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Sunday
Aug262012

Episode 27: Sing Me Spanish B-Sides!

Well, they're not technically Spanish, they're Mexican and it's really a play on the New Pornographers song "Sing Me Spanish Techno" and didn't I shoot this in like January and STOP IT PLAY THE VIDEO

Notes:

Alright, so these are a little boring. But functional! And practical! And I have no idea if it's legit Mexican. But I will point out that side dishes are hard. It's easy to get a great cut of meat or a great dish but then have nothing to serve on the side. These two little dishes put above their weight and are dead easy. So easy, in fact, that the video was so boring to edit that it's been sitting on my hard drive for 7 months. 

The origin of the two recipes is also rather prosaic: one came from a weight-loss cookbook, the other from the side of a can of beans. The rice came from "Looneyspoons" which was a cookbook my sister bought herself & my mother ended up buying me, and it's all about low fat errrrrv'rything and punny names. Lots of punny names. This rice, for example was "La Rice-A Bon-Eata". Yes, like the Madonna song. Yes, I'm ashamed. The beans (which I've dubbed "Los Frijoles Del Reyes") as off the side of a Goya Black Bean tin, and were named after two Matt Groening references: 1) On the Simpsons, when Sideshow Bob holds the town for ransom unless all TV is shut down. Bumblebee Man's telenovella says a goodbye in Spanish, and in it's final word, thanks "El Frijoles Goya". And a giant can of beans comes out and takes a bow. In Futurama, Leela gets sponsored by a bean company, with the slogan "they're the beaniest!" and later does a mexican version, but as Spanish has no word for "Beaniest", the actual Spanish translation is "the beans of kings!" So yeah. Beans, huh. Wacky.

Music Notes

Dread Zeppelin - "Misty Mountain Hop", from "5,000,000-" & "LA Woman" from "Hot & Spicy Beanburger"

Need to spice up your day? Feel like a Led Zeppelin cover band made up of reggae musicians fronted by a 300-lb Elvis Presley impersonator named Tortelvis? No? Well, here's Dread Zeppelin anyway. These guys have always been a whole lot of fun (another recommendation from David, as discussed in a previous entry), and despite line-up changes, style changes, and the fact they play less and less Zeppelin stuff, they remain a great thing. And how does Led Zeppelin themselves feel? Page hates them, Plant loves them, the rest are undecided.

Recipes:

Punny-Named Spanish Rice:
Serves 4-6 as a side

ingredients:

 

  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/2 a red capsicum
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 chicken stock cubes
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 cup supermarket salsa, hot as you like (nothing too fancy, delicate flavours don't do well in this dish)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoonground cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • Optional: 1 dried cascobel chilli & fresh coriander to serve

 

 

  1. Dice the onion & capsicum & finely slice the garlic.
  2. Get a non-stick pan with a lid on medium heat & cook the veg for 5 minutes or so.
  3. Throw in everything else along with 2 1/3 cups of water and bring to a boil.
  4. Cover with a lid or nearby plate, turn down the heat to medium-low and give it 25 minutes.
  5. When done, mix up the rice with a fork, seize & consume!

 

Los Frijoles Del Reyes
"The beans of kings!"

ingredients:

 

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped capsicum
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 400g tin black beans
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or cider vinegar

 

 

  1. Cook the chopped veg & garlic with a little oil in a pan on medium heat for 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add everything else, turn up the heat & get it boiling.
  3. Reduce heat & simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Serve with other things, seize & consume!

 

Friday
Aug102012

Episode 26: Jalousies, or Fancy Jam Turnovers

Another AlphaBakes? So soon? Well, there's a perfectly good explanatioLOOK OVER THERE

 

 

Notes:

So I've become a bit gun-shy of posting any recipe that involves baking because JUST IN CASE it matches the next month's AlphaBakes letter and GOD FORBID I have to shoot something else. In this case, this recording was sitting, fully edited, waiting for the letter J. Or B. Or hell, I'd have settled for P. But the letter came up T and a frantic renaming happened, which sparked off a tide of memories.

 

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

 

A few months ago, Tanja & I stopped in at Corridor, a small bar at the north end of King St in Newtown. We'd not been before, but many friends praised it, and Charlotte (she of Creme Brutal fame)'s brother used to be cocktail manager there. I loved the decor, and the fact that I could chat fancy cocktail knowledge with the bartenders as they would experiment with ingredients (We had a 10 minute conversation about bitters. Seriously). So after a happy few cocktails, we wandered homewards, slightly loopy, and stumbled into Pentimento, the bookshop home of amusing cards, beautiful notebooks, art books, and yes, cookbooks. I bought myself a beautiful old lock and key, and somehow Tanja ended up with THE ART OF FRENCH BAKING. The next morning, she looked at it, and said "Oh. I don't think this is my style. Perhaps I'll take it back." I have never moved so fast in my life to steal it out of her hands.

 

Admittedly, much of the content was FAR beyond my skills (anything involving making my own pastry terrifies me), but I quickly spotted a recipe for Jalousies. I'd love to say they were a remnant of my French-Canadian childhood, but no. They simply looked easiest. Madame Mathiot's version involved making her own puff pastry, and my brain was all NOPE.

 

A tangent: when I was a kid, we moved around a lot. Usually once a year, occasionally more. And as we were Not Rich, moving inter provincially meant driving. A lot. It had gotten to the point that I knew the TransCanada Highway routes from Vancouver-to-Hull and Fredericton-To-Ottawa like the back of my hand. I knew the landmarks, and how looking for Hope and Riviere-De-Loup and St Louis De Ha-Ha and Wawa can make the trip go faster. However my favourite was always travelling through Quebec, because they had a) smoked meat sandwiches at every diner and b) the best Rest Stops. And why were they the best Rest Stops? Because they were frequent, the bathrooms were well-maintained and they had chuck wagons with sugar tarts and The Good Apple Turnovers/Strudels (as opposed to The Bad Apple Turnovers/Strudels, which were prevalent in English Canada, and had big chunks of crystallised sugar on top and no icing. Heathens). Of course, it wasn't until years later that I had Proper German Apple Strudel, and I was always disappointed it didn't have the same sugary artificial kick the Rest Stop ones did. This recipe is the closest I've come to making Turnovers for myself.

Anyhow, talk about the recipe, Lucas, geez.
This recipe is about as simple as it gets and so versatile. I've made berry jalousies, I've made fig jalousies, I've made a variation that involves butter and cinnamon sugar, rolled like a scroll to make baby mutant cinnamon buns, I've even made mini jalousies, folding the half-sheet over like a turnover, which gets you lots more servings out of one recipe.

And now the warning: the jam you choose is KEY. The original recipe uses redcurrant jelly. DO NOT USE JELLY. Or cheap supermarket jam that is too watery. I used beautiful Berry Vanilla jam I bought from the Eveleigh Markets (and later fig jam from the same stall) and having experimented, I won't use anything else. The reason is simple: if you use watery supermarket jam, the water will boil, and foam out over the vents, leaving your tray a sticky mess, and the jalousies devoid of any actual jam inside. Jelly is eve worse, as the water ends up evaporating, and you get empty pastry! So pick a well-made sticky name with a good consistency like the one in the video, and go for it.

 


Oh yes, and this is for AlphaBakes. You know, that thing that Ros and Caroline do? It's for August, and the letter is T.

 

Music Notes:
Aluminium - "The Hardest Button To Button", from "Aluminium", 2005
You guys know I love Jack White. Well, these guys love him more than I do. Richard Russell and Joby Talbot have created an entire album of avant-garde symphonic White Stripes covers. They presented their work to Jack White and got his seal of approval. The covers themselves range from epic (Hardest Button To Button re-imagined as a Hall of the Mountain King style escalation), to whimsical (Why Can't You Be Nicer To Me uses xylophones & strings mimicking horns) to fucking scary (Aluminum could the soundtrack to a horror film or gothic opera starring vampires). Part of the album has actually been choreographed by the Royal Ballet. Cool, huh? 

Recipe:
Jalousies, or Fancy Jam Turnovers
ingredients:
1 sheet of puff pastry (you could make your own, or buy it)
1 jar good-quality jam (I used Berry Vanilla in the video, but Fig, Blueberry or Raspberry work fine)
50g slivered almonds
1 egg

  1. Preheat your oven to 180.
  2. Lay out a piece of baking paper on the counter, and put your puff pastry upon it.
  3. Bisect the puff pastry down the middle so you get two identical rectangles.
  4. On one rectangle, spread on the jam thickly but evenly, leaving about a centimetre around each edge.
  5. Lay the second rectangle of pastry on top, and seal the edges with your fingers.
  6. With a sharp knife, cut vents in the top, about 5mm-1cm apart. Make sure you don't cut too deep and make a hole in the bottom. That'd be bad.
  7. In a little bowl, crack the egg and beat it severely. Brush the top of the pastry with the egg wash, making sure to cover it completely.
  8. Get a cookie sheet or baking tray and spray a little bit of water onto it, before transplanting the baking paper & pastry to it.
  9. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until it goes all golden in the centre.
  10. 5 minutes before the baking's done, dump 3 tbsp of jam and 2 tbsp of water into a little saucepan. Heat on medium, until it combines, then take off the heat.
  11. Get the pastry out of the oven, and while it's still hot, brush the top with the heated jam mixture.
  12. Quickly sprinkle slivered almonds on top, then brush with more jam so it sticks.
  13. Allow to cool to room temperature, then cut across into strips.
  14. Seize and consume!
Tuesday
Jul242012

Episode 25: White Chocolate Show-offs

Back again for another week, just squeaking in under a deadline:

 

(In the US? Can't see the video? View or download here.)

Notes:

Is it considered bad form to make the cookies of one of the people putting on the blogging challenge you're entering? Nah. Anyhow, I made these cookies of my own volition, not filming them, a few weeks back and they turned out great. In the afterglow of successful cookie-baking, I tweeted out a few photos, by way of a humble brag. I got many appreciative comments, including one from Ms Ros, the more than occasionally baker, stating that I could enter these into Alphabakes, due to "White Chocolate" fulfilling the W quota. Suddenly the race was on to finish this batch & make more so I could show the making of them. Such was my rush that I brought some to work with me, and I discovered that "Brown Butter Espresso White Chocolate Cookies" doesn't roll off the tongue, because people keep stopping you to ask about bits of the title. And then you end up showing off, hence the new name, and the Dolph-Ziggler-looking cartoon on the record. Me and my big mouth, right (though said big mouth comes in handy for eating cookies)? Also, between this and me bringing in some remix bread, several folk at my workplace have dubbed me "a feeder". Hmph.

On the recipe itself, the size of the cookies is key. Too small, and the butter inside will convert them into little rocks after a week in the tin. Too big, and the insides won't cook through properly. Make a few different sizes and trust your judgment. When in doubt, make 3 different sizes, and bake one of each for a sample. Done right, the butter will be chewy goodness inside each biscuit.

As mentioned before, this is my July entry for Alphabakes, as hosted by Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker & Caroline of Caroline Makes.

 

Music Notes:

Shonen Knife - "Top of the World", from "If I Were A Carpenter", 1994

The 5.6.7.8's - "Hanky Panky", from "Japanese Groupsound!", 2003

So my musical choices did not start this way. On a whim, while buying a New Pornographers album, I spotted a 6" single in the Sale! bin. It was by a group called the Go-Devils (not to be confused with the American psychobilly group of same name) out of Osaka, Japan. The A-Side was "I'm In Pittburgh And It's Raining", originally a jangling garage rock hit for The Outcasts in 1966 (who, ironically, have been hailed in hind site as proto-punk psychedelia forerunners). I looked at the back and saw three Japanese girls named Momo, Ritsuko & Mao Mao doing their very best tough-girl faces. My attention was got. I bought the single and had a listen. Ass-kicking rock and roll, with the wonderfully distinctive accent singing over top. Sadly, the Go-Devils haven't been active online at all (none of their stuff is available for download, so this 1996 release is my only link. And as I don't have a USB turntable to rip the vinyl, you guys get two of my other favourite Japanese rock and roll girl groups. Shonen Knife, and the 5.6.7.8's.

Shonen Knife, of course, are 30-year (!) veterans of Japanese rock and opened for Nirvana of all people, even bringing Kurt and the gang back to Japan for a tour. And on their 30th anniversary as a group, they (what else?) released an album of Ramones covers, which is winging it's way to me now.

The 5.6.7.8's have been around nearly as long, but really jumped to everyone's notice from their spot in Kill Bill in 2003. They were in the House of Blue Leaves izakaya playing while Uma Thurman  is scoping out the Crazy 88. They also played continuously through the One Big Take: The steadicam follows The Bride in the building, through into the bathroom, then turns and follows a book up the stairs into the dining room, they order, then follows Sofie back down the stairs, past the band, and into the bathroom. Full band playing, dozens of extras, one take. Seems that Mr Tarantino heard the band's music playing in a clothing store a few hours before he left Tokyo, and had to offer the clerk double the retail value of the CD to walk away with it. But he got it.

Recipe:

White Chocolate Show-Offs

adapted from the more than occasional baker & healthy delicious

makes 9-12 big cookies

ingredients:

114g unsalted butter

1 tbsp ground coffee

250 plain flour

1/2 tsp bicarb of soda

pinch of salt

150 dark brown sugar

85g caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

180g white chocolate chips.

 

 

  • Preheat oven to 185.
  • Get the butter into a little pot on medium heat & heat it, stirring now & again to stop it burning. When it turns all golden-like, take it off the heat, dump in the coffee & give it a stir.
  • Put the flour in a big bowl. Add the bicarb of soda and salt & mix it up.
  • Get a littler bowl, and pour in your ButterCoffee SuperFluid. Add the brown sugar, then the caster sugar, then the vanilla extract. Mix to combine, but don't use a whisk. The mix is so sticky it'll just become a bat & it'll be a mess to clean out.
  • Once combined, crack in the egg and beat until smooth.
  • Add the wet stuff to the dry stuff and mix it together carefully. It's going to be dryer than you expect. Don't be afraid to mix with your hands, as you don't want any flour stuck to the bottom.
  • Pour in the chocolate chips and stir again.
  • Line a baking tray with greaseproof, and grab a handful of dough, Use your hands to smooth it into a little globe (see above note on size) & onto the paper it goes.
  • Bake for 14 minutes or so until the middles are firm but not darkened.
  • Let cool completely on a wire rack before you seize and consume!

 

Tuesday
Jul172012

Episode 24: SuperGreen Satay w/ Hot Noodle Salad

Bit of a break between episodes but that DOES NOT MATTER as it is go time! Play the video!

Notes:

Oh, friends, have you ever have one of those recipes that you do the first time without the camera running or anything important on the line and it goes incredibly well and then your wife agrees to have it again just so you can film it and then you do it on a day off in your pyjamas and you burn your hands twice and forget two ingredients and then accidentally dunk your oven-mitted thumb into a bowl of boiling water and the final shot doesn’t focus properly?

No? Just me then.

Yeah, this is an amazing recipe, super flavourful, and really not a lot of effort on your part, but it comes off like you’re the second coming of the messiah of your choice. The final construction at the table where you’re making little satay-and-noodle-and-cashew lettuce taco-choy-bao things is fun, and the flavours really sing. So what if your hands are scarred? Don’t be a pansy. All the cool cooks have scars.

Music:

Oh, friends (again), have you ever thought of a clever name for your chicken satay episode based upon the colour of the sauce, and then draw the picture of a frog as SuperFrog and have him say “it’s not easy” as a reference to that Five For Fighting song about Superman that was every-gosh-darn-where in 2001 and then realise that you bought the Green Album of amazing Muppets covers and that “It’s Not Easy Being Green” is a song a frog sings and OH WOW you made an incredible pun? And then you picked some songs like The Wishing Song because it’s heartbreaking, and Mr. Bassman because it’s an incredibly potent earworm and OK Go’s version of the Muppet Show syncs up so that the crescendo is right where the blender goes off and you can end the episode with Mahna Mahna and then you DID all of those things and uploaded the video & Youtube muted it and smacked you with a strike and then you cried a little inside?

Oh. Also just me.

Instead I’ve grasped about in a frantic way and come up with some tunes from a CD that came with a Q Magazine in 2006. They’re vaguely themed in that they’re covers of 80s tunes. I left off Camera Obscura’s lovely cover of “Modern Girl” and Placebo’s “Running Up That Hill”, but instead you get (and OH CRAP I just realised as this is uploading to YouTube that I didn’t change the credits to reflect the new songs, so whoops, cancel, re-render, THE STREAK LIVES ON):

The FutureHeads - Let’s Dance

Cord - Spirits In The Material World

Elf Power - Upside Down

all from Q-Covered: The Eighties, from 2006

 

Recipe:

SuperGreen Satay Chicken with Hot Noodle Salad

ingredients:

  • 800g chicken breast fillet
  • 1 large bunch coriander
  • 2 red chillies
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 3 heaped tsp crunchy peanut butter
  • soy sauce
  • 2cm piece of ginger
  • 2 limes
  • dried egg vermicelli (1 nest per person or 250g total)
  • 100g cashews
  • 1/2 a red onion
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 baby cos lettuces
  • 4 wooden skewers

 1. In a blender or food processor or mortar & pestle or trash compactor, combine:

  •  half a bunch of coriander (stems & leaves, no roots)
  • 1 red chilli, trimmed
  • 2cm ginger (peel it with a spoon first)
  • a big splash of soy sauce
  • 1/2 a peeled clove of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • the zest of both limes & the juice of one
  • couple splashes of water

 ...and blend that whole mess into a paste.

2. Turn your oven grill on full. Yes, that high.

3. Lay out your chicken breast fillet, and run all 4 of the skewers through it, parallel to one another, and cut in-between to make 4 skewers. if they’re uneven, cut the uneven bits off & even out the smallest one. Score all sides of the kabobs with a sharp knife.

4. Scoop out your sauce into a bowl. Get a non-stick oven tray (or a papered one if it’s sticky), and dump half of the sauce onto it (put the rest aside for later). Roll each kabob in the tray-sauce, being sure to cover all sides.

5. Season with salt & olive oil, then whack it into the oven under the grill for 20 minutes, turning once.

6. Meanwhile, dump your cashews into a tea towel, wrap it up and use a blunt object to bash them into bits. When bashed, put them into a dry pan on medium-low heat for a bit, giving them a shake every now and again.

7. Get your nests of noodles, put them in a bowl & cover with boiling water. Put a plate over the bowl & let it sit for 7 minutes.

8. Get your lettuces, chop off the bottoms, pull apart the leaves, and give ‘em a wash & spin, then set aside.

9. Fetch the second half of your coriander, trim off the roots, cut off most of the leaves & set aside, then finely chop the stems. And hey, while you’re there, deseed and chop the second chilli, and slice up half a red onion. Stems, onion & chilli into a big bowl, then add 2 tbsp of soy sauce, your sesame oil and fish sauce, a bit of olive oil, the juice of your 2nd lime and AGITATE it.

10. Turn the heat up to high on your cashews.

11. Drain the noodles in a colander, then give them a rinse with cold water (don’t scalp your thumb), and add the noodles to the big bowl and mix all about.

12. If the chicken is done, take it out of the oven. Drizzle the chicken with 1 tsp of honey.

13. Since you’ve got the honey out, add another tsp to the cashews, chuck in the reserved coriander leaves and shake it all about. Take it off the heat.

14. And you’re ready to go! Put a skewer on each plate, and let folks construct little parcels of chicken, noodles, cashews and reserved satay sauce wrapped in a lettuce leaf.

Seize and consume! 

Thursday
Jun212012

Episode 23: VeganTamer Soup

The parallel episode to the Vanilla Creme Brutal! CoverVersions go now! 

Notes:

This is a parallel episode, because this is the dish I made for Charlotte and Gonzi and Tanja and I when they came over for filming Vanilla Creme Brutal. I chose it because it's a very quick "chop up crap, throw in pot, wait a bit" recipe, which I tend to default to when people come over. 

The title is actually a misnomer, as it's not the Vegans that need taming, frankly: it's the carnivores. Happily this is a soup with enough flavour punch to satisfy even the hardiest meat-eater, T-Rex arms and all. 

The best way to serve is to take some flatbread, spray it with a little olive oil, dust it with sumac & cumin, then toast it in the oven until the edges go crispy, and put it in the bowl before you put the soup in. Ta-da! Bread-bowl! It's also great on the second night, as the wheat continues to absorb liquid and flavour overnight and gets freakishly huge.

Oh, and after a great response to the giveaway, the winner is....

Lorraine, from NotQuiteNigella!

Congrats, Lorraine, and enjoy the slightly dented book.

Music Notes:

Kate Rusby - Village Green Preservation Society

Fountains of Wayne - Better Things

Both from "Mojo: The Modern Genius of Ray Davies", 2006

I started off looking for Vegan musicians to match the theme of the soup and was overjoyed to spot Dave Davies on the list. Dave is is the guy who invented the distorted power chord. He took a razor blade & sliced the speaker cone of his Elpico amp with a razor blade, ran it through a Vox as a pre-amp  and suddenly you have one of the most important sounds in rock and roll. Then he and his band (which had his brother singing lead) recorded a roaring, stomping two-chord track to be their third single. Their record label didn't like the song & refused to pay for studio time. They did eventually get the money, and "You Really Got Me" was the first of many enormously massive hits for the band, known as The Kinks. You might have heard of them.

Anyhow, the Kinks' music has always occupied a special place in my heart as strongly emotive. They can be whimsical, they can be glad, they can be funny, and especially, they can make you bawl your eyes out like a small child with a skinned knee. But an emotion I had not associated with the Kinks was Nostaligia. Ray Davies, despite being a North London boy, had a huge yen for the imagined simple life of the English Countryside. Nowhere is this more apparent than on one of their many concept albums, The Village Green Preservation Society, the title track of which I have used here. Kate Rusby's Yorkshire vocals give a real authenticity to her lament at the loss of strawberry jam, Donald Duck, custard pies, and draught beer in the face of skyscrapers & office blocks.

As for the second track, it's Fountains of Wayne in full 90s stadium singalong mode, sending out Ray Davies' simplest message: "It's good to see you having fun, and if things aren't great for you, that's sad, and I hope they get better." Lovely sentiment, that.

 

Recipe:

VeganTamer Soup

serves 6

ingredients:

  • 75g hard wheat or bulgar
  • 1 onion
  • 3 capsicum
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp sumac
  • 2 tbsp za'atar
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes
  • 1 400g tin diced tomatoes
  • 3 stock cubes
  • Bunch of fresh mint
  • Flatbreads
  • Extra of all spices.
  • lime wedges, for serving
  1. Put your wheat in a bowl, cover with boiling water, then wrap in a tea towel and put aside. Put a large deep pan onto medium heat with a bit of oil.
  2. Peel & chop garlic, onions and capsicums, then chuck in the pan for about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, halve the cherry tomatoes.
  4. Once the veg have softened, add the spices and mix thoroughly. Then add tinned tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, 3 stock cubes & 1 litre of water.
  5. Drain what liquid might be left under the wheat (shouldn't be much), and scrape that in as well. Pinch of salt, few grinds of pepper.
  6. Bring to a roiling boil, then reduce heat and simmer for at least 10 minutes.
  7. When ready to serve, get some flatbreads, spray with a little oil and dust with sumac & cumin, then pop into the oven to crisp up. Lay them on the bottom of the bowls, and ladle the soup over. Scatter some torn mint leaves, dust over more sumac & za'atar, put a lime wedge on the side, seize and consume!