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Oven Baked BBQ Pork Belly

I have house guests so I am cooking a lot recently but have not been very good with keeping up the posting. I will try to catch up over the next few days.

My house guests are incredibly brave people who have immigrated to Australia with a suitcase each and a dream of a better life. I cannot but wonder at their bravery and support their hopes and dreams. I was fortunate enough to have been born here, if not for that accident of birth I may have been in their position. I am grateful every day for the fact that I am fortunate enough to be able to walk freely in the streets without risk of attack, injury or death. We, in Australia, are indeed lucky and I have seen enough of the world to know and appreciate it.

Oven Baked BBQ Pork Belly

4 Tbls tomato sauce
1 Tbls ready made BBQ sauce
1 Tbls Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbls oil
1 Tbls cider vinegar
1 Tbls sweet chilli sauce
2 Tbls Kecap Manis
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger

500g pork belly strips

Mix all sauce ingredients.
Place pork in a baking dish.
Pour over sauce and marinate for a few hours.
Preheat oven to 200C
Cook for 45 mins or until cooked and crisp.
Serve with rice or vegetables.

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Baked Sweet Potato Shoestring Fries

It’s been a long while since I posted. Time is seemingly flying passed at an accelerated rate these days and finding the time to fit everything in is just not happening easily.

First of all a new grocers opened up near where I live. This changed my life. Access to good quality, cheap produce is something that has been a serious problem for me for quite a while. Produce was available but it was in no way near the quality that I craved mainly because things were never ripe as opposed to the opposite. So I changed my diet. I decided that with summer upon us here it was time to start eating healthier and lighter. I was worried that this would leave me no meals to write about because who wants to read about someone’s ‘diet’. But it isn’t like that at all, I am not pushing healthy eating or being a preachy weight loss fanatic, I just needed something less stodgy now that the hot weather is here so pretty much my carbs have taken a hike and vegies, meats, cheeses and dairy have come to stay for a while. Frankly, right at the moment, in 44C heat, I don’t miss my cakes and biscuits at all, the bread I miss a bit but I am actually loving my food and eating truckloads of it. I am ALWAYS hungry. The amount of times I trek to the grocers, I should have shares in the place.

Since this happened I have also been overseas, had two Christmases and celebrated the New Year. I also had a couple of weeks off over the holiday season, the same as a lot of other people. Enough to feel refreshed and relaxed now that I am back in the office and just enough to begin to think how nice it would be to not have to go back at all.

Another Jimmy’s steak came out of the bottom of the deep freeze the other day and was delightfully barbequed by my husband. I knocked up a batch of sweet potato fries to go with, simple yet fabulous.

Baked Sweet Potato Shoestring Fries

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 5mm strips
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Combine oil, spices and potatoes in a large bowl; toss well.
Arrange potato strips in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 200 degrees for 30 minutes or until edges are crisp.


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Chinese BBQ Pork

What does my brain immediately dream up when I see pork fillets displayed in the meat section of my local grocery shop? Chinese BBQ pork that is what! I saw these two fillets for sale and that was my first and only thought, this would be a plan that would NOT be waivered from.

So pork in hand I began preparations. I marinated the pork overnight, just to get that flavour and the redness into the pork (the flavour is great but I wanted that red ‘take away Chinese’ visual component also)

This was cooked in our hooded BBQ outside and aside from the whole thing catching alight in the process, it cooked beautifully. Bit of a fat fire in the bottom of the BBQ, nothing to really worry about although it did give me a few anxious moments hoping that my carefully prepared meal wasn’t going to end up as charcoal.

Chinese Barbeque Pork

1 kg pork fillet
Marinade
2 star anise, crushed
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1½ teaspoon dry sherry
2 teaspoons ginger, grated
1 large clove garlic
1½ teaspoons red food colouring

For the marinade, combine all ingredients together and mix well.
Pour over pork, cover and refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally if possible.
Barbeque pork, brushing with marinade, for around 15 minutes.

1 tablespoon of Chinese five spice powder can be substituted for the star anise.

I also put the marinade on the stove and reduced it, stirring in a few chopped green onions while the pork was cooking. We poured this over the pork and rice when we served it up.


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Gingerbread

My daughter fancied making gingerbread men the other day. Being bereft of a man shaped cutter she settled on a heart shape. These ended up being a soft chewy cookie, the icing giving them a bit of a crunch. She enjoyed the process and we all enjoyed the results.

Gingerbread

125g butter, at room temperature
100g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
125ml (1/2 cup) golden syrup
1 egg, separated
375g (2 1/2 cups) plain flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Plain flour, to dust
1/2 tsp lemon juice
150g (1 cup) pure icing sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 180°C.
Brush 2 baking trays with melted butter to lightly grease.
Use an electric beater to beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy.
Add the golden syrup and egg yolk and beat until combined.
Stir in the flour, ginger, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.
Press dough into a disc.
Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
Meanwhile, place egg white and lemon juice in a clean, dry bowl. Use an electric beater to beat until soft peaks form.
Gradually add icing sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Divide icing among 3 bowls.
Add desired colouring to the bowls and stir until combined.
Cover bowls with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.
Place the dough between 2 sheets of baking paper and roll out until about 4mm thick.
Use a cutter to cut out shapes. Place on trays about 3cm apart. Repeat with any excess dough.
Bake in oven for 10 minutes or until brown. Remove from oven. Transfer to a rack to cool.
Decorate with prepared icing either with a knife or piping bag, or both.


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Coconut Chicken

This was another pre-prepared and frozen dinner that satisfied the ‘quick and easy to bung in the oven’ requirements of holiday eating. This was a bit of a ‘taste of the tropics’ that we had with rice and broccoli.

There was a lot of liquid in this dish but that could be largely due to the fact that I used a 400 ml can of coconut cream instead of the recommended 340 ml. It would be just as nice with a little less liquid, maybe even nicer. There was a further suggestion to remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade, then bake or grill the chicken until cooked. I haven’t tried this method as I hate to waste the spicy coconut sauce.

Coconut Chicken

6 chicken thighs
340 ml can coconut cream
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger

Combine coconut cream, turmeric, chilli powder and ginger in a large shallow dish.
Place chicken thighs in marinade and refrigerate overnight.
Pour chicken and marinade into a baking dish.
Bake at 180C for 40 mins or until cooked through.
Serve with rice or vegetables.


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Old Bay Seasoning

Being an avid collector of recipes means coming up against ingredients that are not always readily available in my area. The easiest solution is just to research the item and see if I can either reproduce or substitute; this often gives me an entirely new recipe to add to my collection. One such item that recently became a must to try for me was ‘Old Bay Seasoning’.

Straight from Wikipedia – Old Bay Seasoning is a blend of herbs and spices that is marketed in the United States by McCormick & Company, and produced in Maryland. It is produced in the Chesapeake Bay area where it was developed by German immigrant Gustav Brunn in 1939 and where the seasoning is very popular to this day. (Learn more here)

It is apparently a popular spice in its region to use with anything and everything but most used with seafood and chicken.

Anyway, as I have had a few recipes sitting on the back burner because of a lack of ‘Old Bay’ I decided to do something about it. Seasonings are one thing that you can reproduce with a fair amount of accuracy, just so long as you can get a good recipe and the right ingredients. What follows is a recipe garnered from several internet pages and melded together to suit what I had available (luckily I have a ridiculous collection of herbs and spices)

Old Bay Mix

1 tablespoon ground dried bay leaves
2 teaspoons celery salt
1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground mace
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Store in an airtight container and store in a cool place.
Use with seafood or chicken.


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The testing of the mystery chillies

I finally got around to using some of my chillies. I decided to make a chicken dish with a Thai bent on it, it obviously would require chillies, I actually chose it because I was just dying to know what the mystery chillies were like. I went out in the garden, armed with a small pair of scissors and a small bowl and began snipping. I brought in about 10 chillies in all for the first taste test.

I first checked the refrigerator for the necessaries, and yes, there was an abundance of milk and yoghurt type products, just in case it went badly. I won’t lie, I was nervous and I nibbled the end of a chilli, just a teeny bite, just to break the skin. And…..

A huge anticlimax.

A strong capsicum flavour but no heat, nothing, zip, zero, nada. I steeled myself and took a larger bite and again I was surprised to taste capsicum but no signature burn. I threw all caution to the wind and bit of a yet larger chunk, in desperation I included some seeds in this bite, searching for that heat, the burn, the pain of fresh chilli, and I found it! There is heat, not so much in the flesh but very definitely in the seeds of these tiny chillies. I was simultaneously both ecstatic and in some pain as my bottom lip and the end of my tongue reacted to the capsaicin contained in those tiny seeds.

It was a moment of both idiocy and triumph that meant that I could successfully use my tiny mystery chillies to create those dishes in which heat is called for. So I promptly got cooking.

 

Chicken in Coconut Milk

1kg chicken drumsticks
1 onion, chopped
2 cups coconut milk
4 dried kaffir leaves (mine were frozen)
2cm cube fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 red chilli, seeded and chopped (I used about 3, they are tiny and not so hot)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar (I used a piece of palm sugar because I had it)

Remove skin form chicken pieces and discard. Place chicken pieces into a large saucepan.
Add all remaining ingredients and bring to the boil.
Lower heat and simmer uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until chicken is cooked.
Remove kaffir leaves and discard.
Serve with steamed long-grain rice.

 

This was so good, I had some leftovers that went into the refrigerator, rice and all. This was really good even 2 days later so I imagine that it would freeze pretty well if required.