TOAST’s Web “Thing”

Tuesday, 2007-01-09

More Cassoulet

Filed under: (Uncategorized) — by Toast d'Béchamel @ 10:36 pm

Damn you picassa for blocking my pictures.

Anyway, I reheated a portion of my cassoulet tonight for an hour and a half and discovered something almost incredible.  Here’s the bottom line:

When cooking a cassoulet, an hour before it’s done, fish around in the pot for all the chicken pieces (and probably the duck as well), lay them on top of the beans, and sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top.  Then cook the final hour uncovered.

Ho-leey sheeyat, that’s some good eating.  The chicken is tender from it’s slow braising, full of flavour from all the tasty bits in the pot, one “side” of it will essentially be roasted, and with the crumbs and the drying, gives it an eating quality not completely unlike a schnitzel, or southern fried chicken.

 I was also worried about having too much liquid in there.  I tasted some late last night.  Then some more.  Then some more.  Then some more.  Man, it’s good.  Not a problem any more.

Monday, 2007-01-08

Cassoulet!

Filed under: Cooking / Eating,Recipes — by Toast d'Béchamel @ 10:34 pm

I’ve got so many other things to do, but here’s just a quick one on a first attempt at a cassoulet. It was brilliant, and although technically the process took three days to complete, there was onlt about half an hour of actual effort. I only meant to make a little one, enough for a couple of portions, but ended up completely filling the big Le Cruset pot (6 lites?). I just sort of saw some stuff I had for later in the week, and just though “screw it, throw it all in”. Here’s the recipe, by no means canonical. I couldn’t find/afford any duck, but had some duck fat.

Firstly, soak a kilo of dried beanz overnight. DO NOT ADD SALT. Next day, drain, rinse then boil the beans for 30 mintes, skimming the scum at boiling point and then throwing in an onion. NO SALT.

In the main time, heat up your casserole, throw in some duck fat (or olive oil, you wuss) and fry your meatz. I had 2 large chicken Marylands, 300g of diced lamb (originally planned for something else), 2 thick pork sausages. Season as you go.

Remove the meat as it gets done (fry in batches), and fry off your base, I had 2 onions, 2 carrots, 6 cloves of strong garlic, and 200g of smoked speck (garlic minced, everything else diced), seasoning as you go. In the mean time roughly chop 4 Roma tomatoes. I layered the dish like this: Deglaze with a little white wine, and throw in a third of the beans. Add half the meats and half the tomatoes. Add another third of the beans, the rest of the meat, then cover with the last of the beans. Season after each addition of beans. Don’t be afraid of the salt, remember, you’re cooking a whole heap. Finally, throw in a bouquet garni (or dried herbs if you’re short) and top up with either stock or “bean boiling water”, just to the top of the beans.

At this point, I let it cool a little and threw it in the fridge (it was Sunday night and did all the work while cooking something else for dinner). The next day I put the whole thing in a low oven (140 degrees) for 4 hours, and voila. Serve with great, great bread and cheap red wine.

Cost – About $15, plus bread and cheap wine. Serves 5 people who will end up belt-looseningly stuffed.

Improvements / next time:

  • Need to cook it longer. Normally the 3-4 hour cooking time starts with the stuff at boiling temperature. Mine was at fridge temperature, was pretty close though.
  • Similarly, finish the dish uncovered for maybe an hour, possibly putting some breadcrumbs on top for a crust.
  • Using stock instead of water may improve things, but again, so would reducing the liquid.
  • Better sausages, these ones were very cheap, but still great.
  • Some pork!
  • variants of the mirepoix base, include celery? Exclude carrots?
  • More fat!

Sunday, 2007-01-07

Heya, hiya, have some blog.

Filed under: (Uncategorized) — by Toast d'Béchamel @ 10:49 pm

– WordPress is driving me mad.  It’s so, so slow to edit.  Adding a link takes a full minute sometimes.  They’re shared service is being hit to all hell, and it’ll likely get worse.  The good news is that I hear that if you host it yourself, it’s quite fast, and hosting costs as little as $5 a month.  Gimme a couple of weeks.
– As you may know, more than 80% of the TV I watch is cooking shows.  For some reason, this week I’ve seen 5-6 recipes including “blood oranges”.  These come in season for as little as a month (Winter).  I’m gueassing the reason that they’re on TV so much right is that cable now gets cooking shows quite soon after their original US/UK broadcasts, and ABC is showing repeats.  Drives me mad as you can’t get them :).  Unless they’re being imported from the Northern Hemesphere (in which case they’ll likely be expensive and crap).
– I’ve started shopping at Ashfield Fruit World and they have all manner of great stuff.
 – Bags of all sorts of flours, dried beans, dried fruits etc.  They buy it in bulk and pack it into 1kg/500g vacuum sealed bags, and a looks like they’re hardly charging for this service!  Some things are cheaper than home-brand (is a good brand).  Flour – $1 per kilo, Dried beans – $3 a kilo (enough to feed a whole lot of people), salted peanuts, $4 a kilo, all manner of good stuff, even Wasabi peas.
 – Must be coriander season, small bunches for 70c (or a huge bundle for tree-fitty).  I’ve seen it for $3 a bunch at times.  Also, parsely for a buck, basil/thai basil for two bucks.
 – $6 for a 12 pack of tinned tomatoes.

– Still not entered a supermarket.  Not a problem at all.  Bought a gatorade from a convenience store, and paid for the privelege.
– This week, a big of a cassolet, even though it’s summer and that I couldn’t find any duck pieces and Vietnamese pork recipe
– I’ve started reading “The Man who Ate Everything” by Jeffrey Steingarten (sorry, no link, it’s too painful).  Brilliant stuff, I can hardly put it down.  Dr. Rodd generously lent it to me, claining “this guys is just like you”.  Totally agree.  He’s American, but writes as if he were British, is a Lawyer, but writes as if he has a science degree and goes to a level of research and detail rivalled only by Alton Brown.
– Also reading “Musashi”.  Have made it past the 50 pages now, and am now “into the story”.  Though not completely hooked yet, I am finding it quite interesting.  I know some really exciting and cool things are about to start happening, which is keeping me reading it.  So far, the main character has a WOODEN sword ?!, which he’s actually used to kill someone with.  One scene has him pissed off in a forest and in anger goes around slashing branches off trees.
– Iron Chef America is improving with each episode.  Hope y’all saw Ming Tsai in battle Duck.  Man, that was an amazing episode.  I claim that the winner totally PWNED the loser.
– My last week of being “broke”.  Very nice.
– I’ve been working with Eric Scheid from Ironclad (sorry, no link) on an Information Architecture project.  The man is a fricken GENIUS at IA.  He lives and breathes it.  I learn more in a couple of hours with him than I do in a month of programming.  If you’re in IA or a related field, you’re likely to come across him at some point.
– Is it just me, or does the whole of Australia seem to be on holidays for the last month ?  I’ve had more things like “broken websites”, “broken application forms”, “missed deliveries”, “lost orders”, “faxes not received”, “stuffed up orders” in the last month than I’ve had in the last year.

More from me after payday, when I’ve got some coin and can hopefully get this thing hosted somewhere usable

Monday, 2007-01-01

Greetz! Eatz!

Filed under: Cooking / Eating,Recipes — by Toast d'Béchamel @ 11:36 pm

Happy 2007 all y’all.  Even though I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions (one day a year is far too few to get some ambition and some steam up yo ass), I happen to have a couple of things that happen to start on the 1st of January.

Firstly, I’m attempting to go a whole year without purchasing anything from a supermarket.  I did make a fairly sizable order from shopfast last night as a bit of a weaning (cola, detergent, glad wrap, soap, TP and dog treats), but that’s it.  At times it’s going to be very tough.  But I expect that while I last, I’m going to be saving a bunch of coin and losing a lot of weight. 

Although not a resolution and something that I’ve brought up before, I’m turning my back on the whole scene and avoiding restaurants as much as possible for the next year.  So far, so good.  I spent the last week in Brisbane with my folks, and had a great time at Yum Cha.  Something I couldn’t get enough of (and everyone else avoided) was some delicious tripe.  People, the sooner you all get over it and start eating tripe, liver, kidney, arsehole etc, the happier you’ll be, the more money you’ll save and the healthier you’ll become.  A double chicken breast costs MORE than buying the entire bird.

Finally, I’ve had a craving for a while and had a shot at making Western (Western China / Inner Mongolia that is) dumplings.  Yes it’s lamb and yes it’s from Mongolia, but it ain’t farking “Mongolian Lamb”.

I’m totally broke for the next couple of weeks, Christmas and a week without wage is always a bit tough, but I’ve got a freezer full of congee, glutinous rice wraps, dumplings and porky treats, so I’m going to be fine.

Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction

Filed under: (Uncategorized) — by Toast d'Béchamel @ 11:33 pm

I got quite excited when I found out that there was a new “Adrian Mole” book out (even though it was 6 months after it was actually published).  I sort of grew up reading the poor blighter’s mis-adventures, usually reading them at a similar sort of age as the actual character!  Moley is about 10 years older than me, and with the delays in writing, publishing and getting the books to Australia, it’s tracked my life somewhat.  Unfortunately, the first couple of books, many pieces of the humour went right over my head.  As a 14 year old, I found myself continually having to look up things like “Tory”, “Falklands”, “Terry’s Chocolate Orange”, “Brown Ale”, “Giro” etc.  These days, the ‘net sure helps, this time around I was looking up “Jeremy Clarkson”, “Habitat” and a bunch of British MPs.  Even though always described as an “anti-hero”, the first couple of books I saw Moley as quite an exciting character, having a much more fun and social life than me.  I was one of the original computer nerds/’net addicts though.  But I digress.

I’ll try not to spoil anything for you.  I really enjoyed the read and got through the ~500 pages in under 3 days.  I really liked the “canon” of the series, no need to establish e.g. who Tania Braithwaite is, or about Sharon Bott / Glenn etc, just jump right in there and give us the updates.  There’s usually a few years gap between each book, during which time, things change, people die, new people emerge etc, but I really churned through this book like catching up with an old friend.

The main criticism I have regarding this book (and the previous one to some extent) is the predictability of some of the events.  Basically, if something significant happens, then you know that it’s all going to end up pair-shaped.  In fact, you can start anticipating it very early on.  Still… that’s what happens to old Moley.

I don’t have all the info, but apparently the author, Sue Townsend, is either going, or is now completely blind!  This is actually reflected in one of the long-term characters of the series, going through a similar ordeal (I won’t tell you who).  You can very much tell that the account is real and personal.  Although only a minor sub-plot, it’s quite surprising and unpredictable.

Alas, this would appear to be the final book in the series (I just confirmed it on wikipedia), and whilst it doesn’t glibly tie up all the loose ends, the conclusion leaves one satisfied.  I’ll probably have a read of Sue Townsend’s other recent works as well, especially if they’re light easy reading material as well.  I’ve spent far too long reading textbooks and heavy literature, one forgets that there are plenty of great, easy to read books out there which over a real alternative to television, the movies and the Internet.

So, if you’re a fan of the series, get yourself a copy, and get stuck in.  It’s a fun light read and will put a smile on your face.

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