Thursday, December 30, 2010

Readers Favourities or Requests Only !!!!!!!

Can't say I've really earnt it but it has been good having a few days from cooking. Big thank you goes out to all who did the cooking in the last few days it has been lovely. And now I'm inspired again. Time to create.

The last two days have been requests only. Readers of my little blog (thank you to all of you), a few in particular have requested a few favourites from their reading. The oven roasted sausage dish and the chicken nuggets (mainly as the number of mini critics have now increased ten-fold - no pressure here).

Since my time off has started, the oc has been really nice to me. Hmmmm. I'm a little scared.

The oven roasted sausage dish went down well with all. Raving reviews all round and no bloody paddle pop lion to be seen. Yeah baby. Eat my dust Mr Paddle Pop. You know he's just wanting in the wings to smash me at some point now that I've said that.

Tonight was the sesame chicken nuggets, which have become better everytime I do them. Loads of love go out to my wife and partner in crime, who without her help tonight no of this could have been possible. But with the stress of cooking for 10 people (I know 10 people ain't that much) I have come alive. I enjoyed it. And I get wait to cook for my family.

The oc, as she is now known, still showered me with enough praise, just. She's let me know there is room to improve and that she is happy so far with how things are going.

It's going to be a bumpy ride as I'm hoping to push boundaries in the last remaining weeks.

Here goes nothing.

Welcome to the New Year one and all.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to All. And to All a Good Night.

Not much to report tonight people. I didn't cook tonight due to a huge family feast at my brother and sister inlaws house. Prepared by said sister in law and mother in law. Thank you both for a fantastic meal. And a thank you to the brother in law for the beer.

To the only thing that I created yesterday which was the cherry choc honeycomb ice cream. Tried it tonight and perfecto beautiful. To me I would have skipped the choc honeycomb and added more cherries but I suppose you have to give these things a try.

To the next few weeks an idea or two has come through my wife buying me a cookbook with Spanish recipes. Love Spanish food so I will try to recreate as best I can.

And yes I will still be trying to create my fake chicken skin. Maybe over the next few weeks I'll try it out on a few people. Hehehe.Fun times. And I'll even manage to get one or two friends if it works You know who you are !!!

Well the day is done and I am officially full. Although I am sitting here drink a fine ale while eating a few chips. A think I've earned both.

I hope everyone has had a great Christmas like my family and I have. Hope you shared it with family and friends. And I wish you all a Merry Christmas.

2 choc chip cookies, 1 carrot and a glass of milk !!!

"Oh my god ! Oh my god ! 1 sleep to go it's nearly Christmas."

Surprisingly my 3 year old daughter was very quiet on the Christmas front. I don't think that's going to last long. As you might or might not probably be thinking "What did he do for the night before Christmas ?"

Well let me tell you. The day started with my wife making Christmas themed gingerbread men and women and for me it started with cherry and chocolate honeycomb ice cream. Wow you might be saying. But before you go a bit too far and start proclaiming how good I am for a bloke and a husband to boot I learnt a little trick from my family. Why go the trouble in making the ice cream when others can do it for you.

Yes sadly to say the ice cream is store bought and I can't even tell my family that I made it because they saw me bring it in. So you get a 2 litre of vanilla ice cream, leave it out of the freezer for a little while just till it gets soft. Grab yourself roughly 150grams of cherries without the pips and roughly chop. Then get 100grams of chocolate honeycomb, place in a plastic bag, and with a rolling pin proceed to smash the crap out of it. Oh yeah that's what I'm talking about ! Mix the cherries and honeycomb together then add to the ice cream and mix. Oh, by the way, take the ice cream out of it's container and place in a large bowl. After mixing put it back together in the original container.

Put it all back in the freezer and leave for about 12 hours. So at the moment no-one can vouch for how good it's going to taste. Fingers crossed.

Now for dinner the easy part. I have been rostered off for the next two days. Woohoo. God it feels so amazing not to have go back into the kitchen. Don't get me wrong. Going in there, getting your hands dirty and seeing the end product come out is a great feeling but as I've only been cooking for 2 weeks it's good to get out. I don't know how my wife does it night in night out.

But I do have prepared my world famous breakfast smoothie for tomorrow. Well not prepared as it would be off by tomorrow morning but ingredients ready.

It takes: 2 cup of cherries, again without the pips, 1 litre of orange juice, ice and 1 cup of vanilla yogurt. Put all in a blender and ta da. Done.

Well to all who are reading this blog, I wish you a Merry and safe Christmas.

P.S. I did have a night snack made by my daughter. 2 choc chip cookies (I'm playing as Santa), 1 carrot (I'm also one of his reindeer) and a glass of milk (Santa again).

Friday, December 24, 2010

Nothing to write home about ! No really nothing !!

Dinner last night was non existent. Literally non existent. I had a lovely prepared chicken marinade from again another kiddy friendly cook book. Of course it assured me that your young one would eat this up until there was nothing on the plate. Well we all know this to be false.

Although it led me to an idea of writing a sarcastic kiddy cook book. Every recipe guaranteed 100% satisfaction from your child or children. Get the parents running around to make the meals and then comes the satisfaction I would get from knowing children wouldn't even go close to eating anything in the book. Haha. Nasty..

Anyway back to last night's meal. Everything was ready to go. The rice was cooking away. The chicken marinade was out of the fridge and smelling fantastic. The marinade was made of soy, honey,garlic, salt and pepper and lemon juice. Score the chicken breasts and season then marinade for 2 hours.

Then I went to cook it. It was after cooking for a few minutes, I and then the editor realised there was a funny smell coming from the grill. It was smelling of cleaning product. Goddamn ! I had cleaned this thoroughly a few days ago and made sure it was clean before I started cooking. With an explosion of fury both vocal and physical I let fly on the chicken. I didn't throw the grill plate but I felt like it. I kept my voice down and told the grill exactly what I thought of it.

Would have looked funny after I look back on it. A grown man giving a grill plate what for.

Dinner last night was: Rice. Hmm. Yummy and filling.

I'll tell you this. There is only so much rice you can eat before you get sick of it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

McNuggets anyone ??

The day started this time, thanks to me not cooking breakfast, quite well. My wife and daughter had an enjoyable breakfast.

Remember the problem laden chicken nuggets I attempted as I think my second dish ? Thanks to this blog I can't forget. Well I had a few left over, stored in the freezer from the last time so I thought it time to finish them off. Now if only I had a slingshot !!

The recipe for this meal is inspired from a kid's recipe book so I see no reason as to why my daughter wouldn't like them. Which surprises me because I've tried a few kid friendly recipes which are meant to be easy for them to eat and introduces them to favours and tastes. Load of bollocks really if you ask me. They definitely get her interested in helping me but eating is another all together. The only food she loves helping us with and then enjoys eating just as much is anything cake like. But I digress. As along as I don't burn them we should be sweet.

Never...

I had help this time. My wife was kind enough to nominate herself to help me with the prep as I was off trying to bribe the critic with a buttercup toy from Toy Story 3. I came home to prep already done beautifully.

This time I had the oil heated just perfectly which helped when I put the nuggets in. This time no burning of sesame seeds. No burnt smell.

They cooked perfectly. They were golden in colour and tasted great. I had about 8. My wife 5 and my daughter  1.5 which took the entire dinner to consume. She ate the rice though. After finishing her nugget and a bit, I asked her if she liked the chicken. She looked at me and said quite simply...

"No" and then preceded to walk back in to her toy room.

One minor victory. At least she tried it. She might not have liked it. But she tried it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Look at my eyes ! They've gone red !

Last night I had a vision of breakfast. Oh boy was it good. Tasted fantastic. Looked great. Then I made it this morning.

My vision was to be a quick and slightly quirky take on the old scrambled eggs and toast.

Ingredients were flour tortillas, eggs, butter, chili, spring onion and a red capsicum. Cut or rip up two flour tortillas and cook them in a pan till they start going golden, add the egg mixture, chili, spring onion and capsicum. And cook until the eggs are scrambled. Then hey presto. It's done.

Note for this following along at home. Cut the spring onion, chili, and capsicum finely. Don't leave them to chunky. If you do you'll get a mouthful of fresh chili, slightly warm and with a whole lot of kick. This happened and it wasn't pretty.

Also make sure you keep the tortillas in until they go golden and crispy or else you'll get soggy egg tasting used to resemble tortillas.

Always wash your hands after you have dealt with chili. I love chili and have cooked with it alot. So this basic rule I know but unfortunately I was more focused on the soggy remainders of my tortillas and how bad I had stuffed up to remember it. I spent the next 20 minutes of the day washing my eyes out trying to get rid of the sting.

At least the critic and editor enjoyed the scrambled eggs that didn't contain any of the said above "extra" ingredients. Sweat and tears people. Sweat and tears.

So feeling great about the day so far dinner was another new recipe. I knew that the critic was not going to enjoy it but we want her to try as many new foods and tastes as possible. So we keep trying. One day she'll surprise us.

Dinner was Homemade Red Curry Pork Patties. The title told me that the critic wouldn't enjoy it but hey you never know unless you try. A motto I try to live by.

The meal itself took less than 20 minutes to prepare and took about 10 minutes to cook. So was quick and easy. I added mash potato to the dish as a side because I knew the critic would enjoy that at least.

Use 500grams of lean pork mince, 2/3 cup of finely chopped spring onion, 2 tbs of chopped coriander, 3 tbs of red curry paste, 2 tsp of fish sauce and shallow fry in sunflower oil. Mix all ingredients minus the sunflower oil and mould into 12 patties. Leave them in fridge for 10 minutes to firm up. The critic smelled them at this stage and I've never seen a nose wrinkle up so quickly. Then heat the oil in a large fry pan on medium heat and cook the patties 5 minutes each side or until golden. Serve with a salad, sweet chili sauce and lime wedges.

My wife and I loved the meal. Was beautiful. My daughter, the critic, well she ate the mashed potato but said the pattie tasted yucky. When asked what about it tasted yucky. She looked at me like I was thick or something and said it was just yucky.

Tomorrow. No breakfast except plain old toast and cereal.

Monday, December 20, 2010

An ode to my sausage !

The day was about recreating an earlier meal and making it perfect. To do so it was all about the little things and getting them right.

Yesterdays Gingerbread Men and Women were still going strong. I feel funny saying that you should let your gingerbread age like a fine wine but these ones definitely are getting better. My daughter loves picking out a different one each time.

The dish to recreate was the oven roasted sausages with balsamic tomatoes. This time there was no side serving of mash potato. I cut the cherry tomatoes in half instead of leaving whole. Added an extra pinch of balsamic vinegar.

O sausage, O sausage,
How great thou art.
Oven roasted with tomatoes
Packed full of flavour
And devoured real fast !

As you may be well aware, meal tinkering + me = disaster. Would it be different this time ?

It was. I'm no expert at cooking and don't profess to be. But once you've cooked a dish before it makes it easier to cook it the next time. The tomatoes melted beautifully and with the balsamic vinegar and juice from the sausage and onion created a perfect sauce for dipping in bread. I licked the plate clean as did my wife.

As to the question on every one's lips, what about the critic ?

She came out of her toy room to proudly show us a clean plate. Yes. Who's the man !

So with a fantastic result I've pushing boundaries for tomorrow. The dish will have a bit of zing and I for one don't know how this will go down with the critic.

Fingers crossed.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I'm buggered and it's only the end of the first week

Today was one of those lazy video or cuddling up on the sofa with a book days. You look out side the window and there is a gentle rain falling. Temperature drops just slightly. Enough to make the decision of going out a worthy pause.

Indeed today was spent inside. Lunch was a lovely serving of mini sausage rolls and pies. Which went down well although the pastry, I thought, was a little on the thick side.

Then came the family fun side of the day. Homemade Gingerbread Men and Women. The critic oversaw all of the important parts of the process. The tasting. She did help with the cracking of eggs (a natural compared to me), cutting of the gingerbread shapes and the icing design. But proved that tasting was her strength. She wanted to taste every part of the process. We had to constantly taste the gingerbread dough because the first 10 tens couldn't prove anything to her.

With those done and sitting on the bench to cool dinner was started. Nothing to flash. A lovely piece of porterhouse with buttered corn, peas and sloppy potatoes. The editor helped by dealing with the sloppy potatoes meanwhile I created an olive oil infused with garlic and rosemary and used it to cover the meat. Seasoned well and cooked.

The meal was a nice simple one and funny enough the critic ate most of it. She polished off more of the sloppy potatoes than anything else as if to say "See that's how you cook".

Again my arch nemesis, paddle pop, made an appearance but couldn't change the feeling that the meal was a good one.

My thoughts after the first week or so of my journey is that:
  • keep the meals simple. It might be fantastic to cook meals that require a degree to assemble and plate but keep those meals to once every so often. They take time and that is something most of us don't have.
  • Cooking is tiring. I don't know how my wife does it or let alone my mother. I finish the prep, then the cooking and the cleaning and I'm buggered. I have a new found respect for all the wives out there.
It's like running the 400 metres as fast as you can and then hitting that brick wall where your body just wants to give in.

4 weeks to go and I'll be in for the long haul.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The longest "quick" chocolate mousse in history

Today was to be the creation of a meal that I would be remembered for. People would just remember the moment they ate it and would talk about it to others. But as all things to do with me the day became a matter of survival. Just trying to keep my head above the water as my boat sank.

Today the requests just came flowing in.

Today's menu was Roast Chicken with avocado, cherry tomato salad followed by my take on the 10 minute chocolate mousse.

The plan was to create Roast Chicken skin out of a mix of ingredients that would end up looking like chicken skin but when eaten would give you a totally different taste experience. That was the plan. Unfortunately before I knew it, time had slipped past me like my daughter ducking into the pantry to grab herself a snack.

The creation of chicken skin was to be put on hold for the moment. It will be done. That I promise.

The chicken was covered in my secret mix of herbs and spices, seasoned and in the oven before I knew it. No I didn't order KFC. I was on fire. Things were looking good. I then had to make my take on the 10 minute chocolate mousse. What's my take on the 10 minute chocolate mousse called ? The 45 minute chocolate mousse cause that's how long it took !

Had the chocolate mixture slowly cooking when I reached for the cream. Started to mix it only to find that it was curdling. After much swearing and nearly a tribute to a beloved family member I raced to the shops. Only to find the local shopping centre was closed. It was 5:20pm. I've never known a supermarket to close so early on a Saturday until I moved up here. But anyway. Finally finding a shop open, I raced home to complete the dish.

The finished product must have been good as the critic and editor both licked the two serving spoons and enjoyed it. The critic herself had the bottom half of her face covered in chocolate mousse. I had the critic backed into a corner and on the ropes.

The roast chicken and salad dish minus fake chicken skin went down a treat. The critic even tried some of the salad. I was much surprised. The mousse was served and devoured.

I had done it. The critic had been silenced and my dish went down quite well. It was easy to do as well minus all the running around for the mousse. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Goddamn paddle pop lion !

She hit me !!! No literally the critic hit me. Ok well it was the flower pot that she carefully aimed at my little toe as she ambushed me. I know I haven't got a 10 out of 10 for her yet, but after watching tv cooking shows, reading reviews etc I didn't think critics were meant to hit the chef.

Well it was Take 2 on the Italian theme from the last blog. The food was here. The menu was set. The critic was well being her normal self. Giving nothing away.

Not one to toot my own horn too much. HA ! Ever since I'd had got my mojo back things were going well. Tonight was no different. The lasagna went down a treat. The garlic bread. Fantastic if I might say so myself.

Again the critic and I had a stand off. She wolfed down the garlic bread. And ended up eating half of the lasagna. Desert though went down a treat.

A chocolate paddle pop. Goddamn paddle pop lion.

Tomorrow though is a different matter. The gloves come off and it's going to be huge. Plus I'm looking at doing a chocolate mousse, a scrambled eggs with a difference, a cherry breakfast smoothie and cherry ice cream. And shit no I'm not doing this all tomorrow. Just a few ideas floating around.

And now I'm getting grief from the editor.

One man's culinary journey was never meant to be easy. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Think I pissed someone off

I am the man of the hour, a tower of power, to sweet to be sour. Or so I thought until today.

What a beautiful day it was. The sun was shining, it was 35 degrees and I was going Italian.

Lasagna with garlic bread. A family favourite. Yes even the critic with her super nose would usually eat this. Nothing out of the ordinary. No extra special twist by me. Just good ol lasagna.

During a lovely lunch with family. It happened. The sky turned black, the wind rose and the rain came bucketing down. Then the power went. Dear god no !!!!!!!!!!!

Just on 4 hours later, the power came back but with nothing ready my planned meal was put on hold.

Just as The Beatles said they were bigger than Jesus maybe my shouting from the roof tops that I was the man annoyed someone. Hmmmm a thought for later.

The critic walks past me and gives me a look which says you got a lucky break.

Game on.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

And the critic says: Smells yucky !!!

There was love in the air. Last nights dish went down like a...... well I'll let you fill it in.

I was feeling like Austin Powers !! GROOVY BABY YEAH !!

The man had his mojo back. Nothing could stop the S train.

Then I woke up to a new day. Feeling good I had something on my mind. And that something was...

What the hell was I going to cook tonight ??

Then it hit me out of left field. My toughest critic had not yet judged any of my meals as a complete success. So it was at this critic that I aimed tonight's meal. My critic was tough. A finely tuned set of taste buds. A nose that can smell a fart from over 10 metres away (believe me it has been done). And a poise that could win a poker championship.

Who was this critic you my ask ? My 3 year old daughter.

This was my Everest. She is tough. I had to do my research. After doing a survey of the toy room (Buzz, Woody and a rather large stuffed puppy called Puppy were very helpful), I found out that she loved chicken, rice, chocolate (in any form), ice cream and lollies. Now I could have taken the easy road and served chocolate, ice cream and lollies for dinner and won her over with one taste but that was too easy. Chicken it was.

I marinated the chicken in a marinate of soy, lemon juice, honey, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper for about 3 hours. I then cooked it on the grill and served with another favourite, rice. The chicken was cut into thick slices and served on a bed of boiled rice.

The plate was served to her. With one look and a smell of the dish, she turned to the chef and waitress and said "Smells yucky !"

At the end of the meal we had no rice left and half the chicken gone. How did I achieve this after the initial review was so disastrous ? Well what can I say. When you're as talented as me you bribe.

"If you don't eat the chicken there is no dessert."

Back to the drawing board. Tomorrow is a new day and a clean slate. Bring on the critic. I'm not scared.

Much.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Here comes the mojo train !!!!

Well after yesterday's attempt and my wife's beautiful Belgian Chocolate Pudding for dessert. I needed a comeback.

What did I choose for this comeback to form ???

An aussie favourite. Steak and chips.

The steak was a beautiful sized porterhouse with just enough marbling. Just add a bit of seasoning. And then....

Grab a bunch of fresh rosemary and soak in olive oil. Add a couple of cloves of garlic, slightly crushed into the oil. Then rub the rosemary over both sides of the meat. Do the same with the garlic except massage into the meat. Place the bunch of rosemary over the meat so it will smoke slightly. When you turn the meat over place the rosemary back. Then enjoy.

An easy meal and would you believe, the one with which to get my mojo back. Now lets get cracking.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Nothing beats lamb. Unless.....it's touched by me

A new day. A new challenge. I've been knocked about and hit for six so far but I'm back for more. Nothing is going to stop me. I've got a lamb dish.

That was in the morning. I'm now writing this after the event. And boy I've taken another punch to the kidneys and I'm on the floor.

Lamb and spring vegetables. Again another quick dish to do and quite easy to make if your not me.Normally I can cook but for some unknown reason the stars have aligned and things that can go wrong, do.

The lamb doesn't need much prep. Season with salt and pepper and then rub in some olive oil. Cook until done. The veggies were spring onions, baby cos lettuce, mint, peas and beans. Add salt and pepper to the mix and boil in chicken stock. Easy.

Haha. The veggies no problems. Even plated beautifully. There were two pieces of lamb one for my wife and daughter and one for me. My wife and daughter's lamb was cooked beautifully. Mine on the other hand. Lets just say the veggies tasted fantastic. Okay my meat was a bit thicker than the other and I timed it the same as the other piece. Last time I'll do that.

I was told that this dish is something that my parents would love. So for my family who are reading this. It'll be perfected by then. Get ready for your socks to be blown off.

The Sesame is burning. Not the Sesame....

Ah the second day and another meal. This time homemade sesame chicken nuggets, boiled rice and dipping sauce.

What could go wrong ???

Again the wife and daughter sat by and watched taking it in turns to help. My daughter loved covering the chicken with flour and then shaking any excess flour off. We had a white Christmas early.

Made the sauce early in the day. Prepped up the nuggets. Everything was going according to plan. Then I started the cooking. The fry pan was too hot (the oil needed to be boiling). The first batch of nuggets ended up covered in burned sesame seeds. These ended up being mine.

The second batch were perfect. These were my wife and daughters. The rice and sauce were perfect and once I got over the burnt sesame taste in my mouth the nuggets were pretty good. My wife loved them. My daughter well ...... maybe next time.

The meal all up with prep time took less than 30 minutes. Why buy nuggets from my a takeaway when you can make them yourself. Beat that McDonalds and KFC.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

One giant step

With sweaty palms and a nervous breath I opened the door and rushed through today. After so many weeks thinking about it, planning, reading through cooking books, Day 1 of my journey snuck up on me faster than I had thought it would. Not that I was ever going to back out of it. By no means. My wife deserves the time to sit back and relax. My heart and soul goes into these weeks of cooking because she deserves no less from me. Still I've told her not to hold back with the criticism. Love goes only so far especially if the food tastes like shit.

Being the first day I focused on dinner and making an impact. So what did I decide to cook ? A food that my lovely wife really doesn't like, I've been told this on several occasions. Grab the bull by the horns and hope for the best.

Who really loves sausages ? It's a stable for nearly ever BBQ that I've been too. It's a tried and true stable but nothing really to hit someone for six. Especially someone who professes no love for them.

For those you who would like to try sausages with a bit extra, try: Oven-baked sausages and balsamic tomatoes.  It's a quick, one pot dish that is really easy.

How'd it go for me ? Well nothing really goes to plan when I'm involved. The cooking side of things I must say went off without a hitch. I did forget the crusty loaf of bread which would have been used to mop up the remaining sauce left on the plate. Bummer. And to top that off, just as I had finished serving up my wife says that I had forgotten the fresh basil leaves. Damn. Meant to be mixed in once the pot is taken out of the oven. Was that the missing kick that the dish needed. Don't know.

But as I sit here writing this blog, I can safely say that the dish went off like the 5th of November fireworks. My wife said it was a dish that she could eat again and my daughter with a mouth full nodded when asked if it was good.

Mission accomplished.

There is one thing that stands out though with my first meal done. It helps that the meal went down well but there is one image that sticks in my mind and is the main reason I took up this culinary journey. As I was preparing the meal in the kitchen, my wife and daughter took up seats on the opposite side of the bench and my wife said that it was a great feeling to sit back relax and just observe for once.

That is why I did this.
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