26 2019 Jul

Friday 26th July 2019

PUMPKIN. There are many different pumpkin ‘styles’ on the market. Trial and error is the only way to find the one that suits your palate, purse and cooking style. Anyway, all of ‘em have all – or most of – the good things we need. They can be cooked in a variety of ways without harm to either you or them. But don’t be over-adventurous with too many strong flavours or you’ll lose the pumpkin’s own taste. They are a native of America but the world now owns them.

I’ve given you a simple recipe idea, which you can top with puff pastry or filo or even cheese which you can melt under the griller. Don’t be frightened to stir in onion or green leaves. Just be careful of the amount of cumin.

Of course there’s Pumpkin Pie and Pumpkin Soup, but no doubt you’ve got your own ideas for those. Just remember, whole pumpkin keeps better longer than pumpkin pieces, but to keep pumpkin pieces in the fridge, sprinkle them with ground black pepper – they’ll last longer.

Mashed Pumpkin.

Cut the peeled pumpkin into large chunks and boil it till it’s really soft – about 15 minutes. Drain off the water then, whilst the pumpkin is still warm, mash it and whisk into it some butter. If you’ve used a kilo of pumpkin you should use about 100 g butter. Also some ground white pepper and a sprinkle of cumin – but don’t overdo the cumin. You can add a little salt too if you wish. Do this quickly so the pumpkin is still warm, then spoon it into a warm serving dish, drizzle with a little olive oil and serve. Or top with pastry or cheese as I’ve described above.

Friday 19th July 2019

This is another recipe idea I have asked Jan to forward to Tarik, our grandson, who is acting, dancing and singing in London’s West End. He can make a large quantity of the ‘Thai style stew’ which gets better with age. It’s easy for him to prepare in the first instance and all he has to do once he gets home is warm it up (that’s the food, not his companion).

I realise, dear reader, you may not dance though you will want to after you’ve tasted this, but you may want something you can pop on a plate when you come home from whatever activity you’ve participated in.

THAI STYLE STEW. 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped; 2 coriander roots, finely chopped; 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper; 1 tablespoon olive oil; 700 g pork cut into 2.5 cm cubes; 3 1/2 cups stock or water; 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce; 3 tablespoons fish sauce; 2 tablespoons sugar; 6 hard-boiled eggs, shelled; 4 – 6 beancurd pieces.

Grind together the garlic, coriander roots and ground black pepper in a blender if you have one, or a mortar and pestle, then fry the mixture in the oil for a minute in a large heavy saucepan. Toss in the pork pieces and fry them for a couple of minutes, tossing them to absorb some of the flavour. Pour in enough water or stock to come about 2.5 cm above the pieces of pork. Add the soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar, then add the hard-boiled eggs and simmer for an hour, skimming the top of the stew if necessary. The eggs will turn dark brown. Toss in the pieces of beancurd and cook for a few minutes before serving. This amount of stew should serve about 6 people.

Friday 12th July 2019

Did you know that Jim the Greek was the first person to invent ‘nasiums’? Because Jim was a very enterprising bloke, today nasiums are known as ‘gymnasiums’ right across the world. And if I’m lifting too much weight up to my mouth I exercise – I do anyway. You see, half a kilo of fat is three and a half thousand calories and to lose half a kilo of fat in a week isn’t easy, but achievable. If you lose an excessive amount of weight obviously you become thin and your pants fall down, as will your metabolism not being able to cope with the sudden change. So be sensible.

Now, did you also know that the Greeks are amongst the world’s best cooks? That’s why they made Greek Gods out of humans. Exercise and good food. But just before we get onto the food, check with your medico before doing anything vigorous, but don’t use that as an excuse to sit around eating things you know you shouldn’t.

Now I know that Taramasalata (Tarama salad) has lots of olive oil but, remember, you don’t eat buckets of it, and remember too you’re exercising. (Also, forget the commercially made stuff and make your own, you’ll be delighted with the taste difference.)

P.S. I serve a dollop of Taramasalata and a spoonful of Chinese Plum Sauce with a prawn which I’ve cooked in a frying pan with a little butter and olive oil.

TARAMASALATA.

125g tarama (salted cod roe, obtainable at continental delicatessens); 1 small onion, finely chopped; 1 1/2 cups good quality Italian olive oil; 4 slices of bread, trimmed of crust; juice of 2 lemons.

Mash the tarama and put it into your blender with the finely chopped onion, the olive oil and the lemon juice. Soak the bread in water, squeeze the water out of it, and crumble that into the blender as well. Pop the lid on and blend it. When the taramasalata is smooth and a pale pink colour, pour it into a dish, pop it onto a biscuit or serve it with warm fresh bread.

Friday 5th July

I’ve just finished reading an article in the Tumut and Adelong Times which the Tumut radio station ‘Sounds of the Mountains’ send me each week. The article ‘Youngest players lead the way’ told of the region’s young hockey players.

Now I played hockey all my adult life. And so am besotted with the game. Oh, how I wish Tumut had had a hockey team when I was a whipper-snapper growing up there.

I remember doing an ABC programme where I interviewed the greatest hockey player Australia had produced. Mike Craig was the great guy whom I introduced to my son who was also a hockey player (on his way up), First I asked Mike to explain how one actually hit the ball with a hockey stick.

“Well,” he said, “you only play with the flat side of the stick. You have to be flexible for good close control so you can turn your stick instantly in any direction to play the ball without hitting with the back of the stick. Some blokes just push the ball, they don’t hit it. With practice you can develop a strong push for shooting at goal or a ground pass. Firmly push and flick the stick out after the ball. It’s really a bit like a golf shot or a cricket shot with perhaps a bit more wrist. You’re not allowed to play the ball above your shoulder. The ball must drop to the ground unless it’s out in the clear where you can play it in the air without decapitating six players in one swipe.”

I asked Mike to demonstrate how he got a ball past an opponent. “Start dribbling the ball with the flat of the stick. When you actually tackle, confuse your opponent keeping him or her unsure of which way you’ll turn your stick. And keep your stick in contact with the ball. But remember, don’t give away what you’re going to do. Learn the flick – run along dribbling the ball and then smartly flick it off the end of the stick. The important thing is to trick them – look as if you’re going to pass, and then simply go around the other way.”

I left Mike for the kitchen and made what I called a ‘Hockey Burger’ for the camera. And, as I’ve written about that recipe before, I’ll give a different version of it today. Cooking is like hockey, play the game as people expect but turn the expected into the unexpected, but not outrageously so the umpire gets his whistle working.

ANOTHER TYPE OF HOCKEY BURGER.

1 crispy roll per person; butter, sprinkled lightly with tumeric; small pinch of Sumac*; 1/2 cup diced cooked lamb, either hot or cold; 1 tablespoon plain yoghurt; 1 spring onion, sliced; shredded lettuce; black olive for garnish.

Cut the bread roll in half and pull out the inside of the rounded half. Tumeric and butter the inside of the roll, sprinkle with Sumac and pop in the diced lamb, Spoon on the yoghurt, drop on three or four slices of spring onion then cover with shredded lettuce. Garnish with a pitted black olive.

*Sumac is the dried flesh of a berry grown in the Middle East. Try it!

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