Sunday, April 23, 2017

561/1038 - Chestnut soup

It has been almost a year since my youngest and I started doing our weekly shop at the Queen Victoria Market. We still adore our special morning together and still have our firm favourites when it comes to stall holders. We buy almost all of our fruit from Shane's Fruit and a couple of weeks ago he had the most beautiful looking chestnuts that I just could not resist. 

Chestnuts have such a wonderfully gentle flavour and I am sure I would eat them more often if it were not for the s-l-o-w peeling process! Chestnuts are the only nut which require cooking before being edible and so there is no getting away from some form of preparation. In the past I have always enjoyed them roasted and so this is the first time I have boiled and peeled half a kilo in one sitting. Not a fun prospect! 

I have a Thermomix on my bench which is largely used for grinding, blending and making dough. It is very rarely used to cook a meal but when making a soup that is to be blended, it just makes sense to dirty only one appliance! I will admit to omitting the sieving step when making this soup, being very happy with the texture the Thermomix created. 

I loved that my husband all but turned his nose up when I told him what I had made because I knew he would absolutely adore the taste. He did. 

Even better than the soup was pairing it with freshly baked home made bread which had been painted with olive oil and fried in a pan. 

Life is good. Fattening but good x

Friday, April 21, 2017

560/1038 - Imam Bayildi

My boys are pretty amazing with what they will eat. They have happily sat through dégustation menus that would make most adults baulk. Duck & calf tongues, liver on a stick, sea urchins,  air-dried emu, squid ink congee; they have devoured it all. 

Of course there are small gaps in their gastronomic repertoire. One of the favourite memories I have is of my youngest dining at Brae (brilliant, brilliant meal) and eating his way through their incredibly diverse and challenging dégustation. Until he got to the dessert where he ate his way around the berries. Seriously. Raw kangaroo not a problem at all. Berries? No thanks. My children are definitely not predictable! 

Eggplant continues to be a vegetable on the "not loving it so much" list and as such I put this meal together with some trepidation. In order to create a meal with balance (read: pairing it with something they would definitely eat) I decided to cook up some beef mince with capsicum and a pre-packaged sauce that one of the boys had chosen when we visited Casa Iberica on a recent Magical Mystery Tour*.  

The dinner was an absolute success, with both meat and eggplants being devoured happily. I adored this recipe and of course have to give some of the credit to our favourite vegetable vendor at the Queen Victoria Market. Everything we buy from them has a sweetness that you just don't find in old and long-stored vegetables from the supermarket. 

Another win and five recipes blogged this month. Not outstanding but better than last year! x

*Shameless plug! Magical Mystery Tours are a new service I have recently launched via my little business, a Fork for your Oyster - Words & Music. If you want to know more (and how you can win a free one before 1/5/17) you can find the info here.

We don't eat much pre-made food, but this was good!

Monday, April 17, 2017

559/1038 - Salsa Romesco

This salsa is seriously good. So good, in fact, that I almost cried when the last little bit had been scooped from the bowl. 

There is something very special about the taste of smoky grilled vegetables and this salsa was all about dragging every bit of flavour from the chilli, peppers, tomato and garlic which were made fabulous via a stint under a very hot griller.

This sauce was first served at a dinner party with boiled eggs and flatbreads, alongside my signature dish, chorizo lasagne. It was also devoured as a dip and then finally used over the top of this very decadent breakfast of flatbread, poached eggs, crispy bacon, basil and nasturtium leaves.

I was planning to pull out my smoker to add an extra bit of hickory flavour to the sauce but it disappeared before I got around to it. Something for next time...and there will definitely be a next time! x

Friday, April 14, 2017

558/1038 - Yoghurt and pistachio cake with rosewater ice-cream

This cake is fabulous!!

It's a shame this picture doesn't accurately capture the gentle "green-ness" of this lovely little pistachio flavoured dessert. Such a simple cake to make and the egg white (which I clearly didn't blend completely!) lifted the cake to a lightness which saw each mouthful dissolving as it was eaten. 

We ate this cake with friends at the end of another fabulous dinner party. Trev made the ice-cream and I asked his permission to add some rosewater to the mixture, knowing it would work beautifully with the pistachio. It may seem odd that I asked permission but I firmly believe in respecting other people's kitchen endeavours. You just don't outsource the ice-cream making and then play with the flavour willy-nilly! 

The rosewater was an inspired addition and of course I couldn't help adding just a drop or two of pink food colouring to the mix. Pretty, no? 

I have said it before but will say it again. If you don't have this book, you simply MUST rush out and buy it. So many fabulous recipes and this was yet another one that I can't wait to make again x

Saturday, April 8, 2017

557/1038 - Saffron pears

My husband's clients often surprise him with treats and little bits and pieces. A couple of weeks ago he brought home a gorgeous pile of apples and pears fresh from the orchard. Needless to say, they didn't last long! The last three pears were crying out to be poached and we are now all BIG fans of this style of cooking. 

If I am honest, the pears had gone a little soft by the time I made this and so I was thrilled to see that they were able to hold up throughout this long, although gentle, cooking process.  

It was wins all around with this recipe. With an enormous lemon verbena plant in my herb garden, I loved finding yet another use for its lovely, fragrant leaves. 

Incredibly, all four of us enjoyed these poached pears. Two were never in doubt, but the surprises of the day were my youngest (not a pear fan) and the fact that my usual intolerance to pears appeared to be mitigated by the poaching process. 

Love, love, love x

Sunday, April 2, 2017

556/1038 - Chicken curry puffs

This recipe took D-A-A-A-Y-S to complete. Not because it's particularly complicated, but because I made the pastry, put it in the fridge to chill overnight and then took forever to get around to making the filling. There was one day that the filling almost happened and then I realised I was out of onions and so the little puffs were further delayed. 

I don't know if it was the three days chilling, but whatever the reason, this pastry was FABULOUS! It had peanut butter in it (weird, I know!) and it had the most incredibly wonderful peanutty aftertaste as well as being quite firm and not at all flaky. While I do realise this pastry was designed to be deep fried, I am just coming off a two month shoulder injury and quite frankly, my newly rounded waistline was crying out for me to oven bake them instead. 

I may have rolled the pastry a bit thin (I made eighteen rather than twelve) but it still held together beautifully. It may well have been a different story had I dropped them in hot oil...

Another recipe to love and I will definitely be making this pastry over and over again x

Sunday, March 26, 2017

555/1038 - Braised pork neck with cider

We picked up a pork neck at the market last week, with the vague notion that we had seen a recipe for this particular cut in The Cook's Companion. It turns out our suspicions were correct.

We had all of the required ingredients with the exception of veal stock, which I substituted with some incredible lamb stock I had made and frozen the week before. Using an unusual combination of brandy and kiwifruit cider (which happened to be the only alcoholic cider in the house) I can now say that I have found yet another way to fall in love with pork. 

While the result was fabulous, the execution almost caused me quite serious harm. When the pork was taken out of the oven, I inadvertently touched the (very hot) side of the pot. I threw my hands up in shock and unfortunately one of them was holding the serving spoon which was dipped in the boiling stock. A good amount ended up on my face but thankfully after thirty minutes of ice pack application, the redness subsided and a crisis was averted.

After a little bit of preparation and eighty minutes in the oven, this neck was unbelievably tender and so very tasty.

Pork neck - who knew? x

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

554/1038 - Rote grütze

Having realised that 2016 was my slowest cooking year to date, I am determined to ramp up the pace in 2017. Taking a quick look at my stats, It appears I averaged one recipe a week last year. Being roughly eleven weeks into 2017, I am pleased that I am at least on track to match these numbers.

This recipe turned out quite differently to what I had expected and I am fairly sure something went wrong in the process. I have worked with sago plenty of times, but this time it just did not appear to be cooking, remaining stubbornly white no matter how long I kept my rote grütze on the boil. I am starting to wonder if my sago had sat in the pantry just a little too long...

While the finished product was not supposed to be this firm, it actually tasted very good! We have been eating scoops of it smeared on bread and semi sweet biscuits, occasionally with a dollop of cream on top.

Interestingly, even though my sago refused to become transparent, it was not at all hard and quite pleasant to eat. I may well have discovered (accidentally) that grape paste is a "thing", perhaps an alternative to quince paste given the very limited quince season.    

It appears cooking mistakes CAN equal gastronomic invention x

Monday, March 13, 2017

553/1038 - Strawberry shortcake

Many moons ago, I was asked if I had experienced a recipe failure whilst undertaking this challenge. My answer was strawberry shortcake! Sadly, although the recipe appeared to be travelling well, everything fell to pieces in the cutting stage. I decided not to blog my failure (who wants to see a picture of smashed cake?) and so here is Strawberry Shortcake, version 2.0. 

As I made the dough on this second attempt, I found myself needing to increase the amount of milk in order to get everything to hold together. This does make me wonder if the recipe should have read two tablespoons of milk rather than two teaspoons. Either that or I have made the same measuring error of another ingredient twice! Anything is possible. 

The finished product was rather more biscuit-like than I expected and while we enjoyed eating our little strawberry towers (topped with piles of whipped cream no less!), it was not a dessert that anybody raved enough about for me to put on my repeat list. 

They can't all be my favourite! x

Saturday, March 11, 2017

552/1038 - Chris's pork pie

Confession time...I missed an entire step of this recipe! The shame of this was that in our post match (well, post dinner party) discussion, we agreed that the missing step would have made this dish taste twice as good as it did.

I had good reason for skipping the final step of this recipe; actually in truth I had two good reasons! The first was that in order to fill the completed pie with a gelatinous goop, the cooked pastry was meant to have sealed without any obvious holes. Given that I had attempted to squish twice the recommended filling amount into my pastry, it is fair to say that there was not much chance things were going to hold together. The sealed bottom actually spread quite some way from the filling as it baked and so once cooked there was absolutely no fixing my rather large mistake.

I put my pie in the fridge, knowing I had ruined any chance I had of creating a jellied seal between the pastry and the meat. As I read the recipe to see what I had missed, I discovered that the jelly was supposed to have been left overnight in the fridge to set anyway. Probably lucky for my guests I didn't go there!

Read. The. Recipe.

Great advice that clearly I am never going to learn to take. Thankfully the pie was fabulous anyway, served with onion jam and mustard fruit.

Looks like I dodged another recipe mis-read bullet! x