Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fantastic Chinese Pork/Beef in the SC

Another fantastic recipe from A Year of Slow Cooking, she calls it asian shredded pork/beef, I would describe it as chinese flavoured. I chopped it up rather that shredding it, the meat is deliciously flavoured and falling apart with a great sauce.

One pork shoulder from the supermaket makes heaps, more than enough to serve us for two nights. The first night we had it on rice with lots of the yummy sauce, served with crispy noodle and cabbage salad. Two nights later I chopped it up and put it through stir fry noodles.

Chinese Slow-Cooked Pork
2 kg boneless pork shoulder or beef roast

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
4 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice powder
6 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 teaspoons garlic powder )

Trim any visible fat from the meat, I used a rolled pork shoulder, so I unrolled it, cut off the skin (a bit of a pain) and cut it into a three pieces.

Sprinkle the dried spices directly onto the meat and put it in the slow cooker. Pour over the ketchup, honey and garlic (if using fresh). Pour in the soy and hoisin sauces. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours, or until meat is falling apart.

Remove from the slow cooker and chop up or shred. If the sauce is really runny you may like to boil it down on the stove while you chop the meat.

Satay Chicken in the SC

Another of my new slow cooker recipes we are enjoying. This recipe can easily be halved, or cook this amount and freeze half. I tend to add sweet potato and carrot and then serve steamed green vegetables on the side. You could easily cook this dish on the stove or in the oven, it wouldnt take long, but the joy of the slow cooker is you can put it on at lunchtime while the kids are eating, or sleeping and then be free in the afternoon when they are driving you crazy!

Satay Chicken in Slow Cooker
1 kg chicken thigh or breast fillets, cut into chunks

2 brown onions cut into wedges
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 heaped tbsp peanut butter
5 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp tomato sauce (ketchup)
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
3/4 cup coconut milk or cream
Vegetables - sweet potato, carrot, beans, broccoli, whatever you like
2 tbsp corn flour

Heat a frypan over medium heat, fry onion with a little oil until soft, quickly add the garlic then scrape it all into the slow cooker. Fry the chicken very quickly, just to lightly brown not to cook through! Add to the slow cooker.

If you are in a hurry, skip the frying step and just throw it all in the slow cooker.

Mix the peanut butter, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, sweet chilli sauce and the coconut milk until smooth, and pour over the chicken. Stir all the ingredients together in the slow cooker, making sure everything is evenly covered. Place the lid on the cooker and cook for 2-3 hours on high or 4-5 hours on low.

After about 1 hour add the hard vegetables - sweet potato, carrot etc. With only 30 minutes to go add the
rest of the vegetables - beans, broccoli...

If the sauce is runny, mix the cornflour with a little water to make a paste then stir through the sauce and leave for a few minutes to thicken.

Serve on rice

From Slow Cooker by Sally Wise

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hilary's Chow Mein

My friend Hilary makes this, just like her Mum did and my family all love it - so now I make it too. Its quick and easy and because I always have mince in the freezer I can have most of the ingredients on hand. Add whatever vegies you like, but the cabbage is essential. The picture below is of the chicken version.

This is a good recipe to cook for another family in need, just cook double, put half in a container and give it to them with one of those packets of instant microwave rice.

Chow Mein
serves 4
500g Beef or Chicken Mince
1 onion, diced
1-2 tsp curry powder
1 packet Chicken Noodle Soup
1/4 head of cabbage (normal or chinese), sliced in 5mm strips
Other vegetables - carrot (grated or chopped), beans, mushrooms, corn
Rice to serve

In a large frypan over medium heat fry onion (and carrot if using) with a little oil until soft. Add mince and break up as it browns. Drain excess oil if necessary. Add curry powder and cook briefly.

Add soup packet and 2 C water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or so, until  cooked and thickened. Add cabbage and any other vegetables and cook for another minute until tender (some people throw it all in with the water, but I am not a fan of soggy vegies).

Serve with rice. Also tastes great the next day on toast!

Best homemade bread ever - no-knead bread

I served this bread at a dinner party the other night and twice got asked "where did you get the bread". I think that is pretty good for homemade bread!

This is quite an unusual method but just normal ingredients and you really don't knead the bread at all. You quickly mix together a really wet dough, leave it to rise for 12 - 18 hours, then reshape, leave for two hours then bake in a preheated cast iron 'dutch oven' with lid on. This effectively steam bakes the loaf, imitating a professional steam injected bakers oven, enabling you to get a really crisp crust. There is also a quick version, which uses much more yeast and doesn't developed the same flavour, but is ready to bake in 4 1/2 hours, I make this just as much and it is great.

The recipe by Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery was printed in the New York Times in 2006 with some more fine-tuning suggestions here with a good explanation here and then there was a follow up article two years later which gives a recipe for a whole-wheat version and a quick version. Overwhelmed yet? The recipe was considered fairly revolutionary to home bread making and has developed quite a following - just do a google search!

Here is the recipe. I have used both plain and bread flour with good results and bake in a 24cm Le Creuset pot, you could use smaller, but not larger as you would end up with a very flat loaf.

No-knead Bread
The quick version is written in [brackets]

3C (430g) plain or bread flour, more for dusting
1 1/2C (375ml) water
¼ tsp (1g) [2 tsp] instant yeast (plus an exta 1/8 tsp in winter if your house is cold like mine!)
1 - 3 tsp salt
Extra flour, cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours [4 hours], preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 21 degrees C (but it works in winter at my house which isnt 21C!).

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Smear olive oil on a work surface and place dough on it; fold it over on itself once or twice. (Now you are supposed to cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes, but I generally skip this step).

3. Using just enough flour or oil to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a square of baking paper with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on paper and dust with more flour. Cover (I use a large plastic cake container inverted over) and let rise for about 2 hours [30 minutes]. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 225 degrees C. Put a 5.5 to 7.5 L heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats, it is quicker to put the lid and pot in separately to heat. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under baking paper and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 20 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Olive and Rosemary bread - fold through 1/2 C chopped olives and 1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves after the first rise.
Other suggestions - seeds, onion, cheese, bacon, walnuts, raisins or whatever other traditional bread flavourings mixed through after the dough is mixed or after the first rise.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bacon and egg pies for a picnic

We had a picnic for dinner tonight, while my husband had footy training. So the perfect picnic food... bacon and egg pies. Bacon would have to be our family's official favourite food. Our two year old calls it bacy bacy and will eat any she can get her hands on, then steal other peoples. Needless to say the pies were a hit, and Ava wanted more bacon. I balanced the meal out by chopping up vegie sticks and making hummus.

I love moist bacon and egg pies, and have worked out the secret - the bottom of my pies have a ricotta spinach mixture in them under the bacon and egg. My daughter can't have too much dairy, so I just left the ricotta mix out of hers, it still works fine.

Individual Bacon and Egg Pies
makes 4
2 sheets puff pastry
200g ricotta
handful parmesan, grated
handful baby spinach, finely shredded
3 rashers bacon, rind removed, cut into thirds
1 tomato, sliced
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 180C.
Line large muffin tins with puff pastry, so the pastry hangs out the sides. I would cut one square from the pastry sheet, then cut the remaining L shape and overlap to make another square. My metal muffin tins tend to stick, so roughly line the tins with a square of baking paper pushed in before the pastry. My silicon trays dont need this. Prick the bases of the pastry cases with a fork a few times.

Bake the pastry for 10 minutes or so, until starting to cook.

Microwave the spinach for 20 seconds or so to just wilt. Mix with the ricotta and parmesan, season to taste.

Lightly cook the bacon pieces in a frypan.

Remove the pastry from the oven. Put a dollop of the ricotta mixture in the bottom, spread. Top with a slice of tomato. Curl pieces of bacon around the edge of the pastry (I chop the kids up into little pieces to make it easier to eat, so they dont have to bite through the bacon). Crack the egg into the centre.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the white is cooked and the yolk still soft (or keep cooking if you like a hard yolk). Remember unless you are eating it straight away, the yolk will keep cooking a bit when you take it out of the oven.

I transported these to the picnic still in their tin, sitting on a tea towel in a wicker basket.