White Hat Cooking Tips
Four Simple Picnic Salads – No.1 Christmas Salad
Four Simple Picnic Salads – No.2 Creamy Smoked Trout Salad
REUSE – Reusing previously cooked food
White Hat’s Fried Rice
REDUCE – Reducing food waste by using all the edible bits
Four Simple Picnic Salads – No.3 Beetroot Salad
RECYCLE – Recycling food waste
Four Simple Picnic Salads – No.4 Vietnamese Salad
The White Hat Food Quiz
In the past few newsletters we have been looking at some the issues connected with the currently popular concept of SOLE food where the SOLE stands for Sustainable, Organic, Local and Ethical, so let us continue with that theme for a while with SUSTAINABLE food.
There has been some publicity recently about the amount of food wastage that occurs in the Western world. For instance there was an event in Trafalgar Square where 5,000 people received a free meal made from food that would normally be thrown away because it had been rejected by the supermarkets on aesthetic grounds or it was approaching its use-by date. It is estimated that in Britain alone over 5 million tons of edible food is thrown away each year and another 3 million tons that has just hasn’t been eaten before it goes off.
We at White Hat are among the worse culprits. Because we live within walking distance of the Queen Victoria Market food is relatively cheap and we are regularly finding things at the back of the fridge we had forgotten about. I think I can feel a New Year’s Resolution coming on.
I suppose that the key to reducing our food wastage comes down to the old adage – Reuse, Reduce, Recycle.
Reuse – food that has been cooked on a previous occasion and stop thinking of it as ‘leftovers’. Reduce - don’t overpurchase and make use of all the edible bits of what you buy Recycle – compost or otherwise responsibly recycle food scraps and peelings
More on these points later in the newsletter.
When boiling vegetables, start those that grew below the ground in cold water and start those that grew above the ground in boiling water.
Like any rules this has its exceptions, the chief one applying to baby vegetables of any variety which seem to work best going straight into boiling water.
The section of the newsletter can now be found at The White Hat Guide to the Presentation of Food.
No.1 - Christmas Salad
This isn’t so much a salad as a table decoration reflecting the rich red and green that dominates European Christmas decorations.
Chop two red and two green capsicums into small chunks – removing the stalk ribs and seeds and keeping them for vegetable stock) Place in a bowl and combine with the leaves and sprigs of most of a bunch of flat leaf parsley. That is your green component and much stronger than a woosy lettuce. Reserve the stalks for vegetable stock. Add half a punnet of cherry tomatoes which you have quartered. Not long before serving dress with a vinaigrette of oil, vinegar and mustard. Don’t overdress since this mixture won’t absorb the vinaigrette and the excess will just lie in the bottom of the bowl staring defiantly back up at you.
Toss then transfer to serving plate, maybe forming it into a mound. Top with several whole cherry tomatoes and sprigs of parsley in a ‘holly and ivy’ style. You may also wish to garnish with the chopped green parts of spring onions or chopped chives.
If you are using this salad on Christmas day you will find its still remains quite crunchy and zingy after a night in the fridge for a Boxing Day picnic.
During the year when the colour scheme may not be so important you can try adding yellow capsicum, thinly chopped chilli, thinly sliced red onion or just about anything that takes your fancy, It works as a good contrast barbecued meat.
Here are Dawn’s answers to our quiz on Soups
Please note: This section of the newsletter has been removed as it forms part of a forthcoming publication.
No. 2 - Creamy Smoked Trout
Into a bowl flake the flesh of a smoked trout. Chop a number of snow peas into bite size pieces and add them. Finely slice a small red onion and add, separating the discs out into individual ringlets. Add some capers or sliced caperberries.
About half an hour before serving add the creamy mixture and stir through. My preferred creamy mixture is half mayonnaise, half sour cream and lemon juice. Stir through fix mixture. Garnish with chopped chives if available. If you are preparing it in advance for a picnic you might want to keep the capers separate until you arrive at your destination otherwise they can dominate the whole mixture.
The simplest foods for reuse are hearty curries, rich stews and thick casseroles. These usually taste better when reheated the next day so all you need to do is reserve some garnish to brighten it up at the end and nobody is eating ‘second best’.
Certain traditions place great store on previously cooked food. An Italian or French cook is likely to look for previously cooked asparagus and other vegetables to use in a quiche or a frittata. Chinese prefer to use rice that was cooked the day before for fried rice. Maybe we should eliminate the word ‘leftovers’ from our vocabulary.
There is one simple practice that we have found makes reuse much easier. In the Anglo-Australian tradition, mother brought the individual plates to the table with their traditional meat, 3 veg and gravy. Afterwards and unpalatable sludge was left on certain unfinished plates which was then scraped into the bin. By placing individual bowls of ingredients in the centre of the table for everyone to help themselves in continental or Asian or Middle Eastern or, come to think of it, most traditions other than the Anglos-Celtic one, the unused portions are kept separate and much more suitable for reuse in another dish.
In coming newsletters we will include a number of our favourite recipes for leftovers – sorry, previously cooked foods.
This recipe can now be found at White Hat's Fried Rice.
In a previous newsletter we wrote a little piece about Fussy eaters harm the environment.
That mainly concentrated on carnivores eating only certain parts of the animal. However vegetarians are often equally complicit in discarding edible food. Carrot tops are perfectly edible and when snipped onto salads such as the Christmas salad above add a fresh green tang. Similarly they along with parsley stalks, onion peelings, and a whole range of other vegetable ‘waste’ can be used in vegetable stock. In coming newsletters we will look at the productive use of parts of vegetables that are often thrown away.
Another usage problem that Western society has created for itself is use-by dates. Well, it’s not so much a problem as the way they are regarded. Manufacturers are typically conservative in their dating. If the science says the product has a safe shelf life of four years, then it is safest to give ait a use-by date of three years. Add to that the manipulation of the advertising world. Any stay-at-home mum is bombarded by daytime television ads convincing her that she is not at all caring of her family and protecting them from all thus animated germs unless she nukes them with a concoction of chemicals that have been lovingly packaged in the convenient pink spray bottle with a reproduction of the animated germ on the back just to make sure you keep using it. Thus we have a generation of teenager who have been exposed to a range of chemicals but don’t have the immune system that would be built up by exposing them to everyday germs who are convinced that being asked to eat food at one minute past midnight after the three year use by date is up is the equivalent of being chained in the galleys and forced to eat mouldy bread crawling with cockroaches. It is no wonder that a lot of perfectly usable food gets thrown away.
No.3 - Beetroot Salad (two variants)
This section of the newsletter can now be found at The White Hat Guide to Beetroot.
Those who run chooks can feel pretty pleased with themselves since feeding the chooks with vegetable scraps and allowing them to cultivate and fertilise the soil is one of the most environmentally friendly solutions out there. Those who use compost bins and have a serious vegie garden are also entitled to feel pretty smug. But what about the city and inner suburban apartment dweller? They have done their bit in greatly reducing their carbon footprint by living in medium and high density housing close to their work but what about the recycling of their food waste? More in future newsletters.
No.4 - Vietnamese salad
Preparation method - Stop the car outside a Vietnamese take-away shop – not a restaurant but the type that has a bain-marie in the window (you will find plenty of them in Footscray, Richmond, Springvale, Cabramatta and various other places around Australia). Send your passenger in to purchase a Vietnamese salad. They will emerge with a plastic container of shredded stuff (possibly green paw-paw) The container will also include a small plastic bag of dressing to be added at the last minute plus possibly some crushed nuts and crumbled jerky. Just the stuff for a picnic and it only took you two minutes to prepare.
- In Australia the word barbecue or BBQ or barbie is well known and understood. In the first part of the 20th century it was likely to be known by another name. What name?
- If two young French Impressionist gentlemen invite a young lady to a picnic, what is the expected mode of attire for the young lady?
- What are some essential refreshments for a Sunday School Picnic?
- At one picnic venue in Victoria you may find yourself returning with less participants than you came with. Which venue is that?
- You settle down to your lone picnic and time of contemplation. Within a short time you feel a painful nip on the ankle. “Aha” you think “such a creature has been sent to remind me of the philosopher Schopenhauer's contemplations on the will to live. What creature is it?
- What is your favourite picnic dish?
No prizes – just glory and a warm inner glow.