Thursday, May 24, 2018

603/1038 - Braised fennel in meat juices with cheese

Vegetables do not have to be boring!

We adore fennel and this recipe was lovely served alongside a beautifully roasted pork shoulder. My husband looked after the pork on this night, reaffirming our longstanding tradition of making quite the formidable cooking team. Of course, I don't mean the kind of couple who should appear on My Kitchen Rules. More the kind that can produce beautiful and complementary dishes for the same meal whilst gently avoiding one another in the kitchen, ever mindful of not stepping on one another's toes, both physically and metaphorically.

My new, and already much revered, agreena wrap got another airing while cooking this recipe. Instead of using a sheet of baking paper to contain the moisture, I used a large wrap, careful to keep it away from the edges of my copper pot given the amount of heat it generates. 

The inclusion of parsley, fennel tops and a handful of parmesan at the last minute ensured this was another vegetarian winner.

No baking paper! Using my re-usable agreena wrap to keep the moisture in.  

Sunday, May 13, 2018

602/1038 - Scallops with Jerusalem artichokes

To spice things up a bit we have changed our weekly market trips from the Queen Victoria Market to our local Preston market. These beautiful scallops were officially our first Preston market seafood purchase and we were very happy with them indeed!

I have never baked scallops before and while I still prefer them fried, this was a lovely change and also incredibly fast to cook. 

As usual, the Jerusalem artichokes came from our regular neighbourly donor. Any future donations can be prepared in any which way because the Jerusalem artichoke chapter is done and dusted! 

That's 21 chapters finished now. Goodness, only 104 to go...

Saturday, April 28, 2018

601/1038 - Crumble topping

I am probably late to the party but Greek yoghurt on dessert is my new very favourite thing! 

Since making the syrup cake a couple of weeks ago and enjoying it with yoghurt, I have started putting it on top of everything and this crumble was another opportunity to indulge my new obsession.

This was possibly the nicest crumble I have ever made and I am putting it down to the fact that the fruit was puréed which meant that the flavours melded beautifully. From memory (I made this a few days ago!) I used pomelo, red grapes, banana, strawberries and blueberries and just a little bit of crystallised ginger because it is my go to snack and I buy it by the kilo. A sensational combination. 

There were two options for the crumble topping and I opted for the one which replaced some of the flour with rolled oats and loved the extra crunch it provided. 

I do love to cook desserts as individual portions and it was lucky I did or we might have been fighting over who got the larger serve. The Greek yoghurt was simply amazing on top; in my opinion much better than cream or ice-cream.

I am drooling as I write this and have decided I will whip this up again for dessert tonight.

Simple. Tasty. Fabulous. (...and better than my husband's!)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

600/1038 - Yoghurt and citrus syrup cake

It is so very hard to believe I have made it to 600 recipes! 

When I started this challenge almost seven years ago I had no idea how long it would hold my interest. As it turns out, it has become a lovely (and very productive) form of meditation for me in the midst of an otherwise busy life. 

This year will see less recipes cooked as I head back to university and get my head back around being a full time student. Seven weeks in and so far so good! This cake was the result of me needing to get my head out of the books for a minute so that my brain didn't explode.  

I used pomelo as the citrus in this cake which is very much like a grapefruit in taste. Of course I am drinking a smoothie as I write this filled with the pomelo pulp thinned out with almond milk. A healthy lead up to a very decadent dessert. We plan to eat this with honey flavoured Greek yoghurt as per Stephanie's suggestion and I might also try it with some ginger flavoured yoghurt too. Of course I have no problem trying multiple pieces in order to figure out which yoghurt works best!  

So hooray for 600 recipes...and now back to the books. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

599/1038 - Zabaglione with mascarpone

Italian desserts really are the bomb! 

We had some beautiful figs gifted to us from another neighbour of my husband's work and I just knew this recipe would be the perfect accompaniment to what is one of my very favourite fruits. As well as needing something to go with the fruit, I had opened a tub of marscapone to make icing for a cake (a green one for St Patrick's day no less!) and needed a way to use the rest of it up. I believe this is what is called a win-win scenario.

I made the amaretti myself and they were absolutely beautiful. If anybody needs a recipe, I used this one. Two of my boys don't like figs and so they ate this with extra crumbled amaretti instead. Personally, I thought the figs were what tipped this over into sensational territory and highly recommend their addition to this dish.

I halved the zabaglione recipe which not only turned out to be the perfect amount for four, but it meant that I used four yolks in the zabaglione and four whites in the amaretti mix. Perfect, no?

My oldest is off to camp today and so we ate this as his farewell dessert last night. Celebrate with food...who me?

I have assignments coming out of my ears and so I can't guarantee when the next recipe will happen but am assuming we will hit this wonderful milestone sometime in April. Exciting! x

Sunday, March 18, 2018

598/1038 - Prawn (in lieu of rock lobster) oil

Where has this fabulous concoction been all my life?

Loving this prawn oil so much has had me lamenting all of the prawn heads I have discarded over the years. Making it was so very easy and the number of meals we have eaten with the oil is still growing! My favourite was spaghetti, well coated with prawn oil and topped with loads of fresh tomato, rocket and freshly cracked black pepper. So very good. 

Of course this recipe actually comes from the rock lobster chapter but given how difficult it is to obtain green rock lobster heads, I opted to take Stephanie's suggestion of using prawn heads in their stead. 

As the heads cooked, my house was filled with the most incredible smell, which continued to make me hungry until the next day with the oil sitting out overnight to marinate. 

Quite simply, an absolutely wonderful recipe and very highly recommended! 

Simmering with the vegetables

Sunday, March 11, 2018

597/1038 - Prawns with ginger, spring onion and tomato

Look who found another prawn recipe hiding in the ginger chapter! 

We love seafood in our house and we especially love it fresh from the market. My youngest and I have swapped our weekly market day to Saturdays and so yesterday we happily brought home a kilo of prawns to enjoy. 

This is an interesting recipe in that the prawns, apart from the head & intestinal tract, are left intact. What I didn't expect is how fabulous they would taste, shell, legs, tail and all! The frying process (shallow, not deep-fried) makes the whole prawn edible which of course has the added bonus of reducing the smell in our bin the next day. Less shells, less smell...

The only change I made to the recipe was to fry in sesame rather than vegetable oil and also to use more prawns than was recommended. In hindsight I should probably also have increased the amount of topping, but the prawns were still flavourful so no harm done. We ate them with rocket and plain rice which meant minimal preparation and clean up. Perfect for a Saturday night! 

The motivation for our purchase was actually the prawn heads, which I will be turning into prawn oil today. I do love the smell of prawns cooking in the morning... 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

596/1038 - Chocolate macarons

The reason for making this lovely dessert was twofold; they will serve as a thank you present for the beautiful people who have been looking after my bonsai since December and will also be one of the dishes I am sharing with friends at a long overdue get together tomorrow.

I am not a huge chocolate fan myself (although I will clarify this unusual stance in a moment) so I would not have thought to make this flavour for myself. Give me a good salted caramel macaron any day or anything fruity (raspberry, lemon, strawberry...)

My dislike of chocolate desserts is a weird one. I adore chocolate but don't love it when it is served in other forms. Chocolate cake - bleugh. French pastries or churros dipped in chocolate - double bleugh. Death by chocolate desserts - kill me now. It is a heaviness issue that I have. If a chocolate dessert is paired with a fruity parfait or sauce I am good to go. I also quite like chocolate with something crunchy such as cannoli or lightened with lemon zest. Fussy I know. But it's OK because I am generally the maker of the dessert, so I can afford to be fussy!

I love making macarons but have generally opted to use the Italian meringue method. After cooking Stephanie's version, I am a convert! These were really easy to put together and came out beautifully smooth. The trick to the smoother mixture was to blitz the sugars and almond meal in the Thermomix which made them insanely easy to sift. Quite frankly, I can't believe I hadn't done that before. 

I haven't actually eaten one yet (partly self control and partly because they are chocolate) but I am told they are fabulous by my little family who couldn't wait. I personally think they are better the next day (or even two days after being put together) and straight out of the fridge so I will relent and test one out tomorrow.

Stephanie's macarons for the win! x

Friday, February 23, 2018

595/1038 - Crème caramel

Another year, another wedding anniversary...

I am sure I have said this before, but celebrating on prescribed dates and present giving could be banned tomorrow and I would not give it a second thought. Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day and the ever-divisive Australia Day could all disappear and I would be one happy camper. I do realise I am on my own with this one, but I am not ashamed to admit that most celebrations are completely lost on me. I am not religious, and in many ways not sentimental, so my feelings on this matter are not much of a surprise to those around me. 

I think I would like to keep birthdays and definitely the verbal recognition of anniversaries, but if presents are given I would prefer that they be home-made and usable. The fact that people already have more stuff than they need, coupled with the angst of reciprocal present giving, is the stuff of  my nightmares. 

So even though we don't always bother to celebrate another year of wedlock, today I decided to do a bit of cooking to commemorate the occasion. If I am honest, the date simply coincided with a desire  of mine to cook and hang out in the kitchen. But I am calling it romantic anyway... 

I have been DREADING this recipe for the most ridiculous reason. I have another crème caramel recipe which works perfectly every time and I just hated the thought of trying one that might not be as good. To add to the pressure, Stephanie's version is cooked in one dish and I have always divided the recipe into individual serves. My main thought today as this dish chilled in the fridge was, "Please come out in one piece!" 

I decided to listen to Stephanie's suggestion regarding orange zest, and steeped it in the milk for an hour before cooking, which was a really lovely addition to this simple dessert. I also threw some zest on top after it was turned out and served the dessert with slices of orange.

It feels good to have that monkey off my back! 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

594/1038 - Goat's cheese on salad leaves with an anchovy dressing

Fried goats cheese is my new best friend!

I used a jar of marinated goats cheese for this recipe, dabbing the oil from each piece of cheese with paper towel before the egging and crumbing stage. The great thing about goats cheese is that if it comes apart when sliced, it is easily squashed back into shape.  

This is not a super fast recipe but by George it's worth the effort! Admittedly I did make the breadstick from scratch so other (sane) people who simply head to the local baker for a store bought version will not spend anywhere near the time I spent in the kitchen yesterday.  

After a few nights without a substantial amount of red meat, I added some sliced and fried beef short ribs to the meal to appease the men in my house.  

This was SO much more than a salad. Very happy with this one.