Monday, January 15, 2007

dee's kitchen.

as an avid cook, one of the things i'm proudest of at home is my new kitchen. eventhough i moved in to this apartment only a month ago, i'm already very in love with the kitchen seeing as how it's almost twice the size of my last one. and because i'm so enamoured by it, much money has been pumped into kitchenware and electricals so that i might better enjoy the cooking and dining processes.

figured it's about time i show the world just where it is that all my recent and future cooking experiences take place.

dee's kitchen: Before Expose.dee's kitchen: Cabinets Expose!

top-down perspective of my kitchen from the lounge area, with the cabinet doors closed and opened. the apartment is a bit old, so everything looks a little eighties in it.

dee's kitchen: Very Clean, Relatively Neat.

the one thing i hate is the fact that most grocery bags provided by the supermarts thesedays don't fit very well with the ikea bins. therefore i either have to live with hanging smaller bags in the bin, or buy Glad bin liners.

i'm really happy with the working and clear space provided by this kitchen. at my previous place, the clear space was half this size, so there could only be one effective cook in the kitchen.

dee's kitchen: Washing Zone.

the sink counter features a food disposal unit (sink on the left), which i don't use for its designed purpose because it makes way too much noise. this kitchen comes with a dish washer (bottom right), but it doesn't work so i'm reduced to washing everything by hand. which isn't a problem until i throw fancy dinner parties that require my full arsenal of kitchenware!

dee's kitchen: Crockery, dinnerware and BBQ accessories!

other than my Tefal wok, pots and pans are mainly cheap stuff that i got from various kitchenware stores. i don't care what people say about it, but i'm really proud of my lovely Maxwell & Williams dinnerware set, which was on sale at Matchbox.

dee's kitchen: Tea and Instant Food.

as you can see, this is a relatively empty cabinet because i don't indulge in a lot of instant meals. the bottom right side of my cabinet boosts my various cheap tea collection. i'm not a fan of coffee.

dee's kitchen: Various Oils.

the oils are kept directly above the kitchen hood. other than the olive oil, i really seldom use the other oils.

dee's kitchen: Herbs, Dry Food & Condiments.

the top shelf is where i keep my garlic, ginger, onion and other dry but fresh food. alongside them are other dry food stuff like cinnamon, chinese herbs, etc. thanks to the combined powers of both my housemate and i, we now have a full shelf of condiments and spices. not exactly comprehensive, but more than enough for a variety of treats.

dee's kitchen: Stemware, Hardy Liqour and Cordial Stash (plus stray bag of potatoes).

my sad stemware from ikea. these break very easily. honestly, they should be used only at big parties where you have to consider people breaking things. i'm waiting for most of them to break before i get myself a proper set of glasses.

my hard liquor collection is also very sad right now because i don't have the habit of making my own drinks. i find beer and champagne a way easier alternative for inebriation.

dee's kitchen: Cutlery and Knives.

i recently acquired my Maxwell William Mondo cutlery set, as my previous housemate took over the terrible ikea set we had at the previous place. fiq often complains i'm using stainless steel instead of silverware like he does, but i am after all only a full-time student. so i'm more than happy enough to own this cutlery set.

my scissors and knives are Victorinox (the same people who give you the original swiss army knife), supposedly more commonly used by apprentice chefs.

dee's kitchen: Cooking Utensils.

okay, this is just a mess of my utensils! pardon the lack of organisation!

well, this concludes the pictorial-tour of my kitchen. hope to see how other people organise and run heir kitchens as well!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Stone Soup sans Stone (aka Beef Stew).

Stone Soup with Rice.

one of the most popular children's stories is perhaps that of the stone soup. lest you've never heard of it (and just where have you been?), a hobo chances upon a village and convinces its people that he has magic stone capable of making the best soup ever. the only problem is that his magic stone required the help of some garnishing, which he didn't have.

impressed and eager to savour the wonders of that magic stone, each village household contributed something from their kitchen. from celery, to potatoes, to meat, every item was added to the pot as an exchange for a portion of that magically tasty soup. with that many ingredients added to the pot (with the stone in it), the soup naturally turned out amazingly delicious.

Wikipedia would have you believe that the moral of the story lies in the virtues of co-operation, but i like to see this as simply good marketing. at most, it's an ingenuity for cooking leftover ingredients. this story has inspired so many people that it has come to a point where some people are actually taking the recipe as illustrated in the story quite seriously...

anyway, a fortnight ago when i was desperately trying to rid my then soon-to-be-rotting vegetables and expired scotch fillets, i thought i'd give this Stone Soup--sans stone and storyline recipe--idea a try, and it actually was quite lovely.

i realise that this recipe might sound a lot like a beef stew.


beef stew. d's stone soup. po-tah-to. po-teh-to.

2 pieces, beef steak (i'm using t-bones for their marrows)
2, carrot
3-4, potato
2, mustroom (i'm using cups)
2, tomato
2 sticks, celery
1, onion
3-4 cloves, garlic
2-3, red chilli (depending on how spicy you like the soup)
1, lemon
2 stalks, spring onion/ scallion
1 bunch, parsley (abt 5 stems worth)
1 tbsp, black pepper
4 tbsp, butter (optional; see Step 2)
1 cup, flour (optional; see Step 2)
2 tbsp, red wine (optional; see step 3)
4 tbsp, honey (optional; see step 3)

Stone Soup: Ingredients.
(missing in picture: onion, garlic, spring onion)


Step 1: Chopping, Slicing and Dicing!
chop, slice, dice the steaks and vegetables, then have all of them thrown into a pot. add enough water to drown all the ingredients and start your fire. i recommend a small to medium flame, on which you allow the soup to cook very, very slowly.

Stone Soup: Into the Pot.

when the soup comes to a boil, add the pepper and lemon juice in and allow everything to simmer till it reduces to about 4/5 to 3/4 of the original amount. stir intermittently.

after at least half an hour, you can taste the soup and see if you're happy with the results so far. if you are, *ta-da*, you're done and can skip the next two steps.

Step 2: Thickening the Soup.
if you'd prefer a slightly thicker soup (stew-like), you'd have to thicken the mix.

first, melt the butter in a bowl, and stir in the flour slowly until you've got all the flour mixed with the butter. coating the flour with butter prevents the flour from clumping up when you add it into the soup.

slowly stir the buttered flour into the simmering soup, and let everything boil for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the soup thickens.

(taste it, and if you're happy so far, skip the next step.)

Step 3: Adding Extra Unimportant Clear-Before-They-Expire Things.
i'm simply adding what's left of my red wine and honey into the soup, then let simmer for another five minutes.

Stone Soup: Brewing in Crock Pot.
(see additional notes below on use of slow crockery pot cooker.)

Final Serve.
the versatile stone soup can be enjoyed as a main (accompanied by bread or steamed rice), or as an appetiser or a side.

i like mine with rice!

Stone Soup: Final Serve with Rice.

everyone should try to make hir version of the stone soup out of the odds and ends lying in your kitchen. as my friend, fiq, likes to say: just throw them all in and hope for the best!


Stone Soup with Rice.

Additional Notes.
1. Use of Crock Pot. i'm leaving everything in a slow crockery cooker overnight. additionally, slow cooking it allows the meat to get really very tender. you needn't go to such a drastic measure, because direct heat works just fine. just be sure to be slightly patient to allow the soup to boil in due time.

2. Recooking. the remainder can be reboiled whenever you decide to have some. the more you boil, the thicker and tastier it gets really.

3. Not Stew-like. i used .5 cup of flour instead of the recommend 1 cup as described above. this is just a personal preference of not wanting the soup to end up stew-like.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Channel 7's New Cookery Show.

all aussie cook bloggers! Channel 7's looking for people to participate in a new cookery show featuring Matt Moran!

as the great gwen stefani would say: what 'cha waiting for?