Sledging the kitchen. Osso bucco and Asian style Chicken Soup

I couldn’t stand it any longer! After spending most of my ‘free from paid work’ Monday out in the garden, I was itching to come in and start getting rid of the stinky old cupboards in the kitchen. I’m doing this in stages, no hurry as we haven’t locked in any start date for the build. I just have to see them gone! So out came the sledge hammer, wrecking bar and normal hammer. The tiled bench top was first to go, very satisfying smashing that!

IMG_1704

Then it was a matter of methodically working through dismantling the rest of the framework. Things were built so well when this was made, the size and quantity of the nails is amazing! I was pleasantly surprised to find that behind this cabinet is some beautiful baltic panelling that is still in great nick. How could anyone cover up this with that awful cabinet?

IMG_1710

The hole in the floor is the access point to the old brick, butter cellar. I’m still working out how to integrate this into a usable asset in the new kitchen.

Butter cellar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That was very satisfying! Little by little I’ll keep chipping away!

Weekend food wrap.

On Saturday I participated in a Middle Eastern Vegetarian cooking class at Relish Mama in Cheltenham.  I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon, chef Tony Chiodo was a great source of information, the venue is set up beautifully and it was just nice to be in a real kitchen with things like having water connected, clean floors and a real cooktop. Aaaaaah, heaven. I got a few design tips too, added bonus.

Tony Chiodo- Relish Mama
Waiting for the fun to begin!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Sunday night I made an Osso Bucco style stew. If mammoths still roamed the earth, I imagine that their shanks would be about the size of these cuts I bought at the Dandenong market. I only used 2 and it would easily have fed 6 people. Served with mash and broad beans cooked in olive oil, garlic and lemon. A bit of sourdough to mop up the juices. Can’t beat it!

Osso Bucco

Chicken and No Corn soup.

Tonight I felt like I needed an asian style soup to warm me through. I didn’t really feel like having noodles or dumplings in it, so I just went with using some of the asian style stock I made a few weeks ago using chicken feet as the base. To this I added some finely diced carrot and celery, chilli, grated ginger, black pepper, fish sauce, a bit of water to extend the volume and 3 chicken thigh fillets. The chicken fillets poached while the stock simmered away and when cooked I shredded them, stirred in some finely shredded, freshly picked kale and 2 eggs to thread through the broth. Just what I needed, not a big fan of corn in soup anyway!

Asian Chicken Soup

 

 

Living without a kitchen tips.

It is now just over a year since we moved into this ‘new old house’ and everyone seems quite surprised that we have coped so well with little to no dedicated kitchen. This is what we faced, not too bad you think? The old burnt out oven was taken out so we could fit in a fridge. The cupboards absolutely stank (still do to some degree) of old timber, damp and smoke and I wasn’t going to put anything in them! The original lino flooring was taken up and I literally brought in a gurney and pressure washed the room. That was fun!

Kitchen

We bought a couple of sets of shed type shelving for storing most things and  I use an old wardrobe in a spare bedroom as a pantry. So this old kitchen room now only has a fridge, a table and chairs and a camping table with my toy oven on it. The microwave and the toaster I was brave enough to put on the existing bench,  a sink that does have hot water available but if we  need to get cold that has to come from the bathroom. Not sure if I’d follow the same colour scheme when we redo either (bright pillar box red inside the cupboard doors)! What do you think?

How it works

I think we have only used the barbecue about a dozen times and have  fired up the combustion oven twice. Reflecting on this I thought I’d share a tip every now and again for people who either don’t have or don’t need a fully decked out kitchen. This may be due to a whole multitude of reasons, camping, holidaying, touring, renovating, house sharing, faulty appliances and I’m sure there are so many more. I must admit I’ve been re-thinking about what I actually WILL need when designing the new kitchen. I definitely know the oven is a given, it has been driving me nuts with only the little Sunbeam Bake & Grill Benchtop unit, which I have been cheekily calling my ‘toy oven’. Don’t get me wrong I am quite amazed at how well this little unit has performed. It is just annoying that when I make something I have to do it in many small batches or find baking trays and tins that fit in, the standard ones are just too big. Now that I have a few that work well it is a lot better.

Mini Pavs in tin
This is the size tin I am limited to. Ok for just the two of us but when I have to ‘make to take’ it is a challenge.

IMG_2065

My list of absolute must haves to cope more easily are:

  • A little butane gas camping stove. Unbelievable how reliable, efficient and handy this has been. Bought it for $14.00 and refills can be bought at BIGW for $8-$10 for a box of 12. Great for cooking using the wok on, griddle, frying pan, saucepan if needed and anything you normally cook on a gas jet.

991169

  • Microwave-Don’t use it excessively but it has proven to be really handy for many short-cuts. See my recipe for fluffy microwaved scrambled eggs.
  • Slow cooker-This would be up the top of the list along with the gas stove. I have discovered so many uses for this that I’ve become a bit of an addict looking for new ways to extol its virtues! I actually have 2, a small and a large. Useful for making stock, soups, curries, roasts, quince paste, baked potatoes and pasta sauces.
  • Good basics of toaster, kettle and fridge.
  • Goes without saying that good knives and pots are essential too, I’ve changed my thinking completely with pots and mostly use cast iron ‘fake’ Le Crueset for large sizes and small camp ovens for small. Experience has demonstrated that you don’t get what you pay for all the time when it comes to kitchen ware. As for knives I get kiwi brand from asian supermarkets and they are rippers. I’ve never used knives that are so good, re-sharpen well and are so cheap it doesn’t matter if you lose one or leave it somewhere. Large cleaver style are about $10.00 at Springvale market and small paring and handy veg knives range from $2. I so rarely use my expensive knives now I feel guilty seeing them on the magnetic knife rack.

It is frustrating, it looks bad but it will make it all the sweeter when we eventually get to this part of the house and renovate. Meanwhile I’ll not complain too much about the state of affairs, I can still enjoy some favourites like my fluffy microwaved scrambled eggs. They really are delicious!

IMG_3131

How to make microwaved scrambled eggs.

Ingredients

  • Eggs (2 per person)
  • Milk -1/4 cup per egg
  • Salt & Pepper to season
  • Mustard (1/4 tspn per egg)
  • Parmesan cheese finely grated
  • Parsley finely chopped to garnish.
  • Crack eggs into microwaveable container.
  • Add milk, salt & pepper and mustard and whisk till blended.

Now, slow down a tad and listen:

Using a large spoon, gently turn the mixture working from around the side of bowl ONCE and then across the middle to complete a figure eight, only do this once. BE GENTLE!!!! The aim is to NOT break up the eggs, just to get the uncooked mix more exposed. You should see signs of egg coagulating (thickening/cooking) in some spots.

IMG_3134

Put container back into microwave on half power for 1 minute increments checking after each minute. Do the stirring once pattern again VERY GENTLY. Time will vary depending on number of eggs in bowl. I find for 4 eggs 2 minutes on high then 2 minutes on half power seems to work ok. When there is only a little mix uncooked and mix is still a bit on the wobbly side, let sit while you cook your toast, grate your cheese and chop your parsley. Serve onto toast, sprinkle with parmesan and garnish with the chopped parsley.

Can’t go wrong! These were served with freshly made tomato pickles and they tasted great too.

IMG_3137