Monday, September 13, 2010


I have a easy bean soup to make!

I decided to make a soup out of beans that I have hardly ever used before. So I went along to the Middle Eastern Store and bought Great Northern beans, red kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas and I noticed on the shelf some dried Lupini beans. I thought that they looked very interesting – much the same ‘looking’ as lima beans, or so I thought!

Well I soaked all the beans overnight, and the next day I began to make my soup. After adding all the requirements, I allowed the soup to simmer for about 1 ½ hours and then I tried it. It was the most sour horribly tasting soup that I’ve ever had. So I thought – what have I put in the soup that would make it so horribly tasting, and I finally honed this down to the Lupini beans - I better go to the internet, to find out more about Lupini beans.

Well I got a shock because I thought Lupini beans were the much the same as Lima beans. But Lupini beans have got alkaloids in them which are slightly poisonous, and when leached out make the water/soup completely sour. The thing you must do when preparing Lupini beans, is to change the bathing water every day, for about 5 days; boil up the beans; change the water again and then the Lupini beans become a very tasty addition to the menu! This ‘after the event’ knowledge on what to do with Lupini beans makes me wary that if I ever come across an ingredient that I don’t know what it is or does – I will always go the internet first and look up the ingredient!

For those of you that may be interested – there are in excess of 100 bean types that may be used in cooking – I bet that you have only come across perhaps a dozen of these types!

So, to get back to the recipe!

Step 1
- Fig 1, Fig 2, Fig 3 and Fig 4
200 gm of chickpeas – soaked overnight
200 gm of red kidney beans – soaked overnight
200 gm of yellow lentils - soaked overnight

Fig 1 - red kidney beans; lentils; and chickpeas

Fig 2 - 200 gm each of the red kidney beans; the lentils and the chickpeas

Fig 3 - the beans are immesed in water and kept like this overnight

Fig 4 - engorged beans after an overnight soaking

Step 2
1 brown onion
3 potatoes - Fig 5; Fig 8
vegetable stock cube

Fig 5 - three potatoes are used

Step 1

The following day, the beans are brought to a boil over a low flame for about 30 minutes - this gets rid of the starch that comes out of these beans Fig 6.

Fig 6 - as the water boils, white starch like material comes to the surface which is skimmed off

Step 2
2 tablespoons of olive oil are then placed in a saucepan, and a finely chopped up onion is fried gently - Fig 7. Three potatoes that have been peeled and diced up roughly, together with the boiled beans, a vegetable stock cube and enough water to fully cover the contents of the saucepan - Fig 9. I then add some pepper and salt, and allow the mixture to slowly simmer for about 1 ½ hours, by which time all the beans are tender and the soup is ready to eat.

Fig 7 - the onion is gently fried in olive oil

Fig 8 - the diced potato is ready to add to the mixture

Fig 9 - all the ingredients and the water are added, and the mixture is left to slowly simmer for 1 1/2 hours

Fig 10 - the final soup ready in a bowl to eat - yum!

Two bowls of this yummy soup together with crusty bread makes a very nice meal!

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Step 1
½ cup of red lentils - Fig 1
Step 2
30 gms butter or oil
1 brown onion - Fig 1
Step 3
3 - 4 carrots - Fig 1
3 desiree potatoes - Fig 1
1 ½ liters water
vegetable stock cube
Salt and pepper
3 drops Tabasco sauce – optional

Fig 1 - the basic ingredients.

Step 1
Place the red lentils in water and wash them thoroughly to get rid of the grit and the starch.
Step 2
Place butter/oil in a saucepan over low heat and put in diced onion - Fig 2 and allow to cook till the onion is translucent.
Step 3
Peel the carrots - Fig 3 and dice them up and place them in the saucepan. Allow them to cook slowly for about 5 minutes. Peel the potatoes - Fig 4 and cut each into 8 pieces, and place in the saucepan. Drain the red lentils - Fig 5 and place them in the saucepan together with the vegetable stock cube - Fig 6; 1 ½ liters of water; the seasoning and the Tabasco sauce if using.

Fig 2 - onions cooking in the saucepan.

Fig 3 - carrots added to the saucepan.

Fig 4 - potatoes added to the saucepan.

Fig 5 - red lentils added to the saucepan.

Fig 6 - vegetable stock cube added to the saucepan.

Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 25 minutes - Fig 7.

Fig 7 - soup simmering away in saucepan.

The soup can either be eaten the way it is or can be food processed for a smoother result - Fig 8.

Fig 8 - yummy processed soup!

Eaten together with a slice of crusty bread – it is terrific!

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Sous vide is the French term for 'under vacuum'

For a while I have been fascinated by the idea of ‘sous vide’ cooking at home. Sous vide was first discovered in the 1700’s and later used in the 1970’s in commercial food preparation in France. After a thorough search of the internet for the various items of equipment required for successful sous vide cooking – ie: a thermal circulating bath and a vacuum sealer - the possibility of doing it at home seemed a little remote, because the cost of these equipment items was rather expensive.

But then I came across a site on the internet - ‘Sous Cooking at Home’. This is an Australian- based firm selling the temperature bath at a reasonable price. This equipment together with a vacuum sealer gets you all equipped to do sous vide cooking at home.

So, let me have a few words to say about sous vide cooking before I provide some simple recipes.

Sous vide cooking is the process of cooking vacuum sealed food - hence the need for a vacuum sealer - Fig 1 and 2 which I obtained from CrazySales ,

Fig 1 - vacuum food sealer

Fig 2 - proper placement of the plastic container bag

in a low temperature water bath - hence the need for an accurately controlled water bath Fig 3 and 4, which I obtained from Sous Vide Cooking At Home, that achieves texture and doneness of food not found with other cooking techniques. By this means, all the juices of the food being cooked are kept within the food and are not permitted to be released. And by cooking at a low temperature for a long period of time, the various collagen fibers which can give meat and fish their toughness, are slowly dissolved, leaving meat (other foods as well) delightfully tender and completely moist – and this is basically the whole idea behind sous vide cooking.

Fig 3 - the 'sous vide cooking at home' set up

Fig 4 - the constant temperature device on top and the water bath down below

Meat when cooked using the sous vide method has a very mild flavor. The reaction that brings out the flavor in meat is called the Maillard reaction. Maillard found in 1910 that the basic browning of the surface of meat that occurs at high temperatures caramelizes the sugars and so gives meat its characteristic taste. So nearly all meat is put into a searing frypan just after it is taken out of the sous vide cooker, and the meat surface is quickly browned. A short resting phase is then required to relax the meat before it is eaten.

So knowing the very basics, there are three recipes that I would like to share with you. The cooking of :

a fillet of ocean trout/salmon;
a loin of lamb;
a beef rib eye steak.

Other items can most definitely be cooked using the sous vide technique.

Step 1

30 gm butter
1/2 small onion - peeled and chopped
1 stick celery - chopped
4 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
juice of 1 lemon
Step 2
4 skinless salmon fillets
Step 4 - base
2 cucumbers - peeled, seeded, and diced
60 ml sour cream
30 ml mayonnaise
minced fresh parsley
1 bunch of dill
salt and black pepper to taste

Step 1

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and the onion is translucent. Add the cloves and bay leaf and cook until fragrant, another minute or so. Transfer the onion mixture to a bowl and stir in the lemon juice.
Step 2
Place one piece of fish into each of four food plastic bags. Divide the onion mixture evenly among the pouches and vacuum seal each bag Fig 5.
Step 3
Place the pouches into the sous vide cooker at 40°C and cook for 40 minutes Fig 6. Cooking for longer periods can result in a loss of textural quality.

Fig 5 - the salmon being vacuum sealed

Fig 6 - the salmon in the sous vide cooker being kept at 40°C for 40 minutes

Step 4 - base
In a small bowl, stir together the cucumber, sour cream, mayonnaise, parsley and dill. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until needed.

2 - LOIN OF LAMB - serves 2

1 lamb loin - trimmed of fat, sinew, and silver skin
5 gm olive oil

Put lamb Fig 7 and oil in a vacuum bag and seal Fig 8. Cook sous vide at 57°C for 30 minutes for medium to medium rare Fig 9,10 and 11.

Fig 7 - the loins of lamb trimmed of all fat and sinew

Fig 8 - the loins of lamb vacuum sealed in a plastic bag

Fig 9 - the lamb in a vacuum sealed bag in the sous vide cooker

Fig 10 - sous vide cooker set at 57°C

Fig 11 - the loin of lamb completely cooked

Sear lamb on both sides quickly in a very hot frypan, rest for 5 minutes and serve.

Step 1
– steak marinade
1 jalapeno chilli
1 stick of lemongrass - white part only
25 gm ginger
125 gm soy sauce
15 gm ground cinnamon
475 gm pineapple juice - extracted with juicer = 1 pineapple
360 gm brown sugar
125 gm salt
1000 gm water
Step 2 – meat
6 rib eye beef steaks
reserved cold steak marinade

Step 1 – steak marinade

In a large saucepan, bring chili, lemongrass, ginger, soy, cinnamon, pineapple juice, sugar, salt, and water to a boil. Remove from heat. Let steep for 2 hours. Strain through chinois into medium bowl and refrigerate until cold.
Step 2 – meat
Immerse the rib eye steaks - Fig 12 in the marinade and let stand - Fig 13 for 5 hour. Take out the beef and dry them; seal in a bag under vacuum - Fig 14 and cook sous vide - Fig 15 at 55°C for 5 hours - Fig 16 and 17.

Fig 12 - the rib eye steaks

Fig 13 - the steaks immersed in the marinade for 5 hours

Fig 14 - the marinated steaks vacuum sealed in plastic bags

Fig 15 - steaks cooked sous vide

Fig 16 - the steaks at the end of 5 hours

Fig 17 - a cut section of the meat showing the red nature of the steak

Sear steaks on both sides quickly in a very hot frypan, and serve.

If you get the equipment mentioned in this blog, you can prepare these items very easily as it takes a lot of the variability out of cooking!

If you are placing a lot of liquid in the cooking bag; it is worthwhile freezing the bag before sealing it - otherwise as the vacuum is applied, the liquid seeps out, and it is very difficult to seal the bag properly.