April 25, 2008

anzac day

I've never liked baking biscuits much. Probably because I don't like eating them nearly as much as I like to eat cake. But Georgie has been asking me to make Anzac biscuits for ages, and even emailed me this recipe link. I loved the sound of toasted macadamias in Anzacs - so Australian - and this being Anzac day I relented.

Disaster! I thought the mixture didn't feel right when I was rolling it into balls. When I tasted one (it disintegrated into crumbs when I lifted it off the baking sheet) I realised I'd left out the sugar. Oh dear, sorry Georgie. I couldn't be bothered starting again. My (feeble) excuse for leaving out a vital ingredient was because I was making this for lunch at the same time...

Yet another recipe from my delicious stash - Thai pumpkin soup with coriander pesto - the best soup ever! It was quite a lot of trouble, probably best saved for a special occasion, but definitely another keeper. The recipe is here. So one hit and one miss today!

April 24, 2008

fabulous fish

This was dinner last night - Tandoori salmon with cucumber & coconut sambal. It was another recipe from my stash cut out of past issues of food mags (in this case delicious), and it's definitely a keeper. It was quick and easy and tasted fantastic. The recipe is here

I must admit I omitted the saffron from the rice - I thought I had some in the pantry but I didn't - so I added a little turmeric for colour.

April 21, 2008

Yay - a new cafe!

At last we have a decent looking cafe in Murrumbeena. Just opened is the World of food cafe, and from what I've had there so far it seems to be as good as it looks. This is the best thing to happen to the pretty terrible strip of shops in Neerim Road in the 32 years we've lived in the area. Let's hope it's the start of some positive changes.
World of Food Cafe and Catering
480 Neerim Rd

It's a coincidence

I swear it's a coincidence that I made yet another yellow food thing yesterday! I saw this divine looking tart here the other day and bookmarked it. It's Dorie Greenspan's Most extraordinary French lemon cream tart. I had already noticed the recipe for it a few weeks ago in my new Baking: from my home to yours cookbook - which I hadn't got around to making a single thing from up until then. Last night we went to Nick's for dinner so was the perfect opportunity to try it. The filling is made in a very different way to a normal lemon curd. Usually you cook the butter, eggs, sugar and lemon juice together until they thicken. Here, the butter is added in a food processor after the other ingredients are cooked and slightly cooled. This way, instead of the butter melting it emulsifies, so that the resulting texture is velvety smooth and light. Dorie's recipe is here.

I must admit I had to whisk the mixture over the heat for much longer than the suggested 10 minutes - it was more like 45. And even then I found the temperature wouldn't go above about 165, but I'd already read in the comments on Dorie's blog that that was ok.

I used an adapted version of Dorie's Sweet tart dough recipe for the crust:

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

1/4 tspn salt

1 stick plus 1 Tab butter*, very cold (or frozen) and cut into small pieces

1 large egg yolk

Heat oven to 180C. Pulse flour, icing sugar and salt in a food processor a couple of times to combine. Scatter over the pieces of butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and process in long pulses until the mixture forms a ball around the blade. Turn out and knead sparingly. Press into a fluted loose-bottomed 23 cm. tart tin. Freeze for at least 30 minutes. Bake blind for 25 minutes, remove paper and weights and bake for a further 8 minutes or until golden brown.

* I used 125g of butter. I find it so frustrating that some U.S. recipes use spoon measures for butter. Is it just me? Could someone please explain how you actually measure a tablespoon of icy cold butter?!

The tart was delicious but we didn't finish it. As you're not supposed to fill the tart case until just before serving I imagine the pastry is probably a little soggy today. The filling will keep for about 4 days in the fridge so I think next time I'll make individual tartlets instead.

April 18, 2008

yellow rules!

I realised when I was cooking it that I could have entered last night's dinner in the Taste of yellow event instead of the lemon slice. This is my favourite home-made curry of all time. I've had the recipe for years - well before Thai-style curries were commonplace. I can't remember where it came from but there's a person's name and address at the bottom so it was obviously cut from a daggy women's mag. I've added a couple more ingredients over the years so it tastes even better than when I used to make it. Don't be tempted to buy chicken breast fillets. It's definitely worth the extra time and effort to cut all the fatty bits off chicken thighs - they have much more flavour and won't toughen however long you cook them.

Chicken coconut curry

1 small onion, roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic

1 red chilli, seeded and roughly chopped

grated rind and juice of 1 lime

1 T fish sauce

1 t turmeric

1 t ground cumin

2 t paprika

3cm piece of ginger, grated

1 T coriander roots (generally roots from 1 bunch)

handful coriander leaves

2 lime leaves, roughly torn (optional)

1 T peanut oil

800g chicken thigh fillets, fat removed and cut into strips (will weigh less after fat is removed)

3/4 cup coconut milk or cream

Process the first 12 ingredients, ideally with a stick blender but a food processor is fine, until you have a fairly runny smooth paste. Heat the oil in a heavy based pan over medium heat, add the paste and fry for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Increase heat, add the chicken and fry until it has changed colour. Add coconut milk/cream, bring to the boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 mins. If there is too much liquid, remove chicken with a slotted spoon and increase heat. Cook liquid until reduced a little, then put back chicken to reheat. Serve with rice and top with extra coriander leaves.

April 17, 2008

livestrong day 2008

Here's my entry for Barbara from Winosandfoodies A taste of yellow . I've been wanting an excuse to make Belinda Jeffery's Luscious lemon slice from her mix & bake cookbook for ages. As I'm off to a fashion parade tonight and have to take something for supper, here is my chance to do both. Barbara's event is in support of Livestrong Day - the Lance Armstrong Foundation's one-day initiative to raise awareness and funds for the cancer fight, which this year is on Tuesday, May 13. As I'm entering at the last minute my wrist band isn't in the photos but hopefully it'll arrive soon and I'll be wearing it on the day.

Belinda Jeffrey's Luscious Lemon Slice

1 1/2 cups (225g) plain flour
1/2 cup (80g)icing sugar
finely grated zest of a lemon
180g cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 tspns iced water

6 eggs
3 cups (660g) caster sugar
finely grated zest of 3 lemons
1 cup (250ml) lemon juice * (about 5-6 lemons)
1/2 cup (75g) plain flour
icing sugar to serve
opt. chopped pistachios/blueberries/raspberries to serve

Preheat oven to 180C. Lightly butter a 32x24x5 baking dish. Place flour, icing sugar and lemon zest in a food processor and whiz them together. Ad the butter and process until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add iced water and process until mixture forms a ball around the blade. Press into prepared tin and roll a jar across the top to smooth it out. Bake for about 18 mins or until starting to colour. Place on a wire rack for 5 mins. to cool and reduce oven to 150C.

Meanwhile, make the topping. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar with a balloon whisk until well combined, whisk in lemon juice and zest. Sift flour over the top and whisk until mixture is smooth. Pour over the slightly cooled base and bake for a further 35-40 mins or until topping is set. Cool in tin on wire rack. When completely cold, slice with a sharp knife. Before serving, dust with icing sugar. Sprinkle on a few chopped pistachios, or, if serving as a dessert, pile a few berries on top and serve with a dollop of cream on the side.

*If you microwave lemons on medium heat for a couple of minutes until hot (but not too hot to hold) they will yield double the amount of juice.

The slice is tangy and delcious but quite delicate...not really ideal as finger food but would be perfect as a dessert.

April 14, 2008

zucchini and feta tart

I made this very simple but delicious tart last night. I stayed pretty close the original recipe, which is from Gourmet Traveller magazine and is here, but I substituted goat's cheese for the feta. It was the perfect easy Sunday meal for a cool night.

April 12, 2008

beautiful queenstown

We've just spent a wonderful 4 days in Queenstown, N.Z. attending Jeff's annual GMN conference. We'd been there before about 10 years ago but had forgotten just how gorgeous the scenery is.

This was the view of Lake Wakatipu we had from our hotel room! (Oh how I love the Stitch feature on my Canon Ixus. Now my panoramas actually join up!)

And this is how it looked at sunset.

The day of the actual conference, while the men spent the day indoors, the ladies had a wonderful time exploring. Many NZ artists have made the area around Queenstown their home, and we visited several studios.

We made a short stop in charming Arrowtown with its tiny miners' cottages...

and for lunch we stopped at Amisfield Winery and had what turned out to be the best meal of the trip - which is really saying something as we wined and dined at some pretty amazing restaurants. We had the "Trust the Chef" menu which included...

the best pork belly I've ever tasted

and equally delicious salmon with salsa verde. I've promised Jeff we'll come back and have a meal here next time we come over.

The next day was totally action-packed. We started off with a gondola ride and had several goes on the luge, where we pretended to be Formula 1 drivers. No photos of it but we bought the dvd of this ...

...a thrilling ride on a jet-boat on the Shotover River. Brilliant! I wish there was a way of posting the video - we are all laughing and screaming our heads off like we are on a ride at Disneyland.

Next we stopped for a delicious lunch in the autumn sunshine at Mt.Difficulty Winery and enjoyed this view...

Lunch finished at 3.30, then we visited another of the local wineries before heading back to Queenstown to enjoy some free time before meeting at 6 for dinner at Gantley's Restaurant.

Whew, now I need to diet to lose the 20 kilos I gained from 4 days of non-stop eating and drinking.

Thanks to the organisers Thora and Vicky our time in Queenstown was simply fantastic and we've vowed to return soon.