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    Monday, May 28, 2007

    Hail Caesar Thanks Jamie

    What aroma or taste is better than chicken roasted with rosemary and garlic.
    Not a lot…(except if you are my husband and hates chicken).
    This tasty roast chicken lifts Caesar salad to new heights.

    So Katie of otherpeoplesfood has won the “Hay Hay It’s Donna Day Mousse Competition” and its now her turn to host the next event.
    She has chosen Caesar Salad and I think this recipe inspired by Jamie Oliver on his “Jamie @ Home” TV series is probably one of the tastiest I have had for a while
    What really gives it a real difference is roasting the chicken and the croutons together.
    Along with lovely crisp cos/romaine lettuce, crispy bacon and a zingy dressing, it is definitely now part of my repertoire.

    You will need for 4 people
    3 chicken thighs (bone in for more flavour)
    2 x Sprigs of rosemary
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Extra virgin olive oil

    4 x 4 cms slices of your favourite country bread-ciabatta is excellent.
    4 slices pancetta – streaky bacon is OK
    Cos/Romaine lettuce

    Shavings of Parmesan Cheese

    3 anchovies
    1 clove Garlic
    2 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
    Crème fraiche 1 tablespoon
    Juice ½ lemon
    Extra virgin olive oil
    Freshly ground black pepper

    First roast your chicken...

    Finely chop the rosemary leaves with a little sea salt
    Slash the chicken thighs and rub in the rosemary
    Rub all the chicken with olive oil
    Season with freshly ground black pepper.

    In a baking dish place a little oil
    Place bread ripped into big chunks
    Lay chicken on bread and pop into oven and roast It should take about 30 mins.
    Place bacon slices over the chicken and back into oven for another 5 minutes to crisp up the bacon.

    Remove from oven and rest the chicken and bacon for 5-10 minutes.
    Rip meat off the bones (cook's treat is sucking the bones)
    Break bacon into pieces

    Make dressing in mortar and pestle
    Pound anchovies and garlic
    Add cheese and creme fraiche, freshly ground black pepper
    Mix well
    Add lemon juice
    then drizzle in extra virgin olive oil to make an emulsion

    To Assemble
    Break up the lettuce,
    pile it on your plate arrange croutons, bacon, chicken and parmesan shavings and
    finally dress with the tangy dressing.

    Toss around with your hands making sure everything has a fine coating of dressing.

    I will guarantee this taste treat will make your day.

    Saturday, May 19, 2007

    Pineapple is the Hero

    I know the tulips have nothing to do with pineapple and soup, but they looked so pretty I just had to take a quick shot.

    I really loved Barbara’s idea of yellow for food for Livestrong Day...148 entries received, isn't that amazing.
    I was pleased with my Curried Parsnip and Apple Soup and wondered how pineapple would react with the curry and winter vege combo. Well I am happy to report it is great.

    Pineapple of course responds well to curry and it worked here as well.
    As you can see very simple ingredients

    1 tablespoons olive oil
    1 tablespoon butter
    1 red onion
    2 med parsnips
    1 large carrot
    1/8 of a pineapple (half of what is pictured)
    ½ a butternut marrow

    1 litre Chicken Stock
    2 heaped teaspoons curry powder (I used mild)
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Green onions for garnish
    Good extra virgin olive oil for that little extra zing to finish.

    Peel and roughly chop all vege and pineapple.

    Add butter and oil to saucepan and heat
    Add onions first to soften then all the other vege and pineapple.
    Stir well
    Add curry powder and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Add stock and a little extra water if needed to cover the vege

    Bring to boil and simmer for about 45 minutes. Check the seasoning and add more if needed
    Cool a little and blend till smooth

    Serve with a garnish of finely chopped green onions and just a little drizzle of olive oil.
    These soups really improve if made earlier in the day or even the day before.

    Asha from foodieshope
    has a recipe for Olive Rye Bread. Look it's worth it.
    It looked delicious I made it today and it would make a wonderful accompaniment for this lovely soup. I used a light rye flour.

    It was excellent with mozzarella, tomato and basil. Just popped under the grill for a few moments to melt the cheese.

    I'm sure it will be great for lunch tomorrow.

    Monday, May 14, 2007

    Feeding a Crowd and Catering for Special Needs

    Lunch time at work again and a good opportunity to try out a “Party with the Hearty Boys” recipe. Italian Meatball and Pasta Soup.
    Also we had people coming for dinner that evening.

    Now we have people with special needs,…a dairy allergy,…nightshade family intolerance…a non meat eater and one staff member who won’t eat anything that has eyes.
    In the evening one of our guests is a celiac.

    So time to put the thinking cap

    Now the Meatball Soup is an excellent dish for a crowd but when I made it for lunch I thought it was too bland...I have changed the recipe to boost the flavour (sorry Party Boys).
    I added onion, carrot and celery plus chili, and bumped up the seasonings in the meatballs
    By the way the tomatoes you buy are really important. The second time I made this dish I used Trident Italian Roma tomatoes what a difference. Beautiful flavour.
    I have added some extras to the meatballs. The sweetness of the raisins and the crunchiness of the pinenuts make a real difference And they were delicious.
    For Gluten free leave out the breadcrumbs and the pasta. Otherwise it will be fine.

    Here is the adapted recipe

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 large garlic cloves, minced

    1 x carrot finely chopped
    1 stick celery finely chopped1 onion finely chopped
    1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon black freshly ground black pepper
    1 teaspoon chili flakes
    6 x 400 gms cans Roma tomatoes in juice

    2 tablespoons chopped parsley

    2 teaspoons dried oregano

    1800 gms ground beef
    4 eggs
    4 large garlic cloves, minced

    3 tablespoon chopped parsley
    1 x teaspoon oregano

    2 teaspoons salt

    1 cup Romano cheese, grated

    Freshly ground black pepper
    And the extras are
    1/2 cup raisins soaked in hot water about 5 minutes
    2 tablespoons pine nuts lightly toasted
    6 leaves sage
    1 sprig rosemary
    1/2 cup fresh white breadcrumbs

    Meatball method
    Put the ground beef into a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, garlic, cheese, breadcrumbs, raisins salt, and pepper and mix by hand until well combined.
    Put pine nuts, and fresh herbs into a small food processor and whiz them up just a little you need the texture
    Form the mixture into 1 inch balls - a small ice cream scoop works well for this.
    Place the meatballs close together on a baking sheet as you make them.
    Yield: 60 meatballs

    To finish
    280 gms frozen peas, thawed
    300 gms penne pasta, cooked al dente

    Grated Romano, for garnish

    Italian bread, for serving

    Pour the olive oil into a large heavy bottomed pot with the garlic
    Place over a medium flame and let the garlic brown. Be careful not to let it burn.
    Add onion, carrot and celery
    Season salt & freshly ground black pepper and chili flakes
    continue to sauté till soft
    Meanwhile liquefy tomatoes in a blender
    Add tomatoes to veges along with parsley, chili and oregano.
    Bring to a rolling simmer and drop the meatballs in 1 at a time
    Simmer for 1 hour.

    Add cooked pasta and thawed peas.

    You can make this earlier in the day and reheat gently just before serving.

    Reheat gently and serve.
    Have some Ciabatta bread and grated Parmesan cheese
    Check out Presto Pasta Night Ruth from Once Upon A Feast has been hosting this for 22 weeks. Each week there are lots of delicious pasta recipes. Great fun,
    Click here and you will find all the Presto Pasta Night recipes. If you can't find something fabulous there I will eat my hat!!!

    To accompany the Pasta I made some little salad rolls "a la San Choi Bau"

    San Choi Bau is a wonderful mix of chicken pork, aromatics and noodles from our favourite Vietnamese restaurant Saigon
    Very crunchy and delicious. I thought it was an easy way to supply a salad to eat by hand.

    First I made a crisp salad of
    1 x finely sliced red pepper
    1 x courgette grated
    2 stalks celery finely sliced
    5 radishes finely sliced

    1 red onion finely sliced and quickly pickled red onions

    (see blog posted Friday April 27th)
    Freshly ground black pepper
    Good slug extra virgin olive oil
    1 iceberg lettuce - leaves separated

    Toss all ingredients except lettuce together
    Lay out the lettuce leaves

    Roll up in a little parcel
    These are to be eaten by hand
    Now to cover the “vego’s” and the “tomato intolerant”
    I made Red Lentil Soup
    (see Blog posted April 22nd)

    I served James Martin’s Carrot Cake…looked great when he made it on TV but I wasn’t overly happy with it. I will try it again and then if any good will post it. It will make another entry for Barbara’s Livestrong Taste of Yellow. Very pretty colour as you can see
    Now for the dinner.
    How about Jamie Oliver’s Fish Pie excellent for coeliacs but not good for dieters.
    It’s exceptionally good though you must try it. A superb “all in one” dish
    Prepare all the components ready for assembly

    200 gms of white fish per person cut into 3-4 cms pieces and place in gratin dish.
    2-3 shelled prawns per person (optional)

    1 egg per person
    Spinach fresh or frozen (thawed)
    1 medium potato per person

    Olive oil
    1 onion chopped

    1 carrot grated
    White wine

    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    600 mls cream

    50 gms grated cheese

    Juice 1/2 lemon
    Hard boil and quarter eggs,
    Blanch bunch spinach fresh (or defrost from frozen),
    Cook and mash 1 med potato per person
    Mix in good slurp of olive oil don’t make this a smooth mix we want it to be crispy…

    Sauté 1 onion chopped & 1 grated carrot till tender but not brown,
    Season with salt and pepper
    Slosh in some white wine and reduce it down, then pour in cream and
    Let it simmer till it has reduced to make quite a thick sauce.
    Add 50 gms grated cheese,
    Taste for salt and adjust if necessary and some freshly ground black pepper
    Plus the juice of ½ lemon, it may need a little more taste and see.

    Now to build the dish. Place the eggs over the fish and sprinkle the spinach evenly

    around then cover with the sauce and then splotch the potatoes around…it doesn’t need to be even…just dollops all over the fish mixture.

    Into a very hot 230° oven 20-25 minutes.
    The potatoes will crisp up on the top and the cream sauce will bubble all round.

    Of course you can prepare this earlier in the day as well and then pop into oven when ready. If you have been storing it in the fridge allow some extra time for cooking.

    Let it cool down a little before serving, as with most food it tastes better then.

    Try these little Chocolate Ricotta Puddings
    Once again gluten free
    Topped with whipped cream and Orange segments marinated in a little orange liqueur
    680gms ricotta drained
    3 eggs separated
    Zest 1 x orange
    ¼ cup caster sugar
    ½ teaspoon almond extract or vanilla extract
    ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
    Pinch of salt
    180 gms bitter sweet chocolate

    ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
    1 cup sugar

    Into blender add ricotta, egg yolks
    Zest of orange, sugar, flavouring and cinnamon

    Blend all together till smooth
    Pour into bowl
    Melt bitter sweet chocolate in a bowl over simmering water
    Add to mix

    Beat ¼ teaspoon cream tartar into egg whites then slowly sugar
    Beat till shiny

    Fold into chocolate mix
    Pour into buttered ramekins

    Place into bain marie 160C - 25 minutes

    Cool in fridge
    Serve with whipped cream and orange segments marinated for a little time in an orange liqueur.
    Another dessert I made last week for our film crew
    It was very popular...I saw it in the weekend paper
    It is a Donna Hay recipe and definitely worth trying

    Most fruits go well with Chocolate but my favourites are either Raspberries or as with the ricotta puddings - Oranges
    Doesn't the Brownie look great.

    200 gms semi sweet dark chocolate chopped
    250 gms butter
    200 gms brown sugar
    4 eggs
    1 1/3 cups plain flour
    ¼ teaspoon baking powder
    1/3 cup good cocoa powder sifted
    Pinch salt
    1 ½ cups raspberries fresh or frozen (no need to defrost)

    Preheat oven 180C fan bake
    Line a 23 cm square tin with baking paper, over lapping, you need to make a little basket to lift out the brownies
    I find it easy to spray the tin first it has something to adhere to.
    Place the chocolate and butter into small saucepan and gently melt them.

    In a bowl put sugar and eggs and whisk to combine (don’t overdo it)
    Add chocolate mixture
    Sift in the dry ingredients and carefully mix in.
    Pour into tin
    Top with raspberries
    and bake for
    45 minutes until set.
    Check after 35 minutes with a skewer or toothpick
    Don’t over cook they need to be fudgy
    By the way don't make this for your celiac friends, it's full of gluten!!!

    Makes 16.

    Saturday, May 12, 2007

    Lunch for Amanda

    Amanda is leaving today to further her studies, but first a trip to New York and a quick look at Europe.
    It was decided to have a BBQ lunch at work

    So I was instructed to come up with some tasty treats
    The Party Boys again came to the party with

    A very Simple dip and Spicy Nuts

    Caramelised Onion Dip with Fresh Sage

    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    2 cups thinly sliced onion
    2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves
    3/4 cup mayonnaise
    3/4 cup sour cream
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon ground black pepper
    Potato chips, for serving

    Heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
    Add onions and sage. Cover and cook until onions
    are deep golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.
    Remove from heat and let cool.
    Whisk together mayonnaise and sour cream in a medium bowl to blend.
    Stir in the cooled caramelized onions, season with salt, and pepper.
    Cover dip and refrigerate until flavors blend, about 2 hours.

    Spiced Nuts
    I have made a couple of changes to the nuts recipe
    I think that the Party Boys frequently under season so I adjusted the recipe to my taste

    Preheat the oven to 180C

    3 cups mixed nuts (pecans, walnuts and almonds, brazil cashews)
    2 tablespoons butter
    2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
    2 teaspoon ground cumin
    ½ teaspoon ground mustard ¼ teaspoon cayenne
    ½ teaspoon allspice
    ½ teaspoon white pepper
    3 teaspoons Maldon salt

    Put the nuts in a mixing bowl and set aside.
    Put the butter into a small saucepan and place over medium heat.
    As the butter melts, add the thyme leaves, cumin, mustard, cayenne, allspice, and pepper.

    Allow to simmer for 1 minute.
    Pour the butter mixture over the nuts,
    add the salt and toss well to coat.
    Put the nuts onto a baking sheet in 1 layer. Put the pan into the preheated oven until the nuts are a golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove and let cool. Serve immediately or keep in a sealed container for 1 week.
    These were very tasty.

    Next of course we had The Ultimate Hamburgers see Dec 26th 2006 post.

    We supplied some marinated hapuka for the vegos

    Those juicy hamburgers found themselves on Penny’s dress

    Amanda's still working... someone's got to do it!!!

    Customers enjoying themselves

    Emily and Glen still working

    Of course we had to have some sweets and I found this recipe from Ina Garten The Barefoot Contessa.
    Chocolate Cookies with White Chocolate
    This is the basic recipe but I have added an extra which I think made them probably the best Chocolate Chip cookies yet.
    Lindt make a superb Intense Orange Chocolate and I used that along with chopped up white chocolate.
    Wow that orange flavour turned these already excellent cookies into something really special.

    All those white bits are the yummy white chocolate

    225 gms unsalted butter at room temperature
    1 cup light brown sugar, packed
    1 cup caster sugar
    2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
    2/3 cup good unsweetened cocoa
    2 cups flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon salt
    250 gms good white chocolate chips
    100 gms packet Lindt Intense Orange Bitter Sweet chocolate chopped.

    Pre-heat oven to 170C fan bake

    Cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy
    Add the vanilla, then the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix well.
    Add the sifted cocoa and mix again.
    Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the mix with your mixer on low speed until just combined.
    Fold in the chopped chocolate.

    Drop the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, using a rounded dessertspoon.

    Dampen your hands and flatten the dough slightly.
    Bake for exactly 15 minutes (the cookies will seem underdone).
    Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
    Amanda loved going away present.
    Bon Voyage Amanda.