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    Sunday, February 28, 2010

    Oranges and Lemons Make Great Muffins

    Olive Oil Muffins
    Ms Giada de Laurentiis, whipped up these Muffins.
    They are made with Olive oil and have, would you believe, Balsamic Vinegar, as an ingredient
    I baked them today and the general concensus from the staff was.
    Thumbs Up!
    I used White Chocolate Chips, as the pantry was lacking in almonds.
    The Chocolate Chips were pretty good though.


    * 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    * 2 teaspoons baking powder
    * 1/2 teaspoon salt
    * 1 cup sugar
    * 4 large eggs
    * 2 teaspoons orange zest
    * 2 teaspoons lemon zest
    * 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    * 2 tablespoons whole milk
    * 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    * 2/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

    * Powdered sugar, for sifting


    Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C.
    Place paper liners in a 12-cup muffin tin.

    Blend together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl to blend.
    Using an electric mixer beat the sugar, eggs, and
    zests in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
    Beat in the vinegar and milk.
    Gradually beat in the oil.
    Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended.
    Crush the almonds with your hands as you add them to the batter
    and stir until mixed.
    OR add Chocolate Chips
    Fill the muffin tin almost to the top of the paper liners.
    Bake until golden on top and a tester inserted into the center of the cake
    comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 20 to 25 minutes.
    Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes.
    Remove the muffins onto a platter and let cool for 5 more minutes.
    Sift powdered sugar over the muffins and serve.

    The recipe actually made 14. I kept a couple back for a personal treat.
    Thumbs up from me too!

    Saturday, February 27, 2010

    Simple Ravioli - Anyone can do this


    Ruth from Once upon a Feast Blog started her Presto Pasta Nights  three years ago this week, so it is a celebration of 3 years of Pasta Recipes. Click Here  to have a look. 

    I was approached by the PR people for Perfecto Italiano, who are currently marketing their Ricotta range. "Would I like to cook with their Ricotta and blog about it"?
    Yes, I thought this would be really fun. I had some really good Ricotta recipes that I have been wanting to trial. What better time and great for Ruth's Event.

    Lots of people are nervous about making fresh pasta but it is really easy and this first version of Pasta making doesn't even need any machines.

    Mario Batali Italian King of FoodNetworkTV loves Ricotta and I was intrigued by this recipe. He calls them Cialzons which are Ravioli from Friuli, an area of Italy, up at the right hand side of the boot. With Austrian influences. It’s all about butter up there not olive oil.
    The filling is very flavouful and I love the little bite of currants.
    In fact I added a few more currants. That little sweet bubble, amongst the savoury.

    I have done two versions of this Cialzon…One,which doesn’t require a pasta machine.
    The other I did use my machine. The first…a rustic version, using your hands is a bit thicker and took a couple of more minutes to cook, but basically both work!

    I also made pasta two ways.
    Mario’s style. On the bench...the Fontana/Well method
    Then I made the version shown on
    MasterChef Australia by George Calombaris.
    The Food Processor method.

    So first we will go with Mario

    Make the Pasta first.
    1 3/4 - 2 cups Hi-grade white flour
    2 extra large eggs
    1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

    Mound 1 3/4 cups of the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board.
    Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs and the olive oil. 
    Using a fork, beat together the eggs and oil and begin to incorporate the flour,
    starting with the inner rim of the well.
    As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up from the base of the mound to retain the well shape.
    The dough will come together when half of the flour is incorporated.

    Start kneading the dough with both hands, using the palms of your hands.
    Once you have a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board, and scrape up and discard any leftover bits.
    Lightly reflour the board and continue kneading for 6 more minutes.
    The dough should be elastic and a little sticky.
    If it is too sticky add a little more flour.
    Wrap the dough in plastic and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
     Meanwhile make The Filling.

    250 gms ricotta
    1 egg, beaten
    2 tablespoons currants
    1/2 teaspoon bitter cocoa
    1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
    1 tablespoons sliced scallions
    1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley leaves

    In a bowl, mix the ricotta, smoked ricotta, eggs, salt,
    Currants, cocoa, nutmeg, lemon zest, 
    scallions, and parsley.
    Set aside

    For the Sauce
    1 cup Chicken Stock, Homemade if possible
    6 sage leaves
    2 tablespoons butter
    Salt and pepper

    Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil

    Unwrap dough and cut into 3
    Roll into a sausage

    Cut into 1/2 inch pieces
    On a lightly floured bench
    Push the pieces into circle with your fingers
    Make them as thin as possible

    Place a little bit of filling in the centre of 1 circle
    With your fingers wipe the edge with a little water to act as glue
    Place another circle on top
    Squash around the edges making sure you remove any air bubbles
    Keep your board lightly floured
    Put your little Cialzons to one side
     When the water comes to a rolling boil
    Add Cialzons
    Cook for about 5-7 minutes till tender.
    They will float to the top
    Don’t do too many at once

    Meanwhile, place the chicken stock, sage,
    and butter into a 12 to 14-inch sauté pan, and bring to a boil.

    Drain the pasta and toss into the pan with the stock/butter mixture.
    Toss over high heat, season with salt and pepper, and serve.
    A little extra chopped parsley
    Good to go

    Now for those who are nervous about the Fontana/Well method of pasta making
    Try this recipe from George, Super Judge MasterChef Australia.

    Into the food processor
    200 gms flour
    2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk
    Pinch salt
    Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive oil

     Pulse till it all comes together

    Turn out onto lightly floured bench
    Knead till smooth and glossy about 3 minutes

    Make into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap
    Set aside 30 minutes.
    Continue as before.
    There you go. Mario's on the left George on the right.
    Taste Test?
    Couldn't tell the difference.

    I also tried rolling both pastas in the machine

    Cut pasta into 3
    Roll out on the machine starting at the widest
    Working down to the thinnest

    Lay strip on bench and cut out shapes.
    I used a cookie cutter but you could just cut into squares, if you wish
    Definitely a more elegant looking ravioli.

    Put filling in middle of pasta
    And proceed as before.
    They will only take 5 minutes to cook.

    Please try it's so easy.

    Tomorrow: Lovely little Savoury Tarts using Perfecto Italian Ricotta, Goats Cheese and Leeks.
    You will love it.

    Sunday, February 21, 2010

    Excellent Chicken with Moroccan Couscous, Superb Lemon Loaf - Plus Diana Krall, Madelaine and Melody


    We had guests coming for lunch. Danielle and Kevin Immerman are visiting NZ (from their home in Singapore) and they are on the relative run…we were lucky enough to be on their schedule. So we had lunch at home. Family and friends, can’t get much better than that.
    Of course Cous Cous is a Pasta so it is a good entry for Presto Pasta Nights 
    This week hosted by Michelle at Italian Mama Chef.   
    Have a look at both of these sites for some dozens of ways to cook pasta. Great fun

    As I have mentioned previously, Joyce brought me a bottle of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Mojito Marinade from Rocherster NY. Yes I know… not the spice capital of the world but nevertheless you can buy this delicious marinade in the stores in that town. It is Cuban, citrusy, garlicky and delicious,
    The owners of this Rochester restaurant, John Stage and Nancy Radke, have made this, their signature marinade, it's good enough to bottle and sell, plus they have been kind enough to put the recipe on the web.
    So here it courtesy of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Restaurant.
    N.B I noticed that on the bottle, they had vinegar as an ingredient, so I added 1 teaspoon and it just gave it an extra lift.

    1/4 cup chopped garlic
    1/2 cup chopped onion
    2 cups fresh orange juice
    1/2 cup fresh lime juice
    1/2 cup olive oil
    4 teaspoons kosher salt
    1 tablespoon black pepper
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    2 teaspoons dried oregano
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

    Added extra - 1 large teaspoon white wine vinegar

    Mix together the garlic, onions, orange juice, and lime juice in a bowl.
    Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan till just smoking.

    Now cover up your arms and put some potholder mitts on your hands because you're about to do something that is contrary to good cooking practice but produces great flavor release.
    Slide the contents of the bowl into the hot oil — be very careful because the liquid will splatter.
    Simmer for 5-10 minutes to soften the onions and garlic.
    Season the marinade with the rest of the ingredients.
    Pour everything into a blender or food processor and pulse 3 times to combine.

    Taste for flavour
    Pour into a plastic container and cool to room temperature; then cover and refrigerate.
    Mojito Marinade keeps for up to 2 weeks.

    I put it back into the original bottle.
    So back to lunch
    In the freezer were 2 large Free range chickens.
    Thaw, wash, dry.
    Into a oven bag
    Liberally douse with marinade
    Into 190C oven about an hour.

    Open the bag empty out into the oven dish
    Baste the Chicken with all of the lovely juices
    Back into the oven to brown about 5-10 minutes.

    Remove chicken
    Melt 1 tablespoon butter
    Add 1 tablespoon flour
    Make a roux
    Add 1 cup of the juice (and keep the rest for an excellent chicken stock)
    Cook till thickened
    Check seasoning and adjust of necessary
    Break up the chicken
    Coat the pieces with the sauce

    The Marinade has citrus flavours, garlic, coriander leaves
    Flavours of Cuba.
    Sounds like Cuban and Moroccan would go well together.

    Let’s accompany the chicken with Cous Cos.

    Good Choice.
    Got this idea from Mrs Garten The Barefoot Contessa
    I added Zest of an orange to marry with the marinade
    And some rocket leaves for colour and bit extra bite.

    4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
    3/4 cup chopped shallots
    3 cups Homemade Chicken Stock or canned broth
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    1 1/2 cups couscous
    1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
    1/4 cup currants
    Zest of 1 orange
    2 handfuls rocket


    Melt the butter in a large saute pan,
    Add the shallots and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat.
    Add the chicken stock, salt and pepper, raise the heat to high and bring the stock to a boil. Off the heat and add the couscous. Cover the pan and let it sit for 10 minutes.

    Add the pine nuts, currants,orange zest and rocket to the couscous, stir and serve.
    So in keeping with the theme, I found this recipe...once again...thank you Mrs Garten
    A superb Lemon Yogurt Cake
    Using oil instead of butter, soaked in lemon syrup and glazed with a lemon icing.

    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt or sour cream
    1 cup sugar, divided
    3 extra-large eggs
    2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
    1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1/2 cup vegetable oil

    1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
    1/3 cup sugar

    For the glaze:
    1 cup confectioners' sugar
    2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


    Preheat the oven to 170C
    Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan.
    Line the bottom with parchment paper.
    Grease and flour the pan.

    Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl.
    In another bowl,
    whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla.

    Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
    With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated.
    Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes,
    (Test after 40 minutes)
    or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

    Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan
    until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear.
    Set aside.

    When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
    Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan.
    While the cake is still warm,
    pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in.

    For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.
    An excellent lunch.

    The guests left and Joyce and I drove over to Helen's house. 
    Girls on Tour, Helen, Lana, Joyce, Julia, Sara, Michelle and Me  
    Off to see... "Girls on Tour"
    Diana Krall. Melody Gardot and Madelaine Peroux.
    All performing at the Villa Maria Vineyard in South Auckland.
    It was a beautiful night.
    We piled into a minivan taxi, compete with a picnic. Very exciting.
    It's a great venue. A natural amphitheater as these vineyards tend to be.
    And the bonus, you can buy excellent wine.
    We all need wine with out concerts.

    First was Melody

    Then Madelaine

    Picnic time, thank you Ms Lana

    The sun went down the stars came out and so did Diana.

    Heaven, we're in Heaven.

    It was a wonderful. Can't get much better than that.

    Sunday dawned.
    And the icing on the cake, so to speak, was another wonderful day.
    First leftover couscous and chicken turned into little cakes, drizzled with Mojito Sauce for lunch.

    Then off to The Juice Cabana Bar, to watch Josh Leys perform.
    He's Great.
    The family were there as well


    An excellent finale to the weekend.

    Saturday, February 20, 2010

    First Ever So So Simple Post

    Anniversary Day...

    Would you believe I posted my very first recipe 4 years ago today.
    Only had my trusty little phone to record this event.
    So here we go again' My first "re-post"
    And guess what, The beginning of my obsession with Fritters.
    Also who better to inspire me but Mr Rick Stein.
    Thanks to JT and John. He will have the pleasure of entertaining Thelma and Louise...JT and me, on March 10th and 11th in Sydney.
    Bring it on!

    Here is my first recipe.
    Rick Stein originally made these fritters using courgettes but I thought the addition of the other veges looked good and they taste superb. Children love them. Long as you don't mention what's in them.

    ½ carrot peeled and grated
    1 corn cob shucked and kernels sliced off
    1 courgette grated
    1 spring onion finely chopped
    1 med chili (optional) de-seeded and finely chopped
    ½ cup plain flour
    1 tsp baking powder sifted with the flour
    Yoghurt big dollop
    2 eggs beaten
    S&P sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Oil for frying

    Mix all the vege with the flour and baking powder, making sure they are all well coated then add the eggs and yoghurt season with S & P This makes quite a thick mixture but great fritters.
    Heat the oil in non stick frying pan add 2 tablespoons of mix and cook the fritters in batches till golden brown and cooked right thru about 4-5 mins each side depending on the size.
    Drain on paper towels sprinkle with a little extra S & P and serve.
    I personally like to eat them just like that, but feel free to have any of your favourite dipping sauces.

    Try this combo for a change

    2 med courgettes grated
    ½ stick celery fine chop
    ½ onion fine chop
    8 cherry tomatoes squashed and ripped into pieces (real fun to do)
    8 mint leaves finely chop
    Handful basil finely chop
    ½ cup flour sifted with Baking Powder
    1tsp baking powder
    S & P

    Method same as above.
    Great combo also fantastic cooked as little fritters to serve with drinks

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    Hello Joyce Or should I say Hello Santa!

    Our friend Joyce has arrived from The US of A. Bearing gifts. She arrived at the ungodly hour of 5am but as I am having some very much needed alcohol free days it was not a problem getting up and at it.

    As usual she came bearing gifts. Lots of clothes and a bottle of this wonderful Mojito Marinade.
    Very citrusy and with corinader. Not only did it transform our chicken into a delicious tender bite, but it was full of flavour.

    My Butcher John at Gladstone Butchers in Parnell still sells chicken SKIN ON. Thank god...He also sells the Chicken Maryland, which is the full leg.
    We marinated our legs, roasted them on a bed of onions and Voila
    Beautifully roasted chicken.
    Served with  crushed basil potatoes.
    What a meal.
    Of course Joyce never forgets the kids and she always manages to buy them some really cute clothes.
    Ms Cleo is the first to get her gifts
    Move over Tyra
    Hasn't quite mastered the walk yet and she is working  on the poses.
    But if all fails, she can always try Music.
    Its in the family you know
    Go Cleo.
    Thanks Joyce