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Due to China blocking WordPress yet again, I’ve decided to move my blog to a private server.
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We’ve been very good friends for over thirteen years now, which is quite an achievement by itself, seeing as I am a lovingly insufferable twit. 🙂
Even though we’ve been friends for so long, it always seems weird to me that I’m older than you if only by a month. This could possibly be because I know how old we REALLY are (averaging about 5 now). Maybe it’s also because you’re already adventuring your way in university and being all grown up -ahem- while I slob around at home, watching 88 episodes of Gossip Girl. Maybe. Or perhaps it’s because I have some great memories of us doing our ‘numa numa’ dance on the bridge over botanical gardens and rocking it out to La Cucaracha.
Either way, I would like to wish you a very happy eighteenth birthday. I would tell you to have a great night and get drunk, but the drinking age in the states is an appalling 21 years, so don’t get caught 😉
P.S. I’m in the middle of Turkey right now and have no internet, which is why I have stolen my workaholic of a dad’s blackberry to write this email. Gosh, these keys are TINY!
The day before this, five jars I ate.
It’s creamy and tangy, but perfect in taste.
Get into my tummy, I don’t want to wait!
Yeah. As you can tell from my poem, I really like hummus. It’s super healthy, tasty, and easy to boot.
Really. It’ll only take you 10 minutes to make. I promise.
All you need is a blender.
I mean, look at that recipe. It fits easily onto a little note card.
And because this recipe is so easy, let’s begin. Now.
These are chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. They make up the bulk of hummus, are high in fibre and all other sorts of good things. You can buy them dried and soak them overnight. Or, if you were lazy (and intelligent, hah!), you can just buy them ready-to-go in a can.
Before tossing this into the blender, you want to drain the can of chickpeas, but reserve 1/2 cup of the fluid. You’re gonna add that in later, to make your hummus extra flavourful!
If you were so inclined for a even creamier and smoother hummus, you could remove each of the little skins on the chickpeas before tossing them into the blender.
I got so far as these in my hand, figured they would add more (good) fiber, so I just dunked the entire can in the food processor. Lazy and healthy! That’s how I roll.
Mince two cloves of garlic. Add it to your blender.
Dig the tahini out of the back of your fridge. Tahini is basically white sesame paste. Living in China means that although there is no tahini here, I can just buy…white sesame paste.
You’ll need 4 tablespoons of this.
To your pile in your blender, add: 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 4 tablespoons lemon juice (more or less, according to your taste).
Then prepare your spices: 1 tablespoon of cumin and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. I substituted this with a 1/2 teaspoon, since I love me some spicy, and used a mixture of paprika and chili powder instead.
Lastly, season lightly with some salt and lots of pepper.
Leave the food processor running and pour in 1/2 cup of the reserved drained water from the chickpeas in a steady stream – or until the consistency is correct.
BLEND SOME MORE!
Don’t be afraid. Dip a cheese rice cracker in it!
I eat hummus on crackers, on bread…straight from the jar.
- 400g/2 cups of cooked chickpeas (reserve 1/2 cup drained liquid)
- 1/4 cup tahini*
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 lemons, juiced (about 5 tbsp lemon juice)
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
- Drain chickpeas, reserving 1/2 cup of the liquid to be added later.
- Crush, and finely chop garlic.
- In a food processor, add drained chickpeas, garlic, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, cumin and cayenne powder. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Pulse until roughly chopped. Stir, if needed.
- Turn food processor on, and pour in 1/2 cup of water in a steady stream until hummus is at the preferred consistency.
Wait, what did you say?! Father’s day was two weeks ago?!
I’m just kidding. I actually celebrated Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June and made dinner for my dad. And my family. I didn’t just feed my dad.
Being the sort of girl who has tons of ideas to put on a celebratory menu, but is seriously impaired at whittling them down into something feasible, I decided that I would stick to something simple.
Now, unlike my mom and grandpa, my dad doesn’t like sweet things. He doesn’t like cake. Or cookies. Or ice cream…which leaves my repertoire at…nothing.
So, I got out my handy dandy notebook, and jotted down a couple of things my dad might like. As a rule of thumb, I’ve figured out that guys really like meat, which meant that it had to be the feature of the meal. But as my dad is master of slab-of-meat cooking in the house, steak and salmon were surely out of the question, especially as my experience with cooking meat is thimble-sized.
Luckily for my tender and un-meaty hands, I came across a recipe for apple pie, which inspired me to make a beef meat pie studded with red bullet chillies (though my dad doesn’t like sweets, we are both absolutely coco for chilli).
Instead of the six course dinner that I imagined, I made a lovely Aussie Meat Pie, salad with dressing and taters. That’s po-tae-toes. You can boil ‘em, mash’em or stick ‘em in a stew. I mashed them good, Samwise Gamgee. I mashed them goo-od!
Blabbering aside, let’s make some pie!
First of all, I love my glass baking dishes. It means I never really have to make a pie crust, which not only saves me tons of time, but also makes the food way healthier, since there is usually truckloads of butter hidden in those crusts. Either way, some simple premade puff pastry will result in a deliciously flaky crust.
You’ll also notice that I use my glass baking dishes for brownies. This is because when you grease them, they’re wonderfully non-stick so that I never have to use greaseproof paper, which doesn’t really seem to available here. Also, they’re easy to clean, and look super pretty!
Anyways, you’ll want to dice some onions really small. Because this recipe uses beef mince, and not chunks of beef, you want the onions to be indistinguishable from the meat when you’re eating the pie. While you’re at it, finely chop three cloves of garlic and two or three red bullet peppers. They look a bit like this. They’re really small. Like…well, bullets.
Stir fry your finely chopped onions until they’re yummy and sort of translucent, then throw your beef mince, chilli and garlic in. Keep cooking until your beef is nicely browned. I actually precooked the beef and garlic so that I would have less to do on the day, and because the beef needed to be cooked while it was still fresh.
Combine 1 tbsp of cornstarch with an equal amount of beef stock. If you actually have real beef stock, that’s great. Your pie will taste amazing. If that sort of thing isn’t just laying around your house, a beef stock cube will also work, and your pie will still taste amazing. Cornstarch is usually used as a thickener, so that the sauce from the beef in your pie will be thick instead of watery. Now put that aside, or your beef will burn.
To your beef, add in the rest of the beef stock, Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste. Stir well to combine, then taste it. If it’s not salty enough, add some Vegemite. However, my beef was already salted, and I used a beef stock cube, so my filling was already plenty salty.
Add in the cornflour mixture, then stir well to combine again. Bring it to a boil, then simmer on low heat for about ten minutes, or until the sauce is thick and has a gravy-like consistency. While it’s simmering, preheat your oven to 220°C and take out your package of puff pastry to defrost. Using a sharp knife and the pan as a guideline, cut puff pastry about 1cm larger than the pan. Wait for it to soften before removing it from the plastic.
By this time, your filling should be about ready, so tip it into the pan and even out the filling with a spoon. Peel off the puff pastry and cover the filling, folding in any sides that are too large.
Beat an egg, then brush onto top of pie. All that’s left to do is bake for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make your mashed potatoes.
By the way, this is the professional way to fish potatoes out of the pot.
I like lots of pepper in my mashed potatoes, especially freshly ground pink peppercorns. Extra cute!
Stop. Check out your awesome french manicure.
Start. Make salad, with dressing of your choice. I made a Greek Salad Dressing with olive oil, garlic and balsamic vinegar (more on this next time!)
Pop open a bottle of red wine, and fill your plate with a scrumptious dinner!
P.S. I always find it helpful to make short, cooking notes.
Spicy Aussie Meat Pie
- 400g beef mince, defrosted
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 3/4c beef stock or 1 beef stock cube
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp Vegemite (optional)
- 2-3 red bullet chilies (optional)
- 1 sheet puff pastry
- 1 small egg, lightly beaten
- Heat oil in saucepan at medium-high heat. Add in garlic and onions. Stir fry onions until soft and translucent (approx 3-4 minutes).
- Add beef mince to the pan, and cook until brown.
- In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and 1 tbsp beef stock. Stir well.
- To the saucepan, add remaining beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and Vegemite (to taste). Stir well to combine.
- Add cornflour mixture and stir well. Bring filling to a boil, then simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes until thick. Remove puff pastry from freezer.
- Preheat oven to 220ºC. Using a sharp knife, cut puff pastry to the correct size.
- Fill the pan with the filling and even out with a spoon (as in, press it down, not eat all the uneven bits). Place the puff pastry on top of the filling, folding in any sides that are too big.
- Brush puff pastry with beaten egg.
- Bake approx 20 minutes, or until puff pastry has puffed up, and is browned at the top.