21 September 2012

Give your f*ing roast potatoes the kick in the arse they f*ing deserve.

That's right, today's 'I can't believe I never thought of that tiny touch but oh my word I'm so glad you did' tip is courtesy of Gordon Ramsay himself, by way of his quite delightful 'Christmas with Gordon' specials. He can cook! He has a gorgeous set of kids! It's not just all swearing and throwing pots & pans about!

So... Little drummer boy drum roll...

Add a touch of chili flakes to the oil when you make roast potatoes. OH MY WORD it makes you very popular! Plus your taste buds will absolutely tap dance!

At a recent family gathering I made potato and sweet potato wedges, crazy-style:
Wash potatoes (I rationed a 1.5 potatoes:1 person serve) and cut into rough wedge shapes, peel-on. Depending on the size of your spud you may need to go for sixths, eighths or twelfths, as long as the end product is roughly the same width for even cooking.
Chuck wedge cuts into a freezer/microwaveable bag. Microwave for a few minutes. In the meantime wash and chop into wedges your sweet potatoes, and then add to same freezer bag as potatoes. Microwave again holusbolus for a few more minutes. Leave in micro in bag to self steam whilst you deal with the lamb or other vegies.
Then, wearing oven mitts (!) pull the bag out. Pour in some olive oil, grind in some salt and pepper then add half a teaspoon of dried chili flakes. Twist the top of he bag shut and toss the mix to coat the wedges well. Empty out ini a roasting pan/tray then cook in the oven on 180-200 degrees for as long as it takes for them to be done, or at least after you've joined the guests for a glass of wine and some antipasto for starters!

I promise you, the zing of the chili will be just the top note you need to really make your next roast sing! Thanks Gordon!!!

19 September 2012

All the little things..

Sorry to my lovely blog readership (what's left of you, if any) for my prolonged radio silence. What with an interstate move (including a bonus surprise flight back a week later to pack the car and a trip away for a course a week after that) and a new kitchen with hardly any cookware in it (yet), it's been way too long between kitchexperiments as well as blogging.

The last couple of weekends I have had the honour of cooking big hearty meals for family and friends to celebrate my return to first hometown. It's been such a relief to be able to cook again, and each time I did my usual thing of brainstorming an idea or hankering, ducking out to the shops, seeing what was fresh, then making sh*t up! With great times to be had by all!

Which got me thinking, what is it that has made me so confident in the kitchen that I think I can just lash out, let loose and just ...cook!? I still remember when I first attempted cooking and the whole thing just seemed like mysterious alchemy, witchcraft and terrifyingly easy to burn. After talking with my kitchen gurus Mumsy and Dadsy about it whilst cooking up a big Father's Day lunch; and a recent chat with a new colleague about cooking TV shows... I think I know the answer, a little bit. It's not a definitive moment, but rather, a series of little moments. A cumulative sum of all these small victories or massive failures that add to your mental data bank, your muscle memory and your skill tool belt. Which is why I'm such a fan of the genre of Experimental Cooking a la bork bork bork.

So while I'm warming up into the swing of things, there's a few 'little things' I want to share with you. Soon I will work out what other grand notions to post. In the meantime, enjoy!

Tonight's modest ideas come courtesy of the ever loved Rick Stein, who tonight on my telly, from Spain, enthused about all the little things he was learning (and earnestly writing down in a notebook) from local chefs. The episode is currently up on ABC iView at http://www.abc.net.au/iview/#/view/26392 for any Aussie readers who would like to view it (be prepared to drool and turn green with envy!). In particular whilst he was watching a nice man cook Hake, beginning with a Roux-like mix of onion, flour and oil, Rick was chuffed to learn exactly the degree to which the chef 'sweats down' the onions, or the way the chef turns the heat off right before he adds the flour to stop it from burning; these gems 'you never find in the recipe!' - exactly Rick! Well said! That's the great thing about cooking, you build up a repertoire, but you can still constantly be learning and joyfully discovering! Thanks for inspiring me to return to my blog!