Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Tomato lasagne

This recipe came from one of those free Coles magazines (you know the ones you pick up on your way into the supermarket and it is half ads and half content).  It also prices the recipe on a per serve basis, probably as part of the Curtis Stone 'Feed your Family' promotion (details here).  This recipe does not fit into the feed your family for less than $10, but if you already have some of the ingredients then you probably can get the more perishable ingredients for less than $10.

50 g butter
1/3 cup p flour
2 cups milk
400g can diced tomatoes, juice drained and reserved
Basil pesto
Fresh lasagne sheets
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella
1 cup grated parmesan

Pre heat oven to 180 degrees, grease a 23cm lasagne dish.
Make a roux - melt the butter, add in flour, add combined milk and tomato juice.  Once lump free and combined simmer for 5 minutes (while stirring) and then leave it for 2 minutes on the heat to thicken, season.
Layer as follows:
1/4 of the roux
Lasagne sheet, spread with 1 tbs pesto
1/4 of the roux
1/2 the tomatoes
1/2 the mozzarella
1/4 of the parmesan

Lasagne sheet, spread with 1 tbs pesto
1/4 of the roux
1/2 the tomatoes
1/2 the mozzarella

1/4 of the parmesan
Lasagne sheet, spread with 1 tbs pesto
1/4 of the roux
Remaining parmesan

Bake for 40 minutes.

Top with an avacado, basil and fresh tomato salsa.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Green pancakes

Mmm - pancakes for dinner!  It sounds so luxurious, so decadent.  When I was growing up I remember we had pancakes for dinner just once a year, on Shrove Tuesday.  I've continued that tradition, so that I still get pancakes for dinner at least once a year.

Then June Delicious had a savoury pancake recipe that I decided to cook for dinner - which would be the second time this year that I have eaten pancakes for dinner!

Of course, I couldn't just have pancakes for dinner, so I marinated some chicken in the same herbs that went into the pancakes (in my case, green chilli, flat leaf parsley and basil, as opposed to the coriander listed in the recipe) and some lemon juice and zest.  I actually hate touching raw chicken so when I marinated it I left it in the plastic bag and added the herbs into the bag and then rubbed them into the chicken through the plastic.

Of course, green pancakes do look a little strange - while you mix them, while you cook them and when you serve them.  This is definitely not a recipe you could serve to people who don't like vegetables (adults or children) as the green colour makes the pancakes look way too healthy!

Friday, 25 June 2010

NSW South Coast

Of course I love the beach in summer, swimming, reading a book in the sun (and sunscreen) and just enjoying the warm weather.  But I also really enjoy spending time at the beach in Autumn, Winter and Spring for other reasons. No matter the season I love walking along the beach, dipping my toes into the water (if I am brave) and looking for shells or interesting pieces of smooth glass.  G and I took a trip to Ulladulla/Milton in May and, among other things, ate amazingly well.  

We began on Friday night at Pilgrim's Cafe in Milton, it's on the main highway in the Milton shops (no website though).  On Friday nights Pilgrims only serve Mexican food, and its BYO all alcohol.  I had an enchilada and G had soft tacos.  $15 each, and a fresh juice to share, and we were very happy.

On Saturday we drove up to Berry, which is too trendy for a beachside town!  It was packed, and very difficult to find a carpark.  We ate lunch at a cafe called Berry Woodfired and enjoyed an amazing pumpkin and goat's cheese soufflé ($14):

The coffee after was delicious, and then we wandered into a lolly shop that sold old-fashioned lollies, current sweets (at inflated prices) and a selection of imported foodstuffs (L&P soft drink for kiwis, a range of poptarts, reese's pieces, bovril etc) at reasonable prices, so we indulged.

That night we went to Rick Stein's at Bannisters for dinner (link here).  Truth be told, we made a restaurant reservation a couple of months in advance and then looked for accommodation.

We started with oysters to share:
I usually talk G into sharing an entrée and a dessert - quite frankly, I do not need to eat a 3 course meal but I like to try as many things as possible when we go somewhere new or somewhere I'm unlikely to return to in a hurry.

For main I had a beautiful piece of blue eye covered in truffle and potatoes:

G enjoyed a bourride:
The red is harissa which G stirred in.

Of course, Rick Stein is known for his seafood cookery but I cannot imagine how to incorporate seafood into the dessert course.  Apparently Rick Stein can't either!  He did manage to come up with a decadent chocolate fondant.

The 'after' shot really speaks to how delicious this dessert was -

In case we weren't full, petit fours were served with coffee:

We finished the next morning with breakfast at our self contained cottage (Milton Country Cottages), bought some fudge at the fudge shop in Milton and headed back to Canberra

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Creamy onion tart in walnut pastry

Making pastry for this tart was the first time I have ever made pastry from scratch.  I think it turned me off for life.  It was a disaster at most stages.  I know I got the first part right - I followed the recipe exactly and did it in my food processor.

It successfully turned into dough in the food processor, but thereafter, let's just say it was unpleasant!

The recipe instructs you to put it in the fridge for 30 minutes before rolling it out.  The first time I tried to roll it out is stuck to the bench (which had been properly dusted with flour), so I put the dough in the freezer and tried to roll it out again.  Again, it failed dismally.  I managed to break it into bits, roll out the bits to rectangles and line sections of the quiche pan and 'mushed' the pastry together in the pan.

More fridge time, blind baking and then I filled it with the mixture:

Pulled it out of the oven and tried to serve:

The pastry was so crumbly which made it very difficult to slice this tart.  I finally got it sliced up, and on the plate and as G says 'nice tart, shame about the pastry'.

Monday, 21 June 2010

June Delicious

At first glance, there did not seem to be many recipes I wanted to make in the June edition of Delicious.  It felt like a let-down after the beautiful Italian (May) issue. But then I looked back at what I had actually made from the May edition, and I had only made 5 dishes from the issue:
  • pumpkin rotolo
  • crisp fried ravioli
  • lamb caponata
  • pasta with panagratatto
  • mushroom lasagne (which I didn't really like)
I think the May edition sucked me in.  All the recipes looked great, but I didn't really want to make them...

On the other hand, as I turned the pages of the June edition I quickly found 9 dishes I really wanted to make (and honestly think I willmake).

  • Rhubarb loaf
  • Hot smoked salmon
  • Paprika and sour cream chicken
  • Herb baked blue eye
  • Onion tart in walnut pastry
  • Chocolate and olive oil toasts
  • Vietnamese chicken and rice soup
  • Nasi goreng (from scratch)
  • Green pancakes
 The pear tart on the front looks delicious, but I don't make desserts often - I prefer to bake cupcakes and biscuits!

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Golden wedding anniversary cake

G's maternal grandparents recently had their Golden Wedding Anniversary (that's 50 years of marriage).  To celebrate, they renewed their vows with their original priest (who is now a bishop) and enjoyed lunch with all their family.

I was responsible for the cake:

Thursday, 17 June 2010

On a lamb bender

Have I mentioned how much I like lamb?  You wouldn't believe that I didn't eat much meat growing up, and ate none at all between the ages of 18 and 21  All those statements are true, and now I really enjoy eating lamb.

Most of the time I cook, but every so often I like to take advantage of some of the amazing fresh produce shops in my area.  I really like the butcher in the Canberra Centre, City Select Meats.  They have an amazing selection of sausages (I've tried a few) and some great simple semi-ready meals.  By 'semi-ready' I mean mini roasts, or kebabs, or lamb parcels.

The advantage of buying semi-ready meals individually?  G and I can choose different flavour combinations!

I still don't 'dine on swine' as a general rule.  That includes bacon.  Some people do not believe me when I say that pork and bacon are the same, and I don't tend to eat it.  I have eaten little scerricks of jamon in Spain or crispy pancetta crumbled on top of a spicy tomato risotto, but, as a general rule, I stay away from pork.
This means I avoid all the semi-ready meals that include bacon.  I am not a huge fan of fruit + meat or cinnamon in practically any form!

I chose a red curry lamb parcel and G had a mulled wine parcel - currants, cinnamon and red wine.  The only thing I would eat of all those ingredients?  The lamb!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Lamb Caponata

I really like lamb.  When I lived in Japan I missed it a lot, and tried to find ways to deal with that.  At Christmas I visited Singapore and ate a lot of lamb - I particularly enjoyed it at a Brazilian restaurant there (link to the restaurant).  I also ordered some meat from The Meat Guy who delivers frozen to your door (link in case you are living in Japan).

The lamb caponata in the May (Italian) issue of Delicious combines lamb and olives - the other food I missed an awful lot in Japan, and looks fabulous on the page.

I bit the bullet and bought the required amount of lamb - 750grams which was not cheap, but thankfully the flavour was ultimately worth it!

It was quite a simple cook - everything done in a pan on the stove and then layered into the baking dish and into the oven for 45 minutes.

It looked absolutely delicious before the potatoes went on:

and then in the bowl, ready to eat:

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Update - americolor food writer pens

I only blogged a short time ago about how I wanted a set of the americolor food writer pens (post here).  And G gave them to me!

They came with a martini shaped cookie cutter...

I have already had some fun with the textas:

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Nuvolone (cloud souffle)

I don't usually feel like putting much effort into breakfast.  During the week I have fruit and yoghurt, a muffin with vegemite and a coffee.  At my desk at work.  On the weekends breakfast follows a run and a shower, so I am usually pretty hungry which means I usually don't do anything that requires a recipe.

Usually we eat tomato and cheese, and maybe a fried or scrambled egg, on toast.  Last Sunday however, I put in a lot of effort.

1.  whip 2 egg whites per person, with a splash of white wine vinegar, and some salt.

2.  put the egg whites around the edges of a ramekin and slide in the 2 egg yolks (you separated from the whites)

3.  Pour in a couple of tablespoons of pouring cream, some salt and pepper, 15 grams of butter (in small cubes) and a couple of tablespoons of grated parmesan and then move the egg whites over the top and cover it all up.

4.  Oven for a few minutes - 4 or 5 at 200 degrees.

5.  Devour with buttery toast!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Fifi the Poodle

Last weekend a friend came over to use my kitchen aid sponsored kitchen and make her daughter's birthday cake - Fifi the Poodle.

If you google 'fifi the poodle cake' you will find comments such as "If any of your children ask for the Fifi the Poodle cake out of the Women's Weekly Birthday Cakes Book, Volume 2, run for the hills screaming".  Not exactly inspiring.  In fact, down right terrifying.  But my friend ignored that comment and make the fifi cake.

It took a lot of butter and sugar.  We made 3 quantities of butter cake and 2 quantities of buttercream icing, so between 550 and 600grams of butter in total.  Wow.  Not much less sugar to be honest.

And as you can probably imagine, it took a fair while to mix up the cake batter, then it had to cook, and cool, before the poodle shape could be cut out.  Long enough to watch The Little Mermaid actually.

Then we cut the poodle, covered it with pink buttercream frosting and then hundreds of marshmellows and ended up with this masterpiece:

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Crisp fried (cheese) ravioli

As soon as the May Delicious arrived I knew I had to make the cover recipe - crisp fried cheese ravioli.  I really just wanted to eat it off the cover:
It's supposed to be an entrée, but I figured if I served a few more ravioli per person with a salad, then it would be a decent sized meal.  I also use spinach and ricotta, not cheese ravioli because I couldn't find plain cheese ones.

Dredged in buttermilk and egg, dipped in the panko and then deep fried (and drained afterwards of course).  I also did as the recipe suggested a purchased a ready made sauce to serve with them.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Broccolini and chilli spaghetti with panagrattato

Just a couple of cheats when I made this recipe.  I used panko, rather than make fresh bread crumbs and used a lot less garlic than called for (and I like garlic).

I made the breadcrumbs in the food processor, and they were WAY greener than in the magazine picture:

And though I didn't cut the broccolini as nicely as the food stylist did for Delicious, it tasted pretty awesome and looked quite delicious too.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Baked cherry cheesecake

This was a spectacular cake.  Spectacular looking, and tasted fantasic.  And to top if all off, I received a boat load of compliments!

The base was super minimal, and G was worried that there wasn't enough, made from mere grams of biscuits blitzed in the kitchen aid food processor, rather than the standard 150grams plus of biscuits.  It was a delicious cheesecake interior, that was mostly made in the Kitchen Aid (I have friends who joke that my kitchen is sponsored by Kitchen Aid - I WISH!!!)

Then into the oven for a serious amount of time and afterwards become disappointed that the cheesecake still cracks despite following the directions for cooling the cake:

Cover it up with super delicious cherry syrup, and cheer that it looks like it does in the cook book!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Mushroom lasagne

Honestly, I was not impressed with this lasagne.  It simply did not hold together to look anywhere like the picture, and I'm not sure why.

The magazine version:

Then mine:

The mushroom mixture was thick and tomatoey.

I went the whole way, and simmered the milk for the bechamel with half an onion, some thyme and a bay leaf.

But still it looked sad.
Not brown enough on top, and very runny (looked soupy and ugly on the plate, so I didn't take a picture!)

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Pumpkin Rotolo

This was probably one of the 'cheffiest' dishes I have ever made:

Pumpkin rotolo with a burnt butter and sage sauce!

The burnt butter and sage is easy - and the only thing you need to worry about is time.  Start it 2 minutess before you cut the rotolo so it cooks long enough, but not too long that it separates too much. Then after the butter has cooked for 3 mins, throw in some sage leaves (several per person) and then pour over the sliced rotolo.

Now, onto the rotolo...

Roast pumpkin, mash pumpkin through a sieve, mix with ricotta, parmesan, salt and pepper, roll the mix up in some lasagne sheets and seal it shut with egg wash.  Tie up in a tea towel and then simmer for 25 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes and then open up the tea towel and slice the rotolo.  The entire time you need to cross your fingers and hope that it works!

My mum always told me that you should never cook something for guests that you haven't made before, so Geoff and I were the lucky recipients of the rotolo.  However, now I am confident I would happily make it for other people and serve with a beautiful mixed leaf salad, or maybe some micro leaves if you were feeling very fancy.

The very last thing?  Feel pretty pleased with yourself that your meal looks like the picture from the magazine: