Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Zucchini soup - yum!

I obtained the idea of this recipe from a recipe published by The Australian Womens Weekly cookbook series. I find this recipe really luscious, filling and easy to make. Some people may think - what zucchini? - yuk! But believe me, this recipe does not taste like you might think zucchini tastes like!


Step 1

60 gm butter
1 medium onion – chopped
6 medium zucchini – peeled and chopped
1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
water to cover zucchini
Step 2
salt and ground white pepper
pinch of nutmeg

Step 1

Heat the butter in a medium saucepan and add the chopped onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chopped zucchini and the chicken/vegetable stock cube and the water, bring to the boil and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.
Step 2
Remove from the heat and process with a Bamix and when processed, adjust the seasoning and add a pinch of nutmeg.

Serve it in a soup bowl.

Note: the butter adds to the flavour of the soup; the soup can be made more/less intense by adjusting the amount of water added; this soup may be stored in the refrigerator for a few days.

Friday, October 23, 2009

WATER can save a Hollandaise sauce!

I don't know about you, but I have made a Hollandaise sauce in the past which ended up curdling, and a curdled sauce is not very pleasant looking, to say the least!

A Hollandaise sauce is used traditionally to accompany such foods as egg Benedict and asparagus,and is the basis for a number of other sauces.

There are three very important things to know about the making of a Hollandaise sauce. Firstly never use an aluminium pan because it will turn the sauce a greenish colour. Secondly, be very careful with the heat that is applied - too much heat and the sauce will curdle. And thirdly, it is best to use a bain marie or a container placed over a pan of boiling water.

Hollandaise sauce is a mixture of butter, egg yolks, water, seasoning and lemon juice and as it turns out this combination is rather useful, because, if the mixture is inadvertently heated too much and ends up curdling, the addition of a tablespoon of cold water can bring the curdled mixture back into a sauce once again! The absolute wonders of water.

So don't be afraid to make a Hollandaise sauce - if it does go wrong, a little cold water will get it back on the right track again!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My favorite shops

This is the store to go to if you are wanting Middle Eastern items. It is not only a bakery but also a grocery shop full of Middle Eastern items at very reasonable prices; every type of bean you can think of, as well as spices galore!
The store is located at 643 Sydney Road, Brunswick, 3056, Victoria.

I found Arthur's relatively recently in my continual search for good food stores, after going to other stores for some time. Arthur's is at the Prahran Market, has extremely friendly staff, and their poultry products are extra fresh.


This enormous store has all that you may want as far as cookery hardware (saucepans, plates, glasses,etc.) is concerned, and has a whole range of commercial items as well. Located just opposite the South Melbourne Market at 131 Cecil Street, South Melbourne, 3205, Victoria.

I have bought all my fish at Claringbolds for 14 years and since I formed 'Zest Cooking' in 2001 - that is the only store I go to! Claringbolds is at the Prahran Market, and they are so accommodating - they will do exactly what you want them to do with the fish in question.
They have the freshest of fish, and for many recipes I request that the fish be filleted, boned and de skinned - they will do this with pleasure. They have a wide range of fish for sashimi and you can purchase sushi there as well.
I purchase all my oysters, scallops and crab meat there, and for more specialised items like Sea Urchins; Salmon Roe; Patagonian Tooth Fish; eel; etc. - they either have these items in stock or will get them in if given notice.
The staff there are extremely friendly and helpful and will readily advise you of a fish they have in stock and how to cook that fish.

Looking for some strange Asian vegetable? The Footscray Market is the place to go! Very reasonably priced, you can get everything Asian, and since most of the Asian people shop every day - the vegetables are very fresh indeed.

This is an Halal store at 609 Sydney Road, Brunswick, 3056, Victoria, and has a whole range of Turkish and Lebanese meat cuts. Here you can buy true 'kibbeh' as well as the special dried and spiced beef called Bastrouma - just lovely! The meat here is cheaper than in other parts of town, and you can get all sorts of wierd and wonderful cuts. A visit here is well worth your while.

This is a very large store, open to the public, that has everything at remarkably low prices. You can buy items like olive oil for cooking, cheeses, Italian products, a whole range of dried and fresh pasta of every kind and shape, tinned items, breads and cakes and liqueur and wine. It is located at 482 Sydney Road, Brunswick, 3056, Victoria.

If you ever want anything Asian, then this store is the one to go to! Actually there are two stores - one next to the Queen Victoria Market (125 Therry Street, Melbourne, 3000, Victoria) and the other one in Richmond (178 Victoria Street, Richmond, 3121), the latter store being a 'super' store. You can buy everything from Soy sauce to white fungus; from lychee nuts to lotus seeds to Jelly fish. Anything and everything you want - you can find it in these stores.

I found Neil's - also located at the Prahran Market - after looking around for some time, and I would say they are really special! You can buy Wagu beef, aged beef and any other type of meat possible. I have found that if you want a 'strange' cut of meat, they will prepare it for you or, if possible, get it in. The meat is carefully and fully prepared with only the minimum fat remaining.


This store, also at the Prahran Market is a favorite of mine for cheeses. They have a wide variety of both local and international cheeses, as well as many other items of a delicatessen nature.

I have purchased my fruit and vegetables at Russo's for many years. I in the main see either Paul or Frank, and they have been extremely helpful to me. They are situated at the Prahran Market, and the fruit and vegetables I bring home are always fresh. The ripeness of the fruit depends on what I ask for, and if for some reason the fruit has gone bad on the inside, you can take it back and get it replaced at no charge at all!

This beautiful store with wonderful people on the staff posesses everything hardware that you could possibly want for cooking. Go there - you will NOT be disappointed. It is located at 1400 High Street, Malvern, 3144, Victoria. Well worth a visit!


This store adjacent to the Prahran Market is a store you would love to be let loose in with money matters being taken care of by someone else! It is a treasure trove of both food and hardware items, and for all specialty items - you just cannnot go past it! It has nearly everthing you may want as far as cooking is concerned.
Essential Ingredient has a large food section, a large section for kitchen hardware, an appreciable cooking book section, and it also has a cooking school. I could literally live in this store!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A beautiful meal in a few minutes!



Step 1
Tuna steak/s
soy sauce
english mustard

Step 1

Take a tuna steak (or multiple tuna steaks) (approx 150 - 200gms each ), bring to room temperature (A)


and coat the top side with hot english mustard and some pepper (B).


You can, if you like, cook the tuna steak straight away OR you can leave it in the soy sauce within the cool frypan for approximately 15 minutes to marinate.

Step 2

With the frypan on medium heat and the soy sauce starting to bubble inside the frypan, place the tuna steak with the mustard side down (C) and sear for 2 minutes.

While this is searing, coat the exposed side with mustard and sprinkle some pepper (D),


and sear this side for 1 - 2 minutes. By this time most of the soy sauce will have dried up – it’s finished and ready to serve (E).


This is beautiful served with a mixture of mashed potatoes and mashed parsnips. Or with a small salad - the whole dish looks and tastes terrific.

This fish comes out with its centre NOT completely cooked through (F) - the correct way for cooking fish! The hot English mustard is rendered quite a lot milder by the cooking process.


Monday, October 12, 2009

When making puddings and creme caramels - DO NOT USE ELECTRIC BEATERS!

One thing that I found out rather painfully a few years ago, was that when making desserts with eggs, sugar and milk or cream, and then placing the desserts in the oven to cook and set - it is strongly advised not to use an electric beater during the beating process. The use of an electric beater puffs up all the ingredients with air, which is then eliminated as the dessert cooks. The result is that a ramekin that was full at the beginning of the cooking process turns out to be about one- third full once the cooking has finished! Rather than have this DISASTER happening - I use a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients, and the result is a very nice looking dessert!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Recipe for extremely luscious vegetable soup


Step 1
40 gm butter or olive oil
1 brown onion - diced
3 medium sized carrots – peeled and cut into small pieces
4 small purple sweet potatoes – peeled and cut into small pieces
500 gm frozen peas
4 medium sized zucchinis – peeled and cut into small pieces
2/3 cup dried red lentils – soaked to get rid of the bulk of the starch
2 cubes of Massel chicken stock (vegetarian)
2 liters of water
6 drops of Tabasco sauce (optional)
salt and pepper – to taste

Step 1

Melt the butter in a largish saucepan and add the onion and allow to simmer for a few minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes and the peas, and allow to simmer for a few minutes. Then add the zucchini, red lentils, stock cubes, water , Tabasco and salt and pepper; bring to the boil and allow to cook over a low heat for about 30 minutes. It may be necessary to remove any scum from the surface initially – this scum is not harmful but is just starch from the lentils.
Step 2
Remove from the heat and break up the pieces in the soup and make the soup smooth with a Magimix – check on salt and pepper – and enjoy!

Beginning blogging

I saw the movie 'Julie and Julia' recently, and I thought - wouldn't it be a great idea if I had a blog just like Julie's. Here I could record some simple recipes that could be used by everyone, and also list some of the shops that I regularly frequent to purchase the produce that I use, as well as discuss the equipment that I find so handy.