Ingredients, techniques & measurements

Here is a brief description of the ingredients and techniques as used in our recipes, followed by some brief explanatory notes about measurements.

Ingredients

Unless otherwise stated, the ingredients we use are as follows:

  • Olive oil – extra virgin olive oil.  The brand we use is Cobram Estate, now widely available in Australia, including well-priced 3 litre tins at supermarkets
  • Salt as an ingredient – salt flakes. We use Murray River gourmet salt flakes, available at numerous delicatessens and providores
  • Pepper – freshly ground black pepper
  • Parsley – Italian or flat-leafed parsley
  • Butter – unsalted butter (the quality is often better)
  • Stock – Campbell’s salt-reduced real stocks are excellent for home cooks
  • Mayonnaise – for more than 25 years, I have used only Norganic Golden Soya mayonnaise, available in health food stores and supermarket health food aisles
  • Milk and creams – for reasons of health and preference, we use fat-reduced creams and no-fat milk all the time; all the recipes work with less fat, some work better
  • Cheese – we mostly use Australian pecorino (rather than parmesan but suit yourself); imported Dodoni fetta; and local fresh (Shaw River) buffalo mozzarella, available at leading delis or, direct from the producer, at several farmers’ markets
  • Eggs – all recipes assume Extra Large eggs; one dozen of this size weighs 700g
  • Breadcrumbs – we make crumbs in a blender using pieces of sourdough bread

Techniques

  • Oven temperatures – all temperatures in our recipes are for a standard fan-forced oven. Most published recipes suggest that you heat your oven before preparing ingredients, which only makes sense if you can work as quickly as a qualified chef!
  • Garlic – there is usually no need to crush garlic; fine chopping or slicing is sufficient
  • Seasoning – everyone’s preference varies, so adjust to suit yourself; pasta, rice or potatoes in soups and casseroles absorb salt as they cook; pepper loses some of its bite when cooked in liquid for a long time, so I add it in the last 30 minutes
  • Slicing and dicing – dicing means to cut into rough cubes, small or otherwise; chunks are pieces of about 3-5 cm dimension; chopping means to slice then cut into small pieces
  • Simmering – it is much easier to simmer evenly if you use a simmer mat; we prefer to simmer slow braises in the oven at no hotter than 150C
  • Sautéed and fried – to sauté is to cook gently and slowly over low heat, which produces even, soft cooking and sweet flavours; frying involves heat and sizzle
  • Large pieces of meat – we take them out of the fridge up to 90 minutes before cooking
  • Browning meat on the bone – we brown pieces of chicken, lamb shanks, etc by roasting them gently in olive oil; the cooking is more even and you make less mess!

Measurements

The Australian measurement for 1 tablespoon (tbsp) differs from that used in most other parts of the world. Here, it is equivalent to 20ml – not 15 or 16 – or four teaspoons (tsp) of 5ml each. Whenever one of our recipes refers to so many tbsp of an ingredient it means a multiple of 20ml.

The size of a ‘cup’ in Australia is 250ml, not 227ml. S0. half a cup is 125ml, 60ml make a quarter of a cup and one third of a cup is 80ml

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