Wednesday, October 2, 2019

654/1038 - Michael Boddy's sweet lime pickle

We have a decent sized load of limes in the fridge from a friend's tree and I have been using them in EVERYTHING! Noodle dishes, sweets, Coronas (my favourite). 

This weird little pickle smells quite lovely - simultaneously sweet, sour and spicy. I have no idea what it will be used for and plan to wait until it is finished to see what it tastes like although I am imagining both chicken and prawns will work very well with the flavours. The recipe can only be found in the original version of the book so if you can't find it you are probably not going mad. The strangest part of this recipe is that the jar needs to sit in the sun for an hour every second day. This photo is of my concoction on its first sunny outing. 

The making of this pickle marks yet another little milestone, October being the 100th month of my challenge. Perhaps it's just me, but 100 months sounds like a very long time! It is definitely a testament to the quality of The Cook's Companion that I am still enjoying myself and very much loving the discovery of so many new favourite recipes. 

If anybody was wondering, the gorgeous little wood cat in the background was a spontaneous gift from the artist who recently painted a mural in our backyard. He saw our woodpile and couldn't help leaving a doodle or two for us to find. What a lovely man. Imagine being responsible for leaving such lovely little bits of happiness in your wake...

Re the pickle - I will post an update when the waiting is over and the eating has begun!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

653/1038 - Slow-roasted leg of lamb with dried beans

Given how often I use my copies* of The Cook's Companion, I am a bit paranoid about keeping them in good condition. As a result of this paranoia, I generally transfer recipes onto a scrap of paper (in edited shorthand) which I refer to when I cook. I am not embarrassed to admit that every now and then this causes an issue. 

Somehow when I transcribed this recipe I neglected to include the amount of hot water the tomato paste needed to be mixed with and in my head, was assuming it was only a couple of tablespoons. Thankfully logic took over and I realised the beans would need hydrating as they baked. A quick check of the book confirmed that it was actually a litre of hot water I needed. Minor crisis, and likely a pile of rock hard beans, averted!

I made this roast on Father's Day, mostly because I promised my husband a lazy day devoid of household duties. This was definitely a promise I was regretting as I stumbled around in the fog of a sleep cut very short at either end. We attended a party the night before (disco themed and fabulous) and so sleep did not begin until 2am and then was sadly cut short five hours later as car doors began to bang out in the street. Given the level of additional difficulty imposed on my cooking abilities, I was particularly thrilled with how everything turned out.

I cut the cooking time by a third for the meat as I always do when using a fan forced oven. Unfortunately this meant that by dinner time, the beans were not quite done. Given my self induced exhaustion, we decided to eat the roast with steamed vegetables, saving some to eat with the beans the following night. The lovely wrap pictured is the result of yesterday's much more impressive effort! Home made flatbreads were the perfect accompaniment for the lamb/beans combo and we also stacked freshly chopped tomato, capsicum and cucumber on top for freshness.

Anybody with the second or third edition of The Cook's Companion will be disappointed to know that this recipe appears only in the original version. The good news is that there are similar recipes on the internet for anybody keen to give it a go. Well worth a try.

*All three editions...upgrade, upgrade, upgrade!

Embracing the disco spirit

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

652/1038 - Maggie's slow-cooked fillet of beef

It really is amazing the number of different ways a cut of beef can be prepared.  

Slow cooking is not often a thing in my house, with me usually starting dinner preparations as the hunger pangs are threatening to set in. But on this day I had uncharacteristically planned ahead. A long, slow cook is definitely a great way to make a house smell sensational! 

The flavours in this marinade were spectacular and had I not slightly misjudged the cooking time for a larger cut, I do think the outcome would have been amazing. There were certainly some pieces which were perfect (see below) but the majority of the roast was a little on the dry side.

All in all, a good experiment with a little more care required on my part next time.

Friday, August 9, 2019

651/1038 - Belly pork in a piquant cream sauce

Oh. My. Goodness.

You know when you make something expecting it to be just OK and then it blows your mind? That happened last night. I had bought some pork fillet (yes, I cheated on the cut) and realised I had every ingredient for this recipe except the green peppercorns. I do, however, always have pink peppercorns on hand and knew they would go beautifully with the flavours in this recipe.

I have never boiled pork before and was interested to see if it would work with fillet. I reduced the cooking time quite a bit and took it out when a skewer passed through easily. I have no idea how long this took as I often just go on instinct when doing this sort of thing and just get a feeling when it's time to check. Once it was done, the pork was sliced, pan fried and then doused in this unbelievably fabulous, creamy sauce. 

The only downside to this dish is that it brings out the animal in diners, with everybody dying to lick their plate and not waste a drop of this incredible sauce.

A must try for all cooks. 

Sunday, August 4, 2019

650/1038 - Spanish creams

This is an absolutely beautiful little dessert and even better, the recipe appears quite foolproof! Somehow the lemon infuses to a point where it tastes as if there is lemon curd in the custard, which of course makes for beautiful eating. 

A few things I learned while making this recipe;
  • If you run out of castor sugar, pure icing sugar works well. To break up the lumps, throw it in the blender and voila, a perfectly soft pile of icing sugar
  • If the whites are accidentally whipped to stiff rather than soft peaks, the recipe still works
  • The step of straining the custard can be successfully skipped. A good option if you like zest!
  • Well thickened custard means thick enough that it will coat the back of a wooden spoon. Test this by running your finger in a line through the custard on the back of the spoon. If the line keeps its shape, the custard is thick enough
  • I dutifully oiled six 100ml moulds...and still had an enormous amount of mixture after they were filled! I simply poured the rest into a large container and it set just as well as the small moulded versions (and was just as tasty!)
The day after I made the creams, I was lucky enough to have a wonderful artist working on a mural in our new hot tub and sauna area, now lovingly known as "the cedar precinct". I am not a day time dessert eater and so it was great to have somebody on hand to eat the plate I had styled for photographing. I don't think he minded much either! 

Another wonderful little recipe and with 650 recipes now complete, another small milestone reached. 

Our new cedar precinct with beautiful art by Barek

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

649/1038 - Potato gnocchi with Karen's leek and blue cheese sauce

Picture a kitchen completely covered in flour, cooking utensils and dirty dishes and you will get a sense of just how bad I am at making gnocchi. Thankfully it turned out completely edible and pillowy; apparently a texture gnocchi makers everywhere aspire to. 

Interestingly, I barely needed to add any flour before I reached the perfect texture with the gnocchi, leaving quite a bit sitting in the bowl unused. I was nervous that this would mean either little hard lumps of potato or potato confetti; either outcome a complete disaster. My youngest was completely amused by my concerns and proceeded to goad me into a wager regarding the success (or not) of the cooking stage. If my gnocchi exploded in the water apparently I had to take over his dishwasher duties. If they stayed together he offered a lengthy neck massage.

We both watched expectantly as the first batch was lowered into the water. A short time later, as they rose perfectly to the top ready to be scooped out, he looked at me with a pantomimic scowl and  cursed me for my good cooking skills. Of course not only was I thrilled that each gnoccho was in one piece and bouncy soft, but I had scored a neck massage to boot!

The leek sauce was incredibly easy to make, the only step that gave me trouble was when the sauce and gnocchi had to be stirred together. Terrified of mashing the gnocchi into one squishy pile, I opted instead for a rocking of the pan from side to side. I think this meant that some diners ended up with more leek than others, but everybody was happy with the result nonetheless. Given how rich the dish was, we had plenty of leftovers and I can vouch that it was even better the following day. 

Saturday, July 20, 2019

648/1038 - Garlic and ginger dipping sauce

This lovely little recipe is actually from the yabbies and marron chapter. It is meant as a dipping sauce (hence the name) but I decided it would be lovely if I used it as a saucy little bath for freshly cooked prawns.

The tomato base can be made on the stove top or in the oven. I do love the taste of anything roasted and so opted for the oven even though I knew it would take a bit longer. The fresh ginger gave this sauce a lift that was absolutely fabulous with the prawns and the fresh rocket and capsicum turned my experiment into a complete meal.

I will be cooking up the leftover tomato seeds with some leftover egg whites for a healthy breakfast this morning after a bit too much fun and perhaps one too many beers last night.

Because it's all about balance. 

Sunday, July 14, 2019

647/1038 - Tartare sauce

Home made tartare sauce, beautiful fresh flathead and a fresh salad...what more could a person want? 

As I selected the seasonings for the sauce, I was reminded of one of the reasons I have so many salt options in my pantry. A while ago, I took my boys down to the local bulk produce shop. It's a fabulous little place where everything is purchased by the scoop and sold in sustainable little paper bags. I told the boys they could each pick something to purchase that I could use in my cooking. Amusingly, they both ended up buying salt; Kosher and Himalayan. Including these two, I think I currently have a selection of around six or seven different varieties and perhaps surprisingly, have found a use for each of them. It is fortunate I have ample pantry space!

This lovely tartare sauce included a couple of pinches of Kosher salt which has a lovely gentle flavour to it. The sauce is based on a mayonnaise, with the addition of herbs, capers and chopped pickled cornichons (mini gherkins). I am not a huge fan of tasting the oil in mayonnaise and so balanced mine with quite a bit of fresh lemon juice.

The fats combined with the tang of pickled cornichons made this tartare sauce an absolutely brilliant match for the fish and also the salad. The recipe made quite a bit and I was shocked to see that we ate a good two thirds of it in one meal! Popular, indeed.

I am sure I have written this about a million times on this blog, but this recipe is highly recommended.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

646/1038 - Lemon syllabub

So this is a syllabub! Before today, a trivia question regarding what a syllabub was would have stumped me completely. 

When I was making it, my husband commented that it just looked like a bowl of cream and indicated that perhaps it might not be too appetising. Oh, how very wrong he was! Flavoured with a beautiful French sweet wine, French brandy and a stack of lemon juice and zest, this was an absolutely wonderful dessert that perfectly satisfied my after dinner sweet craving.  

Technically, I am not supposed to consume sweet wine but given that my reaction usually takes at least twelve hours to manifest, I managed to convince myself that a quarter of a quarter cup would not cause me any problems. Only time will tell if I was right...but in the meantime I am happy to live in blissful denial and simply revel in the fact that I got to eat this wonderful dessert.