Category Archives: Cooking

Confit Rabbit Ragout

Confit Rabbit Ragout

Confit Rabbit Ragout

After a very long break from blogging, it took a request for a recipe by  a couple of fellow Gourmet Hunters to bring me back in here and post it to share with them.

6 months ago, we travelled across the Nullarbor, back to Victoria, to my son’s home and set up our van. On arrival, he asked if we’d mind having his children for a few days as their mother (his ex) wasn’t coping and needed a rest. He’d be working.

To cut an extremely long and painful (think drugs here) story short, he now has custody of the two boys, she has moved out of town, and we are still here. At the same time he got custody of the two boys, he got a new government job, which requires him to train in Melbourne Monday to Friday for 14 weeks, so we are at home here with our grandsons while he does.

Added to this, our oldest grandson has autism, and hasn’t seen a doctor, speech therapist, occupational therapist-in fact, any professional who could help him in three years- so with son Dan in Melbourne, this has fallen to Russ and I and has been a whirlwind of appointments to get him the care he needs. Both boys went back to school-the youngest for the first time, in February so we had a mix of times and lengths of days for a while-both boys are now doing full days, every day, in preparation for dad starting his new job after training. Then they both started swimming lessons.

It’s been tiring at times (we’re not so young anymore) but really rewarding to see them start and eat new foods and enjoy a constant routine. We all have down days, but on the whole, it’s great.

So there you have my excuse for no blogging for 6 months. And now for the recipe!

Confit Rabitt Ragout

First send son Daniel out to shoot the rabbit, then take your dressed rabbit, pop in a snuggish fitting oven proof dish, cover completely with oil and bake at about 140c for about 3 hours or until the rabbit falls to bits when you try to lift it out of the oil. Allow it to cool a little, then pick the meat from the bones and set aside in the fridge. I used oil we’d confitted another rabbit in recently (cooled and strained). The original oil had herbs and baby leaves and garlic in it.

  • 2 tablespoons oil (I used a mix of bacon fat and confit oil)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced tiny
  • 2 celery sticks, diced tiny
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 rashers bacon, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 cups stock
  • Handful of good black olives, pitted (not yucky pre pitted ones though)
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped parsley

    Confit Rabbit Ragout

    Confit Rabbit Ragout

Method

  1. Heat the oil and gently cook the onion, celery, carrot, garlic and bacon until all tender-about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato paste to the pan and cook, stirring for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until it reduces and the pan ingredients are sizzling and starting to catch.
  4. Add the stock and oregano and cook over a low heat for about 45 minutes, adding in more stock if you need it.
  5. Add the rabbit meat and olives and cook a further 15 minutes.
  6. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley.
  7. Serve over pasta or mash.
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Mallacoota

Betka Beach

Betka Beach

In February of this year, we bought a Travel Auction package we saw advertised on TV to a Mallacoota caravan park. In these auctions, you are told what it would cost, then you make a bid-the top 50 bids win. The parks RRP for a 10 night stay was $330, we bid $180 and won. We then had to pick a date for travel within 12 months of winning. Mallacoota is right on the Vic/NSW border, so close to 520 kilometres from Melbourne OR Sydney you wouldn’t argue about it, and considered one of Victoria’s most remote towns. It has a population of around 1000 that swells to about 8000 over the summer holidays (that’s why we came just before!)

We left Daniel’s place in pouring rain (the wettest we have ever had to pack up in) and headed east of Traralgon for the very first time with the van.  As we travelled, we realised why we’ve never come this way before with the van-the roads are a disgrace to the state of Victoria. So very rough towing a van!

One patch of about 1 kilometre of road outside Stratford was so potholed, we just knew we’d arrive to all sorts of mess inside and we weren’t wrong. We have a portable oven, hotplates and fruit bowl that fit neatly into a spot on the bench beside the fridge and above the built in hotplates in the van. That stuff has travelled all over Australia sitting there but when we arrived and opened the van door in Mallacoota, it was all strewn all over the floor. Squished tomatoes, avocados and electrical goods covered the floor!

Mallacoota

Mallacoota

We set up in the rain and it continued for the next 20 or so hours without a let up, but Sunday afternoon it cleared for a while so we managed a drive 3 ks out of town to the very beautiful Betka Beach to take a look and some photos. Wow, what a lovely spot to have to ourselves.

Betka Beach

Betka Beach

Monday, we braved the wind and took the boat out for a bit of a fish. The boat played up-coughing and spluttering and generally being a bit scary to be out in that wind. The fish were hiding and it was a waste of time for a number of reasons. We came back in and Russ arranged to have the boat looked at by a local mechanic the following morning.

Tuesday was a perfect day for fishing, so after collecting the boat from the mechanic, followed by an early lunch, we set off out. The boat seemed to be going well, then once again, it started spluttering and coughing-so much for the miracle fix we’d just paid for! Never mind, it was a super calm day, so we just limped out a tiny way, parked up in a pretty spot and started to fish.

We only brought 7 fish into the boat, but all were well over size so we counted it a great success. We came home with 5 flathead and one bream, returning one 33 cm flathead as that’s just too small to bother with at the fish cleaning table. Fish for dinner Wednesday night, and some for the freezer.

Tuesday night, we had a yummy dinner at Lucy’s Handmade Rice Noodle Shop here in town. A funny little place where you grab your own wine glasses, water,condiments and hope the food you ordered makes it to your table. We had the best steamed bbq pork buns I’ve ever had, fried pork dim sims I’d have not known were dim sims if I hadn’t ordered them (hand made and so different from shop bought), really delicious chilli prawn salad and fried rice. The bbq pork buns were ordered as pork noodles but somehow got lost in translation so we missed out trying the handmade noodles. Oh well, now we have to go back!

Shipwreck Beach

Shipwreck Beach

Today we hung around the van, watching the cricket, until the boat-motor-fixit-man called to say it was done. By the time he called, it was too late to go fishing, so we went out to Shipwreck Creek and Beach and Pebbley Beach for a drive. Back home, we had our flathead tails for dinner.

Flatty tails

Flatty tails

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Broad Bean Salad, and Crab Dip in a Cobb Loaf

Broad Bean Salad

Broad Bean Salad

Last week, we had a busy time catching up with family and friends, entertaining grandsons and (shock, horror!!!) a couple of shifts of work for me.

My youngest son Daniel works at Cafe Aura in Traralgon so with one chef on holidays, and the boss off sick, they are very short staffed and got me in to do some prep work.

The first shift I worked was at really short notice-I had to take up a pair of black pants and get myself organised for a 9 am start after a 7.30 am wake up call from Daniel. I worked just over 5 hours and most of the shift was spent with my fingers either cramping up or threatening to. Not much fun.

Work

Work

The second shift I worked on Tuesday night was much, much better. I had lots of warning and did a nice mix of cooking on the grill and prep.

Saturday, Russ, grandson Rooke and I went to Melbourne for a family get together. Everyone took along either an appetiser, salad or dessert to share and meat for themselves to our Niece Yvonne and husband Stuart’s place. It was a fantastic afternoon catching up with everyone. Russ made us a crab dip using some of our picked frozen crab meat. It was really popular!

Family get together

Family get together

Sunday, we took our grandsons Kobie and Rooke to an open day at the Traralgon fire station. It was great-they got to use the hoses, sit in the fire truck, try on the breathing apparatus, we watched as they burned off a gas fire and saw the Skylift rise 42 metres in the sky. The boys got a free sausage, sticker, tattoos and cardboard cut out fire truck to

Fireman Kobie

Fireman Kobie

make.

This week’s been more of the same.

Wednesday I did kinder duty at Rooke’s kindergarten. I’ve done it once before and really enjoy it. I was in hospital as a new mum (of son Michael) with one of the kinder aides Di, so it’s been great to meet her again after maybe 24 years.

Zeus

Zeus

Thursday, we took Daniel’s beautiful big bull arab pup Zeus(he’s 10 months old) to the local car wash/dog wash for a bath. He was shampooed, rinsed, conditioned, flea rinsed and blow dried til he looked squeaky clean and smelled sweet.

Thursday night we went to a bbq with friends. I made a broad bean salad using our home cured bacon, and another crab dip.

Friday I worked 10 hours and today (Sat 22nd) I’m home now in the middle of my two shifts, so I’ll do another 10 or so hours.

Crab Dip in a Cobb Loaf

  • 1 cobb loaf (I really love Woolworths Onion and Parmesan one)
  • 1 cup crab meat (about)
  • 250 g block light Philly cheese
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup low fat whole egg mayo
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill leaves
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • a slug of Tabasco sauce
  • 1 400 g can of artichokes, drained, then squeezed really dry, chopped
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

    Crab Dip in a Cobb Loaf

    Crab Dip in a Cobb Loaf

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 150 c
  2. Cut a lid from the cobb loaf, then carefully scoop or cut out most of the soft bread from the loaf and the lid.  Slice the scooped out bread into dipping sized pieces and put them and the loaf and lid on a baking tray and place in the oven for about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile mix the remaining ingredients together and heat gently in a saucepan over a medium heat.
  4. Increase the heat of the oven to 180 c, then pour the mix into the cobb loaf shell and put back in the oven for about 15 minutes or until bubbling and browning on top.
  5. Serve with the dipping pieces, and the lid torn to bits.

Broad Bean Salad

  • 500 g packet frozen broad beans, cooked per packet instructions, cooled in cold water
  • 125g bacon, diced, cooked crispy, reserve rendered fat
  • 200 g feta cheese
  • 1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • zest of a lemon
  • juice of half a lemon
  • oil, extra, as needed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

    Broad Bean Salad

    Broad Bean Salad

Method

  1. Peel the cooled broad beans (gets rid of the tough khaki green outer skin to revel bright green inner flesh)
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring gently to combine. I use the bacon fat, making it up to two tablespoons with extra oil.
  3. Chill to allow the flavours to meld.

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Makin’ Bacon

Bacon

Bacon

My youngest son Daniel and I share a love of cooking, buying from farm gates, game meats, and making whatever we can, from what we buy, from scratch. I guess of all the people in our family, we are the ones who really like to know where our food comes from!

Our pig

Our pig

Right now with our house let out in Warrnambool, we are based here in Traralgon with Daniel for an unknown length of time.

Before we arrived with our freezer full of fish fillets, crab, squid and rabbits, Daniel filled his with organic grass fed beef from the Glengarry Free Range Egg lady he deals with at work, and a 5 month old pig  that he arranged to have butchered for us. Both lots of meat are proving to be amazing which is always good when you have a lot of it to eat.

Daniel has just started getting interested in the home curing of meats so the first thing he and I did when Russ and I arrived was to cure some of the pork belly to make bacon.  He (Daniel) organised the cure for it, I turned it daily for 5 days, then yesterday, I washed it and oven baked it at 120 c for about 2.5 hours until it had reached 64c internally.

Home made bacon

Home made bacon

This morning, Russell cut off a few slices (well small slabs maybe) and we cooked it for our brunch. It’s amazing to say the least.

Daniel’s Bacon

  • 1.2 kg pork belly
  • 30 g salt
  • 15 g sugar
  • 5 g pepper
  • about a teaspoon of liquid smoke
  • good sprinkling dried oregano and dried thyme
  • 1 g curing salt #2

Method

  1. Rub the pork belly with the combined remaining ingredients. Place in a non-reactive container or zip lock bag and refrigerate. Turn every day for 5 days. Can leave it for longer but it’ll get saltier by the day.
  2. On day 5, wash and pat dry, then bake in an oven preheated to 120 c for about two hours or until the internal temp reaches 64 c when tested with a thermometre.
  3. Cool then refrigerate. Use as you would any commercial bacon.

My attempt at Corned Silverside (under instruction)

  • 2 kg fresh silverside, trimmed of most of its fat
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 180 g salt
  • 4 g curing salt #2
  • Pickling spice mix (ingredients below)
  • 1 litre very hot water
  • 2 litres very cold water

Pickling Spice Mix

  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dill seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 4 dried crushed chillies

Method

  1. Place the meat in a non reactive food grade container (garbage bags and bins are not food grade) or zip lock bag.
  2. Mix the salt, sugar, curing salt and pickling spices together with the hot water, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved.
  3. Add the cold water, stir then pour over the meat in the container.
  4. Submerge the meat in the brine in the brine with a weight (I used a plate)  placed on it to keep it under. It needs to stay under for about at least a week.
  5. I’ve read that it can stay longer so it might work well to cook one, then remove the next one a week or so later and cook it?

 

 

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Slow cooked Thai style venison and sweet potato stew

Slow cooked Thai style venison and sweet potato stew

Slow cooked Thai style venison and sweet potato stew

The original recipe was for beef and didn’t contain coconut milk but I think it needed it. A friend gave my son the venison, Russ cooked it under direction from me. I was busy doing school stuff with our grandson.

Slow cooked Thai style venison and sweet potato

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2kg venison (we think ours was rump), cut to about 2cm dice
  • 2 large red onions, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 inch ginger grated or cut fine
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste (or to taste)
  • 2 tins whole tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 750g sweet potato, cut to about 2cm dice
  • 1 400ml can coconut milk
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • chopped coriander to garnish

Method

Slow cooked Thai style venison and sweet potato stew

Slow cooked Thai style venison and sweet potato stew

  1. Heat the oil and brown the venison in batches, putting it aside on a plate as you go.
  2. Add the sliced onion to the pan (you might need a bit more oil) and cook until well softened (about 10 minutes).
  3. Add the garlic and ginger and cook a couple of minutes. Stir in the curry paste and cook a minute or two more until fragrant.
  4. Add the tinned tomatoes, water and fish sauce, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, pop a lid on and cook for a couple of hours until tender.
  5. Add in the diced sweet potato and coconut milk and cook a further 30-45 mins until tender.
  6. Just before serving, season to taste with lime juice, brown sugar and chopped coriander and more fish sauce if you think it needs it.
  7. We ate ours over rice.

Rabbits and Rabbit and Dumpling Stew

Rabbit and dumplings

Rabbit and dumplings

Our stop at Monte Casino with Pam, Carson and the kids saw us leave with 10 rabbits. Carson shot them for us while we were in the UK and Switzerland. We stored our freezer-full of fish in their house for the 10 weeks we were away, and they took a few meals out and put the bunnies back in. It’s a good relationship!

Ten rabbits make me feel rich (like new undies or a full tank of petrol does), so I want to use them well.

Tonight  I turned two of my stash into Rabbit Carbonnade with Parsley Dumplings. Carbonnade is a beef and beer dish often topped with French bread (or baguette) spread with mustard, that’s then pushed under the surface of the stew. The mustard croutons eventually rise and crisp up. I love it. I didn’t have French bread (or baguette) so I decided dumplings would be a good substitute . I added the mustard (and  brown sugar) to the stew. I was forced to use light beer, as once again, that’s what we had on hand! The original also had 10 rashers of bacon in it-I couldn’t justify that, so I modified the whole thing to make it my own.

Rabbit Carbonnade with Parsley Dumplings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 kg rabbit, jointed
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 bacon rashers, chopped
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 375 ml beer
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or fresh sprigs if you have it)
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley (for serving)

Dumplings

  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 50g butter
  • 1 egg, beaten lightly
  • ¼ cup (20 g) coarsely grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (extra)
  • ¼ cup milkRabbit and dumplings2

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 c
  2. Heat oil in a large heavy-based, flameproof casserole dish over medium-high heat. Cook rabbit in batches for 5 to 6 minutes or until browned. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Melt butter in dish. Add bacon and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until onion is softened. Add garlic. Cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Sprinkle over flour. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Slowly add beer, stirring constantly. Return rabbit and any juices to dish with stock, mustard, brown sugar, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, cover then place in preheated oven for 1-1.5 hours or until tender-all this depends on the age and size of your rabbit so you be the judge.
  4. Meanwhile, make the parsley dumplings.
  5. When the rabbit is tender, remove dish from oven.  Remove and discard bay leaves. Drop level tablespoons of dumpling mixture, about 2 cm apart, onto top of stew. Cook, uncovered, about 20 minutes or until dumplings are browned lightly and cooked through.
  6. Sprinkle with parsley to serve

Parsley Dumplings

  1. Place flour in medium bowl; rub in butter.
  2. Stir in egg, cheese, extra parsley, and enough milk to make a soft, sticky dough.

Edamame and Mint Dip

Edamame and Mint Dip

Edamame and Mint Dip

I bought an edamame and mint dip in an English supermarket to take with us on our cruise on the Norfolk Broads. I enjoyed it so much, I kept the packaging so I could attempt to recreate it at home. I bought pre-cooked, frozen edamame pods at an Asian grocer in Perth and the rest of the ingredients are stuff we always have on hand.

The wind here in Streaky Bay today would blow a dog off its chain, so with no fishing for us, I thought I’d give the dip a go. I reckon my version is waaaay better than the commercial one we bought, so I’m blogging the recipe so I don’t forget about it.

Apart from being a relatively healthy and very tasty dip, I reckon it would be great on boiled spuds or as a different dressing over a potato salad. We’re having it tonight over the boiled spuds with fish and a salad.

Edamame and Mint Dip

    • 450g packet frozen, cooked edamame pods, defrosted, shelled
    • 1 cup frozen green peas, defrosted
    • 1 420 g can cannellini beans, drained
    • 1/4 cup low fat Greek Yoghurt
    • 1/4 cup sour cream
    • 1/4 cup light cream cheese
    • Good pinch of salt
    • Good grinding of black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
    • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
    • 2 teaspoons lime juice
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried mint (I would use fresh but dried is what I had. You can use more if you really like mint)

Method

  1. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl, crush with a potato masher
  2. Process with a stick blender until smooth, but still with a bit of texture
  3. Drizzle with a little olive oil (mine was garlic and chilli) and sprinkle with a little mint.