Shakshouka: A great use of excess tomatoes

I often buy tomatoes in bags, yet they only really get used for burger or sandwich fillings… the rest will sit on the counter waiting to expire. Not long ago I had some tomatoes that were on their way to getting thrown into the compost… but still edible. Then I remembered a recipe I had been wanting to try for a while…

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 400g worth of tomatoes… or just grab a can of crushed/diced
  • a couple of garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 2 eggs
  • (vegetables of your choice)

The tomatoes that had now gotten soft were thrown into the blender and whizzed until it was a sauce. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in your pan of choice (I used a wok), throw in the onions and saute until they soften (about 5 minutes). Then add the garlic and your veggies of choice. Traditionally, this dish uses a red capsicum… but not having any available (my son loathes them) and wanting more greens in my diet, I added some shredded cabbage. Cook for another 5-7 minutes until they also soften. The stir in the tomatoes and puree, together with the spices and simmer for another 5-7 minutes until the mix begins to reduce. Season with salt and pepper, then crack the eggs over the tomato mix. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. When ready, the egg whites will be firm, the yolks slightly runny and the sauce has slightly reduced. If you have some parsley, garnish with it before serving (I had none).

Delicious! And enough for two to enjoy. 🙂

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Beau’s Fried Rice

IMG_8391.JPGOne of my son’s most favourite dishes to chow down on and is relatively simple to whip together. This post will be less focused on the ingredients with more attention focused on the actual method… and the main reason for this is… this dish changes based on whatever is available in the refrigerator at the time of making it!

On this occasion, I heated up about 2 tablespoons of oil in the wok on medium-high heat. While this was warming up, I diced 1 small onion and crushed 3 garlic cloves… which were dropped into the wok once it was ready. Stir-fry until the garlic started browning and the onions began turning translucent. Then some bacon sliced into small bits were dropped in and once they’d browned slightly, I grabbed a bag of frozen veggies from the freezer and added that to the mix. A lot of ice had dropped out of the bag at this point, so I allowed the mix to reduce until most of the water had evaporated out of the wok.

Now the most important ingredient was added… the rice! When you’re making fried rice, the trick is to use OLD rice. Freshly steamed rice still has far too much water and will just make the fried rice a bit sticky. I had cooked rice a day earlier and popped it in the fridge in anticipation for this dish.

After the rice was added and stirred (in my case, I had to spend time manually crushing rice clumps) I then added about 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of fish sauce and stirred that through. I cracked 2 eggs into a bowl, beat them, then poured the egg mix over the rice… then covered the wok and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Once the egg has cooked through, you can stir the rice again and it’s now ready to serve.

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DIY Hummus

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Very easy dish to whip together… although it’s not one that I happen to make regularly since Owen is not a huge fan of it. In the past, I would use my “magic bullet” rip off and whiz it up in batches… but found that method to be quite tedious. This time around, I decided to simply use a potato masher!

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbs tahini paste
  • 3-5 crushed garlic cloves
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup (~60ml) water
  • 100ml olive oil

Pop the chickpeas, cumin, tahini paste, garlic and lemon juice into a bowl and start mashing until combined. Add the water and mash again. Once that’s combined, drizzle in the olive oil and mix until smooth. Then you can serve it up with your dippers of choice… carrot or celery sticks, crackers, or Turkish bread.

Chicken Adobo

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There are very few meals that I can remember so vividly from my childhood, but this is the most memorable…. it’s a delicate balance of salty, sour and sweet flavours. This dish is the pride of the Philippines and primarily uses soy sauce and vinegar as a marinade. It is one of the easier dishes to prepare and once you get the ratios right, it is very delicious. And don’t feel that you are limited to just chicken, you can safely use any meat with this recipe… I’ve tried an assortment of “red meats” at this point.

My first attempt at this turned out far more “tart” than expected, and it was due to my mother’s failing memory. The next attempt came from a random site on the internet and, since it was now close to that taste I was familiar with, it became my “set in stone” ratio… for 500g of meat – ½ cup soy sauce, ¾ cup vinegar, 2 cups water.

In recent times, I have played around with this dish and tried a few new things out. Since Adobo is known as a “marinade”, I’m now allowing the meat to sit in the sauce for a few hours before cooking (although I honestly haven’t noticed much difference as far as flavour goes”. Usually, I would just use white vinegar but on this occasion, I decided to give apple cider vinegar a try.

In the photo above, I placed 2kgs of mixed chicken pieces into the marinade and allowed that to sit in the fridge overnight.  The marinade used is as follows…

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed with the blade of a knife
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups water

When preparing to cook the next day, everything was transferred to a large heavy bottomed pot and was brought to the boil… then the heat was reduced to medium and allowed to simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes. With chicken, you can tell it’s ready when you see the skin coming away from the meat. I like to have it sit on the stove top a little extra to allow the mix to reduce further and really thicken up the sauce. Serve with steamed white rice.

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DIY Fish Batter

IMG_8070.JPGAt the end of my street lies what seems to be a very popular restaurant that serves up traditional Fish and Chips. If we ever go past on any given evening, you can expect to find a decent sized queue of people patiently waiting for their order. We have never eaten at this establishment and most likely never will… I can’t justify spending approximately $30AU for two meals when I can just do it myself for a hell of a lot cheaper.

It’s taken a bit of trial and error, but this recipe and method are now working for me.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup water

Mix the dry ingredients together. Then add the milk and water slowly while beating until the batter is smooth. Dip your fish into the batter and then allow the excess to drip off. I have a deep fryer in my kitchen, but if you don’t, a pot of oil on the stovetop will suffice… you’ll just be guestimating the actual temperature of the oil. Set the temp to 170°C-190°C. Using a pair of tongs, gently lower the fish into the oil until the batter forms a proper casing around the fish. Once that happens, you can drop the fish in. If you’re using a deep fryer, doing this will stop the fish from melding to the deep fry basket. Allow it to cook for a good 4 minutes, remove from the heat and soak as much of the oil off the fish as you can with paper towels. Season and serve… we’re ok with just a squeeze of lemon juice on the fish. Give it a go!

the original fish batter recipe

Masterpiece Pizza Vol. V

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This photo was taken on 21st June… so it took a little while to remember exactly what the toppings were for this particular ‘za. Tomato paste base, onions, cheese, chicken, bacon, tomato slices and celery leaves topped with the usual BBQ sauce and mayonnaise. A couple of friends have gotten me into celery leaves lately… and it worked a treat on this!

拍黄瓜 – Smashed Cucumbers

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This is one of my favourite veggie side-dishes, and it was one I would consistently order when dining at most restaurants in China. Pai Huang Gua literally translates to Smashed Cucumbers… but as I learned while trying to prepare this dish, if there’s too much smashing involved you will end up with most of the cucumber going everywhere.

Ready 1 cucumber (I’m using a continental cucumber for this) and a utensil that will be appropriate for smashing. I usually use the end of my knife as pictured, but you could we a rolling pin or meat tenderiser. Anything with a bit of weight will do. With your tool, you carefully bang on one end of the cucumber until you see it crack open slightly. Once that happens, you continue to smash with the same amount of force along the rest of the cucumber… spreading the cracks down to the end. It should look similar to the picture below once it’s done. Then I cut it in half lengthwise and chop into small pieces. Then throw it all into a bowl. Mince 2-3 garlic cloves and throw that into the bowl… I just use a garlic crusher. Add 1 tablespoon of brown vinegar (malt vinegar or Chinese dumpling vinegar) and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, followed by a generous drizzle of sesame oil. Since my son usually eats this with me, I don’t add any chilli oil to it… but I find this is a nice touch. I really enjoy the garlic/vinegar/soy/sesame oil combination and will generally use this as a salad dressing. Feel free to add onions, tomatoes or lettuce to it.

Masterpiece Pizza Vol. IV

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Trying something different on this occasion. We went with BBQ on the base, onions, cheese, 2 eggs (beaten and poured on top), and bacon on top…. Kind of like a Carbonara pizza. It was OK… but need to remember to add some herbs or spices. Could have also cooked a bit longer, since the bacon hadn’t gotten to the crispy stage and the top could have goldened a bit more.. but the base was definitely ready to go. Might need to place the pizza on a higher shelf in the oven!

My Pizza Base

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This is the pizza base method that is now ingrained into my memory since this is the way we like it…. maybe it’ll be to your liking as well. When it comes to pizza, we have been a fan of thin crusts with more focus on the toppings. My dough has this in mind. An added bonus is there’s no need to wait for it to rise… you can use it immediately.

First, fill 3/4 cup of room temperature water, and drop 1 teaspoon of yeast into it. Leave that to work it’s magic for 10-15 minutes (you can stir it if you’re impatient). While you’re waiting for that, pop 2 cups of flour into a large mixing bowl (I usually use wholemeal… but the choice is yours) and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and mix it around. Create a well in the middle of the flour and, once the water is ready, drop the yeasty water into the newly created well. From there, you can start folding the flour into the water until the dough starts coming together. Then knead the dough until the flour has combined fully and the dough has a smooth appearance.

IMG_7898This recipe creates 2 decent sized pizzas…. So you want to divide the dough in half. Leave one-half in the bowl, and place the other onto a surface for rolling. You can flour the surface, but on this occasion, there wasn’t a need to do so. I roll it out to close to the size I want, then place it on a greased pizza tray. From there I push the pizza out to the edges of the pan. Once that’s done, you can begin adding your sauce and toppings.

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As for the other base, I will roll it out like the previous one. Then pop it into a large freezer bag, push out the air, zip lock it, fold it (to save space) and then place it in my freezer for the future. When that time comes, I’ll just take the bag out of the freezer and allow it to thaw for 10-15 minutes. Once it has properly thawed, you can unfold it without it snapping. Pop it onto a greased tray and you’re ready to sauce and add toppings.

The Beau Burger Revisited

IMG_7916Since my last burger post, I’ve played around with the recipe a little more. This time around, I added breadcrumbs to the mix. I was previously having issues with the patties breaking open and leaking out the butter inside. Last night, I was a lot more cautious to not disturb the outside of the patty, gently flipping the patty only when necessary. Usually, I would cook the bacon in the frying pan at the same time. But this time around, they were in a pan in the oven… as were the burger buns.

The buns were halved once toasted, a squirt of tomato sauce swirled onto the base and chopped pickles placed into the sauce. Then the patty (which had cheese melted onto it while cooking), followed by tomato slices. Then the bacon topped with BBQ sauce. A mayonnaise squirt was placed on the top half of the bun with the lettuce. As I was typing up this post, I realised this burger was missing a thin slice of onion in there… I’ll be sure to add that next time.

Although the patty itself is still not as “melt in your mouth” as I’m looking for, it was good.

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