Friday, January 20, 2023

Satay chicken and noodles

This is another one of my bachelor creations. My girlfriend Zoe serves me raw food creations only so I have to cook for myself sometimes. So I take a shortcut and combine commercial preparations to make something different. And the creation below is VERY tasty -- plus being very filling and probably reasonably nutritious.

The three ingredients are below, a small paper bucket of noodles, a Satay flavour sachet and a can of shredded chicken. Yes. It even includes actual chicken -- sort of. Though it is mainly a noodle dish.

The noodles are fine ones so I crush them with my hands into a bowl. So I then have a bowl of noodle crumbs. I then tip on top of them the two small sachets that come with them in the bucket plus the Satay sachet, plus the contents of the can of chicken.

I then pour boiling water over the lot and use a spoon to mix the contents of the bowl together as well as I can. I measure the amount of boiling water with the bucket. I fill the bucket to about three quarters full and use that amount

I then put the contents into the microwave for one minute, take the bowl out, again mix the contents, then give it another minute in the microwave. I then set it aside for 10 minutes. That ten minutes is actually part of the cooking. The noodles will soak up the remaining water during that time -- resulting in a big bowl of noodle porridge. It is easy to eat and Yum! You can eat it with a soup spoon

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Chicken thighs in hoisin peanut paste

Recipe by Matt Preston. Jenny made this for me recently and it was Yum

(1 cup) salted peanuts
230 ml (1 cup) hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoons salt flakes
8 chicken thighs fillets, at room temperature
1 very large handful of chopped Asian herbs (Thai basil, Vietnamese mint or coriander in any combination)

Preheat the oven to 200øC and lightly oil a baking tray. Using a food processor. stand mixer or stick blender, blitz the peanuts until they become a fine meal. Add the hoisin sauce, vinegar, salt and a little warm water, if needed to loosen.

Tip into a large mixing bowl, add the chicken pieces and rub them all over with the paste. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the paste is all dark and bubbling. You can always give them a quick blast under the grill at the end to create those dark bits.

Scatter the fresh herbs onto the chicken and serve with sauteed Asian greens or a crunchy Asian salad.

NOTE: If you use a suitable brand of hoisin sauce (like Changs), this recipe is gluten free.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Blending ready-made food

We live in an era of dinners and other food prepared for us by businesses of various sorts. There are full frozen dinners available and components of dinners. So our basic ingredients for food preparation have stretched out way further than the basic meat, beans and potato (etc.)

But we can still be creative to some extent -- by modifying the commercial product. And one of my favourite dinners -- a soup as a meal -- is such a blend.

I start out with a large container of a very hearty chicken Laksa soup. It is a reasonable meal by itself. There is a lot in it. But it is still a bit bland in taste. So I add a sachet of Satay chicken soup base and blend the two. I end up with a soup that is both hearty and flavoursome. The blend is much more tasty and filling than either component alone. I have it often.


Thursday, June 02, 2022

A food surprise

Because I do not have a live-in partner, I often have to prepare meals for myself -- so I rely a lot on frozen dinners and canned food. They are usually quite passable these days but none reach any kind of gourmet standard.

I can be lucky, however. For my lunch yesterday I ate very well. I had a thick Laksa soup which was excellent followed by a Tasmanian pork pie that was very tasty too. Not quite a gourmet lunch but definitely a good one.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

An Achar Gosht variation

Indian shops have a masala called Achar Gosht -- "pickle curry", originally meant for use with mutton

I have made up curries from it as per the instructions on the packet and found it quite good.  I made my own variation on it tonight, however,  which in my view was much better.  It was a very tasty curry, though a bit on the "hot" side.

I poured a can of diced tomatoes into a big frypan, added an equal amount of water, a chopped up onion, a good sprinkle of salt, a dessert spoon of ground ginger, the WHOLE packet of masala and 500g of mince meat (ground beef).  So it was low-fat cookery, with the only fat being whatever was in the beef, and the beef was described as "lean".

So I mixed everything in together as far as I could and cooked it on a fairly low heat for half an hour.

Shortly before the curry was ready to be served, I mixed in a mini-can (125g) of corn kernels and a mini-can of baked beans -- just to give the meal some variation in texture.  I served it with boiled rice.

The result was delish! Simple, low-fat and delish. That has got to be good! It was probably even gluten-free.


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Saturday, October 19, 2019

A Cumquat Daiquiri

The Cumquat is a marvellous bush.  Grown widely outside its native place in Southern China, it is basically a warm climate tree but as an onamental bush it is grown in much cooler places -- such as Sydney and Copenhagen. A large part of its visual appeal is its bright yellow fruit, which look like mini-oranges and which the tree puts out prolifically twice a year.

Sadly, however, people mostly ignore the fruit as a food source because it has an appealing but strong taste -- rather bitter.  The one thing the fruit is used for is to make a jam -- and Cumquat jam is the best marmalade you ever tasted.  Once you have had Cumquat jam on your toast, you will never buy another marmalade.

Brisbane is a rather warm place so my cumquat tree is around 10' tall now -- having been planted only about 10 years ago.  And it is in season now at the begining of spring.  I couldn't see all those bright yellow fruit go to waste so I decided to make a Daiquiri out of them.

Daiquiris are a popular tropical cocktail.  Their basic recipe is some form of citrus plus LOTS of sugar, served cold.  The citrus is usually lime or lemon but there are also such abominations as strawberry Daiquiris. In my youth I used to use grapefruit for the citrus juice, which made a REALLY strong drink. I believe Hemingway used grapefruit too. There are several things you can do to get maximum sugar into the drink but the simplest is to use Caster sugar, which is what I use.

So I harvested some of my Cumquat crop and juiced them on my citrus juicer.  It took a while.  Because they are so small, you have to juice a lot of them to get much juice.  But I persevered, added caster sugar until it no longer dissolved plus vodka and topped up with cold soda water.  It was a unique and very refreshing drink.  If you have access to a Cumquat tree, you know what to do now.

When I was at the Uni of NSW in Sydney, the library used to have ornamental Cumqat shrubs outside it. The fruit was unmistakeable. It nomally just fell to waste so I used to go around at night and harvest all the ripe fruit. Nobody seemed to mind.  They didn't know what a treasure they had.

Incidentally, in the Philippines they have a hybrid Cumquat tree called a Calamansi. It is probably a hybrid with a Mandarin.   They use it routinely there to make a fruit juice drink.  It has the unique Cumquat taste without the bitterness. You can even get it in cans.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Kaimak, a discovery

When I lived in Sydney, I would usually have Yugoslav food about once a week. I would usually order pola pola -- half Raznici and half Cevapcici.  The Cevapcici -- a type of meatball -- were particularly good.  So I was dismayed when I came to Brisbane and  found NO Yugoslav restaurants.

But you can occasionally buy from a continental smallgoods shop or Woolworths trays of cevapi -- skinless sausages -- which you can cook up yourself. Cevapi and Cevapcici see to be just different shapes of the same thing.  So all was well. I could cook up my own Cevapi, and I do.

But all was not quite well.  With cevaps you always have Kaimak, a type of sour cream.  And ordinary sour cream is NOT as good as Kaimak.  A cevap meal is always good and tasty but it is not the same without Kaimak.  And there seemed to be no solution to that.  So I just had to do without Kaimak

But Lo!  I have discovered a product that is very much like Kaimak.  And it will certainly do me in lieu of Kaimak.  It is a product of Bulla, a private Victorian dairy company.  It is called "Spreadable Feta with Greek style garlic and herbs". It comes in small tubs and also makes a nice dip with cracker biscuits.  Woolworths have it.

Let me be clear (as 0bama used to say when he wasn't) I DON'T think the Bulla product is as good as Kaimak but I think it is the best substitute for those of us living in the benighted depths of the Anglosphere


I am a Jonah.  The Bulla product has now disappeared.  Nearly as good, however is Philadelphia spreadable cream cheese with garden herbs and onion twist

I do of course have a recipe for real kaimak but it takes days to produce a result and I am too impatient for that

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

"Chicken tonight"

There is a well-known story in the family about the time when Von went to cook the first meal for herself and her husband Simon.  Von hadn't had much experience with cooking so she decided to take a shortcut.  She saw on the supermarket shelf a bottle of stuff called "Chicken Tonight".  It was advertised a bit at that time so  she decided it to use it to create a chicken dinner.

It was a disaster.  The meal was so bad that Simon decided there and then that he would have to do all the cooking. And he still does. Von prefers gardening so that was OK with her.

So I have always steered clear of that stuff -- on the grounds that I am a pretty crook cook too.  But a little while ago I mentioned the matter to my brother and mentioned that I avoided the stuff. He replied rather sharply that there was nothing wrong with it and he makes it often.

He and I see eye to eye on most things so I had a rethink.  Next time I saw the product on sale I bought a bottle.  And just recently I used it. I cheated a bit though.  I just chopped up two chicken breasts, tossed them into my crockpot (slow cooker) and tipped the "Chicken tonight" gloop in after them.  And two hours  later, the meal was pretty good.  I even drank all the soup at the bottom of the crockpot.  Yummy!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

An English curry

On Friday I made a last attempt to get some goodness out of Keen's curry powder, a type of masala.  Keen's was a fixture in every home in my youth.  It WAS curry. But I have never been able to get much taste out of it in my cookery.  So on Friday I tossed a whole tinfull of it into my crockpot with some diced chicken, tomatoes, carrots, celery and sultanas. And that worked.  What came out was a curry of sorts, quite passable.  Anne even had some kind words about it.  I will use only Indian masalas in future, however.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Griffo's "Pik a hot Pak"

About 55 years ago when I was about 20, I had a job selling transmission machinery from a shop in George St., Brisbane. It rather strangely had 3 names: Gearco, Irvine's and Munro Machinery. That is such a strange job for a literary type like me that I think I should say a few words about how I got that job.

There were not many jobs advertised in the local paper for experts in Middle-English poetry -- which is what I knew most about -- so with supreme optimism I applied for job as an engineering equipment salesman.

I was interviewed by Harry Beanham, who owned a chain of similar shops in other capital cities. I turned up for the interview in a green suit wearing a green fuzzy felt hat. That was not a good move. But Harry was a cautious man so he just asked me two questions which should have sent me on my way. He asked: What is a tap and what is a reamer? Being a country kid I answered both questions correctly. And if you think a tap is something you get water out of you don't know engineering machinery. Harry was so delighted to meet a kid who actually knew something that he gave me the job straight away.

And I vindicated his faith in me.  At one stage I made a big sale of diehead chasers  -- which are sort of complicated things.  Apparently none of Harry's other people were selling diehead chasers so Harry gathered together his whole stock of them and sent them up to Brisbane for me to sell.  In his mind I became the diehead chaser man.  Which actually served me well on a later occasion.  But that's another story.

Anyway, while I was working there in the shop, most people in the area seemed to know of a Greek cafe nearby called "Griffo's".  And people flocked there to buy a lunch called "Pik a hot pak".  It was yummy.  It was basically a toasted bacon & egg sandwich but with other stuff in it as well. At that time in my life I was busy saving money so my lunch was usually a cheese and pickle sandwich that I brought from home.  But the Griffo's product was so attractive that I did splash out on one at times.

Sadly, however, Griffo's eventually vanished, as so much does over the years. As one gets older, however, one does tend to reminisce about "the good ol' days" a lot and the memory of Griffo's came to me recently.  So I decided that I would try to recreate a "Pik a hot pak".  I am of course not sure how close I got to the original but the taste is at least pretty similar -- and super-yummy.

So what's in it?  The first constraint was that it had to contain pretty familiar ingredients.  Any "foreign muck" would not have been well received in Brisbane of that era.  So I used absolutely routine breakfast and lunch ingredients as I knew them at that time.  So it is something that any cafe would be able to put together for you to this day.

It is simply bacon, fried egg, cheese, sliced tomato and fried onion topped by a small dab of tomato sauce all piled together into an ordinary toasted white-bread sandwich and cut into four. My local cafe puts it together well for me and it's the best toasted sandwich I have ever had!  So some long overdue thanks to Griffo's.

Warning:  If you try it you could become addicted!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A crockpot curry

My week started out well. Joe is in Sydney so on Monday I cooked up an Achar Gosht Keema for Kate and Jenny. That's curried mince in plain English.  I got a packet of Achar Gosht masala (curry powder) from an Indian shop and tipped the whole of it into 500g of semi-fatty mince plus a can of tomatoes and some celery.  And the result was quite tasty.  We had it with rice, raita and chutney.  You need a bit of fat in a curry to carry the flavour.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A minceburger?

Is there such a thing as a minceburger?  If not, I must have invented it.  I had some savoury mince (ground beef) that I wanted to use up so, for dinner, I bought two hamburger rolls, put plenty of butter and a cheese slice on each and topped each with a thick coat of mince.   It was delish.  But it depends on the mince of course.  Your mileage may vary.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


A new taste sensation! Last night I had a dinner that I had never tasted before. I have been eating out off and on since I was 16 and I am now 73 so it is rare to find a dinner that is new to me. I have eaten much from all the world's cuisines. I have had Chinese food in Hong Kong, Philippine food in the Philippines, Mexican food in Mexico, South African food in South Africa, French food in France, Indian food in India and Indian food in England (don't mention English food). And during my 15 years in Sydney just about all the world's foods were available right there anyway. So I was surprised to encounter a taste I had not had before

It all began when I somehow noted that people in Northern Europe grow and eat a lot of barley. I had never had anything made from barley. So I bought some. And I wandered around the net looking for barley recipes. I found one that looked promising. But it looked a bit complicated for me to make so I put off making it. Eventually I told Anne that I was going to cook some barley for our next dinner. She was amused. She was even more amused when she saw the recipe. "You'll never make that!", she said. She knows that most of my cookery is just heating up something already prepared by the chefs at Woolworths.

So in the kindness of her heart Anne offered to make it for me. There was clearly a lot of time and work in the recipe so I gladly accepted her offer.

And I have just had the result. It was very good. On the plate it looked rather like savoury mince but the taste was quite different: Not a strong taste; a subtle taste but very more-ish. I am going to be asking Anne for more of it. I got the recipe off the barley organization so I imagine I might be getting some free barley soon if Google leads them to this post.

The recipe is below. Anne used pork mince and cut up the mushrooms finely. The recipe says "cooked barley" without explanation so Anne soaked it in for half a day and then boiled it until it was soft. Anne was surprised about the amount of salt but it was OK. Despite what the food freaks say, salt is good for you.

Barley Mushroom Stroganoff

Family favorite with a twist.

1 pound lean ground turkey, chicken
or beef
2 teaspoons olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon chicken seasoning base
2 cups low-fat sour cream
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
2 cups cooked pearl barley*
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Spray large skillet with non-stick cooking
spray; heat over medium heat. Add ground
turkey; crumble and cook until turkey is no
longer pink. Remove from pan and drain.
Pour off liquid from pan. Add olive oil,
onion and mushrooms; saut‚ 4 to 5 minutes,
stirring occasionally. Season with oregano,
salt and pepper. Cook 4 more minutes. Stir
in water and chicken seasoning. Blend
together sour cream and flour. Stir in sour
cream mixture, cooked barley and meat.
Continue to cook over low heat until heated
through. Garnish with parsley, if desired,
and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Pie technology

Australians are great lovers of meat (steak) pies. and of course we prefer freshly baked ones -- at around $4 each.

But in most supermarkets you can get a pack of 4 pies for $4.  So what are THEY  like?

An odd feature of them is that they are microwave friendly.  Heat up a freshly baked pie in the microwave and the pastry comes out soggy.  But put one or two of your $1 pies into a microwave for 4 minutes and they come out about right.  By contrast, put a $1 pie in a conventional oven and they come out with "cast-iron" shells.

So the great discovery about frozen supermarket pies is the exact opposite to the wisdom about fresh pies.  Microwave them! In the microwave, the crust softens and makes a perfectly nice pie.  Not a great pie but pleasant enough.

I have had a couple recently accompanied by a few pickles: Cucumbers, Manzanilla stuffed olives and cocktail onions

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A hearty salad

A hearty salad?  What the devil is that? Salads are supposed to be rabbit food!  They're not hearty.  Mine are.  They're almost a meal in themselves.  So I thought I might share the concept.

I also call the salad I mostly make a simple salad, as it is usually just four ingredients chopped and thrown together without even the blessing of a dressing.

For two people:

Chop one tomato into wedges
Chop one Lebanese cucumber into thick slices
Chop contents of an avocado into substantial slices
Chop enough Feta cheese to make about a dozen small chunks

Toss together in a bowl and serve

Optionally:  Add Manzanilla olives, anchovies or chopped capsicum (Bell pepper)

I am very heretical in that I don't use lettuce, other leaves or onion in my salads.  Lettuce has no nutritional value and, if you use onions, a salad dressing is required (in my opinion).  Raw onion is a bit harsh.

I have and have used salad dressing in the past but I am against it these days.  It tends to mask the flavours of the salad ingredients.  And, if what you are are using is reasonably fresh, the usual salad ingredients have a great taste of their own.  And I now like to taste that without distractions.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Cucumber magic

When you eat out somewhere and order a salad with your meal,  you normally get some cucumber with it.  As it happens I REALLY like cucumber, particularly if it is not long off the vine.  But the salad you get in restaurants is obviously cut up by people who DON'T like cucumber.  It is cut up into such thin slices that you get almost no cucumber taste from them at all.

And I have been experimenting with that.  I make a lot of salads these days and cucumber features in most of them. And what I have found is that the bigger the slice of cucumber, the more you get that great cucumber taste.  And if you have never experienced a great cucumber taste, I suspect that you need to find a better greengrocer.

I slice my cucumbers diagonally, as most restaurants do.  Just cutting them into circles is uncool.  And I cut the slices at least a quarter of an inch thick.  For children of the metric era that is about 1 centimeter (I think).  A slice of cucumber should be a delicious lump!


Friday, May 27, 2016

Food review

When I was on the weight-loss diet that Joe prescribed for me last year I more or less had to cook for myself to keep inside my 1500 calorie allowance.  Joe prescribed grilled chicken as an evening meal but that got too bland after just two nights.  So I chopped the chicken up, added canned tomatoes and curry powder and threw it into my crockpot with a bit of onion -- and cooked it there for about 3 hours.  That was an improvement but not by a lot.  It was still pretty bland.  The curry powders I was using were local ones like Keens and Clive of India and I found that I had to put half the container of powder into the dinner to get much taste out of it.

So after a while I went to a local Indian grocer and got some real Indian curry powder -- such as Achar Gosht. It still didn't make a great curry, however. A good curry is fatty and I was trying to avoid that. So no added ghee or marrow-bones etc. So I ate a lot of rather basic curries last year. But I like curries! And, like Joe, I am not bothered by having the same thing night after night.

As you do, I eventually went off my diet so had to rethink my food.

Partly because I don't like driving at night anymore, and partly because I felt I needed to give Nandos, KFC, McDonalds, Chinese and Lebanese restaurants and such places a bit of a rest (splendid though their offerings are -- Sing Sing Chinese restaurant at Buranda gives a very nice Vietnamese lemon grass chicken dinner for only $13.99), I decided that I should mostly ditch going out for dinner and instead prepare my own meals at home. My first step in that direction was to buy frozen dinners. So all I had to do was pop them in the microwave. And that was very successful. The frozen dinners I get from Woolworths seem to me pretty much as good as what I would get from a restaurant. Over time they have really improved.

Then I moved on to things that just had to be heated up in my gas oven -- pizzas, pies etc.  And that worked pretty well.  I just followed the instructions on the label about how long to heat the product and that mostly worked out fine.  I did rather overcook a pizza once but most of it was OK. It was "good in parts", to quote an old joke

Recently, however, I have been tempted by "assisted" cookery -- where some packet or other says:  "Just add meat" -- or the like. The idea is that some corporate chef has put together some  flavouring substances into a sachet or bottle and that takes care of all the thinking, talent and creativity.  And it works.  Anne politely eats my creations of that sort and has always found them acceptable. I have made some reasonable curries by just adding a bottle of sauce to mince.  Mr Patak of Lancashire is a particularly good provider of such bottles.

 My best effort of that kind was a chili con carne.  I just added a can of diced tomato plus a can of beans to 500g of good beef mince and left it to the oven and the flavour sachet to do all the work.  And Anne actually praised that creation.  A problem, however, is that both Woolworths and Aldi seem to be sold out of Chili con Carne sachets so if anyone reading this sees some on sale somewhere local I would appreciate the information

And I have just now dived deeper into complexity.  I bought a packet which described itself as a  "Tandaco one-pan dinner" with savoury noodles.  The packet contained a sachet of noodles and a flavour sachet.  It was a product to which I had to add measured quantities of a few things -- not just meat.  I had to add onion, garlic, Oyster sauce and curry powder.  Rather daringly, I added Achar Gosht for the curry powder.  The recipe was probably designed around Keens or the like.

And the result was quite good.  It was a pleasant taste but not like any other taste that I could describe.  A catch, however, was that the recipe produced rather a lot of food.  When it says on a packet "serves 4" I generally discount that and expect it to feed only two.  But this time the claim was spot-on.  It took me four days to eat it all!  So that worked out at less than $3 per dinner, which is very reasonable.

So that is where I am up to at the moment.  I have just bought myself a special pancake frying pan and a packet of pancake mix so strange things could happen soon.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Cheese quest

When I was helping to bring up kids many moons ago, computer games like Kings Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest etc were all the rage.  My present quest is obviously much less important than that but it has some importance to me.

Going back further: When I was a kid in the '40s and '50s there was no variation in what cheese we ate.  It was always Kraft cheddar cheese in the blue packet and with the silver foil inside.  That it didn't need refrigeration even in the tropics was probably part of its appeal.  And I don't think our household was much different from any other at the time.  I think Australia had something of a cheese monoculture at that time.

As time went by however, the available types of cheese proliferated -- and Kraft cheddar faded from view.  But the variety did not conquer all.  What happened was that a new monoculture arose: "Tasty" cheese arose to rule the roost.

And like a good Australian, I too for many years mainlined on Tasty.  Recently, however, I have looked outside my rut a bit and have tried some other cheeses.  And as part of looking more widely, I wondered if you could still get the old Kraft cheddar.  Rather to my surprise I found that I could.  My local Woolworths has it in a small corner down the bottom of one of its shelves.

So I wondered how it matched up against more modern cheeses.  I bought a packet. And it was still quite pleasant but a bit bland.  It goes very well as grilled cheese on toast however.  So Kraft cheddar was the beginning but not the end of my quest.

Other cheeses I have tried include Club Cheddar from the Mary Valley (Queensland) -- with pickled onion in it -- and Cracker Barrel black label.  The Onion cheese has the best taste in my view but both are a bit too crumbly for me.

So my quest continues. Is there a cheese with a strong cheesy flavour that is not crumbly?

Sunday, November 09, 2014

A diet curry

Most people on a weight-loss diet are told to cut back heavily on consumption of fats.  So you can't fry your meat anymore and have to have it grilled.  That can get pretty boring.  So what about currying your meat to give it a bit more flavor? Sadly, most restaurant curries and curry sauces are a fat bomb.  Their high fat content means that you have to avoid them like the plague.  And curries are so fat dependent that taking the fat out leaves you with very little flavor.  So by trial and terror I have arrived at a recipe that will never be up to restaurant standard but which is recognizably a curry and is certainly more flavorful than plain food.

And the key to it is simple:  You have to use curry powder and you have to use a LOT of it.  My recipe is below.  The curry powder I use is "Clive of India" from my local supermarket but I am sure "Keens" and others are as good

2 breasts of skinless chicken, chopped up (about .6 of a kg)
50 grams of curry powder (about half of the container)
A small quantity of coriander
A heaped teaspoon of crushed garlic
1 chopped onion
A full can of canned tomatoes
Salt to taste


I just toss all the ingredients together into a small crockpot (slow cooker) with about half a tumbler of water,  mix it together with my hands and leave it on "High" for 3 hours.  It should boil gently after 2 hours, ensuring that any bacteria are dead. It is a very "safe" meal.


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Monday, August 26, 2013

An adventure with mince (aka ground beef)

I have got lots of packets and bottles of stuff in my kitchen for making "easy" meals.  Very little of it ever gets used. I think I have had some of it for over 10 years.  So I decided to do something about it.  I would become a packet cook!

My first effort was to get out my little tin of Keen's curry powder, which was once found in every Australian household.  It made curry suitable for people who were used to "plain food".  I cooked up some mince and onions, added Keen's toward the end and got a passable meal of mince.  There was only the faintest taste of curry to it, however.  So I tried again

My theory was that I should first marinate the mince in Keens.  So I converted a pound of mince into a slurry by adding water and stirring with my fingers (Indian!).  I then added 4 dessert spoons of Keen's and left it to marinate for about 8 hours.  I also added salt, two small chopped onions and a handful of mixed dried fruit.  I was looking for some stock to add to give it more body but I could not find any so added a dessert spoon of Bisto (normally used for making gravy)

I put the lot into my electric frypan with water and butter, stirred until everything looked to be cooked through (about 10 minutes).  And I STILL got no real curry taste in the result.  It was very nice mince though.  So my mad methods did produce a good result -- just not the result intended.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Termite toast

This could well invite great opprobrium from Greenies and nature-lovers generally but I have just destroyed another termite infestation in my house so I am not feeling too kindly towards termites at the moment.

Fortunately the structural timbers in an "Old Queenslander" house are hardwood, which termites find a bit hard on their little jaws -- so infestations tend to do no serious structural damage in such houses. So the various attacks on my house don't take much to repair.

Anyway, the point about this post is to pass on a bit of old bush wisdom that I learnt many years ago from my father: Termite mounds (in the bush) burn. So if you knock the top off one and light it up, you have a very good damped fire for making toast. Just throw some bread on and you will soon have some of the tastiest toast you have ever eaten. It has a unique flavour. Though I guess it could depend a bit on what wood they have been eating.

So there is ONE good thing that comes from having termites around.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Anne has been to Central Europe since I last posted a Liptauer recipe and she of course encountered there much Liptauer. That gave her a good idea what she was aiming at in making her own. So I post below the recipe she used with great success on a recent occasion

Cream the following together in a bowl until well blended:

* 4 oz. of Lipto cheese -OR- if you cannot buy Lipto you can substitute 4 oz. cream cheese -OR- 4 oz. Feta cheese (Anne used Danish Feta)

* 1/2 cup soft butter

* 3 Tbs. thick sour cream

* 1 tsp. capers and add to bowl with cheese mixture

Add the following to cheese mixture and blend ingredients thoroughly

* 1 Tbs. grated onion

* 1 Tbs. prepared mustard

* 1 1/2 teas. Sweet Hungarian Paprika

* 1/2 tsp. Caraway seeds smashed or bruised to release flavor

Shape into a smooth mound and make slight indentations in mound with tines of a fork. Sprinkle with Paprika. Let flavors mingle in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. Letting it stand overnight is even better. Serve over Hungarian salami on rye bread with chopped green capsicum (Bell peppers) on top. Goes well with beer.

Makes 1 3/4 cups of spread.


Disclaimer:The recipes here have been collected from various sources over the years and I have lost track of where most of them came from. If anybody believes that I have "stolen" their recipe, however, I will be happy to add an acknowldgement of the original source. To my knowledge, however, most of the recipes here do contain SOME element of originality. The element of originality, however, comes mostly from my ex-wife Jenny rather than from myself.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Brandied Apricot trifle


Sponge cake


Half cup apricot jam

4 oz dried apricots

2 Tablespoons rum or brandy

2 passionfruit

2 oz. flaked almonds

Half cup cream


Soak apricots in cold water 1 hour: cook gently until soft. Drain: reserve a few whole apricots for decoration, mash remainder.

Make up or buy sponge cake. Spread with warmed sieved apricot jam, roll up as for swiss roll. When cold cut into 1 cm ( 2 in.) slices. Stand slices round sides of deep glass bowl. Dice any surplus cake and put in base of dish. Sprinkle with rum.

Combine custard, mashed apricots and passionfruit pulp; pour over cake, refrigerate 1 hour or until required. Just before serving, decorate with whipped cream, reserved whole apricots and toasted flaked almonds. Serves 6.

Friday, March 17, 2006


The last recipe I put up for Liptauer made a nice spread but it was not quite authentic Liptauer. The recipe above takes you a lot closer. I got it off June Meyer's site. She has Liptauer in the family, apparently. Anyhow, at risk of breaching copyright, I reproduce it below. I have left out the salt from her recipe as the anchovies and capers make it plenty salty enough.

Cream the following together in a bowl until well blended:

* 8 oz. of Lipto cheese -OR- if you cannot buy Lipto you can substitute 8 oz. cream cheese -OR- 8 oz. Feta cheese

* 1/2 cup soft butter

* 3 Tbs. thick sour cream

* Mash 2 anchovy fillets

* 1 tsp. capers and add to bowl with cheese mixture (Optional)

Add the following to cheese mixture and blend ingredients thoroughly

* 1 Tbs. finely chopped onion

* 1 Tbs. prepared mustard

* 1 1/2 teas. Paprika

* 1/2 tsp. Caraway seeds smashed or bruised to release flavor

Shape into a smooth mound and make slight indentations in mound with tines of a fork. Sprinkle with Paprika. Garnish with chopped parsley on plate. Let flavors mingle in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. Letting it stand overnight is even better. Goes well with beer. Serve with Pumpernickel or Rye bread.

Makes 1 3/4 cups of spread.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Good with plum pudding, clootie dumpling etc. Makes about 450 ml. Very rich.

2 egg yolks
4 tablespoons castor sugar
300 ml double cream
4 tablespoons dark rum
2.5 ml vanilla essence

1. Beat egg yolks with sugar until fluffy and lemon-coloured
2. Whip cream until stiff; add dark rum and vanilla essence, and whip until stiff again. Add more sugar to taste, if desired.
3. Fold egg yolks into whipped rum cream.


Disclaimer:The recipes here have been collected from various sources over the years and I have lost track of where most of them came from. If anybody believes that I have "stolen" their recipe, however, I will be happy to add an acknowledgement of the original source. To my knowledge, however, most of the recipes here do contain SOME element of originality. The element of originality, however, comes mostly from my ex-wife Jenny rather than from myself.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Liptauer Cheese Spread (Gluten Free version)

250g plain cottage cheese
125g cream cheese
125g cheddar cheese, grated
1 spring onion finely chopped
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon paprika or more to taste.
Cream as required.


1. Blend cottage cheese, cream cheese and grated cheddar cheese until smooth

2. Stir in chopped onion, caraway seeds and paprika. Add one or two tablespoons cream to make the mixture spreadable. If made in a blender, more cream will be required to blend.

3. Pack into a jar or pot with a lid and refrigerate for several days to allow the flavours to develop

To Serve

Spread on gluten free crackers, add sliced gluten free salami and finely sliced capsicum (bell-pepper slices).


Use as a dip, good with sliced veges (capsicum, carrot, celery etc) and/or gluten free crackers.


Disclaimer:The recipes here have been collected from various sources over the years and I have lost track of where most of them came from. If anybody believes that I have "stolen" their recipe, however, I will be happy to add an acknowledgement of the original source. To my knowledge, however, most of the recipes here do contain SOME element of originality. The element of originality, however, comes mostly from my ex-wife Jenny rather than from myself.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

BERNAISE SAUCE - Gluten Free - Microwaveable

Good with all meats but fine steak in particular

1 tsp of finely chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon finely chopped spring onion
4 tablelspoons butter
2 tablespoons cream
2 egg yolks, well beaten
1-1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1.3 teaspoon salt
dash dry mustard
dash cayenne pepper (can use paprika)


Place butter in a glass bowl and cook in a microwave oven until melted (about 30secs on high setting). Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Return to the microwave oven and cook on high or 30 secs. Stir with whisk. cook on high for another 30 secs and stir. It should have thickened by this time, if not try another 10 secs. Beat with a wire whisk or beater until fluffy. Serve.

Note: Fresh Bernaise sauce does not keep, use within an hour of making.


Disclaimer:The recipes here have been collected from various sources over the years and I have lost track of where most of them came from. If anybody believes that I have "stolen" their recipe, however, I will be happy to add an acknowledgement of the original source. To my knowledge, however, most of the recipes here do contain SOME element of originality. The element of originality, however, comes mostly from my ex-wife Jenny rather than from myself.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here.


Sunday, June 12, 2005


Wallace of Big Gold Dog writes regarding my post yesterday:

Since I was mentioned in the referenced Chili article I'll have to comment. I had given my thoughts on a good recipe at a new Japanese Blog here

Texas chili is only one variety of the dish and Texas chili is as varied as the state's geography. I offered only what I like which tends to actually be more a New Mexico dish, with perhaps some Central American touches. The author is correct in part in that chili con carne is actually an American invention, but over the years, it is now fully accepted in Mexico, Northern states anyway.

Cumin "powder" is the only thing I would ever consider using. I had mentioned my prediliction for adding cinammon and black beans....both tending towards a southern Mexico or Central American and New Mexico influence. Beans, of any kind, in Texas chili are a heresy to most Texans. I put in black beans because I like them! The author mentions putting "chili packets". No self respecting Texan would ever use any kind of commercially made "packet" of ingredients. Fresh peppers.

The long and the short of good recipes be they Texas, New Mexico or god forbid California is that they should suit your taste buds! Frank X. Tolbert was a legend in Texas and generally considered the Father of Modern Chili cooking and founder of the Terlinqua Chili Cookoff. Here's his recipe

Saturday, June 11, 2005

More CHILLI CON CARNE Corrections/Suggestions

An email from a reader just received -- a response to my original recipe here:

The cumin seeds should be changed to crushed cumin, and I disagree with Big Gold Dog, in that crushed cumin seed is widely available all over the South West United States. The addition of cinnamon is usually a Northern invention (read Damn Yankees) and finally the entire concept of Chili is utterly disowned in Mexico. They want nothing to do with the dish.

There is an ongoing range-war between Texas and New Mexico as to who makes the best Chili Con Carne. Finally, sugar is allowed in some recipes (depending on taste and it's in mine) but tomatoes never are allowed in any chili competition I have ever seen. Beans are almost universally frowned upon and finally dump the ground beef, only use cubed beef, the cheaper the cut the better. You will notice the difference.

Next, bacon grease is a big factor in how your chili will taste and vegetable oil is a poor substitute.

Finally I use this stuff called "Better than Bouillon". It's like Bouillon cubes, but much richer tasting. If you can't get that in your country, then just used a few cubes of beef bullion and you will be fine.

Here is my best and most traditional (tasting) recipe for Chili Con Carne. You can post round two of the chili wars if you want, as most people never have a real bowl of red and are surprised as to what it actually tastes like. Hint: It's not low-fat.

I made a chili con carne kit for a girlfriend and this is what I put in it. Now her stuff was all prepackaged by me, but if you have access to real chili powder (not cayenne pepper: that's way too hot), you can easily recreate this. If you want, I will convert the packet sizes to metric.

This will serve about 6 hungry people.

Medium Chili spices:

4 lbs of beef (roast or chuck or the cheapest lean meat you can find, cut in to half cubes)

4 Yellow Onions

4 California Chili packets (1oz each packet)

1 New Mexico Chili packet (1oz each packet)

1 small (1.25 oz) packet of ground Cumin

Half the packet of Paprika (1oz each packet)

Half the packet of Mexican Oregano (1oz each packet)

A quarter of the packet of Black Pepper (1oz each packet)

2 of the unsweetened chocolate foils (1oz squares) (use only in the last hour of cooking)

1 packet of Mesa Harina flour (use only in the last hour of cooking)

3 Tablespoons of "Better than Bouillon"

3 Heaping Tablespoons of crushed garlic

4 Heaping Tablespoons of brown sugar

1 Level Tablespoon of salt

4 Quarts of water

The grease from 8 strips of microwaved bacon

Cooking Directions

Cooking time: 2-4 hours

Boil 4 quarts of water in a 2 or more gallon stainless steel pot.

Chop up 4 medium onions into small cubes.

In your pot of boiling water, put in your chopped onions, chili powder packets, crushed garlic, beef bouillon concentrate, spices and the brown sugar. Refer to the guide I made for you on the other pages to determine exactly how spicy you want the chili to be.

Remember not to add the Mesa Harina flour or unsweetened chocolate until the last hour of cooking.

Cube up your meat into about half inch squares. Leave all the fat on. If some are little larger and some a little smaller than a half inch, that's OK.

Microwave 8 slices of bacon for about 6-7 minutes, and then dump half the bacon grease into good sized iron skillet on medium heat. Dump the rest of the bacon grease into the chili pot. Keep frying bacon until you get about a half cup of bacon grease.

Quickly sear or fry the beef in the remaining bacon grease. You just want to sear the outsides of the meat and not try to cook it all of the way through. Scoot it around in the fry pan until the sides of the cubed beef are browned. You may have to stagger your frying into smaller batches depending on the size of your skillet. As you finish frying meat, transfer the seared meat into your chili pot.

Continue frying until you run out of meat and at the end of your very last batch, dump all of your meat and what’s left of the bacon grease into your chili pot. Watch out for any grease that may splatter.

Continue to cook the chili at a medium to high heat for about 30 min and then reduce heat to low and let it simmer un-covered for about 1 hour. Keep an eye on it. Stir it while scraping the bottom of the pot every ten to fifteen minutes or so for the first hour. When you scrape the bottom of the pot, check for a build-up of dark red sludge on the end of your spoon. If you see that, your fire is on too high; turn it down. Just don't let it burn. If the chili gets too thick, add some water a cup at a time. If it's too thin, cook with the lid off for an hour or so to boil off that extra water.

After 1 hour, cover the chili pot and then turn the heat down just a little bit lower and let simmer for another 1 to 2 hours. Check it every 15 minutes or so and stir it every time you check it. Remember to scrape the bottom of the pot with your spoon when you stir the pot.

About an hour before serving time, go ahead and put in your unsweetened baking chocolate squares and stir the chili thoroughly some more for a few moments until the chocolate has completely melted into the chili.

Now take one mesa flour packet and put it into a large measuring cup and add a half cup of warm water and mix it thoroughly so that it has no lumps and the consistency of a slightly thin pancake batter. Put the watered mesa flour into the chili pot and stir thoroughly. Continue to let the chili cook for at least another half hour after adding the mesa flour.

The final step is to check for taste and add salt as needed. If you add more salt, cook for another 10 minutes. If it does not need any more salt, you are good to go.

Congratulations, you have just made some really good chili!

Monday, April 25, 2005


Australians call these Anzac "biscuits" in accordance with the normal Australian usage that says "biscuit" where Americans say "cookie". What Americans call a "biscuit", Australians call a "scone" (pronounced "skonn"). These cookies are NOTHING like the military rations that the original Anzacs ate and nobody knows why they are called Anzac biscuits but they are a year-round Australian favourite


1 cup plain flour 1 cup sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup desiccated coconut 125g butter
1 tablespoon treacle or golden syrup
2 tablespoons boiling water 1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda


Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius; line baking trays with baking paper. Combine flour, sugar, oats and coconut in a bowl. Melt butter together with treacle in a saucepan over a low heat. Dissolve soda in boiling water and stir though butter mixture. Combine butter mixture with dry ingredients and mix well. Spoon heaped teaspoons of mixture onto trays and lightly press each biscuit. Allow room for spreading. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and allow biscuits to cool on trays.

Makes about 34 biscuits

(From an original recipe provided by Bob Lawson, an original Anzac, and reprinted from "The Australian" newspaper of 23 April, 2005)