Saturday, December 22, 2007
Decisions, decisions....especially at this time of year when my brain is fogged trying to decide what perfect gifts to give, along comes Zorra and Sandra with a fabulous event, inviting one and all to submit a mind blowing recipe that moved the world for them in 2007. You know, that OMG reaction?
Whilst not every thing I prepared this year was in that "incredible" category, most of it was good, even stuff that was on the more risky side, like Tamarillo chutney or Chickpea Fritters. New tastes and textures crossed our tongues on numerous occasions in the past year, things I would never have even dreamed of cooking a couple of years ago, thanks to the myriad of fabulous food blogs that abound the www.
One of the most "Googled hits" I have received this year was for the great Aussie Meat Pie, which was posted as "4 & 20 Blackbirds baked in a Pie". I'd like to think that the number of searches for this phrase was the world craving for an Aussie Pie, but maybe there are just a lot of people who don't know the words to the nursery rhyme. When I first made these pies, they definitely were a gustatory joy. I now make them on a regular basis to load into the freezer for the quick winter lunch, and even though they're still fabulous, I had to really fight the demons in my head and opt for this recipe instead.
The Chervil and Egg Custard Tart with Tomato and Capsicum Salsa was chosen probably due to it's versatility (and of course flavour). It can be served with a green salad for a light lunch, or sliced into bite sized fingers to have with drinks. Any left over custard can be used to fill mini quiche shells as well.
With only two sleeps to go, I wish everyone a very happy Christmas and hope to be back in the New Year.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
My garden is a jungle! Long awaited summer herbs and vegetables, bursting with freshness, ready for the taking. I love nothing more than "harvesting my crop" each day. These are just a few examples of my outdoor greengrocery.
Rachael's Chimichurri Chicken Bites
1 rounded tablespoon sweet paprika
3/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, a couple of handfuls
3 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves, crumbled
1/2 small white onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 3 splashes
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds chicken tenders
Preheat a grill pan over high heat.
In a food processor combine paprika, parsley, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, onion, garlic and cayenne. Finely chop the mixture by pulsing.
Heat oil in a small pan over medium low heat. When oil is warm, stir herb and garlic mixture into oil and heat 3 to 5 minutes, then remove from heat. The oil will become infused with the flavor of the herbs and garlic. Transfer to a bowl and stir in vinegar and salt. Taste to adjust seasonings.
Cut chicken tenders into thirds and place in a shallow dish. Wash hands.
Spoon half of your chimichurri over the chicken and coat completely and evenly. Using tongs, transfer the bites to the hot grill and cook 2 or 3 minutes on each side. Transfer bites to a serving plate. Serve with party picks and reserved chimichurri sauce for dipping.
Family comment was "this chimchiminy chicken is fantastic". I'm sure Mary Poppins would agree also.
This is my entry for the last Weekend Herb Blogging event for 2007, and is kindly hosted by Astrid of Paulchen's Food Blog.
Posted by Pam at 7:26 am
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Summer has arrived, and with a vengeance. The days leading up to 1st December have been record breaking, scorchingly hot temperatures, so not much has been happening in my kitchen as far as innovative meals are concerned. A steak on the barbie with potatoes and a tossed salad has been pretty much my limit in the past couple of weeks. Not only has it been too hot to eat outside, but our outside guests this year are in plague proportions. I'm talking flies....sticky, baby bush flies that are so persistent and thick, one could easily inhale half a dozen whilst trying to eat. The drought has been blamed for the extreme numbers of flies this year, because the dung beetle numbers are down, so the breeding cycle for these pests have been given a free run this year. And when you think of where most of the breeding is occurring, i.e. animal excretion, swallowing the odd one just about makes you retch.
So after that little biology lesson, and my annoyance at not being able to enjoy summer meals outside, I've decided to stick to inside meals this week, and pray that the important dung beetle starts to populate again.....soon....very soon.
This is an Italian sounding dish, very apt since Simona from Briciole is hosting Kalyn's Weekend Herb Blogging, however it is an American dish named after a famous opera singer, Luisa Tetrazzini, who thrilled Americans at the turn of the last century with her wonderful voice.
There are many differing versions of this recipe, but I chose one from The Food Network by Giada De Laurentiis, a chef you either love or hate. It's really an operatic version of chicken and mushroom pasta.
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, room temperature
1 cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature
1 cup chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
12 ounces linguine
3/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup dried Italian-style breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Spread 1 tablespoon of butter over a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish. Melt 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil in a deep large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the hot pan and cook until pale golden and just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate to cool slightly. Coarsely shred the chicken into bite-size pieces and into a large bowl.
Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil to the same pan. Add the mushrooms and saute over medium-high heat until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates and the mushrooms become pale golden, about 12 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme, and saute until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it evaporates, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mushroom mixture to the bowl with the chicken.
Melt 3 more tablespoons butter in the same pan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, cream, broth, nutmeg, remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Increase the heat to high. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 10 minutes.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook until it is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 9 minutes. Drain. Add the linguine, sauce, peas, and parsley to the chicken mixture. Toss until the sauce coats the pasta and the mixture is well blended.
Transfer the pasta mixture to the prepared baking dish. Stir the cheese and breadcrumbs in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the pasta. Dot with the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown on top and the sauce bubbles, about 25 minutes.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Capsicums, bell peppers, pimientos all mean the same, depending upon which part of the world you hail from. My mother always called them "peppers", and grew the common green bell pepper every summer. I often wondered why they were called that, because they weren't hot at all. But as they are closely related to the chilli, something I'd never even tasted as a child, the penny finally dropped. Our ignorance of other cultures cuisine in those times has thankfully now gone.
The amazing varieties that are available today is a far cry from the days of just green peppers. Now we can enjoy all different colours, shapes, sizes and variations of flavours.
Developed in Japan , these little capsicums measure 8cm in diameter and 3-4cm deep. They are ideal for stuffing, so let your imagination run wild. Unfortunately they have a high seed content, so if you opt to char the skins whilst the capsicums are whole, as I foolishly did, be prepared for a fiddly seed removal, as the fruit (yes, capsicums are a fruit) loses it's rigidity, and tears very easily. You could remove the seeds first, then blacken the skins, a method that I will definitely try next time.
The red capsicums are sweeter than the green, due to the higher sugar content. They are full of vitamin C and beta carotene, a form of Vitamin A, and gives the fruit it's beautiful red colour.
After a day of visiting wineries, a cheese factory, and 2 olive groves, an antipasto platter was the order for dinner. Along with that, I baked a prosciutto loaf of bread to have with these Stuffed Baby Capsicums.
8 baby capsicums
2 small shallots, finely diced
I small italian sausage, skin removed
2 cloves garlic
(I opted for fresh from the garden choosing oregano, parsley and basil)
I cup of grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Chargrill or roast the baby capsicums lightly sprayed with extra virgin olive oil (or deseed first) until skins are blackened. Place in a freezer bag for a few minutes, to enable easier removal of the skins.
Gently fry the shallots, garlic and sausage in olive oil. If using dried italian herbs, they can go into the pan at this stage. Fry until the onions have softened.
Remove to a bowl and add cheeses to the hot onion mixture. If using fresh herbs, add these now.
Peel and deseed the capsicums. Be gentle here as they are soft and hard to handle.
Place in a gratin dish or small baking pan, and fill the hollowed capsicums with the stuffing mixture.
Bake in oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
Serve as a side for main meals or as part of an antipasto platter.
Fellow Aussie, Truffle, from What's on my Plate is the host of Kalyn's Weekend Herb Blogging
an event I try not to miss each week.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Some may think of this time of year as the "festive season" or even the "silly season", but this is party time for me, enjoying copious drinks and more importantly, finger food.
These marinated baby bocconcini with proscuitto "sticks" are so simple, no cooking required, just a bit time consuming to put together.
These guys are off to Weekend Herb Blogging, the weekly event originating at Kalyn's Kitchen, and kindly hosted this week by Vanessa at What Geeks Eat (great name BTW).
The basil in my garden is starting to really get going now after some long awaited warm weather, and even more long awaited for rain.
MARINATED BABY BOCCONCINI WITH PROSCUITO
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 fresh long green chilli, seeded, chopped ( I didn't have any fresh chilli's so used a tsp of sambal olek)
- 1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
- 440g baby bocconcini (milk cherries)
- 10 slices (150g) thin prosciutto
- 1 bunch fresh basil
NOTE: This recipe makes 40 baby bocconcini and is best made close to serving.
Combine the garlic, chilli, oil and salt to taste in a medium bowl; add the baby bocconcini and mix well. Stand for 30 minutes.
Halve the prosciutto slices crossways, then halve again lengthways.
Drain the bocconcini from the marinade; reserve marinade. Wrap a piece of prosciutto and a basil leaf around each bocconcini; secure with a toothpick.
Serve drizzled with reserved marinade.
Not suitable to freeze.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
My first instinct, when I read what the theme is going to be, was to phone Mum and ask her how she used to make brawn, but suddenly I had a nightmare-ish image return to me from my childhood, of a plate in the fridge, sporting an hideous cow's tongue being squashed under a brick. Big, purple and full of pimples.....just revolting. I protested, saying "who knows where THAT'S been?". After that discovery, I never ate brawn again, even though I must admit that it was delicious. I think that was the very moment I vowed I would never eat offal of any sort.
So, being the considerate person I am, I decided not to put my own family through such a scary ordeal, and I've turned my thoughts to Christmas instead.
Christmas in Australia has turned from the traditional roast turkey to seafoods and BBQ's. Because our weather on the 25th December can be extremely hot, who wants to spend all morning over a hot stove and oven? Then again, I can recently recall that we had to light a fire one year, whilst bushfires were raging around the country. Nothing is predictable for Christmas Day.
This terrine is called a festive terrine, adapted from Delicious magazine, December 2005. It's an ideal alternative to a hot plum pudding, without forsaking the traditional dish completely. As nobody in this house is a big fan of glace cherries, I substituted dried strawberries and blueberries.
Ingredients (serves 10)
- 180g caster sugar
- 6 egg yolks
- 900ml thickened cream
- 200g Christmas pudding, crumbled
- 1/2 cup dried strawberries
- 1/2 cup dried blueberries
- 1/2 cup shelled unsalted pistachios
- Silver cachous, to serve
- Line a 1.5-litre terrine with plastic wrap, leaving some overhanging to cover top.
- Place sugar in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons cold water over low heat. Stir, with a wooden spoon, until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and cook for 5 minutes, without stirring, but brushing down sides of pan occasionally with a damp pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals forming. Be careful the syrup doesn't darken. Allow to cool.
- Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, beat egg yolks until doubled in volume. Beating continuously, slowly add sugar syrup and continue to beat until cool.
- Lightly whip the cream until soft peaks form. Fold half the whipped cream with the crumbled pudding and half with the egg mixture. Using a metal spoon, carefully fold the two whipped-cream mixtures together with the strawberries, blueberries and pistachios. Spread the mixture into the terrine mould, pressing down well, then cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer overnight.
- When ready to serve, remove the terrine, invert onto a platter and top with silver cachous.
Notes & tips
- Begin this recipe the day before.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 750g chat or kipfler potatoes, skin on, cut into medium pieces
- 8 small chicken thighs on the bone, skin on
- 2 tsp sweet paprika
- 2 Spanish onions, quartered
- 1 red capsicum, cut into strips
- 1 yellow capsicum, cut into strips
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 40ml (2 tbs) olive oil
- 1 tbs chopped fresh oregano
- 400g can diced tomatoes
- 12 black olives
- Chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve
- 1 cup crumbled fetta, to serve
- Preheat oven to 200°C.
- Cook potatoes in a large pan of boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
- Pat dry the chicken, place in a large baking dish and toss in the paprika.
- Add the onion, capsicum, garlic and potatoes. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with oregano and season well. Bake for 30 minutes. Add tomatoes and olives, basting chicken with the juices, and cook for 15 minutes.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
My camping days are now over...nothing but a 5 star hotel for me now, but I do miss the challenge of cooking in a camp oven, from stews to roasts, even Murray Cod risotto, fresh from the water. We often wondered what the "poor people" were doing.
This is a great recipe to use up those abundant zucchini we always complain about in the summer time. It's not ideal to freeze, but I can't see why you couldn't freeze the grated zucchini cooked in the garlic and butter. I might try that this year, as I have foolishly planted 3 zucchini plants, and I'm the only one that eats it. However, when it's buried in eggs, cheese, cream and bacon, for some reason the family decided that they DO like zucchini after all. Go figure.
1 kg zucchini, trimmed
60 g butter or margarine
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
300 mls cream
6 rashers of bacon (or use ham)
2 cups grated tasty cheese
Thinly sliced red capsicum
Chervil (or parsley) sprigs
Coarsely grate the zucchini into fine wire strainer.
Add salt, mix through and let sit to drain for at least an hour.
Grease loaf tine or terrine and line base with greaseproof paper.
Strain zucchini and squeeze out all of the moisture (you'll be left with about a cup and a half of zucchini)
Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add zucchini and garlic and saute gently until soft, about 10 minutes (don't let it brown). Cool.
Whisk eggs, cream and grated cheese together. Add zucchini and season with freshly cracked black pepper.
Pour into prepared tin, cover surface with baking paper.
Place tin in baking dish filled with hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the loaf pan
Bake loaf for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until set and firm.
Leave in tin for 10 minutes, then turn onto serving dish; cool and chill.
Garnish with red pepper strips and chervil, and serve with garlic melba toasts.
By adding the cheese, you get a beautiful golden crust on the top, which when served is actually the bottom....yummy.
Kalyn, from Kalyn's Kitchen, is the hostess with the mostest this week. I just wish I had half her energy sometimes, as well as her dedication and enthusiasm.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Then if you bake any of the breads, please let Zorra know, along with your details, and join the After Party.
Lien from Notitie van Lien, in The Netherlands, reproduced my Scottish Bap Rolls, and they look delicious.
Nicisme from Cherrapeno in the UK, also baked the Baps, and was delighted by the softness of them (and their cute dimple).
Saturday, October 27, 2007
During the week, a replacement loo was installed whilst we are renovating our laundry and, yes, second "dunny". This water closet has always been referred to as The Library, even when I was a child. If we asked Mum where Dad was, most times the answer was "in the library", as there was always a newspaper tucked under the arm as he went in. One day he was so pressed for reading material, he took one of Mum's knitting patterns with him! We often joke about the knit one, pearl one escapade. Also, my husband and daughter have this genetic trait. Personally I could think of a million other, more pleasant places to sit and have a quiet read, but this appears to be a very difficult habit to break.
So when the plumber asked if I had some bricks or something heavy to level the pan, I immediately grabbed just two of my cookbooks, The Silver Spoon and Stephanie Alexander's Cooks Companion. Together they weigh the equivalent of at least a couple of bricks, perfectly accommodating the plumber's request. Improvisation at its best!
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Spring lamb is now at it's best, so I've chosen a Greek inspired dish accompanied with avgolemono, which is a fresh tasting sauce made from egg, lemon and broth. It is better known as an egg and lemon soup, if more broth is added. Either way, it's delicious, and is a great accompaniment to any roasted meats. I slow roasted the shanks in the covered BBQ, until the wind whipped up again and kept blowing the gas out. I hate this horrible wind...sniffle, sneeze.
Susan, from The Well Seasoned Cook is the host of this first event (for the THIRD year) of Weekend Herb Blogging. Kalyn must be totally exhausted after compiling last weeks round up celebrating the two year anniversary of Doubly Delish. I'm still ploughing through all of the delicious recipes.
4 lamb shanks (about 4 pounds total), cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch -thick pieces by butcher
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup water
I kg broad beans, podded and peeled
1 large egg
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
Preheat oven to 275°F.
In a heavy casserole large enough to hold lamb shanks in one layer without crowding arrange shanks and season with salt and pepper. Roast shanks in middle of oven, covered tightly, 3 hours, or until tender. (Meat will give off juices as it cooks.) Pour off pan juices, reserving about 1 cup, and skim fat. Keep shanks warm, covered.
In a small saucepan combine broth, reserved pan juices, water, and one-third broad beans and simmer 5 minutes, or until beans are tender.
In a blender purée broth mixture until smooth.
In a bowl whisk together egg and lemon juice and whisk in puréed broth mixture. Return mixture to pan and heat over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until thickened slightly (do not boil). Season avgolemono with salt and pepper and keep warm.
In a large non-stick skillet heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and sauté remaining broad beans until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in dill and salt and pepper to taste.Arrange shanks on a deep platter and scatter with broad beans. Drizzle shanks with some avgolemono and serve remaining sauce separately. Serve shanks with orzo or mashed potato
Monday, October 15, 2007
Sadly I was too late to enter last year's World Day of Bread, but this is what I would have submitted.
Zorra from Kochtopf is hosting this prestigious event again this year, and going by the fabulous entries from last year, I'm sure there will be many hours of good reading as a result.
The Scottish bap bread is a soft roll, usually round, sometimes oval, sometimes square. It's a flat topped bread roll, dusted with flour, and an indented hole is in the middle to stop it from rising to a dome. It's best eaten fresh out of the oven first thing in the morning, sliced in two and enveloping fried bacon and eggs. Beware of flour on your lips and nose!! People may think you have been indulging in an illicit activity;)
175 ml (6 fl. oz) tepid milk
175 ml (6 fl. oz) water
2 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp granulated sugar
500 g (1 lb) strong white flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tblsp milk, to glaze
- Combine the milk and water in a liquid measuring jug. Sprinkle the yeast and the sugar into 100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz) of the milk and water mixture in a separate bowl. Leave for 5 minutes, stir to dissolve. Stir in half the remaining milk/water mixture.
- Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeasted milk and water. Mix in the flour. Stir in the reserved milk and water as needed to form a sticky dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
- Put the dough in a clean bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave to rise until doubled, about an hour.
- Knock back and let rest for 10 minutes. Divide into 8 pieces, and shape each piece into a flat oval, (or a round ball if you prefer) about 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick. Place on a floured baking tray. Brush with milk and sift over a fairly heavy dusting of flour.
- Leave to prove, uncovered, until doubled in size, about 30-35 minutes.
- Again sift more flour over each bap. Use your thumb to make an impression in the centre of the baps, about 1/2 inch deep.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until risen and pale golden. Cover with a tea towel and leave on wire rack to cool.
Next is my first attempt at making brioche, so full of eggs and butter, that this is definitely not your everyday bread. I think our cholesterol levels would soon swell to dangerous heights if we indulge in this beautiful bread too often. Especially if you turn it into french toast, or even to have with cheese or pate and some wine. A little of this bread would need to go a long way. The top notch kind of exploded a bit, and I let it cook for perhaps 5 minutes too long, but it looks "tres bon", oui?here. (I just love Google Books!!)
Below is a pictorial of some of the breads I have baked, and actually taken photos of, over the past year.