Tag Archives: garlic

Spinach sauce with savoury French Toast – a recipe

This is a very Hungarian meal and may not be to everyone’s liking but Mum made it for me all through my childhood and I still make it for The Offspring [and myself].

Spinach sauce

1 large bunch of English spinach

2 cloves of garlic

3 tablespoons of plain [all purpose?] flour

2 tablespoon of Peanut or olive oil

milk

Method

Begin by stripping the spinach leaves off the stalks and washing them AT LEAST 3 times. This is the part I dislike because it takes time and patience but if you don’t get all the minute bits of grit or sand or whatever it is off the spinach leaves your sauce will crunch between your teeth – most unpleasant!

Once the spinach is clean put a small amount of water to boil in the bottom of a pot large enough to hold all the spinach. When the water is boiling throw the spinach into the pot, cover and let the spinach wilt for no more than 1 minute. As soon as the spinach collapses into a green ball remove from heat, strain through a colander and refresh with a quick rinse under cold water. Let it drain.

While the spinach is draining peel the garlic and mash it with a heavy knife. I find the easiest way to do this is to use the back of the knife to scrape away at the cloves until they break down into a paste. Garlic presses are no good because you end up with small bits of garlic that can be rather overpowering when you bite on them.

Once the garlic is mashed make a white roux with the oil and flour in a pot large enough to hold the finished spinach sauce.  To make the roux stir the flour and oil together over a gentle heat and keep stirring for about 2 minutes until the flour cooks. Do NOT let it go brown!

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the mashed garlic. The roux can now sit for a little while.

Put the strained spinach onto a wooden chopping board and chop until very fine.

Add the chopped spinach to the roux and combine well until there are no lumps of white showing.

The next bit is a little hard to quantify but pour in at least 1 cup of cold milk and immediately stir into the spinach mixture. At this stage the sauce should be quite ‘wet’. If it looks too thick add a little more milk then return the pot to the heat and allow the sauce to come to a simmer. You must keep stirring [with a wooden spoon] until the sauce is completely cooked. Depending on quantities this could take ten minutes.

As the sauce simmers it will start to thicken and the spinach will ‘bleed’ that lovely green colour into the milk. The sauce is done when it has a nice overall green colour and has thickened to the point where you could almost eat it with a fork – so not runny but not like porridge either. Set aside while you make the french toast.

French Toast

The Hungarian version of french toast is called ‘Bundás kenyér’ and translates as ‘fur coated bread’ [bunda means fur coat. Don’t ask]. Each slice should be golden brown, slightly crunchy and sprinkled with salt, not sugar!

4 whole eggs

6 slices of bread – stale or fresh. [I allow roughly 1 egg to 1.5 slices of bread, depending on the size of the slices]

peanut oil for frying – should cover the bottom of the frying pan with a bit to spare but remember, you are not deep frying here.

Method

I use a heavy cast iron frying pan so it needs to be heated ahead of time while I prepare the rest of the ingredients. Adjust to suit your own pan.

While the oil and pan are heating, crack the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly with a fork – just enough to mix the white and the yolk.

Cut each slice of bread in half and arrange bread and egg mix near the frying pan. Place a serving plate within reach of the pan.

Once the oil is hot [it should be radiating heat but not quite smoking] dip a piece of bread into the egg, flip it with a fork and immediately lift out of the egg. Let the excess egg drip back into the bowl and then gently place the bread into the hot oil.

[Note : you have to be quick getting the bread into and out of the egg because you don’t want it to get soggy. If it gets soggy it will not fry to a crisp finish.]

Fry the bread in batches until the bottoms go a nice golden colour. Turn, fry the other side and then place onto the serving plate. You can drain the bread on kitchen towel if you want but I rarely bother.

Once the bread is all done, sprinkle with a little salt and it is ready to serve. Reheat the spinach just a little bit and stir the slight ‘crust’ on top until it reintegrates with the sauce.

To serve

Arrange slices of golden bread in a fan shape on a plate and pour half a ladle of spinach sauce next to the bread. It should look rather pretty. Then spoon some of the sauce onto the bread and eat the two together to get the combination of smooth, garlicky sauce and crisp, eggy bread. Enjoy!


Caramelised belly pork with sour [Morello] cherries

With a heatwave forecast for the next three days, I thought it might be a good idea to cook dinner this morning, while everything was still nice and cool. So I did, and it turned out to be one of the yummiest recipes I’ve ever tried. Sadly I can’t post a photo because we ate it before I thought of taking one.

The idea for the recipe came from Aussie chef Kylie Kwong. She makes a delicious looking dish with bacon, red wine and cherries :

http://www.abc.net.au/kyliekwong/recipes/s952509.htm

My version is a much simpler dish featuring fresh belly pork and sour cherries, two ingredients I almost always keep on hand.

Ingredients [for 2]

4 lean rashers of fresh belly pork :

belly pork

2 cups of sour, Morello cherries and [their] juice. They come in a jar like this and 2 cups will be approximately 2/3 of the jar :

morello cherries jar

1/4 cup raw sugar

2 cloves garlic [crushed]

1 fresh bay leaf or 2? dried ones

1/2 of a large white salad onion roughly sliced

salad onions

1 tablespoon peanut oil

1/2 teaspoon table salt

Method

Mix all the ingredients of the ‘marinade’ in a baking dish just large enough to hold the meat. Arrange the pork in the marinade and spoon the cherries and onion mix over the top – i.e. you cook the pork in the marinade straight away.

Loosely cover the baking dish with foil and place in a moderate oven [approx 150 C] for about an hour.

[I don’t like the flavour of the bay leaf to be too overpowering so I removed it when I turned the meat – after about 1/2 an hour].

When the meat is tender, remove the foil and allow to bake for a further 1/2 an hour or until most of the juices have evaporated leaving a lovely, caramelised sauce over the meat.

Allow to stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serving, or make ahead and refrigerate until needed.

[I made it ahead and heated it up for dinner…but only until the meat was just warm and the sauce sticky. Over cooking at this point could burn the whole dish].

The Offspring and I ate a small lettuce and avocado salad first, as a sort of entree. Then we ate the meat on its own. It was so rich we didn’t need anything else. I think this is going to become one of my favourite no-fuss dishes.

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 

 

 


The treasure you least expect

I’ve been chatting to blogger Anne Lawson for some time now, and I knew she was an aussie, like me, but I had no idea she was an artist. Tonight, for the first time ever, I visited Anne’s online shop, and was stunned by the beauty of her botanical drawings.

I know this will sound a little strange, but the one that I kept going back to was a black and white sketch of a head of garlic. I’ve had a bumper crop this year [of garlic] so that could have something to do with my garlic obsession, but have a look at this pic and tell me that this is not beautiful!

garlic by anne lawson

Anne is also fascinated by feathers, and shells, and gum leaves… and draws them with exquisite skill. But… I just couldn’t go past the garlic, so I bought it. 😀

cheers

Meeks


Cold nights and chicken soup

I spent quite some time thinking about this post – all of five minutes – before deciding to indulge the foodie within. If you must blame anyone then please blame Maggie O and SweetMother. Those  dear lady bloggers are talking diets and food at the moment and I’m just too weak to resist such a potent trend so what else could I write about except my Mother’s chicken soup?

My Mum swore that chicken soup could cure anything. Sadly no double-blind experiments were ever done to prove or disprove that assertion so I can’t promise you a cure for cancer or bunions or sagging boobs but it does taste wonderful and is one of the easiest recipes I know. Plus! You don’t have to go out and buy a ton of fancy ingredients. All you’ll need are a few common vegetables, a chicken and some soup noodles. So let’s begin!

Hungarian Chicken Soup Recipe

Ingredients :

1 whole chicken or chicken portions with bones – think wings, drumsticks etc. The flavour comes from the bones people.

1 brown onion

3 cloves of garlic

2 good sized carrots

4-5 sticks of celery

1 parsnip [optional]

1 capsicum [sweet bell pepper]

fresh parsley

salt & pepper [white or black according to taste]

soup noodles

Method :

Put the chicken into a pot at least twice as large as the chicken. Fill with cold water and bring to the boil.

Peel the onions and garlic and throw into the pot whole.

Wash the celery sticks, cut in half and throw in the pot.

Peel the carrots [and parsnip if using], cut in half and throw in the pot.

Wash the capsicum [bell pepper], cut in half and throw in the pot.

Wash the parsley [about 2 small handfuls] and – you guessed it – throw in the pot.

By now the water should be close to boiling and you should see a pale foam starting to come to the top. Skim the foam off a couple of times with a ladle so you end up with a nice, clear broth at the end. Once the foam stops, lower the heat to a gentle simmer, add a little bit of salt and a fair bit of pepper, put the lid on and go away for about 2 hours.

The biggest secret to flavour is time. You’ve put all the good stuff in now let it cook long enough for all those flavours to combine.

When the soup is cooked you will have a number of options :

I’m hungry now option

In a separate pot cook some fine soup noodles [I use angel hair noodles that take about 3 minutes to cook].

While the noodles are cooking grab your trusty ladle and skim off as much of the fat floating on top of the soup as you can.

Drain the noodles, serve up into bowls and top with the cooked carrots and lots of chicken broth. Add extra salt because my recipes are never salty enough and eat!

I’m on a diet option

Nothing terribly tricky for this one, just patience and a bit of organization.

Pour the soup through a strainer into another pot. Reserve the carrots [and chicken if you like boiled chicken] and throw the rest into the compost.

Let the soup broth cool a little then cover and put in the fridge overnight.

When you’re ready for dinner the next night, skim off all the congealed bits of fat floating on top of the broth and discard. What you’re left with is a rich broth with no fat. Reheat and serve as for the ‘I’m hungry now‘ option.

I’ve had enough soup now option

The broth will last for about 3 days in the fridge. After that you can freeze it in smaller portions. I use these portions to add extra flavour to everything from rice to sauces to stews. And of course you can always just reheat them as soup! Nothing goes to waste 😀

I probably shouldn’t write this next bit as it completely ruins the healthy, low fat tone of the soup recipe but… I sometimes whip up some crepes to round off a soup meal and fill those last few holes. They are delicious  served with cinnamon and sugar or jam or even just lemon juice and sugar. If you’re good and ask nicely I may post my recipe for quick, easy crepes on another day when I’m feeling self indulgent…

Enjoy!


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