Local Heart, Global Soul

November 8, 2017

Step-By-Step: Wok Are Your Tips And Tricks?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In yesterdays post I covered our discovery of “Eazie” in Scheveningen, one of a chain of restaurants in the Netherlands.

The principle behind the cuisine is that diners select fresh ingredients which are then wok fried in front of them, the prepared food can be eaten in the restaurant or taken away.  As usual I asked permission to take photographs of the restaurant interior and once given, added that I would love to also take photographs of the cooking process.

Permission was given for that too and soon I was clicking away. During this observation I also picked up some wok cooking tips and tricks. The first tip for doing this at home is probably the most basic: all meat, fish and veggies have to be cut in sizes suitable to them all cooking evenly together.

The thickness of all the carrot pieces, for instance should be as uniform as possible. I have the luxury of having an electric slicer, and during the summer tried an experiment that turned out to be a huge success. I got Himself to bring home a huge bag of veggies from the Haagse markt where  the prices are less than half the price of the supermarkets.

That said, you will need to do a fraction more work with your bargains: (a) often you have to check veggies for bad spots or the odd bit that’s well on the way to going rotten,(b) veggies are often waaay cheaper because they are misshapen, so be prepared to spend more time peeling around knobbly bits of carrots etc. (c) veggies are usually more on the “ripe” end of the scale than the “under ripe” end of the scale, so be careful buying in bulk if you can’t use it all before it’s past being edible.

Since sitting is something I do rather well these days, I sat on a stool and washed, peeled, topped, tailed, stripped off nasty outside bits of carrots, onions, beans, chinese cabbage, cauliflower, capsicum peppers, broccoli, and other seasonal veggies so that I had a massive pile of whole, but prepared veggies for slicing. Then the slicer came out and on a thin setting I started slicing it all.

Soon I was surrounded by mounds of white, green, orange and yellow veggies, which I then mixed up together. The last step was easy: fill up freezer bags and stack them all in the freezer. Whenever we fancied a stir-fry at a later date, all we had to do was grab a bag of pre-cut veggies from the freezer and head towards the stove. The thinness of the veggies means they separate, thaw and cook easily. The biggest surprise is that the onions and Chinese cabbage stayed white and mostly kept their shape, I had imagined I’d get a soggy brown mess once it thawed so this was a wonderful surprise.

Here at “Eazie” the veggies are fresh of course and not frozen; and have already been cut to appropriate thicknesses and even sizes.  An excellent tip I learned from these professionals is that they put your meat/fish/veg into a sieve and plunge it into a pot of boiling water to blanch them for a couple of minutes, then drain/ shake the water off and transfer everything to the waiting hot wok.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This not only partly cooks harder things like carrots, broccoli and cauli stems and the like, it also keeps the colours bright so the end result doesn’t look like a dull coloured mess. (I’ve been there with my stir-frys, I’ll bet you have on occasion too).

Then the hardest bit of all: a serious heat and a decent wok pan. Stupidly when I bought my new stove I was delighted that it had a special Wok burner that goes far harder than the other gas flames.

Less intelligent of me was that on this model stove this element is near the wall and not in the middle row (I have six burners), so I can only use a very small pan to use it with. I have been making do with a regular fry pan but think that I should think about getting a proper wok for the job because then the heat is in the right place at the right time.

The problem with a fry pan is that you have a lot of heat but the flames get too big around the pan so I keep turning it down, and needing longer cooking time and my stir-frys have been a little more wilted than I’d like.

I’ve heard raves about Ken Hom stainless woks so maybe I need to have a word with Santa about that one. The next thing I learn from watching the Eazie chefs is that they keep the heat high and the pan moving more than I imagined they would. They use the long handled spoon/ ladle thingy to work the sauce around the meat and veggies as the meal cooks. I am going to try this technique, especially the quick blanching first and see if I can improve not only the appearance but also the taste of my wok meals from now on.(Please note that my photos are a compilation of several different meals since I was tired and not all of my pics were sharp).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

https://www.thuisbezorgd.nl/eazie-scheveningen
Eazie, Restaurant Scheveningen / The Hague/ The Netherlands

July 18, 2013

Competition Result: Did YOUR Comment Have The Winning Ingredient?

Filed under: Competition,INDIA,Indian Cusine — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Apologies to everyone who entered my competition to win some specialist Indian cooking  ingredients and have been patiently waiting to see the results.

I will be totally honest and tell you I got distracted by end of year school events, family and work commitments and some traumatic events concerning friends and family.

The days have slipped away like water though my fingers and I complete and utterly forgot to go back and sort out a winner… something I’m rectifying right now. I copied all of the comments into one sheet and handed it to Himself to do the judging…  he’s read all of your comments and chosen:  “Doggy’s Style” as the lucky winner to be the lucky recipient of a box of goodies.

The winning comment was :

“Guess who is gonna reproduce this one over the weekend?
Yeah, that’s right, me!!
I could smell the roasted cumin and cilantro, delicious.
Thanks!

Comment by Doggy’s Style — June 13, 2013 @ 10:15 am | Edit ThisReply

…and Himself picked it out because he said he could really feel the enthusiasm behind the comment.  He was also influenced by the fact that it was clear from Doggy’s responses and links that he’d actually tried out some of the recipes, so double kudos.

Congratulations Doggy!!!

I’ll be in touch soonest to get hold of your postal details so that I can get your box of goodies off to you as quickly as possible.

I’m also going to add that if anyone would like to have a copy of the recipes in their “plain”state (without photos) for easier printing out, just contact me and I’ll email them to you.

Thank you  to everyone who took the time to comment…it’s always fabulous to get feedback and see what you thought of the step-by-step recipe posts.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 27, 2013

Indian Cooking Lesson, Giveaway: YOU Could WIN Some Of The Ingredients…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’ve come to the end of my Step-by-Step recipe series from my Indian cooking class lessons…

I realise fully that not everyone who reads this blog has easy access to an Indian Specialist shop in order to obtain some of the  recipe ingredients.

Since I hope that some of these step-by-step tutorial posts might hopefully entice you to try the recipes yourself, I am offering you the chance to win some of these hard(er) to find ingredients.

All you have to do is to make a comment on any one of the “Step-by-Step Indian Cooking Lesson” posts.

Having sent Himself out to the  Indian Specialist shop,  I have a selection of ingredients here ready to post to the winner. Alternatively, should the winner decide that there is a specific recipe they would like to make, (or set of recipes) then I could also send you more of a specific item in place of ones you might not think you will ever need for instance.

Of course, if you can get any of these items easily in your supermarket or local area (maybe the Ground Ginger?) then you could save me the postage in sending that item to you and again, I’d be happy to pop something in extra that you need instead.

Himself goes to the Haagse Markt regularly and the Indian Specialist is just metres away so packing a parcel “made to measure” is no problem.

I’ll include some photographs here to remind you of all the ingredients we have been using …

I’ll get an unbiased and independent adjudicator (a.k.a. Himself, who has no idea who you all are LOL) to pick what he thinks is the winning comment without any influence from me (he’s guaranteed to be impartial because he doesn’t even know he’s been signed up for this task yet !!!) and then one lucky person will be receiving an Indian Ingredient goodie box in the post.

You have until (until midnight) of July 5th 2013 to comment on as many of the posts as you wish,  …to write something that tells Himself why you’d like to win, something about the recipe, possibly a link  with photos if you have made the recipe, why one or more is your favourite, something you loved learning during the series… or…?  Stand out from the crowd… get creative and be in with a chance!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Looking forward to seeing your entry!

April 19, 2012

Enjoying a (Mostly) Traditional Hangi…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Family Kiwidutch are staying in the Distinction Hotel (Rotorua).
We’d arrived late in the afternoon in the pouring rain, Himself and the kids squeezed in a soak in the Jacuzzi, also in the pouring rain but  the pool is geothermally heated so there were no complaints and luckily their hunger got them out and drove them back to the room in time to get changed for dinner.

One of the restaurants here hosts a Maori Hangi cooked meal (=cooked in the ground with hot coals/rocks or in this case with natural geothermal steam) and usually the show provided is put on for tour bus parties and not really intended just for passing by, families of four.

We strike it lucky  because tonight’s tour bus contingent is smaller than usual and staff at reception tell us that there’s no problem for us to grab a table and share in the food and fun.

New Zealand sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” and is very geophysically active, fault lines litter the entire country,  earthquakes abound (as Christchurch residents can attest to only too well), volcanoes are dotted around and several (Mt. Ruapehu and White Island are highly active), and geothermal hot springs are a feature in both the North and South Islands.
In fact, the Rotorua area could easily be called the “Yellowstone” equivalent of the Southern Hemisphere and steam vents, geysers and boiling mud are almost literally a stones-throw away.

Local Maori have historically capitalised on the abundance of natural energy and  taken their traditional cooking style to a whole new level here. Usually a traditional Hangi involves heating large stones over a fire for some hours, transferring them to a prepared pit, placing the wrapped food on top and then covering the lot with earth to insulate it and letting the heat of the stones be released to slow-cook the meal during the course of the day.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In Rotorua the ground itself is Mother Nature’s oven and the food cooks without the need for the fire preparation stage. I’ve had  Hangi’s before and the food ranged from ‘ ok to fantastic”.

This one was brilliant, probably the best I’ve had…  the surprise of the meal was the inclusion of Maori Bread (which I had heard about but never tried before) and wow, wow, wow, it was delicious!

I asked the restaurant staff about the inclusion of rice and some other non-Hangi  menu items and they smiled…

…it appears that a considerable volume of their bus tour patrons come come various parts of Asia and can be more than a  little reticent at trying things like sweet potatoes, lamb and baked pumpkin.

I’m told that they definitely feel more comfortable with familiar favourites like rice and seafood and indeed many enquire before booking their tour if they can expect these foods, so naturally Hotels learned swiftly that if you want your customers to be happy then you cater for your customers wishes. Consequently this is a “kind-of-authentic” Hangi… but the chefs have done a great job with all the food, so no complaints here.

The kumera (sweet potato) is a New Zealand variety that tastes totally different to ones we get in Europe and I can highly recommend it,  followed by the pumpkin (which I could  willingly have eaten every last piece of, if only my stomach have been big enough and it been socially acceptable to have hogged the lot)  …and the roast lamb was to die for.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Maori Bread…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Fabulous lamb…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We finished off our wonderful meal with Pavlova, fruit salad and gingerbread with custard, Yum! …what’s not to like?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Top marks for an excellent meal, now it’s time to acquaint ourselves with some Maori culture…

September 26, 2011

Should “Medicine” to Keep You Regular Ever Taste this Good?

Filed under: FOOD — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Another one of my favourite recipes from the ex Recipezaar (now Food.com) website.

I  particularly like this  recipe from “mummamills”  because it’s so ridiculously easy and because a little  of this every so often helps keeps me regular. It tastes brilliant too! If you try it and would like to leave a review too,  just follow the link at the bottom of the page.

Prunes in Port

40 pitted prunes
2 cups port
2 cups red wine
1/2 vanilla bean
1 cup sugar

Soak prunes in the port overnight.

Next morning combine everything and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.Take out vanilla bean. (You can wash it and use it again).Bottle, or store in the fridge.

http://www.food.com/recipe/prunes-in-port-212379

September 19, 2011

Chicken With Cashews… Fast, Easy, Lazy, Perfect!

Filed under: FOOD,Reviews — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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Since I haven’t managed to be standing cooking in my kitchen for the last ten months, and am having Foodie withdrawal symptoms, I’ve had to console myself by asking Himself to make some of my favourite recipes for dinner  instead.

This one is by “chef floWer”  from the ex Recipezaar, (now Food.com) cooking website.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Chicken With Cashews

2 chicken breasts, diced
6 tablespoons corn oil or 6 tablespoons peanut oil
1/2 cup bamboo shoot, diced
1/2 cup green peppers or 1/2 cup green capsicum, diced
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1/4 cup cashew nuts

Marinate

2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons cornstarch or 2 teaspoons cornflour
2 teaspoons oil

In a bowl add soy sauce, water, cornstarch and oil to form the marinade. Mix well until the cornstarch as dissolved.

Add to the marinate chopped chicken breasts, mix well cover and marinate for 1 hour in refrigerator.

Heat oil in Wok until hot, add bamboo shoots and green capsicum. Stir-fry for a few minutes.

Remove bamboo shoots and green capsicum with slotted spoon or any spoon which drains the oil back into the wok.

Drain marinate and add chicken to the wok. Quickly toss and turn.

When chicken is cooked or slightly brown add hoisin sauce. Continue to toss.

Return vegetables to work.

Serve over rice and sprinkle the cashew nuts.

I’m a tougher than usual reviewer of recipes and awarded this oe the full possible five stars.

In my review I mentioned that I couldn’t find bamboo shoots and just used red and yellow peppers, but over time I have adapted this recipe and basically through in whatever stir-fryable veggies we have to hand on the day.  The yield is small:  two decent servings for a main meal for two people (mind you we didn’t bother adding rice)

I usually gently saute my cashews in 1 T olive oil, until they are gently toasted and then add some extra during the last minutes of cooking.  I found the peanut oil to be a little excessive, so right from the start I used homemade chicken stock (also in the interests of cutting down fat) and this has always worked well in this recipe.

I love that this is easy, in the past I’ve prepped veggies the evening before and just thrown everything together when we got home the next day for a mega lazy meal that’s ready in minutes.

When you have grumpy hungry  kids begging dinner 3 minutes after they cross the threshold, that make this recipe into a winner.

July 7, 2011

When Puff the Magic Pastry wasn’t Quite what was Wanted..

Filed under: FOOD,Kids and Family,The Hague,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In yesterday’s post I mentioned Kiwi Daughter’s efforts in going solo and making her first ever  family dinner.

It wasn’t however just the pasta she made, there was a dessert on the menu too. Again, from one of her recipe cards the recipe was simple in the extreme:  line a shallow dish with short-crust pastry,  spoon in 6 Tablespoons of  confiture  (jam/jelly) and bake in the oven.

I looked at the recipe card and thought to myself that a sweet crust, kind of shortbread would probably go better than shortcrust (which I personally associate more with savoury dishes) but I had had physiotherapy earlier in the afternoon and didn’t feel up to making my own,  either sweet or short, so I thought it might be ok to go against my instincts and just follow the recipe.

Since I of course could not just pop out to the supermarket, Himself was dispatched to our local supermarket with the most specific  instructions I could manage. (Last time we wanted Puff pastry he returned with Filo by mistake. It’s not that he’s not willing, but to him, it’s just that he said they all looked alike to him so did it matter?  and so when he returned triumphantly with a package that wasn’tFilo pastry, I was already really delighted.)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sadly it seems that he couldn’t find anything that was labeled Shortcrust pastry so bought Puff pastry home instead so that he didn’t have to face Kiwi Daughter empty-handed and in the hope that they would be somewhat  interchangeable.

I  had my doubts, but Kiwi Daughter was all fired up with enthusiasm so I thought ” what the heck” and she set about following the recipe.

We thawed out the pastry,  Kiwi Daughter had her first ever full solo pastry rolling  experience  (she’s kind of done it before but usually would ask me to take over once the pastry started to get even remotely thin so that she didn’t make a mess of it.)

This time it was all hers, and she made a pretty good job for a  first effort too.

Like most pastry novices she heaped a small lorry load of extra flour in an attempt to make her rolling-pin stick less and she handled the dough like it was bread to be kneaded and not pastry that better prefers the hands-off approach,  but I know for a fact that we allstart making pastry with the same mistakes so was delighted that she managed to line the dish without too many patches needed.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Knowing that I didn’t want our puff pastry to puff,  I set to work docking the pastry (pricking at all over with a fork) so that the steam could escape.

Then the recipe clearly said to use 6 Tablespoons of confiture (jam/jelly) but for a pie this size, I thought this  didn’t look like nearly enough so I got Kiwi Daughter to add  more (easily doubled it).

During the baking process we started to have confiture everywhere, spilling over, and once cooked and cooked the layer was far thicker than it really needed to be resulting in an overly sweet taste.

The end result wasn’t at all pretty like the picture on the card, but doused with enough whipped cream to dampen the sweetness, it was certainly edible.

In fact we all dispatched the evidence with rude and hearty haste.

Kiwi Daughter today not only learned to roll pastry. but also a valuable lesson on the hit and miss affair of not following the recipe.

The pastry worked, kind of… a sweet shortbread style crust would definitely have been better, and my suggestion to use more confiture was definitely not a good call. You can have too much of a good thing it seems.

That said, Kiwi Daughter was delighted with her efforts and we have already decided that one of her next lessons should be in making a sweet crust from scratch so that we can re-do this recipe more in the style to which it would be more accustomed.

Bravo for giving it a go my sweet… I’m proud of you!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 6, 2011

Proudly Going Solo with Tagliatelle Carbonara…

Filed under: FOOD,Kids and Family,LIFE — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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Kiwi Daughter decided that she wanted to make dinner for  the whole family a few weeks ago. She had been helping  out making various meals before but that usually meant doing the nice bits like cutting the shapes out with the biscuit (cookie) cutters and rarely being involved in the actual mixing, rolling out,  cooking or washing up phases of the process.

This time she aims to do not only the meal but also a dessert as well, and has spied some recipe cards from a set that she picked up at a book fair several years ago but at the time  never got further than one of the sweets (candy) recipes in the set.

Here is the result: Kiwi Daughter’s very first solo recipe …under the watchful eye and  little help on the stove by her new sous chef   (a.k.a. Himself).  The recipe is for Tagiatelle Carbonara  and  makes enough for 4 servings.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

1 teaspoon olive oil
150g (5oz) streaky bacon
2 cloves of garlic
1  1/2 tablespoons olive oil
50g parmesan cheese (grated)
3 eggs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons cream
pinch fresh ground pepper
350g  (12 oz) dried tagliatelle pasta
water (to boil pasta)

Method:

Add 1  1/2 tablespoons of olive oil to a fry pan and fry off the bacon and garlic so that they are cooked but not too crunchy. Drain off the excess fat and add the chopped parsley.

In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, cream,  half of the cheese and the pepper.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and cook tagliatelle pasta until “al dente”  per the directions on the packet.Once cooked, drain off the water.

Combine the egg mixture with the hot pasta and the heat of the pasta will cook the eggs. Mix well until the eggs are cooked (only takes a minute or so) and then add the bacon mixture.

Serve immediately with the remaining parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

YUM!  We are having this again soon! it’s delicious and not only is Kiwi Daughter justifiably proud of her effort, but I am pleased to see that my picky eater has grown up enough to include the parsley and garlic without screwing her face up at the thought and then moaning at length at their inclusion. (the bacon does tend to end up on the bottom of everything though, so sorry the photo isn’t better)

Even Little Mr (still fussy) was enticed enough by the appearance of bacon (and hunger of waiting longer than normal dinner time) to not moan too long  about the parsley.

Well done my Daughter!  I am very proud of you! … not only was your first solo effort a success, but you also have been inspired to do this more regularly. As a Foodie Mama, you  made my day.

April 9, 2011

Cooks Secrets ….”Cook Like You Are On Crutches”

Filed under: FOOD,LIFE — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

So… Life is chaotic and you are finding yourself reaching for the cheaply printed menu’s of the local Chinese or Pizza Takeaway instead of cooking even though you are wincing at the financial cost and your body is swimming in new levels of fat, salt and MSG.

How on earth do you find the time and the energy to bulk cook so that you have something healthy in the freezer to thaw and nuke on days where you have worked hard, commuted long and when energy levels are giving readings in the negative?

Well, you start by taking Kiwi’s step-by-step Bulk-Cooking  Starter Class which I shall  hereby rename as: ” Learn to Cook Like You Are On Crutches”.

But first some background information is needed:

Back in New Zealand when I worked shift work, I worked 80 hours in a week and then had a week off.  It suited my (then) lifestyle but it didn’t suit my stomach much.

The first week I was clueless and disorganised and when one of the team said they would do the “meal run” at local takeaway establishments, I forked out my money and put in my order like almost all of my colleagues did.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

After seven days of takeaway meals I was mildly repulsed  by the thought of another one, but in my youth and ignorance (and since I never normally ordered takeaway food), the novelty factor was in force and I figured I could rotate various cuisines without getting bored.

I mean: Burger one day, Chicken the next, Fried rice the following etc,  it couldn’t be too bad could it?

Wrong.

I was two days into my second week when  the mere sight of  meals being hauled into the cafeteria in bags with the  certain logos on the side had me dreading tomorrows meal choices.

Worse, suddenly seeing how costs were adding up, and knowing that my apprentice pay wouldn’t keep up to match the others I realised with a shock that I had to do something radical.

I was spurred into drastic action. I drove to the supermarket and bought home 10 kg (22 lb) potatoes, 5 kg  (11 lb) of rice and pasta, and 20 kg  (44 lb) of various meats, a dozen tins of  chopped tomatoes and as many fresh veggies as I could squash into the rest of the space in my 12 year old third-hand Mazda.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I borrowed a business card from a friend and went to a wholesaler and stocked up on plastic takeaway containers with lids, the sort sturdy enough to wash and reuse.

At home I got out my biggest pots and baking dishes and started my power cooking day.

I cooked about 8-10 servings  each of meatballs,  chicken, meat and tomato based pasta sauces, sweet and sour dishes, stew, soup, lasagna,  I added mashed veggies,  roast veggies, boiled veggies and stir fried veggies, boiled pasta or rice to each of the meats  and at the exhausted end of one day I was faced with more than 90 rectangular plastic containers filled with a strange mixes and matches of my meat , pasta, potato,  rice and vegetable options.

Luckily I was looking after my parents house whilst they were posted abroad so I had access to a 2 meter long mega freezer with baskets in it. It sat  in the garage  and since I’d moved in I’d only managed to fill it with a two packets of frozen pastry and one tub of ice-cream. Soon the pastry and ice-cream were lonely no more.

For the next four years the only thing I had to do in my week off was to add  7 additional meals to plastic containers to replace the ones I’d used on shift the week before. I ate the oldest ones first and replacing them became as easy as cooking a normal meal but doing an extra serving or two for the freezer. It’s as easy to boil a whole head of broccoli as it is to boil half a one.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It took less than two weeks for some of my colleagues to come begging for me to bring in my dinners for them too… I gave them recipes and advice but no meals,  figuring that my free time was more valuable than the cash I would have made.

Who knows, had I been wiser  and gone veggie shopping direct from the growers at the  market gardens out at Marshlands, it might have been a nice little earner that would have paid for my own meals in the end.

I’m not advocating that you start your crash course in bulk cooking as I did.

I’ll freely admit that peeling 5 kg of onions wasn’t pretty or fun.

But if you are balking at the mere thought and effort of bulk cooking, then here’s the easier version.  You know I’m on crutches at the moment, well, sad to say for a fanatic foodie, I’ve cooked three or four times since the end of  November. One thing I have cooked though, were two massive trays of lasagna for visitors and for the freezer.  My kitchen is tiny and crutches and a chair don’t make for easy working, I get tired easily, so here’s the magic: I spread the work over three days.

Day One: Chop enough fresh veggies to go into two deep oven dishes of lasagna. Put the prepped veggies into a large tightly sealed plastic container in the fridge and go take a rest.

Day Two: Fry off the  minced meat, pour off the fat, then add chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, handfuls of herbs and a decent amount of spices to the meat,  simmer until it’s looking and smelling good, then cool and refrigerate. It will taste even better tomorrow once the flavours have a chance to mingle.  Go lie down as another rest is in order.

Day Three: Dump your prepped veggies into boiling water and boil until they are cooked but still crunchy to the bite. Drain them off and leave to cool whilst you make a simple bechamel sauce(white sauce) and leave the sauce to cool a little while you start laying up your deep oven dishes with the meat mixture, dried pasta sheets,  white sauce, veggies and grated cheese. make sure that the very last layer is white sauce so that all the dried pasta is covered and sprinkle grated cheese on at the end so that it will look great when it comes out of the oven.

Bake both dishes of lasagna in the oven and once cool cut into single portions for the freezer.

If I can do this on painkillers, plaster and crutches and spread it out to ease the effort, then you can too. Once you have a “supply” of home made “easy meals”  in the freezer it’s fairly easy to add one extra serving from dinner  a few times a week to keep things topped up.

Ok,  realistically, I’m not in a state right now to be doing this every week, but if you are scared about finding the time and energy to cook in bulk then maybe splitting up the task like I did recently is the answer to getting started.

And once you’ve started, and know that with a tiny bit of extra effort once a week that you always have a homemade “lazy” meal in your freezer,  and that it tastes better than a takeaway and is cheaper and better for you, ….you will be hooked.

January 9, 2011

Creamed Mashed Potatoes With Spinach, Comfort Food Yummy!

Filed under: FOOD — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Company’s coming and you want to serve something that’s reminiscent of Comfort Food but not plain and boring.

Lot’s of people love spinach, and many more love mashed potatoes.

Ever thought of combining the two?

Just the addition of some cream, (or substitute skim milk if you want it lighter) and you can throw together a good-old-favourite with an up-market  twist.

Even better, it’s easy to make ahead and heat up in the oven if you want and if you are on a budget it’s cheap too.

Oh… and it tastes great too!

Creamed Mashed Potatoes With Spinach

Ingredients:

2 lbs boiling potatoes, peeled (preferably Yukon Gold)
1/2 cup heavy cream (or skim milk)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces baby spinach (6 cups)

grated cheese (optional)

Method:

Cover potatoes with salted cold water by 1 inch in a large saucepan and simmer, uncovered, until tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

While potatoes are simmering, bring cream, butter, salt, and pepper to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and keep warm, covered.
Drain potatoes in a colander and cool slightly then mash in large saucepan.

Stir spinach into warm cream, tossing to coat, and when slightly wilted (after about 1 minute), immediately add to potatoes.Mash potatoes until almost smooth.
Serve immediately.

– If you are making this in advance, spoon it into an oven dish and heat for about 30 minutes at 200C (400F) The oven dish version is also nice with a sprinkling of grated cheese on top, but that’s an optional extra.

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