Sometimes you make something that forces you to slow down. For me that normally involves baking and I love it. You can’t rush yeast, a cake needs time, dough wants methodical kneading, pastry asks for, well, everything.
So I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and while I am not the greatest fan of zucchini I needed to make it instantly. What I didn’t realise was it was going to force me to go slow and follow a number of steps. I am, in reality, a much more ‘bung it all in and hope for the best’ cook.
It’s based on a Julia Child recipe and while I own her voluminous Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volumes 1 and 2 I have never cooked from them. So I was, in effect, uninitiated.
You have no choice but to slow down but I was making it for dinner so didn’t want to slow down and got a bit cranky with the whole thing. Salting zucchinis, par-boiling rice, slowly sweating off onions, it doesn’t sound like much but for a weeknight #everyfuckingnight it was frustrating.
But dagnammit it tasted out of this world which annoyed me even more (and everyone except Felix inhaled it). So my advice is definitely make it but go into it with patience, a willingness to wash up a lot and the knowledge you will be handsomely rewarded.
When you’re groaning at having to make dinner again make this.
If you’re not already, follow me at Instagram, search the hashtag #everyfuckingnight and you will see a feed of the dinners I am cooking my boys.
This dinner is solely thanks to my dear friend S who knows the best places to have dinner, always checks in on me and is breeding olympians. She’s made this as the kids meal on two occasions we’ve been over for dinner – the second time because they all loved it the first.
It’s a dinner standard in her house and will now be in ours.
Thursday’s radio spot saw me veer away from the sweets (quelle horror!) to show a steady course to one of my go-to one pan roasts. The big tip here is to have a rare moment of organisation when you buy your chicken pieces. Throw them in a snap-lock bag with the marinade before poping them in the freezer. It means on the night you’re going to have it all you need do is defrost the chicken, toss with the potatoes and roast. As my friend Beth says, BANG.
One pot wonder
1kg chicken pieces (drumsticks, wings, pieces that are on the bone)
one lemon, cut into chunks
few lugs olive oil
a handful mix of fresh herbs (eg tarragon, sage, parsley, thyme)
4 garlic cloves, slightly crushed but skins still on
one onion, cut into chunks
heaped dessert spoon of dijon mustard
good pinch of salt and a healthy grind of pepper
6 potatoes, cut into wedges
Combine the chicken with the marinade in a bowl or large snap-lock back and combine thoroughly
Marinate for a long as you’ve got – ideally a couple of hours at least
Preheat your oven to 180C
Tip the chicken pieces and potatoes into a baking dish and toss together, add a few more lugs of olive oil if everything’s not getting nicely coated with the marinade. You could probably sprinkle over some more salt and pepper here as well.
Bake for about an hour or until everything is nice and golden with some crispy bits and charred bits and basically a pan of ridiculous goodness.
Dumplings make everything better. That’s it really. I had a complete brain fart the other week but a dumplings session with Woogs, Sarah and the world righted itself toot sweet.
And don’t be nervous about working with the gow gee wrappers, they are remarkable robust and if sealing them with the little fancy folds is too intimidating then just moisten the edges fold the pastry over and voila, gorgeous half moons of goodness.
Now, what follows is two recipes for you. The first is the one I have always used in the past, the other from Adam Liaw, winner of Season 2 of MasterChef Australia. I made this on the weekend and think it worth including here. The flavour is a lot more delicate and look, it’s just so easy.
I tend to make a big batch of the filling and then freeze containers of what is left over so I can whip up another batch down the track. Sorted.
Pork and garlic chive dumplings
250g fatty minced pork (do not come over all healthy on me, you need the fat for flavour)
1tbsp very finely grated ginger
1/2 cup coarsely chopped garlic chives
2tbsp Shaoxing wine
40 gow gee wrappers
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well, for a good 10 minutes and season well
Adam Liaw’s pork dumpling filling
1kg fatty pork
1 cup finely chopped and blanched Chinese cabbage
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2tsp grated ginger
1tbsp white vinegar
1/2tsp white pepper
Mix all the ingredients together and knead for about 10 minutes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes
Use it as is or add other flavourings now. (I’ve used some rehydrated Chinese mushrooms finely chopped and finely chopped water chestnuts)
To assemble and cook:
Place a heaped teaspoon of mix in the centre of the wrapper, dab water around the edge and seal. Make sure there’s no air in the pocket with the meat. Either seal as a half moon shape or then bring the bottom of one side up, and again and again to make a little parcel.
If using in a soup or to simply boil, drop into boiling water and once they rise to the surface cook for a further two minutes and then remove.
For pot stickers – heat a little oil in the frypan and add the dumplings. Brown a little and then add water half way up the sides of the dumplings. Keep cooking, shaking the pan a little every now and then until the water has evaporated and the dumplings are left to fry again.
I’m always a bit reticent to post these sorts of recipes because I fear the cultural travesties I’m committing may send some into apoplexy, but DUDES, this is so so good. I initially lifted this from a blog with the best name ever, Crepes of Wrath and have just altered it slightly.
There’s a chicken version I’ll post soon too. Both of these dishes enter the hallowed halls of the rarefied family dinner loved by all.
1 kg beef (I use sirloin steak or the pre-cut stir-fry beef from our lovely butchers if it’s on special) sliced thinly (and you all know the trick to getting really thin slices it to cut the beef when it is semi-frozen?)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup plain flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
2/3 cup oil, for cooking (now, I used this amount and next time would definitely only use half, if that)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-2 tsp sriracha or other chili garlic paste (I used Sambal Oelek)
4 green onions, sliced
1 tablespoon black vinegar (CoW used balsamic vinegar)
3/4 tsp sesame oil
5 tbsp soy sauce
5 tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground ginger (I used freshly grated)
1/4 cup black vinegar
juice of 2 oranges (I used limes)
zest of 1 orange (again, I used limes)
1/4 cup water (I used stock) mixed with 1 tbsp cornstarch
Combine the beef with the egg, salt, pepper, flour, cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of oil – best do this with your hands to ensure it all gets well coated
Heat the oil in a wok then add the beef, and cook over high heat until it’s getting a nice crisp to it.
In a separate frypan cook the garlic, sriracha, green onions, 1 tablespoon of black vinegar and the sesame oil for about 5 minutes
Combine the soy, sugar, ginger, 1/4 cup black vinegar, orange (or lime) juice and zest and then add them to the frypan
Keep tossing your beef so it’s nice and crispy
Bring the sauce to a light boil then add the 1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup of water. Heat everything until is starts to thicken, about 3-4 minutes
Pour over the beef and toss to coat, then cook for another 3 or 4 minutes until the sauce is as thick as you’d like it to be.