Another rant about home made baked beans

baked beans
I know I have waxed the lyrical, stood atop my soap box spruked about and just down right pleaded with you to make your own baked beans. They are a totally different world of awesome. If you do not believe me and choose a path of abstinence from making your own beans then there is nothing more I can do to help you. You are on your own now child.

There are several rules when making top notch baked beans;

1. Get some smoked pork in there; Good baked beans owe a debt of gratitude to a good ham bone or smoked sausage, it just improves the flavour of these little legumes ten fold. Unless you are vegetarian or one of the other groups of people out there who are wrong about smoked pork. Except Muslims… I got no beef with them… wait, no pork I should say… beef should be A.O.K
2. Bake the beans; They are called baked beans for a reason. They can not get the same oven-generated crusty bits when cooked on the stove top and so lack a little extra depth of flavour (I’m sorry you had to read those words. I should definitely have prefixed them with a large, illuminated sign that read “wanker alert”). Also, they are more prone to sticking and burning with the direct heat from the burner. Pretty shit time all round actually…
3. Read points 1 and 2 again before you move on

This recipe is not one of those times where you have to follow it to the letter. Use different beans if you want, different herbs or whatever you got. As long as you have a bit of good smoked or cured pork product in there (you can even use salami as the meat product if you want) I garantee, yes guarantee, you will be a happy camper. Unless of course you are actually camping but hate the outdoors, in which case I can guarantee you will not be a happy camper. I’ve really got to get my story straight somewhere along the line.

From this...
From this…

To this...
To this…

To this... served up with morcilla, cottage cheese, egg and rocket, and the remainder portioned and frozen down behind the postman :)
To this… served up with morcilla, cottage cheese, egg and rocket, and the remainder portioned and frozen down behind the postman 🙂

BAKED BEANS with SMOKED PORK

3x 400g tins canellini or navy beans
2x 400g tins crushed tomatoes
300-400g ham bone or ham hock or some smoked sausage eg.chorizo
1 brown onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano or thyme, or a mix of both, or whatever herbs you like (you’ll work your favourite combo in time I’m sure)
Some kind of chilli. I had 1 fresh long green chilli but a good pinch of dried chilli flakes or a splash of hot sauce would do the trick, and a fresh jalepeno would be really good
A splash of BBQ or worcestshire sauce if you’re feeling it
Eggs (cooked), toasted sourdough, cottage cheese (or feta or pecorino), fresh herbs and olive oil are always good for that final “yeah I’m boss at this shit” flourish to serve
• Sweat off ham or sausage (hmmm, sweaty sausage. Tastes heaps better then it sounds), onion and spices
• Add beans and tomato, cook in 170C oven for 1 hour (possibly a little longer if you are using ham hock as it will need a little time to soften up), stirring a couple of times
• Check seasoning
• Serve with all the stuff it says up there
• I like to make a batch that is double to triple the size of this recipe so I can freeze it down in portions in the boxed icey tundra that is my freezer, right behind the postman… er, let’s just pretend you didn’t read that. He was a nasty prick though… had it coming…

Hangover breakfast… and lunch

hangover lunch
It’s been a bit touch and go for the old Grazza McFilthy Mouth today.

The precursor to this story if I may…

Yesterday I was paid a visit by an old friend and fellow chef who, for the purpose of this anecdote, shall be known as Toodles (mostly because that is his name). We proceeded to dive face first into a heap of beer, adding authenticity and conviction to the age old adage “chef’s really should not drink together”.

Oh, we did indeed drink together. I even invited a few more fellow chefs to come and join us on the verandah as if that was going to douse the flames of our drunkenness a little. Alas it appeared they had not received that memo and indeed proceeded to attempt to quell the fire that was our drunkenness with what could’ve only be described as regular house hold diesel fuel AKA. Their own drunkenness.

That same inebriation made me smile at the time but I must confess today has been a bit of a struggle. I have not even been able to trust myself with what I would normally consider the more simple of my daily tasks. Holding a conversation, pulling together a coherent sentence, brushing my teeth and simple grade 2 mathematics were all just beyond my grasp today.

I got through it with the help of some food. A lot of food.

This is what I reckon…

The sardines in the bacon fat ruled
The sardines in the bacon fat ruled

There was heaps of other good shit too
There was heaps of other good shit too
So much of this went into my face
So much of this went into my face

Nom nom nom
Nom nom nom

Breakfast consisted of grilled bacon, sardines that had been marinated in rosemary, olive oil and a splash of vinegar and then grilled in the bacon fat, my nana Rose’s potato cakes, toad in the hole (out here that’s what we call the bread with the hole cut in it and then fried with an egg cracked in the hole), fresh tomato and herb salad and coffee. A heap of coffee…
Chips
Chips

Chips loaded with good things
Chips loaded with good things

Lunch was home made mixed potato chips covered with a layer of beef chilli that spent a couple of hours in the smoker last night, then some crumbled feta and a bit of grated honky dory fridge cheese (this is whatever gratable cheese you have in the fridge).
Out the the grill and into my belly
Out the the grill and into my belly

Under the grill (broiler) for a few minutes until golden brown and then anointed with jalapeño relish, natural yoghurt and sriracha hot sauce. Straight the heck into my face hole.
So damn good
So damn good

This really is the sort of food you can only truly appreciate like it deserves to be appreciated when you are feeling the wrath of the decisions your drunken self made the previous evening.

I make me good now.

The Twelve Days of Christmas (Ham Leftovers)… Breakfast Quesadilla

christmas ham quesadilla
The Twelve Days of Christmas (Ham Leftovers)

In our humble abode, post Christmas lunches, dinners and breakfasts are ofttimes (always) dictated by Christmas leftovers. There is always a tonne of cooked meats to get through as each year we seem to cook for ourselves plus a traveling troupe of carnie sex slaves… but the carnies never come… next year maybe.

Christmassy looking salad/salsa is the way to go
Christmassy looking salad/salsa is the way to go

Do not cry for us though, as Christmas leftovers are not a cruel and harsh dictator like say, Josef Stalin, Saddam Hussein or Tony Abbot. No. Christmas leftovers are a kisser of small children and a friend to the elderly. They are joyous and compassionate in dictatorship, feeding us ham and other goodies galore, and kind enough to give my tastebuds a friendly reach-around, lubing them up for the ménage-au-trois that would take place in my mouth.

As an ode to these tasty, leftover inspired meals I will do a little series of posts of what I do with my ham and hopefully help you to do something different with yours too. And with a title as clever as this one I don’t think I can go wrong (although I do need to credit Jennee with the smart title. As much as I did want to claim it as my own I think we all know has both the beauty and the smart brains in this relationship).

Now that is just about ready to get the hell into my belly
Now that is just about ready to get the hell into my belly

So without further adieu I will let my fingers take over for now, gently caressing the keys of my laptop as they make consensual love to produce the magical baby that is these words.

Bahahahaha…

At least I gave you something to read, eh?

Now that may not be the prettiest looking thing in the world, but it was damn tasty
Now that may not be the prettiest looking thing in the world, but it was damn tasty

CHRISTMAS QUESADILLA (serves 4)

8 tortillas
A large handful of ham, chopped
A normal sized handful of chopped tomato, red onion and herbs from the garden. The red and green motif keeps it looking nice and Christmassy too
A handful whatever cheese you have lying around
Fried eggs and jalapeño relish to serve

• Divide the ham between four tortillas. Top with a little of the salad/salsa mix, then cheese and then another tortilla
• Fry in a lightly oiled pan on medium heat for 1-2 minutes each side. Be careful when you flip these puppies as they do have a tendency to spew out into the pan. In hindsight, it may be a better idea to just have ham and cheese in the quesadilla and then put the tomato salsa thing on top when they’re done. You choose…
• When quesadilla is done top with a fried egg and jalapeño relish if you’re keen

Doma Cafe, Federal, NSW

doma cafe federal
We’d heard a bit of talk about this little café in a little village in the big hinterland hills of the medium sized town of Byron Bay in the relatively expansive Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. When I say we’d heard a bit of talk I really mean we’d had excessive amounts of people asking us if we’d eaten there and these people would be genuinely surprised when we told them we hadn’t, and then they would insist to the point of almost being effing annoying that we should go there to eat.

As I had no desires to end up being pushed past the limit and get all postal on these peeps asses (and eventually be tried in a court of law and then locked away for the rest of my life in a cell with a large behemoth of a man known only as Bobby who I would eventually learn to love and later would marry and we would live our days out together in the cell we would call home), I opted for a visit to suss this place out for myself and finally put an end to the gasps and stares of disbelief because let’s face it, I get enough of those just walking down the street or through the ladies underwear section of the local K-Mart.

Get in my belly
Get in my belly

Straight up this breakfast was damn good. These guys do such a good job with their food in fact, they don’t even worry about using proper crockery and cutlery. They feed you on disposable plates, pour your coffee into paper receptacles and you even get to eat it with biodegradable forks or chopsticks. Someone who was more at home with the “proper” way of life, with luxuries like ceramic crockery, some kind of metal cutlery and two ply toilet paper, may have kept on driving when they noticed the implements of consumption available at Doma. Why, they may not have even got out of their car to see past the vista of the old hall surrounded picnic benches and random old farming paraphernalia, but that is fine. They should go somewhere else because they are clearly simple and we wouldn’t want that shit rubbing off on us now would we. Also, it means there is more great food and less queues for the rest of us.
Mt Fuji-Yama sans Godzilla
Mt Fuji-Yama sans Godzilla

I had the Mt Fuji-Yama and although I expected my meal to appear adorned with a plastic Godzilla and little scared people figurines trying to escape over a pile of smoldering mushrooms, it arrived as the menu stated it would; Hayters Hill pork sausage, mushrooms, black olive, spinach, roast tomato and a poached organic egg on thick cut ciabatta toast (16.5). It was great, except I don’t really like mushrooms for breakfast so I’m not sure what I was doing there. All still cooked well and tasty, just not really my thing. Maybe I had brushed past one of those people I was talking about in the last paragraph and a bit of their stupid rubbed off on me. Not to worry, a simple life is a good life…
The Doma Brekkie
The Doma Brekkie

Jennee had the Doma Brekkie (15.8). Organic scrambled eggs, bacon, brown rice (a nice option for peeps who can’t do the bread thing), spinach, tomato, avocado and the secret weapon – the potato thing with tartar, otherwise known as the korroke. A potato hash brown type thing with a panko crumb that is fried so it is soft in the middle and so very deliciously crunchy on the outside, kind of croquette-ish, and then served with a big ol’ dollop of tartar. I always new the Japanese were a smart race but this… Pure genius. I am getting a plate of these things when I return.
Obi tackling the BLAST
Obi tackling the BLAST

Obi went for the BLAST (11.0). Which he says “was very delicious, it looked yummy and was very tasty”. I can positively agree with everything that young man said. Wise beyond his years with both words and choice of breakfast.
That nori collection including the tempura fish popsicle
That nori collection including the tempura fish popsicle

If Obi was wise with his choice then Seba was definitely the all–time-really-effing-well-done-choice-of-the-day award recipient. He originally thought he was going for the BLAST but, when heading to the counter to order, he spied the massive pile of various nori roll creations and his smart brains (which he still had due to not rubbing up against the simple people) insisted he order a few of said items for his breakfast. It was damn good nori. Damn good. From the mouth of Seba himself he states, “it was great. I loved the fish sticks and it had mayo – my favourite sauce. The fish eggs were really nice”. That kid is born to be king!
doma cafe federal
There is a relaxed vibe at Doma and I’ve heard you can be in for a bit of a wait when they’re busy, but that’s the sort of thing you’re going to get in the country. Doma is literally nestled in the rolling hills and quite frankly, when you’re out for a casual Sunday in the Byron hinterland you really shouldn’t be stressed if your breakfast is not on the table in ten minutes. If that’s the sort of thing that is going to stress you out then you should definitely get in your car and go somewhere else. Somewhere far away from me. Like interstate.

And just to top it off this place is run by the cutest, politest crew of Japanese people. What more could you want? Honestly, these guys are so nice I would’ve given them Pearl Harbour… is that too far? It doesn’t matter. This is another little hinterland gem that is restoring my faith in the food of the area. Go there. Go there now.

And try the potato thing. Get a whole damn plate of those potato things. They are effing awesome!

Foam Cafe, Lennox Head, NSW

foam cafe lennox head I woke to a crisp morning air, but soon enough the sharpness of the early morning air was contrasted, thick with the aromas of shitty coffee and burnt toast. The smell did not stem from our kitchen but it was there… in the air… filling my nasal passage. The decision to get the hell outta dodge for breakfast was a foregone conclusion. We headed east, toward the Pacific Ocean, and luckily we found ourselves an eatery before we were submersed in said ocean. The eatery was called Foam. Yeah, Foam. Just when I thought it was a word used to describe the bubbly stuff they pump onto half naked uni students on Foam Party night at the local club, they go and use the same word to name a café. Genius! So we step into Foam and our first impressions are good… really good. The place is clean and oozing north coast beachside chic. The cleanliness was enough to get me going and the north coast beachside chic just helped us to realise where we were; on the north coast in a café near the beach.

The breakfast menu looks exactly like this
The breakfast menu looks exactly like this

We are greeted by a super friendly waitress who gets us a table, brings us menus, takes our drink order and has a smile on her face the whole fucking time. Like, a real smile, not one of those smiles that look like you’re forcing it for your year five class photo or, even worse, one of those smile that doesn’t even pass as looking like you’re forcing a smile but instead looks like you might be forcing a poo.

Now that is a damn fine looking coffee
Now that is a damn fine looking coffee

The goodness continued when our coffees arrived, delivered by another genuinely happy person but this time in male form. The Allpress coffee was delicious. It is very quickly becoming one of my favourites, even though it doesn’t tick the box marked “local”, it is just a damn fine product and at the hands of these folks it was allowed to reach it’s full potential.

Seba waiting for me to get some black pud into his breaky burger
Seba waiting for me to get some black pud into his breaky burger

More goodness continued in the form of our breakfast. The boys are becoming as predictable as the office tart at the staff Christmas party, with their choices of the bacon and egg rolls made within the first few seconds of perusing the menu. They were damn fine breaky rolls too, except for the store bought BBQ sauce… I want a little home made relish or chutney in a 10 buck breaky roll.

My quesadilla
My quesadilla

Jennee had a roast pumpkin something with grilled haloumi, poached eggs, toast and half a field of baby spinach. I didn’t pay a heap of attention to it, apart from the acre of spinach, but Jennee said it was damn tasty and she looked authentically happy, so that was good enough for me.

It looks a bit of a rabble, but it was damn tasty
It looks a bit of a rabble, but it was damn tasty

I ordered the caramelized onion quesadilla with a side of black pudding (I shouldn’t have bothered as most of it was scoffed by the younglings), which also came anointed with the canopy of a tropical rainforest. Once I had hacked my way through the foliage though, it revealed a tasty breakfast. It’s not that I don’t like my greens, I just think that shit needs to be manicured, much like the “other bush” which we shall not be discussing today. Maybe the thick layer of greenery was a form of insulation to keep the meal warm? Anyway, the quesadilla was damn tasty, oozing it’s cheesey-caramelised onion filling all over my plate… and beard if I am to be totally honest. The eggs were cooked perfectly, the chorizo was awesome (I heard it might be home made) and the little saucy number that adorned the dish was just what it needed to complete the package. Magic.

… and a short trek to Lake Ainsworth
… and a short trek to Lake Ainsworth

My belly was full, my caffine-o-meter was at med-high and my face was smiling. A quick dip in Lennox Head’s imfamous Lake Ainsworth AKA the Ti Tree Lake and it was back home to see if the burnt toast smell had dissipated yet… You can find the Foam facey page right here.

Jennee’s Sunday Spreads… for Father’s Day

That breakfast spread
That breakfast spread

Spring has sprung. Winter is officially over. September has made it’s way past the 31 day cycle that was August, and reared its beautiful head, adorned in the royal head dress that is the glory of this backwards assed Southern Hemisphere Spring.
Everything a man could ask for plus more
Everything a man could ask for plus more

My plate was full… and consequently so was my belly
My plate was full… and consequently so was my belly

If September was a lady she would be a damn lucky one indeed. This month is the time most will say good bye to the smelly little over weight kid that isn’t very good at sports and doesn’t get invited to parties (don’t write in. That kid was probably me) that was winter, and spread their arms (and possibly their legs) to embrace and welcome that most popular, funny and down right sexy young lady that is spring.

We built a fire pit. I am more than amped to fire that sucker up
We built a fire pit. I am more than amped to fire that sucker up

September and December both really lucked in with the whole timing thing. These months get a lot of love for the seasons they bring. Even March/April get a heap of respect for giving us Easter eggs and things of the like. June though, what does June get? No happy holidays, carnie filled fan fare or love from the rich folks. Nudda.

Oh well, poor old June, eh.

Jennee cooked a chook stuffed with chorizo and preserved lemon
Jennee cooked a chook stuffed with chorizo and preserved lemon

Chooky stuffing glory
Chooky stuffing glory

This whole spring thing is special in more ways than one for me. It doesn’t lick the windows (or other un-PC things most wouldn’t talk about. This aint 80’s comedy, folks) or even offer me a sneaky under the desk reach around a la Bill Clintons glory days. No, September holds a-whole-nother realm of love and goodness in it’s could-easily-be-a-hand-model type hands, for September is also the month of my birth and fuck me if god didn’t decide it was going to be the month that entertains a special day for every father out there, the very aptly named Father’s Day. Just for me… and maybe you.

In lieu of an actual shower, I was showered with gifts; new power tools, a stubby cooler stating I was a super dad, lattern, a grooming kit (for what I will use that for I know not), a bottle of Chivas Regal and a cracking old school bowl with a recipe for coleslaw on it (possibly for my later years when I lose my shit and can't remember how to make this, my favourite of salads)
In lieu of an actual shower, I was showered with gifts; new power tools, a stubby cooler stating I was a super dad, lattern, a grooming kit (for what I will use that for I know not), a bottle of Chivas Regal and a cracking old school bowl with a recipe for coleslaw on it (possibly for my later years when I lose my shit and can’t remember how to make this, my favourite of salads)

This was my first ever Father’s Day at home, not cooking for all the other lucky dads out there, and I darn well enjoyed it. It was the absolute tops being greeted with hugs and love by my children at a time when most respectable people would still be asleep. But not me, I was up and ready for those little padiwans. I was like the kid waiting for his first Christmas, or the FIFO (fly in, fly out) worker in line at the brothel… I was keen! I got to open presents and enjoy a cup of tea in bed followed by a slap up breakfast buffet that would have even the staunchest of non-breakfast eating protagonists crumbling at their knees. Fathers Day is truly awesome. I recommend it for everyone out there… unless you’re a girl; that aint going to work to very well for you at all.

To top it all off, a baked lemon tart
To top it all off, a baked lemon tart

Now it is much later. I am three sheets to the wind up the mizenmast of the good ship Chivas Regal and well on my way to becoming the poster boy for an ad campaign for against the perils of day time drinking, Jennee has a good looking chook stuffed with chorizo and preserved lemon on the chiminea, the boys have made sure and a half that I know how much they love me… this Fathers Day lark is a good one. A damn fine day indeed!

This family of mine is the best.