Chow-chow down down

chow chow
This is the sort of condiment that revolutionizes my life.

It combines a heap of my favourite vegetables in a witch’s cauldron and after a few low mutterings of some kind of voodoo type black magic (or possibly it was just the ramblings of a boozed up and disheveled old carnie… or even more possibly it just needed a few minutes simmering on the stove top) those ingredients come out of that cauldron and they have transformed into a magical sweet-sour-pickly-salad-relishy-slaw type thing.

Now if that description doesn’t scream multi-purpose to you I don’t know what will. Literally, this stuff is as multi-purpose as the milk crate in your first share house, or the Thai lady-man, or the corn cob to the hillbilly farmers son.

And, if for no other reason, it is certainly worth making hotdogs just to try it out. So then you get to eat hotdogs too… I over explained that didn’t I…

Don’t even worry about it. This thing is coming at ya for the win!

Cook it in a pot
Cook it in a pot

I made some hotdogs so I had something to put my chow-chow on
I made some hotdogs so I had something to put my chow-chow on

The chow-chow was real good good
The chow-chow was real good good

CHOW-CHOW

2 capsicum (whatever colour), chopped
1 large green tomato, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
¼ green cabbage, chopped
1 long red chilli, or more if you like it hotter, chopped
1 tablespoon salt
1.5 cups sugar
1.5 cups apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric

• Combine vegetables and salt, cover and chill for 6-8 hours
• Rinse and drain mixture and combine with all other ingredients in a large pot
• Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes
• Store in the refrigerator for at least a few weeks or seal in serialized jars and store for fricking ages
• Make a hot dog just so you have something to put your chow-chow on
• Chow-chow. Clearly so good they named it twice!

Seal it in jars and get a nice pic with it next to your wood heap. Very natural darling
Seal it in jars and get a nice pic with it next to your wood heap. Very natural darling

Slow Cooking the Winter Chill Away…

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The first chill of winter never gets any easier. If summer is the firm tanned buttocks of the physically active young lady, then the first chill of winter is the pale sagging buttocks of the aged lady… polyester slacks included.

Yes, that is the first chill of winter – it’s a bitch of a surprise initially, but soon enough I will be used to it and accept it and love it like the mother would love her inbred child. Well, maybe not that much love, but soon I will acclimatize to the winter is the point I’m trying to make… I think.

As I sit here trying to warm myself from the alien experience that is the winter chill, on the couch, eating an ANZAC cookie, wrapped in a snuggle rug type thing I have stolen from one of my children, I contemplate things… I contemplate stuff… I contemplate that to an outsider I would look almost exactly the same as the bearded, street wise old hobo who hangs out at the local shops. Well shit Mr “outsider”, I am sorry for trying to keep my ass warm in this time that coldness descends upon us, and yes I am going to have another Anzac cookie. I am effing going to have another Anzac cookie. I am addicted to those things. If they were about when our troops went to war these cookies could have been gifted to the enemy and could have very possibly resolved any conflict before it had a chance to happen…

Also, as always, I contemplate what may constitute my next meal and how that meal is going to help to warm my body and nurture my soul and, well, just get some warmth into my life really. I don’t want a “warm hug”. No, in fact the next person I hear referring to a warming wintery dinner as a “warm hug” will quite possibly receive them self a warm flat palm straight to the face. No “warm hug”. Sorted? Right.

A slow braise, a ragout, a stew… what ever you may call it, it is truly one of the best things one can do for their person in times of such ominous chill.

It need not be a difficult process to transform some fridge stuff and a few things from the larder into a pot of awesome if you just follow a few simple ground rules. Not a recipe, just a formula to success.

So here is my secret formula, my family jewels, my third nipple… or just the things you need to make a decent braised pot of heart warming goodness;

A winter stew...
A winter stew…

Goes into some dishes and then steamed potatoes are pushed through the ricer to make a funny pattern that the kids like on top...
Leftovers go into some dishes and then steamed potatoes are pushed through the ricer to make a funny pattern that the kids like on top…

And then the whole nom nom nom thing happens
And then the whole nom nom nom thing happens

1. Something wet. No, no, no, your sheets are not going to do for this one little boy. We need moisture and we need viscosity (there is a whole other world I can head to with a lead-in line like that, but quite frankly even the Germans wouldn’t touch it, so I to will not be going there today…) as a saucy conduit for flavours to the journey from the plate to your face. Something like stock, booze, tomatoes or a combination can provide you with the sauciness you need
2. Some herb. The stuff you keep in the tobacco tin next to the scissors and the pack of cigarette papers on the top of the fridge will not do for this. If you are smart enough to have a few herbs in your garden then you will be winning right now. A few dried herbs in the cupboard will even find you a place close to the podium. Use grass and dirt if you have nothing else on hand
3. A secondary cut. This is not the knife wound the mass murderer inflicts when the first slash is ineffective, but instead it is the collective term for the cheaper cuts of meat that need a little extra love to achieve the state that is going to leave you laying back in a smoky, post-coital haze, much like the farmer in the pig stall. The cuts of meat less favoured by the consumer because of fuck knows why, because the smart money is on the secondary cut every time; tasty and cheap, much like the Thai lady-boy… except tastier… and not that cheap. But still plenty cheap. Chicken wings and even thighs, beef shin, chuck, cheek or brisket, pork shoulder or shank, lamb shoulder or ribs all fall into this category. Quite conveniently these are all of my favourite cuts. Lucky me
4. Slow cooking. Slow cooking. Slow cooking. Slow cooking is the secondary cuts besty. Without slow cooking the secondary cut is but dog scraps. These guys hang out and the magic happens, much like Torvill and Dean, Thelma and Louise or that guy and girl from Swedish 90’s pop-rock sensation, Roxette. Slow is good. Winter loves slow. A slow cooker will do this job just fine for you

So go now and slow cook some heart warming wintery goodness. Do it quickly.

And if you have leftovers fear not. For when you have leftovers you can put them in the freezer for a rainy day, or even better (or at least as good), put them in a pie. Whether your pie be encased in pastry – puff or short crust, or maybe a pot pie with a filo or potato crust just like the one I made today. Which reminds me, I set out today to pen a little piece about a pie I made with some leftover beef ragout (hence the pie pics) but as I often do, I got caught up in the moment and, after a brief flirtation with the point, I end jumping into bad and going ten rounds of the very best with a short story about the first chill of winter and how I’m going to sort that out so now that has become a story for another time.

I seem to be making it quite clear that I’ve been beating the chill with the whiskey so far… plenty of the finest brown paper bag covered Scotch whiskey.

That was some tasty braised beef shin
That was some tasty braised beef shin

Salsa verde… a green sauce for steak and chicken and just about anything

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Salsa verde.

Literally translated this means green sauce. No mention of rocket science here so it kinda implies that even you’re going to be able to pull this one off! Also, with it’s literal name, the initials GS could also stand for “good shit”, as this is well and truly what salsa verde is – the good shit! On a less than interesting side note, GS is also my initials. What does that mean? Most certainly eff all I would say…

This is another one of those things that I have spoken about previously. Many times in fact, but as it was in the days when the viewing audience for this blog was literally four people and one small goat it received minimal notice and even minimal-er props. One effing like was the only respect that post received, which was just not a good enough result to make me happy. I may have let it slide at the time but really I had no choice – I had an audience of four people and a fucking goat for goodness sakes. Now I have at least double that amount of subscribers so I have decided it’s time to try again. I have blatantly pulled this little recipe from a post I wrote many, many months ago with absolutely no concern for the people that will point at me in the street and label me a slack, uncreative blahdy blahdy wah wah. Those people can lick things that aren’t an actual lollipop.

Salsa verde has more applications than the milk crate in student housing. Try these on for size;
• Sauce for the roast chicken I cooked last week, steak, pork, fish, all the meats really
• Dressing for a mixed grain, corn and kale salad
• Toss through pasta and top with parmesan for #easytastygood
• Use it to finish braised dishes like shanks or ox tail
• Spread it on grilled sour dough for herby bruschetta-y goodness
• Just put it on whatever. It’s really good

Herby goodness from 5 meters out the back door
Herby goodness from 5 meters out the back door

Blitzy blitzy
Blitzy blitzy

Serve it with everything
Serve it with everything

SALSA VERDE (green sauce)

2 cups each picked parsley, mint, basil and rocket (all from the back garden like a baws)
2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon capers and the vinegar they live in
1-2 anchovies, or not if you are vegetarian
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup light olive oil or something less fruity

• Blitz all ingredients except oil in a food processor or blender, or bash them in a mortar and pestle until they are a smooth paste
• Slowly add oil while still mixing to emulsify
• Season*
• Mmmm

*Seasoning in cooking is a biggie. It’s not one of those things you can “just not worry about”. It is quite often what separates the home kitchen from the commercial. Seasoning. Salt and pepper. Essential to heighten taste and enhance flavour. Get into the habit of checking your seasoning. Do it now!

How to make mayonnaise… with the Mayonnaise Nazi

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The Mayonnaise Nazi

“Who is that man in the red mask? That devilishly tall, handsome masked man? The one with the Hitler moustache? The guy who is constantly harping on about how everyone in this world and the next should be making their own mayonnaise…”

OK folks, I stand before you as my blogland audience today to tell you that masked man is in fact me… and that mask is not a mask at all, just a cleverly styled combination of chest and facial hair… well, I may have used a glue stick, too.

“What is this crazy crusade all about?” I hear you ask. “Why do you keep insisting that I should be making my own mayonnaise? I’m not a fucking chef! I work, I have a family, kids yell at me and demand their dinner and I’m in training for shot put at the next Paralympics. In short, I have no time to make mayonnaise.”

Well I’m here to tell you right now folks; YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN EFFING MAYONNAISE. It takes two minutes out of your busy schedule if you have the right gear.

“Oi mate,” I hear pipe up again when clearly you should just sit back and listen. “I told you already, I’m not a fucking chef.”

But my friend, you don’t need to be. Sure I’ve been making my own mayonnaise for a few years now (insert your own over-due sexual innuendo here please), but once you know how, it will seriously take you two minutes a go… both versions.

First, you need a stick wizz… a wizz stick (that’s a hand blender and certainly not your girlfriend’s new vibrator). They are available at K-Mart, Big W, Harvey Normans, Retravision – any home appliance selling type store. It will cost you 40 or so bucks for a cheap one, which will do the job just fine… as long as that job is emulsifying mayonnaise or maybe pureeing a soup or two. If you try to mulch a dead body with your stick wizz you are setting yourself up for an epic fail. And quite frankly, I think you deserve to get your stupid ass busted.

Secondly, you need to have some vegetable/blended/something neutral oil in the cupboard, some eggs in the fridge (keeping chooks will maintain a steady supply), mustard, something acidic like vinegar or lemon and salt and pepper. Too hard? Leave now. Get back to your stupid life and we’ll pretend this conversation never happened.

A good start
A good start
An even better start
An even better start
Trickle trickle. Seba was pouring the oil a little quicker than he should have been but I've got the skills to hold it together
Trickle trickle. Seba was pouring the oil a little quicker than he should have been but I’ve got the skills to hold it together
Slap that on a loaf of Mighty White and take yourself to white trash heaven
Slap that on a loaf of Mighty White and take yourself to white trash heaven

My basic mayonnaise, when it comes down to the bare bones, works something like this;
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon of any kind of mustard. It’s just like sex; try a few options to find your preferred choice. But definitely DO NOT use mustard as a lubricant while having sex. Mustard is not a toy, my friend… not a toy
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or some other kind of vinegar or lemon juice. Once again, it’s just like sex
250ml-ish oil
Salt and pepper
• Put everything except oil into a vessel that will hold it. Get out your stick wizz and prepare yourself for the magic that is about to happen
• Start blitzing the eggy mix and, with the wizz stick running (do not stop that puppy for any reason), slowly start adding your oil to the mix. Just a little trickle, but keep it going. By the last few drops of oil your mix should have thickened into what we shall call mayonnaise and you, my friend, have just made an emulsion*. Magic. You are a kitchen alchemist
• If your mayonnaise is a little thick for your liking add a teaspoon or so of water until it is the desired consistency. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary and BAM! You have mayonnaise
• Pretty painless eh…
• Now you’re all set to go off and make all sorts of flavoured mayos; aioli, tartare, marie rose, seeded mustard, saffron, whatever

*e·mul·sion

[ih-muhl-shuhn]  

noun

1.Physical Chemistry . any colloidal suspension of a liquid in another liquid.
2.Such a suspension used in cosmetics.
3.Pharmacology . a liquid preparation consisting of two completely immiscible liquids, one of which, asminute globules coated by a gum or other mucilaginous substance, is dispersed throughout theother: used as a means of making a medicine palatable.

Another day, another cook-off part 2

It was all about the beef ribs for me...
It was all about the beef ribs for me…

The dishes of Grazza McFilthy Mouth

So, as I previously promised you fine folks (hell yeah I’m talking to you) that I would post recipes for the dishes we cooked in our now legendary cook-off this week, I feel somewhat obliged to actually come through with the goods. I will put myself under un-necessary pressure to get this to the screen in front of you (or possibly behind you if you are a strange troupe of carnival folk who reside illegally in a crazy House of Mirrors and have subsequently taught yourselves to read back-to-front and upside-down) so you may read it now. Damn my inner decent human. Damn his britches…

Prawns with capsicum and feta
Prawns with capsicum and feta

VENEZUALA – braised capsicum, chilli, prawns and feta
I got hold of some super looking king prawns or shrimp or whatever the rest of the world calls them, and they made the dish. It was a very tasty combo but not quite good enough to woo a podium appearance from the judges… I pretty much followed this recipe here, except I used red and green capsicums, which was a course of action that probably made my dish very un-traditional. I don’t care; it was damn tasty, which works for me.

Lamb kabouli
Lamb kabouli

OMAN – lamb kabouli
This dish is good. So good in fact, they gave it a special name all of it’s own; the lamb kabouli. I used this recipe right here and it worked fine for me. The Omani spice mix was a cracker, aromatic with cardamom, cumin and coriander, a bit of heat from the cayenne and a nice sharp hit from the vinegar. I didn’t have any rose water though, so I didn’t use the required ½ cup… I could not have forced myself to put that much rose water in anyhow… maybe that’s why this dish didn’t win me the gold either.

MEXICO – grilled beef short ribs, mole sauce, charred salsa picante
This was going to win it for me for sure. This was bringing home the gold like an old Ford pick-up truck with a full load of boarder jumpers heading to the U S of A. There wasn’t a chance in hell this was not going to win… except that it didn’t. Whatever. It still won it my eyes… I was like the mother of a red-headed child… my little baby was always winning in my eyes… my darling baby. More on the winning dish later…

Beef ribs getting saucy
Beef ribs getting saucy
Ah, those ribs
Ah, those ribs

BEEF RIBS WITH MOLE SAUCE (for 4)
1.5kg beef short ribs
1 cinnamon quill
80g mexican chocolate (if you can’t get hold of it use 40g dark chocolate or a tablespoon of dutch cocoa)
2x 400g tin diced tomatoes

the paste
2 corn tortilla, grilled or roasted with a little oil until brown
80g raisins or sultanas
80g almonds, roasted
¼ cup pepitas, roasted
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, roasted
1 tablespoon coriander seed, roasted and ground
4 cloves, ground
4 cloves garlic
2-4 dried long red chillis (depending on how hot you like it), soaked in hot water for 20 minutes
½ cup water from the pot you simmered the ribs in
• Simmer the beef ribs in a pot of water for 2 hours or until they are tender
• Blitz ingredients for almond paste until it nice and pasty like your chefs’ tan
• Fry paste off in a little oil until you are starting to detect delicious aromas with your nose. Yep. I’m afraid I’ve put your nose in charge of this one
• Add all other ingredients and chuck some salt and pepper in there too.
• Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring regularly so the fruit and nuts don’t burn
• Check seasoning and adjust if neccessary
• Baste the ribs with the sauce and roast at 180C for 15-20 minutes, until they are starting to caramelise and look sexy
• Serve with extra sauce, rice, warm tortillas, salsa picante (recipe below), coriander and lime

SALSA PICANTE
4 ripe tomatoes, charred over a flame until they start to blacken and blister
1 eshallot or half a red onion, bruniose
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 pickled jalepeno chilli, chopped
1 tablespoon of the jalepeno vinegar
a small handful of coriander, chopped
seasoning
• Peel the blackened skin from the tomatoes
• Put everything into a food proccesser and pulse into a chunky salsa type thing

A steak sandwich just so I get to use my homemade tomato sauce

Sweet, sweet steak sandwichy goodness. Stab it with a knife so you look like a boss
Sweet, sweet steak sandwichy goodness. Stab it with a knife so you look like a boss… and eat it with beer

As I stated in the title of this piece, this steak sandwich happened to come into my possession purely for the purpose of carrying my home made tomato sauce to my face. I could’ve just drank it but, quite frankly, that shit just looks plain wrong.

Make a steak sandwich exactly like you would make a steak sandwich. I had mine with a big, fat-as-your-middle-aged-ass rump steak, coleslaw (you surely know how to make that by now if you’re into this blog), slightly pickled (just like me) grated beetroot (I’m pretty sure you’ve got that sorted too), cheese and home made tomato sauce… I guess it would be pretty average if the whole purpose of this post was to do something with the tomato sauce and I didn’t even use it. I put all of that between a couple of pieces of grilled sour dough bread just so I could call this sandwich a sandwich. Yeah, it’s amazing what a man will do to achieve a result these days…

The thing that should be noted right now is the fact that this is all about the tomato sauce/ketchup/whatever. This is something that I have been working on for a few years now… just like my belly… and my carnie collection (both living and dried)… and my ability to amuse passers by with my boyish wit and charm… Seriously though, home made tomato sauce has been perplexing me for years. It had an actual Grazza proof hex on it that prevented me from ever knowing its ways. The recipe for tomato sauce was hidden from my eyes, deep with-in a gypsy’s booty chest, buried on a desert island full of hippies, right underneath the oldest naked hippy girl with the longest arm hair. As I said; a place where I would never be able to find it… until now. That’s right. I have cracked my seven year itch and now have the ability to make kick-ass tomato sauce. In your face seven year itch bitch! And heed these words that are shared with you via my finger and the keys on my laptop and the interweb super highway; it is not a recipe that is easy for me to give up, but… no use taking the thing to the effing grave with me. It’s not like I have a cute little white goatee, colonel status and a perchent for fried chicken. Although, I must say, I do enjoy good fried chicken…

So here we go, and if you think it looks like it has a lot of sugar in it that’s because it does. Three cups of that sweet, sweet shimmering goodness to one and a half kilos of tomatoes… plus it has maple syrup too. Ooh la la.

Make it. Make it now.

I grilled a 1kg piece of rump (a little overkill, but we looked after it) and then sliced it on the diagonal
I grilled a 1kg piece of rump (a little overkill, but we looked after it) and then sliced it on the diagonal
Once again, like a boss
Once again, like a boss
Seba devoured the hell out of his
Seba devoured the hell out of his
Tomato sauce. Cute bottle...
Tomato sauce. Cute bottle…

TOMATO SAUCE
1.5kg ripe tomatoes (the same amount of tomato passata will do the trick)
1 brown onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 long red chilli, chopped
2 cloves
5 drops Tabasco sauce
3 cups sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
1.5 cups white wine vinegar
• Soften onions and garlic in a little oil
• Add everything else and simmer slowly for an hour
• Blitz and pass (or just blitz really well. I don’t like chunky bits in my tomato sauce, they go in the toilet after a big nice on “the juice”)
• Check viscosity by placing a tablespoon of sauce into the fridge to set
• If it needs to be a little thicker return to heat until desired consistency is achieved
• Season with salt and pepper
• Bottle that shit up for your next hamburger, bbq or cheese sandwich