One hundred and nineteen

Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi

When I lived in Melbourne, Australia a couple of years ago, I really enjoyed eating kangaroo – steaks, burgers – but I’ve never cooked with it myself.  I found out I could buy kangaroo topside from the St. Lawrence Market (for $25), so decided to have kangaroo represent Australia for Cooking 30 Countries month.  I had a hard time at first when I took the kangaroo out of the package and the blood and gamey smell hit my nose.  Cutting the pieces of its flesh did almost make me gag.  But the recipe was simple and the kangaroo tasted delicious.  I’d probably make the recipe again with another type of meat.  I think $25 for one steak of kangaroo is a little too pricey to be a regular purchase.

Before I get into the recipe, though here are some facts about kangaroo meat:

  • Kangaroo meat is very lean, with usually less than 2% fat and high in protein, iron and zinc, so therefore very healthy.
  • In a report commissioned by Greenpeace, Dr. Mark Diesendorf says that cutting back on beef production in Australia by 20% and substituting kangaroo meat could save 15 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over the next twelve years (read about Vancouver kangaroo sales on canada.com)
  • Kangaroo is always free-range organic meat – never farmed
  • The Ecological Society of Australia, the Australasian Wildlife Management Society and the Australasian Mammal Society have all released statements saying they support kangaroo harvesting.
  • Kangatarianism – people who exclude all meat except kangaroo on environmental, ecological and humanitarian grounds (read this article from The Sydney Morning Herald for more information)
  • Sources: Southern Game MeatWikipediaKangaroo Industry Association of Australia, and the others mentioned above.

Sesame Kangaroo with Asian Greens

Seasame Kangaroo with Asian Greens, from the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia:

Serves 4-6

Quantity Ingredients

2 Tsp Minced garlic
2 Tsp Minced ginger
3 Tbs Soy sauce
3 Tbs Oyster sauce
4 Tbs Plum sauce
500 G Lean kangaroo topside cut into thin strips
900 G Hokkien noodles
    Spray or olive oil
2 Each Sweet potato julienne
2 Each Bok choy
1 Each Green capsicum, sliced
1 Bch English spinach, trimmed
3 Tbs Toasted sesame seeds
60 G Snow pea sprouts

Method

1. Combine the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, oyster sauce and plum sauce in a glass or ceramic dish
2. Add the kangaroo and toss to coat. Cover and marinate for 15 minutes
3. Drain the meat and reserve the marinade
4. Put the hokkien noodles into a large heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water
5. Leave to stand for 2 minutes, pushing gently with a wooden spoon to separate the strands
6. Drain well and set aside
7. Spray a non stick wok or frying pan with oil and heat
8. Stir fry the meat in 2 or 3 batches over high heat for 2-3 minutes or until browned. Set aside
9. Reheat the wok, add the sweet potato and capsicum and stir fry for 3 minutes then add the reserved marinade and bring to the boil
10. Add the spinach leaves, bok choy and toss until just wilted
11. Stir in the noodles, kangaroo, sesame seeds and snow pea sprouts and toss to heat through

Of course for dessert I had to have Tim Tams (a chocolate wafer cookie, coated in more chocolate) dipped in either tea or coffee.  The trick is to bite opposite corners off, then suck the hot liquid up through the biscuit until it collapses in on it itself and starts to fall apart, and throw the whole thing in your mouth.  It was one of my favourite treats in Melbourne and I was so happy to find a place they sell them in Toronto.

Today 

Perogies

One hundred and eighteen

Portugal

My first long-term boyfriend was Portuguese and he introduced me to Pasteis de Nata.  Incidentally, it’s his birthday today.  A creamy custard centre surrounded by a flaky pastry, these Portuguese custard tarts are divine.  Whenever I’m in a Portuguese bakery, I get one as a treat.  However, I’ve never tried to bake them myself.  They are particularly hard to make perfectly, despite the simple ingredients.

History of Pasteis de Nata from algarvebuzz.com:

“The original recipe for Pasteis de Nata were invented by two Catholic sisters in the convent at the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and called Pasteis de Belem, since then the secret recipe has been heavily guarded. Around 1837, clerics from the monetary, set up Casa Pastéis de Belém, the first shop to sell the pasteis, in order to raise money for the monastery that took centuries to build and today is an UNESCO heritage site. At the time the monetary and shop were easily accessible by ship, allowing tourists to quickly become familiar with Pasteis de Belem, and the news spread quickly.

Today, Pasteis de Belem are more commonly known around the country as Pasteis de Nata, and only the original Pasteis de Belem carry the name. The original shop also remains standing today and the Pasteis de Belem are still said to be the best. ”

(More history if you are interested here in an article from The Christian Science Monitor.)

The recipe I used had a little too much cornstarch, I think, and too much pastry.  I should have also cooked them a little longer.  I will definitely be making these again, so I will know for next time.  But generally super tasty.

Pasteis de Nata from allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 (17.5 ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C.) Lightly grease 12 muffin cups and line bottom and sides with puff pastry.
  2. In a saucepan, combine milk, cornstarch, sugar and vanilla. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Place egg yolks in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk 1/2 cup of hot milk mixture into egg yolks. Gradually add egg yolk mixture back to remaining milk mixture, whisking constantly. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, or until thickened. Remove vanilla bean.
  3. Fill pastry-lined muffin cups with mixture and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and filling is lightly browned on top

Tonight

Australian Kangaroo, mate!

One hundred and seventeen

Czech Republic

This is the week of verbal recipes, it seems.  My brother’s girlfriend is from the Czech Republic and her mom makes a special Chicken Schnitzel called řízek.  I was told the recipe while my brother and his girlfriend were leaving the house.  I wrote down what she told me, but as usual with oral traditions, there are no clear measurements.  I crossed my fingers and hoped it would work out.

This is the recipe she told me:

Flatten out chicken as much as possible and season with salt and pepper.  Dip in flour (lightly), then egg, then bread crumbs.  Fry in enough oil that the chicken is swimming (too little oil will burn the breadcrumbs).  Serve.

Pretty simple, I hoped. (There’s another recipe here on czechmatediary.com if you prefer more specific directions).  It is traditionally served with mashed or boiled potatoes or potato salad.

The řízek was delicious, although so unhealthy (I’ve had my fill of rich food this week!).  So simple to make and didn’t take very much time at all.  Although I did have to pound the chicken flat with my hand (the chicken between two sheets of wax paper), as I don’t have a mallet.  I’ve discovered so many kitchen supplies that I don’t have this month that would make cooking so much easier.

I spent my 25th birthday in Prague and enjoyed the řízek there, so this meal brought back fond memories.

Schnitzel is available throughout the world in many different forms, although was thought to either come from the Austrian Wiener Schnitzel, or the Italian cotoletta alla milanese.  A few other versions include chicken parmigiana, cordon bleu, Tonkatsu (Japanese), Escalopa (Chile), filete empanado (Spain) – click here for a longer list of international versions of schnitzel.  Any form of meat can be used, although veal, chicken and pork are popular.

On a side note, there is an American fast-food hot dog chain called Wienerschnitzel that does not serve schnitzel.

Today

One of my favourite Portuguese treats – Pasteis de Nata

One hundred and sixteen

England

Finally some of my own family’s recipes.  I would call myself Canadian (and American – my dad’s side of the family is from the States), but far back there is a little English, Scottish, Swedish and Polish in me.  I e-mailed my nana for some family recipes and she send me her mom’s recipe for English scones.  Yesterday before work I got up early and made scones for breakfast.  So delicious!  I brought the leftovers in to work and they were a hit.  I got to feel like a real homemaker, asking everyone whether they wanted any fresh-baked scones I’d made that morning!

Scone with butter, jam and tea

Great Nana’s Scones (recipe e-mailed to me by my Nana):

“You have heard of Scones with clotted cream? I still make scones often (minus the cream) Her is the recipe for Scones…this is my mothers ‘s recipe that I still use.

SCONES

3 cups sifted flour
2 teasp. baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 teasp. sal3/4 cup butter
1 cup raisins
1 egg well beaten
milk – almost one cup

Topping

1 egg yolk
2 tbls. milk

Sift flour baking powder, salt, sugar and salt. Cut butter until mixture is finely blended. Add raisins and mix well. Beat egg in measuring cup and add enough mile to fill one cup. Stir in flour mixture. Knead lightly and roll out to 3/4 thickness Cut into triangles Brush top with topping (egg yolk and milk) Bake at 450 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Delicious warm but good with butter and jam. Nana”

Today

More verbal recipes – my brother’s girlfriend’s mom’s recipe for Chicken Schnitzel from the Czech Republic – řízek.

One hundred and fifteen

Italian with the Italian

Luigi's poor man's Sangria (nectarine in vino)

As I said yesterday, I love being cooked for.  Having an Italian man cook a traditional Italian dish and take me out for Gelato afterwards was such a treat!  Luigi* cooked Spaghetti Carbonara and talked about the traditions his very Italian family has (he’s so Italian he remembers growing up and thinking it weird that every family didn’t make their own wine and cure their own meats).  Here are a few of the stories he shared with me:

Sunday Lunch

Sunday is the day where the family gets together and has a huge meal.  After Sunday mass, the family goes to nonna’s house (grandma).  No breakfast is eaten before or dinner after, because of the size of the meal and the length it takes.  It is served in five courses in the following order:

  1. Pasta dish
  2. Meatballs with sauce and bread
  3.  Salad – usually pickled peppers and olives
  4. Cheese, nuts in the winter (chestnuts on a special occasion) or fruit in the summer (usually melon or watermelon)
  5. Dessert, espresso, liqueur – in Luigi*’s family it is usually Kahlua or Sambuca
Wine is always served with the meal, liqueurs with dessert.  Sometimes a nap is required afterwards.

Cooking

  • Simplicity is important.  You don’t need to complicate things with too many ingredients.
  • The rule is 100 grams of pasta per person.  According to Luigi* “all Italians have a pasta scale”.
  • It is not appropriate to break the spaghetti in half to fit into the pot.
  • Recipes tend to be oral not written.  When Luigi*’s grandma explains how much of one thing to put into a dish, she gestures with her hands and says “this much”.  It’s all about the feel and the look of it, not the measurements.  It’s best to learn by observing than by asking.
  • There should be lots of salt in the water when boiling pasta.  There is a saying that Italians have that says the pasta water is salted enough when it tastes like the sea.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Luigi*’s recipe for two people

200 grams of spaghetti
2-3 eggs
1/2-3/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan
8 strips of bacon

Cook the spaghetti al dente (until there is a tiny spot of white in the middle of the strand – take it out of the water and break a bit off to see the inside) with lots of salt in the water.  Drain the pasta.  Beat the egg and parmesan together in a large bowl.  Stir hot spaghetti into the egg/parmesan mixture (the heat of the pasta will cook the egg).  Stir in bacon.  Serve.

*names have been changed to protect the identity of those involved (or because he hates his name on the internet)

And gelato for dessert at Gelato Simply Italian.  Yum!

Today

Great nana’s English scones.