Saturday, 27 February 2016

Thirty Tomato Sauce

I feel like I have neglected my vegetable garden in the last few weeks. Enduring a hectic work schedule with early starts and late finishes, my garden has sat unloved, unwatered and unappreciated. I have glanced at it from the kitchen window, but that’s been about it. Today I ventured out to see what state it was in and lo and behold, the tomato population had exploded. I have been picking many a tomato over the last few months, mostly the smaller varieties, but today all the larger ones were sitting plump, red and juicy on the vines. 

I had to go back inside and get a bigger bowl.

So, what to do with a tonne of ripe, large tomatoes? Sauce, of course!

I didn’t want to try my hand at ketchup, so went for a tasty tomato sauce that could be frozen in pouches, and pulled out at a moment’s notice. Destined for quick pasta and bacon dishes, or to jazz up an on-the-spot spaghetti bolognese.

I took a quick peek at the pasta sauce jars in the cupboard, to get an idea of their ingredients, then set about making my own concoction with some other tasty spices and flavours which I had on hand.

This recipe is pretty rough, in that it’s a ‘little of this’ and a ‘little of that’.
In a LARGE pot, I glugged in a splash of roasted onion flavoured olive oil. (It is such a nice oil). To that I added two chopped onions, and a handful of roughly chopped garlic cloves. Let that cook off for about 6-8 minutes until the onion becomes translucent. 

Next up, I added in the chopped tomatoes, seeds, skin and all. I would estimate I used around 30 large tomatoes (hence the name of the recipe). I then added a sachet of tomato paste, two large dessert spoonfuls of brown sugar, a generous shake of smoked paprika, a single dessert spoonful of molasses and two pinches of Tasmanian sea salt flakes. (As I said, it’s a very rough recipe).

Cook this on medium heat, covered, for about 40 minutes. After then, the tomatoes were nice and soft, so I took the lid off, turned the heat down to low and let the sauce reduce. 

After around 2 hours, it had reduced enough that I could blitz it with a hand mixer. Don't over blitz, as you still want it to be a little thick. Once blitzed, I continued to cook it down on a low heat until it thickened. When it was cool, I distributed the sauce into 4 zip lock bags, destined for the freezer and quick after work dishes. 

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Elk & Pea on a balmy summer evening

First time stepping into Elk & Pea Eating House and you are met with quirkiness, oddities and a strange door on the second level atop a flight of stairs. The sign to the door read ‘Staff Only’ which made me curious.  More curious why there were deer (maybe they were Elk?) heads on the walls, and even more curious why it is named ‘Elk & Pea’ seeing as its Central American cuisine. I’m pretty sure there was no Elk on the menu. Or peas for that matter… curiouser and curiouser.

Anyhoo, I babble on. We booked an outside table, which for a hot afternoon was lovely, as the outside area at the front of the restaurant is shaded under a huge square market umbrella, and there is a ceiling fan going full pelt sending lovely waves of cooling air our way. 

Now, down the good stuff. The reason we are here. The Food and the Drink.

Firstly for drinks, we ordered a couple of beers, a cider, and yes a chocolate milkshake among us. The waitress must have thought it a strange request, but my husband must working his way through a secret milkshake tasting list, as it is a common drink for him to order.  

Now for the food.  After reading through the menu, (and taking sneaky peaks at other diners tables) we settled on a sampling of street food. There are a plethora of vegetarian options which made the selecting easy, as there was one vego in our group.

For starters, two chicken tacos. Small but feisty, thanks to the sliced jalapenos, and a tasty mix of picked veg, radish, chorizo crumb and avocado. The corn tortilla was something special. Chewier than a floury wrap, but stable enough to keep the insides from become outsides. I could have eaten gobs of these tacos, it was really good.  

Next was our ‘pick and share’ options, being the quesadilla of the day (jalapeno, garlic and cheese)….

Quinoa, sundried tomato, corn and zucchini fritters with a cooling mint yoghurt sauce…

Tiradito de lomo Argentino, which translates to beef carpaccio with finely minced red onion, teeny tiny avocado cubes, and sliced radish. This was very delicate and made for a tasty mouthful….

And one serve of the chargrilled Mexican street corn, which was cut and shared. This was a surprise. Salty I think due to the manchego cheese (a hard cheese, looks to be related to parmesan), but accompanied by a refreshing chipotle and lime aioli. 

Next time, I’ll order one of these corn cobs all to myself.  Plus, next time I’ll indulge in the manchego and chilli popcorn, which looks to be a tasty snack to have with a chilled Mexican beer.

Elk & Pea Eating House is located at 21 Lonsdale Street Braddon, just next to Autolyse.
Ph 6162 0222