Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Old Fashioned Fishcakes

Here is an idea for Good Friday, Old fashioned fishcakes! Soothing nursery food that everyone loves, baked in the oven so fairly healthy, and goes well with green veggies or a salad. It also appeases those people who insist on fish for Good Friday. YUM.

Old Fashioned Fishcakes

  • About 2 kgs of potatoes, more if you have to feed a lot of people or you'd like leftovers. I recommend this. 
  • 1 large tin of tuna, packed in brine. We love Sirena brand in the Chaos house, but go with your fave. Look, use tinned salmon or even cooked fresh fish if you like!
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped. 
  • Whatever else you'd like to add. I love to include finely chopped spring onions but Monkey boy won't eat such nonsense. I grew up with finely chopped celery included, and Mr BC wanted me to add peas. Go ahead and include what you fancy!
  • Panko breadcrumbs, for coating. (I say 'breadcrumbs' but I know it's made from rice. Crazy huh?)
  • olive oil. 

  • Peel, chop and boil your potatoes. After they are cooked I like to drain them then return them to the saucepan over a hot element to steam as much liquid as possible out of them. 
  • Mash like no one's business. Stir with a wooden spoon at the end to really smooth them out. 
  • Stir in the drained and flaked tuna, butter, salt and pepper, parsley and what ever else you are personalizing your fishcakes with. Put this mixture into the fridge to cool down.
  • When it is cool enough to handle, use your hands to form large patties. Coat in panko bread/rice crumbs, place on a baking tray lined with oven bake, and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil.
  • Cook in a hot oven for about 20 minutes until browned. 
  • Serve with salad or steamed veggies or whatever you like. Enjoy!

Leftovers make great sandwiches with a squirt of tomato sauce. 
Hope you have a very happy Easter! 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Perfect Roast Pork with 6 Delicious Sides

Last week was my birthday. I don't always like a big fuss on my birthday but this year I wanted a nice family dinner at a local Tepanyaki restaurant, however a a mix up with the restaurant and Mr BC's work meant that my birthday dinner would not involve either my husband, or catching any eggs in a bowl. Disappointment! Luckily Murray Valley Pork had gifted me with a SIX kilo leg of pork, so I got busy with my favourite thing to do - cook.

First up - cooking perfect pork. This leg of pork was absolutely EPIC, and I didn't want to ruin it's glory by fussing with it too much. I decided roasting would be the most respectful thing to do. 

Perfect Roast Pork
  • Check the scoring, and if neccesary, use a very sharp knife to add some more. Murray Valley Pork is always scored expertly, so I didn't have to worry about this at all.
  • Rub with salt and a drizzle of oil. Don't be gentle, you want to get right in there. 
  • Place in a roasting pan, and blast on 250c for about 30 - 45 minutes, to get the crackling going. 
  • Reduce to 180c, and for each kilo of pork, cook 1 hour. This leg of pork was about 6 kilos, so after the initial high heat it was in the oven for 6 hours. That seems like a really long time, and I was worried it was going to be overcooked and dried out so I kept checking it. I needn't have worried, it turned out beautifully! Perfectly moist and tender. It was so soft, it was a (lovely, drool worthy) challenge to slice. 
  • When finished, take it out of the oven to rest, and remove the crackling. Place crackling in an new oven proof tray and return to the oven, to crisp up even more. Just before serving, use kitchen scissors to cut the crackling into smaller pieces. 
  • Cover the pork loosely with foil, then a tea towel to keep warm while you make the gravy.

Delicious Sides for your Perfect Pork Roast

  • Take the baking tray that the pork has cooked in, and drain most of the fat out. I like to leave a little bit for taste. 
  • Add approx 2 tablespoons of butter and melt on the stove top. (Did I mention this was NOT a low fat recipe?) Stir the whole time, using a spatula or wooden spoon, to loosen up the baked on bits in the pan.
  • Add approx 2 tablespoons of flour, and stir into the butter and oil to make a roux. Stir for a few minutes so that the flour cooks properly and browns a little, and takes on the flavours in the pan. Don't let it burn.
  • Slowly add about 3 cups of water, stirring the whole time until the gravy is smooth and lump free.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste. After you have sliced the pork feel free to add any lingering pan juices to the gravy. 
TIP:  I haven't counted this as a side, as I consider it mandatory and as such, part of the roast. Yep, that's how we roll. This is how I make gravy for all roasts, it works very well; especially with chicken  if you have cooked a few lemons with the chook and squeeze the juice into the butter at the start. If it gets too lumpy, turn the heat down and stir harder. If you cannot get the lumps out by stirring, either push it through a fine strainer or transfer it to a different container and use a stab blender. I always make extra because the boys love leftover gravy poured over hot chips. 

Candied Kumera

This is a not very authentic version of the famous American Candied Yams, or maybe it is, I don't know. The boys loved it. 
  • Peel some kumera and cut into pieces. Drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil, and roast in a baking dish in the oven until done, maybe 40 minutes?
  • In a microwave proof jug, melt 2 tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Stir well, and pour over the cooked kumera.
  • Return to the oven for 20 minutes or so to crisp up a little.

Roast Potatoes with Rosemary and Bacon
  • Slice some new potatoes into your desired shape (I've made thick slices here, just for a change!) Arrange in an oven safe dish with small slices of bacon, and small sprigs of rosemary. Drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast about 1 hour.

Roast Asparagus with Garlic
  • Wash  the asparagus and the snap ends off, place in an oven proof dish. 
  • Finely mince or grate some fresh garlic over the asparagus, drizzle with a little olive oil and gently massage through to ensure all asparagus is coated.
  • Roast for about 15 minutes in a hot oven. (While you are blasting the crackling is ideal.)

Cheesy Zucchini and Corn Spoon Bread.

Can this technically be called a spoon bread? I think so. I don't know. It is delicious.

  • Finely dice a large zucchini, Steam, then drain in a colander with a tin of corn kernels, and about a cup of finely diced and steamed pumpkin. 
  • Transfer to a bowl and mix in half a cup of coconut flour, 3 chopped green onions, half a cup of sour cream and 1 cup of cottage cheese. Add some white pepper. Mix everything really well before you add the cottage cheese, then stir gently so it doesn't break up too much.
  • At this point you could add an egg and turn it into fritters. I did not - I poured it into an oven proof dish and topped it with a sprinkle of panko breadcrumbs. 
  • Bake in the oven about 30 minutes, until the top is browned. 

Apple and Red Cabbage Saute

  • Slice one red onion and one red apple (skin on) and saute in a medium size saucepan with half a tablespoon of butter. 
  • When the apple and onion are softened, add the shredded quarter of a small red cabbage. Stir through, put the lid on, and let it steam for approx 5 - 10 minutes. 

Chili Parmesan Cauliflower

  • Cut half a cauliflower into florets, steam in the microwave until just tender. 
  • In a saucepan, saute some chopped garlic and chili in a small amount of olive oil until softened. 
  • Add the cauliflower and stir. Leave to simmer away on low heat for about 30 minutes. This will give the cauliflower time to steam a bit more and soak up the flavours of the garlic and chili. Stir occasionally so it doesn't stick. 
  • About 5 minutes before serving, stir in a quarter of a cup of parmesan cheese. Stir well, scraping up all the melted cheese and caramelized chili off the bottom of the pan. Serve. 

And for desert? 

A Choc chip banana layered cake made by my gorgeous daughter. Giddy Up!

NB: Murray Valley Pork gifted me with this epic leg roast, and I am super happy they did! All words, enthusiasm and recipes are my own. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Saying goodbye to an unfinished project.

I am the type of person who likes to be thorough. I like to complete tasks. I like to put a tick in that box and feel a nice sense of satisfaction. Not completing a task feels failure? Like I've let myself and everyone else down? It feels like being a Quitter, and I like to think I am No Quitter. I have a lot of projects on the go, and a lot of ideas spilling out of my head. I've learnt to accept that sometimes my ideas will stay in a notebook and never see the light of day - because there are only so many hours of light in a day. Sometimes a project involves a piece of furniture or something large, and if that project isn't actioned immediately it it will sit around in a great cluttery heap, as if I've dragged the entire street's worth of hard rubbish into my house. We don't have a workshop and my shoe box sized house cannot store that much curb shopping!

So, years ago, my parents bought an ugly green striped couch, two actually. You know the ones, from a place that sounds like Lametastic Furniture? Somehow I ended up with the sofa bed couch, and have dragged it around the country with me from house to house. I hate this couch, I thought it was ugly the day it was delivered to my parents house, and familiarity only bred contempt. Why did I keep it all these years? Because it was a sofa bed, and even better; an uncomfortable sofa bed. We where able to accommodate guests but none of them wanted to stay too long because the bed was so uncomfortable. It was perfect! But it was still ugly. So I devised a stylish cunning plan.

The plan was to transform the sofa bed into a sofa ottoman, that would be the size of a single bed, be beautifully upholstered, and be on industrial style wheels. It could function as a single bed if needed. It was going to be awesome. I got to stage 5 on the plan, and man was it cathartic ripping that eyesore of a couch apart. The plan worked very well, but I needed about $1000 worth of supplies to see the project to completion, and that is where it stalled. I didn't feel we had a spare $1000 and if we ever did experience a small windfall, it went on other things that where more important than that ugly couch. So the ugly, pulled apart couch sat there for a few years and became a weight on my conscience. Every time I looked at it I would think I really must finish that couch, that ugly couch is so ugly, why can't we have nice things? The one persistent house guest we have found it so uncomfortable she bought her own single bed and installed it over the top of the ugly couch, so it wasn't even needed anymore. But it still lurked there, under the bed, in all it's unfinished ugliness.

Eventually, the house kind of flooded a bit from the excessive rain we had from Cyclone Marcia, and the chipboard sides of the couch became so water damaged it couldn't be fixed. Mr BC hauled it off to the tip. I am relieved it's gone, but I still feel a sense of regret, and incompletion, and lack of closure. It's only an ugly old couch, well past it's prime; but I did not get to tick that box, even after putting up with it hanging around for so long. Also I'm a bit resentful about the single bed because it is absolutely ugly; I think it came from a place called Home Fart.

Should I have just gotten rid of the couch years ago, said enough is enough and cut my losses? Should I have just found $1000 to complete it? Should I just pick my projects and not take on too much? I definitely think it is time to move on. I've still got lots of projects to get on with. Do you have a lot of unfinished projects? When do you decide enough is enough? Is it hard to say good bye for you too?


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