Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Day Lunch

Happy New Year everyone, and welcome to 2012 here in the Gourmet Goddess kitchen! It is hard to believe that it is well over two and a half years since I first tentitively put my first post out there, with the intention of just posting recipes and reviews for friends to read. Since that first day, I have been blown away by the response to Gourmet Goddess and how many people from all over the world are now reading it on a regular basis. Thank you all for inspiring me to continue to share my love for creating new dishes, revisiting old ones and exploring the wonderful world of culinary adventures.

To kick off the new year, I decided to create a New Year's Day lunch that included a few ideas that I have had buzzing around my head during this holiday season. The main course and the dessert were dishes that I had decided on before the actual day of the lunch, however the starter just kind of popped into my head as I was doing the prep work for the dessert and noticed that I had a pack of Haloumi cheese in the fridge when I opened it to get the cream out! Inspiration struck and I used other ingredients I had on hand as well as herbs from my garden to make this delicious vegetarian starter. I was so happy with the result, I will be adding it to the permanent Gourmet Goddess repetoire.

The first course used a pack of Haloumi cheese, a handful of pine nuts, some roma tomatoes, black olives, a cucumber and freshly cut herbs. I cut the tomatoes into quarters, seasoned them and roasted them slowly in the oven for about an hour, then let them cool. I combined the cooled tomatoes with a handful of chopped balck olives, diced de-seeded lebanese cucumber, a handful of flat leaf parsley and a handful of mint. I then seasoned it all with salt and pepper, drizzled over a little olive oil and a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice.

Just before serving I pan fried the Haloumi in a touch of olive oil and then layered the ingredients on a serving plate (in this case one of my favourite green dishes from the wonderful Dinosaur Designs - a wedding gift from the lovely Matthew) I topped the lot with a few pine nuts, which I had toasted in a dry pan until they were golden - this gave them a particularly nutty taste and aroma. The result was a very simple but really delicious Summer starter that would be great as a side dish but also a wonderful vegetarian main course. I will definitely be making this again!

Haloumi and slow roasted tomato salad
with mint and pinenuts

For the main course, I decided on a rack of lamb, with a bit of a twist on the popular herb crust technique. I thought a combination of hazelnuts and lemon was worth trying, so I mixed together some fresh breadcrumbs with lemon rind, garlic, fresh parsley, hazelnut meal (I made this by blending roasted whole hazelnuts in the food processor) salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.

To prepare the lamb, I seared it first in a pan, then covered the bones with foil to prevent them charring during cooking. I then brushed a generous amount of Dijon mustard over the skin. I carefully pressed the crust mixture on to the top of the lamb rack (I used an 8 cutlet or "point" rack) and then cooked it on the Weber over coals, with the lid on for about 30 minutes. After removing it from the heat, I covered it loosely in foil and rested the meat for 20 minutes before removing the foil and carving it. We enjoyed our lamb with sauteed asparagus and creamy potato mash that was tarted up with liberal amounts of butter and Tetsuya's Truffle Salt (drool!)

Hazelnut and Lemon Crusted Lamb
with truffle mash and sauteed asparagus

The result was a delicious, quite decadent dish, with that lovely hazelnut crunch and the refreshing tang of the lemon for that bit of zing. This variation on the classic herb crusted lamb was a hit with my fellow diners, who relished every bite and resorted to grabbing the bones and gnawing every last bit of succulent meat off them! Like the starter, this dish is very simple but is something you would happily serve at a dinner party.

Tetsuya's Truffle Salt

If you want to purchase some of Tetsuya's Truffle Salt (of course you do!! It's fabulous!) you will find it at David Jones' Food Hall, good gourmet stores or from Tetsuya via his website.  This salt is perfect for sprinkling on soft poached eggs, grilled vegetables or for use in sauces. If you do buy some, be sure to keep it in an airtight container, unless you want everything in your whole pantry to smell like truffles! It is sold in 100g jars and keeps for a couple of years.

When I was in Perth just before Christmas, my mother served me her gorgeous old fashioned trifle one night. I haven't eaten this since I was a kid and it was just delicious. Just one bite was a total nostalgia trip and I wondered why we don't really see trifles much any more. Who could resist that luscious combo of sponge, jelly, fruit, custard and cream? I decided I would make one when I returned home, but got to thinking about a new way to serve trifle, that would work as a dinner party dish. Taking advantage of lovely seasonal fruit, and tweaking the flavours, I came up with my own version of trifle. My trifle is based on the old school dessert, Peach Melba. I always loved the pairing of peaches, raspberries and cream and used this as inspiration for my trifle, which is served in individual portions. You can of course just make a large one if you aren't keen on having to assemble one person serves.

Peach Melba Trifle
with Rose Cream

Although there are quite a few elements to this dessert, it can all be done ahead of time and kept in the fridge until you are ready to serve, so don't be put off by all of the steps involved. So, how did I do it?

The night before, I made up a good old fashioned batch of raspberry jelly and left it to set overnight. A few hours before my guests arrived, I then created the components for the various layers. I had everything ready to go and then just assembled the trifles, covering them with clingfilm and chilling for a couple of hours.

Layer 1 - Sponge. Did I make a sponge? Nope. I cut 10 Italian Savioardi sponge biscuits into small chunks and drizzled over some strawberry liqueur to moisten them slightly. You could use rasbperry or peach liqueur if you wanted to.

Layer 2 - Peaches. I took four ripe peaches, blanched them in boiling water for 10 minutes and removed the skins. Then I sliced them into pieces.

Layer 3 - Custard. In a bowl, I whisked together half a cup of sugar, 3 egg yolks and a  tablespoon of cornflour until smooth and creamy. In a pan, I heated 2 cups of full cream milk with half a vanilla pod (I scraped the seeds out and mixed them all through for maximum vanilla deliciousness) When the milk was almost at the boil, I poured in a small amount of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking all the time. I kept doing this until half of the milk was mixed in. Then I poured the whole lot back into the saucepan and whisked well, before putting on a medium to low heat and whisking until thickened. I let the custard cool before using it.

Layer 4 - Raspberries. I mixed together 2 cups of raspberries with a splash of the strawberry liqueur and a couple of teaspoons of sugar. There were no decent raspberries at the shop, so I used frozen ones, which worked a treat.

Layer 5 - Jelly. I diced the raspberry jelly I made the night before into small pieces.

Layer 6 - Rose Cream. I beat a carton of thickened cream with half a teaspoon of rosewater and a dessert spoon of caster sugar, until thick.

Topping - Grated white chocolate (optional)

Be sure to have everthing ready before you start assembling your trifle and make sure that your custard has cooled down - it can be warm, but not hot. This dessert is really worth the effort - the combination of the peaches and raspberries with the sponge, fragrant vanilla custard and rose scented cream is to die for.

So, that was our first meal of 2012. Hope that you all come back and visit Gourmet Goddess during the year to share in new recipes, reviews and culinary adventures. I have ideas brewing already, so stay tuned!


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