Wednesday 31 March 2010

March 2010 - Paprika Chicken with Quinoa Tabouleh

On to the last issue for March. I changed my mind a lot on what to make from this issue. On my menu plan for the month I was going to make Jill Dupleix's Larb Gai with mint & basil, which is a Thai-inspired dish that looked to be light and tasty. However come the end of the month there were some bills that needed paying so there wasn't a lot left for groceries and I had to be a bit frugal.

Jamie Oliver's Kumara Pyramid Salad was another possibility. I had most of the ingredients, or things that could be substituted. However I had made a salad using kumara from the last issue so I decided that, as nice as it sounds, something different would be better this time around.

There is a feature on Noosa in this issue with recipes from executive chef at Berardo's, Shane Bailey. His Spatchcock with Corn & Herb Couscous, using Israeli (or pearl) couscous looked so good. However I didn't manage to get to the butcher on Saturday before they closed so I wasn't able to get a spatchcock and the chickens at the supermarket were all quite big. I think that it would have been very nice though.

In the end I chose another recipe from Jill Dupleix's Lighten Up feature, Paprika Chicken with Quinoa Tabbouleh. I had all the ingredients on hand so it made for a cheap and very tasty stores meal. The recipe did not state what type of paprika to use. I have smoked and sweet in my cupboard so I used smoked on the chicken breast and sweet for the quinoa dressing. The smoked paprika was nice on the chicken however I think that I need to get something with a bit more spice to it. I think it would have been better with a bit of a kick to it, perhaps I didn't add enough cayenne pepper. I enjoyed the meal and it was a good way to use some of the quinoa that I seem to have built up in the cupboard.

  • 1 c quinoa
  • 600 ml water or vegetable stock
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp mint, finely chopped
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, quartered (I used extra)
  • 3 spring (green) onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 c (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 100 g greek yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 x 180 g chicken breast fillets
  • Combine 1 tbsp oil, 1 tsp paprika and chicken breasts in a bowl and marinade for at least 20 minutes.
  • Simmer quinoa in water for 10 minutes or until cooked and then drain. Cool and then add herbs, tomatoes and onions.
  • Mix 1/4c oil, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp paprika, cumin, cayenne and sugar. Reserve 2 tsps and then mix the rest through the quinoa.
  • Cook chicken under the a medium-high grill for 7-8 minutes each side or until cooked.
  • Slice chicken breast and serve on a bed of quinoa then top with yoghurt and a drizzle of the reserved dressing.

Paprika Chicken with Quinoa Tabbouleh

March 2009 - Chorizo, Asparagus & Kumara Salad with Green Chilli Dressing

My first choice in the penultimate issue for March was a recipe that I quite clearly remember Maggie Beer making on The Cook and The Chef. It is a Leek & Aubergine (Eggplant) Tarte Tatin and it looks so good. I was keen to make it with my own home grown eggplants. I did manage to harvest some from them this year. Although I accidentally planted the finger eggplants instead of the regular kind. The plants were loaded with little ones but I guess that I should have thinned them out because it all got too heavy and the branches broke off and that was the end of the eggplants. I would have bought an eggplant but on the day I went looking the were all a bit overripe, soft and sad looking.

I then planned on making the cover recipe, Thai Salmon Noodle Salad by Jill Dupleix. Salmon is one variety of fish that I do quite like. However the only portions of salmon that were available were very large so I decided that I would leave it for another day when I could get something a bit smaller (and therefore cheaper). At the same time as deciding to make the Thai Salmon Noodle Salad I also chose another salad recipe to make for a nice weekend lunch. So I ended up making Chorizo, Asparagus & Kumara Salad with Green Chilli Dressing by Tom Kime. I had most of the ingredients already. I almost always have chorizo in the fridge as it comes in so handy and is very tasty. I also keep kumara (or sweet potato) on hand as I just love it both roasted and mashed. It is very nice roasted with a balsamic and sweet chilli glaze. I didn't have any green chillis but had some red chillis so I used them instead. I didn't use as much as suggested in the recipe, next time I will. It was so good that I will definitely be making it again.

Chorizo, Asparagus & Kumara Salad with Green Chilli Dressing

  • 2 kumara, peeled, cut into 3 cm chunks
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, cut into 3 cm lengths
  • Juice 1/2 lemon
  • 2 chorizo sausages, halved lengthways, sliced on an angle
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 c chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 c rocket, roughly chopped (I used salad mix)
Green Chilli dressing:
  • 2 green chillis, seeded, finely sliced
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp caster sugar
  • 1/4 c (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil (I would recommend using less, it was quite oily)
  • Mix all the ingredients for the dressing and then set aside until required.
  • Mix kumara and half the oil, season and bake in a 200 C oven until cooked, approximately 25 - 30 minutes.
  • Heat the rest of the oil in a pan and quickly fry asparagus until lightly golden, season and add lemon juice then remove to a bowl.
  • Fry chorizo in the pan until browned and then drain.
  • Cool kumara slightly and then add all salad ingredients to the bowl with the asparagus.
  • Add dressing, toss quickly and serve.

Asparagus, Kumara & Chorizo salad

Saturday 27 March 2010

March 2008 - Chocolate Caramel Tart

I will play the game here and make a fuss about the lovely recipes in issue #69 and what I would have loved to have made and then I will move on to what, in reality, was going to be the only option for this blog post. There are a lot of lovely recipes in the issue, in fact I had marked a lot more recipes in this issue than I had in any of the others this month.

Jamie Oliver's recipes this month had a Mexican flavour to them. The Mexican-style barbecued corn in particular looked terrific. It was basically just corn cobs first boiled and then browned on barbecue and then sprinkled with paprika, cheese and lime juice. I think that they would have been very nice as part of a Mexican feast.

Every month there is a regular feature of Chef's Secrets. This month was Melbourne chef and writer Greg Malouf. His recipe was Grilled green-chilli quail with Turkish spoon salad. As part of the step by step Greg shows how to butterfly quails, which might come in handy if I can ever get some. The Turkish spoon salad is interesting. All the ingredients a cut up very finely and dressed with a combination of pomegranate molasses, red wine vinegar, olive oil and Turkish red pepper paste. It sounds very good. I have pomegranate molasses so if I can get some of the red pepper paste I might give the salad a try at some stage.

There is a feature on Tobie Puttock before a new television series that he was making in Tuscany with wine-expert Matt Skinner. It features two great recipes. One for Pappa al Pomodoro (tomato & bread soup). I love tomato and bread soup. Although Tobie's recipe used canned tomatoes. When making tomato soups I much prefer to use fresh tomato as it is the star and I prefer to use the best I can get. Also canned tomatoes can taste slightly (just slightly) metallic at times. Although that could just be psychological. The other wonderful recipe was Porchetta with Salsa Verde. The picture accompanying the recipe looks terrific. However the recipe says that it will feed 10 - 12 people. I know that the recipe could probably be halved successfully but that would still make way too much for one person. I will have to leave it for some time when I am entertaining and try it out then.

Now that I have done my duty and pointed out all the wonderful recipes that I could have made, I will move on to the recipe that I did make. It was really the only recipe that I could make in all honesty. When you see something like Valli Little's Chocolate Caramel Tart staring out from the page at you I don't see how anyone wouldn't be compelled to make it.

It involved boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk to make the wonderful dulce de leche. The recipe gave instructions for boiling the can but, I guess for safety reasons, it wasn't the directions for the way I normally do it. It was suggested to put two small holes in the tin and put it in a pot with water to within a centimetre of the top of the tin. I remember trying to make it this way once in the past and it was a bit of a disaster. The water boiled up a couple of times and of course went in the holes in the can. Also since the water didn't cover the can completely the top portion of the milk in the can wasn't cooked so you had to scoop off a layer of watery milk to get to the caramel, yuck. So instead of following the recipe I just submerged the can in a large pot and simmered for 3 hours, topping up with water as necessary to keep it well covered. After the 3 hours I removed it from the pot and let it cool until it was able to be handled, then I opened it up and was rewarded with the most wonderful rich and thick dulce de leche.

I was unable to get the dark chocolate pastry that was recommended in the recipe. Valli did suggest that regular shortcrust pastry could be used but I thought that it would look much better with the dark chocolate so I googled and found a recipe from the wonderful Maggie Beer here. It was a bit hard to work with and I ended up pressing it into the tin as I couldn't roll it and move it without it breaking up but I was very pleased with the resultant pastry case.

I really enjoyed making this. It is incredibly rich and decadent and only very small pieces can be eaten at a time. I dusted it with cocoa and served it with cream mixed through the remaining caramel and strawberries. The strawberries really helped to cut through the richness and I would definitely recommend having them with it. I would highly recommend this as a dinner party dessert. It is easy to make ahead of time, just refrigerate and then remove before serving to bring back up to room temperature. It is also quite impressive looking but while it takes a bit of time to get all the parts made it is quite easy to make. The dulce de leche could be made several days ahead to make it even easier.

Chocolate Caramel Tart 1

Chocolate Caramel Tart 2

Chocolate Caramel Tart 3

March 2007 - Barbecued Peri-Peri Pork with Quick Guacamole

I really wanted to make the cover recipe from issue #58. Valli Little's Warm Duck Salad with Beetroot and Pomegranate looked so good. I just love beetroot and pomegranates and was keen to try the combination in what looked to be quite a refreshing salad. I, of course, couldn't make it due to a lack of access to any duck meat. Although I did have a duck dish at a local Chinese restaurant last night. It was okay but I certainly wouldn't order it again. I should have asked where they get their duck from, although they probably get whole ducks rather than just breast fillets. I will find a source for them one day and go back and make all the wonderful sounding recipes that I have come across.

Tobie Puttock's Fried Mozzarella with Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil looked really good too. The tomato and basil mix looked so lovely. The mozzarella pieces were crumbed and then deep fried. I find deep fried food to be a bit rich for me. I usually enjoy eating deep fried food at the time but it is unsettling for me. I was also concerned that the fact it is not just deep fried food but deep fried cheese it might just make me sick so with disappointment I decided not to make it.

The guest chef in this issue was Jared Ingersol of Sydney's Danks Street Depot which I had never heard of to be honest but then again I do not live in Sydney. The menus on their website look nice and the recipes that were on offer in this issue look very nice. I really wanted to make the Roasted Quails with Agresto Sauce, which is a combination of nuts, herbs, oil and verjuice. I could not get quails but considered making it with a small chicken but when I went to get a small chicken the butcher only had very big chickens left. I probably still could have made the recipe but I find that if I cook a large chicken just for myself I end up with too much left over and I never get it all eaten especially when it has a sauce like this one on it as it makes it harder to use the meat in something else, like chicken pies. This is definitely a recipe to come back to, along with the Hasselback potatoes with l'edel de cleron and a hazelnut dressing. L'edel de cleron is apparently a type of cheese but Jared suggests that if it is unavailable that brie or camembert would be suitable substitutions. I think that they will be interesting to try. It has been a long time since I have made hasselback potatoes but they are very tasty.

In the end, after a long day at work, I went with the quick and easy option and made Kate Tait's Barbecued Peri-Peri Pork with Quick Guacamole. I didn't use the barbecue as I don't really see the point of heating it up for one pork chop but I also don't have a gas bottle for it at present. I ended up grilling it. The pork chop was very nice. I quite like the peri-peri flavouring. I have done chicken in the peri-peri marinade before and it was great. The quick guacamole wasn't all that great on its own as it was a bit bland but since the pork had so much flavour the guacamole wasn't required to have a lot of flavour. The citrus to come through nicely though. Perhaps using coriander would have made a difference, and I didn't have much mint so perhaps if I had more of it it would have had more flavour. I served it with a salad and it was very nice.

Barbecued Peri-Peri Pork with Quick Guacamole

  • 4 pork cutlets, rind trimmed, bones scraped (I just used a pork chop and left the rind on)
  • 1/2 c. peri-peri marinade

Quick Guacamole
  • 1 avocado
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 c roughly chopped coriander leaves (I used a mint and parsley mix)
  • Place pork chops in a bag with the marinade and mix around to coat. The recipe suggest marinading for 5 minutes. I left mine for 30 minutes.
  • Combine all the ingredients for the guacamole and set aside.
  • Pre-heat grill to 180 C.
  • Remove pork from marinade and place on a rack under the grill and cook for 5 - 8 minutes and then turn over and cook until done.
  • Serve with guacamole on the side.

Peri Peri Pork Chop with quick guacamole & salad

Wednesday 24 March 2010

March 2006 - Pan-fried Chicken on Lentils with Pesto

Delicious magazine seems to like a purple/mauve/lilac cover. The colour is peppered throughout the back issues. It is unusual for two issues in a row to have the same coloured background and slightly confusing to be honest. I was forever picking up the wrong one. Although the lovely pots of Lime and Ginger Creme Brulee did differentiate this one.

It was one of the recipes that I considered making but as I said before, there is a dessert recipe that just had to be made later on in the month. Plus I do not have a blow torch for caramelising the sugar on top. I know that it can be done under a grill but I do not think that it is a good done that way as it is with a torch.

On my menu list for this month I had Bill Granger's Chicken & Kumara Curry. It sounds really good, full of chilli, lemongrass and (light) coconut milk. There is also a recipe for coconut rice to go with it. I was going to make it when I had visitors coming but decided to do something else with the chicken thighs for them. I was then going to make this for myself on the weekend but I only had one package of chicken thigh fillets in the freezer so it will have to wait until after pay day now.

So I ended up having to look for something else to make. I had a chicken breast in the freezer so I decided to make Pan-fried Chicken on Lentils with Pesto by Kate Tait. I am not really sure about this dish. The breast fillet that I had was skinless rather than with skin as the recipe called for so I wrapped the breast in some prosciutto slices that I had in the fridge. The lentils were nice but a bit bland for my liking. I think the addition of some chilli or garlic would have helped. I had some sundried tomato pesto so used that instead of the basil pesto, perhaps that would have added to it. I did enjoy it but I do not think that it is something I would make again.

Pan-fried Chicken on Lentils with Pesto

  • 1 cup Puy-style whole green lentils
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 free-range chicken breast fillets with skin
  • 4 large eschalots, thinly sliced(I used a red onion)
  • 2 roasted red capsicums* (about 170g each), finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup good-quality basil pesto
  • Cook lentils in a pan of boiling water then rinse and drain.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a frypan over medium heat and cook chicken, skin-side down for a few minutes and then turn and cook on the other side until cooked through. The set aside to rest.
  • Heat the remaining oil in a frypan, add eschalots and cook until softened but not coloured. Add lentils and capsicum and warm through. Remove pan from heat and stir in parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Divide the lentil mixture among serving plates. Top with chicken and pesto.

Pan-fried chicken on lentils with pesto

Sunday 21 March 2010

March 2005 - Vineyard Sausages with grapes

This time of year it is difficult to know what to make from one day to the next as the weather is so changeable. One day it is cool and it is hot meals all-round and then the next it blistering hot again and salads are the order of the day. This can be quite frustrating when planning a menu ahead of time.

There are some wonderful features and recipes in this issue. Jamie Oliver's New York diner food recipes looked pretty good, the Reuben-ish sandwich in particular. I wasn't quite as taken with the Corned beef hash with fried egg that called for canned corned beef. I just cannot bring myself to purchase that stuff, shudder. Valli Little's Last of the Summer Wine feature had some great options, watercress & potato salad, fillet of beef with horseradish cream and roast capsicum. I considered making these as part of a meal however the fillet of beef is very simmer to one that I have already done and I was unable to find any watercress so that ruled out the salad.

I ended up making a recipe from Jill Dupleix's feature Tutti Fruitti where all the recipes used fruit. On first looking through this issue I marked this recipe, Vineyard Sausages with Grapes, as a possible one to make. I had never used grapes in a savoury dish and I was intrigued as to what it would be like. I was impressed with it. The sausages were nice and spicy and the grapes were sweet not too sickly sweet. I served it with some char-grilled parmesan polenta and steamed spinach. It was a good meal and filled me nicely.

Vineyard Sausages with grapes

  • 750g firm, ripe green grapes
  • 8 Italian-style coarse pork sausages
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • 2tbsp flat parsley leaves
  • Prick the sausages.
  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the sausages. Pan-fry slowly, turning every couple of minutes, until firm and golden-brown.
  • Add the grapes, sea salt and pepper. Cook gently for a few minutes.
  • Pile the sausages on to a warm serving platter and top with the warmed grapes. Drizzle with any pan juices and scatter with parsley leaves.

Vineyard Sausages with Grapes

Friday 19 March 2010

March 2004 - Steak Teriyaki

There is much to like in issue #25 and a lot of different recipes to choose from. The cover recipe a warm sweet potato, bean & blue cheese salad with crispy prosciutto looked so very good, the only problem is that I am not keen on blue cheese. I will eat small amounts of it and have made a nice blue cheese dressing in the past but chunks of it in a salad are just not to my liking.

I came close to making Geoff Lindsay's Steamed silken bean curd with chinese black vinegar and chilli. It looked really good in the picture in the magazine and some thing that would be nice, light and easy to make for dinner one night. I have not really done a lot with tofu and I am interested in using it some more. I decided though that I would leave my experimentations with tofu for a dish with more flavourings.

Interesting diversion, there was some rather large explosions happening outside which scared my cats and intrigued me. When I went out the front door there was a bunch of fireworks going off somewhere very nearby my house. I am still intrigued as I was under the impression that fireworks were illegal to possess and use in Australia for the average person. I will have to chat with the neighbours tomorrow and find out if they know anything further. There was a number of other people out in the street watching.

Back to the issue at hand. There is a great article on Sophie Grigson accompanied by some terrific recipes, a number of which I want to make. I am having visitors next week so I am thinking of making the pot-roast pork with star anise, ginger, tamarind and port. It sounds so luscious, although I am not exactly sure what ruby port is, I will have to do some googling on that. There are two different desserts one of which I am champing at the bit to try, raspberry & earl grey jellies. It just sounds so good. I would have made them for this post but there is a dessert recipe in a later issue that just had to be made this month.

The regular feature, simple food, is Easy Asian by Jill Dupleix in this issue. The Steak Teriyaki recipe sounded so easy. I love the teriyaki flavours, I have used the pre-made supermarket sauces but decided that it would be great to make this one. I decided not to serve it with the bean sprouts that Jill did as I can only buy bean sprouts in pre-packed bags that usually look wet and slimy to me. I had a beautiful thick cut piece of scotch fillet steak. I managed not to overcook this one, instead I undercooked it. It was fine to eat but was just more rare than I would have liked. I am starting to get frustrated with cooking steaks at the moment. I just cannot seem to get them cooked just to my liking lately. I used to have no problems. My trouble started when I moved and changed from a gas hob to a very old electric hob. I just cannot seem to get the hang of cooking steak on it. I ended up serving it with jasmine rice and greens sautéed with chilli and oyster sauce. I really enjoyed the whole meal and I am sure that I will make this one again.

Steak Teriyaki
  • 4 x 150 g scotch fillet or eye fillet steaks
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (I used rice bran oil)

Teriyaki Sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbps sake or dry sherry
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (I used light soy sauce)
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • Combine ingredients for sauce and stir to dissolve sugar. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in fry pan over a medium to high heat.
  • Brown steaks on all sides quickly and then cook to your liking then remove from pan to rest.
  • Remove pan from heat and add ingredients for sauce.
  • Return to the heat and bring to a boil and cook for stirring until sauce thickens a bit, about 2 or 3 minutes.
  • Slice steak and arrange on bed of rice. Drizzle sauce over and serve.

Steak Teriyaki with stir-fried greens

Sunday 14 March 2010

March 2003 - Orange Hotcakes

Well it took me another week to actually make another recipe, oh dear, I will have to speed up my cooking if I am going to get through my recipes this month.

I sort of struggled to find something to make out of this issue as well. There was a recipe for a cold tomato & basil pasta by Maggie Beer that sounded really good but I had made something very similar recently. I was going to make Valli Little's Chicken Breasts in Orange Sauce on Saturday night but I didn't read the recipe properly before hand and missed that they needed to marinate for 2 hours. It was already late so I couldn't make that. The chicken had already been in the fridge for a couple of days so I had to use it for something else. Another recipe that I had considered in the orange special was Orange Hotcakes, so I decided to make those on Sunday morning for breakfast.

Like most hotcakes/pancakes recipes they were quick and easy to make. I love pancakes for Sunday breakfast. My parents used to make pancakes every Sunday for breakfast which was something that my grandparents in Canada used to do too. I don't do it every Sunday any more but they are nice for a treat. The addition of the orange zest and juice made a lovely change from my regular plain pancakes. Plus serving them with fruit and yoghurt is a bit of a change (and healthier) than my usual fried egg, bacon and lots off maple syrup or golden syrup. I would thoroughly recommend them for a lovely breakfast.

Orange Hotcakes

Serves 4 - 6

  • 300g (2 cups) self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 250 ml (1 cup) buttermilk
  • 3 oranges
  • 40 g (2 tbsp) melted butter
  • Thick Greek yoghurt, to serve (I used passionfruit yoghurt & some maple syrup)
  • Combine flour & sugar in a bowl with a whisk
  • In a jug combine eggs, buttermilk, zest and juice of one orange.
  • Combine wet & dry ingredients until smooth. Set aside.
  • Peel other 2 oranges and slice thinly.
  • Heat a non-stick pan over a medium heat, grease lightly and then pour batter into pan in whatever size you prefer.
  • Keep warm while you cook them all.
  • Serve with slices of orange and yoghurt.

Orange Hotcakes

Friday 12 March 2010

March 2002 - Individual Beef Wellington

Well it has taken me a while to get started on the recipes for March. I have been wanting to get in and get everything done but the days just seem to fly by and I keep putting things off. I was even late going through all of the magazines for the month and picking out recipes. I did, however, borrow the scanner from work last weekend and scanned all the magazine covers for the month rather than having some rather dodgy photographs of them.

Hopefully after today my photography will improve a bit too as I finally got my new camera, the Panasonic Lumix FZ35. I decided to go with one of the super zoom cameras rather than a DSLR as there is so much more involved in being a DSLR owner, like all the lenses, flashes etc that go with it. After a month of stuffing around from the place that I bought it, it finally arrived today and after only using it to take about 20 pictures this evening I am already in love with it. I cannot wait to get started photographing some food with it. Hopefully that will happen tomorrow.

I have to admit that I struggled to find something that I really wanted to make from this issue. I am not really sure why, initially I thought it was the mood I was in when looking through it but I looked through it a number of times. There is some wonderful looking food in it but nothing jumped out and grabbed me and screamed "make me, make me now". The scones with jam and cream on the cover look really nice but it is a recipe that involves rubbing in butter but since I have been converted to making them with cream and lemonade I will never make them any other way. When all you have to do is mix 3 cups of flour, 6 tsp baking powder, 1 cup of cream and 1 cup of lemonade and press out, cut out and bake for 15 - 20 minutes why would you bother rubbing in butter and all the mess that involves? Jill Dupleix's Crash Hot Potatoes are very good. I make them regularly and really this is all about going back and making different things.

There is a feature on the delicious staff's favourite Nigella recipes. The Anglicised Involtini sounds really nice but it seemed to be one that would be a bit difficult to cut back. I came very close to making Jill Dupleix's Hash Browns with Bacon Rolls, as it just sounds so good and the picture of it looks divine. However, in the end I decided to go with the very last recipe in the magazine as recipe by Ian Parmenter. Aussies might remember Ian Parmenter from that wonderful little show on the ABC called Consuming Passions. It was only a short show, before the news if I remember correctly, and he was a colourful character. He made interesting food and he made an good impression on me. I count him as on of the foodie influences on me.

The recipe is Individual Beef Wellington. I had never made Beef Wellington but I was quite interested, I mean meat and pastry in one meal. I decided that to make it properly I would have to have some really good meat. I am quite spoilt for choice where I live for butchers, there are quite a lot and most of them are very good. There is one however who is extra special (and not just because they used to purchase pigs from my family when we had a pig farm). Their meat is always wonderful. About 6 weeks ago the building where their shop was burnt down. It was one of the oldest buildings in our town and housed 6 business and 13 people in the flats upstairs. It was and continues to be a sad and sorry site.

Inverell Fire

The butcher shop was on the very corner and there has been a butcher in that shop for the past 60 or so years. The latest one having taken over the business a number of years ago now but he had worked there for the previous owner. A couple of weeks ago, they reopened their business in a new temporary location so I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to support them and get some great meat. I got two of the biggest and best looking pieces of eye fillet, 300g each. The recipe only asked for 150 g pieces so I cut the both in half and now I have some wonderful eye fillet in the freezer for use at a later date. The recipe also called for pate. I was hesitant to use this and in the end only used a tiny little bit as the smell was very off-putting and I was worried about ruining such a wonderful piece of meat. I did quite enjoy the meal but to be honest I think that the eye fillet didn't really need the flavourings and it would have been just as good (if not better) seasoned and pan-fried until medium rare. Oh, and I overcooked it, it was still nice and tender but not as good as if it had been medium rare.

Individual Beef Wellington
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 generous pieces of beef fillet (about 150 g each)
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • 150 g mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped spring onions
  • 4 sheets puff pastry
  • 4 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
  • 50 g chicken liver pate
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • Sear fillets on all sides using half the oil. Pour over brandy and ignite. Once extinguished set aside.
  • Fry mushrooms and onion in remaining oil but do not allow to sweat.
  • Pre-heat oven to 200 C.
  • Sprinkle some breadcrumbs in the middle of the pastry sheets. Top with beef, pate and mushrooms.
  • Fold pastry up and seal to enclose, trim and garnish with trimmings and brush with egg yolk.
  • Bake on a tray for 20 - 25 minutes.
I served it with peas and steamed spaghetti squash.

Individual Beef Welllington served

Saturday 6 March 2010

Raspberry Shortcake

The "pimping" of biscuits (or cookies depending on where you live) over on Taste forums has sprung up a competition over at the The Claytons Blog challenging us all to pimp a biscuit for the chance to win a very nifty looking "batter finger" spatula. I have already done the mint slice so I could have just left it at that but last weekend I had some friends coming around for an early lunch and I wanted something a bit different for dessert so I decided to pimp another biscuit.

I took myself over to the Arnott's website and had a look at their range, something that would be easy to "pimp" and something that would be tasty. I decided I wanted something that wasn't chocolate this time as most of the Arnott's chocolate range had been done by other Tasters. There are a few others that could be done but most would take more planning and time than I had available. I decided to go with the lovely Raspberry Shortcake.

By choosing the Raspberry Shortcake it also gave me a chance to use my Cookie cake pans from Williams Sonoma. I was lucky enough to be part of a group of lovely ladies that received a parcel, after it passed through a number of hands, containing a pair of these wonderful tins. An online store saying that they do not ship internationally will not stop a woman on mission. Not only did the pans arrive in perfect condition but I was updated about every step of their journey and pretty much knew where they were at any given point from the point of purchase until it was delivered into my hot little hands. My first attempt to bake in this adorable set of pans was not a rousing success. I have always resisted purchasing the Wilton Bake Easy or Cake Release products. I had long ago found a recipe for a home made version of the cake release which had always served me well in the past. Unfortunately it did not serve me well on this occasion. The cake had to come out of the pans in crumbs. It was the only way of getting it out. I was very disappointed with this but didn't let it stop me for long. I ordered a couple of cans of the Bake Easy, along with a variety of other stuff to make the postage worthwhile. It had arrived in time for me to use it here.

I was unsure of what recipe to use in the tin, wary of my first attempt when I used a sand cake recipe. I decided to go with a recipe that I knew EmmCee had used in hers for her Mega Lamington. So off I went armed with Nigella's Spruced up Vanilla Cake recipe, which has got to be one of the easiest and most tasty vanilla cakes ever.

225gms softened butter
300g caster sugar
6 eggs
350g self raising flour
250ml plain thick style greek yogurt
4 teaspoons vanilla extract


Put all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz together for around 90 seconds or until combined

Pour evenly into 2 x 8" greased round cake tins.

Place in a preheated 160C fan forced oven for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Turn out after 5 minutes and let cool thoroughly.

You will end up with two cakes like this:

top cake bottom cake

I spread the bottom cake with some lovely raspberry jam.

spread with jam

Then, using an 8 cm round pastry cutter, I cut out a hole in the cake for the top layer and placed it on top of the jam covered bottom.


Now, the filling in the actual biscuit it is just a jam-like filling that pushes its way up when the top biscuit is pressed onto the bottom. I was not going to put that much jam on the bottom layer, I also did not want to just fill the hole with huge quantities of jam as I didn't think that it would be very nice with all that jam. I had a box of frozen raspberries in the freezer so I thawed half of it and combined it with a couple of spoonfuls of raspberry jam to add a bit of sweetness. It probably would have been better if it was thickened or if I had added some gelatine or something so that it would have set but I decided not to worry about it and just piled it into the centre. It didn't taste exactly like a Raspberry Shortcake biscuit, personally I think that it was so much better with a drizzle of cream over the top even if the filling did flow out all over the cake plate as soon as it was cut.


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