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    Sunday, September 24, 2006

    An Excellent Dinner

    I am starting to panic…I have been cooking up so many wonderful recipes I am running out of time to write them up.

    Had some people for dinner and this menu was really excellent.

    We started off with Corn Pudding, went onto Steamed Fish with Stir Fried Rice Noodles and finished off with Honey Ricotta Cheesecake.

    The corn pudding is really like a soufflé. I cooked this is in 200ml soufflé dishes.
    This recipe is enough for 6 people as a starter.
    Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients it is very simple

    I bought a new wok from the chinese supermarket and there it is in the background well seasoned. It performed really well. In the foreground are the sauteed vege for the Corn Pudding.

    2 tbs olive oil
    1 onion finely chopped
    1 green/red pepper
    1-2 red chilies finely chopped
    1 cup sweet corn (I used frozen corn)
    2 cloves garlic crushed and chopped
    2 tbs thyme
    Salt and pepper

    1 cup cream
    Good grate of nutmeg
    1 tsp chili flakes
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    2 cup corn (frozen)
    1 cup milk
    6 eggs
    4 tbs flour
    ½ cup parmesan cheese
    ½ cup gruyere cheese
    2 tbs chives chopped
    2 tbs parsley chopped

    Heat oven to 180C
    Sauté the vege in oil till translucent
    Add seasoned cream mix stir and cook for a couple of minutes

    Meanwhile put all the batter ingredients in the food processor and whiz up
    Add vege to batter and pour into greased soufflé dishes
    Place dishes into a bain marie and cook for about 35 minutes

    I took this photo when I made this as a lunch in one large dish
    Gives you a chance to see what it looks like inside.

    Now let’s give the wok a go.

    Steamed Fish with Stir Fried Rice Noodles

    This was really superb. Took a bit of juggling when cooking for 5 but here are ingredients for 2 people. Cooking as per normal for Chinese food is quick but you need to have all your ingredients ready to go.
    Just love those rice noodles so so simple

    2 cloves garlic sliced
    3 tbs vege oil (I used peanut)
    Sea salt
    Sesame Oil
    1 chili sliced
    Spring onions cut into julienne strips

    100 gm filet of fish per person
    Sea salt
    Ginger cut into julienne strips
    Soy sauce

    100 gms rice noodles per person

    Stir Fry
    2-3 tablespoons Peanut oil
    1 clove garlic finely chopper
    2 cms ginger finely chopped
    1 chili finely chopped
    ½ tin water chestnuts halved
    Bean sprouts
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 teaspoons Hoisin sauce
    1 tablespoon soy sauce

    Right ready to go let’s get the garnish under way
    In a small pan gently heat peanut oil and fry sliced garlic till it just turns brown
    Remove garlic set on paper towel and season with a little salt.
    Add a few drops of sesame oil to pan and set aside.

    Place noodles in a bowl cover with hot water leave for about 2 minutes, drain rinse under cold water, drain again toss with just a smidgen of oil to stop sticking together.

    Steam fish in your favourite steamer I used a bamboo steamer over a wok.
    Season the fish with salt and place strips of ginger on top and steam. Should only take about 3-4 minutes.

    Keep warm

    Now Stir Fry

    Heat wok till it is very hot.
    Add oil and throw in garlic, ginger and chili, stir well
    Add water chestnuts spring onions and bean sprouts, toss around

    Add noodles season with salt & pepper, Hoisin sauce and soy sauce

    Serve onto platter place fish on top pour over warm garlic oil, another splash soy sauce
    And finish off with spring onions and crispy garlic
    Top with a few slices of red chili for colour.

    Finally the Cheese Cake. I saw this cooked in the Everyday Italian programme.
    I thought the Biscotti base was a great idea.

    Grease and line a 23 cm spring form pan
    Heat your oven to 170C (don’t fan bake)

    175 gms biscotti (any flavour)
    75 gms butter melted

    500 gms cream cheese
    250 gms ricotta
    ¾ cup sugar
    5 tbs honey
    Zest of I orange
    1 tbs orange juice
    4 eggs

    To Serve
    Whipped cream
    Pureed berries

    Crush the biscotti in food processor to fine crumb
    Add melted butter Mix well.
    Press into pan
    Push down lightly with back of spoon to even the crust
    Bake 15 minutes
    Remove and cool a little

    Meanwhile in your food processor whiz up cream cheese and ricotta
    Add sugar and honey whiz
    Add eggs 1 at a time
    Add zest and juice of orange

    Pour over cooked base and bake in a bain marie for 1 hour and 5 minutes
    Cool and then chill in fridge at least 8 hours.

    I served this with some whipped cream with pureed berries marbled through.

    Not too bad at all.

    Spicy Beef and Beetroot Salad

    For 4 people

    2 sirloin steaks excess (fat removed)
    3 tbs Olive oil
    2 teaspoons Moroccan spice mix

    Can baby beetroot drained and rinsed
    2 avocado peeled and chopped
    1 red onion finely sliced
    2 spring onions chopped
    Bunch of coriander leaves

    ½ cup extra virgin Olive oil
    Juice 1 orange
    Juice 1 lemon
    Juice 1 lime
    3 tbs honey
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 red chili finely chopped

    Mix together in a jar with a screw top lid

    Marinate red onion in 3 tbs of the dressing

    Rub steaks with Moroccan spices and marinate steaks in oil
    Leave to marinade 30 minutes
    Cook on hot grill till required doneness, basting with marinade at least once each side.
    Slice into cubes

    Meanwhile peel and slice avocado
    Chop spring onions
    Pull leaves off coriander about ½ cup
    Quarter drained and rinsed beetroot

    Combine all ingredients toss gently with dressing.
    You don't want to break up the avocado.
    Serve immediately

    Don’t put salad together till you are ready to serve as the beetroot runs and takes over.

    I have also made this with peeled raw prawns.

    Just rub toss the prawns in spice mix and oil
    Leave for about 30 minutes
    Cook on hot grill.
    Reserve a couple of prawns for garnishing each plate and chop the rest and mix amongst the other ingredients just like the beef.

    These are both winners.

    Sunday, September 17, 2006

    Bread and Butter Pudding, The Retro Version

    This a real retro dish Good for using up stale white sliced bread (not that the white sliced gets very stale!!!). Of course you can use artisan bread or go healthy and use wholemeal or rye but it’s not the same.

    This is pure unadulterated pleasure

    I used craisins (dried cranberries) but my Mother would have used raisins, sultanas or even currants

    It so simple;
    Heat the oven to 175C
    For a 3 cup gratin or pie dish you will need

    8-10 slices white bread buttered well and cut in half diagonally
    (I kept the crust on for extra crunchiness…you may remove it)
    3 eggs
    1 cup milk
    1 cup cream
    2 tbs sugar
    1 cup craisins/raisins or sultanas
    Zest of a large lemon
    Extra sprinkle of sugar

    Lightly whip eggs, milk, cream and sugar
    Line the bottom of your dish some of the buttered bread butter side down
    Sprinkle with 1/3 of fruit and half of the lemon zest
    More bread, butter side up this time
    Next third of fruit, rest of zest
    Last layer of bread butter up
    Sprinkle the remainder of the fruit
    Pour over the egg mix

    Push bread down so its buried in the custard
    Sprinkle a light layer of extra sugar.

    Cook in a bain marie 30-40 minutes until top is golden.

    Let rest for about 10-15 minutes and serve with whipped cream

    This is divine

    Monday, September 11, 2006

    Now the Leftover Lamb

    There is a British Classic Chicken Pie as shown by Tamasin Day Lewis on Food TV.
    She steamed the vegetables and made a Veloute sauce with the addition of some milk in it. She poached her chicken…knocked them all together into a pie-dish and topped with pastry.
    Looked delicious.
    I thought this might be a good way to use up the left over lamb.
    So here goes and here are your ingredients

    2 tbs butter
    1 large onion rough chopped
    2 sticks celery sliced
    2 tbs flour
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    1 cup wine
    4 sprigs thyme
    1 shallot finely chopped
    2 cups stock heat

    1 carrot per person sliced in chunks
    2 x med leeks sliced chunkily
    Left over roast lamb cut into chunks

    Reduce wine with thyme and shallots by half
    Strain and set aside

    Melt butter
    Add onion and celery
    Gently cook till translucent
    Season salt & pepper
    Add flour and nix well cooking to cook out the flour 2-3 minutes
    Add wine whisk then add hot stock
    Whisk again till smooth
    Bring to boil and simmer about 5 minutes

    Meanwhile steam the carrots and leeks
    Microwave will do just fine

    In your flat gratin dish combine vege, sauce and lamb
    And voila what do you know…you have Irish stew!!!

    So when I looked at this
    I decided against the pastry top and kept Irish and made
    Champ to put on top.

    Champ is a fab way to serve mashed potatoes

    So boil your potatoes in salted water till tender…drain and mash

    At the same time cut up some spring onions and cook gently in milk
    For a couple on minutes
    Remove spring onions add to potatoes and a large knob of butter
    Mash up well. Season with freshly ground black pepper

    Put this potato mash on top of your stew and bake 25 minutes at 180C

    Look at this doesn’t it look grand?

    The Problems With Leftovers is Recreating the Masterpiece.

    You probably never have the same ingredients in the fridge to use up.
    So after the wonderful lamb dinner featured below
    There was indeed some meat and some peas left over.

    What to have for lunch?
    Pea Soup accompanied by Feta and Mint Scones

    I thought you are only so many ways you can take a photo of green soup so I have just given the recipe here.

    I’ve popped in a picture of our courtyard nice sunny spring day just to break up all the words!!!

    I have however taken photos of how we consumed the leftover lamb.
    Recipe and photos to follow

    The scone recipe was the usual one with different flavours.

    To make 4 large scones
    Heat oven 210C (fan bake)

    2 cups self raising flour
    Good pinch salt
    150 mls cream
    140 mls soda water
    Good hunk 75gms feta cheese crumbled
    10-12 mint leaves finely chopped
    Freshly ground black pepper

    Sift flour and salt
    Crumble feta into flour rub in lightly with finger tips
    Add mint
    Add the entire liquid stir well
    Knead gently a couple of times on floured bench
    Cut into 4
    Bake 18 minutes

    The Pea soup
    Finely chop 1 onion and 1 red chili
    Sauté in a good knob of butter till soft
    Add 500 mls stock
    Bring to boil
    Add cooked peas (1 ½ cups) then
    1 tbs of vinaigrette

    Simmer 2-3 minutes
    Let stand about 5 minutes for flavours to meld
    Not too long we want to keep the colour
    Blend with hand blender and serve with the Scones
    A Very Successful Roast

    Sunday family dinner so a roast was a must.
    The lamb is roasted over a pan full of kumara (sweet potato) and onions
    No lamb picture but spring lamb...spring flowers!!!!

    For 6 people
    1 large kumara for 2 people
    1 large onion for 2 people
    1 leg lamb

    Get your butcher to bone the lamb for you leaving it in shape but really easy to carve.

    A little twist though.
    A new rub for the lamb. So so simple

    The Rub

    ¼ cup olive oil
    3 cloves garlic peeled
    1 tsp ground cumin
    Juice and zest of 1 large lemon
    2 tbs fresh thyme leaves
    Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

    Whiz all up in your processor

    Massage the rub all over the lamb including where the bone came out.
    Leave at least an hour but you can do this a while ahead.

    Heat the oven to 220C and cook on a rack for 20 minutes
    Add a little water to the bottom of the tin. To stop drippings burning.

    Meanwhile prepare the vege. Leave the skins on
    Cut the kumara and onions in half horizontally
    Brush cut side with olive oil and season with salt & pepper

    Remove lamb from oven lift rack and place vege in pan
    Put lamb back on top
    Back into oven and turn heat down to 180C

    Another 40 minutes per kilo (20 minutes per lb)

    This should give you pink juicy lamb and tender veges.

    Serve with green peas (reserve cooking water) tossed in mint butter
    with lots of ground black pepper

    Take the lamb out and rest and remove vege to a warm platter.
    With the fabulous juices make gravy.

    Earlier in the day make a wine reduction
    Just reduce a cup of white wine (50%) with some chopped shallots and sprigs of thyme
    Strain and reserve.

    On again with the gravy
    Pour off any excess fat, stir in 1 tbs flour till well blended
    Add wine reduction and enough water from peas to make a sauce
    Bring to boil and simmer till you reach your desired consistency

    A beautiful sauce to drizzle over the carved meat.

    Friday, September 08, 2006

    Fallen Chocolate Soufflé Cake

    I need to redeem myself in the chocolate and eggs stakes after the mousse disaster…
    I saw Martha Stewart making this cake and it looks just fab so I had to give it a go.

    It is currently in the oven and I am waiting with baited breath.

    Anyway here it goes

    Heat oven to 150C and
    Grease a 23 cms pan with butter
    and lightly dust with sugar
    You need
    190 gms butter
    190 gms best chocolate

    3 eggs yolks and 1 whole egg
    2/3 cup sugar
    6 egg whites
    1/3 cup sugar

    Melt chocolate and butter over hot water cool a little

    Meanwhile beat egg yolks and whole egg with 2/3 cup sugar
    until light and fluffy

    In a very clean bowl with clean beaters beat eggs white adding 1/3 cup sugar
    slowly until soft peaks. Not too stiff and dry please.

    Add melted chocolate and butter to eggs a little at a time till blended

    Put 1 large spoonful of this mix into egg whites stir and then
    Fold in whites to the chocolate mix.
    Don’t be rough you don’t want to get rid of the lightness in the eggs
    It can be a little marbled.

    Pour into prepared pan…
    Shake a little and drop gently onto bench to make it even

    Straight into oven 55-60 minutes
    If tester comes out almost clean it is ready otherwise back into the oven for a couple of more minutes.

    Here is from the oven looking like a souffle Now don't despair as it cools it cracks and falls
    This supposed to happen

    Cool completely before removing from pan
    You may need to use a pointed knife to run around the edge to get a clean removal.
    The cake is best well cooled!!!
    It is so rich and needs cream to cut down the richness

    When it is removed dust with either cocoa or icing sugar or both!!!
    Here it is cracked and fallen.


    Wednesday, September 06, 2006

    Steak Braised in Red Wine

    Huey’s Cooking Adventures show-cased this recipe on Food TV
    This is not a normal braise…slowly cooked over a long period…
    It only takes around 30 minutes all up and tastes divine

    I know the photo looks like a bit of a dog’s breakfast but do make it anyway as it is really tasty.
    Little taste bites of olive and sage with a hint of the orange juice. Yum

    I didn't cook any greens but any seasonal vege would be nice for crunch and health.

    I think I made the sauce a little too thick and would thin it down a little next time.

    There was enough sauce to freeze for another occasion
    1 sirloin steak per person (excess fat removed).
    Little olive oil to brush on steaks
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

    2 tbs olive oil
    1 leek sliced
    1 onion sliced
    2 cloves garlic crushed
    1 tbs flour
    1 cup chicken stock
    1 cup red wine
    Juice 1 orange
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    8-10 black olives pitted and halved

    1 tbs red wine vinegar
    6 fresh sage leaves chopped finely

    First make the sauce

    Heat olive oil
    Sauté leeks onions and garlic till soft
    Add flour to make a roux just to thicken the sauce slightly.
    Deglaze with red wine and then chicken stock stirring well.
    Add orange juice
    Add olives

    Season sauce to taste and bring to boil and simmer at least 5 minutes to thicken and reduce

    Then heat grill pan till smoking hot
    Brush steaks with a little oil and sear on one side till brown (2 minutes)
    Turn leave for 30 seconds other side
    Season salt and pepper

    Bury steak in the sauce pan along with sage leaves
    Gently simmer 2-3 minutes until required doneness of steak.

    Other accompaniments could be polenta or rice
    Anything to mop that wonderful sauce.
    Personally I think mashed potatoes are the best.

    Tuesday, September 05, 2006

    Watercress Celeriac and Leek Soup with Basil and Feta Scones

    4 ingredients plus seasoning and fat
    Can you think of anything easier than that
    The pepperiness! of the watercress and the celery flavour and starchiness provided by celeriac and aromatics provided by the leek. Nice.

    Sauteed leeks what a pretty colour

    This would feed 4 people for lunch

    1 tbs butter
    1 leek washed and sliced
    1 celeriac peeled and chopped
    1 pkt watercress or big bunch
    1 litre chicken stock
    Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

    Melt the butter and sweat the leek till tender
    Add celeriac toss around in buttery leeks
    Add chicken stock
    Bring to boil and simmer till celeriac is tender
    Season S & P to taste

    Into blender throw in half of the watercress
    Add rest of watercress blend again till smooth.

    Serve and accompany with some
    Basil and Feta Scones.

    2 cups self-raising flour
    Pinch salt
    50 gms feta cheese crumbled
    10-12 basil leaves sliced
    150 mls cream
    150 mls soda water

    To make Scones

    Heat oven to 215C

    Sift flour and salt into bowl
    Add feta and basil and rub in a little with finger tips.
    Add cream and soda water.
    This dough is fairly wet but don’t worry
    Flour your bench well
    Turn out the dough and gently knead into a square shape
    Cut into 4 and cook about 18 minutes.

    Father's Day Dessert

    In the photo there is a success and a total failure.
    I made 2 desserts for our Fathers Day Lunch both inspired by Ina Garten The Barefoot Contessa
    Well I still don't know where I went wrong with the Mousse pictured on the left...looking pretty good but wait till we put the spoon in.
    It had separated and looked like one of those self saucing puddings
    But of course uncooked. Yuk

    The bit of fluffy stuff on the top was just OK but very disappointing.
    So I haven't written out the recipe it's one we could all do without!!!

    By the way the cake on the right was very good.
    Unfortunately a bit mistake but it tasted delicious.

    I sourced a Southern American Classic which I had read about in a novel
    Chocolate Mayo Cake
    I made it a while ago and was most impressed, so I decided to use some of those ideas and adapt this cake by Ina Garten for Fathers Day Lunch

    So let’s try the
    Ganache Mint Cake

    125 gms butter at room temp
    1 cup sugar
    4 extra large eggs
    500 gms can of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup
    1 tbs vanilla extract (Check this)
    1 cup flour

    1 pkt After Dinner Mints

    Cream Butter and sugar
    Add eggs one at time till blended at low speed
    Add chocolate syrup and vanilla
    Sift flour and sprinkle on the top and carefully blend in.

    Bake in 2 x 20cms cake tins
    160C (fan bake) for 30-35 minutes till tester comes out clean

    When cooked turn off the oven
    Cool cake in tins for 10 mins
    Turn out one layer on cooling rack
    Turn other layer on serving plate and cover with After Dinner Mints
    Put back in oven for 3 minutes
    With a spatula smooth softened mints over the cake

    Place other cake on top and when both are cooled ice with the following icing

    Here’s the real richness
    1/2 cup cream
    250 gms good choc chips
    1 tbs instant coffee

    Fresh Mint leaves candied for decoration
    Into double boiler or bowl over simmering water
    Melt all ingredients
    Then ice cake

    Decorate with candied Mint leaves
    I popped a little pansy on top for colour.