Archive for February, 2009

The Pseudo Epicurean on Austerity Drive

Posted in Asian Cooking, Cooking, Recipes with tags , , on February 26, 2009 by thepseudoepicurean

The Jman and I are on austerity drive! Given the dismal economic situation, we’ve decided to tighten the belt and start eating home a lot more. This is good news for me because I have lots more reason to be in the kitchen, which I am totally enjoying. As you may have noticed the increased activity on this blog, I have been cooking a lot more, not just dinners but lunches as well (I generally avoid eating the same thing for lunch and dinner so I usually cook another different meal for lunch).

Chicken & Corn Cakes

I had some chicken breast sitting in the freezer and was wondering what to do with it. Stir-fry? Curry? Pasta? Salad? I was kind of bored of the usual renditions of chicken dishes and so I decided I’d try something more adventurous this time. I’d made chicken cakes before with some leftover minced chicken before, so I thought I’d make some with the chicken breast. Besides, I could store the uncooked patties in the freezer and save any leftovers for another meal.

The chicken cakes were easy as. It barely took me 30 minutes from start to finish to make them and they were so incredibly delicious (I couldn’t resist frying one up for myself – all in the name of “taste-testing” – before these gems went into the freezer). They are also very, very healthy, you wouldn’t believe it.

Putting it all together

Putting it all together

The final product - golden cakes full of chickeny goodness!

The final product - golden cakes full of chickeny goodness!

Ingredients (makes approximately 8 mini cakes)

  • 1 large chicken breast – diced and put into a processor to mince
  • 1 stalk spring onion – sliced thinly (or chunky if you prefer)
  • 10 French beans – diced
  • 3 teaspoons of frozen or tinned corn (not the creamed type)
  • 1 large pinch of Maldon salt flakes
  • A good dose of dried chilli flakes (depending on how spicy you like your food)
  • A swig of Thai fish sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Chopped coriander (I didn’t have this so I omitted it but I think this would really give the chicken cakes an edge)

Method

  1. Mix everything together with a fork.
  2. Shape into mini discs and fry for about 3-4 minutes on each side until golden.
  3. You could also shape them into little balls and put them in soup (chicken or vegetable broth – they make for fabulous warmers!)
  4. Serve with Linghams sweet chilli sauce

No oil was used in making the cakes, and since I used a non-stick pan with only a spritz of oil spray, there was very, very, very little oil in these babies making them INCREDIBLY low-cal.

Beef Curry

The other thing I made last night was beef curry. There was a packet of organic beef stir-fry on offer at Safeway last night going at half price, and anyone who knows me would also know that I am a sucker for organic meats. So into my shopping basket it went and beef curry was in order!

Beef curry

Beef curry

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 300g beef, cut into strips
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1 sprig curry leaves (not necessary but it makes your curry wonderfully fragrant)
  • 2 tablespoons curry paste (I used Patak’s vindaloo – the Jman’s mom, a fantastic cook whom I look up to, swears by Vindaloo. So if it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for me!)
  • 1/2 red capsicum, julienned
  • 1/2 small aubergine, julienned
  • 1 ripe tomato, cut into wedges
  • Coriander to garnish (again I didn’t have coriander so I left it out but it was still very tasty!)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water

Method

  1. (This step is not necessary but I did it anyway because I like my aubergines extra soft and extra mushy) – Grill the aubergines in a pan until browned. Set aside on a plate until ready for use in the curry
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Saute the onions until fragrant. Add the curry leaves and continue to stir-fry for another minute.
  3. Add in the curry paste, then fry for another minute or until the paste has dried up a little, then add in the capsicums and the beef, and after a while, the aubergines.
  4. Keep tossing the ingredients about in the pan so that they cook evenly.
  5. Add in the water and tomatoes after a minute and allow the curry to simmer for another minute or so.
  6. Voila! Beef curry!
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Nutella in Winter

Posted in Uncategorized on February 25, 2009 by thepseudoepicurean

I woke up to a cold, cold morning. Rainy, dreary (but thank God for the rain!) and the chill found me gravitate towards nowhere other than my bed.

Deliberating between cheese and tomato on toast and Nutella, I opted for Nutella. Very wise choice. The thick, oozy, creaaamy chocolate is the perfect antidote when you can’t be in bed on a cold, cold morning.

I’m feeling all warmed up and toasty (excuse the pun!). It’s just absolutely divine! Oh how I wish I could be the lady in the tub:

Mean Mexican Minestrone

Posted in Cooking, Recipes with tags , on February 22, 2009 by thepseudoepicurean

That’s just a fancy way of saying “minestrone with paprika”.

After all that greasy food I had yesterday (Maccas for breakfast; Smith’s sweet chilli thins for lunch; awesome Chinese food at Springvale), I was craving some clean, wholesome meals today. So off I went to the supermarket and picked up a basket full of vegetables. I didn’t really know what I was going to cook; all I knew was that I wanted something very tasty, and vegetable soup seemed to fit the bill.

I got a tin of organic beans, organic corn, carrots, a yellow capsicum (I was attracted to the colour more than anything else). I had some leftover celery, mushrooms and onions. I also picked up a tin of tomato paste.

In went everything into the pot, blink your eyes, and you get some loooovely minestrone. At the last minute, I sprinkled a dash of lovely smoked paprika into the brew and boy, did that add a whole new dimension to the soup! It was tangy, sour, salty, smokey…mmm. I don’t think the Italians would be very happy with me though.

Mean Mexican Minestrone (serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 a 400g can of organic beans (I used a 4-bean mix)
  • 100g organic corn
  • 1/2 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stick, diced
  • 1/2 medium-sized red onion, diced
  • 2 large portobello mushroom, diced
  • 1 baby zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 yellow capsicum, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, bruised
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 a small tin of tomato paste (or to taste)
  • Salt + black pepper to taste
  • A dash of red wine vinegar (to taste, if you don’t find it tangy enough – I like my really tangy)
  • A dash of Spanish smoked paprika

Method

  1. Heat oil in a pot.
  2. Toss in the onions and garlic, fry till onion is slightly browned and fragrant.
  3. Add in the celery and carrots, fry for 1 minute.
  4. Then add in mushrooms and capsicum, fry for another minute.
  5. Add the tomato paste and stir until all the vegetables are evenly coated.
  6. Add in 3L of water and bring to a boil.
  7. At this stage, add in the zucchini and corn.
  8. Season to taste.

Bon appétit

Hellenic Republic

Posted in Food Reviews, Restaurants, Restaurants in Melbourne with tags on February 18, 2009 by thepseudoepicurean

I had lunch at The Press Club once and I was absolutely awed. I loved the flavours, the food, the bread and the olive oil. Every dish didn’t disappoint, and hence I was looking forward to a meal at Hellenic Republic. I was also thrilled because it was only a few doors down from where I live, which means that if HP turned out good, I’d have a good go-to restaurant if I ever needed one and was too lazy to travel.

Unfortunately I also had a hunch. Judging from the crowds (and you should see how much parking space these diners have taken up!), the Jman and I suspected that this might just be one overhyped restaurant, but we held judgement before trying it out.

Sad to say, the food was only average; I’ve had better Greek food elsewhere (i.e. Jim’s Greek Tavern). The service was efficient but cold and brusque, very untypical of a Greek restaurant. The Greek service we’ve experienced have always been efficient and rushed, sometimes brash but we always felt that the waiters were personable.

Since we were only there to pique our curiousity, we ordered mainstream dishes which we thought were safe, such as the grilled octopus, a grilled fish, and some vegetables. Our theory was this: if they scored well in these dishes, we’d come back for more. The octopus was tough and chewy, and we didn’t like the seasoning that they used. I did enjoy the charred flavours, however.

The fish too was disappointing. We had 4 fish steaks, 2 of which were tough and rubbery, the other 2 were satisfactorily done. The vegetables were the highlight of the meal, if there even was one at all. It was a simple mishmash of silverbeet and spinach (I think), served cold, in a wrangled mess, with a hint of olive oil and lemon. I liked that one.

Considering the few dishes we ordered, I felt it was a little pricey but I guess it’s more the brand name and the location that you pay for.

I’ve also had breakfast there before and I have to say that it was pretty good, but the coffee was crap and over-extracted.

All in all, I don’t think I’ll be heading back there anytime soon. I don’t think Greek food’s meant to be this fancy, and as much as The Press Club impressed me, I still like my Greek food honest and simple.

Beef & Burgundy

Posted in Cooking, Dinner Parties, Recipes with tags , on February 18, 2009 by thepseudoepicurean

Wow, it’s been a good 2 months since I last posted an entry. Life has been hectic to say the least, and somewhere in between wedding errands and housekeeping, there’s this thing called work.

Kitchen activity hasn’t ceased though. Just two days ago, we invited some friends to our humble abode for a good, hearty beef and burgundy stew. I’d found some cheap cuts at Safeway and decided to make a stew. And since stew always calls for company, we had the usual suspects over at our place for dinner again and we had a good time.

Here’s my recipe (unfortunately no photos were taken):

Beef & Burgundy (serves approximately 8 hungry people)

Ingredients:

  • 1.5kg of beef (I used a mixture of osso bucco and gravy beef)
  • 2 onions – cut into 8
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic + 2 cloves bruised
  • 3 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 stalks of celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 5 portobellos, quartered
  • 1 bottle of cheap red wine (I used CabSauv, $5 from Safeway)
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs of dried rosemary (you can use fresh)

Method

  1. Saute onions and the 2 bruised cloves of garlic with some olive oil.
  2. Add in carrots and celery, toss for a while and then add in the portobellos
  3. Layer the meat on top of the vegetables.
  4. Add in the whole bottle of red wine.
  5. Add the herbs.
  6. Bring to a rolling boil for 15 minutes, then turn down the heat and let it simmer for 2 hours or until tender.
  7. Add salt and freshly-cracked black pepper to taste.
  8. You can thicken the stew with a roux or have it thin and soupy.
  9. Enjoy with a bottle of wine or a beer!