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 25, 2007
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).