Wednesday, June 15

The McBenry Cabbage Butterfly Defence Method

One’s vegie patch is teeming with brassicas. Though some have been ravaged by the dreaded Large White, early on I adopted the McBenry Cabbage Butterfly Defence Method with stunning results. For those unfamiliar with the McBCBDM, it is an organic, high-tech system of pest control invented by My Grandparents. “Grandmother McBenry, what do you use to deter cabbage butterflies?” “Well dear, your Grandfather McBenry sits in the garden wearing a hat-deterrent and wielding a tennis racket. And, should they dare to land, he swipes furiously at the winged creatures shredding their tiny paper wings to confetti! Battering their young into caterpillar pulp and mashing their eggs betwixt his gnarled old fingers!”

And so I found myself on Saturday with broccoli to spare. Broccoli evolved from a wild cabbage plant on the continent of Europe. Indications point to the vegetable having been around for some 2,000 years. It is high in vitamin C, as well as dietary fibre, and it also contains multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties, such as diindolylmethane and small amounts of selenium. Because of these special properties, broccoli can sometimes get ideas above its station. Nevin and Patricia here are a case in point…
Nevin & Patricia appear courtesy of SMN/flickr

I also found myself with a recipe for Paneer with Broccoli and Sesame which I had the good fortune to have cut out from the Australian Good Food magazine earlier in the week…

Into a pan of boiling water for two minutes I put 200 grams of broccoli florets, before submerging them in icy water and draining thoroughly. Next, I heated a tablespoon of vegetable oil in the wok and stir-fried a tablespoon of sesame seeds, a teaspoon of brown mustard seeds and a teaspoon of cumin seeds until fragrant. (Beware, the mustard and cumin seeds are prone to popping in your eyeballs). Having regained my sight, I added one thinly sliced onion, a 140g packet of paneer (cubed), a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger and two crushed garlic cloves. The recipe suggests that it should take four to five minutes for the paneer to become golden but mine took a little longer to change hue (about 10). Almost last but not least, comes the par-cooked broccoli and once heated through a teaspoon of lemon juice and half a teaspoon of mace finishes it off nicely. A quick and tasty dish which The Robertsons teamed with Curried Yoghurt Chickpeas, Cumin & Lime Rice, Naan Bread, Mango Chutney and Eggplant Pickle. No wonder one’s trewsers were tight!

The Leftovers

Whatever happened to Macy Gray?

Tuesday, June 7

Go the Pies!

Winter has come to The Ranges. And with it the urge to do nothing but position one’s pasty loins beside the fire, devour bottles of red wine, watch marathon sessions of ‘Don’t Tell the Bride’ and eat. Pasta with gloopy, creamy sauces. Potatoes smashed with butter and shitloads of salt. Pizza drooping under the weight of quattro formaggio. Pies. Hot puffy pies!

If the producers of "Julie and Julia" don't call soon, I'll eat my pie hat!
The first pies appeared around 9500 BC, in the Egyptian Neolithic period. Early pies were known as galettes, wrapping honey as a treat inside a cover of ground oats, wheat, rye or barley. These galettes developed into a form of early sweet pastry or desserts, evidence of which can be found on the tomb walls of the Pharaoh Ramesses II, who ruled from 1304 to 1237 BC.
Yesterday, having very little experience in the world of pie-making, I bravely attempted some of the mushroom variety. And lo and behold they were pretty, pretty good. Certainly Mr R had a hard time resisting Mrs R’s Flakey Fungus Pie. Herewith the recipe…

I began by roasting a handful of peeled shallots with some seasoning, a little olive oil and a splash of water until they were pearly and tender. Meanwhile, atop the stove, I sautéed four finely chopped cloves of garlic, one finely chopped red onion and three sticks of sliced celery (with plenty of leafage). Once tender I added lots of roughly chopped mushrooms! There were oyster ones, shitake ones, button ones and dried porcini ones (that had been soaking in about half a cup of boiling water). Then in went a large knob of butter and plenty of S&P. Once the mushrooms had cooked down a little, I added a couple of decent glugs of red wine, a ‘chicken’ stock cube, about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, a generous tablespoon each of finely chopped fresh thyme and tomato paste and finally the porcini liquid until all was a bubbling, fragrant stew. (You may need some extra liquid to achieve the stew-like consistency – I added a couple of tablespoons of water at this point). Having left the mixture to simmer for approximately ten to fifteen minutes, I then mixed in a tablespoon of cornflour and about 100ml of thickened cream and stirred until the liquid became a thick gravy. At this point I added the roasted shallots, seasoned to taste, and left the filling to cool…

Once cooled it was time to assemble the pies. Still not being the owner of a functioning food processor I went the way of supermarket puff pastry squares which I thawed for about ten minutes until pliable. Using a suitably sized saucer I cut out six large rounds for the pie bases and six smaller ones for the lids. Having already greased six large muffin cases, I lined each with pastry and filled them with the mushroom mixture which was now quite meaty and thick. On went the lids into which I sliced several air holes. Master R then decorated them with an odd assortment of shapes and brushed the tops with beaten egg yolk. Into the oven (at 180) they went for about 25 minutes, until golden. They were then allowed to stand for 10 minutes before being demolished alongside beetroot roasted with orange and thyme, and a feta and walnut salad. Hot puffy pies!
Master R applies the egg wash

Pie Fight!