Friday, 30 April 2010

Stuffed mushrooms with gorgonzola dressing

I love this gorgonzola.   I love milder blue cheeses, and usually gorgonzola is too much for me, but not this time!  I don't know what brand G bought, but he will be buying it again if I have my way.

The mushroom part of this dish is simple - a flat mushroom stuffed with breadcrumbs, in my case, the leftover breadcrumbs from the blue eye mixed with the chopped stalks and a bit more olive oil.  Bake.

The dressing is the hero - gorgonzola, mustard, vinegar and an egg yolk.  Obviously not a dish designed for pregnant ladies, but I was willing to risk potential salmonella.  It was fabulous, poured over the hot mushrooms with a little extra gorgonzola crumbled over the top to make it even more marvellous.

Actually, the gorgonzola wasn't crumbled, and that is my one criticism of the cheese - not crumbly.  Minor issue really. 

Oh, it was meant to be serve on radicchio and with beans - both of which I despise, so that didn't happen!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Oven Baked Risotto

As I believe I may have mentioned previously, I am not a risotto cook.  G is the risotto chef in our house.  For some reason however, I decided that it would be a good idea to make the oven baked risotto recipe from the April Delicious.

It is a super simple recipe, with a few discrete steps.

Oven roast tomatoes:

Saute onions, stir in rice, mix in wine and stock, put in oven and bake:

Put in bowl and serve, with pesto, goat's cheese and roasted tomatoes:

Enjoy lots (and serve with salad)!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Tomato romesco sauce

When Mark Bittman made this sauce, he put it on tri tip steak.  I did not.  To see him make the sauce and cook the steak, have a look at the video here.

Of course, you still have to watch the video if you want to make the sauce to put with something else!  I chose to put it with spagetti and diced skinless, spicy, beef sausages:

Again, not a delicious looking picture, but a delicious dinner!

The tomato sauce is mainly tomatoes and almonds - a delicious texture that you should try yourself.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Panfried mushrooms

A simple, delicious 'light' supper:
A mix of mushrooms - pink and regular oysters, shimeji and swiss brown with butter, olive oil and parsley.  Mopped up with a super crusty-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside, bread.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Jamie's parmesan chicken

Jamie Oliver did a guest appearance on The Minimalist - I got the impression that Jamie is not that famous in America, but here in Australia he doesn't need a surname!  Video here and you can get the recipe from it too.

What you want the end product to look like:

Super moist, cooked through, crispy chicken. 

It's a pretty simple:
  • pile the chicken chicken with herbs, citrus zest and parmesan
  • cover with prosciutto
  • cover the whole thing with gladwrap
  • bang it so it is all the same thickness (around 1cm, it will contract as it cooks)
Oh, and serve with some of the leftover lemon mayo from the blue eye with a sundried tomato crust!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Bittersweet chocolate mousse

I love chocolate mousse.  It's such an 80's dinner party staple, and I am sad that I wasn't old enough to enjoy dinner parties in the 1980's.  But I am making up for it!

It's so easy to make, and looks super delicious and rich - though if I was going to serve it at a dinner party I would use a piping bag to get the mousse in the glass to avoid ugly splodges on the sides of the glass - doesn't mar the taste, but does diminish the appearance!

I didn't even bother to top it with whipped cream and grated chocolate - it really seemed like gilding the lily!

I made the full recipe, so it was 4 serves of mousse.  I managed to eat one the first night, but the second night I could barely manage half the mousse - I guess the rich chocolateyness (if that is a word) caught up with me (served with a decorated cappuccino):

Monday, 19 April 2010

Recently discovered - Tartelette

I've recently discovered a blog called Tartelette, a blog by a French lady living in the USA. She takes beautiful photographs, and cooks delicious looking meals.  I have spent a fair amount of time trawling through her archives and have been inspired!  There are many dishes I would like to make.  I think most of her dishes would be perfect for a dinner party - they just look so fabulous!

She may or may not be coeliac, but she cooks a fair number of gluten-free dishes, and has done some things that I didn't think were possible to do gluten-free (eg pastry).

I have made the apricot and rosemary shortbread cookies (recipe)

The dough, after it came out of the food processor (which was cheating, because the recipe involves using a pastry blender, which I don't own):

A stack of delicious biscuits - the apricot comes from good quality apricot jam sandwiching 2 of the biscuits together:

And the taste?  Fantastic, a little odd (sweet + savoury) but wonderful.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Blue eye with a sun dried tomato crust

I used an awful lot of dishes to make this (sorry G), but he thought it was worth it, and so did I.

Firstly we needed dishes to do the mashed potato (knife, vegetable peeler, saucepan, masher); the food processor to make the crust; zester, fork and cup to make lemon mayonnaise;  bowl and tongs to make the salad; and a baking tray for the fish!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Pasta with chicken, risotto style

Mark Bittman's recipe and column, and of course, you can get the video through itunes.

It's a really good idea - particularly for someone who *can't* make risotto, however it is not the most attractive meal I have put on a plate, so ugly that I didn't take a photo of it, sorry!

Anyway, it's pretty easy to make, and definitely tasty.  Basically cook the pasta as though you are cooking risotto (keep adding stock bit by bit, rather than adding all the liquid at once).

To combat the greyness of the recipe, I added about half a cup of diced fresh tomato and a lot of chopped parsley - I personally prefer flat leaf to curly.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Easter food

I love Easter, mainly because I love hot cross buns.  However, I do not think that they should be eaten much before Easter, and I am opposed to the supermarkets selling the buns from early February.  I also don't understand why you would buy hot cross buns without fruit (unless they have choc chips in them).

I tried the following kinds (in order of deliciousness):
  • Silo Bakery fruit, $2 per regular sized bun - heavy on the fruit and spice, and literally heavier than any other bun I tried.  For those not from Canberra, Silo is an amazing bakery with horrible service - reviews here
  • Brumby's choc chip, $6.50 for $6 - chocolate bun mix with decent size choc bits that retain their shape but go gooey when toasted.
  • Brumby's fruit, $6.50 for $6 - nice and fruity, a little peel.
  • Baker's Delight fruit, unsure on price - less fruit than Brumby's and a greater ratio of peel to fruit than I like.
  • Coles fine belgian chocolate, $2 for 4 - unpleasant, bitter and grainy chocolate.  
  • Baker's Delight choc chip, unsure on price - gross.  Too sweet.

I gave G a super cute bunny from Koko Black:

I made cupcakes that looked like chicks:

G made Easter Egg slice:

And we played 10 pin bunny bowling:

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Risoni salad

I basically made a half quantity of the recipe, and that was enough for 3 meals (dinner for G and I and then lunch the next day, when it was just as delicious!)

This was the first time that I'd ever roasted my own capsicum, and it was so easy.  However I did end up roasting it for longer than Curtis says - he says 10 minutes (and then for a few more minutes with the tomatoes), but I did it for 20 minutes and then added the tomatoes.  

It was super easy, though of course a little time consuming to roast capsicums on a weeknight!

My version (less green than Curtis' even though I divided his quantities in half, I ended up with more risoni to green than Curtis did):

Friday, 9 April 2010

Chorizo with chickpeas

I don't particularly like chickpeas, or many legumes to be honest, and I think it's mainly because of the texture.  I do not like mush (overcooked beans and peas, bananas, weetbix) and to me, legumes = mush.

Mark Bittman really sold this recipe to me on the basis that it would be crispy more than mushy - and he was telling the truth!
I think I used more spinach than was required, and I cheated and used the frozen kind!

The concept is simple, as it is in most Bittman recipes, fry chickpeas, add chorizo and fry some more then remove from the pan.  Cook the spinach down with some sherry then thrown the chickpea/chorizo mix back in, toss together and serve.

Recipe here.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Introducing The Minimalist, Mark Bittman

Mark Bittman writes a column called 'Bitten' for the New York Times.  He also vodcasts 'The Minimalist' - videos of him making some of the recipes he blogs about.  Of course, he has his own website too.

My take on his philosophy is that cooking can be inexpensive and easy, yet still delicious and impressive if necessary.  He really encourages you to use what you have got, and swap ingredients where necessary.  Most of his recipes have very few ingredients, and nothing that is too weird (although some of the chillis he uses are impossible to find in Australia, however, that is not his fault - he uses Mexican/South American chillis that we don't have access to in Australia).  He is also a proponent of keeping a well stocked pantry, and buying the best quality ingredients you can get, you just use less of them if necessary.

He blogs regularly and makes his dishes sound easily achievable.  The vodcasts really add to my experience of Mr Bittman - the dishes look so delicious, and so simple to make.  He tempts me to try dishes that contain ingredients I would not otherwise enjoy (eg chickpeas).  On the topic of his vodcasts, there is mixed opinion about the introductions.  I personally enjoy them and look forward to seeing a new one, whereas other people think they are a waste of time - judge for yourself!

Instead of cooking from a book for the next little while, I will be trying out some of Mark Bittman's recipes. 

Monday, 5 April 2010

It's April, so it's goodbye March Delicious, hello April Delicious

I am very excited about April Delicious, so excited that I am glad that March is over.  Firstly, I didn't like the March dessert recipes and secondly, there was no 'gift with purchase'.  Feb came with a calico bag and April came with a little booklet called 'Food with Friends' - more recipes, discussed below.

The best high effort March recipe: corn soup
The best weekday meal: carrot fritters

I am pretty excited about the April edition.  My plans:
  • Pan fried mushrooms
  • Apple tart
  • White chocolate scones
  • Chicken cacciatore (which I can make from a packet!)
  • Risoni salad
  • Chocolate mousse
  • Blue eye with a sun dried tomato crust
  • Oven baked risotto
  • Pistachio meringues
  • Orange drops
  • Hot cross muffins
  • Stuffed mushrooms
The cake on the front looks pretty but way too much work!

'Food for Friends' was a little booklet that came stuck to the front.  It was basically different people's ideas of what to serve at a dinner party.  To be honest, there was nothing awesome, though if you add the number of recipes in this booklet to the number in Delicious you get a lot more recipes than normal!

From 'Food for Friends' I think I will make:
  • Salmon 'cheesecake'
  • Pistachio biscuits
  • Beef ragu
  • Porcini mushroom soup
  • White chocolate and caramel crisp terrine
G thinks he would like me to make:
  • Marinated and seared tuna
  • Lemon tarts
  • Carrot and coriander pilaf

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Chocolate caramel cheesecake

This was amazing.  And easy. And almost looked like this (minus the little bowl of cream on the side).  But you'll have to take my word for it because apparently I forgot to take a photograph of it.  But it was so good that I may have to make it again anyway.  Taking the photograph will be my excuse to G though.

Biscuit base, covered in melted caramel and chopped pecans.  Cool that, top with a cream cheese mixture and bake for longer than the book says.  Turn to google and 'google' the recipe title to see how long other people baked it for, feel reassured that that other people had to bake it for longer than the recipe said.

Get copious amounts of compliments when you serve it.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Perch (swordfish) involtini

This was supposed to be a swordfish dish, but there was none at De Costi on the day I went.  I asked behind the counter for a swordfish equivalent.  Rather unhelpfully, the 15 year old boy behind the counter was unable to suggest an equivalent so I chose ocean perch.  It was thin enough (and saved me the hassle of having to slice it into thinner fillets) and white and firmish.  It did work.

It is quite simple really, you do a bit on the stove with tomatoes, olives and capers, add the swordfish and then put it in the oven.

2 lessons:
  1. You don't need to soak skewers (holding the perch rolled up) if you are going to bake, although you should soak skewers before they go on the BBQ. 
  2. There is a GOOD reason why chefs always put tea towels on the handles of pans they take out of the oven - you/someone else in the kitchen will instinctively try to lift the pan up at some stage!
Unfortunately G s not in the habit of putting a tea towel on a hot pan.  Or rather, I should say that he wasn't in that habit... he is now.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Smoked salmon souffle

So, I have previously tried to make a roux and failed miserably.  I was concerned when I read that this recipe started with a roux and then turned into a souffle - something that I find hard, and then something that most people find hard!  I have seriously ruined a saucepan before making a roux, yet G was still kind enough to let me use his good saucepan, and success!  It came together just beautifully.

Then I tipped in the other ingredients, baked once in a water bath, cooled (in the freezer to make it go faster) and then baked again.  It rose! Twice!

After the first bake:

Then after the second: