August 28, 2008

kitchen love

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...

plus these...

plus these...

Now I'm not sentimental about houses and am looking forward to moving and living in a new neighbourhood, but there's no doubt I'm going to miss my kitchen dreadfully.

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

spring risotto

I love love love broad beans. They're my absolute favourite vegetable. They have such a short season - maybe I wouldn't love them so much if they were available all year round - so we tend to have them several times a week in spring.

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

goat's cheese and spinach souffle

I made this for dinner last night. I've got a bit of a thing for savoury souffles and have been dying to make it since I cut the recipe out of a Gourmet Traveller mag. It was great, but maybe not quite as good as these twice-baked ones and a bit more time-consuming. Last night's recipe is here. It was also sinfully much for the last month's gym-work and healthy eating. Check out all the high-fat dairy ingredients!......

I might try putting some spinach in the twice-baked ones next time.

August 24, 2008

best healthy muffins so far

Over coffee-after-the-gym the other morning Corry brought out a new mag to show us- BBC Australian Good Food. I hadn't seen it in the supermarket but a quick look through made me interested enough to buy it. As if I needed any more food mags. It looks quite similar to delicious, and features some well-known chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Kylie Kwong. But unlike delicious, whose recipes are featured on , I couldn't find any of the recipes online.

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

chickpea & tuna patties

A Sydney friend sends me the Good Living section out of Sydney Morning Herald on a Tuesday. I prefer it to Epicure in the Melbourne Age - there are more recipes and the articles are better, though some are a bit irrelevant when we don't live in Sydney. Jeremy and Jane Strode - co-owners of Bistrode in Surry Hills - have a weekly column. These chickpea and tuna patties were one of their recipe's from this week and they were delicious. I reckon they taste even better than the ones I usually make with mashed potato, with the added bonus that they're much quicker to make. The recipe is here. I made the slight alteration of rolling the patties in cornflake crumbs before frying for a bit of crunch.

August 17, 2008

nigella's chocolate marsala cake

I made this for dessert last night. It was a delicious change from all the low/no fat, no sugar cake I've been baking lately, and was a cinch to make. It's from How to be a domestic goddess and this is how it appears in the book , with my note at the end.

Chocolate Marsala Cake
100g unsalted butter
100g dark chocolate, broken up
4 large eggs
175g caster sugar
50g self-raising flour, sifted 3 times
3 tablespoons Marsala
for the Icing:
100g dark chocolate
1 tablespoon Marsala
100ml double cream*

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

yet more healthy muffins...

I wish I'd kept my copy of Julie Stafford's mid '90's muffin book. I donated it to the choir garage sale a few years ago which I now regret. I'm going to try and get another one, although I'm not sure it's still in print. In the meantime I found a recipe from the book on the net for Rhubarb and Ginger muffins. It sounded similar to Rhubarb Daisy Cake (recipe here) created by Jamie Oliver's mum. It's an upside down cake topped with a pinwheel of rhubarb sticks and glazed with a mixture of golden syrup and ginger syrup which I've made and which looks and tastes divine. The muffins were never going to taste as good as the cake seeing as there's no butter or syrup, but they're pretty good. Here's my version :

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
2 eggs

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

more healthy muffins

Here's another great low GI muffin recipe from the same cookbook as yesterday's. The original recipe uses blueberries which I don't like much, so I use frozen raspberries instead.

Low GI Lemon Raspberry Muffins (Makes 10)
All ingredients should be at room temperature except the raspberries.
180g wholemeal plain flour
30g wheat bran
80g sugar substitute (eg Splenda)
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
240ml buttermilk
1 egg
50g soft margarine, melted, or rapeseed oil (I use Nuttelex)
1 T grated lemon rind
140g frozen raspberries - don't thaw first

Preheat oven to 190C. Line 10 holes of a muffin tin with papers and lightly spray them with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl stir together all the dry ingredients.

In a small bowl whisk together the egg, buttermilk, margarine and lemon rind. Pour over the dry mixture, add the raspberries and stir until just combined.

Spoon into muffin papers and bake for about 20 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack. These will freeze well for a few weeks.

August 2, 2008

low gi muffins

I'm on a health kick at the moment. I've joined a gym again after a 10 year gap - and have amazed myself by going every weekday for the last 2 weeks - and am trying to cut out empty calories. I've found the hardest part of the day to get through is late-afternoon to dinnertime, even with a mid-afternoon snack. I've tried a few of the high-protein bars that they sell at the gym and they were all dreadful. This is my version of a muffin recipe I copied a couple of years ago from a Low GI cookbook. They taste pretty good, and if I eat one in the afternoon it keeps me going 'till dinnertime and cuts out the craving for dangerous pre-dinner nibbles. They also freeze well.

Low GI Cinnamon Bran Muffins (Makes 12)
All ingredients should be at room temperature.

50g wheat bran
30g All-Bran
pinch salt
120ml boiling water
240ml buttermilk
150g sultanas (you can use dried cranberries instead)
4 Tabs artificial sweetener eg Splenda
1 egg
60ml canola/rapeseed oil
150g wholemeal plain flour
1 1/4 t bicarb soda
1 t cinnamon
Preheat oven to 190C. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with muffin papers and spray them lightly with non-stick spray.
In a bowl combine the bran, All-Bran and boiling water. Stir in the buttermilk and sultanas.

In another bowl, whisk together the sweetener, egg and oil. Stir into the bran mixture.
In a large bowl stir together the flour, salt, soda and cinnamon. Pour the bran mixture over the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
Divide the mixture between the lined muffin cups and bake for about 20 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack.