mutteringhousewife

What does the last of the housewives do?

Category: Dinner

Deconstructed Sushi – in the Thermomix

I have used the Thermomix for all kinds of things in the five days I’ve had it. Not for dinner though. Tonight was the night. I’ve blogged about deconstructed sushi for dinner. It was the perfect proof of concept.

Normally this dinner involves cooking salmon wrapped in foil in the oven. Rice in the rice cooker. Omelette in the frying pan. And the rest is raw, so lets not bother with that. Here’s how you do it in the Thermomix.

Put the steamer basket in the Thermomix bowl. Press the scale button. Weigh three hundred grams of rice into the basket. Take the basket out. Weigh eight hundred grams of water into the bowl. Put the basket back over the water.

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Place the lid on the bowl. Place the Varona basket over the lid. Put two slabs of salmon in the basket.

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If you were cooking for anyone mildly adventurous, you could have whipped up some ginger, shallots and garlic prior to filling up the bowl with water, then rubbed it over the salmon. However. There’s a steamer plate for the Varona that goes over the basket. Line that with baking paper. Pour over a couple of eggs beaten with a bit of soy sauce and sugar. Curse a little as they drip over the edge of the paper because you’ve been a bit frugal with it. Bend the paper into more of a bowl shape.

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Bung on the lid. Cook the lot for fifteen minutes at Varoma temperature on speed four.

Well, it all worked. Not sure how much I like the look of a steamed omelette, but it tastes fine. The salmon and rice were cooked properly. It sounds like a bit of palaver, but it’s just a stack of steamers, all of which go in the dishwasher, so hurrah from my washing up team who can have the night off.

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Preparation time was about five minutes, cooking time fifteen, which I spent cutting up the raw veggies, so that could be the quickest dinner I’ve ever prepared. The machine is a little noisy for what it’s doing, which is just heating up and sloshing around water. And I don’t like the name Varoma. It doesn’t really reflect what the thing is, and sounds a bit like a feminine hygiene product. I guess it needs a name. Steamer? That’s almost as bad. OK, marketing is difficult. Minor quibbles really. This is definitely my preferred rice and fish preparation method from now on. Might stick to doing omelette in the frying pan, just for textural reasons. Yes, yes, I am having fun.

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Vaguely Asian Stock and What I plan to Do With It

I’ve been flicking through Adam Liaw’s Masterchef prize, Two Asian Kitchens, and what a pleasure it is. Completely unlike Gordon Ramsay’s cookbook whose only point seems to be “I’ve got blue eyes!”. Adam’s cookbook is thorough, not too fussily photographed and accessible, which is really saying something as he doesn’t dumb down those Asian classics at all. You really feel like you could whip up Gong Bao chicken, if only you’d bought Chianking vinegar at the Asian grocery shop you were last at rather than Zhen Jiang. Pea brain.

I’d been paying particular attention to the stock discussion. I’ve been a bit bored with the chicken stock I usually produce, I feel like the flavours aren’t right for an Asian dish. Adam discusses two stocks, a general purpose one and a master stock. I first heard of master stocks on the the first season of Masterchef, but they never really went in to what they were. What they are is just a stock that you reuse. Back in the olden days you’d have a pot on the fire all the time which you’d keep topped up with water and you’d chuck stuff in, vegetables and herbs and bits of meat, and you’d fish stuff out and you’d never empty the pot. That’s the principle of a master stock, but in this age of Dettol everyone finds that idea a bit erky, not to mention perky. There are modern ways of doing it, but that’s not what I was planning to chat about.

Adam’s everyday stock was based on chicken bones, which I had, and pork bones which I happened to spot at the local IGA. There was also those little dried fish in the recipe, but I couldn’t come at that, so I left them out. I also didn’t bother with kombu. You put the pork bones in a large stock pot. You cover them with plenty of cold water. You bring it to the boil. You forget about it briefly because the dog has his foot caught in his ear again. You are a bit horrified at the amount of brown scum bubbling on the surface, so you tip the water and scum into the sink, retrieve the pork bones and give the pot a bit of a rinse. Put the bones back in the pot. Add the chicken bones (they’d already been cooked), two thick slices of ginger, five unpeeled cloves of garlic, six chopped green onions, a small, unpeeled brown onion. I also put in a whole lot of celery tops, because I happened to have them and I like the flavour of celery in stock. Cover with water, this is going to make a lot of stock.

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Adam says you have to watch it so it never boils, just gently simmers, otherwise it will become cloudy. Well, I can live with cloudy, so it may have come to the boil a few times for the couple of hours I had it going for. Let it cool a bit while you go and pick up the Moose from debating, then strain it into your most giant metal bowl. You don’t want to put that straight in the fridge, it will heat everything up, so gently place it in the sink and surround it with some cool water. It will drop to tepid in less than the time it takes a Horror from Outer Space to perform his choir warmup song for you, with repeats. Put it in the fridge.

Next day you can scoop off the fat on the surface with a slotted spoon, or, in my case, a perforated pasta strainer. The stock has more of a meaty flavour than my usual chicken stock but is a lot more neutral. The first thing I’m planning to do with it is to flavour a couple of cups with black rice vinegar and five spice, maybe some dark soy sauce and boil some rice noodles in it for dinner tonight. They’ll be served topped with some Chinese BBQ pork I picked up today from Burwood and some choy sum and fresh shiitake mushrooms stir fried with chillies and maybe some sesame oil. Obviously a non kid dinner. I am going to make them sample the BBQ pork, one of the great joys of life.

Of the remaining stock, I’ll freeze some as it is, and some I’ll reduce down for a concentrate. I wonder if that will work. That will be to flavour dishes, rather than to make a soup or stew. I have vague thoughts of making a master stock with some of it, but I can’t see myself using it much until the kids are a bit more adventurous with their eating. I do like the sound of the aromatics he suggests putting in the master stock, cinnamon quills, star anise, Sichuan peppers, fennel, cloves, so I may just make that and call it flavoursome stock rather than master stock and only use it once. Nobody need ever know.

Chicken and barley stew

Yes I am planning to blog about what we had for dinner. You don’t really want to hear about mail merges, do you? Or my visit to the ankle doctor? Or my long and ultimately fruitless quest for malt syrup? I didn’t think so.

The family are all excited today. It’s the first soccer training of the year. The man of the house gets his team of Jedis back AND the field is miraculously open, the Horror gets to see his friends from his old school and wear his new lairy purple boots, the Muffet gets to go along and earn ten dollars as assistant coach and boss around little boys and the Moose gets out of it because he has tennis. And I get an extra couple of hours peace to construct a dinner that the kids really won’t like, because they get sushi for dinner on soccer training nights due to the logistical difficulties of the afternoon.

It’s a bits and pieces one pot dinner, but I’m extremely pleased with how it’s turned out. I’ll do the basics first. Finely dice thee or four rashers of bacon and an onion. Cook them over low heat in a medium sized pot, I didn’t add any fat because the bacon had enough. When that’s starting to smell rather good add in a chopped carrot and a chopped stick of celery. Also a smashed clove of garlic and a couple of chillies you’ve picked from the plant you bought from Frank a few months ago with some kind of thoughts of making sweet chilli sauce.

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When that’s looking like it might burn, add two cups of chicken stock. You know that stuff you made a few months ago and have in half cup ziplock bags?
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Then add half a cup of pearl barley and stir it in.

You let that simmer, covered, for an hour or so, until all the liquid is absorbed. You turn it off until about twenty minutes before the hordes are due home from soccer training, then you add the optional stuff. This will be any dag ends you find in the fridge. In my case, an aged tomato, some leftover cooked chicken, and no Meriadoc, I won’t be dropping any,

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and some fresh corn.

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I think some fresh herbs would also be nice, but the only one I have is mint, and I really don’t think so. Mushrooms would also be lovely. And whatever soft vegetables you want to use up, curses, I should have put in cauliflower. Stir it over heat until the soft vegies are just cooked. This made enough for two and enough leftover for me to have for lunch tomorrow. It had a full and satisfying flavour and it probably could have stood another chilli. Bacon makes everything good.

Spag Bol

It’s one of those afternoons in the car on Wednesdays, I have to pick up a kid at ten past four, at half past four and at five o’clock. Different kids, also different schools. This gets me home at about five thirty, so I need something quick for dinner. Pasta will fit the bill, even though I’m anticipating a “not pasta AGAIN! Didn’t we have it last week?” from the Muffet who is putting in some excellent moaning practise for when she is a teenager next year.

Everyone has a spaghetti bolognese recipe and I’m sure none of them would be recognisable in Bologna. My one has had some input from actual Italians, so I thought I’d share. The first thing is that the meat is a minor player, and it is pork and veal mince. The second is that if you’re going to put garlic in it, you put in a smashed clove, and you pull it out before serving. Some nonnas just cut a clove in half and rub the pot with it. The third is that you cook it for ages. This isn’t just a recipe you can prepare ahead of time. It’s one that you really should.

The one I’m making for tonight is a double serving so I can freeze half of it. I finely chopped two rashers of bacon, sometimes I chuck in some superannuated salami slices and pull them out before serving, I want a bit of a smoky flavour. Add in a chopped onion and about two hundred grams of pork and veal mince. I guess you can use beef if that’s all you can get but you may want to consider moving somewhere more multicultural. Cook it over a medium heat for a bit, stirring occasionally, until the meat is browned. If the meat sticks a bit, add a splash of olive oil.

Move the pot to your smallest burner. Add a smashed clove of garlic, a chopped stalk of celery and some bay leaves. I never know if they add more flavour, I like to think they do and it makes me feel all continental. One day I’ll have to get hold of some fresh ones. Add two tins of tomatoes. I’m using Italian ones, because that’s all they stock at our local IGA, and most locals buy them by the pallet. Stir it about, put the lid on and leave it over a low flame, stirring occasionally, and turn it off when it’s time to go and pick up the kids. At this point your house will smell extremely fragrant and passers by will be leaning over your front fence for a sniff.

About twenty minutes before I serve it I’m going to put it back on the heat and add in a whole lot of sliced mushrooms, because I like them. I may also put in a fresh chopped chilli. Just before serving it I’m going to stir through a large bunch of chopped continental parsley and then I’ll feel like we’re getting our greens. I’m going to serve it, not with spaghetti, but with fresh fettuccine from the local pasta guy and freshly grated Parmesan.

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I have got the kids to the stage where they’ll eat pasta with cooked broccoli and raw diced capsicum stirred through it. They’re all very anti tomato though, so this one will be an adults only dish. Yes, I know I should make them try it, but I know now which battles to pick, and it isn’t this one.

The Brussels Sprouts Converter

I get that not everyone loves Brussels sprouts. I adore them in every way, but the way I’m cooking them tonight will definitely add to their tiny fan base. I have Porteños restaurant to thank for this version of Brussels sprouts, and I hope they don’t mind my alterations.

I also get that it isn’t sprout season, they’re best in spring, you can even chop up the baby ones and put them in a salad. As spring progresses they get larger and less appealing, and that’s when this recipe really comes in to its own. But I saw a packet of them in Harris Farm with the suck in a customer descriptors of Baby, Sweet and Crisp, and I fell for it. I very much doubt you’d want these woody specimens in your salad, but nothing can stand up to what I’m about to do to them.

At Porteños they start off by deep frying them. Well, we can’t have that, I don’t think I’ve ever deep fried anything. What are you supposed to do with the leftover oil? I oven roast them. Chop off the bases of your sprouts then cut them in half. If they’re large, cut them in quarters. Distribute them into a small roasting pan and drizzle olive oil over them with a slightly lighter hand than you’ve seen Jamie Oliver use in every episode of his TV show. Sprinkle them with salt, then shake the pan to share the oil around. I’m going through a slow roasting thing at the moment, these will take about an hour and a half at 150 degrees. You don’t want them burnt to a crisp, but nicely browned and on the verge of mushy.

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They’re actually rather sensational just like this, with a rich nutty flavour. If you want to go completely overboard, you coat them with the special Porteños sauce, which can be found on the Gourmet Traveller website, and goes like this. Place in a small jar one hundred millilitres of olive oil, fifty millilitres of vincotto and a tablespoon of hot English mustard and shake like mad. Vincotto translates as cooked wine, I’ve seen it at most delis in the inner west. I’m not sure what you’d substitute if you couldn’t get it, possibly a mixture of honey and balsamic vinegar.

Porteños serve theirs with lentils and mint. I love lentils, but they do unladylike things to my digestive system, and all my mint burnt to death last Friday, the Hottest Day Ever. Suit yourself. This recipe also works an absolute treat with cauliflower.

The Kale Review

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I bought kale the other day. I kept hearing about it, it seemed like a Good Idea to try it. It’s also excitingly curly and, the deciding factor, rather cheap.

I had my first second thought when I got it home. All that exciting curliness makes it take up a great deal of space. I managed to squash it down sufficiently to cram it on top of the cauliflower in the crisper drawer where I left it with its thoughts for a couple of days.

My second second thought, which would make it my third thought, came when I started looking for recipes for kale. It turns out that kale is one of the Loony Foods, like spirulina and goji berries, and my old favourite, activated almonds. How did I not know this? People talk about adding it to their diet, rather than just eating it. A worrying number of recipes had the cheery addendum that “they won’t even notice they’re eating it!”. Surely not a great recommendation for eating the stuff. I did see a vaguely tempting recipe for kale chips, which involved washing them and drying them (yawn), tearing them into palm sized pieces, laying them out individually on baking trays (dear lord), spraying them with oil spray and sprinkling them with kosher salt, then either baking them on high for fifteen minutes, or baking them on low for two hours. Or doing them in a dehydrator! Then eating them immediately, because they go soggy fairly rapidly. I bar any recipe that takes thirty times longer to make than consume, so that was out.

They seemed way too tough and leathery to eat raw, I dismissed as extra specially loony the suggestion that you whip it up as a smoothie with green apple and nonfat yoghurt. That’s the type of recipe you get when you’re looking at kale recipes, they involve non fat everything, raw nuts, chia seeds, cottage cheese and soy milk. I’m surprised I didn’t see one with tofu, perhaps tofu is a little last decade. I wonder what kale would be like deep fried? I finally decided that a dip could work, and would go with the fajitas we’re having for dinner tonight.

Here’s what I did. Dumped the lot in a sink full of water. Got the frying pan going with a splash of olive oil and a crushed clove of garlic. You rip the kale off the middle stem, discarding any dead moths, and toss it in the frying pan. I didn’t bother drying it, the water helped it cook. The bunch I had was of sufficient volume that I needed to do it in two batches, with a fresh splash of olive oil and clove of garlic the second time around.

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Meanwhile I set my new blender a challenge. I put in it the juice of a lemon, a chilli from the plant I bought at Bunnings because it was three dollars fifty and right next to the front door, about a quarter of a cup of chopped Parmesan cheese and a tin of canellini beans. I let the kale cool a bit, because the instructions for my blender were quite firm on the kind of temperatures it would be tolerating, presumably because too many people were trying to use it as a cut price Thermomix. Then I squashed it in with the special squashing stick supplied with the blender, which already has a chunk out of it as a result of me not reading all the way to the end of the instructions. It worked best when it was allowed to grumble away on the lowest speed for about five minutes.

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The final result had the right amount of salt from the cheese, the amount of garlic was about right too. I may as well not have put the chilli in, perhaps they’re decorative rather than fiery. It could do with some heat. It’s overwhelmingly fibrous and not terribly flavoursome. You might eat a lot of it if you feel that you have to atone for some kind of secret sin, but you wouldn’t do it of your own free will. I spread it on some Lebanese bread and rolled it up to eat it. I await the verdict of my capricious digestive system. It will be better in small quantities with the fajitas, but I’m still not making it again. Spinach is far nicer. There’s no way I’ll be able to fool the kids into eating it, I’m on my own with this one. I wonder what sin I can commit to make it all worthwhile?

Fake Fajitas

The evenings are long and balmy and the family want to eat dinner on the back verandah. Their appetites are very variable at the moment, what with different levels of activity and various growth spurts going on. All we’ll need is a grab it yourself dinner and about fifteen mozzie coils, the anopheles are particularly frisky this year.

Our fajitas are more a homage to Mexican than the real thing. We had the real thing when we went to San Diego a couple of years ago, the kids still speak longingly of Nortes, next to our hotel, where we ate all manner of combinations of meat and corn by the outside fire. The Muffet loved tortillas at Nortes, but hates them here, I have to admit they’re a flabby imitation of the real thing and I’m not quite up to making them myself. We use Lebanese bread.

Set out a plate of Lebanese bread, a bowl of grated cheese, various bits of cut up salad, we use avocado, capsicum, lettuce, carrot and cucumber. Also wedges of lime, possibly some sour cream, a bowl of salsa and one of refried beans, which I’ll get to in a minute. At the last minute, bring out a plate of stir fried beef. You may want to bring it in a heated bowl, it goes cold quickly. You assemble the ingredients of your choice on the bread, wrap it up and eat it, then argue about who’s going to get the last bit of lettuce.

You can buy the salsa and beans anywhere you like, but I find it a little bland and unsatisfying and, in the case of the beans, slightly revolting. You guessed it, you can make your own! The salsa is particularly easy, particularly when Frank has in stock locally grown Roma tomatoes. A month ago you couldn’t get tomatoes anywhere, now you can get a bucketload for what you can find in the bottom of your handbag. You should make this about lunchtime, or the day before, the flavours develop. Cut up three tomatoes and deseed them, which is slightly annoying, but results in a lot less wet salsa. Resist the urge to add olive oil, bocconcini, basil, olives and balsamic vinegar, there’s something in the air in this suburb. And half a clove of finely minced garlic, the juice of half a lime, and one plantful of chopped up coriander. I also put in a teaspoon of sambal oelek and a couple of grinds of salt, taste it as you go. I don’t think I’ll stick in the fridge, it’s hard enough putting together a warm fajita.

The refried beans are pretty simple too, but not even fried once, which confuses me. The onion is, fry a finely chopped onion in a little olive oil over low heat until it’s soft. Add two cloves of finely minced garlic, one teaspoon of ground coriander and three of cumin. Stir it around for a few seconds, then dump in a can of red kidney beans. Most recipes suggest about a third of a cup of water should be added here, but one goes with beer, so that’s what I add. Continue cooking it over low heat for about ten minutes, then start mashing it with a potato masher. It will thicken up considerably when it cools, so don’t reduce it too much. Add salt to taste, don’t go overboard. You can make this ahead of time too, either heat it back up in the frying pan or zap it in the microwave.

Of course the kids are not going to have the salsa, beans or avocado, but that’s more for us. I should have got some tequila while I was out, I’m seriously going to start wearing a foil hat while shopping to prevent my brain being erased all the time.

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Chicken Noodle Soup

If there has been roast chicken for dinner earlier in the week then my family know with a cosmic sense of inevitability that there will be chicken noodle soup being dished up to them before long. Sadly, they are the only children in the history of the universe not to like it. My husband and I love it, so yar boo sucks to them.

First you strip the chicken. If you haven’t witnessed that scene of Bill Bailey stripping a chicken in the BBC series Black Books, then close down this blog immediately and google Manny Stripping the Chicken. Wait five minutes for the convulsions to stop, then return to making soup. Make chicken stock from the bits left over as advised in this blog, oh, about a month ago. You can pause for a couple of days after this step, or carry straight on. Reserve about two cups of stock and freeze the rest in little baggies, if there is any left.

Place in a large saucepan sliced mushrooms, diced carrot, chopped cauliflower and the sliced off kernels of a cob of corn that you bought from Frank this morning that is so fresh it still has a caterpillar wandering around in it. Also a slice of butter and a squashed clove of garlic. I don’t put in onion or celery because I feel that there’s enough of that going on in the stock, but you can really put in any hard vegetables you like in here. I don’t see any point putting stuff like zucchini in, it’s mainly water and its delicate flavour disappears in a soup like this. Cook it up until the mushrooms start looking rather tasty. Add the stock and a whole lot of pasta. I put in dried fettuccine because it’s easy to pull out for my fussy kids, but I’d prefer to use a pasta of a similar size to the bits of vegetable in the soup. I’m really bad at estimating quantities of pasta, so your guess will be better than mine. Sometimes I put in a chunk of chorizo or salami for a bit of smokiness and pull it out before serving.

I cook it uncovered until the pasta is cooked because I like all the stock to be absorbed. If you prefer it more soupy then stick a lid on it. I then remove the chicken flavoured pasta for my overindulged children. I put in the bits of chicken and also some chopped up parsley and stir it in. Actually, I appear to have purchased coriander today, shopping while thinking of other things. I’m sure that will be just lovely. I did have parsley growing next to my accidental rosemary in the front yard, but it doesn’t have appeared to have survived the hot weekend, and there wasn’t enough to harvest anyway. Perhaps I should water my herbs.

Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan and a cheeky Chardonnay. Is there any other kind?

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Pizza

If you’re going to be watching Rush Hour 7 with the family on a Sunday night, what you need for dinner is pizza. One problem with making the bases yourself is that once you’ve done it once, your family won’t accept shop bought again and they’ll even get a bit fussy about which pizza restaurants they’ll eat in. Fortunately our suburb abounds in excellent pizza joints, but I’m certainly not dragging myself out to pick some up, not wearing this ankle brace, even if it is now adorned with a fur cuff. Easier to make your own.

This is a forgiving recipe and will turn into pizza bases even if you start the whole thing with an hour to go. It’s better to start it earlier in the day for the yeast to do its thing, so whenever you get a moment. In a bowl place eight grams of fresh yeast, three hundred grams of water, ten grams of sugar and five hundred grams of flour, half of which should be farina per pizza if you’ve been to the deli recently, which I haven’t, so it isn’t. Mix it all up. My yeast looks like it’s on it’s last legs, I’m going to have to get up to the IGA this afternoon and fork out another sixty cents for some fresh stuff, but it doesn’t matter for this recipe.

Grind some salt over it and slosh a bit of olive oil on it, then knead it in. Every ten minutes or so, repeat with the oil maybe three times. Then leave it alone with its thoughts for a few hours. If you’re looking for international pizza certification you use less yeast and hard flour and it should rise over at least twenty four hours. That’s nice to know, isn’t it? Moving on, once it has risen a bit start pinching off bits and rolling them into circles. I go with a chunk that’s a little smaller than a tennis ball, that works for a thin crust on the pizza trays I have. You can use baking trays if you haven’t got pizza trays. Let these rise for a bit, and if you haven’t got the bench space, stack them separated by baking paper. I rarely manage this step, but it’s nicer if you get it in.

Spray your pizza trays or what have you with olive oil spray and sprinkle with cornmeal. Heat your oven to about two hundred degrees Celsius, and if you’ll be using a pizza stone, you should have done this half an hour ago, come on, the natives are getting restless. I do have a pizza stone, they’re only about fifteen bucks and they make a nicer pizza, but you can only do one at a time and I like to circumvent that who’s pizza is coming out first argument by putting three in at a time.

Then there’s toppings. Salami or bacon and cheese for the Horror, tomato paste and cheese for the Muffet and for the Moose, salt. I do seem like the type to grate my own cheese, but have you ever tried to grate mozzarella? It’s very squishy indeed, so I buy a pregrated pizza cheese mix. These bases also make a very nice flatbread, which is how the Moose eats it, so I often roll out a baking tray full and he’ll take it for lunch the next day. The grown ups get tomato paste, pepperoni, mushroom, celery and capsicum, anything that’s not wet. Fresh tomato on pizza is a bad idea, it makes it soggy and burns your mouth, leave it off. My favourite pizza is goats cheese, baby spinach, mushrooms, cauliflower, pepper and celery topped with cheese, but that’s a bit girly for my husband, so sometimes we get a different one each if we’re very hungry.

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This recipe makes between six and eight 25cm pizza bases. It turned out that the DVD was covered in someone’s sticky fingerprints, so we never did find out if Chris Rock managed to keep his eyeballs in for the entire movie.

Kangaroo Pie

Ah, the kangaroo, such a versatile animal. Enticer of tourists, chastiser of small children – one once gave a two year old Muffet a well deserved slap for squeezing its nose, I should have gone to help, but I was too busy crying with laughter. Its claws mounted on a stick make an excellent backscratcher or a hit TV series, and its scrotum may be fashioned into a handy coin purse. It also makes a rather terrific pie.

I like to make individual pies, especially for nights like last night where a fair amount of coming and going for sport around dinner time is involved. You can just hand a pie to whichever child is heading out the door and they can eat it on the way.

First, remove your pastry from the freezer. Yes, I am using frozen pastry, I am certainly not making puff pastry on a school night, or possibly any other night either. It’s on my to do list. I find the only problem with frozen pastry is I can’t tell whether it’s shortcrust or puff if I’ve thrown the box away. Fortunately this was puff. Tradition has it that you use shortcrust on the bottom and puff for the lid, but suit yourself, we prefer puff all over.

Chop about 600 grams of kangaroo into small dice. Much though I loathe the mega supermarkets, they do stock Macro Meats range of kangaroo and what I use for pie is the bush plum marinated kangaroo steak. Stick the kangaroo dice into a small saucepan with about three teaspoons of cornflour and stir about over high heat until browned. I find the marinated meat doesn’t need extra oil, but if you’re going with plain kangaroo from the back of the ute I’d advise adding a little butter. I then add half a cup of chicken stock straight from the freezer (remember when we made that a couple of weeks ago?), the leaves from a stick of rosemary and about a tablespoon of grated fresh ginger, but you can really suit yourself. Normal people might also add finely diced carrot, celery and/or mushroom, or even shredded beetroot goes well with kangaroo. Of course, then I would have a lot of leftover pie, so I desist. Simmer it covered, stirring occasionally, for about an hour.

When you’re having a break from stirring, get out your muffin tray and start spraying liberally with olive oil. There’s no way your muffin pans are non-stick, whatever they say on the label, unless they’re silicone, and I still feel a bit odd about using that. Cut out twelve large circles from your pastry and line the muffin cups with it. You don’t need to blind bake it. When the meat is ready, ladle it in. If the gravy is a bit runny still, take the lid off the saucepan of meat and turn up the heat for about five minutes, stirring a lot. You can then cut out neat smaller circles to use as lids, but I, being a thrifty housewife, just pile on the scraps leftover from cutting out the circles. You don’t even have to cover the meat completely. You could also cover the meat with mashed potato.

Bake in a hot oven for ten to fifteen minutes. You’re only cooking the pastry, so you can blast it at 220 degrees C. Take it out when the pastry is browned, then spend the next ten minutes cursing them out of the pans with the aid of a large fork, vowing to use more oil next time. The Horror asked if he could have a pie with no meat inside, but ended up eating two quite happily. I’m going to have to make more than twelve next time, especially as they’re rather good for lunch the next day.

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