Summer 2011/12

Uncle Chris logo

ON the right track!

Hello folks

You would assume, of course, that with me being a chef I’m a good eater. This cartoon (above) by my mate George shows me to be well fed. But I do keep my weight down by walking for an hour, six days a week.

Why not seven days a week?
I hear you ask. I never ever walk on Sundays. Never did. Never will. Nothing to do with religion.

When I was a boy in Switzerland, my dad was a baker – and he baked loaves every day, resting only on Sunday. So six days every week Chris the kid – that was me, folks – had to deliver the fresh bread around the neighbourhood. It took me 90 minutes. When dad had his Sunday rest, so did I. In those days we Swiss ate stale bread on Sundays.

Oh, did I tell you – no, but I will – that I also had to walk to and from school. That was 45 minutes each way. Boy, was I fit!

Exercising has been a habit I would not like to break. I’m one of the fittest chefs in the business – but of course I don’t brag about it!

Boris – he’s my new best friend – joins me on my walks. We let Geraldine (she who must be obeyed) come too. Boris is smart, but not smart enough to read a calendar. So there’s Boris every Sunday, imploring me with those big brown eyes, leash in mouth and panting “Let’s go, Chris!” Did I tell you he could talk?

So now you know Boris can talk, but there’s a secret some of you may not know. Brighton municipality has 16km of great walking tracks. The council was very clever at building them around our beautiful foreshore, but I reckon they’ve forgotten to tell the people.

So here I am doing it for them.

I’ve walked these tracks, so has Boris – but on a leash. Council’s fussy about that. The tracks are made of crushed limestone, wide enough for Boris, Geraldine (she who must be obeyed) and a couple of friends walking beside us. But there are very few other folks in sight, which is a bit sad.

Come and join us! The tracks follow the coastline around Old Beach, around Herdsmans Cove-Green Point- Bridgewater, along the Derwent from Bridgewater Causeway towards Boyer, and from Brighton to Pontville. We are truly blessed to have such great walking tracks.

Try them out and take a picnic. Inside, there’s a map of the Herdsmans Cove-Green Point-Bridgewater tracks and some tips on making great food for picnics.

CHERRY ripe!

Tassie grows some of the most sought after cherries in the world. The cherry season will be upon us soon – just in time for Christmas!

I reckon they’re best when bought direct from an orchard, at a roadside stall or at a farmers market. Ask if you can try one to see if they have the sweetness that you expect.

Keep cherries unwashed and with stems attached in a paper bag in your fridge. Rinse them in cool water before eating.

To pip a cherry, pluck off the stem and insert the end of a paper clip in to the stem hole, snag the pip and scoop it out.

Below are two of my favourite cherry desserts.

KEEP fit and have fun

Okay folks, here’s your map of some of Brighton municipality’s walking tracks, among the best in Tassie. This map shows the Herdsmans Cove-Green Point-Bridgewater tracks.

Of course you’re going to use them to keep fit and to have fun. There are a couple of resting spots where you can picnic or just snooze. The tracks are well-maintained and run along the foreshore. You can also hoof it around Old Beach, trek from Brighton to Pontville, or wander along the Derwent’s east bank towards Boyer.

There’s bird life aplenty around the foreshore with its shallow wetlands – black swans, cormorants, pelicans and white faced herons with a long bill to spear fish.

I like walking the tracks around Herdsmans Cove and Bridgewater and my favourite spot is Green Point. On a clear day you can see the South Pole – well, not quite. But Mount Wellington looms large and
there are great views up and down the Derwent.

Another spot on the map I like is near the old Bridgewater nursery. There are some palm trees that were removed from the Transport Hub site and relocated along the walking track.

My mate George did this map – he’s a funny bloke is George, but could do with some more exercise, like walking. Look carefully and you can see George has drawn himself on the track – that’s him painting with the aid of an easel. I’ve just charged past him – I’m on the end of a leash dragged along by Boris!

I can’t paint the great views, but sometimes I take my camera.

In my next mailout – you’ll receive it at the start of autumn – there’ll be some more local walking tracks for you to explore. George is drawing them already!

Map showing the Herdsmans Cove-Green Point-Bridgewater tracks.

SNACKS on the track

When you plan a long walk, pack a banana and a mixture of dried fruit and nuts, such as:

sultanas
whole blanched almonds pitted dates
pecan halves
dried apricots

Baguette

This bread stick can be filled with slices of fresh tomato, slices of swiss or cheddar cheese and thinly sliced dry-cured meat such as prosciutto, freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Cut the baguette into manageable sizes, or otherwise it gets a bit messy!

Panini

This thin bread roll can be filled with mild salami, salad greens and creamy cheese such as brie, tomato relish and cracked pepper.

Make an extra one for me and Boris, just in case you catch up with us on the track.

Water way to go

Before you start walking, don’t forget to fill a container of fresh water from the tap. Don’t waste your money on that bottled stuff. Tassie water comes direct from our mountain country – what could be fresher than that!

 

Our tracks to trek along

Riverside Drive 2.7km
(Bridgewater towards Boyer)
Green Point – Bridgewater 5.2km
Herdsmans Cove – Green Point
1.5km Old Beach 2.2km
Brighton – Pontville 4.4km

 

SECRETS of great barbecues

It’s summer and the living is easy ... and it’s time for the great Aussie BBQ.

Some spell it barbecue, others spell it barbeque. The word comes from Haiti, an island nation in the West Indies where they spell it barboka.

Who cares ... as long as the sausages don’t end up like burnt toothpaste and the neighbours don’t think your clothes line is on fire.

What makes any barbecue a roaring success are easy-to-prepare marinades (see below).

All varieties of meat and fish have their inherent flavours and only need to be enhanced with herbs, spices, oils and other not-so-secret ingredients.

Some tips

Oil prevents lean meat, vegies and herbs from drying out and burning on the flames. Use a heat-tolerant oil like peanut oil.

Acidic liquids like vinegar, lemon juice and wine tenderise the fibres in meats. But go easy with them in marinades for fish because they will make it dry before barbecuing.

Herbs intensify the flavour in marinades and reduce the need for salt. Use herbs that do not burn too easily – bay leaf, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme and juniper berries.

Use salt and salty liquids such as soya sauce sparingly in marinades because they extract juices from the meat cuts and make them dry.

Take meat out of the fridge 1 to 2 hours before being marinated. This enhances the flavour and texture of the meat.

Marinate thin pieces of meat for about 30 minutes and large pieces for longer. Use a ceramic dish for marinating, preferably one that is not too large, and cover with plastic wrap. You can turn the meat occasionally for best results.

A rule of thumb – 200 ml of marinade is enough to baste 600-800 g of meat before and during grilling. But if the meat has to be covered in the marinade process, double the amount.

Use salt just before grilling, about 1 teaspoon per 500 g of meat is enough.

Don’t forget to put some vegies and fruit on the barbecue, but first baste them lightly with oil. Pineapple slices and bananas in their skins go well. Some outdoors experts suggest dousing vegies in water for 15 minutes so they don’t dry out. I’m not so sure they need that. I just baste mine with oil and then they go on to the flames. Watch they don’t burn. My favourites are slices of capsicum, onion rings, asparagus, mushrooms, eggplant ... and of course corn on the cob, tomatoes and potatoes in foil jackets.

THE marinades

Rum marinade

For beef, lamb and pork

1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons rum
4 tablespoons oil
1 onion chopped
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
A few drops tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Horseradish marinade

For beef, poultry, lamb and fish

1 tablespoon grainy mustard 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 apple grated
1 tablespoon horseradish
3 tablespoons sugar
1 pinch ground cloves
Mix all ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool before use.

Peanut marinade

For pork, lamb and poultry

100 ml pineapple juice
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey
10 drops tabasco sauce
Pinch of pepper
Heat and mix well. Use after marinade has cooled.

Sherry marinade

For lamb, pork, poultry and vegetables

1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons dry sherry
4 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon soya sauce
1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of ground pepper
Mix all ingredients

Yoghurt marinade

For lamb, pork, poultry and fish

1 orange – zest and juice
180 g plain yoghurt
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon paprika
A pinch each of cayenne pepper, cinnamon and saffron
Combine and mix well

SAUCES to enhance

BBQ sauce

1 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 tablespoon butter
4 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar 100 ml beer or red wine
1 tablespoon mustard
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce Few drops tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Salt and pepper as required

Fry the garlic and onion in the butter until golden, add the other ingredients, stir well and simmer covered for 15 to 20 minutes. Season to taste.

Devils sauce

1 tablespoon brandy
180 g plain yoghurt
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 clove garlic crushed
1 chilli deseeded and chopped 1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix and serve on your barbecued meat.

Curry sauce

1 banana
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
250 g light cottage cheese
1⁄2 teaspoon chilli paste
1-2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1-2 teaspoons curry powder
Salt to taste

Pour vinegar on banana and mash to a pulp. Mix and combine the rest to a smooth sauce.

SWEET delights for the festive season

STOLLEN . . . a Christmas cake with a difference

No, it’s not a stolen Chrissie cake! I’ll explain: When I was a boy growing up in Switzerland, one of the greatest pleasures was eating stollen – the traditional Christmas cake for German- speaking countries in Europe. The cake has a history going back about 600 years. In those days the baking was simple – it was just made with flour, oats and water. Yuk!

Now the Europeans bake it with great ingredients like candied fruit peel, rum and almonds.

I still make stollen each Christmas ... and so can you. You can eat it into the new year too!

Here’s the recipe which makes two stollens:

Pre-dough:
450 g flour
20 g yeast
2 flat tablespoons white sugar
3 tablespoons milk
200 g sultanas
50 g candied lemon and orange peel
3 tablespoons rum
100 g white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of pepper
125 g soft pieces of butter
200 ml milk
100 g coarsely chopped almonds
50 g melted butter for brushing Icing sugar to decorate

Put flour in a bowl, make a well in the middle and add yeast, sugar and milk. Make a slurry and dust lightly with flour, rest for 30 minutes.

Mix the rum with sultanas and candied citrus, and rest.

Mix all the sugar, vanilla, salt, cardamom, nutmeg, pepper, softened butter, milk in the bowl with the pre-dough (flour, yeast and milk).

Mix well to a smooth dough and rest for 2 hours to double in size, then add the fruits marinated in rum and almond splinters and knead again.

Halve the dough and roll each half into an oval shape. With each half, fold one third of the dough over so it looks lop- side. Put both stollens on baking paper on a tray, cover them with a towel and let them rise for another 30 minutes. Brush with melted butter and bake at 180 C. After 15 minutes brush again with butter and bake for another 15 minutes. When finished, brush while still hot with rest of butter, cool on a cake rack and cover with icing sugar.

Serve stollen freshly sliced. You can freeze a loaf for later use. It also makes great toast and bread and butter pudding.

CHERRY ripe

Here are two of my favourite cherry desserts. They are easy
to make.

Cherries

CHERRY tart Sweet short crust:

250 g plain flour
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
100 g caster sugar
150 g chilled butter cut in small cubes
1 egg

Mix all ingredients except the egg until it looks like bread crumbs. Then add a beaten egg and combine. Do not knead too hard, just combine and wrap in plastic wrap, and rest in the fridge before use.

Roll out, put in flan dish and blind bake in oven at 180C until light brown.

3 cups washed and pitted cherries 1⁄4 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 tablespoon vanilla essence

Toss cherries with the sugar and let them stand while you bake the shell.

In a small saucepan combine sugar and cornflour, drain cherry juice into the saucepan and stir to thicken over medium heat. Arrange cherries on pastry shell, add vanilla to the warm mixture and pour over the cherries.

Cool to room temperature and serve with slightly sweetened whipped cream.

CHERRY clafoutis (Clafoutis is a French baked dessert)

500 g cherries
3 eggs
11⁄4 cup milk
1⁄2 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Pinch of salt

Icing sugar for decoration

Heat oven to 180 C. Butter a baking dish, wash and pit the cherries and arrange them in the buttered baking dish.

Put the milk and eggs in a bowl and mix well. Add flour, sugar, vanilla and salt. Stir well and pour the mixture over cherries.

Bake clafoutis until puffed and browned, about 45-60 minutes.

Sprinkle icing sugar on top and serve warm.