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    Monday, August 30, 2010

    Pasticcio - Greek Lasagne

    Pastitsio A Greek Lasagne

    I am really enjoying the Rerun of Rick Steins Mediterranean Escapes on Food TV and I have already blogged a delicious pasta, a couple of weeks ago
    Now it is The Turn of the Greek. This pasta dish is so reminiscent of Lasagne, but the difference is the spices used in the meat sauce.
    It’s lovely, bubbly, cheesy comfort food. Perfect for a cold winters day.
    What I like about this meat sauce is the addition of the spices

    I made it for ‘Thursday at Grandmas’ and all of the kids including the Grandfather loved it.
    Rick used a Greek Cheese called Kefalotyri which is a hard sheep or goats cheese
    I haven’t seen it here so I used a mixture of Feta and Parmesan, I guess you could use Percorino
    This will feed 4 people

    There are 3 stages
    Meat sauce
    Béchamel sauce and
    The Pasta

    In fact if you can make double the recipe of the Meat Sauce and stick it in the freezer for future use.

    500 gms minced beef
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    Sea salt and pepper
    1 onion finely chopped
    2 clove garlic peeled and minced
    1 stick celery finely sliced

    Glass red wine
    1 can tomatoes
    2 tablespoon tomato puree

    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    _ tsp ground Cloves
    1 tablespoon dried Oregano

    Heat the olive oil in a pan and brown the meat
    Season with S & P
    When brown remove from pan and
    Add onions and garlic sauté till soft
    Add celery sauté another minute or two
    Add meat back into pan
    Deglaze with wine
    Reduce a little
    Add tomatoes, Tomato puree, cinnamon, cloves and oregano
    Rinse the tomato tin half full and add the water to the mix
    Simmer for about 30 minutes and set aside.

    Béchamel Sauce
    3 tablespoon butter
    3 tablespoon plain flour
    3 cups milk
    1 small onion peeled and studded with whole cloves
    1 bay leaf
    Few peppercorns
    Freshly grated nutmeg

    The Pasta
    300 gms Penne (or similar)
    1 cup grated Cheese
    2 eggs beaten

    To make the Béchamel
    Infuse the milk with onion studded with cloves, peppercorns and bay leaf
    You need to make a roux
    Melt butter in a heavy bottomed pan
    Add flour mix well and cook for a few minutes to get rid of any raw flour taste.
    Strain the milk
    Add to roux and with a whisk beat well
    Heat stirring all the time till it comes to the boil
    Simmer for about 4-5 minutes

    Season to taste with Sea salt, Freshly ground black pepper and a good grate of nutmeg

    Meanwhile cook pasta to manufacturers instructions
    Mix in 1/2 cup cheese and 1/3 of the béchamel
    Mix well then add the 2 beaten egg mix.

    Now time to assemble
    Grease your gratin dish with olive oil
    Layer half of the pasta mix, covering the bottom well
    Then the meat sauce
    Top with remainder of Pasta
    Press down till flat

    Cover with reserved Béchamel
    Grated cheese on top

    Bake 180C for about 30 minutes till t is golden and bubbly

    Leave for at least 10 minutes before serving
    This makes it easier to serve.

    Lidia Basianich says she likes to leave baked Pasta dishes for at least an hour.
    But who can wait that long.
    This is a winner.


    Sunday, August 29, 2010

    Quiche Lorraine - Plain, Simple, Delicious - Elizabeth David

    The book on the left, is a well used and loved cook book. "French Provincial Cooking" by Elizabeth David. On the right is an excellent collection of her articles from various publications, that she wrote for  between 1955 and 1984.
    Twenty years ago I bought this book "An Omelette and A Glass of Wine" and lent to someone who never returned it.
    Don't you hate that?
    SO I treated myself to a new copy. She is such an inspiration.
    Every time I read her work I have to get into the kitchen.
    The article on Quiche Lorraine had me baking within minutes.
    Usually we all want to embellish simple dishes like this, with addition of cheese maybe onions,
    but try it as the "Lorrainers" have done since the sixteenth century. Just eggs bacon and well seasoned cream.
    To make a Quiche au Fromage Blanc for a change...
    use125 cream cheese mixed with 150 mls cream. same egg and bacon mix

    Anyway back to the Quiche Lorraine

    I used Frozen Puff Pastry, which I had in the freezer for the base and even though it looked wonderful and tasted really good, unfortunately the bottom was not cooked properly.
    I didn't want to leave it in the oven any longer it would have dried out the custard. We ate it.
    We liked it a lot

    I revisited the recipe and decided to remake it. This time I made the pastry myself.
    Also to get a proper cooked bottom, I turned the oven function onto bake (not fan bake which I use all of the time...its just much quicker). Anyhow it was a good move... Beautifully cooked base. Custard just right.
    Worth the extra time to heat up the oven. It wouldn't have hurt to leave it in the oven a little longer.
    Just to puff up that custard a little.
    I will do that next time. The trouble is with the cream and eggs, not good for the waistline
    So I won't be making it again for at least a week.
    The homemade pastry looks much better

    So for a 20 cm flan tin.
    Serve 4 people with a salad and crusty French Bread for lunch
    Or in our case we ate it all, too good to leave.

    I followed the recipe and I made the pastry.
    The recipe was published in the 60's and of course they did it by hand
    But I have found that the trusty food processor also does an excellent job
    Just don't overwork it.
    Preheat oven 200C

    125 gms flour
    Good pinch salt
    70 gms butter cut into small cubes
    1 egg
    A little iced water

    Put flour, salt and butter into food processor
    Pulse till it looks like coarse breadcrumbs
    Add egg pulse
    Add 2 tbs iced water 
    This should be enough water, press the dough with your fingers
    if it stays together the dough is ready

    If still dry, add a little more water, 1 tablespoon at a time

    Turn onto bench knead lightly till it forms a ball
    Push together into a flat disc
    Wrap in shrink wrap and put it in the fridge for at least 2 hours
    When ready to go roll out very thin and line   the  greased tin

    For the filling
    6 thin rashers bacon (Cut into 1 inch strips)
    3 egg yolks plus 1 whole egg
    280 mls double cream
    Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt 
    Ground fresh nutmeg 

    Lightly fry the bacon and place in pastry lined tin.
    Pour over cream and egg mix

    Add cream to well beaten eggs, mix and season with S & P and nutmeg
    Bake in the pre heated oven
    200C for 20 minutes
    Turn heat down to 175C and cook for another 10 - 15  minutes

    Leave for about 5-10 minutes before cutting into slices.
    Enjoy, it's a delight.

    Sunday, August 15, 2010

    Prawn and Courgette Linguine

    There is TV programme called the Best In Australia and there are some cracker dishes on it. I particularly liked the look of this and it was delicious
    It may seem like a bit of a drag stirring the courgettes but its worth it.
    Ben O’Donoghue was the architect of this recipe.
    I think this could be a good balanced dish for kids they will barely notice the vege.

    Courgette and Prawn Linguine
    500 gms Linguine
    500 gms Prawns cooked and chopped
    3 medium Courgettes
    2 cloves garlic finely chopped
    1 dried birds eye chili chopped (or good pinch dried chili flakes)
    2 medium peeled plum tomatoes,  chopped
    1 tsp rosemary finely chopped
    4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    280 mls water
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    The idea is of this dish is to cook the courgettes slowly to enrich their flavour.
    It will take about 10-15 minutes...persevere it's worth

    Wash, halve and chunk chop your courgettes

    Gently heat 2 tablespoon olive oil in a pan
    Add courgettes
    Gently fry until they become just golden on the edges not too much colour
    Season with salt and pepper
    Add a splash of water about ¼ cup
    Allow this to evaporate while stirring and mashing the courgette

    When the liquid has evaporated fry about another minute
    then add more water and repeat the procedure
    When the courgettes are soft and pliable
    Add chopped garlic and chili
    Cook for another minute or two
    Add the chopped prawn meat and mix well
    Add tomatoes and rosemary
    Slowly fry for another 5 minutes
    Make sure it doesn’t catch on the bottom
    Season again... the tomatoes will lift the acidity and more salt is necessary.

    Meanwhile cook the pasta in a large pot of well salted boiling water as per manufactures instructions

    Just before you drain the pasta,
    finish the sauce with the remainder of the olive oil
    Take the pasta out of the water and add to the sauce
    It’s important to note not to drain your pasta completely as a little pasta water will help loosen the sauce and help it coat the pasta

    Not too wet though… this is not soup that you making!

    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    Cauliflower Cheese Soup - Lemon Posset, Not Exactly Lo Cal But Fabulous

    Cauliflower Cheese Soup. I think everyone loves Cauliflower Cheese so why not turn it into a soup. Not my idea, I saw it on TV and it is a Scottish thing apparently, along with fried Mars Bars...(I haven't had one of those yet but it's on My Bucket List).
    I found this recipe on the net from the Nick Nairn's Cook School.

    1 medium onion
    1 clove garlic
    40g (1.5 ounces or one-third US stick) butter
    1 large cauliflower
    1 tablespoon grain mustard
    900 ml boiling water
    50 ml double cream
    50 g (2oz) grated cheddar cheese
    Fresh flat leaf parsley to garnish

    Heat the butter in a large pan.
    Add the onion and the garlic and leave on a medium heat for 2 - 3 minutes, until they are soft and clear.
    Whilst the onion and garlic are softening,
    Chop the cauliflower as fine as possible.
    Add the cauliflower into the onion mix then stir in the boiling water.
    Bring back to the boil.
    Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
    Stir the soup well and add the grain mustard and the grated cheese.
    Adjust seasoning to taste.
    Blend the soup with the cream in a liquidiser.
    Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped parsley.

    Dale was off for a night at sea, so I got up early and made him this particular soup and a Leek and Potato Tortilla
    A little packaged lunch and dinner for a non cook.

    Miss Cleo has the "Chicken Pops" so the usual Thursday at Grandma's became Thursday at Katie's.
    I made Homemade Fish Fingers, with Mashed Potatoes and Garlic Green Beans.
    For pudding Caramelized Pineapple with Lemon Posset.
    Lemon Posset is an old fashioned British is so simple and absolutely delicious.
    James Martin has given his Grandma's recipe on the Net for us all to use. It is excellent.

    The children loved it.

    For the Posset

    600ml/1 pint 1fl oz double cream
    150g/5oz caster sugar
    2 large lemons, zest and juice only

    Place the double cream and the sugar into a large pan over a low heat and
    bring to the boil slowly.

    Boil for three minutes,
    Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
    Add the lemon juice and zest and whisk well.
    Into the fridge for at least 3 hours

    I popped this into  plastic container so I could travel with it but normally just spoon it into little ramekins. One per person

    James has also supplied this wonderful shortbread recipe to serve with the Posset.
    If you serve this at a dinner party you will get Top Marks

    Preheat the oven to 220C
    For the Shortbread
    55g/2oz butter
    110g/4oz plain flour
    55g/2oz caster sugar

    Place in the food processor the butter, flour and sugar and blend together.
    Then roll out the mixture directly onto a baking sheet and place into the oven to bake for 5-10 minutes, or until lightly golden and crisp.

    To serve, cut up the shortbread and place onto a plate alongside the lemon posset.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    Geez Louise... What a Great Way to Cook Oysters

    The Bluff Oyster season is winding down. They have to be the best oysters in the world,
    Click here to read about these little gems.
    Unlike other oysters, they are marketed, already shucked and packed in little containers then flown out from Bluff which is at the bottom of New Zealand.
    When I was a kid my father used to buy them in 10 dozen tins they probably cost only 5 shillings for the lot, now they are $27 a dozen. Like Gold.
    Normally we would eat them raw, with a grind of black pepper and a little squeeze of lemon juice. Sometimes for a change a drop of Tabasco.
    When we only have a dozen to share I like to put them on little triangles of buttered Vogels.
    Delicious. The other day we ended up with a dozen, that for one way and another were nearly past their use by date. Not so good 'au naturel', so time to cook.
    The people of New Orleans, have umpteen recipes for cooking oysters.
    I have a fabulous cookbook that I bought on our first trip there in 1988.
    "La Bouche Creole".
    It no longer has a cover
    And as you can see splotches everywhere, a well used and loved cookbook

    Amongst the many recipes for Oyster and other shell fish was this recipe for Oysters Louise.
    Louise was the Mother of the author, Leon E Soniat, Jr. This was a favourite of his Fathers and his Mother cooked so often they named it after her.
    It is excellent, just serve with some French Bread, on the side
    You will need it to wipe your plate.
    I only had a dozen Oysters so I halved the recipe
    Normally this recipe will feed 4 as a Luncheon/Main dish or 6 as a starter.

    3 dozen Oysters and their water
    250 gms canned artichoke hearts
    115 gms butter
    1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
    2 tbs plain flour
    2 cups milk
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1/2 tsp garlic salt
    2 dashes Tabasco
    Sea salt and pepper to taste
    Good pinch grated nutmeg
    2 egg yolks
    Some finely chopped parsley

    Place the oysters and their juice in a large skillet
    Simmer over low hear until the edges of the oysters begin to curl
    Remove oysters and roughly chop
    Add butter and shallots to juice in pan and simmer for 5 minutes

    Sprinkle the flour into the mixture and cook for about 3-4 minutes
    Add milk slowly, stirring constantly
    As the sauce begins to simmer add artichokes, lemon juice, garlic salt Tabasco Black pepper
    This should all be done over a low heat
    Taste and add salt if necessary
    Add the oysters
    Stir gently and cook for another couple of minutes

    Take 1/2 cup liquid from the pan
    Add to beaten eggs and return to pan
    Sprinkle with nutmeg and a little parsley and Voila"Oysters Louise" is ready

    Monday, August 09, 2010

    Old Friends - Nothing Much Changes -Still Great Fun

    What a Day August 7th 2010.
    The Wellington/ Auckland Reunion Lunch was held at The Windsor in Parnell.
    It was time for old friends to get together... a time which didn't involve a funeral, just purely having fun. Some friendships are almost older than God
    A lot of people came from out of town, Sydney, Blenheim, Wellington, Waikanae, Lower Hutt, Mt Manganui, Warkworth, Devonport and even some visitors from Hawkes Bay. 
    It really should have been held over 2 days so that 'everybody' got to talk to 'everybody else'!!!
    But we tried and following, are some snaps of the day. Sorry about the quality of some of the photos, (that's me and my camera)but I think you'll get the picture.
    Thanks for supplying material... to Mr Heinz, Mr Levy, and in perfect focus and lighting Mr Crisillo who shot the original Campaign Boys. (below)

    Meanwhile Something for everyone else.

    And that's the last shot of the day, 5.34pm.
    Time for all party goers to go home, in time to fall asleep in front of the Rugby, And some of us did.