Sweet Chilli Sauce

Sweet Chilli SauceThe other day I was standing at the kitchen bench looking at the half a kilo of chillies I had just picked off the two chilli plants in the front yard. I was stunned at how many chillies I had at the end of the season and wasn’t really sure what to do with them all.

I had already stocked up my freezer with a bag of chillies, there was a long chain of them drying in the spare room and I still had more chillies!!

So I turned to facebook and people suggested that I try making sweet chilli sauce with them!

Ingredients

  • 500g long fresh red chillies, stems trimmed.
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 750ml (3 cups) white vinegar
  • 650g (3 cups) caster sugar

Method

1. Halve 100g of the chillies and place in the bowl of a food processor. Halve and deseed the remaining chillies. Coarsely chop and place in the food processor. Add garlic and 250ml white vinegar. Process until finely chopped.

I used Bell chillies because that is what I had growing in the front yard. Just be aware of your cutting time ratio. If you are using small chillies, you will be chopping for a lot longer than if you use bigger ones.

2. Place the chilli mixture, remaining vinegar and caster sugar in a large saucepan over a low heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Try not to take longer than 5 minutes on this step. If you are cheating and using normal sugar instead of caster sugar, toss it in first with a dash of vinegar and get it started first, then it will dissolve in time.

3. Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 35-40 minutes or until the sauce thickens.

Now, don’t be fooled, it might not look like it has thickened enough, but trust me, it will. Once it is in the bottle it will thicken. Don’t do my trick first time around and streach this out to an hour and a half, you will end up with sweet chilli toffee.

4. Lastly Pour into sterilised airtight bottles and seal. After all of the tomato sauce bottling, this is getting really quite easy. Just watch out, the sweet chilli sauce will be hot and with all the sugar, it is quite sticky and so it will really burn if it drips on you.

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Sambal Oelek chilli chicken

I picked up a jar of Sambal Oelek a while ago (I can’t remember why) but I found it hiding at the back of the cupboard unloved tonight, so I thought, I can do something with this…

Ingredients
250 grams Chicken Breast
1 tbs sambal oelek
1 tbs soy sauce
1 clove of Garlic, crushed
1 tbs grated fresh ginger
2 tbs peanut oil
200 grams green beans
2 tbs Oyster sauce
Chopped coriander and toasted slivered almonds to garnish
Steamed rice to serve (jasmine rice works really well with this one)

Method
Start by thinly slicing the chicken and toss it into a bowl. Throw in the soy sauce, Sambal Oelek, ginger and half the oil. Set this aside for 5 minutes to let the flavours happening

Heat up the rest of the oil in a wok until it is just about to smoke. Toss in the chicken and quickly cook it. Once it is cooked, put it aside so you can head on to the vegies…
Roughly clean out your wok (DON’T WASH IT!) and toss in your beans and lightly stir fry them with the Oyster sauce.

Plate it up, rice first, the chicken and the beans on the side. Sprinkle the chicken with the almonds and the coriander.

Basil Pesto

Every year we alway have basil planted in-between our tomato plants and they always grow to a huge size! It means that we always have far more than we can eat so every year I end up making three or four batches of pesto to freeze for the winter months. It really makes a great pasta sauce!!

Ingredients
3 cups of Basil leaves
100 grams of parmesan
1/2 cup of Pine nuts
2 cloves of garlic
Olive Oil

Method
First off, lightly roast the pine nuts in the oven at 200oC for 10 minutes or you can dry fry them in a frying pan. Either way be careful, they tend to go from almost toasted to burnt in seconds. If you want to, just throw them in un-toasted.

Pop all of the ingredients into a blender or food processor and wizz till everything is finely chopped. Then slowly add the oil until everything come together. thats it, your done!

If your going to freeze your pesto, stick it in a small container then drizzle some oil on top to keep the air out otherwise things will go a bit brown in the freezer.

Barbecued Marinated Swordfish

It is summer and there is nothing better than a barbecue in the back yard with loads of wine and some good food. Most Australian BBQ however are relegated to just cooking sausages and lamb chops or beef stakes. Whilst this is can be good, I find that there is nothing better than seafood on the BBQ!

This marinade helps to show of the taste of the swordfish, not that it really needs it. Whilst i have the BBQ on, I often just cook up some veggies to go with the fish.

Ingredients
4 Swordfish stakes (about 250grams each)img_0034.jpg
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tablespoons of verjuice (or 3 tablespoons of white wine and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice)
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper to season

in a glass bowl or dish (try not to use metal as the taste of metal tends to carry into the fish) mix all of the ingredients except the swordfish to get everything blended together. Then place swordfish steaks into the marinade, and refrigerate for an hour or so.

Preheat your BBQ till it is nice and hot and put a bit of oil on it so things don’t stick.

Barbecue swordfish steaks for about 5 minutes on each side. Be careful not to overcook them, you want them to be just cooked not overcooked.

Garnish with some parsley and a lemon wedge.

Moroccan Lamb Pizza

I have been making this one on and off for a few years now. I originally found the recipe on the internet somewhere but now that I go looking for it I can’t find it to reference it, so if it is yours, please let me know as it is great!

It is perfect for dinner for 2-4 people or as a different entrée for 8 to 10 people. To start with you are going to need a pizza base, so either whip one up or hit the local supermarket for a ready made one.

If you can’t find lamb mince, a lamb breast or lamb shoulder cut into a small dice will work just as well.

Ingredients
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 Onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
225g lean lamb mince
1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons pine nuts
120g mozzarella, grated

1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons mango chutney

Raita
1 cup natural yoghurt
1 Lebanese cucumber, grated
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped

Method
Preheat your oven to 200C

Heat the oil in a frypan/wok, add the onion and 1 clove of garlic and cook over a medium heat for a minute, then add the lamb and cook till the lamb is browned. Drain off any excess oil.
Add the tomatoes, cumin, ground coriander and cinnamon and cook for 5 minutes, stir in the fresh coriander and 2 teaspoons of the lemon juice.

Spread the lamb mix over your pizza base and sprinkle with pine nuts and mozzarella. Cook for about 10 minutes, till the cheese has melted and the pizza base has cooked through.

To make the raita, mix all of the ingredients in a bowl.

Toss the mint and parsley leaves in the remaining lemon juice and season with some pepper.

Serve the pizza topped with herb leaves, raita and the chutney.

Basic Pizza dough recipie

One of my favourite weekend foods is a good pizza, made from scratch! As a kid Mum used to make her own bases and we got to put toppings on them so we always got what we wanted. Not much has changed, Dad now has a wood fired oven so they are more gourmet but that is about it!

If you are going to do this often, I recommend buying a bread machine as they do a much better job at kneading than I do!

Ingredients
375g Bread Flour (this is key, you want Tipo 00 Flour if you can)
200ml warm Water
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
7 grams Dry Yeast (one sachet)
pinch of salt

Method
Mix the warm water with the yeast till the yeast dissolves then just leave it awhile till it starts to bubble, this should be about 5 minutes.

Then throw everything in a bowl. Some recipes will tell you to sift the flour first but I find that it doesn’t make much difference. Mix it all together to form a dough.

Flour your bench (or breadboard or any other flat surface) and pop the dough on it. Now comes the hard part, knead it for ten minutes! This is why the bread machine is a good option. Then pop it in a bowl, cover it and leave it in a nice warm corner for about 25 minutes. It should double in size.

Then give it a good punch it back down and turn it out onto your floured bench. Knead it once again till it is nice and smooth.

Now time to try your hand at making a pizza shape. I have not been game enough to try tossing it in the air, i often just roll it flat with a rolling pin

Now turn your oven on as hot as it will go, 220 C or higher. You want your oven as hot as it can go for when you pop it in.

Top your pizza base with anything (there will be a stack of recipes coming soon about what you can do with a good pizza base) and when your oven is past 220 C pop your pizza in and then turn it down to around 200 C and leave it to cook for 10 to 15 minutes.

Now the fun begins! Depending on what is on your base, how thick your base is, how good your oven is and a whole stack of other things I have not fully worked out yet, your cooking time will vary so keep a close eye on it!

BBQ Cooking Classes?

If you’re anything like me, you love getting the BBQ out and having a few beers on a Sunday afternoon… But the food is always the same, Snags and steak. I wanted a bit of a change so Seafood BBQ cooking classes it was!

I am on my way, driving over the Sydney Harbour Bridge bound for a secret destination which will allow me to never fear the BBQ again. I have been told of a special place where I can learn the secrets that will enable me to turn what is often a bit of a mess into a culinary masterpiece without breaking into a sweat!

Today was going to be a turning point in my life, where I would perfect my skills with the humble BBQ, as guided by our knowledgeable head chef and instructor, Ben. I was greeted and then introduced to the crew, and almost magically, I found an ice-cold beer in my hand. Now, I’m no expert but that is certainly a good start to any BBQ cooking lesson!

We put on our dashing aprons and with a quick word about safety, it was then onto the menu. Today was the seafood lesson, which was perfect for me – I have always wanted that something else up the sleeve; the wow factor! Let the truth be told, I wanted to receive the ‘I didn’t know you could cook that on a BBQ…!?’ comment from my mother – only then would I know that I have truly succeeded in life!

Today’s menu included huge king prawns, swordfish, octopus and snapper. We started with some simple shopping tips to help make sure we got what we needed when we hit the fish markets and how to avoid the pitfalls of shopping for fresh fish.

We then moved on to peeling the delicious green king prawns and the first of Ben’s ‘prepared earlier’ magic sauces. In all fairness, I could see how 10 minutes of quality time with my food processor could produce these stunning sauces and we were assured of taking home the delicious recipes at the end of the class. By the time we had prepared the seafood, the BBQs were already nice and hot, so there was no holding back – we were all gourmet chefs in 10 minutes and just 4 minutes later were indulging in a prawn appetiser.

The magic of this seafood BBQ course was to sneak up on us at this point. As we retired from the hotplate and turned around to eat our first creation, lesson 2 was upon us. What wine should you serve? A quick summary followed and then a sample was poured for all.

The next course was of course, fish – a huge swordfish! We had a lesson about preparing fish and buying cost effectively, and then, of course more cooking and more eating. My favourite part!

The last two dishes took a little more work. Cooking two whole snappers was not something we were up to just yet, so it was time to sit back and watch the master at work, as we put our octopus on the BBQ. Ben, once again, was armed with the ‘special sauce’ that made our humble octopus something else and when paired with another fine Australian wine. It was like manna from heaven!

When the snapper was finally declared done, we retreated inside to the comfort of the air conditioning to sit down for lunch and a recap of everything we had learnt. Apart from a great lunch, we had learnt a tonne about cooking on our humble BBQ. By now I should be a wiz when it comes to the next family cook-off… swordfish and ‘special sauce’ anyone?