Saturday, June 30, 2012

172/656 - Southern chicken, ham and okra gumbo

I love the word gumbo. And now that I have made this wonderful winter warmer I am pleased to say that it is not only the word with which I am besotted.  

The first step of making this amazing meal is to make a roux. I have made many a roux in my time, usually in the creation of a creamy béchamel, but never before has one taken me more than two hours to complete! This roux was made with vegetable oil rather than butter, as oil has a higher smoke point and can be taken to a much, much darker place. Even so, what should have taken an hour took more than double that in my kitchen. Worried I would burn my lovely silky sauce, I kept the heat down very, very low and stirred until I thought my arm would drop off....but got there in the end.   
I have mentioned before that I am a slow cook, but at this point it is worth noting that I am also an extremely patient cook. A match made in heaven to be sure.

Once the roux was complete, and the ingredients were all given their turn of being fried and yummified in the pan, it was time to put it all together and create a gumbo. At this stage we realised there would be another hour and a half of cooking and so the kids gave up, ate toasted sandwiches and went to bed.  

I don't know if this gumbo was really the best thing to pass my lips this winter or if we were just so hungry that we would have eaten our own offspring had we been forced to wait any longer. Either way, Trev and I were both impressed. 

Definitely, definitely worth the effort. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

171/656 - Jamaican sweet potato pudding

Life is now busy, busy, busy in our house and so it has been a whole two weeks since my last post. I have had so much on my plate in the last fortnight there has been absolutely no time to feel guilty about my lack of culinary achievement. Guilt being a rather useless emotion anyway, I have decided to do away with it entirely, and instead applaud myself for any recipes I do complete in amongst my rather hectic new schedule. 

The length of this little pudding recipe gave good indication as to how simple tonight's dessert was going to be. With barely six lines of instruction, the most complicated step was grating the sweet potato. I had a fairly good idea that we were going to like this pudding given how much we adored the sweet potato cornbread and also the old-fashioned gramma pie. 

As we had hoped, this pudding was incredibly sweet and tasty, with wonderful flavours coming through from the cinnamon, nutmeg and ground ginger. 

I have always loved my vegetables but this just took my love affair to a whole new level. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

170/656 - Sardines in vine leaves

I am a very tactile cook. I like recipes that require me to be up to my armpits in things gooey or sticky, or even things that are downright disgusting. So I was happier than a pig in the proverbial today, standing over the sink covered in sardine guts.  

Given that a picture of my fish cleaning skills would turn many people off coming back to my blog, I opted instead for a progress picture of my lovely sardines once they had been stuffed with coriander, pine nuts and garlic, but before they had been neatly rolled in vine leaves. 

I thought myself quite clever, not needing to use toothpicks to secure my little parcels. I have made dolmades so many times I am now adept at turning any little morsel and a vine leaf into a tightly packed  cigar.  

I was not expecting much from this recipe. I like sardines and I like vine leaves but I was completely blown away by how fabulously tasty these little parcels were! I took the plate upstairs and demanded that my boys try at least one each and I loved the fact that Henry chased me downstairs wanting more! 

I can definitely see this becoming a favourite little entrée of mine, because I love a dish that can be prepared in advance and has a grilling time of less than 10 minutes. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

169/656 - Yabby bisque

Keen not to waste the enormous pile of heads and claws that were left over after our yabby lunch, I thought I would whip up this bisque tonight not quite anticipating how long it would take! 

The step that fascinated me was the crushing of the cooked heads and shells in the food processor. Once processed I was left with a pile of yabby mush that looked a bit like canned tuna. Obviously this mush was sieved from the final soup and I can not wait to watch my chickens go crazy when I serve it up to them for breakfast. 

I did not add any cream to the bisque, deciding instead to serve the soup as is, with the addition of some chunky claw meat. The soup was really lovely; pure liquid yabby, but beautifully enhanced. 

Now if only I could go to bed and ignore the war zone that is my kitchen... 

168/656 - Yabbies with Thai-style dipping sauce

The boys and I went on a trek down Victoria Street in Richmond on Thursday in search of a crayfish for our dinner. Unfortunately the best we could find was a half-dead specimen floating lethargically in an otherwise empty tank.  

Undeterred and keen for a crustacean meal, I headed in to the Queen Victoria Market on Friday. I was tickled pink when I came across a lovely pile of freshly cooked yabbies at my favourite seafood stall and proceeded to buy almost all that they had. 

Being a long weekend and having a crazy amount of cooking already planned, I decided we would eat our little yabbies as naturally as possible. I made this Thai-style dipping sauce to go with our tasty, shell-cracking lunch. The sauce only took around 2 minutes to make which was handy given how long it took us to fish all of the lovely yabby meat out of the shells. 

Like Stephanie I cannot bear to waste good food (or good scraps!), and so stay tuned for a lovely yabby bisque coming later today.