Monday, July 19, 2010

food lie #234: there's nothing to eat in my house

It never ceases to amaze me about how blind some people can be about the sheer amount and variety of food in their kitchens. Countless times I've been over a friends house, and faced with the question of 'What's for breakfast/lunch/dinner/a snack?', they casually flick their eyes over their bulging fridges and pantries choc-a-block with ingredients and utter that awful lie: 'There's nothing to eat in my house.'


Honey, there is ALWAYS something to eat in the house ;)

Perhaps this is the side-effect of being raised by a single mum: when I was growing up, I would often come home to an empty house and a note scrawled on a bit of scrap paper: 'Pls cook some rice - no time, M.' And every now and again, perhaps a 20 dollar note for take away for me and my bropther. At my dads house it wasn't much better. Lets just say my dad was a bit experimental with his cooking.

As a result of this, I learnt how to delve deep into the depths of our humble pantry, looking for something - ANYTHING to make something tasty. Many afternoons were passed with bags of flour, food dyes, tinned vegetables, frozen chunks of meat, and cooking chocolate (which I'm pretty sure was expired) scattered all over the kitchen benches and I discovered all sorts of weird and wonderful combinations.

And if I remember correctly, my brother once had a creative side too. He used to make me my favourite dessert when i was little which was his own creation: milk, sugar and mashed jelly in a cup eaten with a spoon. Delicious.

Here are afew things I've cooked in the last few days, after being told that there was no food in the house.

Chicken Pasta a la Justin
Serves 8

  • 3 jars tomato pasta sauce base
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6 chicken thighs, cut into strips
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Basil, salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

    1. Fry the onion with the oil over a medium heat, then add the carrot and cook til carrots are just soft.
    2. Add the chicken, some basil, salt and pepper and cook until chicken is no longer pink.
    3. Add the tomato sauce, bring to the boil and then simmer on low until the sauce thickens and actually tastes like a pasta sauce.
    4. Serve over spaghetti or spiral pasta. Whatever floats your boat.

    Dark Choc Tim Tam Raspberry Muffins
    Serves 12

  • 6 dancing and singing asians
  • 1 laptop pumping the backstreet boys and old school 90s music
  • Tim Tams
  • 1.5 cups plain flour, sifted (we used a tea strainer)
  • 2 tsps baking soda
  • 1.5 cups raspberries
  • 0.5 cup dark brown sugar
  • Dark choc cooking choc chips
  • 0.5 melted margarine
  • 1 egg
  • 0.5 cup milk (We used lactose free because Justin was lactose intolerant...)

    1. Preheat oven to 180C. Crank dat nostalgic music and cue dancing asians.
    2. Add butter, milk and egg to your dry ingredients until almost just combined
    3. Add in the raspberries and choc chips and mix evenly.
    4. Grease muffin tray and distribute batter. We sprinkled silver cachous and put a bit of tim tam on each one (kudos to James).
    5. Bake for 15 minutes or until you can poke a skewer through them and take it out clean.

    Apple Crumble and Hot Vanilla Custard
    Serves 8 (or 4 fatties)


    Apple crumble
  • 5 apples, cored and cut into 16ths slices (preferably green, we used red)
  • 2 tblsp water
  • 2 tblsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 60g butter
  • 60g caster sugar

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons raw sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour

    1. Preheat oven to 190C. Bring the apples, sugar and water to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes until apples are just soft. Drain and layer apples in a 1.5 litre baking dish
    2. Rub butter, flour and sugar together until you get pretty fine breadcrumbs. I added in some crushed scotch fingers for some chunky bits. Sprinkle this evenly over the apple.
    3. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is a deep golden brown.

    For the custard:
    1. Heat the milk and cream on the stove with vanilla until it's steaming, but don't boil it.
    2. Whisk yolks, cornflour and sugar together in a separate bowl. Gradually add all the hot milk and cream to the yolks, whisking all the time.
    3. Return custard to the stove, and keep stirring on low heat until it tastes and has the texture of custard and not milk anymore. Don't overcook it or you'll get a rank smelling omelette thing.

    Make the custard while the apple crumble's cooking, then serve both hot together.

    *We didn't have any, but it's good with cinnamon mixed in with the apple filling or some cloves put into the topping. We didn't have any chopped walnuts for the crust either. Next time.

    Red onion Bruchetta
    Serves 1 (I am so ronery)

  • 1/2 a french stick
  • 4 cherry tomatoes diced
  • 1 tbsp grated strong cheese
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped spanish onion
  • Dried italian herbs, salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

    1. Cut the french stick in half and brush with olive oil. Grill.
    2. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl then serve on top of hot bread. Drizzle with more olive oil, salt and pepper.
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