Thursday, May 31, 2012

167/656 - Potato frittata

Things have slowed down somewhat in the Cook's Companion Challenge kitchen.

No longer churning out recipes by the truckload, I seem to have hit an unexpected slow patch. I have decided to run with this new languid pace for a while, holding myself to only one recipe per week. Given this distinct lack of recent achievement I am currently patting myself on the back for achieving two posts over the last two days!

I made a very clever decision to photograph this little frittata BEFORE I flipped it tonight, thinking that the other side might not be quite as attractive. I was absolutely right! The frittata tasted wonderful, full of fresh tasting parsley, spinach and chives, but was a little lacking in attractiveness once flipped.

Being the slowest cook on the planet I was pleased that I made this in record time...even if I did have to put Trev on meat and veg duty to make it happen. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

166/656 - Claudia Roden's Middle Eastern orange cake

It's another orange cake! This time sans flour and full of almondy goodness.

This is another one of those recipes I have already made, right back at the beginning of this challenge, uncaptured and unphotographed. I actually think I did a better job of it this time, with the cake ending up nice and heavy but not too moist. 

I narrowly avoided a cooking disaster when I checked on the cake halfway through and realised it was browning a little too quickly on top. I turned the oven down a notch and covered the cake in foil for the last half hour. I recently learned (the hard way) that when covering something in foil in a fan-forced oven, it is important to secure the foil tightly, lest it wind up blown off and clinging to the rear wall of said oven. 

Although the top of the cake was quite brown it was not burnt at all, and created an almost crispy, surprisingly sweet topping. Sometimes I love my little kitchen accidents!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

165/656 - Australian old-fashioned gramma pie

I love pumpkin pie!   

This is the first time I have tried making pumpkin pie myself and I really liked this version which is beautifully spicy and has a lovely lemony after taste. The currants were also a very nice addition which I think enhanced the presentation of what can be a dessert that is visually a bit bland. I decided to blend my pumpkin mixture to ensure a smooth consistency which, kitchen mess aside, I have decided was a very good idea. 

The pie was lovely but very sweet and so apart from Henry who is currently in eating mode (and doing a wonderful impersonation of a human vacuum cleaner), we managed only a small piece each. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

164/656 - Labna - yoghurt cheese

It may look simple but this recipe has been more than a few days in the making!

Labna is simply yoghurt that has been drained of excess fluid and rolled into lovely little cheesy balls. I used Greek yoghurt and found that I needed to hang it in muslin for a couple of extra days as it was still a bit wet in the centre after only two. It doesn't appear to have done my little labna any harm, and the balls are still soaking in oil, garlic and rosemary which means the flavour has been getting stronger and tastier each day. 

The labna balls have turned out to be a great little snack to have in the fridge, but I am also thinking they would be a lovely addition to a cheese platter or as an extra little bit of protein on the dinner plate alongside some roast lamb.   

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

163/656 - Roasted rosemary potatoes

These lovely potatoes were roasted in a hot oven covered in rosemary and olive oil and surrounded by smashed garlic.

They turned out just as you would hope, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Something I don't normally do is completely dry the potatoes before rolling them in the oil and I do believe I will keep up this practice to ensure crunchy skins in the future.  

I had six hungry eyes watching and waiting for me to take this picture and so the sea salt  and pepper were added post capture. I had thought that 750g of potatoes was a very large amount that would create some lovely leftovers, but was foiled yet again by a family who constantly surprise me with the amount they can put away.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

162/656 - French onion soup from Stephanie's with home-made sourdough

Standing out in the cold this morning supporting my eldest in his sporting endeavours, I spent most of my time cheering his efforts, and the remainder of the time imagining how good this soup was going to taste when I got home.

I had cooked the onions yesterday and so all there was left to do was to stack two layers of sourdough, onions and gruyère in a bowl, cover it with stock and then toss it in the oven until bubbling.

And did I mention I made the sourdough myself?

I took Stephanie's advice (of course!) on how to make a simple sourdough, tearing a piece of dough from Wednesday's loaf and allowing it to "mellow" for a few days in a bowl covered with a damp cloth. I then incorporated the dough into yesterday's loaf and voilà! Simple sourdough.

I was a bit concerned at the thickness of the bread that was stuffed into my tiny little bowl, but after consuming my fare in record time I have decided I would not change a thing. The onions, bread, cheese and probably also the cognac all contributed to the wonderful finished product.

This is definitely a dish that will impress! My verdict? Superb.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

161/656 - Rabbit baked with thyme and mustard

It was rabbit for dinner again tonight which means our freezer is now officially devoid of bunnies.

This rabbit was supposed to be served up last night, but as per usual I didn't read the recipe until I started, and then cursed the fact that my little Bugs needed to be marinated in oil, garlic and thyme overnight.  

It was worth it though! After rubbing the marinated meat with dijon mustard (and squealing all the while because the rabbit pieces were so cold!) it was baked in the oven for 40 minutes. The result was a lovely tender rabbit with the most gorgeous tasty juices, which I happily poured over my entire meal. 

A little bunny is the perfect size to feed our family of four and so disappointingly there were no leftovers. If I were a terrible mother I might start cooking the extra special meals when the boys are not here. But of course only a terrible mother would think of doing that...

160/656 - Chocolate sorbet

It will be of no surprise to my friends that less than a quarter of the way through this challenge, I am already more than halfway through the chapter on chocolate.  There are eleven recipes of chocolate deliciousness in The Cook's Companion and this sorbet was effort number seven.   

Unlike any other chocolate sorbet I have tasted, this version tastes of chocolate (of course) but there are also subtle traces of coffee and cinnamon coming through which complement the chocolate flavour beautifully. 

I actually made this last night but my ice cream maker does not always play ball and so I had to pop the semi-frozen mixture into the freezer overnight to harden. It's a shame because the result is probably icier than it should be, but I don't think I will be hearing any complaints from my chocolate loving family.  

Thursday, May 3, 2012

159/656 - Atlantic salmon with parsley and breadcrumb crust

Presenting yet more of our wonderful bounty from the Yarra Valley! This time some superb Atlantic salmon caught by a very patient Trev at Marysville trout and salmon ponds. This salmon was enormous, weighing in at 2.6kg and tasted absolutely amazing. Even after it had been frozen (we couldn't eat it all at once!) the flesh was still oily and fresh tasting.

The parsley and breadcrumb crust was simple to put together, with the parsley, olive oil, bread and garlic being whizzed up together in the Thermomix. Have I mentioned that I am in love with my Thermomix? It was an insanely expensive addition to my kitchen but the hours it has saved me have made the purchase worth it, time and time again.

I don't think I would have looked at this recipe twice had it not been for this crazy challenge. In fact in my life pre-challenge I don't think I gave the parsley chapter a second glance. Little gems like these then, are surely what this madness is all about. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

157&158/656 - Osso Buco & Gremolata

Osso Buco and Gremolata. What a lovely Italian meal they make!  

Many years ago I ordered Osso Buco at an Italian restaurant and was served a plate of quite tasteless, tough meat. After that experience I found myself looking at people strangely when they ordered this dish, wondering why on earth they would want to eat such a horrible meal. Only a few months ago I had my second experience of Osso Buco at my friend Lydia's house. Her version was absolutely wonderful and I finally understood what all the fuss was about!  

So tonight I ate my third Osso Buco and thanks to Stephanie's guidance, it was superb. The meat was so tender it fell off the bone as I was serving it up and we absolutely loved the sauce which was course enhanced by the lovely fresh gremolata. 

Thanks to Lydia and Stephanie, I am now officially an Osso Buco convert. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

156/656 - Salsa of mixed peppers

What a lovely simple way to make fish taste great!   

This little salsa of peppers was chopped up and left to marinate, or as Stephanie says, it was left to "mellow". I like this turn of phrase and think I may use it both in and out of the kitchen. "Boys can you please be like the salsa and go and mellow for 30 minutes?" Not sure how well that will work but at least I will get a kick out of saying it. 

A choice between cider vinegar and red wine vinegar was given for this recipe, and I decided to use a little of each. The truth is that I had a slurp of apple cider vinegar left in the cupboard that I feared might live there forever if I didn't use it up tonight.  Red wine vinegar I go through like it is going out of fashion. Apple cider vinegar not so much.

All going well this is looking like being quite a productive week in my little kitchen so watch this space!