Friday, December 31, 2010

Chickpea Curry

Here is another delicious curry to share with you.
I have three Chickpea Curries I make often, and another couple to try if I fancy them!
In some ways this is the most inappropriate one to share because it includes ingredients like asafoetida, tamarind and chaat masala, that aren't so well known in the West. But O it is a delicious curry. The first time I made it I wrote 'Such yummy sauce!' beside the recipe in my book.

Also, this is the one I made recently, so I have a photo! And another good thing to share is that I froze half of it, and it defrosted and warmed up scrumptiously. This makes it precious in my household where there is only me to feed!

It is also good to consider what a treat it might be on a YamDaisy Menu, a delicious curry that you might not make yourself, but would be delighted to eat every time it is served at the YamDaisy Cafe.

CHANA MASALA (That pretty well means Chick Pea Curry!)

250g chickpeas, soak and cook, reserving liquid (= 2 cans of chickpeas)
2 tsp tamarind paste soaked in hot water and when cool put through a sieve to get a thick puree

Roughly chop and then blend to a paste:
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves,
2-3 cm fresh ginger
1 green chili
Now heat 2/3 cup of oil and gently fry the onion mixture until golden brown

1 tbsp ground cumin,
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp chili powder
a pinch of asafoetida
stir for a minute, and then take the pan off the heat and carefully add
2 tbsp of thick yoghurt,

1 tbsp garam masala,
stir until it is completely mixed in and then back on the heat gradually add
3 cups of reserved water from cooking the chickpeas (or just water!) and bring to a simmer

Add the tamarind paste,
the chickpeas
half a lemon (the whole thing, not just the juice!)
3 green chillies (also whole)
Simmer 30 minutes and remove the lemon. If the sauce isn't thick, keep simmering until it is.

Stir in
2 tsp chaat masala
1/4 tsp garam masala

I have adapted the recipe from a book called "Food of India" and this day I served it with rice, beans (a favourite lately!), chopped tomatoes and lots of fresh coriander. Absolutely delicious!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Curried Peas and Cheese

I found this recipe so many years ago that Charmaine Solomon knew Australians would generally have no idea what paneer is, so she made use of ricotta to make the cheese that goes with the peas.
This was the first curry recipe I made that wasn't bought curried powder fried up and turned into a vegetable stew with a few sultanas thrown in (this might give you a good idea of how old I am!!!!).

I loved this recipe so much, and I still get the same pleasure every time I make it. While most of my cooking has become more authentic as I have learned about Indian food and ingredients, and I can buy paneer at my local shops, I still make this recipe in the same way. It is just such a delicious dish. If you want to get more authentic, look up Muttar Paneer, but maybe you will love this recipe too!

Cheese and Peas
250g ricotta, drain on paper towels, form into small balls.
Heat 1 tbsp ghee and 1 tbsp oil together and fry the ricotta balls til golden.
Lift out and drain on paper towels while you do the next steps.

In the same pan fry
2 finely chopped onions,
2 crushed garlic cloves
2 tsp of grated ginger
until soft and golden.

Then add
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne powder (optional)
cook stirring for a minute

2 firm ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp garam masala
stir in and cook until the tomatoes are mushy

750g shelled peas
cover and cook until almost tender (add a little water if too dry, but it should be right)

Add the ricotta balls and
1tbsp of chopped coriander leaves and
salt to taste
Cover and cook gently 10 minutes more

Sprinkle with another 1/2 tsp garam masala
and one more tbsp of chopped coriander leaves
and serve hot with rice or chapatis

and in my case with some strips of red capsicum!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dal Makhani

When I come up with YamDaisy menus (for more info see here),  I try to make sure the soup and each of the main meals are quite different to each other ~ if one is dairy based, another will be dairy free, if one is spicy, the others won't be, and so on.

But I am having a little break from posting menus and thought I might do a little celebration of Indian dishes. I am thinking of how popular curry is as a meal and that maybe, in some areas, the YamDaisy Cafe would have customers who want curries on the menu all the time!

My last post was a delicious spiced vegetable curry, this one is a dal, and maybe the most comforting dal of all. Dals are cooked beans or lentil dishes and are the delicious, nutritious foods the YamDaisy Cafe is all about.

Dal Makhani is quite a rich dal, but balances out when served with rice and a fresh salad of tomato, cucumber and avocado. It is a bit of a procedure, but what a dish! It is made with a mixture of beans and lentils, and it took me a while to get this recipe just the way I like it. That is because I am not that fond of urad dal ~ it doesn't cook to the creamy softness of other pulses, but that does mean it gives this dal a bit of back bone, which is why it is such a classic. I do put less urad dal than some recipes, but I find this ratio perfect!


Place 1/4 cup split urad dal and 3/4 cup black or red kidney beans in a bowl and cover with water and leave to soak over night
In the morning rinse 1/2 a cup of channa dal and put to soak for an hour.

Next put the urad and black beans in a pan with water to cover by a couple of centimetres. Bring to the boil and boil hard for 10 minutes. I have a tea ball that I fill with 6 cardamom pods, 4 cloves and a piece of cinnamon bark that I let boil along with the pulses. This adds a depth of flavour.

After the 10 minutes, remove the spiceball if you have put it in, and add the chana dal. Bring back to the boil and remove any scum foam. If I have removed the scum, and add a little oil, I find I can then pressure cook the pulses for 15 minutes, but you need to be sure of your cooker, most pressure cookers warn against cooking lentils under pressure.
It would probably take an hour and a half of simmering to cook in a saucepan. Stir occasionally and top up with water as necessary.
When they are cooked you can squish them with a wooden spoon to make a thick mash with each pulse giving its own texture.

Next stir in a big tablespoon of butter and a big tablespoon of cream and season with salt to taste. Then stir in a tin of diced tomatoes (or equivalent fresh if you are so lucky) and keep the pot on gentle heat while you fry the tarka.

Now heat a tablespoon of oil or ghee in a small frypan. Have all these 'tarka' ingredients ready to add in.
Add a tsp of cumin seeds and fry til crackling
Then add four finely chopped garlic cloves, and as they fry add a small finely chopped onion and fry til golden brown
Next add 2 sliced fresh chillies and 2 tsp of chili powder ~ you can add less ofcourse, but the cream softens the chili heat, so it can be surprising how much this dal needs
Add a tsp of turmeric powder and let it sizzle for another minute and then stir it all into the pulses.

You can finish it off with a tsp of cream in a swirl, and some chopped coriander.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mixed Vegetable Curry

This delicious curry has been sitting in my files for several years. It comes from Margaret Fulton, one of Australia's National Living Treasures and Super Foodie.

I gave it a try because of the beans I had bought. These were lovely fresh green beans, but cheaper because they had been mechanically harvested, and this meant they would not keep as long. So I made up a big curry of veggies and then ate it in all sorts of lovely ways until it had gone. It is so easy and tasty! I must have had it with four or five meals and still wasn't sick of it.

It would be a great YamDaisy recipe!

It kept well in the fridge and warmed up to deliciousness on the following days.

I used corn chopped into pieces instead of the cauliflower in the recipe, chard from my garden instead of spinach, and the only other change I made was to use 1/3 cup of oil instead of 1/2 a cup, which was plenty.
O and I cooked it in the wok instead of a large saucepan. Now you know you can change those things back if you want!

1/3 cup of oil ~ heat in a wok and add
1 tbsp fresh grated turmeric (or 2 tsp ground)
6 - 8 curry leaves
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cm grated ginger
pinch chili powder (cayenne)
Fry for a minute or two

Then add
2 fresh corn cobs sliced into rounds
250g green beans in short lengths
1 carrot finely sliced
And fry over medium heat until half cooked but still crispish

6 chard leaves torn into pieces
And fry for about 5 minutes

Then season with salt, cover, and cook on low heat for 2 - 3 minutes. 
There is enough steam for the veggies to cook to perfection.

Isn't it easy! If you don't have curry leaves you could just make it without.
In the picture you can see it served with brown rice and a crispy fish fillet, but it is hard to think of something it wouldn't go with!

Yum, I will be making it again soon!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Catch Up and Thanks

I am very grateful to the lovely people who have left such kind notes on my blog. I haven't posted for a couple of months because I have had to prioritise my health.... it hasn't been too bad, but there has been one thing after another! I can't tell you how nice it has been to check my blog and find good wishes there.
Things are still a bit tricky in my life, but I am hoping I will ease right back into my posts and my YamDaisy project ~ there is so much I want to do.

My way of easing back and catching up is via two blog awards I have been given (in spite of not posting! How cool!)

The first is from Jutta the Happy Valley Cook Thankyou Jutta! Goodness there are two!

Her awards ask me to:
1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded this to you.
2. Share 8 things about yourself.
3. Pay it forward to 15 recently discovered great blogs.
4. Contact those bloggers and let them know about their award.
The second is from Michael Toa at Me, My Food and I  Thankyou Michael!

His Award asks me:
1. When did you learn to cook?
2. Name three things that are always in your fridge.
3. Do you have any food guilty pleasures?
4. Tell us about your most memorable meal...
5. What is your drink of choice?

When you received this, you can set up your own questions and pass it on to other bloggers of your choice.  I look forward to reading your answers.

So here goes.

Thanks and links done!
8 Things about myself: (making them up as I go along)

I am Joy by name and Joy by nature!

The picture at the top of this post is precious to me. It was painted by two women artists living at Alekarenge in Central Australia, where I was a teacher. It is about women catching ants that are good to eat. The horseshoe shapes are the women sitting down. The doughnut shapes are the ant holes, and the bar shapes are the coolamons that had hot ash in them to cook the ants as they were dug out. The wiggly background is the little birds jumping around eating the flying ants which has let the women know they are ready to catch. 

I have a grown up daughter which is so exciting. That little baby that grew in my belly is out making her own life and it is full of wonders!

I learn from my mistakes (eventually, wink!), which is a big relief because I make them all the time!

Living with Chronic Illness, has intensified my life.  It has been one of the best possible reality checks, and reality is a great thing to have in my life!

I love to create! Textiles are my favourite and I knit and am learning sewing, very practical! I write when I can and SO want to get my stories done! I also love to draw.

I am a social justice fighter and in my working life I chose causes and situations where I thought I could do good. (I always seemed to get more out than I put in though! ~ thanks to wonderful people everywhere!). Now my passionate cause is my own YamDaisy Project.

I love our Mother Earth! 

1. When did you learn to cook?
I chose to be vegetarian as a teenager and I had to learn to cook vegetarian food! My passion grew as I discovered World cuisines. But my focus on excellence developed after my friend Carole made the most wonderful soup for me when I was ill. It was out of the world, and it raised the stakes for ever more!

2. Name three things that are always in your fridge.
Milk, home made chili/onion paste, bakers yeast.

3. Do you have any food guilty pleasures?
Tim tams, Lindt and cashews! I have pretty much given up chocolate... but Ooo those cashews! Yum!

4. Tell us about your most memorable meal...
Drinking red wine with friends at sunset on top of a huge rock outcrop in Kakadu National Park after climbing up through the wonderful rock art galleries. (Red wine is a meal, right?)

5. What is your drink of choice?
Coffee with milk. Thankyou little Napoletana pot that means I can have it every day!

Now my big apology, I am not able to pay these awards forward at the moment. But I am hoping to do so before too long! I haven't been discovering new blogs, but I have some very dear ones. Let me see how I go for a bit, and then I will act!

Next Post: Food!

Sunday, September 19, 2010


This is the lovely dessert from my Meatless Monday Menu.

It is a milk pudding made with rice flour and almonds and scented with rose water. I knew it first at the wonderful Turkish restaurant that flourished in Bendigo when I lived there in the 80's and 90's. We went there often and this was always my dessert.

I found a recipe some years ago, (Tess Mallos, Middle Eastern Home cooking, she found it in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan) but I have only now managed to make it.
I changed her recipe to strain out the almond meal, which gives the smooth beautiful texture of the dessert I remember.

Traditionally served with pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top, I found it goes beautifully with raspberries and would work with many other fruits.

3 cups milk
3/4 cup ground almonds
Mix and bring gently to the boil. Leave to cool a little and squeeze out as much liquid as you can through muslin.
Bring the milk back to heat and add:
1/4 cup of rice flour blended with 1/4 cup of milk
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup castor sugar
Stir over a medium heat until bubbling gently. Let it cook for a few minutes. Keep stirring so it doesn't stick.
Remove from heat.
Stir in 1 tbsp of rosewater.

Pour into a bowl or bowls. I wet the little bowls so that it could tip out, (that is how it was served in my Turkish Restaurant) but it works fine to serve it set in bowls or spooned out from a large one. Let it get cold in the fridge before you serve it though! It is so delicate and delicious! Enjoy!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Egg Noodles with Cabbage, Mushroom, and fried Tempeh

Here is the next dish of my Meatless Monday Menu (finally!).
I love this quick dish and am pleased too because for many years most of my attempts at a quick wok meal tuned into sog ~ and I was doing SO many things wrong that it took a long time to sort it out and a miracle that I didn't give up in disgust part way through! Well, to tell the truth I did give up: but then I would gradually come around to another try.

I got this right thanks to a little Vegetarian Chinese Recipe Book I found in a supermarket many years ago, and I follow the same basic process of soaking then draining the egg noodles and giving them a fry, setting them aside and frying the vegetables and then adding the noodles and the dressing. Now I have got it, within that formula I vary just about everything!

This meal includes tempeh which I dice and then fry until crisp. So easy and such a lovely savoury taste and crisp texture to add to the mix.

Here is everything ready to go:
I kept most of the flavour in the sauce (soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine, chili paste, cornflour, sugar, orange juice) so the rest was extremely simple. I fried garlic, ginger and spring onion, and then the cabbage, adding the mushrooms and noodles when it was cooked and then poured over the dressing and stirred so it was hot and a little thick and shiny, served with the tempeh on top.

This is a life saver of a recipe because it has comfort and zing all in one plate!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Moroccan Meal

Here is that Moroccan dish again! (see here for the original post).

It consists of a Moroccan/Syrian bean dish I got from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. (Fabulous book!) with Moroccan carrot salad and couscous flavoured with preserved lemon and currants.

The recipe I am giving here is the bean dish. It is very yum, so I hope you try it
The carrot salad was delicious ~ eventually. I was disappointed with my recipe, but by the time I had done a lot of fiddling it was good, and I think next time I might make a beautiful salad straight off. I will post it when I perfect it!  But to give you an idea: garlic is fried, then the carrots and spices are added and gently cooked and then a sweet and acid dressing finishes it off.

I just made my usual couscous, but added some currants and finely chopped preserved lemon to make it more exciting.

225g /8oz black-eyed beans just cooked (I use one cupful cooked 8 mins in the pressure cooker), keep one cup or so of the cooking liquid.
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil on medium in a pan
Add a dried chili and let it puff up and turn dark
Add 3 finely chopped garlic cloves and stir.
Add the beans, liquid and:
3 bay leaves
1 tsp chopped oregano
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp salt
Simmer gently for 20 minutes. The liquid will have reduced to a sauce. Serve hot.

I have been very flexible with the herbs, adding whatever I have on hand. One time I added heaps of spinach and that was good too. Today I added spring onion and parsley as well as oregano and thyme.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sorrel Soup

This is the soup selection for my Meatless Monday Menu for the YamDaisy Cafe.

I was so inspired (about 15 years ago!), by Jane Grigson writing about Sorrel Soup that I went out and bought a plant, and I have been growing it ever since, in a big pot right near the door. She spoke of the French country housewife with such a pot, and able to whip up this soup if a visitor called unexpectedly.
I have never lost the pleasurable feeling of this scene, even though I didn't particularly enjoy my first few attempts at sorrel soup.

Here is my sorrel. Snails love it, as you can see, but it is still a gorgeous pot full!

Sorrel tastes just wonderful, it is a bit like spinach but with a sharp lemony flavour. It does go grey when it is cooked, but it doesn't taste grey. The first sorrel soups I tried were blended, and it wasn't until I saw one in a book called Potager by Georgeanne Brennan that I was able to make a version that is just perfect for me!

This is the recipe of how I make it for that unexpected visitor and myself!

1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp butter, heated in a saucepan
Add a finely chopped small onion, or 1/2 a leek and
1 potato (a yellow fleshed one is my preference for this) in 1 cm dice
(like the littlest blocks in the cuisinaire we used at school!)

Saute until glistening 5 - 10 minutes
Add 2 cups of vegetable stock and simmer
In the meantime cut the stems off 6 - 8 leaves of sorrel and then roll them up and slice them finely.
Add half the leaves just a few minutes before the potato is tender, and season with salt and pepper.
When the potato is cooked, stir in the rest of the sorrel and serve.
This way you get the green of the sorrel, and it is tender enough to melt into the soup.

I often make this when there is nothing in the house but a potato, and onion and a bit of stock!
If I don't have that unexpected visitor I think I will have a bowl and then keep the rest for later. But I never do, I always have a second bowl straight away, because it is so lovely!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Meatless Monday Menu

In my dream of YamDaisy Cafes in every neighbourhood, providing delicious, everyday food, the manager/chef will have as much leeway as possible to make the cafe suit the community and fulfil its mission.
One possibility would be to take on 'Meat Free Monday'
This is how it is descibed in the Wikipedia link:
Meatless Monday is an international campaign that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet. Reducing meat consumption by 15% (the equivalent of one day a week) lessens the risk of chronic preventable illness and has a strong impact on the environment.

It is a good fit for the YamDaisy Cafe. Many people want to eat more healthily, want to do better by the environment, may even have their doctor telling them to cut down on meat ~ but they may have no idea how to go about it. A local YamDaisy Cafe could make it all easy: here is the meatless meal, cooked beautifully. The recipe could be in the YamDaisy Magazine or available on the phone app. The chef is there to give advice.

Even the meat eater who is scared of vegetarian meals can come and have a nibble and become familiar with the variety of things, and maybe find some meatless foods they like.

So here is the Meatless Monday Menu
Soup: Sorrel and Potato Soup with Bread and Butter
Main 1: Moroccan Meal of Black-eyed Beans and Carrot Salad accompanied by Couscous made with Currants and Preserved Lemon.
Main 2: Egg Noodles with Cabbage, Mushroom, and fried Tempeh
Dessert: Muhallabia with Raspberries

In coming days (health permitting) I will put these up in full because they are all so yummy! The Moroccan dish is pictured at the top and here is the Muhallabia!

Cheers everyone!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The ABC for the YamDaisy Cafe

I am beginning to think that there isn't one person who wouldn't find a YamDaisy Cafe useful sometime! But I began this list to show the times where making good meals at home can be just too hard.
I put them up on the YamDaisy Cafe facebook page, but here they are, all together. I expect you can think of more!

Mr A has been diagnosed with Diabetes, he is really confused by the diet. He would love a YamDaisy Café so that he could eat there, the chef will help him find meals he likes, and he can grab some takeaway when he needs to.

Mrs B needs a YamDaisy cafe. Her mum is in hospital, her work is busy, her sisters family is down to see the mum in hospital and two of her kids have allergies, they all need sustaining home style food!

Ms C is a single mum. Life is chaos with 2 young children and study and part time work. She needs the YamDaisy cafe for an early family tea a couple of times a week, and some takeaway available to make the day easier but still to have delicious healthy family food.

Mark D is recovering from radiation therapy and trying to get back to work. He needs the Yam Daisy cafe so he can drop in on the way home and pick up a good meal that will help him recover his health by its good nutrition and by making life so much easier.

Ms E wants a YamDaisy Cafe. She picks up a frozen packaged meal twice a week to take to her housebound neighbour, but it isn't the delicious fresh cooked food YamDaisy would provide.

Mr F is lying in hospital dispairing about hospital food and thinking what a good idea it would be for a YamDaisy Cafe to open in every hospital.

Lindy G wants a YamDaisy Cafe. She is 14 but her mum has MS so she has to do the cooking. She knows her mum needs good meals and her mum says Lindy needs good meals. They don't like the local Meals on Wheels more than once a week. They really need the YD café.

Dr H would love to recommend her diabetes patients to a YamDaisy Cafe. They could walk there and eat well: diet and exercise just like that! This week is National Diabetes week.

The I family want a once a week no cooking, no washing up delicious seasonal meal they can afford. No junk food. Bring on the YamDaisy Cafe!

Mr J looks after his kids every weekend, but he finds it hard to cook for them. He wishes there was a YamDaisy Cafe to take them to.

Sue K has been homeless for 5 months. She has just got a flat and is working hard to manage her new life. She wants a YamDaisy Cafe for good meals and to feel part of her community.

Tim L is perfectly healthy and not a bad cook, but with his new job and sports commitments he would like to get meals from YamDaisy a few times a week to make life manageable.

M is moving out of home. Her parents would be so relieved if there was a YamDaisy Cafe nearby.

N has moved to a new address and is gradually working out how to negotiate everywhere with his wheelchair. He would like a YD cafe to just make life a bit easier!

Ambulance driver O has long difficult shifts and organising meals is difficult. She wishes for YamDasiy Cafes so she can get a good meal when she needs it.

P has broken her arm. Everything is hard. O for a YamDaisy Cafe down the road!

Quentin is moving to independent living after five decades of institutions. He would like to eat at a YamDaisy Cafe every day.

Ms R is learning to cook. She finds help and inspiration and a welcome day off at the YamDaisy Cafe!

S has just begun night shift and the hours are making everything hard. He wants a YamDaisy cafe to make good meals easy while he settles in.

T has 4 children and is a great cook, but just one night a week she wants a break and regular dinner at a YamDaisy Cafe would be perfect!

Jen U is organising help for her neighbour who has had a tragedy in the family. She would love to bring them food from a YamDaisy Cafe.

V is looking for work! It takes longer and is more stressful than working full time! She would like a YamDaisy Cafe to get her meals from during this hard time!

W is looking after his elderly mother. He needs a YamDaisy Cafe to help them eat good food every day.

X burnt the rice and then dropped the casserole on the floor. She wishes a YamDaisy Cafe was there for emergencies!

Y can't cook, and has no interest to learn. But he would like to eat well on his small income. He would like a YamDaisy Cafe nearby.

Z is isolated, not exercising, and eating poorly. A walk to a YamDaisy Cafe each day, to eat good food and be with other people, would be the perfect solution.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Lentil Soup and Toasted Onion Bread

This simple soup came out of a botched recipe that left me with some red lentils being cooked in vegetable stock and, strangely, some burgul wheat, finely chopped onion and flour mixed into a slurry. Intrigued?
I will try that recipe again very soon, and let you know all about it!

In the meantime I had some cooking to do, and luckily I had my kitchen mojo and popped the slurry in with some flour, with yeast and salt and a little oil and mixed it up to a lovely dough. I gave it a long slow rise and let it turn into this delicious loaf. The burgul gives it an added toastiness and the onion a sweet savouriness (if you know what I mean!)

The soup was easy ~ I had carrot, zucchini, corn and tomato, so I chopped them up and added them in. I fried red capsicum, onion and garlic with a little chili paste, and popped that in too. Salt and lemon juice finished it all off.

And there it is, the warmest, tastiest simplest lunch.

YamDaisy food!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pear and Raspberry Almond Crumble

Pear and Raspberry Crumble! YUM!
Ofcourse it would be delicious! My friend Lin had made it the week before, and since I was conveniently shopping at the greengrocers with her when she told me, I immediately bought 3 big beurre bosc pears, those brown skinned ones that are so easy to cook with.

I peeled and cored them and stewed them with a little orange juice and a sprinkle of brown sugar. Then into the pie plate and topped with frozen raspberries.

I made the crumble topping by melting 50g of butter (pyrex jug in the microwave) and adding in:
1/2 cup flaked almonds
1/4 cup plain flour
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp freshly ground cinnamon
Mixed up and sprinkled over the top and then into a moderate oven until golden ~ I let mine go for twenty minutes.

And then this!

Fruit based, seasonal (sneaking in the raspberries), delicious dessert!
As I said at the start: YUM!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Yiota's Summer Menu Part 2

Yiota's Menu
Soup: Potato Soup with Fresh Thyme
Main 1: Chicken and Diced Vegetables Gratin
Main 2: Vegetarian Pastitsio
Fruit Dessert: Cherry Pie

Vegetarian Pastitsio
I was so excited to make the pastitsio and share it with you. When I first read Yiota's menu I had no idea what pastitsio was, although when I saw pictures I realised I had seen it before:
It seemed a perfect dish to make into a vegetarian version and I made a big vegetable sauce that my food processor makes very simple. I roughly chopped up 2 onions, 2 garlic cloves, 4 small apples, a zucchini, and 2 red peppers and 6 dried tomatoes that had been soaked and then chopped. I minced them with the steel blade of my food processor and put them in a big pot with heated olive oil (about 4 tbsps).
While they began cooking I put the grater attachment on my foodprocessor and grated 3 carrots and 4 celery stalks and added them to the mix.
Next goes in 2  400g tins of diced tomatoes and a teaspoon of salt, and then the whole big potful needs to simmer for about three hours. For the last hour I added 500g of chopped mushrooms. Once it was simmering happily I put the heat diffuser under it and only had to give it a stir now and then. It ends up so thick and soft and tasty! I added a little freshly ground cinnamon right at the end, and it really added a magic touch to the whole dish.

I had a couple of serendipitous events. My good friend Lin said out of the blue that she had made pastitsio the weekend before, and how wonderful it was. So I told her that it was on Yiota's menu and she sent me her recipe.
Also Mary at One Perfect Bite posted a recipe. She wasn't completely happy with hers, so I concentrated even harder on making this a good one!

Apart from the sauce, I followed the recipe Lin gave me:

PASTITSIO  (Serves 10)
Olive oil to grease
2tbs dried (packaged) breadcrumbs
1 x 500g Mini Penne Rigate pasta
2tbs olive oil
1kg beef mince
1 brown onion, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 x 400g bottles passata (tomato pasta sauce)
80ml (1/3) cup plain flour
1tsp ground cinnamon
70g (1 cup) shredded parmesan
80g butter
50g (1/3cup) plain flour
1l (4cups) milk
4 eggs, lightly whisked

Preheat oven to 180c. Brush a 6.5cm-deep, 26 x 33cm (base measurement) ovenproof dish with oil to grease. Add the breadcrumbs and shake to coat.
Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and return to the pan.
Meanwhile, heat half the oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  Add half the mince and cook, stirring, for 3-4 mins or until mince changes colour.  Transfer to a heatproof bowl.  Repeat with the remaining mince.
Heat the remaining oil in the pan and add the onion and garlic.  Cook stirring, for 5 mins or until the onion is soft. Add the mince, passata, water and cinnamon and cook, stirring, for 5-8 mins or until the sauce thickens slightly.
To make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until foaming.  Add flour and cook, stirring for 1 min or until the mixture bubbles. Remove from heat and gradually add the milk, stirring constantly until smooth. Place the pan over a medium heat and cook stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and whisk in the egg.  Season with salt and pepper
Add 310ml (1 ¼ cups) of the béchamel sauce to the pasta and stir until well combined.  Place half the pasta mixture in the prepared dish.  Spoon over the mince mixture. Top with the remaining pasta mixture.  Spread the remaining béchamel sauce over the top.  Sprinkle with parmesan. Bake for 45-50 mins or until golden.  Serve.

I wished I had just one more centimeter in the tray as I was scared to put all the sauce in! Next time I will put less pasta on the bottom level so that more sauce can sink in to it (is this a good idea pastitsio makers?) But for my first effort I need to serve it with some added sauce that I didn't fit in! Making the bechamel and mixing it into the pasta worked really well.
But let us pretend I got the ratios right and serve it here with some lovely braised green beans for the YamDaisy cafe!

Cherry Pie
O yum! How much the short cherry season is loved around the world! It will come to Melbourne in November. I think the YamDaisy Cafe would want Cherry Pie on the menu at least once a week as long as the season lasts!
Since I cannot make it at them moment I can link instead to a mouthwatering cherry pie I have seen on the beautiful Cherrapeno blog:

Thankyou Yiota for a menu that inspired me so much, gave me new dishes to add to my repertoire, and that are such a pleasure to share with everyone else. These dishes are just what the YamDaisy Cafe idea is all about! Delicious, seasonal, mouthwatering, not fussy... but heartwarming food to the people you are feeding.

The first part of Yiota's menu is here
The YamDaisy website is here

Good wishes to everyone!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Yiota's Summer Menu

What a treat it is to present this menu. It comes from Yiota in Greece and is full of the flavours of summer.
There are four menu choices each day in a YamDaisy Cafe. They must reflect the seasons, the everyday needs of the clients for delicious nourishing food, and of the chef(s) who need to be able to cook them up in a small (but well equipped) kitchen. Read more about the idea of the YamDaisy Cafe and it's menus here.

Yiota's Menu
Soup: Potato Soup with Fresh Thyme
Main 1: Chicken and Diced Vegetables Gratin
Main 2: Vegetarian Pastitsio
Fruit Dessert: Cherry Pie

In Yiota's email she wrote:
'So here's what I thought of: because summer vegetables are at their best here, I've used them in both main dishes; zucchini, red peppers, green peppers, carrots, mushrooms, green beans - you choose...  Cherries are also in season and I love, love, love them!'

Potato Soup with Fresh Thyme
O yum, this is one I love, and if the weather is very hot it can be served ice cold.
Here is how I make it:
Mince 3 finely chopped leeks and one finely chopped onion and saute in 2 tablespoons of butter.
Add 3 peeled and diced potatoes and 4 cups of stock.
(I used a vegetable stock flavoured with thyme)

When the potatoes are cooked, puree briefly and season with salt and pepper.
Add 1 cup of milk, cream, or a mixture of both and reheat without boiling.
I garnished mine with some thyme. It is winter here as I write, but in Summer I would sprinkle a few tender thyme leaves and maybe some chopped chives too.
The toast is made with buckwheat and oats and was a lovely accompaniment.

Chicken and Diced Vegetable Gratin
I avoided flooding Yiota with millions of emails asking about this dish, and so instead I had a real adventure with it. The only gratin I know is made with sliced potatoes, and certainly no chicken. Not only that, I have such trouble cooking it as whenever I try the potatoes never get soft!
I googled away and realised what a big number of bakes come under the name 'gratin', and remembered a friends suggestion to cover the dish with foil for part of the baking time to help the vegetables cook.
I struggled most to imagine how to include chicken (some of you know I am an old vegetarian, only recently learning to cook chicken), so I was glad to find this recipe:
I played around with it a lot!
I started with 2 chicken thigh fillets that I browned in a mixture of butter and olive oil and then cut them into bite sized pieces. For vegetables I had carrots, butternut pumpkin (squash), heart of celery and a potato. I diced them up and added them to the chicken in the dish.

I followed the recipe for the dairy mixture (except I had no pimento) and no crumb topping. I was feeling VERY pleased with myself!

So in to the oven it went with the foil covering for the first 20 minutes. And when I got it out:

sadly.... it had curdled.

I blame the lemon juice! But maybe covering it brought the temperature up too high. I would use ordinary cream instead of sour cream next time too. It broke my heart that it curdled but I did taste it and was delighted that the chicken came through beautifully: tender little morsels among the veggies.

It is definitely one to try again and get right! Then I would serve it with green leaves and tomato salad.

The second part of this menu will be up very soon, before the cherries have finished!
Jump to it here

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Diabetes and the YamDaisy Cafe

It is Australia's Diabetes Awareness Week this week.

My YamDaisy claim is that the biggest thing that a community could do to help in prevention and management of diabetes (type 2) would be to set up YamDaisy Cafes!

How nice for a doctor who is faced with someone who is ill, exhausted and whose life has just been changed completely by the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, to be able to include in all the information that there is a YamDaisy Cafe in their neighbourhood.

At the YamDaisy Cafe they could be assured of getting delicious meals, cooked from scratch, that are exactly what health educators are recommending for people with diabetes. They would be affordable. The cafe would be within walking distance, and the walk there and back would contribute to the recommended exercise.

The chef at the YamDaisy Cafe would understand the necessary diet, and the community aspect of the cafe means that the chef would get to know favourite foods and special needs.

The back up from the YamDaisy Organisation would include IT and magazine style news, articles, specials, tips and recipes.

If necessary every meal could be supplied from the YamDaisy Cafe. Breakfast might be tricky, but there are several possibilities that I will post about in the future!
The easy thing would be stopping by the YamDaisy Cafe for a freshly cooked lunch and delicious, healthy takeaway for supper from the days menu also.

And why would the doctor wait until things got so far! What a relief to be able to recommend the YamDaisy Cafe to patients who showed the danger signs for developing diabetes? Think how many people could be saved from the trials and complications of diabetes by the presence of a beautiful, little YamDaisy Cafe in their neighbourhood?

The sooner they start going up the better!

For further information about the YamDaisy Cafe idea, check out the website (and it would be lovely if you could show your support by joining the facebook page too?)

For further information about diabetes and check out Diabetes Australia.

I found the excellent cartoon by googling, but I don't know who did it. Let me know and I will put the info up (or pull the cartoon down if that is what is necessary!)

All Best Wishes

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Vale Marie

For those of you who sent such lovely wishes when I posted about the Appeal for Marie Cook I need to let you know with sorrow that Marie died on the 7th of July from complications of her cancer.
This is the poem that has connected me most with my feelings about her death

The Swan

The labouring through what is still undone,
as though, legs bound, we hobbled along the way,
is like the awkward walking of the swan.
And dying – to let go, no longer feel
the solid ground we stand on every day
is like his anxious letting himself fall
into the water, which receives him gently
and which, as though with reverence and joy,
draws back past him in streams on either side;
while, infinitely silent and aware,
in his full majesty and ever more
indifferent, he condescends to glide.

By: Rainer Maria Rilke

Farewell Marie

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Nice times ahead

After a week full of changes and visitors where I have hardly been able to glimpse into my nice internet community, I am now headed for lovely uninterrupted times when I can really focus on my YamDaisy project.

I have a gorgeous new menu coming up, given to me from Yiota in Greece! And I get the delight of trying out some dishes I have never made before, all in the cause of research and photoes!
I am also preparing a post on the ABC of YamDaisy customers!
And it is Australia's Diabetes Awareness Week next week so I will try to do a post then ~ about that!

I have talked about living with Chronic Illness here before, and how this means I often cannot do the things I want to do and plan to do. My current game plan is to try to blog more often even if it can't be the post that takes a bit of work to get right. I will see how it goes!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Best Workplace

A piece of research into good workplaces highlighted that things like gyms and massages being available made the biggest difference to workplace enjoyment.
This is an important issue for YamDaisy Cafes. No, I don't mean putting a gym into every YamDaisy Cafe! But I am thinking about the things that really make a difference in the workplace.
The whole idea of the YamDaisy Cafes running as a franchise is to give a whole system of back up to the individual Chef/Managers.

Just a couple of things: Gyms and massages! The YamDaisy franchise could do a deal with a local gym so that chefs have access to gym and massages. I think this would be a good thing when the job is very physical and no doubt stressful.

Another thing I keep thinking about is the isolation of working in a small cafe. There is a lot that could be done with internet groups, but more is needed. The franchise could organise training opportunities. As well as learning or sharing skills, the YamDaisy chefs would have a chance to get to know each other and share experiences.

This would open up another strand of employment: 'Emergency' Chefs who are able to go in and take over the Cafe while the chef is away. This is important to give the flexibility of training and so that a chef can take time off for family or in case of illness, and even a vacation. Someone can have fun working out how this would work: maybe it can be built into the insurance. Anyway, it would take away that load that so many chefs have that they have to keep going no matter what is happening to their family or their health.

The YamDaisy idea has a social justice aim. The idea is to improve lives, and we don't want chefs burning out under the strain of a poorly organised, stressful position. A lot will be asked of YamDaisy Chefs, and so it is important that all that can be done to best support them is done, and is done well.

Monday, June 21, 2010

YamDaisy Cafe and the Question of Cake!

This wonderful cake, made with whole pieces of dried and apricots, pears and other fruits, is so healthy it is hard to believe it tastes good. My sister discovered it many years ago when my mum was following the Pritikin diet which didn't allow any added sugar or fat. The sweetness and richness come from the fruit ~ bananas are used in the cakey bit that holds the fruit together.
As we were sharing this cake, my sister commented that it would be a good one for the YamDaisy cafe, and that inspired this post, because I am still working out what place cakes and biscuits should play in the YamDaisy Cafes.

Delicious, Everyday, Affordable food. 
That is the mantra (and extends to 'seasonal. local, made from scratch' ). It is the 'everyday' bit that brings up questions about cake. There is 'everyday' food, and there is 'sometimes' food. Which category does cake go in?

Do you have that 'little bit of something' with your cuppa everyday?

This is Chocolate Beetroot Cake, it is luscious and moist with a deep, wonderful flavour. Then there is Carrot Cake, Banana and Walnut Cakes... Should the YamDaisy Cafe make a specialty of fruit anf vegetable cakes?
Here is a whole book of them! (Thanks for the link Jutta)

Support Local Cafes
I call the YamDaisy Cafe a cafe, but it is different to most cafes with their display of mouth watering pastries and the industrial coffee machine sitting on the counter.
The YamDaisy Cafe isn't meant to be in competition with the local cafes, we want their support.
If someone wants a coffee and cake, that is the place to go.

So should the YamDaisy Cafe have coffee and cake at all?

This pretty one contains beetroot and almonds!
 It is a birthday cake.

Surely the YamDaisy Cafe can make a Birthday Cake for a valued customer! I already wrote a post about this here:

Off Display
One thing I have considered is that any cakes and biscuits in the YamDaisy Cafe should not be displayed. It can be like a mum's kitchen where they are kept in a tin and brought out when needed.

What do you think?

(Wondering what these YamDaisy Cafes are all about? Here is the website!)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Simone's YamDaisy Menu Part 2

The first part of Simone's wonderful menu is here

Simone's YamDaisy Menu
SOUP: Thai Pumpkin Soup with white Sourdough bread
MAIN 1:Chickpea Stew with Jasmine Rice and Coriander
MAIN 2: Roasted Vegetables and Braised Pork Belly
FRUIT BASED DESSERT: Apple and Rhubarb Crumble and Creamy Yoghurt

Roasted Vegetables and Braised Pork Belly
I talked a little in the last post about coaxing this menu out of Simone when she was in the middle of moving house. Well, as I begin talking about her second main, you will see how this has come back and bitten me. She said roast vegetables, and was thinking about what to have with them... by then my conscience was pricking me and since I had just roasted a couple of chicken legs I jumped in and suggested roast chicken. "Fine" said Simone.

It was a little bit after this that she told me that she was a vegetarian, and so she would never have chosen a chicken to go along with her roast. Sorry again Simone!

And it was when I started thinking about this post I realised that I keep popping chicken in these menus because I want to cater for meat eaters and, being a vegetarian myself for so long, I am really ignorant about meat ~ except I am cooking chicken sometimes and learning about it. However, after my experiment cooking chicken legs I have to admit I have no idea how I would serve bits of them with the roast veggies.

I thought to myself that since Simone didn't choose the chicken, maybe I could change it for some other meat, and just grabbed braised belly of pork out of the ether! When I went searching for what it is actually is ~ it sounded a bit more complicated than I expected, and I realised I was just getting deeper and deeper into things I am totally ignorant about! O dear!

I had to have a conversation with my friend Lin about whether it was something that could be considered for a YamDaisy menu, and really, how big a bit would end up on the plate?
Lin calmed me down and I can picture now a plate with a lovely bright array of veggies and a succulent square of pork, and maybe a nice smear of apple sauce. Yummy?

I just love to make roast veggies, crispy with caramelised edges and all their colours were bright and glistening. I love making a big tray of these because they make such wonderful left overs! It is easy to be creative with the mix, but this is how I did this lot:

Put the oven to high heat.
Pop in a baking tray that will fit your veggies in one layer, or as close to that as possible.
In a big bowl, peel and chop your veggies. I used potato, parsnip, carrot and pumpkin. I made them only a few centimetres square (not that anything was that regular) so that they had lots of surface area and so they would cook quickly
Then I added some thinly sliced onion and chopped red pepper to add extra flavour.
On top of these I drizzled some olive oil, soy sauce, a bit of golden syrup, and lots of dried oregano.
I mixed this all up so that every piece of vegetable was just coated with the oily mix.
Next get the very hot pan out of the oven and tip the bowl full of vegetables in it. It makes a great hiss and crackle!
Shake or push the veggies a little so that they cover the pan evenly, and pop it back in the oven.
After almost half an hour I gave the veggies a mix, turning them over as much as possible, and after another 10 minutes they were ready.

And are you surprised to find I didn't actually cook the braised pork belly myself? But I looked very carefully for a recipe that looked delicious and possible for the YamDaisy menu. Here is what I found: Braised Pork Belly

Apple and Rhubarb Crumble and Creamy Yoghurt
The YamDaisy Cafe philosophy is all about 'Made from Scratch!' For anyone who takes the shortcut of using tinned pie apples for their apple crumble, the difference in a YamDaisy version will be a revelation! Apples are in season at the moment, and the bright, sweet, flavour of fresh stewed apples makes it most understandable that this is such a popular dessert. Adding rhubarb adds another level of flavour and colour!

Simone's topping for apple crumble has the butter rubbed into flour, and then the additions of allspice, almond meal, and oats, with the sugar. Drained Greek yoghurt makes a thick creamy counterpoint.

It is really cold and grey and wet in Melbourne at the moment. Winter has set in. How wonderful to have a menu so full of warmth and colour! I think everyone walking past the Cafe would have to come in and eat! This is a menu that will nourish body and soul!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Simone's YamDaisy Menu Part 1

Note to Self: When a neighbour who is moving house comes over because the Estate Agent has accidentally locked her out of her own home, and you get her a cup of tea while she is waiting for the Estate Agent to return, it is not polite to press her for a YamDaisy Menu.

But it worked! Simone has given me a really interesting menu. Here it is:

Simone's YamDaisy Menu
SOUP: Thai Pumpkin Soup with white Sourdough bread
MAIN 1:Chickpea Stew with Jasmine Rice and Coriander
MAIN 2: Roasted Vegetables and Braised Pork Belly
FRUIT BASED DESSERT: Apple Crumble and Creamy Yoghurt

The YamDaisy menu is for my idea of little local cafe's that provide delicious, everyday, affordable meals. There are only a few choices each day, made from local, seasonal ingredients. Read more about the YamDaisy Menu here.

Simone's menu is really interesting to me. Her choices really highlight the popularity (around here at least!) of a number of dishes. The very last menu I posted also had a pumpkin soup and an apple crumble dessert also! Is this a Melbourne thing?

It has really made me think how each YamDaisy Cafe could make similar menus their own! Imagine the annual YamDaisy Cook Off Awards. This year we could have a prize for the Best Pumpkin Soup. Would Rose's Cafe, with its glorious sunset coloured pumpkin soup, rich with red capsicum and lentils win? Or would the judges prefer Simone's contribution, with coconut cream and Thai curry paste? I had better not be a judge! I would score them both 10 out of 10!

Thai Pumpkin Soup with White Sourdough Bread
This is a lovely pumpkin soup. I based my recipe on this one from the 4 Ingedients book but I made my own curry paste (thanks Charmaine Solomon) and I fried the paste in the thick cream from the coconut milk until fragrant. I was also lucky to have pumpkin from my sisters farm. This was SUCH a delicious soup!
Not having sourdough starter, I made a light white bread to go with it: Hokkaido Bread and what delicious toast it made! I don't know that the YamDaisy chefs will make their own bread, but hopefully they will have wonderful baker suppliers!

Chickpea Stew with Jasmine Rice and Coriander
This stew is made by frying onions, chillies, garlic and chopped tomatoes, adding potato and frying for about 5 minutes, and then adding other vegetables, including kumara, as well as the (cooked) chickpeas and seasoning, and letting it stew gently to mix and meld flavours. Credit goes to Simone's mum for this wonderful winter Chickpea stew.

I will finish Simone's Menu next post!
Jump to it here

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

More Flat Talk for the YamDaisy Cafe

I thank you SO much for your comments on my last post. I love the kind support, but even more I love the comments and criticism that help me see clearly the place of my project in the real world.

Sometimes I don't respond to comments, but I  keep them in my head, or written in my notebook. I have some lovely little lists that will turn into posts soon.

My YamDaisy Project is an unusual one because my health is so bad. I have trouble even managing to post a blog more than once a week! (Ofcourse, if I managed to win $90 million in Tattslotto I could have paid people to do all the work. I could set up a few cafes then! I am sure I could  manage that very well. But sigh, I didn't win it.).
So my strategy, until the next $90 million Tattslotto Draw comes around, is to develop my idea, and find out how to communicate it SO well that it will be self evident that it has to go ahead!

So, back to the flats.
Retrofitting IS possible, but I am very, very glad not to be chasing planning permits myself!
Ofcourse, Councils will come to see that it is in their interests to have YamDaisy Cafes in areas of need, and before you know it they will be bending over backwards to help get them going!

When Jutta talked about not wishing to have one in any block of flats she was living in, I did understand. In our flats there is someone who works night shifts, and I think they would hate extra noise and bustle around here. We have also had tenants with new babies here, and I remember that feeling of being ready to KILL someone who made such a noise my 'I've just got her to sleep' baby might wake up. I am also thinking of people with chronic pain, migraines, anxiety disorders, or simply a strong need for solitude.

However I do think there are places where the current residents in a block of flats may be very glad to let a YamDaisy Cafe in. The issue should be with just the block that has the cafe put in. All the ones nearby get the convenience without the irritation (hopefully). If the block had mostly people who would get home from work just in time to buy something delicious for dinner before the cafe shut up for the evening and peace and quiet reigned, it might be very welcome!

And during the day, people from all around (with the emphasis on walking distance) could visit and, if the flats are like the ones around here, it would be a very quiet, easy atmosphere.

The YamDaisy Cafes need to have a 'mum's kitchen' feel. Welcoming, full of deliciousness, conversation and company. But no mucking around!

A YamDaisy Cafe must have the invitation of all the residents, and owners, before setting up in a building. Once it is there, at least new tenants will know what they are letting themselves in for!

I have been talking about the places with a high number of flats and apartment buildings that are two or three stories high, and mostly fit on an old house block. That is what it is like where I live. But there are the big apartment buildings too, 8, 10 and more stories high. Just like a hotel has a shop and a restaurant in the lobby, it makes sense that these could too.

In most places I imagine a YamDaisy Cafe fitting in to places like an old corner shop, or some such building: nicely among the houses, and absolutely suitable for a food business. In some places it might be best placed in a small shopping strip easily accessed by the community. I have talked with a church minister who was excited about refurbishing an old church hall as a YamDaisy Cafe.

Wherever there is a need for one of these cafes, the trick would be to look around and see where it might work best. The wishes of nearby people and disability access are right up there in importance with food safety and kitchen size!

A YamDaisy Cafe needs to come to each area on the groundswell of demand from the local people. And once it is there, the onus is on the cafe to make sure it continues to be a welcome part of the community!

Friday, May 28, 2010

A YamDaisy Cafe in a block of flats!

Here is a flat in a block of 8 flats. Two bedrooms each. Next door is another block.  9, one bedroom flats.  Next to it is another block, and then another...  (They call them apartments or units of course. It is me who is old fashioned and daggy and likes calling them flats!)

On the other side is a bare paddock. They pulled down the house that was there and they are planning to put up 4 townhouses. On the other side of that? You guessed it, another block of 4 town houses.

You get the picture? Lots of people, few children, the tenants are young and busy in the main, but there are old people here too, people with disabilities and chronic illness.  There are small kitchens here, and not many cooks....

What a great place for a YamDaisy cafe!

It IS possible to get planning permission to turn a flat into a cafe. I have checked. It probably isn't easy! But I think it might be worth it.

Take the flat in the photo for example. These flats are quite basic, but they are well soundproofed. The flats above and beside can be protected from the noise of the cafe.
The living room and main bedroom could be opened up to form a reasonable eating area, the small, cool, second bedroom could be the store room. The kitchen is small, but what cafe kitchen isn't! So long as it is well set up, small can be good!

How convenient for everyone in the neighbourhood to be able to drop in for a meal and eat it in their community, or take it home for convenience.

There is even room in the courtyardish area for herbs to grow, or even an outside table or two.

Here are the benefits:
Convenient, delicious, affordable food
Good health outcomes
Fostering a sense of community

Before long, every big block of flats built would have a central place put aside for the YamDaisy Cafe to be!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

YamDaisy and the Budget! Fascinating!

When I was working out the viability of my YamDaisy Cafe structure I started with two different needs: affordable meals for customers, and a reasonable income for the chef/manager.

This was made trickier because the customers include the poorest people in the community.

With my housekeeping budget skills I pushed and pulled until I came up with something that I thought would work. In a housewifey way I figured that if we could get so many meals sold at so much each, and cover all the overheads we would end up with an amount for ingredients a week for ingredients. (You can look at my number crunching here. Feel free to comment!)

But then I read a chef friend talking about it a completely different way. He went from running a restaurant to working for a catering company.:
"The pricing scale was completely backwards to the way I was used to working out gross profit from a meal. In a restaurant you come up with an idea for a dish, then order in the food, cook a meal, tweak it a bit, then when it is good you cost up how much it costs to put that meal onto the plate then add 80 percent! simple... that gives you a price to charge for that dish... every one you sell ensures you that 80 percent profit!

Here I was given a capped chargeable price ... and had to make profit working backwards from that... the price was the starting point, not the finish point as it were!"

I remember Jamie Oliver complaining in a similar way under even more straightened circumstances trying to make school meals affordable, but also delicious and healthy. He talked about his usual practice of looking at wonderful ingredients and being inspired by them to cook something, rather than surveying the cheap ingredients and trying to work out something good that could be made from them!

My first thought was that family budgets are capped! The poorer you are, the more capped your budget is. The more you are stuck with the cheapest, saddest ingredients.
But the YamDaisy chef must not be like a stressed mum trying to cook good food with not enough money!

Yes, it will be topsy turvy thinking for a restaurant chef, but hopefully it will be good domestic economics for the YamDaisy Chef. There MUST be enough money to buy good, local, seasonal ingredients and to cook great, delicious meals with them. There must be room to be inspired!

This is another way the YamDaisy Chef must be like a great Mum Cook using the wonderful ingredients to hand and developing a community based menu of the best food. Not expensive, rare, food, but treasured local seasonal, loved food! .... and affordable!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Rose's Autumn Menu Part 2

Look at Part 1 here

SOUP: Pumpkin Soup with a Fresh Bread Roll
MAIN 1: Macaroni Cheese and a Green Salad
MAIN 2: Chicken Caesar Salad Meal-in-a-bowl
FRUIT BASED DESSERT: Apricot Crumble and Custard

This post is a demonstration of how intentions morph as day follows day!  

As my proposed YamDaisy Cafe structure currently stands, the first two dishes are available from when the cafe opens. The next two come on as soon as possible afterward (but certainly by the time the lunch traffic starts picking up). I hope this will be a more practical way for the chef than trying to have everything going right from the start.

I talked about the Pumpkin Soup and The Macaroni Cheese dishes in the previous post, and then looked pleasurably forward to the final two dishes for this post.

Chicken Caesar Salad ~ Meal in a Bowl. As a vegetarianish person I am still not very used to chicken, but quite happy, and even excited, to be making it for this menu. My mouth still waters at the taste of the Caesar Salad dressing I made last time (see here), and I was fascinated at the idea of turning the classic salad into a chicken one, and into a particularly Autumn dish.

I found a lovely, simple recipe for roasting chicken legs Italian style and thought that would be a good start to getting nice chicken ready for the recipe. (And it sort of was!)

And I was thinking about Autumny things to be adding to the dish. Having a mum's point of view for feeding people with delicious, nourishing, home style food, I wanted to have a balanced plate with some good veggies in it. Especially since the Macaroni cheese is a bit lacking in these!

I went a googling and a thinking.... and then I saw this: 

O dear. It uses breast, not leg. It has no added vegetables. It uses a different dressing.
But isn't it just perfect?

I decided that if I was running the Cafe I would make it just like this (the dressing is SO easy!), what a treat for my customers! And I would just harangue my customers to start off with the soup to get some extra vegetables in them! (That's the sort of YamDaisy Cafe chef I would be!)

So that is how the Chicken Caesar Salad went in unexpected directions. And what do you think happened to the Apple Crumble and Custard?

Apricot Crumble and Custard
I bought the apples. I was considering the crumble: (The righteous ones have equal amounts of flour and butter as their crumble, and that is that. They would call my sort of crumble 'Apple Crunch'. Which way would I go with it this time?).

I was also considering the custard. How to have custard ready for people coming in over several hours? 
How to cater for those who like it hot, and those who prefer it cold? This was my thought:


Sweet little jugs filled with custard that people could have as warm as they like, and use as much of as they like. I was all set!

Then what should happen but the very Rose who composed this menu offered to make Apricot Crumble for dessert! Well, I wasn't going to say no! I just got her to take the photo (above!) and tell me how she made her crumble (crunch) topping:
Oats, flaked almonds, brown sugar, mixed with melted butter and sprinkled over the fruit and baked til hot and crisp. We had our custard hot!

Not what I planned, but supremely delicious! That is what is important at the YamDaisy Cafe!