Thursday 31 January 2013

Roast pumpkin & pomegranate salad

This is another one that I made a little while ago now. I went through a stage of doing a lot of cooking but not so much into the writing side of things. I have had a rather busy month. It has been pretty busy at work and I have other things going on. I have been trying to do a few things around the house but I haven't had too much success with getting too far on that. I have managed to pack some more stuff away in storage containers. There is so much stuff in my house as I just packed up my old house and moved every thing with me. This house is quite a bit smaller so there has been stuff shoved in nooks and crannies and there isn't a third bedroom as such because it is full of stuff. I did get rid of some stuff last year but there is some that I am not sure what to do with so I am packing it in storage containers and storing in my storage areas under the house. I plan on going through some of the stuff in my kitchen again too. Time for some stuff that hasn't been used in a while to go. 

This was a quick and easy salad to whip up to go with some chicken sausages that I got on special. I am a huge fan on pomegranates and always buy them when then are available. I think they are wonderful in salads as they add a bit of a tangy burst. 

Roast pumpkin & pomegranate salad 

1/2 medium size butternut, peeled & chopped into bite size pieces 
1 tbsp oil 
cracked pepper
1 small lebanese cucumber, peeled, quartered and sliced 
1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
handful of pomegranate arils 
marinated feta
wild rocket to serve

Pre-heat oven to 180 C. 
Place pumpkin on a roasting tray, drizzle wtih oil and grind black pepper over then mix together until each piece is coated in oil. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until cooked. Remove, set aside to cool. 
Once cool, combine all ingredients and mix well. Drizzle with a vinaigrette if desired, I used just raspberry vinegar. 

Monday 28 January 2013

Cake decorating - Bananas in Pyjamas

My friend's husband turned 40 this year and they were having a big party. My friend asked me if I could make a cake. She asked if I could make a bananas in pyjamas cake for him for a specific reason. When she asked me if I could make the cake she said that the B1 & B2 figures were difficult to get where we live. I just said that I could make something. I was so happy with how they turned out. I made them from fondant with a bit of tragacanth added to harden things up.

To make life easier I bought the satin ice blue fondant. The colour that showed on the website was nothing like what I received. It was an incredible electric blue so I ended up combining it half and half with some white. I had a few issues when it came to covering the cake. I was so worried about the heat and humidity affecting the fondant that I had my air conditioning cranked up but I think I probably should have had it at a higher temperature as the fondant dried out some and there was a little bit of, not cracking exactly, but certainly "pulling" on the edges in some places. I also had real problems with the corners. I have no idea why. I have never had any issues with corners before. It was rather frustrating.

For the lettering I purchased some of the Clikstiks cutters. They are so easy to use. I have a set of the Wilton letter cutters and I have never been able to get letters out of them without destroying them. I also have a set of FMM letter cutters. They are okay but still a lot more difficult to use. They are smaller though so they have their place. 

I was so very happy with the resulting cake and it was completely devoured at the party so everyone else loved it too. 

Sunday 27 January 2013

Cherry & red wine ice cream

I made this a month ago now. I really should have blogged it before but at least it is getting done now. During the Christmas break I did some day trips. One of them involved going on a bit of a foodie tour around one of the regions nearby. There is a large amount of stone fruits available in the area. I bought nectarines, apricots and blood plums as well as 2.5 kg of cherries. I did a number of things with them including just eating a large amount of them. The first thing I did though was to make this cherry & red wine ice cream. 

I don't normally make custard based ice creams. I find them a bit rich for me. I tend to make a half cream/half milk ice cream. It is a bit harder and not quite as smooth but I like it. Not saying this wasn't good. It was fabulous but I found it very rich even when eating just a small amount. Make sure that you use a good wine as the flavour does come through. If you couldn't sit and drink the wine don't use it. Actually, that applies for all cooking, especially when they involve a large amount of wine. I bought a bottle of one of my favourite wines, Wolf Blass Silver Label Shiraz. Actually, my favourite Wolf Blass is the Grey Label but I while I was willing to sacrifice half a cup of the silver I am not willing to sacrifice half a cup of grey for anything. I haven't tried the black or platinum ranges, perhaps one day, at this stage the grey is at the top of my price range. 

This was an easy ice cream to make, most are really. It also let me use my Kitchen Aid ice cream attachment again. I haven't really used it a lot but it does make good ice cream and sorbet when I have used it. I am planning to try frozen yoghurt in it some time soon. The cherry flavour wasn't all that strong in this. I actually think that this would have been wonderful with some of the sweet strawberries that I had purchased while on my trip.

Cherry & red wine ice cream 

750 grams cherries, pitted
1/2 c caster sugar, plus 2 tbsp extra
125ml shiraz, (a good one)
2 star anise
1 1/2 c cream
6 egg yolks
1/2 c milk

Combine the cherries, sugar, wine and star anise in a pan over low heat stir to dissolve the sugar bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer and cover with a lid leave for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer until cherries are soft and liquid is syrupy approx. 15 minutes. Puree and strain. Cool.

Bring the cream just to a boil. Whisk egg yolks and extra sugar to combine, pour over the cream and return to a clean pan, on a low heat stir until the mix coats the back of a wooden spoon, make sure to keep stirring, it can easily turn to scrambled eggs if you take your eye off it. 

Strain through a fine sieve into cherry puree with milk and mix thoroughly. Cool and then churn in an ice cream machine.  

Monday 21 January 2013

January 2013 - Posh cheeseburgers

Like every year this delicious magazine is a double issue for December and January so you get the pleasure of another recipe from this delightful issue. 

I have been back and forward through this issue so many time trying to decided what to make for January. I have decided and changed my mind so many times. 

The first recipe that caught my eye when looking through this issue was the jellied ham. It just looked perfect, nice and Christmasy. Finely chopped ham, cornichons and capers in jelly made from gelatine leaves and chicken stock. I really wanted to make it but I don't have any home made chicken stock in the freezer at the moment. I should have made some while I was off work during the Christmas/new year period. I will keep the recipe noted for when I next make stock. 

The next recipe I really wanted to make was the sweet & spicy duck with pineapple chutney. If you have been reading my blog for a while you may have noticed that I always seem to pick out duck recipes as ones I would like to try. I know full well that I will not get a chance as I cannot get duck here. Well, I can, but only frozen whole ducks and all I really want are duck breasts. The only time I did see them here was in one of the supermarkets and one of the trays contained very obviously off meat. I had a hard time convincing the meat department person that it was off so I decided that I wouldn't buy any of their other duck or, in fact, any meat there at all. Besides I have my excellent butcher to buy meat from. As per usual the duck recipe is a pipe dream. However I might make the pineapple chutney at some stage. 

The other recipe that I really, really wanted to make and will make soon is the Lamb meatballs with barberries, yoghurt and herbs. I bought barberries some time ago for some reason that I cannot remember now. I will make this so that I can use them. 

In the end I decided to make the posh cheeseburger. The recipe used eye fillet, I didn't have any but did have a thick cut porterhouse. Next time though I would use scotch fillet as I much prefer that cut. I marinated the steak overnight rather than just for an hour. I made the slow roasted tomatoes but I guess the romas that I bought weren't all that good as they took a lot longer to cook and were a bit 'meh' taste wise. Instead of onion jam put some of my home made chilli sauce on and used some of the cheese I got on my recent foodie trip instead of bocconcini. I really enjoyed it. I could have added some more chilli, garlic and thyme to the meat marinade. It was good but would have love a bit more of a flavour hit. I would probably use either roasted cherry tomatoes or bought semi-dried tomatoes next time.

Posh Cheeseburgers

2 cloves garlic, crushed 
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tsp thyme leaves 
2 tbsp olive oil
400 g porterhouse or scotch fillet
4 crusty bread rolls, toasted
Sweet chilli sauce, rocket, semi-dried or roasted tomatoes, bocconcini, aioli and shaved parmesan, to serve

Combine garlic, chilli and thyme in a bowl and mix well. Add steak and turn to coat. Marinade at least an hour or preferably overnight.
Pre-heat oven to 200 C. 
Heat a frypan over high heat. Sear beef until just browned on each side and then place in the oven for 10 - 12 minutes. Remove and rest for at least 10 minutes. 
Spread each roll with aioli top with rocket, tomato, top with finely sliced pieces of steak and then add cheeses and drizzle with sweet chilli sauce. 

Mushroom & smoked chicken risotto

I decided that the next thing I would try in my Thermomix was the risotto in the cook book that came with the machine. Risotto is one of my favourites and I thought that it would be a good test of it for me. I would have liked to have tested it with one of my favourites, either the pumpkin or beetroot risottos, but I decided that I would stick with the one in the book this time. 

I used leek in it instead of onion and I sliced that myself however it did get caught around the butterfly blade. I would probably just use onion next time. I also added extra garlic, thyme and some chopped smoked chicken breast at the end. I didn't think that it was quite as creamy as I seem to get it on the stove. However, I haven't made risotto in a while so the rice has been sitting in the cupboard for a while. I am not sure if that would make a difference though. It was still very good and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I will try some a pumpkin one next.

Mushroom & smoked chicken risotto

50 g Parmesan cheese, cubed 
1 leek, finely sliced 
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp thyme leaves (I would put more in next time) 
50 g olive oil 
350 g arborio rice
100 g white wine 
2 tsp chicken stock powder (I haven't made the tm stock concentrate yet) 
200 g sliced mushrooms
1100 g water 
1 smoked chicken breast, cubed
20 g butter 

Pulverise parmesan for 10 seconds on speed 9 and set aside. 
Add leek, garlic, thyme and oil and sauté for 2 minutes at 100 C on speed 1 with MC off. 
Insert butterfly. Add rice and wine to bowl and sauté for 2 minutes at 100 C on Reverse + soft. 
Add stock, mushrooms and water and cook for 15 minutes at 100 C on Reverse + soft. 
Add chicken and cook for 2 minutes at 100 C on Reverse + soft. 
Season to taste and add parmesan and butter.

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Sun-dried tomato tapenade

More playing around with my Thermomix. I made this on the weekend along with most of the other things I am posting at the moment. I am having such a wonderful time playing around with it. I can see that it will rapidly become the most use appliance in my kitchen. 

I have, previously, used sun-dried tomato pesto as a pasta sauce. I also use it in a chicken dish that I make. I thought it might be nice to give it a try making some of my own. I googled for a recipe and came up with this one for Sun-dried tomato tapenade which fit the bill perfectly. I didn't put the pesto in it and I used cashews instead of pine nuts. I also used 4 cloves of garlic and 3 largish anchovy fillets. I did use quite a bit of the oil to get it to the consistency I wanted. Such a magnificent flavour. I used some as a pasta sauce that night, cooking the orecchiette in the thermomix. I also took some into work for my boss to try with his morning tea of crackers and cheese and it was very well received. Definitely one to keep in my make again file. 

Just posting this here as the link no longer leads to the recipe.

1 x 400 g jar of sundried tomatoes in oil, drained (but save the oil and add at the end if desired)
4 or 5 pieces of roasted red pepper, skins removed 
2  cloves garlic, peeled
1 Tbsp capers, rinsed
1 Tbsp anchovy essence or 2 or 3 anchovy fillets
1 Tbsp pesto 
2 Tbsp pine nuts
black pepper freshly ground
  1. Blend all the ingredients a few seconds at Speed 6 to make a rough paste. Taste for salt before adding any. Add a little more oil if necessary

Monday 7 January 2013

Harissa lamb chops

Since I made the harissa paste I decided that I just had to try it out. I have had two favourite ways of using it. Firstly with lamb and with pork. If I had had some pork belly I would have made the harissa pork belly again. Unfortunately I didn't so I decided to go with lamb. I have quite a few lamb fore-quarter chops in the freezer that need to be used up so I thought I would find some way to use them it. It turned out so well. The lamb, while not quite fall apart point, was extremely tender and beautifully flavoured. I served it on wraps, lebanese bread would be better, with a quick salad, hummus and a sauce made from yoghurt and harissa.

Harissa lamb chops

1 tbsp harissa paste
2 tsp olive oil
Juice 1/2 lemon

Combine in a small bowl and then spread over 2 lamb forequarter chops (there would have been enough for more). Cover and place in fridge for 2 - 3 hours.
Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
Heat small amount of oil in an oven safe fry pan over a medium-high heat. Brown chops and then place in the oven and covered with a lid for 30 minutes. Then remove lid and cook for a further 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and shred meat and serve on wraps with hommus, salad and a sauce of yoghurt mixed with harissa to taste.

Saturday 5 January 2013

Harissa Paste

Well, my thermomix arrived yesterday. Actually it arrived on Thursday but I was working and didn't get home until after the post office had closed so I had to wait until Friday, during my lunch hour, to go collect it. I brought the package home, ripped it all open and stood there admiring it for a few minutes and then I had to go back to work. When I finally got home I got a call from my consultant, who is actually about 3 - 4 hours away from me. We did a demo over the phone. I got a little confused with some things but went over it all again once I got off the phone and was more confident. I didn't end up making anything in it last night as I was mulling over my options. 

I bought some harissa paste quite some time ago from I really liked it. It had a terrific flavour to it rather than just heat. When I finished it I was at a place where they had a different type so I bought that instead of buying more from ideli as I didn't want anything else and postage was a bit expensive for one thing. The other one that I bought was just more heat than flavour. I purchased another type and it was the same. There probably was flavour it was just overpowered by the heat. I recently decided that I would try making some of my own. I found several different recipes. In the end though I decided to wait until my thermomix arrived to try it out. So when it did this was the first thing I made. 

I wasn't sure about the Neil Perry recipe that I had found since I had never made anything in the thermomix before I wasn't too sure about converting a recipe straight up. So I searched around for a tmx recipe. I found this one and decided to give it a whirl. However, I did play around with things a bit. Unfortunately I didn't write down exactly what I was doing so I don't remember exactly what I did but I will give what I can remember. One thing I would definitely do next time is to scrape down the spices and grind again. The pieces of cumin in the end results were a bit larger than I would like. 

I used banana peppers instead of regular capsicum for roasting. I still only used two and they were really large. After I blended the whole thing up it wasn't exactly what I wanted. I cooked it for a little while and then blended again. I added some olive oil and blended further. It ended up about what I wanted. I put it in a sterile bottle in the fridge. I am sure it will be put to good use. Plus now that I have done it successfully I will make some for a friend who likes harissa too.

I should have taken a better photo but this is the only one I took. 

Thursday 3 January 2013

Lentil salad with beetroot and haloumi

This is, sort of, similar to a recipe of Bill Granger's that I have made previously. That was so good that I decided to experiment with it a little bit. This turned so well. The flavours mingled very well. The sweetness of the roasted beetroot cut through the saltiness of the haloumi. The lentil salad and peppery rocket rounded out the meal nicely. I had put a lemon myrtle & ginger dressing on the lentil salad but it seemed to get lost in the rest of the flavours. Although I am sure it will come through in the salad that I have leftover. I would probably do a simple vinaigrette next time. 

Lentil salad with beetroot & haloumi

2 beetroot 
1 tbsp oil 
400 g can lentils, drained and rinsed
half cucumber, chopped
250 g cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if they are large
1 stick celery, chopped 
2 green onions, sliced 
1 carrot, julienned
handful dill, chopped
handful parsley, chopped 
any dressing desired
100 g haloumi, sliced into thin batons
1 tbsp flour, seasoned with black pepper
1 - 2 tbsp oil
Rocket to serve

Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Wrap beetroot separately in foil added a small amount of oil to each parcel. Roast for 45 - 60 minutes, until done. Set aside to cool and then peel. Slice into thick slices

Combine lentils, vegetables, herbs and dressing. Refrigerate until required. 

Heat oil over a medium-high heat. Dust haloumi in flour and fry until browned on each side and soft and squidgy.

Place rocket on plate, top with lentils, beetroot and haloumi. 

Tuesday 1 January 2013

Za'atar chicken

Happy new year to all. Welcome to 2013, hope that you all have a good one this year. 

I decided it was time to start cooking again. I have been very slack in regards to cooking and eating recently. Perhaps not so much not cooking but certainly only doing boring foods or eating antipasto stuff or sandwiches. Time to start making good, interesting and tasty food again. So, given it is the first day of 2013 I decided to start tonight. I bought a packet of za'atar some time ago from Herbie's Spices but had never used it. I had some chicken thigh fillets in the fridge. I bought them yesterday to make something but I ended up going to my friend's place for the evening. By today I couldn't remember what it was that I was going to make. 

I enjoyed this so much. Something completely different than I have been making for quite some time. The flavours were so good. Certainly nothing like I had had before. Plus so easy to whip up. It is something that I will definitely be making again. I served with a couscous salad which I will blog later.

Za'atar Chicken

4 chicken thigh fillets 
2 tbsp grapeseed oil (I would have used olive oil but I didn't have enough)
2 tbsp za'atar

Combine everything in a bowl and let sit for 30 minutes. 
Pre-heat oven to 180 C. 
Place chicken on a foil covered tray (for ease of cleaning) and bake for 25 minutes turning once.