Tag Archives: pasta

So Can You Cook? 38

Saturday is Takeaway!

nu⋅tri⋅tion  [noo-trish-uhn,
1.the act or process of nourishing or of being nourished.
2.the science or study of, or a course of study in, nutrition, esp. of humans.
3.the process by which organisms take in and utilize food material.
4.food; nutriment.
5.the pursuit of this science as an occupation or profession.
1375–1425; late ME < LL nūtrītiōn- (s. of nūtrītiō) a feeding, equiv. to L nūtrīt(us) (ptp. of nūtrīre to feed, nourish ) + -iōn- -ion

Related forms:
nu⋅tri⋅tion⋅al, nu⋅tri⋅tion⋅ar⋅y, adjective
nu⋅tri⋅tion⋅al⋅ly, adverb

So, now that we know what nutrition is, we can cast all that aside, and make some decisions about it for ourselves. We are adults…right!

It doesn’t matter whether you watch the morning programs on tv, or the so-called current affairs programs at night, there is bound to be someone, at some stage, telling you what you should, or more often than not, should not eat. I don’t know about you, but I get a bit sick of it. Okay, I don’t eat the super diet that I supposedly should be consuming, but my diet, by and large,isn’t all that bad. I do cook my own meals 4-5 nights a week, and they do usually involve salads, meat, poultry, fish, fruit and vegetables, so they are what I consider to be reasonably balanced. I eat breakfast, I have a light lunch, and that on its own is pretty good going as far as I’m concerned. However, I refuse to be a food nazi, someone who views food as ‘just fuel for the body’, or an out and out vegetarian or vegan. I like meat, and no one with a sense of rightious superiority is going to tell me that I shouldn;t eat it. I don’t believe in diets (and aren’t there some idiotic diets out there!), nor do I believe in stupid trends like ‘detox’ diets. Anyone with half a brain knows that the kidneys and liver are there specifically to do that – detox. If they are working properly, they don’t need any help, though those making money out of the products probably don’t agree.

But what it really boils down, anda point that is often ignored, is to enjoy eating, making it a pleasure and something that can be used to help you wind down and relax. My lazy night of the week is Saturday night. I don’t cook – full-stop. It can be a pizza, or hamburgers, or fish & chips or even – heaven forbid – one of the three or four times a year when I will say “let’s do Hungry Jacks”. But we do it, and we enjoy it because we are not doing it all the time. And as for comfort foods, well they are just that, as are junk foods provided they aren’t the be all and end all of your diet. I enjoy my “Krispy Kremes”, and my potato chips and chocolate (Mmm), and during winter my hot chocolate with a couple of ‘Tim Tams’,
and nobody is going to make me feel guilty about it. I drink full-cream milk, eat full-fat cheese and have about 4-6 eggs a week (not to mention the bacon I often have it with). And it is the enjoyment aspect of it that I like to emphasise. I eat healthy meals on most occasions, and I can see absolutely nothing wrong with a treat or a comfort food being thrown in there when I feel like it. It is all about balance, and not feeling guilty about having a little extra something here or there.

So, the following recipes are for for the 4-5 nights a week when we do eat healthy, nutitious meals – what we do the rest of the time is nobodies business…so enjoy.

A couple of these are from my favourite Aussie chef Bill Grainger.

Toasted Grain & Nut Cereal:
125g unsalted butter
¾ cup honey
1½ teaspoons vanilla essence
500g rolled oats
1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup shredded coconut
¾ cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
1 cup rye flakes (try Health Food stores)
1 cup chopped, dried fruit such as sultanas, apricots or apples

Preheat oven to 170°C. Place butter, honey and essence in s small saucepan. Cook gently over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until honey and butter are combined. Place remaining ingredients, except fruit, in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Slowly stir in the butter mixture, making sure that each grain is evenly coated. Spread the cereal over a large baking tray and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the grains are crisp and very lightly browned.. Stir occasionally to stop mixture sticking to the baking dish.
Remove cereal from oven and allow to cool. Add dried fruit, and stir through evenly.
The muesli can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
MAKES 1.5 kg

Goat’s Cheese and Lentil Salad w/Roasted Beetroot
4 medium-sized beetroots
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
! Cup of Puy lentils
¼ cup diced Spanish onion
¼ cup seeded and diced tomato
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
To serve:
Mint leaves
8 asparagus spears, blanched and cooled
200g goat’s cheese
Extra-virgin olive oil, to drizzle

Preheat oven to 220°C. Place beetroot in a small baking dish and drizzle with the olive oil, salt & pepper. Cover with foil, place in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a knife. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Set aside.
Placelentils with 1½ cups water in a medium saucepan, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain.
Place warm lentils, Spanish onion, tomato, extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, salt 7 pepper in a bowl, stir and set aside.
Peel beetroots by rubbing gently with your hands (I recommend using gloves, and wear an apron) until they come off. Slice beetroot vertically into 1cm thick slices.
Stir mint & parsley through lentils.
To serve, Divide lentils amonst 4 plates, top with a few sprigs of mint and the asparagus. Slice goat’s cheese into generous slices and place on top. Add beetroot, and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

Spicy Chicken Salad with Lime:
4 Chicken breast fillets
Olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cucumber
1 cup coriander
1 cup mint leaves
1 teaspoon ground Szechuan peppercorns (spice section of supermarket)
1 tablespoon fish sauce (or to taste)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
To serve;
2 cups finely shredded iceberg lettuce
Lime wedges

Preheat oven to 200°C. Brush chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown chicken in a frying pan, then transfer to a baking dish. Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until the juice runs clear when pierced with a knife or skewer. Remove from the oven, and leave to rest for 20 minutes. Shred chicken into strips.
Slice the cucumber in half lengthways, and remove seeds using a teaspoon and discard. Slice thinly on the diagonal.
Place chicken, cucumber, coriander and mint in a large bowl. Sprinkle with Szechuan pepper, fish sauce, sesame oil, lime juice and spring onion and toss until well combined.
To serve, divide iceberg lettuce among 4 plates and pile chicken mixture on top. Serve with extra lime wedges.

Fresh Tomato Pasta:
1kg vine-ripened tomatoes
1 tablespoon sea salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
300g spaghetti
1 cup lightly packed basil leaves, torn
To serve;
Parmigiano Reggiano

Score a cross in the base of each tomato. Place tomatoes in a large bowl and pour boiling water over them. Drain after 10 seconds, then peel the skin away from the cross. Halve the tomatoes, and squeeze to remove the seeds and excess juice (or use a teaspoon to scoop them out). Chop tomato flesh roughly, place in a sieve over a bowl and sprinkle with sea salt. Leave to drain for 30 minutes.
Place drained tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and zest, garlic chilli and pepper in a bowl and stir. Leave for 20 minutes for flavours to combine.
Cook the spaghetti in rapidly boiling salted water according to packet instructions, Drain well. Toss through the tomatoes with torn basil leaves and serve with freshly shaved Parmigiano Reggiano

Tim Alderman
Copyright 2014


So Can You Cook? 40

The End

This is my final column in the ‘So can you cook?’ series. I have been doing the column for six years now and feel it is time to draw it to a close before I start repeating what has already been done.
I have enjoyed my time with the column. I hope that in some way I have inspired people to be a bit more creative with cooking and that I have shown that you don’t need a long list of degrees to be able to produce good food. It is an art, yes! But it is also an art that is accessible to everyone and is versatile enough to be a bit complicated when you want to impress or simple enough for an everyday meal – from the charcoal sketch to the oils I guess you might say.
I also hope I have introduced some to new flavours and encouraged people to be a bit adventuresome in their approach to cuisine. The amount of produce now available in Australia is truly staggering, and it is now possible to recreate any recipe from any cuisine totally authentically.
We have certainly come a long way in the last 40 odd years! The embracing of our place in the Asian section of the Pacific has also opened up a whole world of food to us and I think that the way we have taken to Asian food from all such countries shows just how adaptable we are with absorbing the influences of other cultures. And we will no longer settle for watered down or ‘Australianised’ versions of the cuisines. We want the genuine article. Just try to get into Thai Pothong in Newtown on a Friday or Saturday night if you want to see a good example. And no suburb is now complete without a Thai and a Vietnamese restaurant.
This column has also given me a way to comment on things from a personal perspective, often not in a PC way, which I don’t apologise for. I’m afraid that you haven’t gotten rid of me with the ending of this column. I hope to continue to contribute via articles and hopefully still in my outspoken style.
I have been writing for Talkabout in one form or another for about 13 years now. I have always been a strong supporter of the magazine and whether I was or wasn’t writing for it I would still be one of its strongest advocates. I feel that the non-clinical, non-professional (or expert) and non-conformist voices in our community are entitled to an outlet and Talkabout has always provided that forum.
With the closing and sale of my business, and the cutting back of other commitments the most common thing I find I am being asked is “How are you going to fill in time?”. I will continue to research my family history, which has been ongoing for about 20 years now (and thankfully easier with the advent of the internet) and, after many years of nagging from friends and people who have heard my story through the PSB, I am finally going to put an autobiography together.
My life has been interesting (to say the least) and not without the usual dramas associated with surviving AIDS and having my roots in a dysfunctional family. I will probably take myself off to do a few more courses in writing and cooking, and I will have a bit more time to keep my home tidy and together, and get my garden back in order. One thing I can promise, I won’t be bored.
I would like to thank everyone who has read and supported my column over this time. I think that the best way to leave the column is with a bit of a bang by repeating some of my favourite recipes from the last six years. I’m desperately trying NOT to make them all chocolate…

Rich Chocolate Tart (from No 12)

125g cold unsalted butter, chopped
1 tablespoon caster sugar
200g (1 1/3 cups) plain flour
2 tablespoons cocoa (Dutch, if you want a richer flavour)
2 egg yolks

Process butter, sugar, flour and cocoa in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add egg yolks and 1½ tablespoons iced water, and process until pastry just comes together. Form pastry into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface until 5mm thick and ease into a 3.5cm deep 24cm tart tin with removable base, trimming edge. Line pastry case with baking paper and fill with pastry weights, dried beans or rice. Place on a baking tray and bake at 180°C for 20 minutes, then remove paper and weights and bake another 5 minutes until pastry is dry. Cool.

300g dark couverture chocolate, chopped
100ml double cream
125g unsalted butter, chopped
4 eggs
100g caster sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup

Combine chocolate, cream and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir continuously until butter is melted and mixture is well combined, then remove bowl from heat and set aside. Using an electric mixer, whisk eggs, sugar and golden syrup until pale and creamy, then fold into chocolate mixture. Pour into tart shell, then bake at 150°C for 35–40 minutes or until just set. Cool tart to room temperature before serving with double cream (optional). Tart will keep, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 4 days – if it lasts that long.

Thai Beef Salad (from No 22)

1/3 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons grated palm sugar or soft brown sugar
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander
1 stem lemongrass (white part only) finely chopped
2 small red chillies, finely sliced (remove seeds if you want milder)
2 x 200g beef eye fillet steaks
150g mixed salad leaves
½ red onion, sliced into fine wedges
½ cup coriander leaves
1/3 cup torn mint leaves
250g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 Lebanese cucumber, halved and thinly sliced

Mix lime juice, fish sauce, palm sugar, garlic, chopped coriander, lemongrass and chilli until the sugar has dissolved.
Preheat barbie chargrill plate to medium-high direct heat and cook the steaks for 4 minutes each side or until medium. Let cool then slice thinly across the grain.
Put the salad leaves, onion, coriander, mint, tomatoes and cucumber in a large bowl, add the beef and dressing. Toss together and serve immediately.

Banana Cake with Passionfruit Icing (from No 23)
125g butter, softened
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1½ cups self-raising flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 cup mashed banana (preferably over-ripe)
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup milk

Preheat oven to moderate 180°C. Grease 15cm x 25cm loaf pan, lining base with baking paper.
Beat butter and sugar in a small mixing bowl with electric beater until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl, using a wooden spoon and stir in sifted dry ingredients, banana, sour cream and milk. Spread mixture into prepared pan.
Bake cake in moderate oven for about 50 minutes. Stand cake in pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto wire rack to cool. Spread with passionfruit icing.

Passionfruit Icing
1½ cups icing sugar mixture (a mix of icing sugar and cornflour)
1 teaspoon soft butter
2 tablespoons passionfruit pulp (approx)

Place icing sugar in a small heatproof bowl, stir in butter and enough pulp to make a firm paste. Stir over hot water until icing is of spreading consistency, taking care not to overheat. Use immediately.

Chinese Beef and Asparagus with Oyster Sauce (from No 17)
500g lean beef fillet, thinly sliced across the grain
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
2½ tablespoons vegetable oil
200g fresh, thin asparagus cut into thirds on the diagonal
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons julienned fresh ginger (fine slice)
¼ cup chicken stock
2–3 tablespoons oyster sauce

Place beef in a glass or plastic bowl with soy sauce, sesame oil and two teaspoons of Chinese cooking wine. Cover and marinate for at least 15 minutes.
Heat a wok over high heat, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and swirl to coat the wok. Add asparagus and stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Remove from wok.
Add another tablespoon of oil and add the beef in two batches, stir frying for 20 minutes or until cooked. Remove from wok.
Add remaining oil to wok, add garlic and ginger and stir fry for 1 minute or until fragrant. Pour the stock, oyster sauce and remaining cooking wine into wok, bring to boil and boil rapidly for 1–2 minutes or until sauce is slightly reduced. Return beef and asparagus to the wok and stir fry for a further minute or until heated through and coated with the sauce.
Serve immediately with Jasmine rice.

Waldorf Salad with a Twist (from No 34)
4 Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 cup walnuts, chopped
2 cups watercress sprigs

Blue Cheese dressing
¼ cup whole-egg mayonnaise
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
Sea salt & cracked black pepper
100g soft blue cheese, chopped

To make the blue cheese dressing, place the mayonnaise, lemon juice, water, salt, pepper and blue cheese in the bowl of a small food processor and process until smooth.
Arrange the apple, celery, walnuts and watercress on serving plates and spoon over the dressing to serve.

Serves 4

Oysters with Lemon & Vodka Granita (from No 34)
½ cup caster sugar
2½ cups water
½ cup lemon juice
⅓ cup vodka
18 oysters
Lemon wedges, to serve

Place the sugar, water, lemon juice and vodka in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the granite mixture into a shallow 20cm x 30cm metal pan and place in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the granita from the freezer and use a fork to take the top off and freeze for a further hour. Repeat every hour for 3-4 hours or until set.
Grate the granita with a fork to produce snow, and fill tiny shot glasses.
Serve with the oysters and lemon wedges.

Serves 6

Tim Alderman

Copyright 2014