Monday, 31 January 2011

February Delicious 2011

So I know I complained about how lame I thought the Dec/Jan Delicious was... and I totally standby my comments.  However, that doesn't mean that I was sad when G was gifted a subscription for this year.  In reality all it means is that he gets to tear open the plastic packaging and look through the mag first!  To my mind even a cursory flip counts as a "look" and after that it's fair game.

The February cover looks great.  So summery.  But it looks like the recipe is so much work.

That's right - prawn party pies in scallop shells.  Are you serious???

Anyway, there are other recipes that I do want to make (or G wants me to make) - though the list is dessert heavy so I probably won't get through it all!

The list:
  • orange and yoghurt pancakes
  • catalan fig tapas (savoury, served with jamon and manchego cheese)
  • soup saint-sulpice (not sure how I feel about a creamy cold soup)
  • pumpkin and sage crepe ravioli
  • real strawberry jelly (when the strawberries are affordable enough for me to stuff this up as it will be my first use of gelatine)
  • mango framingtons (assuming I want to buy a friand tin, or change the recipe to make it cupcake tin friendly)
  • tim tam tarts
  • french style fruit tart
  • lemon myrtle roast chicken
  • macadamia crusted fish
  • chicken and pumpkin salad
  • frozen lamingtons (if I decide to buy an ice cream machine, or can be bothered babysitting the mixture and rebeating every 2 hours at least 3 times)
  • milo ice cream slice
So many desserts...

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Smoked salmon pasta salad

While I was searching through Delicious 2010 I found a recipe for Smoked Salmon pasta that I though was worth a try!

At the same time I also gave the Atlantic smoked salmon for cooking (not its official name) a go - this is a pack of smoked salmon in similar sized pieces, definitely not sliced evenly though.  It is a fair bit cheaper than regular smoked salmon, and when you want to tear it up to cook it seems sensible to buy the cheaper, pre-torn smoked salmon.

Basically I cooked some spagetti and tossed it through rocket, smoked salmon, lemon, sour cream, capers and seasoning.  Tasted pretty good and I only found one tiny little bone in the smoked salmon.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

No longer a hoarder

In my younger days I kept everything - all ticket stubs, receipts, photos of everything (when you needed to actually develop film).  I hung onto everything long past its use-by-date.  Now I have changed.  I get rid of things ruthlessly.  Prior to my most recent move I cleared out any clothes that no longer fit right, that I couldn't remember wearing, or I would never wear again.  I culled my cookbook collection, my fiction, CDs (who uses those anyway) and G was good enough to get rid of many of his 'participation' trophys.

So after receiving what I then thought was my final Delicious (Dec/Jan), prior to G being gifted a subscription for 2011, I had to figure out what I was going to do with all those magazines.  I have seen piles at op shops for $1ea, or even less if they are really old.  But I wanted to keep some of the recipes, and a couple of the stories (stories about foreign cities I intend to visit this year mainly).  So rather than generously sharing them with other people who can't afford the subscription I chose to tear my copies apart.

I started by going through this blog - where I generally don't put recipes because I don't understand the laws of copyright for magazine recipes - but is nonetheless a good record of recipes that worked for me (most of the recipes that I documented here worked, but not all worked for me).

So after tearing my copies of Delcious 2010 apart, G also went through them because he does have slightly different taste than me (chocolate bread cake for example).  Then I purchased a thin journal - because I didn't tear out that many recipes, and I started to stick the recipes down, mostly with copies of the pictures I took - far more realistic than the magazine pictures in some instances - and with some of my notes about what to do with leftovers, herbs to use instead and other useful tips that correlate with my tastes.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Eggplant, fusilli and raw tomato salad

This was a simple meal, and pretty delicious - it all comes down to good quality ingredients.

We used some really creamy and delicious full fat ricotta, as specifed by the recipe.  Mixed together with some raw tomatoes and grilled eggplant, and I freestyled on the dressing - a little parsley pesto and some extra olive oil to thin it out.

Doesn't that combination of tomatoes and parsley positively make your mouth water?

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Rosette cookies

After purchasing the moulds, and the sugar thermometer a long time ago, I finally got around to making the rosette cookies.

I think I am a little scared of deep frying - I assume that I will end up with oily, sodden food and an oily kitchen.  What I need to remember is that when you have the oil hot enough the mixture will be sealed quickly and just cook without soaking up extra oil.  Also, good drainage afterwards is important, though these didn't give off much oil.

Somewhat surprisingly the first one worked - contrary to the general rule that the first thing, often a pancake, fails.

The flower mould seemed to work just fine, and each time I put the mould into the oil it bubbled beautifully.

Then I tried to use the circle mould, which did not work as well. 

I dipped the mould into the batter and it cooked almost straight away, and peeled straight off.

I still ended up with a pile of rosette cookies, and had a great time making them.  The kitchen didn't end up that messy either!

Want to make your own?  Recipe can be found here, and you will need the moulds and a sugar thermometer.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Asparagus, Avacado and Red Pepper salad

Super simple - a salad of roasted red peppers, blanched asparagus and avacado.  The dressing was nothing special - just some oil, vinegar and seasoning.

Topped with crunchy fried onion coated chicken

Sometimes the simple meals are the best. 

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Summer on a plate

For what feels like forever, but in reality probably has only been a week, it has been raining and humid in Melbourne.  It really feels like the wet season in Singapore, or Indonesia, or even worse.  It has definitely been worse than the humidity of an early Japanese summer, which I lived through in 2008.

Today the sun is shining, and the stone fruit at the market looked delicious (and was reasonably priced) so I couldn't resist buying some summer on a plate.

The plate is a beautiful coral colour which makes the fruit look even more delicious.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Lemon curd failure

After my complaints that the December Delicious was lame (see post here) I decided I would make some lemon curd butterfly cupcakes.  I remembered that Curtis had a lemon curd tart recipe, so I thought that I would just use the lemon curd part.

G and I followed the simple recipe - the recipe is easy but you need at least 3 hands to do it all and then I put it in the fridge overnight, but in the morning it was still runny - delicious, but runny.

I figured I could still make it work in the cakes, but I am not thrilled.  So I put it in the freezer and it firmed up, but did not freeze.  It held its shape for a few minutes but as it melted it soaked into the cakes - not a bad thing I guess!

You can see how there is only a little of the curd visible, but I filled the entire 'bowl' in the cake with the curd!

Recipes fail.  That's part of life.  However, usually my failures relate to things I just 'throw together', rather than supposedly tested recipes in magazines and books. 

I think the problem with this recipe was that it contained words that were open to interpretation such as 'until thick'.  What precisely is thick?  More helpful is a recipe that talks about stiff peaks, or the sauce coating the back of the a spoon, or forming ribbons on top of the sauce that will hold their shape.  I can handle recipes that don't prescribe precise amounts of ingredients (often biscuit recipes) as the baker needs to add enough water to just bring the dough together - a judgment I feel comfortable making.

My criticism is not that the recipe was a failure, but that it was written poorly, and in a way that left it up to me to guess when it was done!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Salad of grilled vegetables provencale

This was sensational - the chilli dressing plus the olive tapenade was a suprisingly wonderful combination.

The dressing - shake together after crushing the coriander seeds (in a mortar and pestle) and finely chopping the garlic and chilli:
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 garlic clover
1 finely chopped chilli
olive oil
red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

I added some leaves to the recipe just to make it even better!

Monday, 10 January 2011

Mushroom soup

The weather has been somewhat unpredictable around here (for example, 34 degrees on Friday, expected to be 18 degrees tomorrow) so we have been alternating between salads and almost wintry food, like the delicious mushroom soup from Bill's Food.

Of course, a mushroom soup is not the most attractive thing you can imagine - a kind of grey, brown liquid...  But if like mushrooms then you know that they are not always super attractive!

 The soup is simply mushrooms and potatoes, with stock and herbs, cooked then pureed.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Roasted red onions, Maggie Beer style

Those of you who live in Melbourne may be familiar with "the mini cookbook collection" that came with the Herald Sun in 2010 - perhaps it was also released in other cities in Australia too.

There were 9 books, and a little case for them - I managed to collect 8 of the books (missed the Stephanie Alexander one).   Each book is a small collection of recipes that truly reflect each chef.

The first recipe I made from this collection was Maggie's whole roasted red onions. 

These were simply wonderful - onions tossed with seasoning, roasted and then topped with mozzarella and bread!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Del Posto's Asparagus and Fried Egg Salad

G likes his fried egg sunny side up and very runny - I do not!  But it certainly looks more attractive perched on top of the salad rather than my egg that has been flipped and cooked through.

I threw in some potatoes (to make this more of a substantial meal) and left out the fennel (because I don't really like it) and served this up for dinner.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Crispy skinned salmon

The salmon was absolutely delicious - super crispy skin and just a little rare in the centre, topped with a super yum sauce over the noodles and vegetables!

The dressing for 4 serves:
2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 tbs balsamoc vinegar
2 tbs caster sugar
1/4 cup lime juice
2 finely chopped chillis

Shake together until the sugar dissolves.

It looks a lot like Bill's did and you know how I love it when my recipes look like the recipes do in the book.