Wednesday, February 29, 2012

128/656 - Chocolate and almond cake

This cake was the fulfilment of a promise I made to the kids for something sweet tonight. Apparently it is based on the French classic reine de Saba or Queen of Sheba's cake which of course sounds incredibly exotic and made it very hard to resist giving it a try.

I made the almond meal and the castor sugar in the Thermomix although as per usual I over-blitzed the sugar and had a lovely sugary cloud following me around the kitchen. 

The end result was lovely and gooey and very, very decadent. Sweet cravings satisfied!

127/656 - Rosemary and polenta pan bread

The boys (all three of them) loved the cornbread I made in November for Thanksgiving so I am assuming they will also appreciate this pan bread which will be served with dinner tonight.

I decided to make the variation of this recipe which was to use yoghurt and milk instead of buttermilk. The recipe count for this challenge does not include any of these variations or side-note suggestions and I have been wondering lately if I might be tempted to complete all of those once this initial recipe challenge has been achieved.

Anyway back to the bread! It came out of the oven smelling wonderfully of rosemary and has an unusual texture, much like a cake but quite coarse. I am predicting some smiling faces at the dinner table tonight!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

126/656 - Fettuccine with gorgonzola

My children eat an amazing variety of foods but I thought it might be presumptuous to serve blue cheese to them without warning. With this in mind I made two versions of this pasta dish tonight. The first I made with an incredibly creamy and lovely imported gorgonzola that I picked up from Cardamone's in Fairfield. The second version was put together with mozzarella (also lovely and also from Cardamone's) which produced a meal only children could love, with a big gooey hunk of melted cheese swimming in sauce.

The great news is that everybody enjoyed their meals. The even better news is that the boys tasted the gorgonzola and loved it! My learnings from today – never assume, and run the taste test before cooking!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

125/656 - Praline

Having a tray of left over caramel and some banana ice-cream from previous cooking adventures, I decided to make some praline and turn these three elements into a dessert.

I boiled up some toffee, poured it over a pile of toasted almonds and chopped the whole mess up into respectable little pieces. It took quite some willpower to resist the urge to curl up on the couch and scoff handfuls of this sugary goodness until I was light in the head.

But resist I did, and this praline helped to create a very neat, and oh-so-sweet little dessert. Of course I still have praline left over and this, paired with a severe lack of willpower means that couch session could still be on the cards.

124/656 - Anchovy butter

On Stephanie's suggestion I served some toast with anchovy butter alongside our cucumber soup tonight.

Anchovies are a fabulous way to divide a group and as expected half of our party was in the "I love anchovies" camp and the other half were firmly in the camp that performs vigorous head shaking and screwing up of noses at the mere mention of this little fish.

I was a gracious host and allowed for plain butter to be spread by the non-believers, but I was personally thrilled with how this little butter turned out. It was whizzed quite well due to my trusty thermomix and so there was only the occasional anchovy lump to be found. A smooth texture is wonderful but I imagine I should label the container carefully. It is a lovely butter but probably not so good if accidentally spread with vegemite or jam.

123/656 - Cold cucumber soup

With friends coming for dinner on a 38° day it made sense to give this refreshing cold soup a try.

With absolutely loads of dill (my poor little dill plant may never be the same again!) this soup was flavoursome but not overbearing. Sour cream and egg yolks gave the soup a lovely creaminess and sherry and lemon zest added to the depth of flavour.

This one was a hit with only one of the kids (out of a very critical group of four), but the adults loved it so I am happy to call this one another success.

Friday, February 24, 2012

122/656 - Stir-fried okra and prawns

I would like to officially thank Stephanie for introducing me to okra!

Apparently the mucilage that oozes out of the okra when it is sliced is a turn off for some people but not for my family. Complemented by spring onion, prawns, chilli and garlic this was a quick little fry up that was gobbled up in minutes.

Highly recommended as a tasty snack or entrée.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

121/656 - Warm spinach salad

I had a beautiful bunch of spinach delivered to me this week and tonight I decided to turn some of it into a lovely salad. I quartered the recipe to make an individual serve as the boys were busy chowing down on pizza and were not at all interested in joining me.

The spinach was tossed in a pan with oil and champagne vinegar and then put together with crispy bacon and a boiled egg. Seasoned only with cracked pepper, I was thrilled with the taste, not quite believing how quickly I had put my dinner together.

Friday, February 17, 2012

120/656 - Quick yoghurt marinade for chicken or lamb

The best thing about having souvlakia for dinner is that I look after the preparation of ingredients and then pass to Trev to finish on the barbecue when the guests arrive!

I must admit I was a bit sceptical about using a yoghurt marinade for my lamb and was quite surprised at how much I liked the meat done this way. It took on a completely different texture and was very tender and almost creamy tasting. Of course compliments must go to Trev for being an absolute barbecue whiz.

I recently had the misfortune of eating a particularly disappointing take-away souvlaki. After tonight I am pleased to report that my faith in this very popular, and in this case very unconventional, dish has been restored.

119/656 - Tzatziki

I decided to make souvlakia for main course and what is a souvlaki without home-made tzatziki?

I particularly liked this version because the seeds are not removed from the cucumber and the result was nice and chunky with plenty of flavour. 

118/656 - Sweetcorn soup with spiced butter

We had friends coming for dinner tonight and with one of them pregnant I was on the hunt for recipes that fit the "non-listeria" criteria.

This sweetcorn soup seemed like an appropriate and simple first course. Apart from spending what seemed like an eternity pushing the soup through a sieve, it was quite straightforward to make. The effort was worth it, the result was a beautifully smooth creamy soup and the spiced butter was a lovely addition.

Very, very yummy!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

117/656 - Banana ice-cream

Valentine’s Day brought beautiful home-made ice-cream to my family for dessert tonight.

With no cooking required (except to make the sugar syrup) all of the ingredients were simply blended together and then poured directly into the ice-cream churn. This simple process and almost no effort produced the most beautiful banana ice-cream I have ever tasted.  

I am quite sure I will never look at a Barney banana the same way again.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

116/656 - Coriander peanut pesto

I realised this morning I was in danger of an entire week passing without a challenge recipe being recorded, hence the creation of this extremely yummy little pesto.

Whilst I admit I do not have firm plans for this creation, I am thinking pizza or pasta topping and/or maybe a spoonful over some steamed vegetables. I also suggested to Jules that he might like a pesto and cheese sandwich for lunch tomorrow and once he had a taste he enthusiastically concurred.

The roasted peanuts make this pesto so tasty I just know I will be making it over and over again.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

115/656 - Country-style crusty bread

I love the smell of baking bread but not nearly as much as I like the taste of a freshly made loaf. As per usual I cheated and prepared the dough in the bread maker but then followed the recipe from the first knocking back of the dough.

We devoured a number of slices with dinner tonight and feedback from the family was unanimously positive. The only disappointment was that I halved the recipe and ended up with only one loaf which has now all but disappeared.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

114/656 - Marinating paste

A leg of lamb is one of my favourite things to eat even when it is not covered in this yummy marinating paste! Dijon, flour, olive oil, rosemary (of course!), pepper and soy sauce. Really. Soy sauce.

I followed Stephanie’s method of roasting the lamb straight on the rack with a baking dish of water below to catch the fat. This worked well for the roasting, not so well when I forgot it was in there, opened the oven door and caught a face full of steam. OH&S is clearly not a focus in my kitchen.

As I have mentioned before I tend to leave the roasts to Trev and so I can honestly say this is the best roast lamb I have ever made.

113/656 - Rum and macadamia brownies

These tasty little morsels were fabulously easy to make and were even forgiving of the extra rum I accidentally added to the recipe. Note to self: Never measure out ingredients directly over the mixing bowl!

The only downside to this recipe was that I had to deny the boys their traditional licking of the mixing bowl due to the rum. No matter, I am sure it was my turn anyway!