Tuesday 11 November 2014

Beggars' Ham.

Beggars' Ham?

In memory of Toby, David Harry Courtney, I'd like to call this Toby's Beggars' Ham. Now I'll have to make Toby's Mango Chutney.

I'm not really sure what this recipe is called, but after a conversation with Steve, about Beggars'Chicken, (which is a fresh chicken wrapped in Bread Dough & baked), Stephen told me about his Dad, Toby cooking Leg Hams in the Bakery Ovens at Christmas. Some were wrapped in brown paper & other Leg Hams were wrapped in bread dough. 

Before I confuse you all, Toby, Steve's dad was a butcher & his grandfather, Nonno to us, but Ono Bono  to his friends, was a baker. The Masotti  Brothers owned a bakery together, at the site in Ayr North Queensland where Coles Supermarket is now situated, at the corner of Queen & Munro Streets. That wasn't their first bakery, previously during World War 2, they owned a bakery in Feluga near Ingham. The head master helped them avoid the internment camps at the time by telling them to offer their delivery van as an ambulance to help toward the war effort when the Americans were stationed in the area. After the war the family, 2 brothers, their wives & 2 children each, set of in their van to Sydney to live. Not liking the big city, they returned to Ayr North  Queensland, establishing their bakery.
Now the bakery I mentioned where they cooked the Christmas Hams wrapped in Dough, was a bakery that the Crowdeys' & Masottis' Bakeries bought & shut down. 
Stephen described the old brick oven, deisel powered, how they'd fire them up for a period of time, then when the bricks were glowing hot, they'd turn off the deisel & put the hams in the oven to cook. Steve was amazed how the brown paper some hams were wrapped in didn't burn.
Steve also regales his many memories, of his youth, in the bakery. When the bread was being baked, they would seal up the oven doors with bread dough, which would cook up very crispy,  they'd get to take these crunchy crusts off & eat them. 

The conversation lead me to try the old recipe with pickled Pork, Stephen bones out legs of Pork (only Sows, the boar meat is has a rank odour). He mixes Courtney's Special Brine up & pumps it into the pork. It sits in the brine for some time, then its ready for the Customers.

The cooking instructions to cook Courtney's Pickled Pork.
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Place the Pickled Pork in a covered baking dish.
  3. Rub garlic, crushed peppercorns & drizzle honey over Pork.
  4. Add some water to the bottom of dish, about a cm.
  5. Cover & place dish in the oven & cook according to size. 1 hour per kg. 
  6. When the meat is cooked, take it out & let it cool. Make up your bread dough, ready to wrap pork in & bake again.

You can alter the spices & boiling the pickled pork is the most common method of cooking it.

Ingredients for bread dough:

3 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons of yeast
400 ml of  warm/tepid water
Double or triple the bread dough, depending on the size of your Pickled pork or Ham

Step 1. place flour in dish & add yeast
Step 2. add water to flour & mix in.
Step 3. Using hands turn the dough over on itself, mixing in all the loose flour. kneading it for 5 minutes .
Step 4. Let it sit until pork is cooled.

Last steps of the dish. 
Step 1. Stretch or roll out the dough. 
Step 2. Cut the netting of the meat & add a bit more honey to the top of roast for extra flavour.
Step 3. Place the meat upside down on dough & fold the dough over pork. 
Step 4. Spray an oven tray with oil or rub with butter & place pork wrapped in dough with the folded seams facing down. Baste the dough either milk or the jus from the cooked pork. I sprinkled crushed salt also. 

The Jus dribbled over meat before its wrapped in dough adds to the flavour in the dough.

Step 5. Place the tray into the oven at 180C & bake until golden brown.

Step 6. Remove from oven, I cooked mine for about 30mins then turned the oven down & cooked for another 5 min. Check the oven regularly so as not to burn dough.

Slice the loaf & serve with salad or vegetables. I used carrots sliced thinly, boiling until tender, removed from the water then added a little honey.
I cut the asparagus ends off about 2cm long, leaving the tender tips (I left them long), I put the tougher ends in water first to boil, then added tender tips. Removing from water I added a dob of butter.
Then braising the thicker strips of chinese cabbage, adding the soft leaf for a minute. You can make apple sauce or use some from a jar. I kept some of the jus from the cooked pickled pork. 

The ends of the crust can be broken up to use like a crackling. Very Yummy! The pork was very juicy & tender, A treat worth trying!

Thursday 30 October 2014

5 Tips for an Easier Christmas?

5 Tips to an Easier Christmas!

54 days!!! 8 Sundays!!! until Christmas!

I know, plenty of time, but I was going to publish this post in mid October, it just goes to show how quick time goes. I made a plum pudding, boiled fruit cakes, got the Christmas Cards out, to get a few of the Christmassy things in order to make Christmas flow smoothly. (also for my photos for blog)

I know, these days Christmas is everyday, so even more reason to make Christmas Special! This is a time to enjoy Customs passed down to us from our parents & grandparents. If you missed out on these, it's time to make your own. 
Whatever  your beliefs' are,  the story of the birth of Jesus is a part of history & sets the warm family atmosphere that envelopes Christmas. The story of The Fat Jolly Man in the Red suit & long white beard, is from a country, where Christmas was in the midst of snow, hence the Fur Lined Red Coat & long beard to keep warm. 

 Santa's mode of transport being a Sled pulled by the Reindeer. To add credence to the story of Santa delivering Toys to  the children all over the World, The magic of the Reindeer flying, adds to the world of Fantasy.

The Story of Saint Nicholas, making toys in his wood turning shed, then delivering the toys to the children in surrounding villages, makes a lovely story of giving. Very Heartwarming! The term Santa Claus > Saint Nicholas.

Hence again, parents providing the pressies! sssh , don't say I said this, you must be over 12 to read My Blog ;)

Sadly, Christmas can get out of hand, and cause heartache. Don't despair though, it's not the end of the world, it is just another day, in the end. Enjoy the experience with friends, family or not, but get organised if you want to get the best out of Christmas. 

  1. Plan where you are spending Christmas! Phone around & decide who's hosting the day & decide where you'll be spending it.I know it may upset someone, it's never easy, but if it gets too hard, do what you want. It is only another day, so if you end up pleasing someone you love, that's also ok. 
  2. Write a list!  On the list: countdown, cards, gifts, menu, spare boxes of chocolates & wine (for gifts).
  3. Write Christmas Cards early, to post in the first week of December. I can't quite drop sending a card by post. I like to put up the Christmas Tree in the first week also. 
  4. Place your order with your Local Retail Butcher. Once you've decided on the menu, it's so much easier sending the partner in to pick up & refrigerate the meat. Then check with your local fruit & vegetable guy & order. Check you have enough refridgeration. Temperature is the key element to safe food. 
  5. Stock up on crackers, chips, salsas, dips & drinks earlier in December, to avoid all the last minute shopping Queues.

Customs are different for every family. I celebrated Christmas & getting our presents on Christmas Eve. Mum made a real ceremony of it. We'd go & visit Oma, then come home after Santa had been, Mum would put on her German Christmas Carols, 'Oh Tannebaum', we'd file in from youngest to eldest (a bit like the Sound of Music movie) & find our little pile of presents. Visits to Dads' parents were very formal in contrast, still lovely memories.

It was magical, & we loved everything we got, from P.J's to a music box. Christmas Day was a pretty quiet affair, usually lunch was a Leg Ham & Mums' German Potato Salad. 

Steve's family on the other hand, did most of their celebrating on Christmas Day, I dare say,they probably started Christmas Eve. Year about, Christmas was at his Mum & Dad's & New Year's Eve was at his Aunty Rosas'. Living in Ayr, it was a very hot Christmas. 

All the family would come, with a very Italian Menu. Spaghetti, Bean Salad, Crumbed Rib Fillet (made by Nonna), Roasts, with all the desserts you can imagine & the traditional ones, Plum Puddings, Christmas Cake! Those were the days, you'd think I'll never eat again. 

Some of the recipes I'll be adding to Nonna's Apron will be our Christmas Recipes. 

Thursday 4 September 2014

Mediterranean Cous Cous

Mediterranean Cous Cous.

I was thinking about a flavoursome cous cous for The Great Australian BBQ, when my Mum-in-law told me about these ingredients my nieces used.

Semi-dried Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives & Lemon Juice. I decided to try this & to my delight the Cous Cous was delicious
1 cup of cous cous
100 gr semi-dried tomatoes
100 gr Kalamata olives
1 lemon
1 cup water

Step #1. Prepare all ingredients 
I use scissors to chop semi-dried tomatoes, not 'cos I'm a hairdresser, because it's easier. Slice Olives & squeeze lemon.

Step #2. Boil 1 cup water & pour it into 1 cup of cous cous, stirring then cover. Stand for 2-3 mins until the water is absorbed & cous cous is tender.Stir at this point so it doesn't form in lumps. 

Step #3. Mix in Olives & Tomatoes, then the Lemon Juice. I garnished the dish with a strip of lemon.

When I cooked this in the competition, the semi-dried tomatoes coloured the cous cous red. In the competition due to a heat issue, the dish was a little soggy, as I added more water, but the one I prepared at home was perfect. The flavours in the cous cous were complimented though.  

Tip. Use the correct water ratio per cous cous.

Original Meaty Spaghetti Sauce

Original Meaty Spaghetti Sauce

I wondered, why my Italian friends cooked their pasta sauce for so many hours? Until I was visiting, and realised they were cooking a whole piece of meat. I always used mince, so now I tried using thick slices of Shin Beef & meat, to my surprise the meat shreds when it starts to fall apart, producing a beautiful tender sauce for pasta.

 Using Canned or Fresh Tomatoes
Slow cooking whole cuts of meat has become the trend now, with a massive swing towards barbecuing. Whether you use a slow cooker (in my day, it was called a crock-pot), bake in the oven, wrapped in foil or in a covered bbq or webber, the desired outcome of pulled, beef, pork, lamb or any other meat is tender, juicy & infused with the flavour of the herbs & spices you use. 

Enough Sauce to make Lasagnas  & Dinner

Every culture will infuse their recipe with the flavours of there province, passing down to the generations, so when emigrating they take the unique recipes with them. 

Asian Pork Ribs

Asian Pork Spare Ribs were marinated in Soy sauce, Honey, Ginger & Garlic.

My latest efforts cooking spaghetti sauce, have found me using more canned or fresh tomatoes, depending on the season & less tomato paste. The flavour is more natural but delicious. When I cook up a pot, I have enough sauce to make some lasagnas & lunches for the next day.

In this Pasta Sauce, I used 2 pieces of Shin Beef, 2 large onions, 6-8 cloves of Garlic, 2 large cans of Tomatoes, 1/2 cup of Tomato Paste, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 4 chicken & 4 beef stock cubes salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon of sugar ( to balance the acidity)1/2 cup of wine, red or whites' fine, it depends on what you prefer to drink. 
Fry the onions & garlic in some butter, add meat, add canned tomatoes, tomato paste, stock cubes, soy sauce, sugar, Stir then add 2 cans of water. Check if sauce needs salt when it nearly ready. You can add some Italians herbs, depending on your families' taste. A little mixed herbs works, if I add basil I add it at the end of cooking or you lose the flavour of the basil.  

Sunday 24 August 2014

The Versatile Rissole!

Seasonal Veggies & Low Fat Rissoles
& choose a sauce!

 The Versatile Rissole!

 I decided to satisfy the 2 different tastes in our family. This is also great in larger amounts for parties, leftover for healthy lunches or freezer meals for later. Stephen prepares some very low fat meatballs at the shop, so I used these today.
 Steve's rissoles have no crumbs or fillings added to them, only a little seasoning for added flavour. At the end of my recipe, I'll add some ideas for you to make your own Meatballs.

Step 1. Prepare all ingredients.


  • 16 Rissoles
  •  For the base of mix I used 1 Onion, 5 cloves garlic, chopped carrots, salt, pepper ( you can add celery, capsicum etc, depending on whats in your fridge or available)
  • Sauces for the flavour of finished dishes, I used Sweet & Sour & Tomato Soup for the 2 recipes today.
  • Cabbage for my substitute of Pasta & Rice & Broccoli for balance. Once again the amount of vegetables used is up to you. 

Step 2. Heat your fry pan, add a dob of butter, onion & garlic, stir & brown. Add Rissoles, turning until browned, add carrots & vegetables that you've chosen. Place lid on pan, to retain juices, cook for a few minutes. The browning will add a little more flavour.
 Step 3. Divide the Rissole mix into 2 dishes & add the chosen sauces. Sweet & Sour in one dish & a can of Tomato Soup into the other. Cover dish with lid or foil, put into an oven at about 180c for 30-45 mins.
Depending on the amount of rissoles you are cooking, the time in the oven can vary.

Step 4. Using the same fry pan, saute your cabbage that was finely sliced, add a pinch of salt to flavour. I only cooked the cabbage for about 2-3 mins so it wouldn't be overcooked. 
Add Broccoli to a pot of boiling water & boil for about 3 mins, again do not overcook. 

Sauteed Cabbage
When Broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts are overcooked it seems to spoil their flavour. 
Rissoles in Tomato Soup

When you remove the dishes from the oven, check the flavours, to see if they need a little extra salt or pepper.
Sweet & Sour Meatballs

Alternative recipes for Meatballs, can include some cooked rice, different herbs & spices, grated vegetables.
Italian- add crumbs, basil, Parmesan or Romano cheese, onion, garlic, salt & pepper. Use a Tomato based sauce.
Mexican- add beans, chili, corn, crushed tomatoes, garlic, salt & pepper. A Tomato based sauce will work again.
Aussie- crumbs, onion, garlic, pinch of mixed herbs, salt & pepper.
Porcupines- make up your meatballs & add cooked rice, brown them & add a can of Tomato Soup.

  • If you grated carrot or zucchini this will blend beautifully with the meat.
  • If you add some of pork mince to your beef mince, this will enhance the flavour.
  • Or use Chicken Mince

The Universal Flavours of the World. 

What is your favourite recipe for Rissoles?

Thursday 24 July 2014

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins 

I followed a new recipe with almond meal & coconut flour. When I put mixture into patty papers I thought it was going to be a dismal failure, but I was delighted with the outcome. 

2.5 cups almond meal
2 tbsp coconut flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
1 tsp vanilla 
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup melted butter
2 eggs
1 cup Blueberries

Step 1. dry ingredien
Step 1. Put all dry ingredients into the bowl

Step 2. Add wet ingredients & mix together.
It's very thick at this stage.

Step 3. Fold in Blueberries

Step 4. Portion mixture into 12 patty papers in a muffin pan. 

Step 5. Bake for 20 mins or until golden brown in a pre-heated oven 170c. 

As mentioned before, I was concerned at this stage that I'd failed. The mix was thick & gluggy.
The almond meal & blueberries were delicious!
The calorie count for each muffin is approx; 200 calories. 

Curried Sausages

Curried Sausages 
Curried Sausages

It was decided, Curried Snags for dinner! Not those different spices, just the old Keens Curry Powder. 

Bec & I love trying Thai or Indian Currys', but Keens Curry was the old original curry powder used in most households in Australia in our Era. It's a favourite, easy to prepare & even great the next day for leftovers. I usually always make extra.

12 thick beef snags, pork or thin can be used
pumpkin, 3 carrots, 1 onion,
 6 cloves garlic, capsicum
1 tabs beef stock powder
2 tabs Keens curry powder
3 tabs plain flour & 1 cup water to make a paste for gravy
Potatoes for mashed spuds & fresh beans to serve with snags.

Peal spuds, add water bring to boil.
add beans to pot & let them boil for 3 mins,
then remove them until serving.
Step 2. Heat fry pan, add a dob of butter
Step 1.
Peal spuds, add water to pot, boil to until potato is soft. I piggyback the beans, cooking them for several minutes, removing them until you serve.

Step 4. Add water.

Step 3. Add in the curry powder
                                                         Step 2. 
Heat the fry pan, add a dob butter, then add in onions, capsicum & garlic, stir until brown or slightly transparent.

Step 3.Add the curry & beef powders to pan, stirring while heating 
the spices to release the flavours.

Step 4.
Add snags to pan, then add water to half way cover snags. Step 5. Add pumpkin & carrots, place a lid on the pan, bring to the boil, then turn hotplate down & simmer until snags & veggies are cooked. Pumpkin will break down becoming part of the gravy. (this was my adaption to the dish).

Step 5.
Step 6. Add flour paste to the pan, stirring & bringing to the boil. Simmer for several minutes. Mash spuds, if you add the beans just before the potatoes are cooked, the beans won't need reheating. 
Step 6.

It was brought to my attention, "How did sausages get the name snags?"
I think 'snag' is the link when tying sausages, a snag. 
 Aussie & Cockney slang play a big part in our language, sandwiches become sangers, Butchers' hook means Look, Bangers & Mash means Cash.  My dad's favourite was "Pass the dead horse" meaning Tomato Sauce. 

            I hope you enjoy this recipe, as with all my recipes, use seasonal vegetables, make life easier on yourself, keep it simple & get the kids to wash their dishes in the sink of hot soapy water that's waiting for them after dinner, BEFORE DESSERT. I hope this works for you also.                                                                                                                                                               

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Oyster Blade or Mongolian Beef

Nostalgia versus A New Recipe!

Ingredients for 2 recipes using Oyster Blade.

2 for the Price of 1! 

I was going to cook an old Nostalgic Dish I first cooked before I followed my favourite recipe books. Mum & Dad used to braise the meat for most of our meals, whether it was lamb chops or rump steak. When I cooked this way back when down at the beach house, also a trip down memory lane,
Ingredients & Instructions:
 I'd brown the rump steak, (today I'm using Oyster Blade) add in 1 diced onion, 1/2 capsicum, 1 stem celery, a small handful of rice, 2 stock beef cubes, dash of soy sauce & some water. Stirring occasionally to avoid burning , it would simmer for about 20 mins. At this stage add about 1 tablespoon of plain flour
The recipe is according to taste & portions needed. Oyster Blade has a delicious texture, with the gristle turning to jelly in a short time. 
It was known as 'Poor Man's Fillet' back in the good old days, I know 'cos my mum in law told me.  :) Lena would toss slices of Oyster Blade in plain flour seasoned with salt & pepper. Fry this up, browning both side & cook for 15 mins & you have a delicious steak, add a little water, stock cube & you'll have a gravy & delicious meal to serve with mashed spuds.
Braised Oyster Blade & Cabbage.

Braised Cabbage & veggies in the fridge.

Today I'm serving Braised Cabbage with the Oyster Blade.
I cooked the veggies before my Mongolian Beef, so I'd only use 1 pan.
Ingredients: Chinese Cabbage, onion, capsicum, carrot, dob of butter, spoon of garlic. I didn't need to add salt as flavour was perfect.

Brown garlic, ginger, add soy sauce,
water, sugar & cook for 3 mins.

Mongolian Beef

When I saw this recipe on Just a Taste I just had to try it. So I took some of the Oyster Blade from the first recipe to experiment.

Step 1. I used a teaspoon sesame oil &rice bran oil, added it to the hot saucepan, then added chopped 5 cloves chopped garlic & 1 teaspoon grated ginger. Add 1/3 cup low-salt soy sauce, 1/2 cup water 1/3 cup brown sugar & stir. Cooking for 3 mins then set it aside. (I used less sugar than in the recipe)

Step 2. I'd already cut some Oyster Blade into strips, now I coated them in 1/4 cup of corn flour, placing the meat into a sieve to shake off excess flour. Let the meat rest for 10 mins for the flour to be absorbed.

Step 3. Heat 1/3 cup of oil in a fry pan (I used less than specified amount, as I don't normally deep fry food), then add meat when the oil is hot, turning it & browning without cooking meat through.
Remove meat from pan & drain on the paper bag from your Butcher.
Step 4. Drain oil from pan, reheat pan, then add soy sauce mix from the saucepan. The sauce should boil quickly, now add the meat to the sauce stirring & cooking to reduce sauce until meat becomes a sticky consistency. 

TIP: Definitely use low salt soy sauce. 

Mongolian Beef on Braised Cabbage

I loved this method of cooking the Asian Style Beef, but wouldn't make this as a regular 'cos of the sugar & oil content. But definitely worth the effort. Authentic finish.

Delicious Avocado & Cocoa Mousse
 made by Bec! Will add recipe in next blog
Braising Oyster Blade in veggies & rice.