Winter is here…

It’s hard to be believe that we’re nearly halfway through 2015.  Yikes.  Where has the time gone….

The weather has been really changeable in Sydney the past few weeks, but I know winter has officially arrived because I’ve made chili.  I’m also writing this under my electric blanked with my ugg boots on- so…. yep, it’s Winter.

I’m sure I’ve written about this before but growing up Chili (or chili con carne as they call it here) was always a winter food growing up.  So I know it’s officially a cold winter’s day when I feel like a big warm bowl of chili.  That day came on Saturday when I turned to The Runner and announced that I felt like making Chili.

Unlike most things I cook, with chili I don’t really follow a recipe.  Well, I do- but I really don’t.

Years ago, probably 15+ years ago, I asked The Mom for her chili recipe.  At the time, I was expecting precise instructions and measurements and an easy to follow recipe passed down with love from mother to daughter.  This is not what my mother gave me.

The Mom gave me the same directions to make chili that you would give an unwanted guest to your house.

Example:  “So you go down that road until you get to the other road and then you turn rightish and go around the corner and stop at the tree and then you sort of go a bit further and a bit further and then you’re there.”

Ummmmm.  NO.  Those are basically directions to get lost.  If someone ever gives you those directions to a party, just stop.  They don’t want you there.  They probably didn’t even want you to know that they were having a party but you found out and they gave you a pity invite.  Sigh.  That is basically the recipe I was given by my mother.  I know, for those of you know what a wonderful mother I have, it’s hard to believe.  But it’s true….

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And there’s the proof.  Not one measurement, not one detail.  It almost asks more questions than it answers.  How many onions?  How much garlic?  What size can of tomatoes?  How many cans?  How much chili????  How long do you cook it for?   For a recipe with so little information, it actually makes the best chili in the world.  Not that I’ve ventured to try other recipes (why mess with perfection??)  Over time, I’ve added my own touches- this time I added a bit of beer and also a bit of chocolate and cinnamon because well, you can tweak perfection slightly.  But looking at the internet, none of the other recipes sound as good.

What got me started on this little research project was my colleague at work, let’s call her “Jen.”  Jen was planning to make chili for dinner after work today.  In my book, that’s a no.  Chili is not an after work dish.  Chili needs to simmer, mellow, develop over a few hours.  It is the perfect Sunday dish- you can leave it to cook while you read the paper, do the laundry and get ready for the week ahead.  “Jen” was planning to use the Hairy Bikers Chili recipe.   I read the recipe, and it’s a no from me.  They put red wine and flour in their chili.  Really????????/ NO!  I can’t condone that.  It’s chili con carne not spaghetti bolognese.  So then I started doing more research….

Food Network and Betty Crocker get two spicy chili covered thumbs up.  Yum!

BBC Good Food– for a non-American entry, you’re not half bad.

Epicurious– I like you, but I think you’re over complicating things.  It’s total time is 11 hours and 45 minutes.   Yes, you read that correctly- nearly half a day!  You also want me to chill it overnight and come back to it to skim the fat.  I’ll be honest, you lost me Epicurious.  Same thing Gourmet Traveller– 21 ingredients is pushing my chili friendship.

Taste– bacon in chili?  hmmmm…. the jury is out on you.  I love bacon and I love chili.  But I’m not sure….

Jamie Oliver– chickpeas in chili?  I. can’t.even.  Go home Jamie, your chili is drunk.  Get out of my sight.  In fact, I’m mad at myself for even including you in my chili roundup.

Ugh.  That put me off….  but I persisted and found some pretty cool recipes….

The Amateur Gourmet’s Best Chili Of Your Life– big call but I’m willing to try it

Chili Con Jamie– Dammit Jamie Oliver, I wanted to hate you for the one with chickpeas, but this one sounds pretty awesome– coffee and cinnamon sticks with chili made from brisket… my mouth says yes and my stomach says please.

Needless to say, I could go on…. there were options with chocolate, recipes for chocolate and beer, bloggers putting their twist on it- hello Nessa Family Kitchen and your spiced chocolate chip chili, pigpig’s corner’s chocolate stout and ancho chili con carne and Get In My Gob’s Coffee Chocolate Chili Con Carne.

I suppose at the end of the day, everyone has their own take on chili con carne. There’s not one right recipe.  You’ll never hear the judges on Masterchef arguing that a dish is not “technically” a chili con carne.  Without knowing it, that was the the gift that The Mom gave me when she gave me her recipe.  She gave me the basics but lets me choose my own adventure every time I make it!

The Best Scrambled Eggs. Ever.

Wow.  Mind=Blown.  

I’ve just made Heston Blumenthal’s scrambled eggs and I swear they were the best scrambled eggs I’ve ever had in my entire life.

It’s no secret that The Runner and I are big Masterchef fans.  Well, I’m a big Masterchef fan and he is forced to watch it with me.  Well this week was Heston Blumenthal week on the show and during masterclass he made scrambled eggs.  Of course, The Runner immediately wanted me to make them.  So this morning, despite not feeling daisy fresh, I did.  

And they were incredible!  The recipe link is below, do yourself a favor and try them.

Yes, they take just over 20 minutes to make — which is an eternity in the scrambled egg making world, but they are worth it!  The beurre noisette and sherry vinegar make them even better.

http://www.masterchef.com.au/recipes/the-perfect-scrambled-eggs-.htm

Add in some prosciutto and avocado and it was one of the most amazing breakfasts I’ve ever made at home!  YUM!!!!!!  Do yourself a favor and make them tomorrow!

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It’s Challenge Day!

For the first challenge of 2013, I’m taking on two dishes from Gary Mehigan and George Colombaris’ cookbook, “Your Place or Mine?”  For those of you who don’t know Gary and George, they’re two of Australia’s three Masterchef judges which means they’re pretty much everywhere when it comes to TV, Food, and Australia.  As a religious Masterchef watcher, there was no way that I wasn’t going to buy this cookbook.  Last year, in Melbourne, The Runner and I went to George’s restaurant, The Press Club.  It was good, highly overpriced but I’m glad we went (just to say we had gone really).  By the way, we’re back in Melbourne next weekend if anyone has any restaurant recommendations!

Their cookbook is organised into four sections- Providore, Green Grocer, Butcher, Fishmonger, with each section divided by ingredient- Bread, Cheese, Saffron, Asparagus, Rabbit, Lobster, Squid, just to name a few.  Each ingredient has a recipe from George and a recipe from Gary.

I’ve honestly never cooked anything from this book.  It’s one of those books which is lovely and has great pictures but is a little bit intimidating– because the pictures make the food look too good to replicate.   The photography is lovely, which isn’t surprising considering how many times on Masterchef George and Gary talk to contestants about “eating with the eyes” and presentation of dishes.  

For this challenge, I’m making the “tabbouleh with preserved lemon” on p.7 (under the ancient grains section) and “broccoli and egg” on p.37.  Yes, I know it does feel like I’m copping out a bit by making things that are on the easy side but…..  hopefully they will be tasty!   Not having an oven fully functioning and not quite being back into the full swing of things means that I am not quite at the height of my cooking powers!

p.7- the Tabbouleh mentioned above

p.27- the start of the Dried Bean chapter, two good recipes there- Grilled Quail with Braised Cannellini Beans and Chili Salted Beans.  Both required soaking beans for 5 hours or overnight.  WHY??????  Why would anyone do that when they could open up a tin of beans and toss them straight in?

p. 33- the start of the Egg chapter, so I’m making the Broccoli and Egg dish

p.47- Rhubarb and Melomakarona Crumble- I can’t pronounce it so I didn’t really want to make it.  (it’s in the Honey chapter if you’re curious)

p.69- The start of the Rice chapter- options were Saffron Risotto with Clams and Lemon Marscapone or Habibi Rice- two good options, although the risotto involves making stock and which I’m too lazy to do…

p.77 Escabeche of Mackerel- yuck.  mackerel, gross.  not going there.

p.87- the start of the Green Grocer chapter- pass!

p.101-the start of the Beetroot chapter- two options here but considering I nearly failed my Aussie citizenship test because I don’t like beetroot, I have no real desire to cook it.

p.185- a picture of the Beef Carpaccio With Flavours of a Hamburger… now this was a close one.  I was very tempted to make this one, but it was one of the recipes that looked amazingly well presented and gorgeous, so I was a bit hesitant.  Plus, it has beetroot in it….. so a big fat no for today.

So that’s how I came to the Tabbouleh and the Broccoli and Egg, it’s not glamorous but hopefully it will be tasty with some lamb chops and good company!  Also, our oven door is STILL broken!  So annoying!  The landlord says it will be fixed soon, but I’m not holding my breath…. it’s just very frustrating to try to juggle hot food, a hot oven, and a wonky door whenever we use it….. oh well…

Stay tuned for the Your Place or Mine Challenge!