Tag Archives: food

Chili Con Carne Mac and Cheese

Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang

One of my dreams is to one day own a mac and cheese food truck!

You can just about make any flavour and then toss it through macaroni and bake it.  Imagine all the things you like, then mix it in with macaroni.  For example, I love chili and chili con carne, mix it in with macaroni, put cheese on top and and bake it in the oven and you have chili mac and cheese.  You can also have it cold like a salad like they do in the Philippines.  There they have a salad with macaroni, its usually with pineapple, ham, palm seeds, cheddar cheese and coconut dressed with mayonnaise or sour cream, sounds weird but bloody tasty stuff.

Flavours are endless really, vego’s can have Napolitana sauce and cheese or use three types of cheeses and mix it with some mustard and a little cream and bake it with some nice cheddar on top.  My favourite flavour that I’ve come up with is roasted, crispy pork belly all chopped up and tossed in a dry pan to crispen up a little more, finish it some strips smokey roasted capsicums (peppers for non Aussies), roasted red onions and chipotle sauce, toss through macaroni and bake in the oven with some stinky cheese like an Epoisses or Taleggio.  Decadence with all the good things in one plate!  Served with crushed avocado on top and sour cream and boy, you’ve got a dish no one will turn their backs on.

Try this out for starters and see what the fuss is all about.  I am using the chili recipe from the a previous blog to make things a little easier or if you make that chili recipe and wonder what you can do with any left overs.

If you cook up a braise dish like osso bucco or lamb shank or even a curry, try cutting the meaty bits down a little more and toss it through macaroni, add cheese that closely fits its flavour profile on top and bake it and who knows, maybe you can come up with your original mac and cheese!

Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang

Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 8

 

700gr Raw Macaroni

100gr Salt

500gr Alexandrina Cheddar Cheese – grated

1 Recipe of Chili Con Carne Recipe – previous articles

 

Method

For the Macaroni

  1. Place ten litres of water to boil with the salt
  2. Once boiling, add the macaroni and cook until al dente.  This is when you bite into a pasta, it has some resistance to the teeth but no crunch
  3. Staring in a colander and run cold water through, set aside until needed

 

To Finish:

  1. Pre Heat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Using a large pot, place the chili con carne sauce and heat up until simmering
  3. Add the blanched pasta and stir through for about 5 minutes
  4. Place into a baking dish
  5. Sprinkle the cheese on top until “all” the surface area is covered, this will inhibit the pasta from getting dry
  6. Bake for 10 minutes in the oven or until the cheese is golden brown
Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang

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Chili Con Carne, Tortilla, Salsa, Guacamole

Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang

One of my favourite things to eat is chili!

I have grown up eating chili since I can remember.  As a kid, I remember eating our meals around a huge table which my grandmother would cook for.  I had aunts, uncles, cousins and sisters around that table, including my grandmother, who would share a chair with me.  As I ate, I remember the many condiments that accompanied every meal.  These included things like, finely chopped garlic and crushed white pepper in cane vinegar, fish sauce and chopped chili and garlic in a mixture of soy and cane vinegar all in little separate dishes for every one to share.  Amongst that were little, bright, shiny red chilies left whole.  These were for the “game” people, the slightly more chili crazy members of the family.  They would take one of these deadly, birdseye chillies and place it on the side of their plates.  They would break off a tiny bit of this deadly hot chili and add to their next mouthful of food.  I always cringed at the pain they put themselves through as they breathed in through their tightly gritted teeth then puckering their lips as they suck in air to cool their lips.  It was a slightly amusing ritual, mouthful of food followed by chili followed by their attempts to cool their lips and then a sip of ice cold water then back to the start.  They would do this over and over again with sweat beading off their foreheads and as soon as the last mouthful of food is consumed, they rush off away from the table and walk around to try and cool down.

I began eating chili by eating slightly tamer chillies than the deadly birdseye chili.  I slowly climbed up the “chili” scale, attempting the hotter chillies as time went on and my palate got used to flavour and the heat.  Now, I can eat chili just like the aunts and aunties I once watched in amazement as a child.  I love chillies in just about everything like pastas.  Some red sauces in pastas just need that heat especially in alioli sauces.  Curries must have chillies, and some refreshing tropical Asian salads must have chillies in them like a Thai Larb or Vietnamese salad with Nuoc Nam dressing.

In the Philippines, chili is a huge part of our cuisine but more as a condiment.  Mixed generally in soy and cane vinegar along with chopped garlic.  In dishes like sinigang, chillies are sometimes added half way through their cooking to impart flavours and once cooked the chillies suck in the flavours of the broth and become plump and flavoursome themselves.  The chillies are then fished out and added to fish sauce where the chillies are crushed and then used as a condiment for sinigang.  Usually we would add a few to stat with because it is a prized surprise for most Filipinos!

I love this recipe because you can control the amount of heat.  I love to use as many different chillies as I possibly can, the hotter the better.  The secret here is to make sure you saute the vegetables off well to get the natural sugars to come out.  Secondly, seal the meat “hard” on a really hot pan and thirdly, cook the chili for as long as you can, adding water to the pot if it gets too dry.  The longer you cook it the better.  And no secrets here when I say it, but make it two or three days in advance.  The longer you allow it to sit, the better the flavours get, allowing it time to develope just like you do with curries, casseroles and other braised dishes.

Enjoy this recipe and in following recipes, I will show you how to use the chili in other ways!

Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang

Chili Con Carne, Tortilla, Salsa, Guacamole

Serves 8

For the Con Carne

2kg Lean Beef Mince

100ml Vegetable Oil

2 Brown Onions – finely diced

1 bulb Garlic – finely chopped

5 Large Red Chillies – finely sliced

3 tblsp Ground Cumin

4 tblsp Chili Flakes

2 tblsp Chili Powder

1 tblsp Smoked Paprika

2x140gr Tomato Puree

2x800gr Tin Chopped Tomatoes

Sea Salt – to taste

Ground White Pepper – to taste

For the Salsa

4 Large Ripe Tomatoes – diced 1cm cubes

½ Red Onion – peeled & diced ½ cm cubed

1 Bunch Coriander – finely chopped

2 tblsp EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

Sea Salt – to taste

Ground White Pepper – to taste

Guacamole

4 Avocados – peeled, slightly mashed with a fork

½ Red Onion – peeled & diced ½ cm cubed

1 Lemon – juiced

1 tsp Tabasco Sauce

Sea Salt – to taste

Ground White Pepper – to taste

 

For the Tortilla

16 Tortilla Wrappers

1 Cup Grated Cheddar

½ Iceberg Lettuce – finely sliced

1 Cup Sour Cream

Method

For the Con Carne

  1. Heat up a large pot on high heat for one minute, then add a third of the vegetable oil
  2. Place half the minced meat into the pot, seal and lightly brown the meat, set aside.  Repeat with the remaining meat
  3. Heat the pot once again on high for thrity seconds and add the remaining vegetable oil
  4. Add the onions and sauté, continuously stirring for one minute then add garlic and sauté for another minute
  5. Add the chopped fresh red chillies and sauté for another minute
  6. Add the cumin and stir through then chilli flakes, chili powder and smoked paprika and stir through
  7. Add the tomato paste and cook whilst stirring for another minute, cook out the puree
  8. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil then once at simmer, add the sealed meat and stir through
  9. Cook for one hour on really low, making sure to stir it every 5 minutes or so

10. Season to taste

For the Salsa

  1. Place tomatoes, red onions and coriander in a bowl and mix thoroughly
  2. Add EVOO and season to taste

 

Guacamole

  1. Place the avocados, lemon juice and red onion a bowl and mix through
  2. Season to taste then add the Tabasco sauce

For the Tortilla

  1. Toast the tortilla on a dry pan.  If you are doing large batches, toast then place it on plate then cover it with a towel moistened with warm towel
  2. Place con carne on the tortilla, cheese, salsa, lettuce and sour cream

Make cooking easy but tasty.  Use this recipe and I’ll show you what you can do with the let overs in the coming editions.

Photo by Jn Pang

Photo by Jn Pang


Baked Sour Dough with Brie and Chive Butter, Green Tomato Chutney

Photo by Jun Pang

So, we have been through compound butters before.

If you can’t remember, a quick re-cap.  It is basically “flavoured” butter.  Simply put, you take softened butter, place it in a mixer and add flavourings such as nuts, herbs etc.  Depending on what you are going to use the butters for will depend on the ingredients you put into the butter for flavour.  For example, chopped herbs with lemon zest will go great with flavouring fish, a little bit of Jus (refined juices from a roast, most home cooks would call it “gravy”) and some type of fruit jelly with chopped herbs would go great with grilled beef and so on.

Most compound butters acts as a sauce in essence.  This type of compound butter is the flavouring agent and adds moisture to the bread.  The butter used for “garlic breads” is a type of compound butter.

I have added cheese to this butter for an extra element of flavour and goes well with aged sour dough bread.  If you exchange the cheese from brie to a blue cheese or a “stinky” wash rind cheese like a talegio, then you can perhaps use that in pastas.  Simply blanch pasta, a fusili perhaps, add to a heated pan with a little normal butter, add garlic and broccolini, toss the pasta through then finish with knobs of this “stinky” cheese  compound butter with lashings of herbs and you have a flavoursome and quick meal.

Make plenty of this butter as mentioned in prior blogs and freeze it in small batches and when ever you have limited time to make a meal, take a protein, add this on top and simply bake in the oven, grill or toss through a heated pan and there you go, a meal in seconds.

The chutney can also be used in many ways.  In this recipe, the acidity from the green tomatoes simply counter balances the richness of the compound butter, really smoothing out the palate.  The vincotto is also great for sweetness with a type of “prune” flavour  finish.

This dish does act as a great starter to a meal but it can also be a meal in its self.  Add some sliced parma ham, some dressed rocket and you have a complete and appetising light meal.

Photo by Jun Pang

Baked Sour Dough with Brie and Chive Butter, Green Tomato Chutney

Enough for 4 people

1 Sour Dough Loaf

For the green tomato chutney:

1kg Green Cherry  Tomatoes

300ml Cider Vinegar

400gr Brown Sugar

1 Brown Onion – diced

1 Cinnamon Stick

5 Star Anise

For the compound butter:

300gr Brie – softened

200gr Butter – softened

1 Bunch Chives – finely sliced

To Finish:

2 Punnets Baby Herbs

Vincotto

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Method

For the green tomato chutney:

  1. Place the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, onion, cinnamon stick and start anise in a pot.  Cook for about 3 hours on low heat, continually stirring until it breaks down and looks and states like a chutney.  May need to adjust sugar quantity depending on the tomatoes.

For the compound butter:

  1. Place the butter and brie in a mixer and mix using a paddle on low until it blends together.  It does not have to be super smooth, then add the chopped chives.
  2. Cut deep slits into the loaf on a slight angle but do not cut through.
  3. Butter the slits with the brie butter and cover with foil.
  4. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius in an oven or Webber for about 10 minutes.

To finish:

  1. Serve with tomato chutney on top and garnished with herbs.
  2. Drizzle the vincotto and EVOO for dipping.

Vincotto – is cooked grape must.  Simply put, it is the residue that is left from pressing grapes then that residue is cooked for a long period of time until it is slightly caramelised.  The end product is thick, dark (almost black) liquid, similar to reduced balsamic.  The flavour is much like prunes but it can also be infused with flavourings such as fig and orange on production.  Great to finish a dish such as duck with high level of sweetness but can also be treated much the same way as a vinaigrette, emulsified with EVOO, salt and pepper and used in many salads.


Sumptuous Magazine – Feb/March 2012

 


Kingfish Ceviche Salad

Photo by Jun Pang

I think that most people think cooking is too hard.  Well here is a recipe to prove that theory wrong.

Most people think that cooking needs heat.  Well, that’s not necessarily true either.

Ceviche is a dish made popular in the Americas, specifically in the South America.  Traditionally, it uses the juices of citrus fruits to “cook” the proteins.  Much like the science experiments you once performed in your high school science classes, when you poured acid on raw egg white and it turned opaque white and hardened.  In this case, the the citric acid from the citrus fruits is slightly acidic enough to cure or cook the proteins of the fish.

In coastal places in Mexico where the seafood is abundant, this type of cooking method is much used and is often sold in plastic cups with ice as street food.  Flavoured mainly by lime juice, it is also spiced with a myriad of chillies, tomato juice, coriander and sliced red onion.  I tasted this genious of a dish a few years ago, not in Mexico unfortunately but in Sydney at a food and cooking expo.  This version had heaps of different seafood like oysters, clams, fish and mussels to name a few and they were all cooked ceviche style using limes and many types of exotic chillies.  Never have I tasted such wonderful, refreshing and interesting flavours.  The Peruvians are experts at this type of food preparation too and so are the Ecuadorians but as mentioned before, the South Americans are generally pros at this type of cooking.

In saying that, I picked up this recipe from a house keeper at work.  She is from Fiji and missed her home country tremendously and wanted me to desperately learn her food so I can cook it for my knowledge and as a trade off, for her to eat.  She told me that in Fiji, she also adds a little coconut milk at the end.  When I tried this, I found it quite nice but I left this recipe quite plain to get punters to get used to this unusual type of cooking.  But what this has done is show me that many countries adopt this type of cooking.  The Japanese use ponzu as the agent to cook protiens in some dishes, Filipinos use a lot of vinegars, tropical countries use limes, lemons and other citrus juices.  This isn’t a new cooking phase, it’s been around for centuries it seems.

So try it out, it’s super healthy with great, robust flavours that explode in your mouth.  As summer hopefully gets nearer, you will realize that it is the perfect dish for summer.  It requires little time, cost effective and it does not require you to use any pans to cook with or clean.

So, for those of you who don’t like to make their kitchens to smell like fish, try this one out.  Try it with other fish, like salmon, experiment as you get used to the flavours and perhaps you will also save on your gas bill!!

Photo by Jun Pang

King Fish Ceviche Salad with Toasted Garlic Bread

Serves 4

For the Ceviche Salad

750gr Fresh Kingfish

1 Cucumber – Quartered lengthways and deseed and thinly sliced

1 Punnet Cherry Tomatoes – halved

½ Red Onion – sliced paper thin

200gr Baby Rocket

2 Bunches Water Cress

1 Bunch Basil

6 Fresh Limes

For the Garlic Bread

2 Freshly Baked Baguette

100gr Brie – leave at room temperature until really soft

100gr Butter – leave at room temperature until really soft

5 Cloves garlic – finely pureed

1 Bunch Parsley – finely chopped

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea Salt

Black Pepper

Method

For the Salad

  1. If it hasn’t been done by the fish monger, cut out the blood line that runs along the length of the fish, where the spine usually is.  If you do not remove this, the dish will become bitter.
  2. Take the fish and place it flat on the board.  Using a sharp knife, run the knife along the length of skin until you totally remove the skin.  Make sure the knife is “tight” or flush on the board so as not to get too much flesh.
  3. Finely slice the fish into thin slices across the fillet, no more than 1mm thick and place it into a bowl.
  4. Squeeze the lime juice all over the fish, season with sea salt and pepper and mix through with extra virgin olive oil and allow it so sit for about 8-10 minutes in the fridge or until it starts to turn colour turning the surface slightly white
  5. Place the cherry tomatoes, red onion, baby rocket, watercress and basil in the bowl and mix through until evenly mixed

For the Garlic Bread

  1. Place the brie in a mixer and mix in the bowl with a paddle until it’s a smooth paste
  2. Add the butter on low until the brie is well mixed through then take the butter out of the mixer
  3. Using a rubber spatula, mix the garlic and parsley through until thoroughly mixed through
  4. Cut the baguettes in half lengthways, spread the butter through on both sides, well lathered
  5. Toast under the griller until well toasted

Tomato & Pork Neck Chop with Olives, Capsicum & Speck served with White Polenta

Photo by Jun Pang

Nothing fancy here but it’s open for fancy stuff.  Chuck some smoked paprika into the braise to add little more flavour or saute some chorizo sausage in before you add the liquids, it lifts the dish to another level.  The polenta can also be added to like a little truffle oil at the end or saute mixed mushrooms in butter and fold it through just before serving and finish it off with a poached egg – bloody beautiful!

Most people ask me for quick recipes; simple but tasty.  They would rather know how to poach an egg than get too complicated with cooking.  The easier the better for most people.  No one has time these days and most would rather eat a meal that’s home cooked.  Simple dishes like these are often the best solution.

Tomato & Pork Neck Chop with Olives, Capsicum & Speck served with White Polenta

Serve 4

For the pork

4 Pork Neck Chops

200 gr Speck (or bacon) – sliced into thin strips

1 Onion – finely diced

6 Cloves Garlic – squashed with a back of a knife

2 Carrots – 2cm dice

1 Capsicum – deseeded and sliced 1cm thick strips

1 cup Kalamatta Olives

2 x 410gr tins of Tomatoes

500ml Chicken Stock

1 Fresh Bay Leaf

5 sprigs fresh Thyme

Sea Salt

Ground Black Pepper

Olive Oil

 

For the Polenta

1 Onion – finely Diced

½  Cup White Polenta

3 Cups Milk

100gr Butter

200 gr Parmesan Cheese

1 bunch Parsley – finely Chopped

Method

For the Pork

  1. Put the oven on at 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Heat up an oven proof pot on high heat until the pan is almost at smoking point.
  3. Season the pork with salt and pepper.  Add a little oil and brown the pork in the hot pan on both sides then set aside.
  4. Add the speck to same pan and cook until slightly brown to flavour the pot
  5. Sauté the onions, garlic, carrots, capsicum and olives until soft until onions are soft
  6. Pour in the tomatoes and cook until it starts to break down or for about 8 minutes on medium high heat.
  7. Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil then allow it to simmer for ten minutes
  8. Place thyme and bay leaf in the pot along with the browned pork.
  9. Cover and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes
  10. Check seasoning and serve.

For the Polenta.

  1. Heat a medium saucepan on medium heat. Add the butter and sauté the onions until soft.
  2. Pour the milk into the pot and bring to a simmer
  3. Slowly stream the polenta into the pot whilst whisking with the other hand, avoiding the lumps
  4. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir continuously for about ten minutes.  Add hot water from the kettle if consistency is too stiff.
  5. When the polenta is soft and creamy, grate the parmesan into the pot off the heat
  6. Just before serving, stir the chopped parsley through

Photo by Jun Pang


Roasted Lamb Loin with Peas and Mint

Photo by Jun Pang

So now that you know how to butcher and roll a lamb loin, you can now roast it and come up with a simple dish.

Lamb, peas and mint; is there any other match that is so made for each other?  Minted peas is one thing but when paired with lamb, it is a match made in heaven!

I like this because it is simple.  If you ask your butcher to roll the loin for you, the rest is a Sunday roast so simple and easy, that you would want to have a lamb roast every Sunday.

I omitted the gravy here, you don’t really need it but like every body else, I don’t mind it with lamb and it just wouldn’t be right to have a roast with out gravy, I’m just showing you an alternative for those who haven’t got time.  The slowly sauteed onions brings that great sweetness and if you deglaze with a little madeira, it adds a little depth of flavour perfect for lamb.

Jerusalem artichokes are tasty little buggers.  Great substitute for potatoes, it really does roast up nicely and the flavours are subtle especially when freshened up with chopped parsley, garlic and lemon zest.

Photo by Jun Pang

Roasted Lamb Loin with Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke, Sautéed Onion and Minted Peas

Serves 4

 

1kg Rolled Lamb Loin – ask your butcher in advance to roll

Sea Salt

Cracked Black Pepper

For the roasted Jerusalem Artichokes

500gr Jerusalem Artichoke – washed, halved lengthways

2 Garlic Cloves – finely chopped

½ Bunch Parsley – finely chopped

1 Lemon – zested

For the Peas

200gr Butter

1 Brown Onion – peeled, finely sliced

2 Cups of Peas

½ Bunch Mint

Method

For the Lamb

  1. Pre Heat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Heat up a large frying pan on high heat for about 2 minutes
  3. Season the lamb loin evenly with sea salt and black pepper
  4. Seal the lamb loin until evenly rendered, meaning the fat is broken down a little and turns into slightly golden brown and crispy outer layer.  Start sealing the meat in a dry pan, eventually the meat will render and oil the pan.
  5. Once evenly browned, place on a roasting tray and roast at pre heated temperature for 25 minutes or if you have meat thermometer until it has a core temperature of 54 degrees Celsius
  6. If you haven’t got a thermometer, squeeze the sides and if it is firm with a slight give then it is done, allow to sit and rest for atleast 5 minutes prior to cutting.

For the Jerusalem Artichoke

  1. Place the artichoke on a roasting tray and toos through halh the butter
  2. Roast, giving it a stir every 5 minutes, for 20 minutes until golden brown and soft
  3. Place the cooked artichokes in bowl and toss through the chopped garlic, parsley and lemon until evenly coated.  Season with sea salt and pepper.

For the Peas

  1. Heat up the pan you used for the lamb on medium high heat for 1 minute
  2. Add the remaining butter and melt
  3. Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent but no colour, about 10 minutes
  4. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste
  5. Toss the peas through and off the heat just when you are about to serve it on top of the lamb, add the mint

To serve

  1. Place the artichokes on the side of the serving platter
  2. Slice the lamb into 2cm thick slices and fan it out on the platter
  3. Spoon all the pea mix on top of the lamb

Photo by Jun Pang