Thursday, 28 March 2013

Headed South. No second head growing. Yet.

Hey! I'm here! Just been crazy busy. I moved down to Tasmania (shocking, I know!) and it's usually a minimum of 13-14 hours door-to-door. But it's an exciting job, just lots to get my head around. And not much time for cooking or blogging!

I've been living off McDonald's and Lean Cuisines for about three weeks now and the Maccas is winning the battle, or so my thighs tell me. But I've got a flat now, and therefore a fridge and a stove, and am super-excited about getting back into healthy cooking and sharing it (and some of the less healthy stuff!) here.

For now I'll leave you with a couple of pictures of leaving Melbourne on the ferry and a couple of the job site. If there are any professional tree-huggers reading this you will probably realise what a challenge sediment control will be. Wish me luck with that...

I'm writing on my phone and don't know where the photos will show up, so these are the would-be captions: 1. Bye, Melbourne! 2. Obliging seagull improving an otherwise average photo. 3. Arthur's lake, where the pipeline begins. 4. Looking down the hill to where the pipeline ends. Oh, and this ain't the steep bit!

I'm off to the Victorian Alps for the long weekend now to be shown around Red Robin Mine, which I believe is the last remaining gold mine in the area and is in its last season. It interests me both as a professional tree-hugger and also as a former honours student in the Alpine region. I first met the miner doing my field work back in 2005, and tripped over him again on a hiking trip over Christmas 2011 - the day before I was airlifted out, in fact. I'll write about it here, and who knows - I might be able to convince an outdoors magazine to pick it up.

So stay safe over the long weekend, everyone. Enjoy your Easter and don't eat too much chocolate! (Or forget that Easter is not just about the noms.)

Monday, 11 March 2013

Mango and Peach Sorbet

You may recall that I got the ice cream maker attachment for my Kenwood for Christmas. The first thing I made with it was raspberry sorbet, and, having neither the time nor the inclination to faff about with making an egg-cream-custardy-thing to make proper ice cream out of, or to then do something with the egg whites, I decided to make sorbet again yesterday instead of branching out into the grown-up world of proper ice cream. After all, Melbourne is in the middle of ANOTHER week of 30oC+ and I ain't turning no stove nor no oven on for nobody!
Sorbet it is. Locate fruit, sugar, liquid of some sort and food processor. Whizz together. And this one's even better than the raspberry sorbet because this time there was no boiling of sugar syrup. Huzzah!
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, chopped
2 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, chopped
1/4c lime juice (that's about the juice of 1.5 limes)
3 heaped tablespoons of icing sugar
Whizz it all up in the food processor until smooth. If it's not cool, which it will be if the fruit was in the fridge, chill it.
Jump into your Tardis, put the bowl of your ice cream maker in the freezer 24 hours ago (if that's the sort of unit you have, like I do), then come back to the present day and remove it from the freezer and set it up.
This is where I say "freeze according to ice cream maker manufacturers' instructions" but in my case, turn your Kenwood/other inferior machine on, pour the puree in and leave it going for half an hour to 45 minutes.
Once again I got quite a soft sorbet but I'm imagining that when I pull the leftovers out the freezer tonight I will discover that it is quite solid. (Note: they were. I had to leave them out for ages before I could get the spoon through!)
You can add more or less icing sugar to taste, but the amount there was just enough to balance the lime juice and let the mango shine. This was originally supposed to be all-mango but SOMEONE ate the other mango (and it wasn't me, y'all!). Nonetheless I think it was better this way - the peach made it not-terribly-mangoey but sort of supported the flavour without overpowering it. If that makes sense.
I can't say which is my favourite because I am inherently biased towards raspberry but it doesn't seem fair to choose the quality of a recipe on what my favourite flavour happens to be, so... if you want something tart and refreshing, possibly to accompany a chocolatey dessert (although it is damned fine on its own), go with the raspberry. If you want to lounge about eating sorbet on a summer's eve then go with the mango (and it has also occurred to me that I could just serve it in a glass and add a splosh (bigger than a splash) of rum to it, just for kicks).

Monday, 4 March 2013

Quick 'n' Dirty - Lamb with Chilli and Coriander (Cilantro), with Greek Salad

I realised recently that part of the reason I struggle to post some weeks is that my everyday foods are probably too boring to write about. And, given that I'm quite time-poor a lot of the time, trying out a whole new recipe can seem daunting, especially if it's complicated. That, and my waistline has been... shall we say... rampant of late, so I've been trying to cut down on my one true love - baked goods. Don't worry, it won't last forever ;) But it has inspired me to try out (or invent) a bunch of "Quick 'n' Dirty" recipes to keep things healthy and interesting for me on weeknights, and also for you!
Last week was my first try at something new. It was my turn to cook, and I had taken lamb fillets out of the freezer but had no clear idea what I was going to do with them. So when I walked in the door after work, starving, I knew that whatever I made had to be quick. I also think it's a sin to over-cook lamb unless it's a tougher cut that is supposed to be stewed, so frying it was the only option. I raided the fridge and the spice cabinet, and this is what I came up with.
INGREDIENTS (serves two):
400g lamb fillets (basically lean lamb steaks. 400g was four small ones)
1/2tbsp olive oil (+1/2tbsp more - see below)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2tbsp squeezy coriander (I'm sure fresh would be nicer though - it usually is!)
1tsp chilli powder (depending on how hot you like it)
1 huge tomato or two smaller ones
1/3 large cucumber
40g feta cheese
1/4 red onion
6 pitted kalamata (black) olives
1/2tbsp olive oil
1/2tbsp apple cider vinegar (or other acid - I wanted to use lemon juice but had no lemons)
Mint would make a nice addition but I had none of that, either :(
Tip half of oil over steaks. Evenly apply chilli, garlic and coriander to it and rub in. Make sure both sides are covered.
Heat a pan without oil. When hot, put steaks on. Remember that lamb is best cooked medium and a little pink in the middle, so don't overcook it! It took about 2 or so minutes on the first side, then I flipped them, let them cook for another minute and then turned off the flame and let the residual heat do the rest. The timing will depend on what your pan is made of and how much heat your stovetop retains. Don't leave it in the pan too long, though, because the lamb will continue to cook even after you remove it from the pan.
Meanwhile - and this should take you less time than the lamb takes to cook if the ingredients are already out - slice cucumber lengthways, then lengthways again (longitudinal quarters), then chop into 2cm pieces. Cut tomato in half (top to bottom), remove the yucky bit at the top, then cut each piece in half longitudinally, and then 3 or 4 times as if you were cutting wedges, but now each wedge will already be cut in half. Or, you know, cut it in wedges then cut each wedge in half! Cube feta. Slice olives. Combine all ingredients besides feta in a bowl, put remaining olive oil and vinegar on it and toss to combine.
Place salad on two plates, and crumble feta over the top. Next, slice lamb fillets into 1.5cm pieces and arrange on top.
I imagine it would be nice with a dollop of minted yoghurt on top, but I'd had enough dairy for one day. Oh, and I had no mint!
So, reader, what is your go-to Quick 'n' Dirty recipe?