bouncing back with biscuits & gravy

I’m back. 

It’s been about 3 months since my last post- in those months I was busy at work, planning a wedding, getting married and then enjoying a honeymoon then back to everyday life.  I was still cooking (there’s only so much takeaway you can do!) but just didn’t have the time or energy to keep moving at the same pace.

I’m back home, refreshed and relaxed and now wanting to get stuck into my list of ‘things I want to make and eat’. So this weekend it meant biscuits and gravy for brunch yesterday. Biscuits are like scones in Australia but we generally have them sweet  (cream and jam anyone?) but in the US they are more savoury from what I’ve seen, used to mop up sauces and also sandwich together delicious fillings and make a nice breakfast sandwich. I’ve had on recipe on the cards for some time and that will get made soon but there was a similar and much quicker version in a recent gourmet traveller so I decided to give it a go.

It couldn’t have been simpler.

Start with the biscuits- rub the shortening into the dry ingredients, add wet ingredients- bring dough together (gently gently!) pat out and cut out rounds.  Brush tops with butter. Bake. 

Then just keep them warm while you make your sausage gravy- I wrapped mine up in a tea towel.

Sauce was easy like the biscuits- removed sausage from casing and pan fry until golden breaking up into rough chunks with the spoon- remove when crispy golden and in the the same pan make a roux with butter and flour, add milk, stir still thickened, add sausage back into warm- serve with biscuits.

Quick hey?

I wasn’t sure how to serve it so I just spooned the gravy onto warm plates with the biscuits to the side- I split biscuits in half  and spooned the gravy over and sprinkled with some hot sauce.  It’s real comfort food- rich, but super yum and deeply satisfying.  I’d definitely eat this again.  No idea if my biscuits turned out the same as how they  are meant to be (let me know if you do!) but I was happy with eating the end product!

It’s good to be back 🙂

tea smoked ribs

I mentally tucked this recipe away in my head a few weekends ago.  In typical fashion I was flicking through all my books, magazines and Pinterest trying to figure out what I felt like making for dinner.  Flicked past this recipe and thought yum- but not today maybe in a few weeks time.

This recipe is from Neil Perry’s spice temple cook book but I’m sure if you google you could find a similar recipe online. Recipe seemed pretty straightforward- simmer the ribs in aromatics and cool, tea smoke the ribs and then stir fry in a sticky delicious sauce. Simple!

So for the first part of the process I took no photos, and for a good reason.  Water, salt, ginger, garlic, spring onions and the ribs are combined, brought to the boil, simmered for a few minutes and then left to cool in the liquid.  Reason for no photo?  Boiled pork ribs are really ugly- they ain’t pretty.

Let’s move onto something a little more photogenic- making the tea smoking mixture.  This is something I’ve wanted to try for years so I was looking forward to giving it a go.

Making the smoking mix is straightforward- mix brown sugar, jasmine rice (uncooked) and jasmine tea together- done!

The next bit took a while- setting up the smoking station.  I made a wide bowl out of foil, popped it on the bottom of the wok and tipped the smoking mixture in.  Popped a lid on top, turned the heat to high and then patiently waited until the mixture started smoking. Unfortunately I didn’t have a small wire rack that could sit inside the wok so I had to get creative.  

Once the mixture was smoking I balanced the wire rack on top of the wok, assembled the ribs over the smoke mixture and then delicately placed the lid over the top of the ribs.  I had exposed sides all around the edge of the wok which mean I was losing smoke out the sides- so out came the foil and I patched it up.

Ribs smoked for 5 minutes and then you switched off the heat and left it for another few minutes- longer if you wanted them pretty smoky- I found just waiting another 4 minutes was more than enough- they smelt amazing!  However even with the range hood fan cranked up the house was a little smoky- just a warning!

Here’s what the smoking mixture looked like afterwards- charry around the edges and it had solidified- I think that the sugar had probably melted and glued everything together!

Last step- make the caramel and stir fry the ribs in it.  Stir fried garlic and ginger, stirred in sugar and waited until it became a deep caramel colour.  Stir in black vinegar, dark soy sauce and a small amount of chicken stock and cook until slightly thickened.  Add the ribs and continue to stir (this is hard with ribs, so in my case stirring ribs was more like picking up and moving them in the wok with some tongs, less chance of them going overboard!) Cook until the mixture coats the ribs and looks lovely and glossy.

Action shot- look at the caramel bubbling up at the sides.

Pile onto a platter, sprinkle with sesame oil and sesame seeds.  Get plenty of napkins ready because this is messy but worthwhile work- also helps if you have a spare bowl to toss the bones into.

These were really good- the smoke flavour was really pronounced and the sticky soy vinegar sauce was so good.  Only thing next time might be boiling the ribs for a little less time- only criticism was that these were a little dry but that didn’t stop us from hoovering them down!

Definitely want to try tea smoking again but I think I need to sort out a better arrangement for next time! Also wishing I had more ribs now instead of the dishes to do….

Ah well – have you tea smoked anything?  Let me know!

how good are pancakes?

I love pancakes- how could you not?  

But I do have a confession, waffles get a higher rotation in our house.  Not because I have anything against pancakes but generally the failure rate is much lower in the waffle category.  Pancakes can be tricky territory, too thick, not cooked well enough, too heavy, more than one bowl required etc…

Whilst waffles always have a strong foothold in my heart I’ve had a hankering for fluffy pancakes, bacon and maple syrup lately and Saturday morning certainly delivered.

I’d purchased the bacon, had a flagon of maple syrup in the fridge (thank you costco) and just needed a solid pancake recipe. This is where the buckwheat pancakes make an entrance, I’d had a recipe in my favourites for a while and they had always delivered, but when I visited it from my favourites I’d found that the recipe was no longer online.  *insert tears* Lesson here, if there’s something that you love online, take a copy because you never know when it will disappear.  But if I want to disappear into a metaphor when one door closes another one opens.  In this case an even better pancake recipe.

Why buckwheat?  I’m not a gluten free for any dietary reasons but I’ve always loved buckwheat pancakes and crepes.  The name is deceiving whilst called buckwheat it’s actually not from wheat it’s actually a seed.  And I’ve found after eating them they are much lighter and you don’t feel heavy and full after eating them- more room for bacon!

So in google land I stumbled accross this great recipe for buttermilk buckwheat pancakes.  Soooooo good. Light, fluffy and delicious and even better it’s a one bowl recipe, winning! 

Buckwheat is really interesting when you mix it up for the first time, initially it’s like it’s almost impervious to liquid, it just skims accross the flour and doesn’t really take until you mix it up really well.  Because it has not only buttermilk but baking soda and baking powder the batter bubbles up beautifully…

Once mixed up it’s ready to cook time- Try to find the heaviest pan you can, you want it to conduct the heat nicely so you can have it on a low heat and not cook it too quickly.  I cooked them one at a time in my heavy based crepe pan just using a 1/4 cup measure, brushing the base with butter every now and again.  I kept them in the oven warming whilst working my way through the remaining batter.

When cooking they puffed up beautifully, delicious and golden on the outside and lovely and fluffy on the inside… You know that they are ready to flip when the bubbles appear and split on the surface and the edges of the pancake look set and slightly dry.

So keep working your way through the batter one by one by one.  Once I’d worked my way through the batter I cooked up the bacon on the stove and pulled the maple syrup out of the fridge to come to room temperature.  

Stack them up and then marvel in their beauty…

Serve it up with whatever your sides are, either au naturale with maple syrup and/or butter,  a berry compote or some bacon which I did in this case, and then just stare at it again, particularly if you use maple syrup and watch the syrup just slowly dripping down the sides…. droool……

I know that these were really good because it’s Monday and I’m still thinking about them.  I’ve got the rest of the buttermilk left (it lasts in the fridge for like forever!) so I think that these are going to make another appearance this weekend.

Monkey and I don’t do brunch out really, it’s so much nicer at home, no queues, no need to wear activewear in fact you can just sit there in your bathrobe (which we generally are!) and enjoy a delicious breakfast, coffee and the paper without feeling like you’re being rushed out of your seat.

Try this recipe and let me know what you think- it’s pretty much failure free!

And for me?  I can’t wait until next weekend because we’re having pancakes xxx

yolky goodness

When it comes to eggs there can be two kinds of people, those who insist on on only ever a hard boiled yolk and those who prefer to ride the rainbow of runny to not to runny.

I see the role of the hard boiled egg mainly relegated to sandwiches and salads- everything else is fair game for some runny yolky goodness.

So this brings me to the 5:10 egg- such a revelation! I’d had this recipe lurking in my bookshelves for years and years but it wasn’t until just before the last new year that I had discovered it.  We had friends over for New Years dinner and I had earmarked a delicious recipe from David Changs book Momofuku (lucky peach).  The recipe sounded (and once cooked) tasted sublime.  Soft runny egg served with a herb salad, home made potato crisps, caviar (or any form of fish egg)  and a slow cooked onion soubise (very very very slow cooked onions in butter).  Sooooo good.

Back to the egg- it’s called a 5:10 egg and that’s because it’s cooked for… well you guessed it 5 minutes and 10 seconds- and it’s super simple…

1.  Bring eggs to room temputerature

2.  Bring water to a gentle boil

3.  Gently drop eggs into the boiling water

4.  Set timer for 5 minutes and 10 seconds

5.  Whilst eggs are cooking set up a bowl suitable for the number of eggs that you have and fill with cold water and ice cubes

6.  The moment the timer dings and says it’s go time pop the eggs into the ice water

7.  Wait for the eggs to cool – crack on a hard surface and peel and peel in the water (or out if that’s what you prefer- having it in the water makes it a little easier)

From this point you can leave the eggs in the fridge until you want to use them (can probably sit for a day or 2 max).  Then when ready to use just pop in some warm water either on or off the stove and gently warm them through and serve.

Now… here’s the most glorious bit- cut into the egg and feel free to video in slow motion- it’s the most breathtaking sight- soft soft egg whites and the most delightful runny yolk….

I’ve made these several times- over salads, by themselves or one of the best yet over instant ramen noodles (the yolk just combines with the noodles in a way that it’s like a second sauce).

I will make the dish with the herbs, crisps and onions again because it was really good- but these eggs…. seriously the best- and even better they are something you can prepare in advance- I prepped some last night and rewarmed this morning to serve with latkes and gravlax.

Try it- it’s a keeper- trust me…