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