Thursday, July 30, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
with Pumpkin and Mushroom Risoni
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Rhubarb is usually cooked with water and sugar and then stewed, but I prefer to cook it in the oven without water. Rhubarb contains a high percentage of water to begin with and I find that the oven method gives you a much better result and avoids the rhubarb breaking down too much and turning too watery and thin. The oven method also gives a superior flavour and colour.
Things you might not know about rhubarb - Despite being used most commonly in desserts and jams, it is actually a vegetable. The word rhubarb comes from the Latin word "rhababarum" which means "root of the babarians." It originated in China and the earliest records date back to 2700BC, when it was cultivated for medicinal purposes. It was considered very precious and was traded along with opium.
About the leaves......Sometimes when you buy rhubarb, it will still have the leaves attatched. The leaves contain highly poisonous oxalic acid that you should never consume under any circumstances. When you dispose of them, make sure they are kept out of the reach of children or any pets that might get hold of them. If you are a gardener, you can use the leaves to make an environmentally friendly bug spray, by boiling the leaves in water and using the liquid. Just be sure to clean the pot very carefully afterwards and keep the liquid in a safe place, as you would any kind of poison.
You will notice that I didn't make the meringues for today's dessert, I used good quality plain store bought ones. Feel free to make your own, especially if you happen to have a lot of eggwhites that need to be used and a bit of time on your hands. Today, I had neither :)
You would know by now that I'm not a huge dessert fan, but this one? Divine.
You will need: 8-10 stalks rhubarb sliced into pieces about 3cm long, 2 cups strawberries hulled and halved, 3/4 cup caster sugar, 1 vanilla bean, 1 teaspoon rose or orange blossom water (you will find these at middle eastern stores or continental delis), 1 large meringue per person, 300ml thick or double cream, 1 tablespoon blanched and lightly toasted almonds.
Method: Heat the oven to 200C. Lay a piece of baking paper in the bottom of a small baking dish. Split the vanilla bean in two and scrape out the seeds. Combine the rhubarb, sugar, vanilla (the bean as well as the seeds) and place in an even layer in the baking dish. Bake for 20mins.
Remove the rhubarb from the oven and add the strawberries and the rose or orange blossom water. Gently combine - you do not want to crush up the rhubarb too much. Return to the oven for another 8 mins. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. The rhubarb mixture is best served at room temperature, so if you are making it ahead, take it out of the fridge before serving.
To assemble the parfaits, first chop the meringues in 4. Put a spoon of the rhubarb mixture in the serving bowl/glass, then some meringue, then some cream. Repeat. Top with some toasted almonds and serve.
The first dish originates from Hainan, an island in the South China Sea and the smallest province of China. If you have ever had the pleasure of visiting the food heaven that is Singapore, you would know this dish well. It is sold in hawker stalls and restaurants everywhere and is unofficially Singapore's national dish. It is usually served with richly flavoured rice and a bowl of fragrant chicken stock, spring onions and chilli. It is meltingly tender, super moist and succulent. If you are inspired to follow the Singaporean tradition, then save the cooking liquid as a basis for the stock to serve with your chicken.
The second dish uses the Hainan chicken as a base, but takes it a step further to transform it from soft,mellow and melting to crispy, zingy and aromatic. Be warned - it is extremely moreish!
One last word on today's recipe - Don't be daunted by the poaching technique if you have never poached a whole chicken before. It really is worth the tender loving care and the end result will give you chicken that is unbelieveably moist and perfectly cooked, I promise.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Pork schnitzel with thyme, sesame and lemon crust /with sauteed apples
You will need: 1 pork schnitzel per person, 1/2 cup plain flour, 1 teaspoon paprika, 2 eggs lightly whisked, 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, Grated rind of 1 lemon, 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme (be sure to remove all the twiggy stalks and only use the softer, green shoots), 2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley, oil for frying, 2 apples cored and sliced, 1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 teaspoons butter, salt & pepper to taste.
Method: Combine the breadcrumbs, lemon rind, parsley, sesame seeds and thyme together. Season with some salt and pepper and set aside. In a plastic bag (or bowl) combine the plain flour and paprika and mix well.Crumb your schnitzels - first dust with the flour, then coat in egg and finally the crumb mixture. Put the schnitzels on a plate, cover them and put them in the fridge to rest for 15mins. In the meantime, prepare your apples.
Melt the butter in a pan - add the apples, season with salt and pepper. Sautee the apples for a few minutes, until they start to colour slightly. Add the redcurrant jelly and mix well until it melts down and combines evenly. Add the lemon juice and let the apples cook for another minute until lightly coated with the syrup. Tastefor seasoning and adjust if required. Set aside. Remove the pork from the fridge and shallow fry until golden.
Serve with the sauteed apples and seasonal green vegetables.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Ok, so I'm not the Queen of Hearts and it isn't a summer's day (in fact it's bloody freezing!) but I have been baking tarts today. I headed into the kitchen this morning to make something to take to work for lunch this week and whilst I was waiting for that to cook, I decided to bake some tarts to use up some spare puff pastry that was taking up space in my freezer. I really didn't fancy the thought of leaving the house to go food shopping, so I hunted around in the pantry for inspiration, determined that there must be some kind of filling I had ingredients for. Well, turns out that I found a little more inspiration than I bargained for, and the result was six different kinds of tarts (although they all start with the same basic beginnings)
I was going for a rustic, free form style with these tarts - no pie tins or cutting out baking paper or blind baking or any of that kind of carry on! I love that every one is different and that they aren't perfect. You could eat them like a pastry with a cup of tea, or serve them as a dessert, warm with a dusting of icing sugar and some cream or a good quality icecream.
My six fillings were: almond and walnut , strawberry, fig, orange, apple and mixed berries. All I did was to place the various ingredients on the top of the tarts. None of the toppings were pre cooked. The figs and oranges are the glace kind (these came from the wonderful Pomona Fruits - best glace fruit ever! http://www.pomonafruits.com.au/ ) The apple and the strawberries were just sliced thinly raw, and the berries were just a handful of the frozen kind I had in the freezer. I sprinkled a little bit of castor sugar on the berries and the strawberries before putting them in the oven and when the tarts were cooked I brushed them all with maple syrup when they were still warm to give them a glaze.
I have given the basic tart recipe below, but go with any topping you fancy - I came up with six just based on what I had in the pantry today - the possibilities are endless. The filling is a simple almond based one that isn't overly sweet.
And here is today's tart selection - my recipe makes 16 tarts
You will need: 4 sheets puff pastry, 200g almond meal, 1 egg, 1/2 cup cater sugar, 100g butter, 1/3 cup maple syrup and whatever topping/s you have chosen.
Method: Melt the butter and combine with the almond meal, sugar and the egg. Set this aside. Cut the pastry into 4 rounds for each sheet (this will make 16 tarts) I used a small upturned rice bowl as a cutting guide.
Spoon the almond mixture onto the pastry and spread it out so it almost comes to the edge. Add your chosen topping. Fold/pinch the edges of the tarts the whole way around. Chill the tarts in the fridge for 15mins.
Bake in a moderate oven for 15-20 mins or until puffed and golden brown. When you take them out of the oven, brush them with maple syrup to form a light glaze.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
So, think "Sweden", put on your viking horns, head to the kitchen, crank up ABBA's Greatest Hits and get cooking! (OK, if you don't like ABBA, you can substitute Roxette - they are Swedish too)
Swedish Meatballs (Kottbullar)
You will need: 500g beef mince, 1 finely chopped brown onion, 2 tablespoons finely chopped celery, 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons finely chopped gherkins or pickled cucumbers, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, 1/3 teaspoon ground/grated nutmeg, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon salted butter, 1 tablespoon plain flour, 500mls beef stock, 250ml cream, salt and pepper.
Method: Heat a splash of olive oil and half of the butter in a pan and cook the onion and celery until it begins to turn transparent. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine the mince, breadcrumbs, egg, gherkins/cucumbers, parsley and nutmeg. Season well with salt and pepper. Add the cooked onion mixture and using damp hands mix thoroughly. Shape into small balls an put them on a tray. Chill them for about an hour in the fridge.
Heat the olive oil and remaining butter in a pan and gently cook the meatballs in batches until lightly brown. Remove them from the pan and set aside.
Add the flour to the pan and cook for about a minute. Remove from the heat and whisk in the stock. Return to the heat and gently simmer until the mixture starts to thicken. Add the cream and simmer for a couple of minutes.
Return the meatballs to the sauce and mix them through gently. Simmer for another couple of minutes. Serve with mash or crusty bread.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Tonight's recipe serves two - buon appetito!!
You will need: 500g Vongole (Clams) in the shell, A splash of olive oil, 2 cloves chopped garlic, 1 teaspoon sliced chilli (more if you like it a bit spicy) 1 cup white wine (tonight I used a Hunter Valley Semillon), 1 tablespoon salted butter (you can use more or less, whatever suits your taste), A big handful chopped Italian parsley, spaghetti, salt and pepper. Parmesan to serve.
Method: Put your pasta water on to boil, ensuring that you add a good pinch of salt. Once it comes to the boil, add your spaghetti. Keep an eye on the pasta and give it a stir now and then. You want it to be al dente - not overcooked.
Now to the sauce - add a generous splash of olive oil to a pan and add the chilli and garlic. Let it cook for a minute or two - you do not want it to brown. Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan. Let it come to a simmer. Add the clams and stir well. Put the lid on the pan and let the clams cook for about a minute. Be sure to disgard any that do not open.
Add the butter, then the drained, cooked pasta. Season well and stir through the parsley.
Serve right away with freshly grated parmesan.
Monday, July 6, 2009
And he even laughed at my jokes.....
And he autographed his latest book.......
As well as getting a bit of Gordon action, we also tasted a lot of different wines, cheeses, olive oils and other produce and came home laden with bags of tasty things that took our fancy. My favourite purchases of the day were some beautiful Australian made glace figs and oranges and an amazing balsamic vinegar with native Lemon Myrtle. I also bought some lovely cheeses (including a to die for marinated Persian feta) and a bottle of Verdelho from Hope Estate in the Hunter Valley. I'm not usually a fan of sweet or dessert wines, (or sweet anything really) but this one was gorgeous.
In other celeb spotting news, we also sighted Garry Meighan, chef and judge on Masterchef Australia and also my biggest chef crush, the feisty frenchman, Manu Feildel *swoon* - being that gorgeous and that bloody talented should be illegal.
If you missed the show this year, put it on your to do list for next year. Who knows, you might even get to squeeze Gordon Ramsay's bum in the process!
But it's all about the food. Really :)