Sunday, September 28, 2008

Soutzoukakia - yum!

I reckon I must be getting over the dreadful flu and bronchitis I had in August but it has certainly taken time. Why do I think that? Well, twice this weekend I have felt like cooking and blogging about it and I have also been excited by reading a big backlog of blogs, including many food ones. I am delighted that my Bloglines is now down to under 2000! It has been hovering around 4ooo since I went to Alice Springs a few weeks ago but there was a flu-caused backlog before. So today I have been enjoying everyone's posts.

One of the blogs I was looking at today was Kalofagas - Greek food and beyond by Peter Minakis by a Canadian-Greek food blogger from Toronto. As usual he had lots of mouth-watering Greek recipes and there was a special added touch as he had been in Greece over the northern summer. I always enjoy Peter's posts and can't wait for plum season here to test his plum tarte tatin. But today it was his post on soutzoukakia that was a trigger for me. I had some leftover rice and was thinking about making piperies gemistes and had even got peppers from Mecca Bros yesterday. But when I saw his post I changed my mind.

Now Peter didn't use rice in his soutzoukakia and I don't know where I have come across soutzoukakia with rice, but I have! So this is what I did with the rice. Thanks for the inspiration, Peter, even though my recipe isn't anything like yours. I also added some piri piri oil to the mix as it was around from my Portuguese experiment a while ago. I think that this is pretty typical of Australian cooking. We are a multicultural community and our cooking reflects that: we have different cooking elements and simply combine them to see what they will be like. That's certainly how I cook much to the annoyance of purist friends who can't deal with pasta served with Asian sauces. Yeah right you should only serve pasta with classic Italian sauces? Not in my house, you don't!


500 gr. minced beef
1.5 cups cooked rice
2 eggs lightly beaten
3 cloves garlic crushed
1 dessertspoon ground cummin
Red wine
Piri piri oil
Olive oil
Tomato sauce already prepared


Have already prepared tomato sauce simmering in a large pan
Place the minced beef, rice, eggs, garlic, cumin, pepper in a bowl
Add a couple of dashes of piri piri oil
Add a few splashes of red wine
Roll up your sleeves and ensure that the ingredients are mixed
Form into soutzoukakia shapes
Roll in flour
In a pan heat olive oil
Fry meatballs until sealed on all sides
Add additional olive oil as needed during the process
As cooked, remove from pan and add to pan with tomato sauce
When finished, add additional water to pan to ensure meatballs are covered
When cooking of meatballs completed, sear the frying pan with red wine and add this mixture to the pan with tomato sauce and meatballs
Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or more
Alternately, place in an ovenproof tray and cook in moderate oven for 45 minutes.

Then enjoy with potatoes, or in my case with cauliflower cheese from yesterday, or a green salad.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cauliflower cheese: comfort food for Grand Final night!

I was always planning to cook cauliflower cheese tonight as it is the season for cauliflower. But as it also turns out, tonight is a great night for comfort food as in Melbourne it is Grand Final night and my football team was supposed to cap off a wonderful season by winning back to back premierships. Not to be alas!

Fortunately I am only a very luke-warm supporter of football and so I am not weeping and gnashing my teeth in the anguish of loss. The other team which won is the local team, Hawthorn, which started out life just down the road from where I work. In fact, despite the fact that the Hawthorn team no longer operates out of Glenferrie Oval, its original home, it is telling that today that was where fans gathered. History does tell.

But to cauliflower cheese. At cauliflower season, cauliflower cheese is a favourite of mine, whether I cook it to serve as an accompaniment to a main, or to eat by itself. I usually use the whole cauliflower including any greenery and sometimes do a variant with cauliflower and broccoli which my nephew likes (and so do I). I also vary the cheese I use. Tonight I didn't include the greenery from the cauliflower as it was a bit seedy looking and I didn't include broccoli as I thought both wouldn't fit in the dish. I used a combination of cheddar and mozzarella cheese IN the sauce, and shaved Parmesan on top. And for a touch of piquancy I added capers to the cauliflower when it was cooking.


1 cauliflower, broken into flowerlets
1 dessertspoon capers
600 ml milk
2 heaped tablespoon butter/margerine
2 heaped tablespoon flour
1 cup grated cheese (cheddar & mozzarella)
Grated parmesan


Preheat oven to 160 c.
Break cauliflower in to flowerlets
Place cauliflower and capers in pan with small amount of water and cook until tender
Meanwhile make a bechamel sauce with flour, butter, pepper and milk
As sauce is beginning to thicken add cup of grated cheese
Continue to stir until combined and thick
Drain the cauliflower and caper mixture and place in an oven-proof dish
Pour the cheese sauce over and level
Sprinkle shaved parmesan over
Bake in the middle of a moderate oven for 45 minutes
Serve as an accompaniment to a main course, or by itself with salad.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Lovely food clouds!

Michelle over at Connecting Librarian has been posting about which creates lovely clouds from words. And now it can do whole blogs! I thought I would give it a whirl for a couple of my blogs and see what words I obsess about.

This blog, the Librarian and the Kitchen, came out thus:

I wasn't very surprised at the main words: they reflect the foods I like best and the food I like.

This was fun to do. You can change the colours and layout. I did find trying to load them into the blog a bit frustrating. You had to save to the Gallery to get the code and then it pasted strangely so that you had to edit it to get the HTML to work. But it was an interesting exercise. Try it for your food blog. You might be surprised by the words you concentrate on - or not!


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