Tag Archives: cooking

Ready, Steady, Cook

I spent so much of my last post talking about food that I thought it was time to revert back to what I used to want to write a blog about. I have therefore created a Food section on my website where I will post recipes of things I have made with my new adaption attitude and reviews of food I eat if I have enough money to eat out ever again. I will still be posting in my travel section, but I cook more than I travel at the moment, so it might be easier for me to post items about food. Ok, you catch my drift.

In the spirit of adaption, I caught the train to Erin’s house last week on the promise that she was going to cook us dinner. When I arrived I was incredibly hungry, having not eaten since breakfast. What I was greeted with was a hyperactive Erin and a glass of Shiraz and no dinner. Erin had bought the ingredients and in true Ready, Steady, Cook fashion, had placed them on the side in a carrier bag for me to then come up with a method of cooking them.

It seems a fair trade; Erin buys the food and I make the food. My inner control freak was delighted that I would be the one cooking. My inner control freak was also cursing that I hadn’t been there when the items were purchased, but the chefs on Ready, Steady, Cook have to put up with that all the time.

The bag contained the following ingredients:

–          Bok Choyphoto 1 (1)
–          Ginger
–          Mixed capsicum (pepper)
–          Red onion
–          Bean sprouts
–          Chillies
–          Bean sprouts
–          Ginger
–          Coconut Milk
–          Snapper

Now this may seem like a fairly generous choice of food, but in my hungry state, all recipes I have made before went out of my brain. Erin insisted on a Thai-style dinner. Stir-fry seemed like the best option. Luckily, Erin’s housemates were able to oblige with a series of sauces, as well as Asian cooking utensils (massive chop sticks).

Erin also had some quinoa and rice, so she decided to make a coconut rice type dish, which was interesting. Perhaps we’ll try a different method of cooking rice next time.

Another thing I will note is that I have no method of measuring these things, so it’s all fairly random… That’s actually the best way to cook.

Apologies in advance that this recipe is essentially a random train of thought from my brain.

Ingredients

thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, crushed or finely sliced
clove of garlic, minced or finely sliced
crushed or minced fresh chillies, plus extra to garnish
tsp oyster sauce
4 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 fillets snapper with optional herbed crust
½ red onion
½ packet of mixed chopped capsicum (peppers)
1 bok choy
2 handfuls of bean sprouts
3 handfuls of rice and quinoa mix
1 mini can of coconut milk

photo 2 (1)Method

  1. Preheat oven to about 180°C. Mix the soy and oyster sauce, olive oil, chilli, ginger and garlic together. Leave to marinade.
  2. Chop the red onion roughly and check the capsicum pieces to make sure they are bite sized. One of the biggest errors people make when they cook stir-fry (or any vegetable really) is over-cooking, most vegetables don’t actually need to be cooked and their nutritional value begins to decrease the longer they are cooked. In the instance of stir-fry, what you should do is make sure they are hot when they are served, but still crunchy. This way you’ll get the best taste and texture. Anyway, don’t cook them yet, just chop them.
  3. Boil some water (however much you usually do, you’re not idiots and I didn’t have any measuring implements) and the coconut milk together – I would add some seasoning, Erin didn’t. Put the rice in the water coconut mixture and let it go crazy for 30 minutes or until done
  4. The snapper Erin bought came with a crust for you to add to it. That’s quite straight forward – you sprinkle the crust over the snapper and then put it in the oven for about 15 minutes. However, given the choice, I would do snapper parcels (this is the best way to cook any flakey fish: use a square of baking paper and sprinkle it with smoked paprika, chopped shallot, salt and pepper. Lay the fillet over the top and then add a pinch more salt. Fold the paper up so that it covers the fish but steam can be released out of the edges. Place each parcel in the oven for around 15 minutes, depending on the type of fish you are using, some fish are better if they are underdone, but if you do this make sure they are fresh fillets). Heat the plates in the oven for 2 minutes prior to everything being ready.
  5. Once the fish has been in the oven for let’s say, 7 minutes, start to heat your wok. This is where the awesome massive chopsticks come in. Add your marinated mixture to the wok. Once it is hot, add the peppers (because peppers actually taste nice when they are not raw). In quick succession, add the remaining vegetables and stir them with your giant chopsticks, ensuring that the marinade is evenly coating the vegetables. Please do not cook these for longer than two minutes or the amazing fresh taste will be ruined an no one will eat them.
  6. If you are a genius, everything should be ready at the same time. Remove the heated plates and the snapper from the oven (use a tea towel or an oven mitt because you are not Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons). Drain any remaining fluid from the rice and then divide it equally between the plates, distribute the vegetables between the plates and then place the snapper on top of your rice/vegetable mountain. Sprinkle with fresh red chillies.
  7. Serve with soy sauce as a garnish too, because some people just love salt.

Apologies for the quality of photos in the post – I hadn’t thought about uploading these to the blog when I took them. I promise the next foodie photos will be good.photo 3 (2)

I actually enjoyed being creative on the spot and everything is better with good wine and good company. The meal turned out very well, and we enjoyed ourselves. The portions were slightly too big for us I think – too much coconut rice – so you could leave out the rice and add more vegetables, or just do less rice; you know how much rice you usually make, so that’s a good place to start.

If you enjoyed this post and want more like it, please let me know. Don’t forget to like and share on Twitter and/or Facebook. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself.

Experience Life | Create Adventure

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Adaption

I’ve mentioned before that moving abroad in the way that I have is something that was a very alien concept to me. I like to have routines and know exactly what is happening and when, I like to know that I have a job to go to and friends I can call upon to do things with when I want to. Another thing I really liked about my old life was having all of the equipment I needed in order to cook the meals I had become accustomed to.

As a traveller, generally you will not have the money, nor the inclination to eat out constantly. This paves the way for cooking in the home or hostel you are residing in, but that means that you have to extend your ‘make do’ attitude to the things you are making because of the limited kitchen equipment you will have at your disposal.

During my first week here, while I was staying with Erin, I made pizza. Now pizza is one of those things which I have refused to buy from the supermarket since I learned how to make bread. This is largely due to the fact that supermarket-bought pizzas not only have a lot of salt in them, but they are also quite sickly to the taste and very unhealthy. It’s much better to know what you are putting into your food, but also for the food you are eating to actually taste nice.

photo 1

When I was fourteen, we made pizza from scratch in Food Tech at school. From then on I used to make pizza very frequently, putting my own toppings on and trying to make different types of crusts. I think my friends would say, it became a specialty of mine. When I was nineteen, I began working for Thermomix, and one of the first things I made in the Thermomix was the pizza, this included making the tomato sauce.

When I got to Australia, having been using a Thermomix for about 4 years, I felt a bit lost on the cooking front. I also found that the same things aren’t available here and shopping in Coles is different to shopping in Waitrose because everything is in a different place.

Eventually, I got together all of the right ingredients I needed, and took them home. I found the correct bowl and I kneaded all of the ingredients together by hand (which took about 12 minutes as opposed to the Thermomix’s 3). I then encountered my first real problem; the house was too cold for the yeast to work. Problem easily solved by covering the dough and putting it in the oven on a very low heat.

IMG_0118

The next issue that I arrived at was that there was no rolling pin. No fear, as this time we’d already had half a bottle of wine (… each) and the empty bottle could be used as a rolling pin! Hooray, perfectly rolled pizza.

Obstacle number three was the lack of baking trays. Usually I would combat this by using baking paper to cook the pizza on with the oven rack serving as a skeleton for the paper. We didn’t have any baking paper so I ended up using heavily floured casserole dishes, of varying size, for each pizza. I then decorated as accordingly.

IMG_0150

One thing I will say is that cheese is much more expensive over here, and isn’t as good. The mozzarella here is not sold in water as it is in the UK – it’s vacuum packed and isn’t made up in the same way so doesn’t shred as well.

The pizza was pretty damn fine, even if I do say so myself. Maybe I’ll put the recipe up for you sometime…

Another recipe I would usually do in the Thermomix is nacho cheese sauce (for nachos) because I like to make it with very fine pieces of onion, jalapeño and tomato. The base of the sauces is a white sauce, which requires constant stirring and whisking to make sure it’s a smooth as possible. It needs to have all of the flour completely incorporated so that you can’t taste it, so I would cook it for around 10 minutes in the Thermomix; on the hob it took about half an hour.

photo 4

One thing I will say I love about Coles, or Australian supermarkets in general, is the vegetable and fruit section because the avocados (well, produce in general) in Australia are amazing; they are always ripe so if you want to make something with an avocado, you don’t have to preempt yourself by a week in order for it to be ripe in time.  I bought the avocados and on the same day, I made an amazing, vividly green, guacamole which I can’t remember having ever made from scratch before. So, at the end of the day, I suppose it’s all about adaption.

 

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