October 20, 2008
We had a fun night with lots of laughs. Now for the two week countdown to the wedding!
August 28, 2008
We've not done much house-hunting since we sold this house, mainly due to the shortage of houses on the market. Estate agents assure us this will change once spring arrives. Meanwhile I've started thinking about how much stuff I'm going to have to get rid of. When we extended the house14 years ago I designed the kitchen myself, and my intent was to make it not just functional but with as much storage space as possible. So I'm so spoiled for cupboards and drawers that some things are seldom used but kept just because I've got the space, or they're behind glass and just for show.
I have two big pantries...
Meanwhile for the next few months we're making the most of it while we can.
We had this for dinner the other night...snapper with spicy yogurt marinade...cooked by Georgie. It was one of Jeremy and Jane Strode's recipes from this week's Good Living. It took no time to prepare and tasted fantastic. The recipe is here.
August 27, 2008
My new delicious turned up yesterday. Ben O'Donoghue's spring risotto starring broad beans and asparagus (my second favourite vegetable) was my obvious pick for dinner last night and it was great. Here's how I made it - I altered the method slightly as I didn't fancy peeling the broad beans raw as the recipe stated.
Risotto Primavera (serves 4-6)
120g unsalted butter
1 white onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 cups (400g) carnaroli rice (I used arborio)
1 cup (250ml) dry white wine
5 cloves garlic
1/2 cup (80g) frozen peas
1 cup (120g) podded fresh broad beans, cooked and peeled
2L chicken stock, kept at a simmer
1/2 bunch asparagus (I used a whole bunch) thinly sliced at an angle - tips intact
1 cup (80g) grated parmesan
4 T mascarpone ( I omitted this)
1 T finely shredded mint leaves
Cook the broad beans in boiling water for a minute or two, drain, peel when cool enough to handle and set aside. Cook the asparagus slices in the simmering stock for a couple of minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Melt 80g of the butter in a wide pan over med heat. Cook the onion and celery, stirring, for 10 mins or until softened, adding the garlic for the final minute. Add the rice and stir for a further minute to coat the grains. Add the wine and cook, stirring, for 3 mins until absorbed. Add a ladleful of hot stock, stirring until almost all the liquid is absorbed. Continue to add stock, a ladleful at a time, gently stirring and making sure each is absorbed before adding the next, until the rice is al dente. This will take 20-25 minutes (you may not need all the stock). Add the last ladleful of stock, turn off the heat, and gently stir in the remaining butter, parmesan, peas, beans and asparagus. Cover and let stand for 10 mins. Serve topped with mascarpone and mint.
August 25, 2008
I might try putting some spinach in the twice-baked ones next time.
August 24, 2008
There was a nice-looking and fairly healthy-sounding carrot and walnut cake recipe featured, so I tried it out (tho' I made muffins). They were terrific - really soft with a great flavour - and probably the nicest of the healthy muffins I've made lately. I modified the recipe a bit, substituting buttermilk for the full-fat milk soured with lemon juice, and CSR Smart for the sugar. I didn't make the cream cheese frosting either but they really didn't need it and neither do my hips. Here's my version :
Carrot & Walnut Cakes (makes 15)
1/2 cup (80g) sultanas
juice of an orange
2/3 cup (160ml) buttermilk (or milk soured with 2 t lemon juice)
2 cups (320g) wholemeal SR flour
1 t bicarb
1 t mixed spice
160g CSR Smart or 1 1/2 cups (330g) raw sugar
1/2 cup (50g) walnuts, chopped
3 medium carrots, grated
1 granny smith apple, peeled, grated
grated rind of 1 lemon
1/2 cup (125ml) rice bran oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 180C. Line 15 holes of 2 x muffin tins with paper cases and spray lightly with non-stick spray.
Combine sultanas and orange juice in a small bowl and let stand for 10 mins.
Combine buttermilk, oil and lightly beaten eggs in a separate bowl.
Sift flour, bicarb, spice and 1/4 t salt in a large bowl and return husks from sifter to bowl. Stir in CSR Smart, carrots, apple, lemon rind and sultana mixture. Pour in the buttermilk mixture and stir until well combined. Fold in chopped walnuts.
Spoon into paper cases and bake for 20 mins. or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack.
If making one big cake, use a greased and lined 25cm springform tin and bake for 50-55 mins.
August 22, 2008
August 17, 2008
22cm Springform tin, greased and lined.
Preheat the oven to 180C / Gas Mark 4.
Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave or a double boiler, and then set aside to cool slightly. Beat the eggs and sugar together until thick, pale and moussy, and greatly increased in volume; it should double, triple even. Gently fold the sifted flour into the egg mixture, trying not to lose all of the air. Now fold the butter and chocolate very carefully into the cake mixture. Pour into the tin and cook for 35 minutes, by which time the top should be firm and the cake underneath dense and desirably damp.
Cool in a rack for 5 minutes, and then pour over the Marsala. I find it easier to do this by the teaspoonful so that the liquid is evenly distributed. Leave the cake to cool completely before releasing it from it’s tin.
So, the icing: melt the chocolate, Marsala and cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a gentle heat. Take it off the heat, and whisk until it reaches a good icing consistency; smooth, thick, but not solid. I like to spread this just on the very top of the cake, which anyway sinks on cooling so that you have a roughly circular sunken pond to fill, leaving an outline of cooked-cake rim. When set, you're left, beautifully, with a Sacher-shiny disc of ganache suspened on top of this dusty-brown, matt cake.
*Note: I had a bottle of thickened cream in the fridge and foolishly used it instead of double (pure) cream. Eeew - the result was an oily, curdled mess, which I had to throw away and remake with the correct cream. A waste of 100g of good Callebaut chocolate.
August 16, 2008
Rhubarb and Ginger Muffins (makes 15)
All ingredients should be at room temperature.
1 1/2 cups SR flour
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
300 g rhubarb (1 bunch), finely chopped (choose nice red thin stalks)
1/4 cup finely chopped glace ginger
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup CSR Smart
1/2 cup apple juice
3/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 180C. Line 15 holes of 2 muffin tins with paper liners and spray liners lightly with non-stick spray.
Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the rhubarb and ginger.
In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then beat in the oil, followed by the apple juice and the buttermilk.
Add the liquid mix to the dry mix and stir well.
Spoon into muffin tray and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Remove muffins from tray and cool on wire rack.
As there's no sugar in them they look a little anaemic but a dusting of icing sugar makes them look more appetising.
August 3, 2008
August 2, 2008
July 28, 2008
I'm back! This is my first post for weeks. With the house auction in mid-July I've been flat out keeping the place spotless for the twice-weekly Open-for-inspections. The house was sold - yay - so it's no longer pristine but all back to normal! What a relief being able to leave tea towels out on the rack, put the calendar back behind the kitchen door, not having to keep fresh flowers everywhere, and most importantly, being able to plan meals without worrying about whether there'll be any cooking smells.
We had our usual Sunday night family dinner last night. There's no way I'm cleaning the still-gleaming oven again before we move, which means no more roasts. So last night I made my new favourite winter recipe - Chicken and Chorizo Hotpot, which is really a sort of chicken cacciatore. It's a cinch to make - you just put everything in a roasting tin and bake it. The recipe is here.
There were 6 of us so I doubled everything. I've found the shallower the baking dish the crisper the chicken turns out. There might be too much liquid at the end of the cooking time, in which case you just drain it off and reduce it in a saucepan for a few minutes.
I served it with little fried potatoes, but mashed is good too. I forgot to take a photo of the finished dish but here are the leftovers....
For dessert I made Jill Dupleix's version of Sticky Date pudding. It's not only every one's favourite (even date-haters), it's perfect to make ahead and reheat. Here's the recipe.
I usually blitz the cooled date and water mixture for a few seconds with a stick mixer so that it resembles a lumpy batter, before adding it.
June 13, 2008
Lemon lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting (makes 12)
All ingredients should be at room temperature:
175g plain flour
150g caster sugar
1 1/2 tspns baking powder
125g softened unsalted butter, cut into 1-cm cubes
2 large eggs
120ml ml milk
finely grated rind of a large lemon
Preheat oven to 160 C°. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners. Whisk the milk and eggs lightly together. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and mix on low speed until combined. Add butter and half the egg/milk mixture and beat on medium speed for 2 mins. Scrape down sides of bowl and add the remaining egg mix in 2 batches, beating for 20 secs. each. Using an icecream scoop measure mixture evenly into the liners and bake for 20 - 25 mins. or until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Cream cheese frosting:
Beat together 125g cream cheese (use straight from fridge) and 35g butter (softened) until smooth.
Gradually add 1 cup sifted pure icing sugar and rind of a large lemon, beating until smooth. Spread over cakes and serve at room temperature.
June 3, 2008
For dinner the other night I cooked Jamie Oliver's Steamed Fish in a Bag which was very quick and easy and tasted really good - definitely a keeper! I altered the method slightly as I went along. Jamie's recipe started by mashing up the lime leaves with a pestle and mortar. I tried that but only succeeded in tearing them slightly. So I just blitzed all the ingredients into a paste with the stick blender and poured it over the raw fish.
Jude's Jamie's Steamed fish in a bag (serves 2)
6 kaffir lime leaves, cut up roughly
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 large red chilli, seeds removed and roughly chopped
3 cm piece ginger, roughly sliced
handful coriander leaves plus extra for garnish
grated rind and juice of a lime
1 T soy sauce
2 T dry sherry
2 T olive oil
2 thick pieces of snapper
Preheat oven to 220C. Place a large oven tray on the centre rack. Tear off a metre of foil (I used the wide one), fold in half, then open out and turn up 5cm all round to create a shallow "tray". Spray or lightly smear with cooking oil. Place fish on one side.
With a stick blender, puree all the ingredients except the fish together to form a thickish sauce. Pour evenly over the fish. Fold over top half of foil and seal the 3 open sides securely with a double fold. Don't fold the foil right up to the edge of the fish - leave a 5cm or so space so that the steam can circulate.
Place the parcel carefully on the hot tray and bake for about 12 mins. until cooked through. Garnish with coriander and serve over steamed rice.
May 31, 2008
There were lots of great food and wine exhibitors to talk to...
I had Peter Evans' delicious Chicken larb salad (recipe provided!) and a glass of Lindeman's Early Harvest Crisp Dry White...
May 28, 2008
May 22, 2008
I lashed out and bought this gorgeous Le Creuset pot especially, and it's perfect for risotto-for-two.
This recipe makes a creamy but fairly dry risotto, so if you prefer yours sloppier (and more authentically Italian?) then you'll need to add more liquid.
And there's only one pot and one baking tray to wash up afterwards.
May 21, 2008
1 pkt Lattice biscuits
125g cream cheese - straight from the fridge and cut into cubes
125g butter (softened by cutting into cubes and microwaving a few seconds on low)
125g caster sugar
2 t gelatine dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water
1/2 t vanilla extract
First dissolve the gelatine in the hot water, then pour mixture into a fresh (cold) cup or glass and stand in a bowl of cold water to cool quickly. Blend together cream cheese, butter and sugar in food processor until smooth, scraping sides once. Add cooled gelatine mixture and vanilla down the feed tube and process a few seconds until combined. Put bowl in fridge while doing the next step. Lay out half the Lattice biscuits in a foil lined tin. Don't worry if some of them are broken, they can be hidden underneath to serve. Spread the cream cheese mixture over and top with the remaining biscuits. Refrigerate until firm, separate carefully and cut in half with a sharp knife. Sprinkle with icing sugar to serve.
May 18, 2008
These delicious fool-proof souffles were perfect. The recipe came from an English magazine a few years back. I've made them quite a few times and they always turn out perfectly. They can be completed to the end of step 4 up to a day ahead, then baked when you're ready to serve them.
1/2 small onion, studded with 1 clove
40g butter plus extra for greasing
40g plain flour
75g each of good cheddar cheese and gruyere cheese, grated and tossed together
1 t wholegrain mustard
3 egg yolks
4 egg whites
200ml thickened cream
2 T grated parmesan
parsley sprigs, to garnish
1. Put the milk in a small pan with the onion and bay leaf. Bring slowly to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 min. Remove the onion and bay leaf. Preheat the onion to 180C.
2. In another pan, melt the butter, then add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 min. Remove from the heat, then gradually stir in the infused milk. Return to the heat and stir constantly until thickened and just beginning to boil. Remove from the heat then add 125g of the cheese and the mustard. Season well and add a good pinch of nutmeg, then beat in the egg yolks.
3. Butter six 150ml ramekins thoroughly. Put the kettle on to boil. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the cheese sauce. Spoon the mixture into the ramekins, then put them in a roasting tin. Pour enough boiling water into the tin to come halfway up the ramekins. Bake for 15-20 min until set and golden. Remove from water bath and leave to cool.
4. Run a knife around the edge of each ramekin, then carefully turn the souffles out on to a buttered oven proof dish.
5. Increase oven to 200C. Season the cream, then pour it over the souffles. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and parmesan and bake for 15 - 20 mins. until the cream is bubbling and the souffles have risen. Remove with a palette knife and serve immediately, garnished with parsley.