chipotle_20140418_1

Chipotle sauce

Penray in Otaki have pick your own chillies for $5.95 a kilo at the moment, so I was more or less obliged to take some late season red jalapeño off their hands in order to make chipotle sauce. A true chipotle is a completely dried and smoked red jalapeño chilli, and these are rehydrated in hot water to make a sauce. After a bit of looking online, I took an average and cut some corners, and I seem to have managed a good chipotle sauce with a fair amount of heat, a bonny colour, and a good blend of smoke, sour, citrus and fruity chilli flavours. First, equipment you will need:

  • A large roasting pan
  • Mortar & pestle
  • A smoker
  • Hickory chips for smoking
  • A very large jam saucepan, at least 8 litres (2 gallons)
  • Stick blender

Ingredients (these are approximate amounts, I pretty much made it up as I went along):

  • 7 kg (15 lb) red jalapeño chillieschipotle_20140418_1
  • olive oil
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • 2-3 large onions
  • 2 tbsp cumin seed
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 450 g (1 lb) tomato concentrate paste
  • 300 ml (½ pint) juice of lemons and limes. That’s quite a lot; about 5 lemons and 10 limes, probably more
  • 300 ml (½ pint) cider vinegar (other vinegars would probably do)
  • Lots of boiling water, to stop it glooping and spattering everywhere

chipotle_20140418_2Preheat the oven to grill at least 240°C.

Pour all the chillies in the sink, fill it up with cold water and give them a good old wash to get all the mud, insect poo and residue off the outside. De-stem and halve the chillies and place cut-side down in an oven tray. If you have sensitive skin, wear gloves; my arms were rather pleasantly on fire, from fingernail to elbow, for the rest of the day.

Put the tray of chillies in the chipotle_20140418_3oven to grill for at least 15 minutes or until the skins are well blistered and just beginning to blacken. (I had to do this step several times… 7 kg is a lot of chillies!)

While this is going on, get the smoker fired up with a few pine cones and kindling, and leave to burn down to form a good bed of embers.

chipotle_20140418_4Once the chillies are done, optionally remove the blistered skins (I left some of them on for a bit of texture and colour) and place them on trays in the smoker.

Pile up a load of hickory chips on the ember bed and close the lid on the smoker. Go drink some good wine, and leave chillies to smoke for a good few hours (at least 3 hours if you can manage it), the longer the better. Whenever the smoke starts to die down, get in there with some more wood chips and your best brass player breathing practice. Rinse and repeat for as long as you can be bothered, really.

At some point during the smoking stage,chipotle_20140418_6 grind the cumin in the mortar & pestle, and finely dice the onions and garlic. In a hot frying pan, dry-toast the ground cumin seed until fragrant, then tip in a bit of oil and sauté the garlic and onion with the cumin, and set aside.

Pull your now gloriously smoky chillies out of the smoker and tip into a truly gargantuan saucepan (I don’t actually have one, so I used two merely enormous saucepans instead). Add the sautéed onions and all the other ingredients, and stick-blend it, adding sufficient boiling water to thin it to a sauce consistency.

chipotle_20140418_8Bring it to the boil then simmer it for about 2 hours, stirring as needed to keep the bottom from sticking. It should reduce slightly and thicken. Like any pickle or jam, if it is glooping and spattering everywhere and sticking to the bottom, it is probably too thick; add water.

Once it has reduced and become slightly glossy, transfer it into pre-heated jars and seal immediately. This is where you re-use all those jars with quarter-turn metal lids you kept. These jars are best because unlike plastic lid jars, they will vacuum seal as the contents cool, and won’t leak air over a 2-3 year shelf life.

This recipe made sauce for 13 x 330 ml jars and 4 x 500 ml bottles, which is about 6.5 litres (1½ gallons) altogether.

chipotle_20140418_9

Paneer Masala

Ingredients:

  • 1 turmeric root
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 2cm bit of ginger
  • 2 chillies
  • ghee or oil for frying
  • ½ lb (250 g) paneer, cubed
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 1 tsp of ground cumin, coriander, cardamom, cloves, pepper
  • 1 red capsicum, sliced
  • ¼ cup of cream
  • handful of fresh coriander

Grate the turmeric, garlic, ginger and chop the chillies, add some oil to a pan and fry for 30 seconds, then add the paneer and move it around until it’s browned on all sides (about 3-4 minutes). Throw in the tomatoes, spices and capsicum, and simmer for 2 minutes. Add cream and coriander at the very end and serve immediately on rice.

Fez repository plugin for Moodle

I have been writing a plugin for the Moodle Repository API that can now browse and search records in a Fez digital repository. Here’s the simple configuration, using the RMIT Research Bank as an example public access Fez repository:

Fez repository settings
To set up the Fez repository plugin in Moodle, simply give it the URL of your Fez repository, and how many records per page you want.

And here you can see that the plugin can browse communities, collections and records just like any other repository plugin:

Fez repository collections
The collections available in this Fez repository.
Fez repository search results
Fez repository search results and the record listing of a collection are displayed with the same interface.
Fez repository record
Selecting a record works as expected - including the title, author, date created and date modified metadata.

So far, it only supports using external files, and the resulting links are links to the Fez record view, not the attached files. This also means that you still have to add the title and description manually, even though that metadata is present in the metadata of the files presented by the repository plugin! I hope to somehow fix this with work on MDL-32130 on the Moodle bug tracker.

Citing Fez repository documents in Moodle

Today I wrote a text filter for Moodle 2.2 which will help Moodle teachers and admins cite documents from a Fez digital repository. Fez is a digital repository written by University of Queensland library staff for the university’s digital assets and for use as an open access research repository.

The best fit in Moodle for a digital repository such as Fez would be through a repository plugin, but the Moodle repository API assumes that you only want either a file, or a URL. I think there’s room for the API to be able to return a snippet of HTML as well – of an appropriately formatted link to the document in question. For instance, it would not be enough to simply present a URL, such as

Link to a document

it would instead be really nice to be able to have the repository plugin return a <div> element, with a formatted citation, such as:

Taylor, William (2005) (FAB_15_2_095) Lest We Forget: the Shrine of Remembrance, its redevelopment and the heritage of dissent. Fabrications : The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand, 15 2: 95-112.

This would also apply to other repositories – it would be nice if the Flickr, Picasa and YouTube repository plugins could return a thumbnail of the image or video instead of just the URL. Until that happy day arrives however, we can use a filter instead. After installing the filter, we tell it which Moodle content formats we would like it to parse, and the base URL for our Fez repository:

Fez text filter settings in Moodle
Fez text filter settings in Moodle

Then, in our content, we insert a search term or a Fez document PID into a placeholder using double curlies, e.g.

Inserting a Fez document into Moodle content
Inserting a Fez document into Moodle content using a placeholder.

Which when we save, and have the Fez filter enabled, will produce a nicely presented citation:

Fez document citation in Moodle
A Fez document citation displayed in Moodle.

It would not be very difficult to convert this into a repository plugin that simply returns the URL to the document, or to extend or clone this filter to talk to other digital repositories, such as EPrints, DSpace or Fedora.

TODO: add a setting to control how many search results you want to display.

LCA in Brisbane

Hopefully I’m going to Brisbane in a week or two for LCA 2011. This would be fine except for the worst flooding in Queensland in over a hundred years. The organisers are still saying (at time of writing) that everything’s fine because the venue, Queensland University of Technology, is sufficiently above the river. I’m a bit skeptical myself, so indulge my urge to paraphrase: “Hey – the streets that aren’t still inundated will be buried in two feet of silt, you’ll need a gondola to get around, the power might be out, the sewer might be overflowing, most of the hotels will have been seconded for evacuees, snakes have followed all the rats into basements and attics, but hey, QUT is above the water-line so there’s no problem! Mind one of the crocodiles wandering around in the parks doesn’t EAT YOUR LEGS OFF”

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to go, and I’m hoping to meet up with a bunch of Brizzy friends and conduct some business with folks at University of Queensland while I’m there, but I don’t hold out much hope, and I don’t fancy getting eaten alive by crocodiles, snakes, giant ants or zillions of mosquitoes.

Salmon cakes

Here’s how I made yummy salmon fish cakes out of last night’s leftovers.

  • 275 g cooked salmon, bones and skin removed, flaked
  • 275 g leftover potato bake, stovies, frittata etc. (or use mashed potato with a little grated cheese)
  • 1 egg
  • a little chopped red – e.g. red pepper, chilli
  • a little chopped green – e.g. fresh herbs, rocket, spinach, green beans
  • 1 tsp paprika and/or chilli powder
  • salt and pepper
  • flour

Bung it all in the processor and pulse until combined (but not puréed). Turn into a bowl and fold in enough flour to make a soft, not firm but not sloppy, mix.

For the crumb mix:

  • 2-3 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds

Grind to a coarse powder in a processor or mortar.

Roll the mix into patties and dust in a little of the crumb mix. Shallow fry in hot oil until golden. Since the ingredients are already cooked the mix only needs to heat through; they won’t take long! Serve immediately.

Why I’m not on Facebook any more

Dearest friends of mine,

You may have noticed I’ve dropped off the Facebook radar. Apart from finding it to be a gigantic time-waster, their increasing evilness with private data is a concern, as this link shows:
http://mattmckeon.com/facebook-privacy/

I urge you all to boycott it as well. You can rescue your friends’ email addresses into Yahoo Hotmail or GMail before you leave, as explained here:
http://www.labnol.org/internet/export-email-addresses-from-facebook/12970/

Testing steaks

How do you know when your steaks are done? Here’s a handy rule of thumb.

My cousin’s a bit of a chef. Poke the steak with the index finger of your right hand. Now touch the thumb and index finger of your left hand together, and poke the fleshy bit of your palm at the base of your left thumb. That’s rare. Now touch the thumb and middle finger together, and poke the same bit again. That’s medium rare. Thumb and ring finger, that’s medium, and thumb and little finger for well done. (photo to follow)