Animals Australia: the voice for animals

Animals Australia: the voice for animals
Love life? Love all of life

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Divining colander

A colander is an underrated implement - although, in these days of custom kitchens and up-market appliances, decorator colanders are appearing all over like this Alessi/Stark design pictured above. Colanders are often seen as only for draining things like pasta, rice, and vegetables but another use is to line one with buttered brown paper, fill with cake mixture, and use the result as a skirt for a Dolly Varden cake as my mother once did for a childhood birthday cake.
One of my favourite poets, Rosemary Dobson, has a poem in the latest Australian Book Review on the subject:

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A condiment for a continent?

Something new Miss Eagle found on the supermarket shelf.
Not only is it made in Australia,
it carries the first part of Australia's original European name,

Friday, June 23, 2006

Treat your cucumber nicely

Think about the last time you saw a cucumber served and ready to eat. Perhaps you prepared it yourself. Perhaps it was served by someone else. Miss Eagle and her neighbour, Vanessa, were discussing this the other day. V was visiting The Trad Pad and we were looking at this blog and discussing traditional food and V brought up the subject of the cucumber. We were of like mind. You see, so often cucumber is seen sliced up with its green skin on or the green skin is peeled and the cucumber sliced as is. How absolutely boring and unattractive. V's mother does it just like Miss Eagle's mother and as Miss Eagle does it herself. So we decided we had to be related - because how many others do this? Let's know of your experience with a cucumber! The simple way to an attractive sliced cucumber is to peel the cucumber. Take a fork and run it down the cucumber all the way around. Then slice. Hey presto! For a minute or two's trouble, one is presented with an attractive deckle-edged cucumber.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

No beating, no pricking..please.

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In Miss Eagle's family home, there were two cookery crimes. One was beating meat with a mallet or a rolling pin with the aim of tenderizing it. The other was pricking sausages prior to cooking in the belief that this would prevent sausage meat oozing from its skin. You see, dear Reader, Miss Eagle's father was not only a great cook - as was her mother - but he was a trade-qualified butcher in the early part of the 20th century when the training was quite extensive. On beating steak to tenderize it

Jack O'Carroll, Miss Eagle's father, believed that no amount of beating could make a tough steak tender. In fact, one of the effects of beating steak was to expel the juices from the steak which tenderized it during the cooking process. How to get a tender steak:

  1. Choose a cut of steak appropriate to the cooking process. For instance, topside and round steaks are not grilling steaks. A corner piece of topside makes a very good roast. Sliced topside and round steak are best cooked slowly in casseroles, stews, and curries. Similarly, one would not bother to use Scotch or Rib Fillet or Eye Fillet in a casserole. These cuts are best suited to grilling or pan frying (dry frying). Rump Steak is quite versatile. It is a superb grilling steak. As a whole rump, it can be a beautiful roast. Sliced, it can go well in a casserole. However, rump is usually more expensive than topside or round so one would not bother using such a cut in a casserole when a less expensive cut would do as well.
  2. Understand how to cook meat. Understand the cuts of beef. In this day and age, there is a great demand for lean beef. Fat marbled through beef is what contributes to its tenderness. The way a side of beef is hung by a butcher and the length of time it is aged contributes to its tenderness. Miss Eagle, as her father and grandfather (a livestock auctioneer) before her, has a preference for beef from Poll Shorthorn cattle. Indeed, Miss Eagle believes the beast should not have to walk far to eat and its food should be unstinted lush green grass. Such a beast produces beef that is not red but purple with creamy specks of fat marbled through it. Now that is tender beef.

On pricking a sausage to prevent it oozing

  1. In these modern times, sausage casings can vary from the natural product to the synthetic. Again, the secret is to learn about sausages. Know what a quality sausage is. And you can't go past a German butcher to teach you. Miss Eagle's paternal grandmother always had a German butcher hovering in the background.
  2. Learn how to cook a sausage. Pricking sausages does not prevent oozing if your sausage is cooked incorrectly or the casing of poor quality.
  3. To cook a sausage properly and well, pour a small quantity of Extra Virgin Olive Oil across the base of a heavy frying pan. Place the sausages in the pan. Turn them to coat them in oil. Then place them on the hotplate or burner and turn on the heat. Yes, start cooking the sausages cold and turn up the heat slowly and gently. Heat is applied slowly and gently so that the sausages adjust slowly to the cooking process. Only when the sausages have plumped up gently in this way can the heat be turned up further to complete the browning and cooking process. In this way, you will have a fat, juicy sausage which does not pop its skin.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Banana in Coconut

Banana in Coconut is a favourite nibble of Miss Eagle. It is like a lolly or a sweetmeat it is so lovely. She serves it with curries as a sambal or accompaniment. In fact, this is one of the reasons why Miss Eagle loves to serve curries at parties. She loves the line-up: the curries, the sambals, the breads, the chutneys. Anyway, the Banana in Coconut is quite simple. Cut the banana diagonally into nice slices, dip in lemon juice (this prevents the bananas turning brown), roll in dessicated coconut. Smack your lips with satisfaction!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Patrick and The Butterfly Cakes

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Our friend Parick turned up at the jollities at The Trad Pad yesterday with a tray of butterfly cakes. Butterfly cakes are made from Fairy Cakes by cutting the top off the cake, cutting that slice in half, topping the cake with cream, placing the pieces of cake in the cream like wings. In addition, Patrick has used some Strawberry Jam and you can top the lot with powdered icing sugar. Scrumptious!

Pane e cioccolata : Bread and chocolate

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Pane e cioccolata : Bread and chocolate

Much jollity at The Trad Pad on Sunday. Piece de resistance was the Bread and Chocolate Pudding from Steve Manfredi's recipe. If you are looking for a pudd that is great hot or cold; is lush and luxurious and yet traditional - then this is it. It is a bread pudding with the bread smothered in cream, mixed with a wonderful egg mixture, and laced with chocolate. It is served with a chocolate sauce which is to die for - and the easiest chocolate sauce ever. Refer to this chocolate sauce frequently because, being so easy, you will use it with everything.

Here is the recipe:

Warm bread and chocolate pudding

Moisten 400g of bread (crusts cut off, chopped in small pieces) in a bowl with 300ml of cream. Roast 100g of blanched almonds until they're golden and roughly chop them. Beat 2 egg yolks with 50g of vanilla sugar until pale. Whisk 2 egg whites with 50g of vanilla sugar to form stiff peaks. Add the almonds to the bread, along with the grated rind of an orange, the egg yolks and egg whites, and 80g of chopped dark chocolate. Butter six ramekins (or one pudding bowl) and spoon the mixture in. Bake in a preheated 160C oven for 40 minutes. Serve warm with chocolate sauce.

Chocolate sauce

Heat 250ml of single cream in a small saucepan. Roughly chop 300g of good chocolate and place in a bowl. When the cream is just about to boil, take it from the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for 30 seconds so the chocolate melts, then mix it well with a fork or a small whisk until it becomes smooth and shiny. The chocolate sauce is now ready to be used. Any leftover sauce can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator and can be remelted carefully by bringing a pot of water to the boil, putting the bowl containing the chocolate over the pot and slowly melting it. Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not sit in the boiling water.

Miss Eagle's notes: Because we had a large number of guests, Miss Eagle didn't use ramekins. Instead she made a double mixture and baked it in a huge dish. She did not include the almonds since we are not all that keen on them at The Trad Pad. Next time, to make it more luxurious and tasty, Miss Eagle will add a liqueur. Go to the link and you will find suggestions for what liqueur you might use. Miss Eagle served the pudd warm but went back for seconds when it was cold - and, if anything, it was even better.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Beef Olives

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When Miss Eagle was but an eaglet and doing Domestic Science classes in Grades 7 and 8, one of the earliest items in the repertoire was Beef Olives. This was the time when the Sunday Roast and Three Veg reigned supreme. The height of culinary achievement in the Australian home at that time was the baked dinner. Now Beef Olives is a way of doing a simple baked dinner - a baked dinner on a budget, a baked dinner that did not take as long as the Sunday joint, a baked dinner simplified. In this day and age, it is even simpler to do. The Kitchen Whizz/Food Processor takes care of the seasoning/stuffing. A convection oven - or even a microwave - can speed up the cooking time. Here is Miss Schauer's classic recipe.

Lay out flat 1 1/2lb of topside, badebone, or round steak, cut thin. Beat with a wet rolling pin to soften fibre. Cut steak into square pieces 4 in. x 4 in. Spread with a dessertspoon of minced bacon and shredded carrot, and dessertspoon of minced onion with a pinc of saslt and pepper. Cover smoothly with a thin layer of stuffing, made by soaking a cup of fresh breadcrumbs and a tablespoon of finely-cut parsley, seasoned with pepper and salt, mixed together with 2 tablespoons hot milk. Roll round carefully (neatly). tie in middle and ends with twine or fine string. Brown quicky in pan, in a little hot fat, all over. Place in casserole, pie-dish, or thick saucepan. Cover closely. Cook slowly about 2 hours in oven or on top of stove. Remove rolls, place on hot meat-dish. Arrange a tablespoon of hot cooked green pease between the rolls, showing on top of rolls, or a 4 in. slice of cooked carrot. Pour a teaspoon of melted margarine over vegetables. Garnish side with sliced tomato, with a touch of shredded lettuce on each and shredded lettue at end of dish.
NOTE:- The stuffing may be placed on one half of the steak, the other half folded over to form a sandwich. Prepare, cook and serve as above.
Fibre of meat may be softened by probing surface with edge of thin saucer, or end of rolling pin before stuffing and rolling.
Miss Eagle's Notes: After removing the Olives from the frying pan after browning, Miss Eagle makes a nice brown gravy (remember NO GRAVOX) using a little Parisian Essence to darken the gravy if necessary. The gravy can have additional liquid so it is rather thin. Pour the gravy over the Olives in the casserole dish and place in oven. The gravy will reduce and thicken. Keep an eye on the gravy so that it doesn't simmer away. Because of the gravy, Miss Eagle likes mashed potatoes with her Olives, along with some cauliflower and minted peas.

Biscuit dough

This is Miss Eagle's favourite biscuit dough. It is scrumptious.
These were cut into leaf shapes for World Environment Day
Ingredients: 2 1/4 cups plain flour; 1/2 teaspoon salt; 1 cup caster sugar; 1 cup softened butter; 1 egg; 2 teaspoons vanilla; 2 tablespoons sugar for sprinkling
Method: Combine all ingredients except the last. Blend well. Chill for easier handling. Roll out on floured surface, half at a time, to 1/8" thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool
Note: Wrapped in plastic or clingfilm this dough will keep in the fridge. You can freeze it, too. This means it is great for making ahead, say mixing on the weekend and then baking fresh in a few minutes during the week.

Monday, June 12, 2006

On the menu 2: Oxtail Stew

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Oxtail Stew is highly nutritious: meat, bones, and vegetables.

Once upon a time, an oxtail was bought whole - so that the purchased would get the large thick bones from the top of the tail and the fine, thinner ones from the bottom of the tail. Now this can still happen if you have the good fortune to use a good, old fashioned butcher. But if you are used to purchasing your meat at the supermarket all wrapped and stacked, then I need to explain this. Because what can happen with the pre-packaged oxtail is that you may not get the whole tail. This is what happened to Miss Eagle as she purchased her oxtail at Woolworths one weekend when the good old fashioned butcher was closed and the butcher in the shopping mall tried to sell her a pickled ox-tail - whatever that may be. Miss Eagle picked up a pack labelled "Tail" not "Oxtail" and thought it was awfully small. There should be more to it than this. And the bones were small. Miss Eagle looked again and there was another pack on the shelf with the large bones in it - so Miss Eagle had to purchase two packs to make one oxtail. The modern handling of beef!

The picture above shows the whole oxtail lying on a bed of vegetables. Mushrooms were added later. You can, if you wish, throw the oxtail and your choice of vegetables into a big pot and cover with water and salt and simmer away until ready. However, Miss Eagle prefers the following method.

Take a baking pan and layer your vegetables. The very first to go in is Cabbage, sliced and laid across the pan. Other vegetables are, Carrots, sliced into rings, Celery, chopped finely, a few Celery Tops, Onions, Potato, Mushrooms, and Garlic. On top of this place the Oxtail so that it looks like the photograph. Bake in a low oven (about 105 degrees Celsius) for about an hour. If the oxtail is very fatty, the fat will go to the bottom of the pan and can be drained off. Keep an eye on the baking, you don't want the vegetables to catch. Then, add your choice of herbs, don't forget the salt, and put in a large pot and bring to the simmer on the top of the stove. If you have a large cassoulet pot, this could be done in the oven. Now Miss Eagle needs to tell you that she considers Oxtail Stew a two-day event. This is to do the ever so slow cooking on Day 1. Then next day drain off any fat that has solidified on top of the stew before re-heating, thickening the stew with a paste of Plain Flour and water, and serving. With slow cooking food, it is - more often than not - better on Day 2 when you will find a greater enhancement of flavours. When your Oxtail comes to table the meat should be falling off the bone. Now this is beautiful served just with a sourdough bread and butter. However, there are two enhancements that can be made either alone or together. Give the Oxtail a hint of Central Europe by adding sour cream and stirring well in to blend about ten to fifteen minutes prior to serving. The other is to take your favourite scone recipe (see Miss Eagle's Scone Fest recipes) and do one of two things. If you are finishing the stew on your stovetop break off the dough and roll into balls (a bit of parsley is just the thing in these dumplings) place on top of stew and put a lid on top. These will cook in ten to fifteen minutes. Needless to say you do not have to serve bread with this. If you are finishing the stew in the oven, cut out the scones as usual and put on top of the stew. Do not put the lid on the pot. The scone topping will be moist underneath and brown on top and will cook in ten to fifteen minutes if you turn the oven up a little. Bon appetit! Scrumptious!

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Sunday, June 04, 2006

The season for soup

Miss Eagle walked in to Her Upper Gully Woolies yesterday afternoon and, on entering, the fruit & veg department came up against a display which said (without being written in large letters) PEA SOUP. There were ham hocks and packs of soup veges and packs of peas and lentils. Miss Eagle could not resist and Pea Soup was, before too long, on the menu and in the tummy. Here's how.
Ingredients: 2 Ham Hocks, 2 large onions, garlic to taste (Miss E. loves heaps), 1 large carrot, 2 cups of dried green peas, 2 cups of diced celery, 12 cups of water.
Method: Put the Ham Hocks, onions, garlic, and water in a big pot and bring to a simmer. Leave to simmer for about an hour. Remove hocks and remove the skin/rind and dispose. Remove the meat from the bone and cut into bite sized pieces. Return to the water. Miss E. also puts the bare bones back to get the most out of them, but you don't have to. Add the remaining vegetables. Cook for another 45 minutes. Peas should be a little mushy but with whole cooked peas still visible and in shape.
Miss Eagle serves her soup, as you can see from the photograph, over a slice of Phillipa's bread. In this case, her Campagnard Bloomer. Phillipa's bread is arguably the best bread in the whole of Melbourne and here, in the outer south-east, we are privileged to be able to purchase Phillipa's product off the shelf at the local Maxi supermarket here in Upper Gully.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Furi knives

Could someone in the blogosphere please provide me with some information?
Yesterday when Miss Eagle was shopping, she went into a kitchen shop in search of a knife. Her beloved butcher's knife of many decades has gone missing. Thin air. Herself has no idea of what makes a decent culinary knife. So when in a suburban shopping mall and a kitchen shop ahead, Miss Eagle decided to give them a try. There she found a large plastic knife block with four knives and a hand written sign explaining that they were Furi knives reduced from approx $150 to approx $90. The catch was that it should have been a five knife set. The smallest knife was missing. Now my sister, The Director, had been waxing lyrical about the Furi knife just last weekend on a visit from Brisbane. So, for further and better information, Miss Eagle went to the 'net. Miss Eagle could not find anything that looks like her knives. All the images were of those all in one blade & handle in stainless steel jobs. As you can see, Miss Eagle's knives have a black composition handle with grey trim. They have Qu on them with the u having the little dots above the verticals. In addition, the price of the all in one stainless steel jobs bore no relation to the price, even before discount, of the knives Miss Eagle purchased. The former were in the stratosphere, the latter in reasonability.
So the question before you, dear Reader, is what have I purchased? A knock off? A superceded model? Haven't used them yet - but they appear to be quality knives. Please help. Remember: curiousity killed the cat but information brought it back.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Feather Pudding is No. 1

To-day, June 1, marks the official beginning of winter. This is the ideal time for pudds: steamed puddings. Miss Eagle's yummiest favouritest is Miss Schauer's Feather Pudding - 1 with lashings of custard. Yes, there is a Feather Pudding -2 but Miss Eagle has never got past No. 1 because it is wonderful. It has been particularly wonderful this week with the liberal use of Bette Connop's Blood Plum Jam.
Cream 1/4lb butter with same quantity of sugar, add 2 well-beaten eggs (white and yolks beaten separately), 6oz self-raising flour, 1/2 cup milk. Flavour with vanilla. Cover bottom of basin with raspberry jam or golden syrup. Place mixture on. Steam 2 hours quickly. Serve with a suitable sauce.
Cream 4oz butter and 2 tablespoons of syrup together, add 1/2 cup milk with 1/4 teaspoon bi-carb. soda mixed in it. Then add 1 1/2 cups well-sieved self-raising flour. Steam for 2 hours, and serve with a syrup sauce.