew there was no way I was going to wait 2 to 3 hours for shanks to get to that tender-fall off the bone-cut it with a spoon stage. So lamb saag became chicken saag. This is how it all went down;

  • Chicken
  • Spinach-
  • A splodge of oil (vegetable or olive)
  • A wodge of butter
  • Onion(s), chopped anyway you like 
  • Heaped tablespoon of Baba's Spice Mix *
  • Garlic (minced or smashed)
  • Thumb sized piece of fresh ginger ( minced or fine julienne)
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh curry leaves- about 12 should do it- I love them.**
  • Chilli (you decide the heat)
  • Cream- you decide on light,full cream,pouring or coconut and the amount you want
Put on a CD and start prepping your ingredients. Have a sing song whilst your slicing and dicing.

In a heavy bottomed (hee hee hee) pan, heat the oil and butter. Add the onion,garlic,ginger,chilli and spice mix and sweat it down-careful not to burn. You want it translucent,not brown. Make sure your heat isn't too high. If using a cast iron pot, it retains the heat nicely so it should be a lower heat. Add your chicken thighs and keep turning till they change colour. Add your can of tomatoes and curry leaves,stir and cover. You may need about half a can of water to make sure it doesn't burn.

Let this simmer for at least an hour. Keep tasting to check the seasoning. Add your spinach. About five or so minutes before you think it's ready, add the cream. Don't do it early or the cream will split and then it all goes horribly wrong.

When you feel it's ready, serve with Basmati rice. Remember the culinary jazz aspect and improvise for the amount of people you're cooking for.

*My dear friend,Sabrina's sweet mum whom I will refer to hereon in as Mama Elias,gives me jars of her homemade chilli paste which kicks all chilli pastes arse as far as I'm concerned. She also put me on to this stupendous ready to go spice mix. I love making my own mixes,but when you're short on time but still want quality, Babas is the bomb. You can pick it up from most Asian grocers and it will set you back about $2.50.

**Curry leaves should always be used fresh or else they are shit. These can also be purchased at Asian grocers and are usually found near the front counter.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Good Roasting

I am an unabashed coffee snob. I love my coffee. It must be good coffee. I buy my beans from a rather expensive coffee shop in town but it's worth it because each coffee is wonderful. I have a coffee machine and a grinder so those beans are fresh and good when they are brewed into liquid gold.

So it was only a matter of time before I entered the foray of roasting my own beans. The gorgeous Ruth Bruten of the award winning blog Gourmet Girlfriend blogged that she roasts her own coffee beans as she drinks a lot more java than I do. She also has a brood of six boys to feed (including her husband) so buying good beans on a regular basis would cut into the budget a bit. I do drink 2 to 3 cups a day-2 during the week and 3 on the weekend. I buy my coffee a kilo at a time and at $43 bucks a kilo, it gets a bit pricey on my salary.

So I emailed Ruth and asked her to give up her coffee bean connection and she very nicely did. I won't give them up in case she wants it to remain a secret. I did my online research and discovered a method using an air popcorn maker. After watching a few  You Tube tutorials, I decided this was for me. Now as we all know, air poppers are one of those things that people buy,use a few times and then it dies in the back of a cupboard somewhere. So I put a shout out to my peeps on Facebook to see if anyone had one they didn't want. My good friend Louie came back and said he had one that he never used and he was happy to pass it on to me in my quest for home roasted coffee. 

So I ordered a green bean starter pack and 2 days later, it arrived. It comes in four different bean types;Peruvian,Ugandan,Indian Mysore and Ethiopian Ghimbi. Due to my love of all things South American, I used the Peruvian. The green beans are pale and strange smelling.... it's hard to believe when you normally buy them and the smell is intoxicating.

                                                                  The raw product
 The before and after
Django the quality controller watching that all goes well.

I'm still finishing the last of my beans from Seven Seeds so I haven't tried them yet. I'll write a postscript to this blog when I do. Right now,they are resting. I am amazed that the popcorn maker does such a quick and good job on roasting them. Seeing I'm rather forgetful, I'm sure if I put them in the oven, the fire department would be around lickity split so the air popper is a better option for moi... Many thanks to Ruth,Coffee Geek and the gorgeous and yummy Tom from Sweet Maria's for helping me along.

Post Script! The coffee is wonderful! The smell developed into an intoxicating perfume overnight and when ground and brewed, tasted a bit like Nutella! I am in coffee heaven!

Olive Harvest

My friend,Cathryn has an olive tree in her backyard and a damn fine one. So when she invited me to strip the tree bare-with the help of her gorgeous 18 month son Ned- I was there in a minute.

I brought those babies home,cleaned them and packed them in salt. Two months later here they are;

It was a long wait but definatly worth it. They taste salty and buttery.
Aerial view of beautiful black olives..
Here they are doused in Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Will add garlic and chilli then store in jars to give to friends.