Sunday 30 December 2012

Mushroom garlic rosemary and sea salt focaccia

As a novice sourdough baker, focaccia is probably the most fail-safe and rewarding thing to make.  You don't have to shape it.  Just pop it in a slice pan and bake away with your fave toppings!  This is covered in mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, sea salt and a good glug of olive oil. The base was super crispy and the middle spongy and soft.
I made this following the River Cottage recipe.  It has commercial yeast and my own sourdough starter in it, together with durum semolina and strong wheat flour.  Semolina makes bread nice and puffy.

Thursday 27 December 2012

Post-Christmas meat pie

What to do with all that meat left after Christmas?  Make the tastiest meat pie ever!  Don't waste a good opportunity.

I followed Jamie Oliver's savoury shortcrust pastry recipe (from Jamie's America book).  I threw in herbs including lavender (a little too much! It made me think of soap!), rosemary, thyme and sage.  Blitz the pastry in a food processor (BUT NOT a blender. I have done that before and destroyed the blender. Poor thing, it had no idea I thought it was the same as a food processor).

This cuts nicely once refrigerated. It looks shabby here because it was hot right out of the oven

Here are some from 2011 (arty touch courtesy of my hubby)

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Bees, birds and blueberries - that time of year!

Spring has (finally) sprung! Bring on the sunshine, dry out our boggy MTB trails, ripen my blueberries and make the birds and bees happy.

peony poppies

edible chrysanthemum (tung hou/茼蒿) flowers - which don't make bad tea! They're much "grassier" in flavour than dried chrysanthemum flowers/tea brought from stores or served at dim sum restaurants (guk pou/菊普 or guk faa caa/菊花茶).
"Comin in for landing!"

"Hmmm, what's in here then?"
"Om nom nom nom nom...."

"What's down here? Oh more polleny goodness!"

"I like sage with my pollen. Forget that French lavender stuff behind."

8 Nov: Green blueberries waiting for more sunshine before being devoured!

Chillin like villains

21 Nov: what a difference 2 weeks makes! Blueberries ready for pickin

Safe under the net. I pedalled my little heart out to Bunnings to buy bird netting the morning I saw these being gorged on by birds. Indian mynas, blackbirds and even huge yellow-eye currawongs have craned their heads through the gaps in this net to get at ripe blueberries. They get purple heart bravery points for trying (and not getting strangled)!

Basil, grain amaranth (tall plants) and comfrey (bottom left). The corrugated tank is from WT Grant in Brighton and is excellent as a ready-to-go vegie garden. They can supply the tank with soil/compost, delivered.

As the amaranth grows taller during summer, the basil gets more shade so it doesn't burn. It's a bit of a balancing act - we have to keep eating the amaranth leaves or else the basil won't get enough light. It's not easy keeping pace with productive amaranth which puts out new growth overnight.

kangaroo paws - choice of wattle birds who swing onto them like wannabe filmstars in the upcoming Australian kung-fu epic "Crouching Wattle Bird, Hidden Noisy Myna"

21 Nov: first pick of the season! Until Jan 2013, I have picked about 10x this amount. Two thumbs up for Nelly Kellie blueberries (an impressive Bunnings purchase!)

In case you need another angle

How bout a close up?

Monday 5 November 2012

Cherry Linzertorte

Made following this recipe, using Turkish Tamek brand sour cherry jam as the filling.

The pastry was too crunchy for my liking (I would prefer it a bit soft/chewy like gingerbread).  Next time I'll be using less than the 250 g butter stated in the recipe.

Monday 8 October 2012

Spring garden Oct 2012

When I named this blog bike-n-bake I obviously wasn't thinking about my other attention-seeking hobby - gardening.  So perhaps it should be renamed grow-cook-eat-ride.  Not quite as punchy though.

Anyway, here's what happened in Spring (Oct 2012) in my Melbourne backyard:

Welcome to galangal, the newest addition, recently potted. A work colleague heard how nuts I was about growing and eating my own produce and kindly dug up some of her homegrown galangal plant to give me. Eager to plant it, and commuting by bike that day, I strapped this little sapling onto my backpack and rode home hoping it wouldn't get destroyed in the wind. It's now kicking ass and four times as big (in 3 months)! Go nature!

"Sunburn garden" - named after suffering to establish this. Thankfully it's full of anti-oxidant rich tasty greens like purple sprouting broccoli, mammoth dill, parsley, tung hou (茼蒿), thyme, rainbow chard and red cabbage. Lots of these leafy greens were eaten in "snoods" - noodles in soup made by me and my hubby.

purple sprouting broccoli

red cabbage

more purple sprouting broccolli with dill as companions

PSB again, with red lettuce behind (Rouge d'Hiver)

red lettuce (Rouge d'Hiver)

blueberries to be! (Nelly Kellie)

the blueberry bush

Hokowase strawberries

other strawberries (whose name I forget!)

"Honeymoon garden" - named because this is what hubby and I did on a rainy Spring day a couple of years ago. There's nothing quite like shovelling 4 tonne of compost and topsoil after tying the knot! My faves in this include the red ranunculas, peony poppies (not in flower), rainbow chard, sage (purple flowers) and French lavendar (at the far end). The pumpkins got ripped out after they proved useless and greedy hogging all the space and not sharing sunlight with others!

blood orange tree and brown Turkish fig behind. The orange blossoms smelled wonderful and wafted around!

Japanese maple, still fighting fit after years of drought (including 46degC on Black Saturday), and providing a leafy home to a nest of noisy mynas. One little fluffy myna got bullied by its siblings, pushed out of the nest and didn't survive very long(nature sucks sometimes). We tried to save it in a shoe box but it didn't eat or drink. The little fella was buried under the maple tree, giving back to what initially supported it.

PET bottle plants according to my hubby. "No!" I say, they're little basils in mini hothouses 

More nursery plants - leaf amaranth in top left, basil at top/centre, bergamot in top right, capsicum in bottom right, yellow zucchini centre/bottom, chia in left/bottom

Sunday 7 October 2012

Lo Mai Fan 糯米饭 (savoury glutinous rice, my way)

Lo mai fan is one of my fave one-pot dishes. Although my blog is called bike-n-bake, I can't help sneaking in my other kitchen creations. I should rename it cook-eat-ride.
I had black glutinous rice in my cupboards, and wasn't keen on using it to make Thai black glutinous rice pudding. I wondered whether I could use it in Chinese lo mai fan, which is traditionally made with white glutinous rice.

This recipe is not traditional, but it's my version with everything yummy that I would like to eat in it! I dare say it's one of the fastest ways to make lo mai fan. My cooking time was only 30 min. With a pressure cooker and an induction stove I was able to get stuck into it sooner. Yum :)

  • 1.5 cups black glutinous rice, rinsed
  • 0.5 cup black eyed beans, rinsed
  • 1.5 cups white basmati rice, rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled and chopped
  • 20-30 dried shrimp, chopped then soaked before cooking
  • 3 lup cheong (Chinese pork sausage), sliced
  • ~100g lup yook (Chinese dried pork), sliced
  • ~300g sliced lean pork medallion, seasoned in soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper, Chinese rice wine
  • ~10 fresh shitake mushrooms (these are a product of Australia. Your local greengrocer should have these, if not try an Asian grocer)
  • handful of dried shitake mushrooms, rehydrated and chopped
  • pre-cooked pork shoulder in soy sauce and garlic (I happened to have this in my freezer from an earlier meal. You can just add more meat of your choice instead)
  • white pepper and caramel dark soy sauce to taste

Getting prepped
Rinse black glutinous rice and black eyed beans. Soak in water to allow to soften before cooking. I think 4 hours is fine, but I ended up soaking them for 7 hours (got distracted doing other things).

If using dried shitake mushrooms, also soak these in some water. When rehydrated, roughly dice They need a minimum of 2 hours to rehydrate if whole, or 30 min if pre-sliced. Mine were pre-sliced, which is convenient, but they aren't as tasty as whole ones.
Chop dried shrimp and soak in some water (30 min - 1 hr).

If you go over these times, don't worry. It doesn't make a difference. The aim is just to get these dry ingredients rehydrated a little.

Time to cook!
1. Heat pressure cooker on induction stove in stir-fry mode. I didn't use any oil to start with as the lup cheong and lup yook are full of fatty goodness. Add these and garlic to the pot as it starts to get hot. They will sizzle as it gets hotter. Stir fry.
2. Add chopped shrimp and continue stir frying.
3. Add sliced pork and continue stir frying.
4. Add rice and beans. Stir to pick up fried ingredients from bottom of pot.

5. Add mushrooms and cooked pork, dark soy sauce and white pepper to taste. Cook for a few minutes on medium-high heat.
6. Secure pressure cooker lid to seal it. Cook for 20-30 min under pressure (once you get some slow steam releasing, turn the heat down to keep it at the low "hiss").  Wait for the pressure to drop before opening the lid and dishing up. This is what mine looked like:

7. Serve with chopped spring onions and optional crunchy deep-fried Malaysian onions (bawang goreng).