Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pear and Carob Pudding

We were due to catch up with some friends last Sunday afternoon as we hadn't seen them for a while. I was in the mood for some baking and as their little boy had just turned 1 I thought I would bake something to share.

I knew my friend was on a restricted diet due to the birthday boy’s allergy to dairy and salicylates, so I sent a quick message to find out a few things they could eat.

With my newly acquired list of ‘okays’ (which included pealed pears and carob) I went on the hunt for an adaptable recipe. I found a recipe, originally by Nigella Lawson, which looked like it would do the trick.

You will need:
Tinned pears, drained
125g plain flour (I used 90g plain, 35g whole wheat flour)
125g dark brown sugar
25g light carob powder
150g Original Nuttelex
2 tsp No Egg
4 Tbsp water
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate soda
2 tsp soy milk
(I also added a bit extra water and soymilk, a teaspoon or so of each)

Lightly grease a 20 cm baking tin. (I used 4 low-ball glass tumblers)
Preheat oven to 200C.
Lay the tinned pears on the bottom of your tin, glasses or ramekins.
Place all other ingredients into a food processor and blitz until you get a soft dropping mixture.
Gently spread the batter over the pears and bake for 30 minutes (or less if baking individual serves) I baked my 4 tumblers for about 15 minutes.

The original recipe called for a chocolate sauce made from dark chocolate, cream and a little coffee. This got me stumped as I wasn’t sure how to adapt this into something edible for my friend. However, while driving to their place I decided to attempt a sweet b├ęchamel sauce using Nuttelex, plain flour and soymilk with carob powder and brown sugar.

The puddings turned out to be a great success and were very rich (which I think is the result of any Nigella recipe). There will definitely be a next time for this one, though I think I’ll use more pear and maybe make the sauce a little thinner or try leaving the carob out.

Hello friends; and Happy Birthday little man!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Lamb, caramelised onion and sweet potato baskets

This awesome little delight comes from the "feel great food" cookbook that Ash got from her gym. Of course I didn't follow the recipe exactly but hey, they're more like guidelines anyway :)
It says to make the baskets using filo pastry but we didn't have any so I just used puff instead. I have written the recipe down as in the book using the filo. Modify as you see fit :)

Ingredients needed:
200g cubed sweet potato
3 sheets filo
30g melted butter
2 red onions, thinly sliced
1Tbsp brown sugar
1Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 lamb backstraps, trimmed (I just de-boned some lamb chops instead)
80g goats cheese (or feta)
1Tbsp maple syrup

Preheat oven to 200c° and bake sweet potato until tender.
Meanwhile layer filo sheets together brushing with melted butter. Cut evenly into squares, then push squares into a greased (large) muffin tray and bake for 5-10mins till golden.

In a frying pan saute the onions in some olive oil until tender and lightly browned. Blend in the sugar and vinegar and stir over low heat till caramelised. Remove from pan.
Return pan to heat and fry lamb on all sides for a few minutes till cooked to your liking. Remove from pan and rest (covered) for 5 mins then slice into cubes. Combine lamb, onion, sweet potato and cheese and fill baskets. Drizzle with maple syrup and serve with yoghurt.

So obviously I didn't follow the recipe above as I used puff instead of filo and I also added some diced celery, carrot, sliced mushrooms and white wine to the onions as well as a sprinkle of Italian herbs. I served the baskets with a garden salad. Was very tasty!

Tunisian Carrot Salad

This is a delicious salad that we made a while ago to accompany some Harissa Crumbed Chicken. The carrot salad recipe comes from one of our newer cookbooks titled Gourmet Vegetarian, by Jane Price. Its very simple and tastes delicious!

Ingredients you will need are:
500g carrots
3Tbsp chopped parsley
1tsp ground cumin
80ml olive oil
60ml red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2tsp harissa (more if you want to give it a bigger kick)
random amount of olives
2 hard boiled eggs, quartered

Thinly slice the carrots then add to pot of boiling water and cook till tender. Drain and transfer to a bowl. Add parsley, cumin, olive oil, vinegar and garlic. Season with salt, pepper and harissa. Stir well. Put carrots in a serving bowl and garnish with olives and egg.

How simple is that!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mum's famous wholemeal bread

I have recently been making my own bread as the stuff we but at the shops just doesn't compare or fill you up as much as "williworld" bread. I have been following a recipe that mum wrote out for me a few years ago when I was living with Dan & Stelle in Albury. The recipe if for 3 loaves, each one weighing around the 1kg mark.

The recipe says to use dry bakers yeast but I have started my own sourdough starter and have been using that together with 1 teaspoon of yeast just to kick it along. Depending on how dense you want your bread you can vary the amounts of wholemeal and plain bakers flour and yes, you can add just about anything else you want too.

I have been adding some home made LSA (combination of ground Linseed, Sesame seed and Almonds) as well as some whole sunflour seeds and pepitas (pumpkin seeds i think). The loaf at the front in the top picture is different to the other two behind it as I added olives and a whole Kransky sausage to the middle of it. This idea was inspired by something I saw on French Food Safari. Was interesting to say the least :)

Of course, if you dont have a bread machine you are going to need some bread tins or rectangular cake tins unless you just make them into cobb loaves etc.

The recipe is as follows and uses dry yeast and not sourdough starter.

4-5 cups hot water (hand hot, not boiling)
1700g flour (any combination of wholemeal, bakers, soy etc.)
1Tbsp sugar
3tsp yeast
1Tbsp salt
1/3 cup olive oil

Set to froth 1c. water, the yeast, 1c flour and the sugar. Once your yeast froth mix is ready, combine 3c water with around 1200g of the flour. Set to rise for 45min-1hr. Once it has risen sufficiently, press it down with the salt and oil and combine the remaining flour. If it is too dry add a little more of the remaining water. Set to rise again in a warm place (hard to find in our house at the moment) till ready to use.

Next you need to divide the dough into 3 sections and knead, then set in tins and allow to rise for 15-20mins. While they are rising in the tins, preheat oven to around 250. Cook for 10mins at this temp then another 50mins at 180.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chilli Sauce

I polished off the last of the chilli jam that Mama made me and was going to put it on my list of things to get next time I went home, when I realised that I should make some myself - given the umpteen chillies lying around my house.

As the chillies were picked a little while ago and had started to dry out, I chopped them up and put them in a saucepan with some water. As this began to create steam, I began to wonder if I was actually making a bio-weapon! My eyes were burning and I was coughing so hard I thought I would spew or burst a lung.

Hmm... maybe it's not a great idea to only grow super hot chillies after all...

After airing out the house, contemplating a gas mask and leaving the chilli liquid to settle for a day or two, I reluctantly re-attempted the sauce. This time, with a little more success.

I blended up the chillies with a wiz-stick, removed just about all the seeds, which were floating, and brought the chillies back up to a very gentle simmer. I then added white vinegar, sea salt, a few garlic cloves and 3 or 4 or 5 cups of sugar.

I simmered this for quite a while then poured it into sterilised jars.

Yum. What started as virtually poison turned out to be rather delicious.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Date and Almond Swirls

I felt like baking on the weekend, but couldn't decide on what to make. I really wanted some Tiramisu but somehow that didnt happen, neither did the Portuguese Tarts...

With my spare time quickly running out, I finally decided to make a cheats version of Mama's Danish pastries (or are they kolache? I can't remember, either way they are delicious!)

Mama makes hers from scratch, buttery pasty and all, and makes an almond filling as well as a poppy seed one.

I seem to also remember a date filling so I thought I would give that a go.

In a small saucepan, place about 1/2 a cup of dates with a bit of water. Cook gently until dates a very soft. Keep an eye on the water, you want just enough so the dates don't stick or burn.

Add about a 1/3 cup brown sugar to the dates along with 1 egg white and about 1/2 cup whole almond meal, then combine well.

Spread the filling onto defrosted puff pastry sheets, loosely roll and place back in the freezer to firm up a little. Otherwise, you can slice the pastry into strips about 1 1/2 cm wide and loosely roll into spirals.

Place your little swirls onto a lined baking tray and bake in a hot oven until golden brown.

MmMmmm! Although they were not as scrumptious as Mamas, they still make a nice treat with a leisurely afternoon coffee.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tofu with Chilli Jam and Cashews

This is an adaptation from a recipe in the 'Gourmet Vegetarian' cook book that Mama gave me a year or so ago.

It is pretty quick to make and tastes delicious!

You will need:
400g Tofu
3 Chillies
3 Garlic cloves
3 Spring onions
1 Tbsp Tamarind puree
1 Tbsp Soy sauce
1 Tbsp Brown sugar
1 Tbsp Kecap manis
1/4 cup Thai basil
1/2 cup Roasted salted cashews

To make the chilli jam, chop the chilli and garlic and fry in a small sauce with sunflower oil over low/medium heat. Add tamarind puree, soy sauce, sugar, kecap manis and a little water if you want. (you can also add sweet chilli sauce or use it instead of the chilli and sugar)

Cube and fry the tofu until golden brown then add the chilli jam and combine well.
Add the chopped spring onions, basil leaves and cashews.

Serve with rice and some Asian greens - I used baby broccoli leaves from my garden.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Standing Rib Roast with Baby Vegetables

The last few weeks have been very chilly in Canberra, reminding us that it is well and truly winter and with Mum and Dad visiting for the weekend I thought it would be a good opportunity to bake my first roast dinner.

As I'm not experienced in buying cuts of meat I had a slight misunderstanding with the Butcher who cut my Roast into individual portions. I was initially disappointed but decided that it actually created more surface area for the marinade and that I could just tie them back together.

Using the pestle and mortar I made a simple marinade of fresh garlic, parsley, pepper, salt, a bit of thyme and olive oil. Mum and Dad then helped me tie the individual cuts together with some cotton string, courtesy of Hannah. (Thanks Hannah. It worked perfectly!)

I then placed the roast back in the fridge to marinate while we went for a drive to Corin Forrest where it was snowing!!

After researching how to cook a roast, I decided to roughly follow the advice on a Canadian beef farmer's website called Whispering Meadows.

I placed the roast, which was at least a kilo, on a few celery stick in a baking dish and put it in the oven at 180C for maybe 1 1/2 hours, basting it a few times and drizzling it with some red wine and butter. I then took it out, covered it with foil and let it rest for another 20 minutes or so.

While the roast was cooking, Dad and Luke got the potatoes ready with olive oil, salt and rosemary. I washed and prepared the baby carrots, baby beets, baby onions (shallots) and garlic cloves. For the Beetroots, I par-boiled them then finished them in the oven with the rest of the veggies.

Lastly, Mum made a delicious gravy while I steamed the baby brussels.

Yum! The meat was perfectly tender and the veggies were scrumptious and golden.

I think Dada was right... the universe does allow for beginners luck.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pear and Rocket Salad

I first made this salad for a shindig at Williworld after seeing the recipe in an ad for Maggie Beer's Spicey Pear Paste.

It has since become a favourite.

Baby rocket or rocket and spinach mix
Pears (sweet but still firm), cut into narrow wedges
Shaved parmesan
Crumbled feta (sheep or goat)
Candied walnuts

Pear or Quince Paste
Equal proportions of Lemon Juice, White Wine Vinegar and Water
Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, or Macadamia or Walnut oil (enough liquid to make the dressing pourable)
Salt and a liberal amount of pepper (use some schechaun pepper for a spicey bite)

Candied Walnuts
Lightly toast nuts in a saute pan. Add good pat of butter and equal volume of brown sugar and stir until butter and sugar start to toffee, being careful to not singe the butter.
Set aside to cool and then break apart.

Combine the ingredients, pour on the dressing and top with the candied walnuts.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pad Thai

One of the best places I have found to buy a great Pad Thai is from the Thai Cart (Baan Sabai Jai) on Smollett Street in Albury, however, it is pretty quick, easy and super tasty if you want to make it yourself at home.

I orginally got this recipe from Stellie (thank you muchly) and have played with it a little each time I have made it.

Firstly, soak 200g rice noodles in warm water until just soft, then drain well.

In a pestle and mortar, make a paste using:
2 large garlic cloves
2 small chillies
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp palm or brown sugar (I know, I don't really like palm products, but I bought it before I knew that much about it and I don't like waisting things)

2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp tamarind paste
(if you like a stronger flavour, you can make each of these 3 Tbsp)

Heat a little oil in wok:
Fry 2 eggs, stirring until just cooked, then set aside
Stir fry 1 chopped onion then set aside with egg
Stir fry about 400g cubed firm tofu until golden

3 tsp Massel chicken stock powder
Soft noodles
Garlic paste
Fresh bean sprouts
Chopped spring onion
cooked egg and onions
1/2 cup toasted chopped nuts

Combine well then enjoy with spring onions, chilli, fried shallots and a wedge of lime.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Patate, Pepe E Melanzane Fritti (Fried potato, capsicum and eggplant)

This is a recipe out of my new Italian Food Safari cookbook. It is very similar to the fried vegies that mum makes. Of course in true WilliWorld fashion I modified the recipe. Basically this meal is a traditional farmer's lunch and would probably be served with some crusty bread and cold meat.

The modifications that I made to the recipe was to add some fried Beef Kransky as well as some mushrooms and zucchini.

The traditional recipe is as follows.

185ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium potatoes (cut into large cubes or wedges)
1 large eggplant (cubed)
2 red capsicums (preferably bull's horn, cut into 2cm strips)
2 cloves garlic
1 medium tomato (diced)
basil leaves

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the potatoes until lightly golden. Remove from pan and keep warm. Add the cubed eggplant and capsicum to the pan and stir-fry until just soft. Return the potatoes to the pan and stir everything together.

Next you need to create a well in the middle of the vegies and add the diced garlic. Fry the garlic for a few seconds until it releases its aroma, then stir in the tomato, basil and salt. I served this with some of my home made bread which I toasted and spread with mayo and harrissa.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hot and Sour Fish, Steamed in Banana Leaves

I went to the shops the other day looking for a garden pot for my desk at work, but somehow didn’t manage to make it past the recipe books aisle.

While flicking through an assortment of beautiful books I saw a great photograph of a scrumptious looking fish. I had a quick look at the recipe and stored it to memory.

I then went on the hunt for some fresh banana leaves. It took 2 days and 7 shops but I finally found some beautiful leaves at Simply Fresh Fruit Market.

The recipe had 4 whole medium bream, but I already had a single, huge Drummer that I think Mark had caught.

To season the fish you need:
4 chillies
2 Kaffir lime leaves
2 spring onions
1/2 cup coriander leaves
1/2 cup Thai basil leaves
2 sticks lemon grass

Lime and Chilli Dressing:
1/2 cup sweet chilli sauce
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp grated ginger

Firstly, make slits across the thickest part of the fish, on both sides. Spoon about 1/3 to 1/2 of the dressing onto the fish. I then wrapped mine in gladwrap and put it in the fridge to marinate for about an hour.

While the fish is marinating, chop and combine the chillies, herbs and spring onions and finely slice the lime leaves. Chop the lemon grass in half, and then in half lengthwise and lightly bruise.

To prepare the banana leaves, trim them into large squares, large enough to wrap your fish.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, then using tongs, dip the leaves into the boiling water then immediately run then under cold water.

Lay out the prepared banana leaves and place a few stick of lemongrass and about 1/3 of the herb mix. Lay the fish on the herbs and cover with the rest of the herbs. If you have extra, place some inside the fish too.

Wrap the banana leaves around the fish and tie the with twine. Place the fish in a steamer (I used my wok as it has a wire rack insert for steaming) and cook for 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of you fish.

When the fish is done, open the parcel and pour the rest of the dressing over the fish. Serve with steamed rice and Asian greens, a few fresh herbs and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Mmm... spice but tasty. I think I might buy the book.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Turmeric Rice with Tofu and Toasted Almonds

This is a variation on a simple but delicious dish that a family friend used to make when I was a kid.

I loved it then, but I much prefer this version.

You will need:
1 ¼ cups rice
1 Onion
1 – 2 tsp turmeric
A handful of whole almonds
Diced tofu (I use half a 750g block of Soyco firm tofu)
Massel chicken stock and vegetable stock powders
Sour cream
Chilli sauce
Veggies of your choice

Gently caramelise onion with a little butter and oil.
Add 1 tsp each of chicken and veggie stock along with the turmeric, stir until fragment.
Add rice, gently frying and stirring until combined.
Add about 2 cups hot water, reduce heat and cover.

In a pan, fry cubed tofu, once it starts to turn golden add about 3 tsp of chicken stock powder and a handful of almonds.
Continue cooking until almonds are hot and there is good colour on the tofu.

When rice is done stir gently with a fork to combine the onion and loosen the rice.

Serve with scoop of sour cream and a drizzle of chilli sauce.
To make it a bit healthier, and depending on what is in season, I also serve this with broccoli, tomato wedges, beans or snow peas.