Thursday 28 April 2011

Individual Chicken & Leek Pies

Just a quick post tonight. I am really tired. I had a long day at work. I have holidays starting next week but there is still a bunch of stuff that needs to be done before I can go so it is necessary to put in a couple of big days. I had kind of expected to be busy this evening but, well, sometimes things fall through.

I have a bunch of things that I have made recently that are starting to pile up. This one had slipped off the front page of my flickr account and I had been worried about forgetting about it. Although these pies were so good that I don't think I could really forget about them. I liked the little bite with the cayenne pepper, although I would probably add a touch more next time or perhaps even some hot smoked paprika. The tarragon was lovely in it as well although a tad strong but that may have just been me putting more in that I should have. I have a tendency to get a little heavy handed with the fresh herbs. I made these a pot pies, ie without the bottom pastry, instead of a traditional pie. These are from the lunch section but I served it with some mashed potato and veg for dinner and it made a great meal. 

Individual Chicken & Leek Pies

  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 500g chichen breast, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (I used rice bran)
  • 25g butter
  • 2 leeks (white part only), sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 cup fresh peas, boiled for 5 minutes
  • 1 tbsp chopped tarragon
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 4 sheets ready made puff pastry (one sheet if just making pot pies)
  • 1 egg yolk (for glazing)
  • Combine flour, peppers and salt in a plastic bag. Add chicken and shake well.
  • Heat oil and butter in a pan over high heat. Add chicken and stir fry till lightly browned and sealed but not cooked all the way through. Remove chicken.
  • Reduce heat to medium and place leeks and garlic in the pan cook for 5 minutes, or until soft. Add wine and boil for 1 minute.
  • Add stock and cream and simmer gently for a further 5 minutes.
  • Add chicken, peas and tarragon and cook for a minute longer. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in parsley.
  • Pre-heat over to 180C. Cut pastry to lines bases, sides and tops of 4 pie tins.
  • Spoon filling into pastry cases and brush edges with egg yolk. Place tops on pies and seal.
  • Brush tops with egg yolk and make 3 piercings with a knife or fork in the top of each pie.
  • Bake 35 minutes or until golden brown.

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Delicious April 2011 - Braised Oxtail with Orecchiette

Hmmm...I don't seem to be making much from my old Delicious magazines lately. At the end of last year I had planned on making something from a different magazine at least once a week but I really haven't been doing that. So I will have to start doing that again starting next week. In fact I might see if I can find a nice easy soup recipe for tonight. Something that I have everything for...hmm that might be a bit harder. Oh well maybe find something to make for tomorrow night and I can eat some of my multitude of leftovers for dinner tonight. 

Issue #103 had a number of things in it that I was interested in making. The first was Marmalade-braised red cabbage that I had planned on serving with a pork belly roast. I really like cooked cabbage and am always on the lookout for different ways to cook it. However, the price of a decent-looking marmalade really put me off. I don't like marmalade to eat that much and I only needed 1/4 cup for the recipe so I wasn't all that interested in spending money on a largish jar of something that was just going to sit in the fridge and not get used again for goodness knows how long. 

I then considered a couple of different meals from the Tuesday Night Cooking section, Fried Haloumi with Chorizo & Cherry Tomato Salsa was the first. It sounded so good and easy with a bit of spice to it. However I make similar things frequently so it wasn't really something new for me. The other that I considered was the Welsh Rarebit Steak. Interesting combination and very easy to make. Although, when using a lovely piece of eye-fillet from my favourite butcher I tend not to do much with it other than pan-frying it to medium-rare rubbed with a bit of olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper as I really prefer to savour it without toying around with it too much. 

I really want to make something special this weekend. Not for any particular reason. I didn't have company coming but just wanted to spend some time making something new, something slow, something that would be luscious and a bit decadent. While some of the desserts and/or cakes featured in this issue would have fit into all those categories I really wanted something savoury, a meal. That is when I decided on Guillaume Brahimi's Braised Oxtail with Orecchiette. Oh, and what a good decision it was. It took me two days to make it and while it took a while to make it certainly wasn't intensive. It definitely was luscious and decadent though. The richness that all the red wine in the dish made it perfect. The carrot puree in it added some sweetness. All round it was just a perfect meal. I made half the recipe and will get three serves out of it. So a full recipe would be perfect for a dinner party, and it is definitely show off food. I didn't have the orecchiette pasta to go with it so decided that I would use the pasta press attachment for my KitchenAid and make some fresh pasta to go with this fabulous sauce. This is definitely one to try.

Braised Oxtail with Orecchiette

Serves 6 
  • 100ml olive oil 
  • 2 kg oxtail pieces 
  • 100 g unsalted butter 
  • 300 g mirepoix (1 each celery stalk, carrot and onion finely chopped) 
  • 1/2 bunch thyme 
  • 2 fresh bay leaves 
  • 1 tsp white peppercorns (I only had black peppercorns) 
  • 2 roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 L (8 cups) red wine (I used a Shiraz) 
  • 4 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 500 g orecchiette
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 70 g Parmigiano Reggiano, shaved (I finely grated)
  • Flat-leaf parsley, leaves very thinly sliced to garish (I only had curly parsley)
  • Heat 75 ml oil over high heat and add oxtail in batches cooking until browned on all sides. 
  • Melt butter, in the same pan, add the mirepoix  and cook, stirring, until golden. 
  • Return oxtail to pan with thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, tomato and wine. Bring to the boil and then reduce to barely simmering. 
  • Cover and continue to cook for 3 1/2 to 4 hours or until meat is falling from the bones.
  • Allow to cool then remove meat from bones and keep separate to stock.
  • Cover and refrigerate stock overnight. 
  • Place sliced carrots into a saucepan and cover with cold water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes or until quite soft. 
  • Drain carrots then puree in a food processor and pass through a fine sieve. Refrigerate until required.
  • Remove as much fat as possible from the top of the stock and then heat until just liquid enough to pass through a sieve into a clean pan.  Draining as well as possible.
  • Bring to the boil and reduce to about 1 cup. Reduce heat to low and add oxtail meat and carrot puree and warm through.
  • Meanwhile cook pasta in a large pot of water with the remaining oil and some salt. Drain well.
  • Add the sauce to the pasta, season with salt and white pepper, and stir gently to coat the pasta with the sauce. 
  • Garnish with cheese and parsley just before serving. 

Sunday 24 April 2011

Bill's Biscuits

I know that I have been absent for a couple of weeks. I really haven't been feeling tip-top of the past couple of weeks. I had a run in with a person at work and it shook me up a bit and my mood plummeted afterwards. I decided to take a bit of time out for some self-care where I cooked, slept, went to work and not much else. Oh, except for reading trashy romance novels on my new Kindle. I am starting to feel better now though so will have to get busy and post all the stuff that I have made over the past couple of weeks. 

Happy Easter to all those out there. I find holidays a difficult time of year. This one even more so as it would have been my Mum's birthday today. I usually don't deal with these days well at all. Tend to just hide away a bit. Today, while hiding out, I decided that I would just do some baking. What better way than this to get through some of the multitude of sweet recipes in Bill's Sydney Food. So today I made half recipes of Chocolate Chip Cookies, Granny Mac's Shortbread, Chocolate-dipped Shortbread and Anzac Biscuits. 

Anzac Biscuits 
  • 1 cup plain all-purpose flour 
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut (I only had shredded) 
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 cup rolled oats (I used a combination of oats, barley & rye) 
  • 125g unsalted butter 
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup 
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb soda 
  • 2 tbsp boiling water

  • Preheat oven to 170C. 
  • Place flour, coconut, sugar and oats in a bowl. Mix well. 
  • Place butter and golden syrup in a saucepan over medium heat and melt. 
  • Place bicarb soda in a small bowl and add hot water. Stir to combine. Add bicarb mixture to saucepan and stir. Pour over oat mixture and stir all ingredients together. 
  • Roll teaspoon of biscuit mixture into balls and place on a greased and lined baking tray, leaving room for spreading. Flatten each ball gently with your palm. 
  • Bake biscuits for 15 - 20 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown at the edges.

Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread 

  • 1/3 c (60 g) icing sugar 
  • 250 g unsalted butter, softened 
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • 1 1/2 c plain flour 
  • 1/2 c cornflour 
  • 125 g dark chocolate, in small pieces (I only has some choc chips which didn't work well) 
  • Beat butter & icing sugar in a bowl until combined. 
  • Add vanilla, flours & a pinch of salt and mix until a dough forms. 
  • Form dough into a log with a 6 cm diameter and wrap in gladwrap. 
  • Chill for 30 minutes. 
  • Pre-heat oven to 180C 
  • Slice dough into 1 cm rounds and place on lined trays. 
  • Bake 20 - 25 minutes or until golden. 
  • Cool completely. 
  • Melt chocolate in a small pot and dip shortbread in so half of the biscuit is coated. 
  • Leave to set. 
 Chocolate Chip Cookies 
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup tightly packed brown sugar (I would use less, they are very sweet)
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 c plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 c chocolate bits 
  • Preheat oven to 180C.
  • Beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. 
  • Add vanilla and egg and stir to combine. 
  • Stir in the sifted flour, baking powder and salt until just combined. 
  • Fold through chocoate chips. 
  • Place spoonfuls of cookie mixture on a lined baking tray. 
  • Bake 15-20 minutes or until they turn pale gold. 
  • Allow to cool on the tray for 15 minutes before placing biscuits on a wire rack to cool further. Makes 16 (I got 12 from half the recipe) 

Granny Mac's Shortbread
  • 2 c plain flour 
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • 1/2 c caster sugar 
  • 125 g butter, softened
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten 
  • 1/3 c jam (I used homemade strawberry) 
  • 2 tsp cinnamon 
  • Combine flour, baking powder & sugar. 
  • Rub in butter until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. 
  • Add 1 - 2 tbsp cold water and mix in, it should start to form a dough
  • Add egg and mix until you have a firm dough. 
  • Roll out on a sheet of baking paper to for a 20 x 30 rectangle. 
  • Spread with jam and sprinkle with cinnamon. 
  • Roll up starting with the long side. 
  • Wrap in gladwrap and chill for 30 minutes. 
  • Preheat oven to 180C. 
  • Slice dough into 1cm slices and bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until lightly browned. 
  • Cool on wire rack. 

Sunday 10 April 2011

Roast mushrooms with thyme

Okay, so I have just about finished catching up on all the Bill Granger recipes that I have made over the past couple of months, only one more to go after this. There are a few other things that I want to post about but I will really have to get started cooking from Sydney Food again or I soon wont have anything to post about. I had a really slack week cookingwise last week. Really the only decent meal I had was made by a friend. **oops** Oh well, determined to get back on track this coming week.

I really love that there are so many breakfast recipes in this book. There are some really fantastic ones. I do find though that I just don't make them on work days so it has to happen on weekends. Some times I get distracted in the mornings on the weekend and I end up not getting breakfast until it is almost lunch time. Not that it is really a problem. Most of these recipes could also be for lunch. I did manage to get this mushroom dish done fairly early so it was still breakfast. I didn't have any taleggio so used some havarti that I had in the fridge instead. It is not the most attractive looking dish but it was yummy. I reminded me of Jacques Raymond's Baked Mushrooms that I made back in December. I would probably be more likely to make Jacques' recipe again but Bill's was so easy that it probably could be made before work. 

Roast mushrooms with thyme

  •  8 large field (portobello) mushrooms, about 10cm diameter 
  • 1 tbsp thyme, roughly chopped (I used lemon thyme) 
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1 lemon, juice 
  • 1 large garlic clove, cut into 8 slivers 
  • 200g baby english spinach, washed 
  • 150g italian taleggio cheese, sliced 
  • 4 thick slices toast, to serve 
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, to serve
  • Preheat oven to 200C. 
  • Put mushrooms in a roasting tin. Mix thyme, oil and lemon juice together and pour over mushrooms. Put a sliver of garlic on each mushroom and bake for 10 minutes. 
  • Meanwhile, put damp spinach in a frying pan over medium heat and turn with a spatula until wilted. 
  • Remove mushrooms from oven. Top each mushroom with a little spinach and some sliced cheese. Return to oven for 5–6 minutes until cheese has melted.
  • To serve, put 2 mushrooms on each slice of toast. Drizzle with pan juices and balsamic vinegar.

Saturday 9 April 2011

Green Papaya Salad with Char-grilled Beef

I am off to my cousin's 18th birthday party tonight but I thought that I would just get a quick post in before I do.

I have found myself sitting around doing quite a bit of contemplating over the past couple of days. Some times that is not a good thing, other times it is great to consider all the options. My current contemplations have been of the not good kind. The kind where you doubt the decisions you are making, wondering what the hell you are doing and why you are doing it. Oh and the all time most useless contemplation of all...what is going on in someone else's head....sigh. It is not like you will ever be able to answer that last one with any sort of accuracy so why even start. I just can't seem to help it sometimes though. All I can do is try not to let the negativity get the better of me and just go with the flow.

There are a few recipes in Sydney Food that I was wondering if I would ever get the chance to make. There are a couple of seafood dishes that I am not sure of. I probably would be able to get everything but I just don't know what the quality of the ingredients will be like. I guess I will just have to wait and see, there is still plenty of time since it is only April. This Green Papaya Salad with Char-grilled Beef was one of those recipes that I really didn't think that I would get a chance to make. I had never seen green papaya (or paw paw) here before. I thought that if I did take a trip away somewhere I might be able to do it then, depending on where I was, but I really didn't think I would get it made and was already trying to figure out what sort of substitutions could be made. I was really surprised one day not so long ago when I walked into one of our local fruit and veg shops to find a variety of more unusual ingredients including about 4 green paw paws. There was a nice small one so I quickly changed my plans and grabbed it and then went across the street to my favourite butcher to get a lovely piece of sirloin to use. Oh, it was so worth making. I was so pleased with the result. There was a fabulous combination of flavours and it was so fresh. I was a little disappointed that it wasn't as good the next day as leftovers, but I guess you can't have everything. I would definitely make this one again, I just hope that our fruit & veg shop with continue to get these ingredients in. 

Green Papaya Salad with Char-grilled Beef

Serves 2

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped 
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar 
  • 3 tbsp lime juice 
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce 
  • 1 1/2 c julienned green papaya
  • 1/2 c julienned cucumber 
  • 2 green onions, finely sliced 
  • 1/4 c Thai basil leaves (I used a combination of lemon basil & sweet basil) 
  • 1/4 c mint leaves 
  • 1/4 c coriander leaves (I used parsley) 
  • 2 sirloin steaks 
  • peanut oil 
  • cracked black pepper 
  • Combine garlic, chilli, palm sugar, lime juice and fish sauce and stir until sugar has dissolved. 
  • Add papaya, cucumber, green onions, basil, mint and coriander and toss to combine. 
  • Oil steaks and season with pepper. 
  • BBQ or grill until done to your liking then rest for 5 minutes before slicing thinly. 
  • Divide salad between serving plates and top with slices of beef.

Thursday 7 April 2011

Blackberry Crumble

Hmmm, two posts in two days. Nothing like jumping straight back in. I have a few things up my sleeves that I have made recently but then I am really going to have to get back into cooking from Sydney Food. Lately, I have been cooking some rather slack things like toasted sandwiches but there are some good things that I will post eventually.

I had a lovely day off work yesterday. Had the day in a nearby town. I had an appointment to go to so spent the day over there. Bought some new running shoes, which I actually got properly fitted for and they feel so much better. I also got a lovely red lightweight blanket for my bed. It is starting to get to that time of year where it is getting cooler but it is not even close to cold enough for my heavy wool blanket or  the even warmer deepest winter weight wool quilt that is all snuggly and warm but only gets used for about 2 - 3 months a year. It is nice to have a blanket that I can use with my bedspread during those in between times. When I got home I headed off to a friend's place for dinner. I just love it when someone else cooks for me. As much as I love cooking sometimes it is just nice not to have to do anything and to be fed good food. Unfortunately, it was back to the grindstone today though.

I made Bill's Individual Blackberry Crumbles one night for dessert not too long ago. I used frozen blackberries so it needed longer to cook. I didn't have an individual dishes large enough so I ended up doing the recipe in one dish which also contributed to the need for extra cooking time. It was nice but I thought that there was way too much crumble. I think that half the amount would have been plenty. My crumbles usually consist of a lot more oats and way less flour. This was fine but I think I would stick with my way next time. 

Blackberry Crumble 

  • 3 cups blackberries 
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar 
  • 1 cup plain flour + 1 tbsp
  • 1/2 cup firmly-packed brown sugar 
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • 3 tbsp quick-cooking oats 
  • 100 g unsalted butter, cut in small pieces 
  • Pre-heat oven to 200 C. 
  • Place blackberries, caster sugar and the tbsp of flour in a bowl and toss to coat the berries. 
  • Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder and oats. Rub in butter until it resembles crumbs. 
  • Divided berries between two ovenproof bowls and top with crumble mixture. 
  • Bake 20 - 25 minutes or until golden & bubbling. 
  • Serve with ice cream. 

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Spicy Chicken Salad with Lime

Oh oh, it would appear that I had a little lapse in concentration for a couple of weeks there and forgot about posting. I kept meaning to come and post the new things that I was making but I just never seemed to get it done. I have been busy with a bit of a social life lately. **shock** So have not had as much time in the evenings to post. Still, it is no excuse for neglecting my little blog for so long.

This past weekend a friend and I took a little trip away for a few days. It was so good to get away from home even if  only for just a few days. I managed to go to the beach, do some shopping, have a pedicure and met some lovely new people. If you are ever in the mid-north NSW coast town of Coffs Harbour I would highly recommend paying a visit to Macauleys Restaurant. The meal was fantastic, the service wonderful and the atmosphere terrific. We ate off the wonderful menu for the most part except for the Five-spice duck breast and pomegranate salad I had for an entrĂ©e, which was a special. It was the best dish that I have had in a restaurant in a long time, such a simple dish too. The spiced duck breast was perfectly cooked and the simple salad of red onion, rocket and pomegranate arils was perfect. I will definitely be going back the next time I am in Coffs Harbour. 

This Spicy Chicken Salad with Lime was something that I made ages ago now but I have made it several times since then. It is simple and fresh and perfect for an easy lunch or a light dinner. I love the spiciness from the Szechuan peppercorns, although make sure to roast them off a bit before grinding to release their flavours. If you cannot find them they are available at many of the online spice stores, I buy from Herbies. I replace the coriander in the recipe with parsley but other than that it is made as per Bill's recipe. I managed to score a kilo of limes at the markets in Coffs Harbour so will more than likely make this again on the weekend for lunch. 

Spicy Chicken Salad with Lime

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • olive oil 
  • sea salt 
  • freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 cucumber, halved, de-seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup parsley, roughly chopped 
  • 1 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped 
  • 1 tsp ground Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil 
  • 3 tbsp lime juice 
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups finely shredded iceberg lettuce 
  • lime wedges 
  • Pre-heat oven to 200. Pre-heat frying pan over a high heat.
  • Brush chicken with oil and season. 
  • Sear breasts for 2 minutes each side. Transfer to a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through. 
  • Rest 20 minutes then slice or shred. 
  • Combine chicken, cucumber, parsley and mint in a bowl. 
  • Mix szechuan, fish sauce, sesame oil and lime juice and then pour over chicken etc. 
  • Divide lettuce between 4 serving bowls and top with chicken mixture and green onions and serve with a lime wedge.