Harissa paste and then harissa marinated olives

harissa olives
Harissa is one of those condiments that is going to be a hell of a shock for your white bread, margarine and mayonnaise sandwich eating ass. Yeah, you probably won’t try it… it’s one of those things you “just wouldn’t like”. That is possibly one of my least favourite lines ever – “I just wouldn’t like that”. How do you know if you’ve never tried it? The satisfaction I get when I can make someone eat those recklessly spoken words is unfathomable… back to the harissa though.

Harissa is a spicy condiment commonplace in the kitchens of Tunisia, and for good reason.

Roughly about as subtle as the underwear display at Mardi Gras, this is a 4-hit combo straight to the top of your dome. Aromatic with garlic, sweet with roasted capsicum, heady with cumin seed and fresh coriander, and spicy with chilli… very similar to an Arabic bazaar in your face, complete with belly dancers and monkeys with funny little hats.

Yes it has a good strong flavour, perfect to stir though steamed mussels, or maybe with some slow roasted lamb with yoghurt, or even mixed with a little mayonnaise on a chicken sandwich, or, as in the recipe I will be sharing with you today, used as a marinade for olives.

Get it all roasted off and then blitzy blitzy
Get it all roasted off and then blitzy blitzy

Looking good
Looking good

Just like a bought one, in fact
Just like a bought one, in fact

HARISSA OLIVES

3 capsicum (bell peppers), it really doesn’t matter too much what colour they are… unless they are brown. Brown generally means they’ve gone a little past their use by date
5-10 long red chilli, depending on how spicy you like it
5 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon cumin seed, roasted & ground
½ bunch coriander, stems and roots and all, washed and then roughly chopped
60ml extra virgin olive oil

• Heat oven to 200C
• Place capsicum in an oven proof dish, rub with a little of the olive oil and season with a little of the salt. Whack it into the oven for 10 minutes
• Add chilli and garlic to oven dish, toss a little and whack it back into the oven for another 5-10 minutes (you should have a few charry blistery bits going on by now)
• Allow to cool for a few minutes until you can get in there and peel back some of the charred bits of skin. Kind of a get of whatever you can be assed ripping off at the time type mission… much like having sex with your socks on. You can be as frugal or as frivolous with your own charry skin pulling as you please
• Now your roasted goodies can go into a food processer or blender with all of the other ingredients and then blitzed to form a paste, smooth or coarse, it’s your call
• Check seasoning
• Stir harissa through 1-2kg of your favourite olives, leave for at least a day to marinate before eating
• Remaining olives will last for 3 or so weeks in a sealed container in the fridge
• If you decide you like harissa you can double or triple this batch and freeze it down in take away tubs

Olive sexy time
Olive sexy time

Christmas Pate for New Years Eve

christmas pate
Just three things;

You probably still have a few Christmas leftovers.

You’re probably going to need something to snack tonight on as you fill your face with ridiculous amounts of cheap domestic champagne (or should that be bubbles? I know it should definitely be bubbles. Not Mr Bubbles though – he was a very dirty man with some very nasty hobbies from back in the 80’s), so when you empty your stomach over the hedge at 1am there is actually something in there and you don’t end up turning yourself inside out like a dirty sock.

You really don’t care about my year in summary, so I’ll just get in and out plenty fast and leave you with one final recipe (and no unexpected pregnancy – that’s a different type of in and out) for 2016.

I would kinda hope that if you don’t have leftovers it would be obvious that you can cook some meat specifically for it… but hey, I’m certainly not holding my breath…. And you shouldn’t either, because if you do you could die from suffocating.

(Yep. I know that is 4 things. That whole counting thing gets me every time. And then I can’t even be assed to go back to the top of the page and change the 3 to a 4, but instead I write a paragraph about how special I am and you get to smile smugly to yourself as you realise your life aint actually that bad)

*must remember to be nicer to stupid people in 2016*

Getting it all together. This is way too easy
Getting it all together. This is way too easy

Blitz it up
Blitz it up

Eat it with crusty bread and pickled things. I really can't believe how easy that was
Eat it with crusty bread and pickled things. I really can’t believe how easy that was

CHRISTMAS PATE

250g leftover roast chicken or goose, roughly chopped
250g leftover Christmas ham, roughly chopped
½ cup of stuffing or a few cooked chicken livers if you have some
a few elves and/or reindeer if there are still some about and you need to get them the fuck out of your face
a bit of leftover Christmas cheer… although, that’s probably well and truly gone by now
¼ cup aioli
a handful of mixed herbs such as parsley, sage and thyme, chopped
100g butter, melted
seasoning (or just wait a little longer until the credit card bills start rolling in and then you can season it with your own glistening tears)

• Blitz meats in a food processer until you have a coarse paste
• Add all ingredients except butter and pulse until combined. Don’t go too far with the pulsing here because you want the pate to have a little texture
• Check seasoning. Cry a little more if it needs it
• Scoop pate into something that will hold it… enamelware seems to be quite trendy at the mo’. Top with a few extra herbs (if you have some left. It’s not like I told you to reserve some or anything. soz) and melted butter and place in the refrigerator to set for 15-20 minutes
• Serve with crusty bread and pickled things from the garden
• Seriously, happy New Year folks. Thanks for all of the fun in 2015. It’s been ripping!

A farm in the hills makes a pretty damn good setting to eat your pate
A farm in the hills makes a pretty damn good setting to eat your pate

Marinated sardines

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I am obsessed with sardines.

There you go. I said it.

That statement is for everyone I hang out with, work with, my family and the old lady down the street at number 42 for being forced to listen to my constant talk about the next meal I’m going to create with sardines. You may have noticed that I have made no apology, but a statement declaring what these people have known to be true for a while now (It’s kind of like an AA type thing where admitting you have a problem is half the battle). I am not sorry, I am in love. I truly love those little bastards and they really aren’t too far from my thoughts at any given moment of the day. But the local sardine season comes to an end shortly, so how the fuck am I going to fulfill my desires after that??

Preserve them. That’s how.

I have done some reading, looked at a lot of pictures (I like pictures) and had a bit of a play around with a sardine or two. Nothing that would be deemed improper mind you – I’m just your average Joe, looking to satisfy a propensity for the humble sardine.

All the methods of preserving, or “saving the moment” as I shall call it, involved either pickling in vinegar and salt or preserving in oil and herbs. Not being too much of a stickler for doing what things tell me to do, I decided I would combine both methods and create the presickled sardine! I don’ think it’s going to take off with the kids but that’s OK because, as with every faucet of the rest of my life, I do it for my own gratification… mostly.

So now it was just a case of cleaning up 10kg of sardines and getting them into jars, which was not a mission I really fancied doing by myself. Solution; invite a few of your sardine loving friends around for a sardine party! It worked a treat. We sat around like a group of Italian Mammas – everyone was gutting and cleaning sardines, chatting away, drinking whatever it was they deemed correct to be drinking at a sardine party, and then we ate a bang up dinner prepared by my fair lady Jennee! And just to top the whole kickass afternoon off, everyone gets to leave with a cracking party bag of a jar of sardines.

Heaps of smart cultures around the world get shit sorted at a communal table… now it’s your turn.

 

Heads off and guts out… there's a rose amongst the thorns comment somewhere around here...
Heads off and guts out… there’s a rose amongst the thorns comment somewhere around here…
Rinsing
Rinsing
Pickling
Pickling
Eat something before you get too pickled yourself
Eat something before you get too pickled yourself
Into the jars
Into the jars
Simmer in a big pot
Simmer in a big pot
The end result… sardines for the holocaust!!
The end result… sardines for the holocaust!!

PRESICKLED SARDINES (per kilo)

1 kg fresh sardines, heads off, gutted and rinsed to remove any scales and extra gut bits. Multiply this recipe by ten if you’re having a sardine party
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ small brown onion, sliced
1 clove of garlic, crushed like the special kid’s self esteem
2 tablespoons sea salt
2 bay leaves
1 chilli, hot or mild, however you like it, chopped
Oil to cover the sardines, I like used olive oil, but a blend of olive and a more neutral oil would do the job
Sardine sized jars to pack them in
• Gently toss the sardines with the vinegar, onion, garlic and salt. The vinegar and salt will start to cook the fish and firm it up a little… the onion and garlic are there for their awesome flavour. Marinate sardines for 1 hour, tossing gently every 20 minutes
• Sit down and have yourself a glass of wine
• Have another glass… it helps to be at one with your inner pickle while you are pickling
• Drain the sardines out of the vinegar, lightly pat dry and then pack into jars head to tail with a bay leaf and chopped chilli in the middle. Top the sardines with a bit of the sliced onion from the marinade and then cover with your choice of oil
• Seal the jar with a lid that fits
• Put the jars into a pot that is deeper than the jars are tall. Cover them with water and bring the pot up to the simmer, simmering gently for 20 minutes. This will cook the sardines and also seal the jars so they will have an extended life
• I have stored mine in the fridge but I will do some experimentation and see about their shelf life in the cupboard…

And what do you do with your newfound bounty? These sardies will find themselves a happy and loving home tossed through pasta with some chilli, parsley and olive oil (lash out and get some pangrattato on there if you have the skills), on a pizza, in a sandwich with home made tomato sauce (ketchup), blitzed into a rough pate (peel the meat off the bones first) or on an antipasti platter.

Getting pickled… lentils and beans, that is

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Huh. Sepia…

I love getting pickled. In fact, you could say that I have made somewhat of a career out of getting pickled. I don’t know if it is my German-Polish heritage rearing it’s ugly but lovable head, like the child peering around the corner while his parents are engaging in a little “special time”, but without getting pickled, my life is ass pointless as a silent letter.

I think I should probably clarify something right now… I am taking about pickling fruit or vegetables or, as in this case, legumes. What I am not talking about (but possibly actually talking about) is the pickling that occurs to your brain when you drink excessive amounts (or quite possibly just the right measure) of alcoholic beverages.

Why, as I type this now I am slowly but surely recovering from one such evening.

Quite apt really, eh?

The thing I love about pickles is, well, everything. From the taste to the preserving qualities to the taste… but I think I already mentioned that.

Lately I have been pickling lentils, chickpeas and cannellini beans with effing brilliant results. And where did this idea come from? I like to entertain the thought that I actually came up with this idea all by myself… with my smart brains. Clever, clever Grazza. I quite possibly did not come up with this idea by myself but that’s OK because for now I am living the dream.

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Lentils
Lentils
Cannellini beans. Not much to say about these pics really...
Cannellini beans. Not much to say about these pics really…

PICKLED LENTILS or CANNELLINI BEANS or CHICKPEAS
1 400g tin of lentils or cannellini beans or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 eshallot or half a whatever onion, sliced
1 10cm stick of celery, sliced
½ small bulb fennel if you have some lying around, sliced
A chilli if you want, sliced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (apple cider or sherry vinegar would both be cracking too)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
• Mix everything, except oil, together in a bowl. Season well
• Pour/spoon the mix into a jar or your holding receptacle of choice
• Cover with oil
• Put them in your fridge, not mine, as they will not last for more than a few days in my fridge
• They are best after a day or two and should last for a few weeks in your fridge
• Eat them with a piece of whatever meat or fish you want, charcuterie, cheese, bread or by themselves straight from the jar

Sauerkraut is next!

Foodisthebestshitever – the home of easy-tasty!

Another day, another cook-off part 3… and the winner is…

Golden, crusty goodness
Golden, crusty goodness

So it has finally happened. Jennee has produced the recipes of the dishes Sarah and she prepared at our last “Stockdale vs Cootes cook-off”. Just as I have been able to at last put that last crippling defeat of cookery at the hands of my dear wife and her family out of my mind and finally rear my shamed face in public again, she goes and presents me with these recipes so she may rub my face in it once again… it is a cruel world out there folks, mark my words. If I had been born with thirteen fingers and nary the brain capacity to remove my pants before I went to the toilet, that cruel she dog that is the world would have surely chewed me up and spat me out by now. But no, I am still here. And just in case you didn’t figure it out yet (maybe you are one of those people with thirteen figures and, just in case you are, watch out for the world… she’s after you) team Cootes won that cook-off… and this is how they did it;

Step 1. Jennee got really messed up the evening previous and couldn’t string a sentence together that day… I’m not sure how this helped, but clearly it did.
Step 2. Sarah also got really messed up the night before, but she just soldiered on and kept drinking through the day of the cook-off. I’m not sure how this helped either… I’m starting to think it may have just been me that gave them the advantage…
Step 3. They somehow managed to pull it together long enough to cook three cracking dishes. They went something like this;

Golden crusty goodness with chimmichurri
Golden crusty goodness with chimmichurri

BRAZIL – Chicken Empanadas with chimmichurri sauce
Good on the Brazilians for creating these things and a great pubic hair cut. Not quite the winner but devoured by all none-the-less.
3 cups plain flour
¼ teaspoon salt
160g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 12 pieces
1 egg
4-5 tablespoons water
• Mix the flour and salt in a food processor
• Add the butter, egg and water until a clumpy dough forms
• To make the empanada dough by hand, follow the same instruction but use your hands to mix the ingredients together. To make it easier to incorporate the butter you can freeze it and then grate it into the flour mix
• Form a ball, flatten slightly, and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes
• Roll out the dough into a thin sheet and cut out round disc shapes for empanadas (use round molds or a small plate)
Filling
2 chicken thighs chopped finely
1 onion chopped finely
2 garlic cloves chopped finely
1 teaspoon each cumin, paprika and garlic powder
½ cup water
Salt and pepper
• Fry off all ingredients except water until chicken is cooked
• Add water and braise until all ingredients are soft
• When cooled blitz slightly to make it a bit pasty to ensure easy assembly of pastries
• Boil a couple of eggs, peel and slice when cooled
• To assemble, put a teaspoon of chicken mix, and a slice of egg and roll pastry.
• Brush with oil and bake at 180 until golden brown… texture of sun!!!
• Serve with chimmichurri, which can be found here

Not sure what Sarah is doing here
Not sure what Sarah is doing here but she looks like she is enjoying herself
Pretty confident right there
Pretty confident right there
The coconut custard dessert
The coconut custard dessert

PAPUA NEW GUINEA – Paradise Dessert
This is a combination of a few things that are tropical and Paupa New Guinea-ish. A damn fine combo but still not quite hitting the number one spot.

Paradise Dessert
2 frozen bananas
Coconut crème fritters
Puffed black rice
Tamarind caramel

Coconut crème fritters
3 cups coconut cream
6 egg yolks
½ cup castor sugar
¾ cup corn flour
Zest of one lime
Rice flour, egg mix and desiccated coconut to coat
• In a small saucepan, warm the milk and lime zest over low heat until it is just hot enough to steam. While the milk is warming, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, corn flour until the mixture is completely smooth.
• Once the milk is steaming, add half of it to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Add the milk and eggs back into the hot milk, continue stirring, it will thicken so stir like a madman until it is thick. Put in fridge until it is cold and set .
• Once set, roll into balls then roll these balls in rice flour, then egg mix then desiccated coconut and deep fry until golden

Tamarind caramel
Soak 100g tamarind in hot water and then drain off liquid from seeds. Put liquid in pan with ½ cup sugar and slowly heat until it reaches a caramel consistency.

Banana sorbet
Blitz bananas in a food processor until it turns into ice cream – its delish… and easier than pie!!!!

Puffed rice
Shallow fry tablespoons of black rice until they puff. Drain and cool on kitchen towel.

To serve
Serve fried custards with caramel, rice and ice cream and think of yourself on a tropical island!

That's the salad
That’s the salad

MADAGASCAR – Pineapple and green papaya salad

Who would of thunk it? A simple little salad takes the winners podium. This thing was everything I like about food; simple, full of flavour and quite frankly, kick-ass. That’s about all I’ve got.
1 medium green papaya, shredded
1 medium pineapple, diced
5 Spring onions, sliced finely
1 handful coriander, chopped
½ tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon powdered chilli (less or more if you like it hotter or wimpier)
Juice of one big fat juicy lemon- or 2 small ones
Olive oil- about ¼ cup
• Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix. Set aside for an hour or more for extra awesomeness… serve and wait for the compliments to come flowing in!

There’s no such thing as a free lunch…

It was a damn good lunch, but free it was not
It was a damn good lunch, but free it was not

Over Christmas and new years we had the pleasure of the company of our good friends, Troppo and Lexi. They stayed for a lunch or two and a good catch up old skool styleez (that involved many beers, heaps of food, board games, kuncho and many, many laughs). While they were here Jennee got it into her head that we would paint the house… yeah, paint the house. I like to oblige Jennee when she sees that crazy big light bulb above her head, but paint the house… bloody hell woman!

Troppo's sanding attire
Troppo’s sanding attire
Safety Jennee
Safety Jennee
Lexi...
Lexi…
A well deserved drinky when we were done. And what better place for a drinky then on the roof. Safety never takes a holiday around here...
A well deserved drinky when we were done. And what better place for a drinky then on the roof. Safety never takes a holiday around here…

Anyway, the plan came off for Jennee, as we do now own one freshly painted house. This is how simple it was.

Jennee: “We were thinking we might paint the house. Would you guys be keen if we provide the food and drinks?”

Troppo: “Sounds good. I need to try more handy man type shit.”

Three days later we were done.

This was the painters lunch…

Cheesey goodness
Cheesey goodness
Pork and giblet terrine. Extra sexy styles
Pork and giblet terrine. Extra sexy styles

Pork and duck heart and liver terrine
1kg pork mince
4-5 duck livers, trimmed and diced
4-5 duck hearts, diced
1 brown onion, diced finely (bruniose)
2 cloves garlic, crushed, micro planed or pounded
2 tablespoons picked thyme
a bay leaf
1 cup red wine, port, brandy or marsala
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon salt
12 or so rashers of bacon, prosciutto or speck
• Sauté the onion and garlic in butter until translucent. Deglaze pan with booze. Add bay leaf and reduce until almost dry
• Remove bay leaf and set aside to cool
• Once onion is cool, combine everything except bacon and mix thouroughly. Now put that in the fridge while you line your terrine dish, or ready your bacon for the extra sexy stlyes.
• If you are using a terrine dish, line it with enough bacon side by side so when the mix is in there you will be able to wrap it totally with bacon. Now fill the dish with the mix so it is about 1cm over the top. Pat it down with your hand to push any air pockets out. Tap it on the bench a couple of times so you look like a pro. Fold the bacon ends over the top of the terrine and bake in a pre-heat 180C oven for about 45 minutes. Check the center temperature with a thermometer, you want it to be about 70C or so. Refrigerate overnight or for a few days to really let the flavours get to know each other… who knows, they may find love…
• If you would like the extra sexy style cylindrical terrine you will need to lay a large piece of glad wrap (cling film or whatever the rest of the world calls it) on the bench. Now lay 6-7 pieces of bacon side by side about 2cm from the front edge of the grad wrap. Make sure you leave a 2cm border on the sides as well (don’t ask questions, just do it. The answer should become apparent when you roll it). Now lay half the mix on the end of the bacon closest to you and form it into a big sausage. Using the glad wrap like a sushi mat, roll the bacon around the terrine. Keep rolling until the entire glad wrap is encasing the terrine sausage. Now pinch it at the ends and keep rolling so it gets super tight and compact like the virgin midget carnie. Now wrap it again in another piece of glad wrap and tie it at the ends just to be sure it’s sealed. Do it all again with the rest of the mix. Poach or steam terrine for 45 minutes or until 70C in the center. Set in the fridge overnight etc

Eat with cheese, pickles, green tomato chutney (recipe here), more cheese, cauliflower pickles (recipe here), pate and bread

This is a great way to appreciate a bit of offal if you currently believe that you do not appreciate offal. Or you can leave the offal out if you are a total pussy.