Special fried rice. Why is it so special? It just is, that’s why.


This cracking way to use up extra Christmas ham (that you will probably want to book mark for next year) is based on the Aussie-Chinese take away restaurant classic – the special fried rice.

Why is it called special fried rice?

I am not really sure, but maybe it had the little pink shrimpy things in it and the bog-standard fried rice didn’t.

Whatever the reason, I do remember the special fried rice costing an extra couple o’ bucks a portion and it was worth every penny.

My big tips for cooking fried rice are;
Cook the rice in the morning or the day before so it breaks up nicely and doesn’t get all clumpy and shitty.
Get everything ready. This is called your mise en place. Translated this literally means “putting in place”. Mise en place is super important in the world of wok cookery because it’s such a hot and fast process and you really don’t have the time to be fucking around trying to chop things while the rest is cooking.

The mise en place says it all
Seriously. GET. IT. SORTED!
I used hot coals as my heat source and let me say, it worked a treat
Get all up in that!

SPECIAL FRIED RICE (serves 6)

1 onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 knob ginger, grated or chopped
3 cups finely diced zucchini, corn, frozen peas, carrot, capsicum etc
1-2 cups diced ham
1 cup diced cooked prawns or shrimp
1 cup chopped omelette or scrambled egg (from 3 eggs)
6 cups cooked rice (white or brown is good)
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
Salt and pepper to season
½ bunch shallots (spring onions, scallions), sliced
Vegetable oil
A wok and a hot fire source

Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in your wok hot over a high heat.
Add onions, garlic and ginger and stir fry for 1 minute.
Add vegetables and stir fry for a further 2-3 minutes.
Add ham and prawns and stir fry for a further 2 minutes.
Add omelette and rice and stir fry for another 2 minutes.
Add soy and shallot and stir through.
Taste to check seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper.
Serve it with extra soy sauce and some kind of chilli sauce on the side.
Pretty easy – really good.

Grilled seafood with garlicky butter sauce while the kids are away


A simple, three-step recipe for a damn fine night with your one and only while the children are absent on school camp.

1. Ship the children off to school camp. It is important to remember that this involves more than just sending your offspring to their place of learning (yes, that’s questionable but we’ll get back to that gripping social commentary at a later date) and leaving them with a packed bag and no intention of returning to pick them up. In fact, you can get into a lot of trouble for that type of behavior. You will need the school that your children are attending to host a student camp and take those little cherubs off of your hands, and you need them to be gone for a few nights at the very least.

2. Once the children have stepped out of the car and the doors have been closed behind them it is time to head straight down to your local purveyors of home entertainment goods, quality seafood and booze and, in that order, get yourself a new home entertainment system – something big… and in colour… and with wireless remote control. Yeah, we’re going all out on this one (or maybe you already have one of these and this step can be omitted), get a pile of fresh seafood – we chose prawns (shrimp), scallops, ocean trout and oysters, and defo get some quality booze of some kind – some ingredients for a mojito plus a decent bubbly for later was a pretty good call methinks.

3. Drink some booze and cook that seafood and serve it with garlicky butter as per following recipe. Pretty simple huh…

Outstanding prep to flavour ratio right there

Get it going on

Seafood, butter sauce and booze. That is a good time

GARLICKY BUTTER DIPPY SAUCE FOR SEAFOOD

(serves 2-4, depending on how buttery you like it)

250g unsalted butter
6-8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon seafood seasoning, we used Lanes Q-Nami to absolutely outstanding effect
1 handful parsley, chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
A little extra salt and pepper if needed
A decent pile of fresh seafood, straight off the coals
Bread to mop up any extra buttery goodness

Sauté the garlic with one tablespoon of butter to get the show on the road. Once garlic has softened, add remaining butter and seafood seasoning and cook out over medium heat until butter start to foam.
Pour lemon juice into butter and remove from heat.
Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Get it onto the table with a pile of seafood.
Use bread to mop up any extra puddles of that liquid gold and, if the mood encourages it, maybe even save a little butter sauce for garlic butter boobies later on.
Hey, I don’t know what you freaking pervs get up to when the kids are away…

Venison, root vegetable and stout stew… and navigating a camp kitchen


Our recent trip to NZ had very slight undertones (subtle as a slap in the face with a wet fish) of cooking and/or eating whatever local produce the frozen, undulating, sheep dotted, river covered landscape could offer.

This day we were making our way back to Methven, and the company of our good friends Troppo and Lexi (real names), and we thought it pretty fit that we should cook them a nice hearty, vegetable laden dinner as fresh produce was damn expensive up this way and, well, if there’s one thing you need to be able to afford in this kind of weather it is not fresh vegetables, it is booze – Jesus’s little gift to us to help us stay warm in the cold.

About that dinner.

We finally stumbled on a wee little farmers market in a little sea side town on the east coast, at which one vendor was able to provide us with his home-grown yams, carrots and broccoli, and he was also selling the biggest fricking jerusalem artichokes I’ve ever seen. So big, in fact, I could not even recognise them. When I queried what the name of this strange, palm sized, Anakins-head-when-he-was-crawling-out-of-the-lava looking tuber may have been, the old farmer told me that it was indeed called Jerusalem artichoke and it was grown by another older gentleman up the road (points over shoulder).

“Indeed”, I remarked. “Well I will need to take a couple of those”.

The farmer then packed my produce up for me, I paid him the required toll and we were on our way.

We picked up some Dunedin venison and a bottle of stout from the peeps at Panhead Brewery, and then every item on the shopping list had a nice little tick next to it. We were clearly ready to do some cooking.

You will note my mis en place is in plastic bags. This is so I did not need to carry a box full of crap with me to the camp kitchen where the meal was cooked. “It’s pretty ingenious”, is probably what the other homies in the camp kitchen would have been thinking, and is also no doubt what you would be thinking right now.

Some booze for the stew and some booze for me

There’s those mis en place bags in the camp kitchen
Ready to go… with a big fat side of buttery sautéed cabbage

And a little more booze for me…

NZ VENISON, ROOT VEGETABLE & STOUT STEW

(serves 4)

500g venison shoulder, diced
1 onion, diced kinda chunky
2 carrot, chopped kinda chunky
2 sticks celery, chopped kinda chunky… let’s do all of the vegetables kinda chunky, ay
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 fist sized Jerusalem artichoke, chopped
6-7 yam, chopped
½ bunch thyme
1 tablespoon green peppercorns
500ml stout
500ml stock or water
Salt to season

Season venison and brown meat over med-high heat.
Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme, peppercorn bag and cook out for 5 minutes.
Add booze and stock, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Add artichokes and yam bag and simmer for another hour, or until meat is tender and vegetables are cooked. If the gravy starts to thicken up too much feel free to add a little more moisture in the form of stock or water.
Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Serve it up with a side of NZ’s finest booze.

Smoky grilled chicken


I really do like a good yard bird.

This is a good yardbird type experience.

A smoking hot bronzed bird splayed out in front of you… so moist and ready for the taking… it’s good times.

Euphemisms aside, if they should really ever be put aside, this is some damn tasty bird.

If you can split a whole bird down the backbone you can win this one, because the rest of it is keeping a few coals glowing and you can do that, right? Right?

This isn’t even so much a recipe as it is a little anecdote about what I made for dinner. I feel the time I am spending typing right now would be better spent explaining to you how to butterfly (spatchcock) a bird or even how to make a good chicken stock for the chicken gravy… but you know what? Yeah you know what. You know I am not going to do that because quite frankly, that is just not my style. No, I’m more of a don’t-really-care-about-what-you-reckon, unkept face hair and trucker cap kinda of guy, with maybe a bit of an air of a slight acquired brain injury from one too many stacks on my skateboard when I was younger… or was it from when attempted to form myself into a human snowball while snowboarding last month? Who knows, maybe I’m one of the lucky ones and I scored myself two ABIs… Lucky guy indeed.

Season the bird, inside and out, with your favourite bird seasoning type BBQ rub. I mix a few things together and call it “Big Red Rub”. There is a recipe for it right here. It works for me.

Let the bird hang out in the seasoning for half an hour or so while you get your BBQ fired up.

Get some coals going in your BBQ (pro Q or Weber are the sort of thing you’ll need for this job, or a grill plate over a fire with an old wok over the chicken to keep a little heat in will even do the job. I’m not even joking) exactly like you would normally get some coals going in your BBQ, and get it up to 150C (300F) ish.

Place the chicken skin side up over indirect heat and cover for 1 hour. The chicken should be looking pretty good at this stage… hopefully… I don’t know how I’m going to help you if it isn’t…

Brush the skin of the chicken with a little melted butter or olive oil and then, using two sets of tongs, carefully turn the chicken over, your goal now being to crisp up the skin a little.

The chicken can handle a little direct heat now, but it may need some turning so it doesn’t get “extra crispy” (AKA burnt), so get your comfy chair out, crack another tinny and keep a closer eye on it from here on in. Cook for another 15-20 minutes or until chicken is sexy as and juices from the leg run clear.

Carve it up and drizzle (yes, I know I would normally punch myself in the face for using the word “drizzle”, but I feel it has a place here) with smoked honey to gild the lily. Gilding the lily. Heck yeah, kid!

We served it with roasted carrot and sweet potato, braised kale, cornbread and homemade chicken gravy and I must say, it was damn well delicious.

Braised lamb cutlets with bubble-and-swede… and a couple of things that grow really well on the south island of New Zealand


Yeah, I know right. Who uses lamb cutlets for braising?

Well, in the south island of New Zealand where the sheep population grossly outweighs that of the humans*, lamb cutlets are cheap as bro, so today I would do whatever the heck I wanted with them.

So many swedes for the sheep

Also, what is this whole bubble-and-swede thing, you ask? A damn clever play on words and a really tasty way to eat the humble swede, that’s what it is.

You see, on an island that seems to have the climate to grow absolutely nothing, the folks down south are pretty effing adept at growing the humble swede. Mostly to feed the ever-growing sheep population it would seem, but occasionally for human consumption also. But probably not very much for human consumption as I would imagine they’d be pretty sick of them by now. Probably the carnie folk would still relish a good swede though, I would imagine…

So much dribble.

Whatever the case, it was not uncommon to see roadside market stalls selling swedes (and swedes alone) the size of the head of the carnie folk they might eventually feed, for a buck a pop.

So, the scenario is this – we drove through the hills (there is always “the hills”) of the sheep growing, swede producing south and I said to myself, “today I shall purchase some sheep and some swedes and I shall cook them for our evening meal”.

“That would be heaps Kiwi-ish”, I agreed.

The camper kitchen

Unbelievably cheap-as lamb, bro
Get a bit o’ colour on those lamb cutlets
Mashy the swede and potato
…and then mix in the sautéed leek…

Truly delicious. Wash it all down with a local alcoholic beverage of some description

LAMB CUTLETS, TAGINE GRAVY, BUBBLE-AND-SWEDE

(serves 4)

8-12 lamb cutlets, depending on size and appetite (NZ origin)
Moroccan seasoning (dubious origin)
½ onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped (NZ origin)
1 small knob ginger, grated (origin unknown)
1 teaspoon chilli paste (origin unknown)
A splash of some white wine (NZ origin)
400g tin diced tomatoes (definitely not of NZ origin as we could not afford the barter of 12 gold doubloons and 3 sex slaves that was necessary to obtain said tomatoes)
1 decent sized swede, diced large (NZ origin)
1 leek, sliced (NZ origin)
1 potato, diced large (probably NZ origin)
50-100g butter (we had some NZ stuff earlier in the week, but… hmmm… we don’t have any more)
Salt and pepper to season

Season cutlets with Moroccan seasoning. Brown cutlets in a pan over med-high heat for 2 minutes each side. Remove and set aside.
Add onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and a little extra Moroccan seasoning to the same pan with all of the lamby flavour, and sauté for a few minutes or until soft.
Deglaze pan with a splash of white wine and add diced tomatoes.
Return lamb chops to pan, cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or so, until lamb is nice and tender.
While that’s going on you’ll need to sort your bubble and swede.
Boil swede and potato until nice and soft. Drain.
Sauté leek with half of the butter until soft and sexy smelling.
Mash swede and potato with remaining butter, mix in sautéed leek and then season well. Taste it and make sure the seasoning is good.
Plate it up however you see fit.
A bit of parsley would be nice but as you can probably see, we didn’t have any of that on hand.
Feeling the NZ vibe? I am.

*Seriously. I grew up in the south of Western Australia and I thought that place was an oversized sheep property but this place is nek level. The locals around here would be chucking a few sheep in the front yard before they ever contemplated putting in a rose garden or a kids cubby house I can guarantee you. I have respect for that kind of sheep love.

Loaded ass jacket potatoes


A la my recent reports on the virtues of trialing new BBQ techniques and having leftover smoked meats, here is another recipe/anecdote/bit of dribble to keep that leftover meat out of the dog’s belly and turn it into another cracking meal to make your face smile…

This time we’re talking potatoes. Everyone love potatoes, right? Jacket potatoes on the coals are the next step upwards toward the heavens for the humble spud too, right? Stuffed or loaded jacket potatoes are fully nek level fo’ sho. No denying. Am I correct?

Yup.

I thought so.

Are you keeping up?

That’s OK, neither am I… I drink way too much coffee to be able to keep up with my head… that shall not stop me from moving on though…

These potatoes are cooked to a point where they are damn well close to being labeled as a potato god and then their potato-y lily is gilded with an array of ingredients that make it even more attractiver. If a girl potato walked by these Adonis’ of the potato world, they would hook up for sure… well, there’d be a cheeky wristy involved at the very least.

I am heaps good at English, ay.

Wrap your taters and make them nice and warm

Saute an onion good and proper

Fill ‘er up


LOADED ASS JACKET POTATOES

(serves 4)

4 fist sized potatoes (I have a decent sized fist)
1-2 cups of smoky or roasted meat leftovers, chopped and heated
2 tins of baked beans or the equivalent from your last batch of homemade sexy beans, heated
100g cream cheese and/or grated cheddar cheese
Sauteed onions
Sauerkraut
Sour cream
Hot sauce
BBQ rub, chives and parsley to garnish
Leafy salad or ‘slaw to serve

Splash a little olive oil on your potato, season with a little salt and pepper and then wrap in alfoil.
Get some coals in your fire pit or BBQ or even in your fire place if you’ve got it fired up, and place potatoes around the edge, just nudging the coals a little.
Rotate potatoes every 10-15 minutes for 40 minutes or until soft in the middle – a good poke with a butter knife should be a pretty good indicator of this.
Using tongs or your tough-guy hands, remove potatoes from coals and set aside for a minute so they are not searing hot when you are trying to serve them.
Cut a cross through the middle of the potato so you may open it up a little and fill it with tasty good things and not at all because this is going to be kinda a religious experience.
Fill with beans followed by cheese, meat, sautéed onions, sauerkraut, sour cream and hot sauce if desired.
Garnish with garnishy things and serve with something green and leafy on the side.
Thank me later.

So ugly but so damn beautiful

New Zealandy snow posts coming right up…