Thursday, November 26, 2009

Keeping Creative in the Kitchen

There's an interesting article over on a Sydney Morning Herald blog on the topic of 'Not spag bol again: how to beat menu fatigue'. It comes up with some interesting suggestions, such as varying the vegetables served on the side and changing the whole style of a stir-fry with the vegetable and flavouring selection. I also like this tip: "When you find a new recipe you want to try, don't file it away - tape it to the wall over your kitchen bench as a reminder."

I find that my ability to stay creative and not get into a rut is to regularly buy food magazines and try out new recipes, although not the fancy ones, just the ones from the weekday meal sections. It also helps to pay attention to the seasons and plan your meals accordingly, with the types of vegetables and style of dishes changing from summer to autumn to winter to spring.

Bok Choy with Barbecued Pork & Black Beans

Sliced barbecued pork from Chinese BBQ shops is so delicious, I love to nibble on it straight from the container. It's the main ingredient of this simple dish, along with plenty of bok choy - just be careful you don't eat too much of it on the way home!

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4

6 medium-sized bok choy
2 tbsp fermented black beans
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp ginger, crushed
Dash of mirin
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup sliced barbecued pork
1/4 cup finely sliced shallots
Ground white pepper

Trim and wash the bok choy, then cut each into quarters. Rinse the black beans in a strainer under cold water for a minute.

Heat some oil in a wok until it begins to smoke and add the bok choy, garlic and ginger. Keep the heat up and cook for 2 minutes, stirring, until bok choy begins to wilt. Add the black beans, mirin and soy sauce. Stir or move the wok so everything is mixed well. Add the pork and shallots.

Take off the heat, add ground white pepper to taste and serve.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chorizo Penne

Chorizos are such a tasty ingredient, that you don't need to add much more to make an excellent meal with them. Here, they are the key ingredient in a simple pasta dish.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

400g penne
1 tsp olive oil
2 chorizos, thinly sliced
1 red onion, halved & cut into thin wedges
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 vine ripened or roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
Grated parmesan, to serve

Cook pasta in a large saucepan until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat with the oil. Add chorizo and cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes or until golden. Add onion and cook, stirring, for a further 2 minutes or until onion is translucent. Stir in garlic and tomatoes and cook, stirring, for a further 3-4 minutes.

Drain past and return to saucepan. Add the chorizo mixture along with the fresh parsley. Toss well to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with parmesan.