Rice and Beans: not quite Mujadara

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I made this last night, second time in quick succession because it is much appreciated by the family. My vague intention was to document it here after a pretty long hiatus from this site.

I woke up this morning to find this message from our globetrotting model sprite:

Hello!!!! I am staying with family in Bristol and guess what my go-to website is for recipes to make them….IZZY HAVE YOU EATEN!! Please update it more, I love it so so much your recipes are amazing and so easy to follow! How is LA life? Missing u xxxoxooxxx

Well, such an enthusiastic message has gotten me off my rear end and here is that recipe I was contemplating.  It is so completely easy, but really tasty and a great side dish to go with a protein or else for a vegan or vegetarian, it is good with something like a saucy eggplant dish.

  • 2 cups cooked rice, white or brown
  • 1 heaped tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil, I use Rice Bran oil
  • handful of toasted walnuts (optional)
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • handful of soaked and drained currants (optional)

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and when hot, add all the powdered spices except the cinnamon.
  2. Add the onion and when the pieces have softened, lower the heat and cook further till brown and well coated with spices; all up about ten minutes.
  3. Place the warm rice in a serving bowl.
  4. Add the other ingredients into the bowl: walnuts, currants, beans, cinnamon.
  5. Add the hot spiced onion mixture with the rice and beans and stir well. Add salt to taste and if you like, you can add some chopped parsley for colour.

 

 

Garlic and Chilli Pasta: Speedy Quick!

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Everyone’s always got a plastic container in the fridge at some time with languishing left over spaghetti.  You know, the night before when your eyes were bigger than your tummy, all that.

Well, here’s a perfect delicious speedy quick left overs lunch (or dinner) to make with that cold pasta with virtually nothing- well, some salt and chilli flakes and garlic do the trick. A few parsley stalks would be a bonus.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cereal bowl left over cooked spaghetti
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 2 level teaspoons chilli flakes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1/3 bunch flat leaf parsley (optional)
  • grated parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs (optional)

Method:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a  large shallow fry pan.
  2. When oil is hot, add garlic and chilli flakes.
  3. Stir until flakes darken and garlic turns golden.
  4. Add spaghetti and toss well so that the flavoured oil coats all the strands well.
  5. Throw in the parsley and toss for long enough for the parsley to soften.
  6. Sprinkle with salt.
  7. Add the extra tablespoon of oil after you’ve removed the pasta from the stove and toss to coat well.

Optional:

In another small fry pan with no oil, brown the breadcrumbs while stirring slowly until it changes colour to a golden brown.

Add the breadcrumbs at the very end and mix well before serving . Serves 1 for a meal or two for a snack.

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Helpful hint:

If you are using more pasta, increase the other ingredients like oil, chilli, garlic, breadcrumbs, etc in half measures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Egg Curry and Sydney Dinner With The Barrs

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This was a very quiet week-end in comparison to last! There were three young guys in the house last week-end with the ir parents, visiting us all the way from Toronto. On Sunday morning we all went to the zoo.

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Little C stayed home and baked cakes for dessert and prepped for the dinner party we were having that night at home. What a unique evening.  I kept looking around the room that night, savouring the sight of everyone there. How special that you girls could come and be part of the week-end.  We were TEN under one roof- just amazing! Thank goodness for blow up mattresses I say!

It was an eclectic menu of curry puffs, pork vindaloo (recipe coming one of these days), egg curry, a beautiful big salad made by your cousin, and rice.

I’m glad you enjoyed the egg curry, and it is a receipe that should be on the blog for you both. A nice alternative if you have vegetarian friends to feed. It is quick and easy, not expensive to make  and very satisfying.

The Barrs trip to Sydney was like a dream. I hear the patter of small feet on the floorboards, see the rows of shoes at the bottom of the stairs, and the beach towels hanging out to dry. The days sped by way too quickly.

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Egg Curry

  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed and chopped fine
  • 1 red chilli chopped fine, or one heaped teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cummin seeds
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tub tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Method:

  1. Place the eggs in a large pan of cold water and bring to the boil.
  2. Boil for five minutes, turn off the heat, and leave the eggs to cool completely.
  3. When eggs are cold, shell them carefully so whites remain smooth.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large fry pan. Add the turmeric powder when the oil is hot.  when the yellow spice sizzles, add the eggs.
  5. Stir around in the hot pan until the eggs are well coated in the turmeric and they begin to turn golden.
  6. Remove the eggs from the pan, and set aside in a dish.
  7. Return the pan to the fire, and add the rest of the oil.
  8. Throw in the cumin seeds and toss for a couple of seconds.
  9. Saute the onion, ginger, chilli and garlic in the oil, until the onion begins to melt.
  10. Add the crushed tomato and stir well, then add the tomato paste, half a cup of water and and the fish sauce.
  11. Bring the sauce to the boil, and then turn the heat down, and simmer for about ten minutes.
  12. Adjust seasoning, and make more spicy by adding more chill flakes if required.
  13. Now cut the eggs in half, and slide them gently into the sauce. Place a lid on the saucepan, and cook for an additional 5 to 8 minutes.
  14. Sprinkle with chopped coriander or mint.
  15. Serve with white rice or roti.

Happy 2015! Let’s record that eggplant recipe.

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Beautifully wrapped hand made chocolates

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Christmas cookies!

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Gingerbread

Happy 2015!  How special to have had Christmas with both you girls home.  I loved the hand made theme of presents SO MUCH! You two are such creative souls ; from hand sewn donuts (don’t ask, readers!) to scented chocolates, intricate necklaces and boxes of spicy chai, and the worlds best Martha Stewart gingerbread to even a coconut and coffee scrub! Too clever by half! IMG_1194

Extended lazy days, and very late nights, music playing, long conversations, friends dropping by, endless cups of tea, and shared cooking. My idea of holidays at home. Thank you both for being here and making it so memorable.

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Summer days

 

A while ago when we had a lovely family over for lunch, I made an eggplant dish which is reminiscent of one your Nanna cooks. Let’s just say it is one of those dishes which lingers in your memory. Sweet and sour, and thick and yummy. I promised to send this family the recipe, but had to make the dish again to record carefully all the ingredients and steps which I’ve never written down before.

Now, I’ll admit that this does not fit the category of recipes I usually send you girls. Namely: straightforward to make, quick and relatively healthy. Somehow though, I know you’ll both get around to making this yourselves despite the fairly long winded process because you know just how worth while it is.  Nanna serves this eggplant dish with rice and meat dishes, but always has a fresh cucumber sambal or raitha too. When our friends came to lunch, I served it alongside Ottogenhi’s pasta with yogurt and pea sauce. Unusual, but it somehow worked itself out to be a fantastic combination.

Eggplant Curry

  • 4 firm and large purple eggplants
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger
  • six cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh curry leaves if you have it
  • 1 large bombay onion
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons cummin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • 1 tub tomato paste
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • oil for frying

Method:

  1. Chop up eggplants into pieces about finger length and double finger length in thickness.
  2. Mix the chopped eggplant with the turmeric and salt cover and set aside for a few hours.
  3. Meanwhile,  mix together the tamarind paste, the chilli powder, white vinegar, sugar and tomato paste with a cup of water. Set aside.
  4. Press the juice out of the eggplant pieces between paper towels.
  5. Heat  two tablespoons of olive oil in a large wok or casserole pan.
  6. Fry batches of the eggplant pieces until golden and soft. Drain on paper towels.
  7. When all the eggplant has been cooked, heat the pan again with two more tablespoons of oil.
  8. Throw in the curry leaves and mustard seeds.
  9. When the seeds start to pop, add the cumin seeds, onion. ginger and garlic and stir.
  10. Add the eggplant.
  11. Now add the prepared sauce and stir well.
  12. Cover, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for half an hour, stirring occasionally.
  13. Adjust seasoning according to your taste: more vinegar for sourness, more sugar for sweetness. And of course more chilli powder for heat.
  14. The end result should be a yummy, thick dish, with no runny sauce. The eggplant should be very tender.
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Salt and turmeric first up.

 

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Tomato and tamarind pastes to make the sauce

 

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Frying up the eggplant

 

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Fresh curry leaves, ginger and onion

 

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Sweet and sour eggplant curry

 

(G)rainy Week-End and London Visitors

IMG_8263It was so lovely to see the B family after a couple of years.  We’d not even met the youngest member of the family, all of two years old.  He strode into the house in his little overalls and threw himself down at Alice and Paisley who were quite taken aback, roused from their doggie dreams. It has been a while since anyone paid them such close attention! Baby’s older brother, now bloomed into a charming (and good looking!) eleven year old, kept a tender eye on his new sibling.

We knew Mr. B as a young bachelor, tooling around in his black Beemer convertible, and he was a funny uncle to you girls, always laughing and making naughty jokes. It is so nice to see him with his own two children, and his beautiful wife who does a tremendous job taking her wild husband in her capable stride. I hope you have an opportunity to catch up with them while they are in Melbourne. They’d love to see you. I think the last time you saw them was in London, and that must be a while ago now.

I made a freekeh salad to accompany a slow cooked lamb dish when they were here, and a crunchy green bean and bell pepper salad. Tonight I’ve cooked some farro. Stirring in some pomegranate seeds, baby tomatoes, chopped parsley, garlic, lemon juice and lots of olive oil.  About a week ago, it was some tabbouleh with bulgur to go with spicy lamb kebabs. I love using these different grains- they feel so healthy and the texture is so earthy after rice and pasta.  The nutty flavour of farro is hard to beat for me, and I love the colour- a deep green-y brown; so rich and appealing.

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With the freekeh and farro, just follow the cooking instructions on the box, and then add to salads using vegetables like green beans, chickpeas, chopped apricots, peppers, pomegranate, chopped celery, onion, spring onion, carrots, etc. On a wintery day, it makes for a more substantial salad. You can also add farro to soups, giving them texture and some heft. (add a handful to a minestrone ..)

Tabbouleh, with bulgur is so much more economical assembled at home. My jaw dropped at the market the other day when a lady picked up a tub of tabbouleh and the guy said cheerily: Nine dollars please! Ouch! You can make it for a fraction of that.

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Definitely make a huge batch at home, and enjoy with some grilled sangers or chicken, or make hummus and grill some egg plant and capsicum for a vegetarian meal. Parsley is plentiful and beautifully fresh right now, so I’d encourage you to buy a pile and make some! No cooking involved, just chop up some favourite ingredients and toss together.  Here’s how:

Tabbouleh ingredients

  • 2 medium sized tomatoes diced fine
  • 1 small onion chopped fine
  • 1 large bunch mint leaves
  • 2 to 3 large bunches of flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 30 grams bulgur

Method:

  1. Place the bulgur in a sieve, and wash under cold water. Drain well and put in the salad bowl.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes and onions to the bowl with some of the lemon juice and stir to combine.
  3. Chop off the main parts of the parsley stems and discard.  Gather the bunches of leaves together, and chop fine. Add to the bowl. Now the same with the mint leaves, but no stems at all.
  4. Add the spices, and olive oil and rest of the lemon juice, and toss all the ingredients thoroughly.  You might need a little more olive oil.

Parsley is so good for you too! Full of anti-oxidants and high in Vitamin C, can you think of anything better during flu season?  Sending you both hugs.

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Pasta with Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella

When we lived in LA, you two girls came with us  to the T’s for dinner one night.  You were in for a treat. That Venice Beach location, and a wonderful infusion of Aussie family atmosphere was so pleasant . On top of that, DT’s prowess as an Italian chef was about to be revealed.

As the sun melted into the Pacific Ocean and the waves crashed with the tide coming in, we chatted at the kitchen island, about all things Australian. DT was cooking you girls something special she said she’d always made for her boys. As is true of most Italian cuisine, freshness and simplicity were key to a memorable dish of pasta.

The W family were here last week-end, and brought with them a large container of tomatoes, capsicums and chills from their garden. At first I used them sparingly, these  fresh garden picked delights. But as the days wore on, I knew I would only be wasting them if they perished. THAT would never do! It was time to make DT’s pasta dish!

This recipe is so simple, one doesn’t need a recipe, but a few things bear following to bring out a perfect flavour.  I know it is a deceptively simple recipe, Izzy. But the warmth of the pasta releases a wonderful aroma in the uncooked tomato and basil, and the mozzarella adds a slight creaminess which counters the  tomato acidity perfectly. Please tell Grouse honcho MW that he can substitute the cheese with soft tofu.

Pasta with Tomato and Mozzarella 

  • Very ripe tomatoes
  • fresh basil,washed and picked off the stems
  • some good medium firm mozzarella 
  • pasta of choice (penne or spagatinni is favoured here)
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil
  1. Bring a large pan of well salted water to the boil.
  2. When the water is boiling vigorously, add the pasta and boil carefully till perfectly al dente (pasta should be chewy not crunchy, neither should it be allowed to turn soft and squidgy). 
  3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, cut tomatoes into bite size pieces. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt to bring out exceptional flavour. 
  4. When the pasta is perfectly boiled, drain, and quickly toss it in the bowl of tomatoes.
  5. The warmth of the pasta will soften the tomatoes slightly, adding to its juiciness, and creating a bit of a sauce. 
  6. Now add the chopped up pieces of mozzarella. It will melt slightly, adding to the ‘sauce’.
  7. Serve immediately, while still warm, but not before you tear up the  basil leaves and sprinkle over the pasta.

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More veg please! (Cauliflower Peretel)

It is ANZAC day in Australia and the day in Sydney has dawned bright and clear, a day of reflection and gratitude for our forces  both fallen and returned who have defended the country in various battles over the ages. We had a glorious walk at Bondi Beach this afternoon. The sun was hot and it seemed all of Sydney was exhaling. IMG_5459 Surely a day to bake some Anzac Biscuits, for this sparkly day will surely turn cool this evening, requiring a cup of tea. And what’s a cup of tea without an Anzac…. As the weather has turned milder, the Rainbow Lorikeets are out in enthusiastic force, chirping and parading, jostling and preening.2953703796_bfe6355086_o There are crowds of them in every camellia tree in the garden. The combination of pink and white camellia blooms with these psychedelic coloured parrots is a bit of a sensory wonder to someone like me who’s lived out of the country for so long. I stand on the front porch with key in my hand, meaning to walk to the garage, and get in the car, but minutes later find myself still watching these amazing birds cavorting. They are not very tidy, these lorikeets, so the paths around the house are strewn with pink and white petals. We don’t mind. L1030873 Food in the kitchen has turned somewhat hearty, a little chill in the night air being an excuse for curries and stews. Heartier cooked vegetables rather than salads, and another interesting  breakfast casserole recently. I have missed you, Miss Izzy Bee! I am sorry you have been weathering a lingering cold. Please try this dish- it is comforting and healthy, and easy to prepare :it might just give you the boost you need. In fact, perhaps MW could cook it for you- he did send me a message asking where the veggie recipes were…

Cauliflower Peretel

  • 1/2 head firm, unblemished cauliflower, broken or cut into florets
  • 1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cummin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • about 8 to 10 curry leaves, fresh or dried
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped fine
  • 1/2  fresh chilli, sliced fine (optional)
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  1. Heat oil in a wok, and when smoking, add the mustard seeds.
  2. When seeds begin popping, add the curry leaves, turmeric, cumin seeds, onion, ginger, chilli and coconut flakes.
  3. Stir well, until onion has softened a little, and take care not to burn the coconut.
  4. Add the cauliflower, and toss well.
  5. Add a very small amount of water (perhaps a quarter cup), season with salt, add raisins and parsley, cover and leave for exactly two minutes, turning down the heat to low.
  6. Uncover after the two minutes, and stir well. If you find the ingredients sticking, add a few more drops of water as you stir everything together.
  7. Turn out onto a dish, or else the heat of the wok will continue to cook the vegetables even when you’ve turn the fire off. The cauliflower should be tender, but still have a good crunch.
  8. Serve with rice or roti,  plain yogurt and lime pickle or your favourite chutney.

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