morsla: (Dawn1)
Two posts in two days? I must be trying to avoid going back to my Methodology chapter...

I'm trying to work out what to cook for tomorrow night. We're having a Chinese New Year dinner with family, and I'd like to have eight dishes - I might end up with nine though, if I find some fresh fish. Eight is an auspicious number for a new year meal, but I don't know what I'd drop from the list - so maybe the rice won't count :)

Chicken, prawn and chive dumplings
Peking duck pancakes

Salt-and-pepper squid
Crisp-skin pork
Soy sauce chicken
Steamed Snapper
Shitake mushrooms, tofu and vegetables

Char Siu fried rice

Pomegranate sorbet, fresh fruit

I don't usually fry things using much oil, so the squid will be a bit new to me - I think it's an important dish to add though, as the salt and pepper mix is something I remember Dad showing me how to make. Dessert isn't a big part of a Chinese meal, but it will be a hot day and there's too much nice fruit available to leave it out. Plus, [ profile] aeliel has started making the pomegranate sorbet in her shiny new icecream maker... I'll look for whatever is fresh in the market.

The tricky part will be choreographing the cooking so that our very small kitchen manages to serve up 5-7 dishes while everything is hot. The chicken, pork (char siu and belly) and duck will be cooked ahead of time and I'll aim to have all the food prep done before turning on the stove, so I think it'll look something like this:

Wok: Fry rice, set aside in a metal oven tray covered by a damp cloth.

Steamer: warm pancakes

Oven grill: heat the duck and pork - skin needs to be crispy on both. Add rice to bottom shelf.

Wok: Fry dumplings

Serve duck (with pancakes, sauce and vegetables) and dumplings. Add hard vegetables to steamer (remove with greens, in about 15min). (2 dishes down)

Wok: heat chicken. Serve with roast pork and fried rice. (5 dishes down)

Steamer: add whole fish to top basket (takes 8-10min), green vegetables to lower basket (remove after 4-5min)

Fryer: Shallow-fry squid - probably needs two batches, so start the vegetables during batch 2.

Wok: fry vegetables with tofu and mushrooms. Serve with squid and fish. (8 dishes down)

After that, it's just a matter of leaving one board clean so the fruit can be cut. I think that if we take the sorbet out of the freezer when I start cutting fruit pieces, it'll be ready to serve as soon as the fruit is done.

Now I'm really hungry. I think I can see how it will all fit together though, which is a good start. Now, back to writing that chapter...
morsla: (lain)
I'm in a cooking mood today, so I thought I'd post some foody things.

Lime Crema Catalana

Originally a recipe from the Cook & Taste school in Barcelona; I modified it a bit by changing some of the flavours. My notes have "serves eight" scribbled in the margin, as we used very shallow bowls - but extensivedelicious testing when [ profile] aeliel made this last night has demonstrated that it makes just over four good-sized serves, with a bit left over to use in a bread-and-butter pudding tonight :)

6 egg yolks
200g sugar
4 cups milk
40g corn starch
Zest of two limes
A splash of Cointreau

Blend together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture whitens and goes creamy. Add three cups of milk, and stir until it's all thoroughly combined. Add the lime zest, pour it into a saucepan, and start heating it over a medium-high burner.

Meanwhile, dissolve the corn starch in the last cup of milk. Stir the milk/starch mixture through the rest of the custard, and bring the lot to the boil - stirring constantly to make sure no lumps form on the bottom of the pan. When the first bubbles start to appear, turn off the heat, add the Cointreau, and stir it through. Add Cointreau to yourself as needed.

Let it cool for a while, stirring for the first few minutes to dissipate the heat. Pour it into ramekins, and refrigerate once they've cooled to room temperature. To serve, caramelise some castor sugar on top as you would with a crème brûlée.

Slow roasted lamb, with roast vegetable mash

Inspired by a recipe in this month's SBS Feast magazine (which is a bloody good read... if you like recipes and stories about food, I recommend picking one up). These quantities should make about four serves - I've doubled the amounts that I just put in the oven.

1kg Lamb forequarter / shoulder
Olive oil
4-5 lemons, sliced (I've used yellow limes instead, as we had them handy)
1 head of garlic. Separate cloves, but don't peel them.
Salt and pepper

1 medium-large sweet potato
4-5 carrots

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Peel and roughly chop the vegetables, put them into a baking tray and cover them with plenty of olive oil. When the oven is hot, put them in on the top shelf.

Rub the lamb with olive oil, and add some salt and pepper to season it. Get a baking dish that just fits the meat: I'm using a wide loaf pan, which snugly fits three bits of lamb into it. Line this with baking paper, leaving enough to wrap tightly over the top of the tray when you're done.

Put half the garlic and half the lime/lemon slices onto the baking paper. Place the lamb on top, skin facing up. Pack the rest of the garlic and lemon onto it, and then tightly wrap it all with the baking paper. By now, the vegetables should have been in the oven for about ten minutes.

Turn the oven down to 200°C, move the vegetables down a shelf, and put the lamb into the top of the oven. Cook for about 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 140°C, remove the vegetables, and leave the lamb to cook for about 2 1/2 hours (or until the meat is falling from the bone).

While the vegetables are still hot, mash them (I added a bit more olive oil and some spices) and put them aside. Warm these back up just before the lamb is done, and mix through some of the roasted garlic cloves. Serve with whatever greens are available - I think we'll be having some asparagus & snowpeas, with a bit of butter and lemon.
morsla: (mantis04)
[ profile] aeliel has the multi-sickness. It's possibly lots of smaller colds all assembled into one Voltron-style creation. Whatever it is, it's managed to infiltrate despite a course of broad-spectrum antibiotics that she has been taking for the last week...

I'm medicating with food, as it's the thing I'm best able to contribute. Medical-grade chicken and corn soup for lunch (filled with ginger, garlic and vegetables), and paella for dinner (lots of fresh chillies, lemon and lime juice).

I rode over to the Showgrounds Farmer's Market today, trying a new route along the river. It's shorter than going via Racecourse Rd, but involves going past a lot of closed gates restricting vehicle traffic near the stables. I was already running late when I left the house, and negotiating narrow gates and a flight of steps almost made me miss the market. I swooped in for the five minutes before closing time, filled a bag with vegetables, and rode straight back home.

I like having a farmer's market a few minutes down the road. It started up last month, and today was my second visit. Most of the stalls were the same as last time: farm produce from Bacchus Marsh, mushrooms from the Wombat state forest, tasty organic sourdough from Trentham.


Nov. 12th, 2008 04:46 pm
morsla: (Default)
[ profile] fetnas and [ profile] geserit are temporarily back in the country - hopefully they're enjoying a change from London weather.

Tradition demands that we eat lots of dumplings to celebrate this event!

What: Yum Cha
When: This Sunday (aiming for 11am)
Where: Chinatown (will make a booking when I know how many to expect)
Who: Dumpling-loving friends of Stef and Sarah.

We'll probably be at Westlake, now that King Bo looks like something out of the battle for Stalingrad...

RSVP by Friday afternoon, so that I can make a booking...
morsla: (Default)
I've been eating a lot lately. I think my appetite got lost a few years ago, but it finally found its way home again... fortunately we have a house full of ingredients, and two occupants who like cooking. Over the weekend I roasted two trays of pumpkin, sweet potato, garlic and herbs, and turned the lot into soup. Meanwhile, [ profile] aeliel has filled the rest of the kitchen with apple cake and hedgehog slice, so it looks like we're stockpiling for a siege.

Somewhere along the way I slipped out of being more-or-less vegetarian, and started getting cravings for lots of meat - lean, rare meat in particular. I suspect it has something to do with the amount of training I've been doing, and a need for protein. We seem to be eating more kangaroo than anything else these days, as game meat has been consistently better quality than any of the farmed beef and lamb available around here. It also makes sense, I guess. If you want to jump around a lot, eat something known for doing the same...

Today we reached the halfway point in the 36 Fan. It's the longest weapon form I've learned, and much more intricate than the 18 form. The last couple of Tai Chi classes have been held in an aerobics studio, walled with mirrors. Helpful for spotting and correcting mistakes, but dear gods do I have scrawny little legs :)
morsla: (Default)
I don't eat a lot of meat. There's no particular moral, ethical or health reason behind it - I just really like cooking with fresh vegetables, and I'm slowly learning how to cook fish. The biggest problem with only cooking meat every few months is that I start forgetting how to cook with it...

It's been ages since I last wrote anything food-related, but I've always found it useful to jot down some notes after experimenting with something new. This isn't really a recipie (no quantities, no real order of operations), but it's a handy way of cooking game meat. It's also one of the rare times I've slowed down and spent longer than 15 min cooking dinner.

Kangaroo steaks:
Kangaroo is lean. Really, really lean. This is good for people who want to get their iron and protein while watching their weight, but it makes it easy to completely destroy the meat when you cook it... anything beyond medium rare will ruin your meal by turning it into leather.

You can prepare the meat by marinating it a little. Let it slowly come to room temperature first, then season it by rubbing some olive oil and salt into it. I made a marinade with a splash of light soy, olive oil, and some juice from an anonymous citrus fruit (tastes like an orange, looks like a small lemon) that I picked at my parents' place. Let the kangaroo marinate for at least 20 min.

Oil up a pan, and heat it until the oil starts to smoke slightly - crank the stove up as far as it goes, as you need to cook quickly. Seal the steak for about a minute (rare) to a minute and a half (medium rare) on each side, and then wrap it tightly in a couple of layers of foil. Sit it on a wooden chopping board for about 15 min. This bit's important, as the 'rest time' is when you really cook the meat.

Once that's done, return the meat to the pan to heat it back through (another minute per side). Take it off the heat and slice it thinly with a good carving knife - don't use a serrated knife to carve! Serve with something a little sweet (roasted baby beetroot), something savoury (potato & sweet potato, mashed with roasted garlic and pepper) and something sharp (baby spinach salad with a mustard vinaigarette). Done!

Now, what's for lunch?
morsla: (Default)
My life seems to be a series of experiments. Who knows what it'll end up showing...

I bought some preserved kaffir lime leaves yesterday, and tried cooking with a few of them last night. Very tasty... plus, it's apparently one of those unidentified flavours/aromas that I've never quite managed to capture when I "borrow" recipies from restaurants. They work very nicely with prawns, in a rice noodle soup.

Some of you will know my strange habit with restaurants, inherited from my restaurant-dwelling parents. I'll eat out somewhere, order food that I've never seen or heard of before, and then I can go home and duplicate it. After that, I don't often bother ordering it again... once assimilated, it becomes "food that I can make at home." Time to find something else to try.

After a trip to the Vic Market and the big chinese grocery store, I think I'm well equipped for other experiments later in the week. There are a few dishes that I've never really worked out how to make, but I'm armed with a few more ingredients this time. Next on my list of toys to buy is a mortar & pestle, so I can make my own curry spices.

In the spirit of "if you don't know how to do it, experiment blindly" I've also worked out how to do neck and shoulder wraps with my firestaff. I really like the contact staff manoeuvres - they have a nice fluid flow to them, and they generally provide ways to get out of any dead-ends where the old spinning moves failed. Long hair is more of a problem, though... I'm still working out how to keep it out of the way.

In order to have something to practice indoors, I bought myself a contact juggling ball as well. Much safer on the overhead lights, although I really need to move the fragile things off the bookshelf :) I've never had much luck with the throwing/catching version of juggling, but it's an interesting exercise in co-ordination. I think the muscle control skills will also transfer across to firestaff, which makes it a good way of getting some practice in during the wet and windy months.
morsla: (lookin)
I love food. I've grown up in restaurant kitchens and marketplaces, and I love preparing it, cooking for other people, eating it myself... but lately, I seem to have lost a lot of enthusiasm. I've been thinking back over how and what I eat, and wondering if I've ever really had a "normal" system of eating.

Eating and exercise
I've been very active over the past few years, especially while I was at uni. Training several nights a week combined with long hours in classes and labs meant that there were unusual windows open for eating - and I ate in all of them. I'd usually have a bag of apples and a bag of cookies in my backpack - I'd eat constantly in lectures, and then eat "proper" meals afterwards. I haven't found anyone that I can't out-eat, when I'm exercising... some all-you-can-eat restaurants may still quake in fear when I look towards their doorways. When my metabolism kicks in, I burn a lot of fuel.

Eating and mood
My mood has had plenty of influence on what and how I eat, over the years. I've ranged to both extremes - binge eating on particular foods (those raisin biscuit things spring to mind...) when upset, and stopping eating altogether when I've been badly depressed. In the latter case, I think it's a bit of unconscious masochism - eating involves looking after yourself, and that's not on the agenda. Depression has often been tied to injury, so it happens when I suddenly stop exercising. My metabolism shuts down, I only remember to eat when I'm hungry, and I only get hungry once a day at most. As a result, I'll end up eating practically nothing, which starts a whole new cycle downwards.

If I'm only cooking for myself, I rapidly fall into subsistence cooking - I'll rarely take much time preparing food, almost never experiment, and fall back on food that's technically enough nutrition to survive on, but it's rarely anything fancy. Variety drops out of my diet, and I lose inspiration to cook. By contrast, if I'm preparing food for other people, I'll try almost anything. I go out looking for new ingredients, try new cooking styles, and learn more tricks that I ought to use for myself later on... This is part of the reason why I like cooking for other people. I'd happily cook for a living.

Food types
I'm a mostly-vegetarian, although it's more to do with taste than ethics. I've learned a huge amount about cooking since I stopped cooking with meat, as it takes a lot more work to build flavours in the food. I eat lots of carbohydrates - rice, grains, noodles, polenta, pasta and potatoes are the base of most meals. I'll generally cook with at least half a dozen fresh vegetables in any given dish, and lots of spices. I occasionally cook with fish or shellfish, and very rarely with red meat or chicken. I'm not fussy, though - if I'm in someone else's house, I'll happily eat whatever is offered. Roughly half of what I cook would be considered vegan - not a conscious decision, but something I realised much later on.

Since getting sick, I've slipped back into subsistence cooking. I'm also not training for a few weeks, so those "hungry" signals don't reach my brain. Most days in the last week, I've either slept in too late for breakfast, or I've eaten breakfast and not been hungry for lunch. On a few days, I've skipped both... although at least that makes sure that I'm hungry by the time I get back home. I generally eat large amounts, when I've remembered to eat. It seems that the "remembering" part is what I'm lacking.
morsla: (Default)
ko.yaa.nis.katsi (from the Hopi language), n. 1. crazy life. 2. life in turmoil. 3. life disintegrating. 4. life out of balance. 5. a state of life that calls for another way of living.
Life is strange. Earlier this year, I finally discovered the difference between "working hours" and "evenings" - if you aren't working and studying, then you have less work to do in the evening. Bizarre. How do people survive, without work seeping into every element of life?

Over the last few days, I discovered a similar distinction between "week" and "weekend." I did all the things that there's no time for during the week, avoided all the things I would normally fill a week with, and felt as though I really was in a different place and time. Life is out of balance... but in that good way.

[ profile] aeliel and I discovered Fräus on Saturday - pushers of fine chocolat and crepes. We're hooked... :-) [ profile] hespa, [ profile] sols_light, Amanda and Mikee should all be taken there at some stage. They list chocolate fondue at the start of their "tapas" menu... not that you'd bother, with the quality of their signature dishes. They seem to think that "hot chocolate" is just that - a mug of chocolate, with heat applied. There may have been some double-cream in there to stop it setting in the mug. You have to eat the stuff with a spoon...

The rest of the weekend was equally stuffed full of food - Vegie Bar on Saturday night, the mother-of-all Vic Market shopping adventures on Sunday, and dinner with [ profile] miss_rynn and [ profile] bishi_wannabe on Sunday night - we needed to call in reinforcements to help eat the food we bought. I went a little nostalgia-crazy in the chinese grocery store (childhood memories of tastes and smells...) and filled all our cupboards with supplies. And the fridge, the freezer, and some of the bench space. As a child I was told that I'd "blow away when the wind blows" if I didn't put on more weight. I now swear my solemn duty to eat my body weight in vegetables over the next fortnight...
morsla: (Default)
What an end to a holiday :)

I've been shifting furniture around my room all day (it's like one of those puzzles, with only one square missing - everything has to be shunted from one spot to the next, as I make more room), and only remembered to eat something when my hands were shaking too much to grip the pile of books I was trying to lift. Oops. However, cunning space-time wrangling (stacking furniture on top of other furniture, actually) has left me with more space than before. And I found the eye-searingly orange monk's robes from Shaolin, under a pile of other clothes.

Went down to get some food, and discovered that our fridge has shuffled off this mortal coil, and is now an ex-fridge. Like an ex-person, it will probably start to smell if drastic action isn't taken. Unlike an ex-person, it is now warmer, and making a lot more noise than before.

After erring on the side of caution, I realised that I'd thrown out enough fresh ingredients to stop me cooking most of the things I felt like eating. Luckily, Tom Yum soup is still possible, so I'll go back downstairs soon to make it.

Speaking of food, here's the recipie for Delphaeus )

I remembered how much I like cooking, catching up with friends, and inventing new meals. I now have a plan, but it lacks an audacious name at the moment. It involves inviting up to half a dozen people over, each of whom shall bring A Mystery Ingredient, of their choosing. Preferably non-meat, as there are only so many ways one can cook six bits of steak. I can provide couches, conversation, and I'll transform the pile of mystery ingredients into something we can eat.

'nuff typing for now... time to cook something and conduct the last rites on our valiant fridge.

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