Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Keftedes with Fasolakia (Meatballs with green beans in tomato sauce)

I found some delicious green beans and super fresh tomatoes in the markets in Bunbury. This inspired me to try to make Fasolakia. Fasolakia is a Greek dish of green beans cooked until delicious and sweet in tomatoes and onions. Lamb is a very Greek accompaniment - so we decided to buy lamb mince and make meatballs. The mint and the lemon in the keftedes are just fantastic and cut through the fattiness of the lamb.

2 small or one large brown onion, sliced
A large handful of green beans, top and tailed and cut into 5cm sections
About 8-10 small tomatoes, chopped into small wedges (use a 400g can of tomatoes if you cannot get very tasty fresh ones)
1 tbsp chopped parsley
A large pinch of dried Greek oregano
1-2 potatoes, sliced - optional
Salt and Pepper

Fry the onion over low heat in a generous amount of olive oil until soft. Add the beans, tomatoes, parsley, oregano, potato, salt and pepper and about 3/4 cup of water. Bring to a gentle simmer.

Simmer for about 45 minutes. The beans should be very soft and the sauce thick and sweet. The sauce may seem oily - this is how it is meant to be. Adjust the oil next time to suit your taste.

750g lamb mince - try to find mince that is not too fatty
1 egg
2 tbsp chopped mint
1/2 tbsp chopped parsley
zest of 1/2 a lemon
Salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients together well. Knead lightly - this changes the protein of the mint and allows it to bind better. Shape into patties.

Cook gently on a griddle pan until just cooked - they should still be slightly pink in the middle. If overcooked they may become dry.

Serve the keftedes on top of the fasolakia with a squeeze of lemon and some crusty bread.

This would also be nice with a dollop of thick Greek yoghurt or tzatziki on top.

Chicken Stock

It is always nice to make your own stock for things like soup and risottos. It only takes a few minutes of preparation and then you can just leave it to bubble away on the stove. It is cheaper, more delicious and more healthy than store-bought stock so definitely worth the effort. Ask your butcher for chicken carcasses - they should only cost about $1 each. We always have onions in the cupboard and parsley and carrots in the garden. All we need to pick up is a couple of sticks of celery and the chicken - so cheap and easy. Just remember that this stock is not salty like the commercial ones so you may need to adjust your seasoning.

2-3 chicken carcasses
A few sticks of celery
A couple of carrots
2 onions, cut in half - I don't even bother to peel them
A large handful of parsley stalks and leaves
A turnip cut in half - optional
1-2 bay leaves
Sprinkle of peppercorns

Put all ingredients into a large pot. Cover with water. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 mins to 2 hours depending on how long you have. While it is simmering some people like to skim the surface to remove any scum - I don't bother most of the time and haven't noticed any bad effect. Strain the mixture. You can squash the veg and add them back to the stock if you want extra body and flavour. Usually I eat the carrots for a snack- they are delicious! Skim the fat off the top - or even easier refrigerate it overnight and the fat will solidify on top for easy removal.

Soupy Tomato and Meatball Risotto

This is a really easy and tasty risotto. It doesn't require stirring. The result is a cross between a soup and a stew. I love it tending more towards soup so are quite heavy-handed with the stock. For something like this I think it is best to make your own chicken stock or use a very high quality bought stock.

500g good quality beef/pork sausages or meatballs - raw, we used italian style meatballs
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs butter
1 onion, sliced
250g arborio rice
125mL white wine
1.25L - 1.5L chicken stock
400g can chopped tomatoes - we used the equivalent in fresh tomatoes which was delicious
4 tbsp chopped basil leaves
2 tbsp chopped parsley leaves
Fresh parmesan cheese - to serve

First you need to make your meatballs. We made nice little delicate ones about the size of a cherry but you can make them however you prefer. Squeeze the meat out of the sausages or section up your meatballs to the desired size and roll up. Frequently wetting your hands with water stops the meat sticking.

Heat 1tbsp of the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat (this is the pan that the risotto will end up in so make sure it is big enough - a non-stick pan makes this job much easier). Fry the meatballs in batches until golden brown on all surfaces. Don't worry if they are still rare in the middle - they cook for more time later. Remove all the meatballs and set aside. If the pan has black bits in it give it a wipe out with a paper towel. Pour out excess oil.

Lower the heat and add remaining 1 tbsp oil and butter to pan. Gently fry the onion until soft but not brown. Add the rice and cook for 1-2 minutes to coat in oil and get a bit toasted. Deglaze the pan with the wine and scrape up any bits from cooking the meatballs. When the wine has almost been absorbed add 1.25L of the stock, the tomatoes and half of the herbs. Bring to the boil. Simmer covered over low heat for about 10 minutes or until the rice is almost cooked.

Return the meatballs to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the rice is al dente. Adjust the consistency of the risotto to taste with extra chicken stock. Stir in the remaining herbs and season with salt and pepper.

Serve with a nice crusty bread, a green salad and lots of freshly grated parmesan on top.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Surgery in Bunbury and Bridgetown

Two weeks of surgery...not really my ideal way to spend my options but entirely necessary considering we have a surgery exam in a month and have had no surgery experience yet.

Staying with 2nd cousin Justin Johnston + wife Brodie +/- adult children Gray and Angus. I have only met them once - 5 years ago and cannot remember them. Slightly scary!

Outcome - delicious food
Trip to Bridgetown - saw Di and the old Blackwood house (see photos of surrounding countryside - magnificent)
Surgery - great for learning but I still don't want to be a surgeon
Maybe an anaesthetist (note - it is not pronounced anae - the - tist - .... it is anaeSSS- the - tist)
Apparently I was Justin's 'good luck' charm - we saw lots of pathology when I was around - mostly cancer.
I saw: diverticulosis, inguinal hernia, incisional hernia, umbilical hernia, appendicitis, cholecystitis, haemorrhoids, piles, varicose veins, goitre, GORD + Schatzki's ring, ulcers - gastric and duodenal, bowel cancer, diabetic foot ulcer, pyelonidal sinus and abscess, rectal prolapse, thyroidectomy, colonoscopy, gastroscopy, sebaceous cyst, carpal tunnel syndrome, divariate rectus muscle.

I intubated two people with help from the anaesthetist
I learnt to cannulate

Willy wagtail

Willy lives in mum's front yard. He was dancing with us. So cute!

Honey doesn't like wearing her glasses

Date and Lemon Scones - Courtesy of Masterchef

I saw these on the masterclass of masterchef 09. They looked delicious and easy.
As it turns out - they are better than expected! The lemony tang is amazing. Great warm spread with butter.

150ml-175ml milk
150ml cream
1 egg
3 cups self-raising flour
2 tbs caster sugar
1 cup chopped, dried dates (it is really easy to chop them with scissors!)
Finely grated rind 1 lemon
Cream & jam, to serve

1. Preheat oven 200°C fan forced. Grease and flour a baking tray.

2. Whisk 150ml milk, cream and egg together until well combined. Combine flour, sugar, dates and lemon rind in a large bowl. Add milk mixture and stir gently to a soft dough, adding remaining milk if necessary. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead very gently until dough comes together.

3. Press dough out to 2cm-thick. Break the dough into about 12 pieces then place into the tray. Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake 12-15 minutes until golden and well risen.

Serve hot with jam and cream.

Hail in winter time

Just one week before the beautiful sunny day at 20C we had massive hail storms...

Sunny winter weather

Sunshine in winter - we must enjoy it! Honey must be dragged out of her basket to enjoy the outside warmth instead of our heater inside.
There were no doggy friends at the park at mid-day - however she managed to entertain herself with a hop, skip and a bark.


Recipe from Food Safari - Fantastic!!
This is one of the most beautiful soups you can imagine - the pink of the beetroots is amazing. It is also really delicious

1 kg beetroot, topped and tailed
Juice of 1 lemon
2 litres of chicken stock
3 small potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 large bunch of fresh dill roughly chopped,
3-4 cups water
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
Sour cream or yoghurt (about 1 dessertspoonful per person)

Peel the beetroots and place them whole into a large pot. Pour over the juice of half a lemon and add water (or stock) to cover. Place the pot over a medium heat and cook for 40 minutes until the beetroot is tender. The beetroot is cooked when the flesh is tender enough for a knife to cut through to the other side without getting stuck.

Remove the beetroot from the liquid and cut into small pieces.

Put the cut beetroot into a large saucepan with the potato, onion and dill. Add sugar and juice of lemon to taste. Season with freshly ground pepper and salt and add three to four cups of water.

Cover and return to the stove. Bring to the boil then simmer for 20-30 mins.

Blend the mixture. Taste again and adjust to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

To serve
Chill until icy cold and serve with a spoonful of sour cream and a sprinkling of dill, or serve hot with a steaming hot boiled potato added to each person’s bowl.

Crusty bread is a must

We ate it hot with sour cream for dinner - fantastic

cold with sour cream for lunch - almost better

Beware of beetroot stains on your clothes!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Mum and Dad

Lunch at Bistro Moncur in Sydney during dad's judge school.
Looking quietly content after finishing a delcious - perhaps a little
stuffy an pretentious - meal. Suggestion - cut out all the french blab
in the menu and keep the same flavours.

Funny faces #2

Funny faces

My new hospital study home

Two weeks of medical oncology at charlies in nedlands.
Never been here before. The only hospital experience I have had is 
kalgoorlie regional hospital.
Now I can rejoice in the wonder of a proper tertiary care hospital. 
Ward G73 - the oncology/haematology ward is bigger than the whole 
adult in-patient population at KRH. So exciting, so much to see, so 
many people everywhere.

Medical oncology - so-so.
Radiation oncology - very interesting. Lots of maths, physics, the kind of stuff that I love.
Interesting things about the hospital - the staff - where do they all come from? How or why does someone decide to do a four year undergraduate course in radiation therapy to become a radiation therapist? Do young people studying physics at uni do it with the intention of working in the radiation oncology unit? The hospital team is vast and extends far beyond the doctors and nurses.

Things I have loved -
watching brachytherapy (very gory and scary) - seriously amazing technology
Hanging around the ward
Multidisciplinay meetings - mdms
Seeing patients by myself in radiation oncology clinic

Not so fun -
Medical oncology clinics
Eating lunch all by myself