Sunday, February 20, 2011

Italian Inspired Buttered Eggs

The secret to light, fluffy scrambled eggs is adding a dollop of cream instead of milk to the whisked eggs, using a mixture of olive oil and butter to grease the pan and ensure it is nice and hot before adding the egg mixture.

Ingredients: 5 eggs, 100 ml cream, 50 g shredded cheese of your choice (optional), 2 tbsp Butter, 1 tbsp Olive Oil, 1 tsp Dried Italian Herbs, Salt and Pepper to taste, Handful of fresh basil leaves

Method: In a bowl whisk together the eggs, cream, cheese if using, Italian herbs and seasoning.

If you are using cheese, feel free to experiment with your favourite kind as this can just lift the eggs a little and make them extra special. I love to crumble in some leftover feta to give it extra saltiness and at times will use a pinch of gorgonzola if I have a bit sitting in the fridge from a dinner party – this gives it a pungent undertone.

Get a skillet on high heat and put in the butter with a drizzle of olive oil to make sure the butter doesn’t burn.

Make sure you are armed with a wooden spatula. Turn down the high flame to medium and add in the mixture slowly, making sure it coats the pan evenly like the beginning of making an omelette. Allow the mixture to stick for about 30-40 seconds and then slowly push the wooden spatula back and forward, loosening the mixture that has begun to cook and coagulate to the bottom of the pan. Swirl the mixture around with the spatula, folding the eggs gently. Between each fold, allow the eggs to cook for about 30 seconds and then cut and fold again. Do this repeatedly until the egg mixture has almost completely dried out, except for a few wet-ish globules – these are nuggets of delicious oozing creamy, cheese bites.

Take the eggs off the fire and serve them immediately onto buttered toasted bread or English Muffins. Garnish the eggs with chiffonade of basil or whole leaves if you can’t be bothered. And if you are big on meat like I am, you will probably want some snags and or bacon with that.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Glazed BBQ T-Bone Steaks

Meat off the bone is always juicer and more flavoursome which is why I love a good T-Bone, but your favourite cut of steak will do the job just fine.

The secret to cooking the perfect steak boils down to two simple yet principle factors.

One choosing a robust marinade that can be made up and dress the steak in it up to a day in advance. Simply store the marinaded steak an airtight container overnight to coax the flavours to permeate the meat through and through.

Two, getting your BBQ fired up to seal in the juices or if you are using a pan – ensure it is pipping hot and the oven is on standby to finish it off according to your doneness. Most chefs prefer using the oven to finish a steak as it ensures the steak is moist and juicy rather than dry and lifeless, like it would be if it is left to cook slowly in a pan.

These steaks are best accompanied with roast herbed spuds, caramelised onions, string beans and glazed carrots, but if you are into fries, why not! Just through in some greenery to balance it out! Happy eating...

Feeds 2

Ingredients: 2 T-Bone Steaks; Good dollop of BBQ Sauce; Dollop of Ketchup; Dash of Balsamic Vinegar; 1 tsp Seeded Mustard; 1 good tbsp Honey; Salt and pepper to season

Method: Simply whack all the marinade ingredients into a bowl large enough to fit the steaks. Combine the lot and dredge the steaks through, coating them evenly with the marinade. This can be done a day ahead and left overnight or up to half an hour before cooking.

When you are ready to cook the steaks, light up the Barbie to high and have it going until it is raring hot, tone it down to medium just before cooking the meat. Rub the bars with oiled paper towels or BBQ brush, chuck the steaks onto the grill bars and cook until desired doneness is achieved.

If using a pan, pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees C. Make sure the pan is almost smoking before adding a little bit of olive oil and then the steak. Seal the steak and get a good golden brown colour on both sides before putting it in the oven.

TIP: When the juices and blood escape from the top of the steak it is cooked to medium doneness. One can then judge the stages by touch.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Art of Substitution and Manipulation

A couple posts ago – Summer, Oh Summer... Where Art Thou? I touched on establishing flavour profiles for individual ingredients. This is important to keep in mind because often ingredients can be replaced and substituted with things you have on hand.

Make sure you have a good look in your fridge and pantry before heading out to the store find exact matches for ingredients listed in a recipe.

For example, if you don’t have honey in the cupboard, but have an orange marmalade or an apricot preserve, simply use that instead. The sweet, stickiness of the jam will do the trick just as well as honey, and in fact lend further flavour dimensions with the fruit extract adding zing.

The key is to understand the function of individual ingredients in a recipe. Why has the ingredient been included? Is it purely on the basis of flavour, consistency, texture or the ability to change the other ingredients (like a binding agent, a rising agent, a lightening agent etc)?

The functions of an ingredient may range far beyond the list cited above, and it is important to think about the ingredient as it gives you a better understanding beyond that particular dish, but then on whatever you cook using that ingredient you have an idea of the characteristics of that ingredient and how it behaves and responds.

Honey, like Jam or Marmalade contains sugar – i.e. glucose and fructose. Sugar in any form has a caramelising property when it comes into contact with a heat source. The characteristic flavour of caramel is smoky, sweet goodness. Vegetables like onions and carrots that contain natural sugars caramelise upon cooking, given the right amount of heat and time to do so. In a marinade, caramelising agents are used so that once they coat the meat they will infuse the meat with the flavour that is associated with barbecuing – smoky, sweetness – a taste that the world has come to love!

In other instances, substituting an ingredient with another can be done purposefully to alter or change the recipe to yield a certain flavour, texture, colour or appearance that one may prefer or require for a particular reason. Again, an understanding of both the original ingredient as opposed to the substituted ingredient is vital for the success of the final dish.

For example using ready-made short crust pastry sheets instead of home-made pie dough will make no difference in the end result because they are basically one and the same. However, substituting short crust for puff pastry in a recipe must be done carefully as both have different qualities and are thus used uniquely to each other.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Thai Style Restaurant via Menulog

Menulog allows people all over Australia to order take-out conveniently and easily in minutes and avoid the hassle of phone calls and paper menus. Simply go to the site, select your state, type in your postcode and a list of restaurant/cafe options are produced for you to choose from. Menus for each restaurant is provided and all you have to do is simply select what item you would like and how many portions. Menulog requires your personal details only once as it creates a user id that remembers your information, making the order process extremely efficient for the future. Simply pay by credit card, opt for delivery or pick-up, and decide whether you want it now or later. And if all this isn't good enough, Menulog hooks you up with heaps of offers and discounts that ultimately saves you money.

The Occasion: Lazy Friday night ... felt a tad lazy and was in the mood for a night on the couch, curled up in front of the TV. So, take-out it was. Clicking onto menulog, I decided to go with my craving - Thai.

Our Order: My boyfriend and I shared the Tom Ka Gai - an aromatic chicken soup laced with creamy, coconut milk and flavoured with galangal, lemongrass and chilli - it was bursting with zing and simply fantastic. Next up we enjoyed the Prawn Pad Thai with egg, dried shrimp , roasted peanuts, bamboo shoots and spring onion - delicious! And to finish we sampled the Kao Phad Prig - fried rice with sweet lap chong sausage, mixed mushrooms and chilli along with a Creamy Beef Red Curry - spicy, but to-die-for.

The Verdict: Hit-the-spot meal with vivacious flavours and overall for the meal at just under $40 it was great value too. Next time we have a Thai craving we will be ordering/ going to Thai Style Restaurant, 455 Church Street, Richmond 3121.

All MEGalomaniac readers get $10 off their first order placed with Menulog.

Simply go to and type this code: 55AC23 at the checkout.

Please note: Available for a user's first order only, at participating restaurants only (which display the "accepts vouchers") sign, expires March 31, 2011, min order $20.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Burgers with the Lot

You are probably asking yourself does one really need a recipe to make a burger? Up until not long ago I didn’t think so either, but the last time I served this up to friends I had a fair few ohhhs and ahhhs and an inquisition into what went into the patty mixture so I said, what the hey, why not add it to the blog recipe portfolio.

When it comes to extras, feel free to add your personal favourites – be it olives, ham, salami, peculiar cheeses, dressings – use your imagination, be creative and experiment!

Ingredients: 6 Wholemeal Rolls with Sesame Seeds; 500g minced beef (could be substituted with lamb/pork/chicken if you’d rather); Couple Lettuce Leaves; One Tomato thinly sliced; 6 slices cheese; 6 rounds of bacon; 6 eggs; Mayonnaise; Mustard Pickles; Caramelised Onion

For patty mixture: 100g breadcrumbs (fresh or dried); 2 tsp Italian Herbs; Salt and Pepper to taste; 2 tsp Paprika; 1 tsp Chilli flakes; 2-3 cloves garlic minced/ 1 tsp crushed garlic from a jar; ½ bunch of Parsley, chopped finely

Method: Add mince and patty mixture ingredients to a dry bowl and knead with fingers until everything is incorporated and mixed evenly. Divide the mince into six equal balls and then flatten into disc of equal proportions on all sides to ensure even cooking. Place them on an oiled plate, cover with cling wrap and into the fridge for 15 mins atleast to allow them to firm up their shape.

Ideally these burger patties are juicy and taste best when cooked on the Barbie, but I understand this is not always possible and if that is the case use a pan to fry them off in a little bit of olive oil. I will not go into the details of how to fry your bacon, eggs and slap on the mayonnaise etc...

Have a play, get your hands in there and enjoy... that’s the joy of cooking and eating burgers!