Saturday, September 27, 2014

369/984 - Baked ricotta with fennel, cumin and coriander

As if a dinner party is not busy enough to prepare for...of course I decided to make my own cheese too!

Making ricotta is such a fun little science experiment. Simply heat the milk and salt (and cream if you like) and add lemon juice or vinegar (I added both) and watch the magic happen. As the curds started to separate I removed them with a slotted spoon. I could see that there was still some creaminess to the liquid and so kept adding lemon juice and vinegar until the whey looked more like yellow water.

Three litres of milk made me enough ricotta to cook this recipe and also my modified version of palak paneer the following evening. 

I shaped the ricotta into a roll for baking, but due to the excessive fluid it slowly melted as it baked! No matter, a flat baked ricotta with toasted, ground spices was still fabulous, if a little unattractive. It was even better rolled inside a piece of home-made flatbread.

I kept the whey to add into our scrambled eggs and gave the remainder to the chickens.

Something for everybody x

Lovely ricotta, a very tomato-ey palak paneer, baked ricotta
and scrambled eggs with whey.

Friday, September 26, 2014

368/984 - Chickpeas with spinach

Just one element of a dinner party spread, this dish was simple and surprisingly lovely. This particular dinner party was in honour of my newest second cousin, baby James. Of course he was too little to partake but his parents were willing participants!

As per usual, I forgot to soak the chickpeas overnight. This is not really a problem for an early riser given that a few hours soaking in the morning is enough to do the trick. 

I decided to serve most of the dishes cold on this evening, and so after cooking the spinach, chickpeas and onion I popped them into the fridge. I also mixed up the yoghurt with mint and garlic and left that in the fridge separately, hoping that the garlic flavour would seep through the yoghurt by dinner time (which it did!).

We all adored this combination and with a pinch of paprika it was full of flavour. This one will definitely be repeated, and the yoghurt mix is likely to appear again as a dip or sauce for vegetables.

Monday, September 22, 2014

367/984 - Slow-roasted loin of pork with garlic, rosemary and fennel

It was a porky night at our place tonight, with the slow roast being the highlight of our evening. Until the marshmallows were cooked in the chiminea of course...

The loin I bought was already rolled and so I had to unroll it in order to fill it with the beautiful marinade of oil, garlic, rosemary, fennel leaves and cracked pepper. I would like to report a deft re-rolling of the roast, however it was more like an awkward wrapping of an odd-shaped present. I got it done but have vowed to google the correct technique very soon!

Amusingly, when the diced veg and bones were removed from the pan to make way for the roasting vegetables, the family descended, gnawing at the bones and eating the vegetables straight from the pan. Needless to say, I did not make the jus to serve with our meal. 

I added some mushrooms, zucchini and carrots to the pan for the last hour along with the potatoes and fennel to round out the meal. Lovely roast, good crackling...and finished with gooey marshmallows. Perfect.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

366/984 - Mouclade

Fairfield Farmer's market was on yesterday and we paid a little visit to Western Port Mussels. 

My family absolutely adores mussels and we are yet to find a mussels recipe we do not love. My lovely Henry helped me de-beard and clean the entire two kilograms and once that was done the recipe was a snap. 

I steamed the mussels in some white wine that I deemed not quite fabulous enough to drink, along with some shallots and cracked pepper. 

The creamy sauce was made with the reserved juices and was plate-lickingly fabulous. Pouring it over the mussels was interesting, with the shells catching the juice and sending it spraying around the kitchen. A word of warning - pour gently!

I decided to serve the mussels on top of a lovely fresh salad, which meant more bits and pieces for the juices to soak into. The best news? Plenty of leftover sauce to drizzle over my breakfast vegetables.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

365/984 - Spiced beef curry - daging rempah

Don't you just love it when you make something that blows your family away? 

This curry had the most incredible flavour, with the tamarind adding a wonderful bite. In true Malaysian style I have just eaten the leftovers for breakfast...

There were a few small changes I made to the recipe, some intentional, some not. I used tamarind paste instead of pulp and also replaced the vegetable oil with coconut, which is my preferred oil to use wherever possible. The biggest change I made was the result of a lack of labelling in our freezer, with the defrosted beef turning out to be lamb rump. (Yummy mistake!) I didn't have any dark soy (replaced with regular) and was fresh out of fresh chillies and so used six good pinches of the dried variety. Apart from that I followed the recipe completely!

With a ninety minute simmer time this was not a quick meal, but the long cooking time was absolutely worth it. Unbelievable. 

Blended spices which smelled incredible!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

364/984 - Cheese rarebit (or rabbit)

My eldest scored a goal in his final soccer game today and this was his reward! Confession: I was making these anyway but don't tell him that!

I was a bit shocked when I was measuring out the cheese for this recipe, convinced that it was going to be way more than we could eat. It turns out I was right, but I imagine a very hungry person could polish off this amount (as in one third of what you see above, plus what was left in the pan) with a very large piece of toast to support it. This bread is home-made and my loaves are quite petite compared to commercial versions and so our toast was on the small side. 

Filled with rich ingredients such as melted butter, cheese and English mustard, this was not a snack for the faint hearted. Literally!

I couldn't help adding some parsley on top, convincing myself that this would make things just a little bit healthier. I have no idea who I was kidding....this was absolutely decadent and has definitely confirmed my decision to complete a gut busting workout later today. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

363/984 - Yoghurt cheese pie

This pie was yum, yum, yum!

I adore Greek yoghurt and we always have a large tub in the fridge. The last tub I bought was a different brand to my usual pot set variety...and I didn't like it. This recipe was my way of getting rid of the last of the offending yoghurt, which I found weirdly creamy and not very nice at all. Hooray for an empty tub and a new bucket of Jalna on its way.

This pie also had a good lump of goat's cheese included which is one of our very favourite things. When I was buying it I was amused to find that the only variety available had black truffle included, which inflated the price but in the overall pie, made no difference to the taste whatsoever. 

I must confess to adding my eggs to this recipe in the most unusual way. I had five egg whites left over from my ice-cream adventure, and so used these along with four frozen egg yolks from the freezer. I didn't bother to thaw the egg yolks, but instead just blitzed them in the thermomix along with the rest of the ingredients. This explains the orange spots in my pie!

We ate this with an entire bunch of baked kale and some raw red capsicum. Absolutely wonderful. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

362/984 - Rice-paper rolls with chicken filling

We love rice paper rolls in our house and so it is surprising that it has taken me this long to make this recipe. 

Something a lot of people might not realise is that there is more than one type of rice paper. The way to tell the difference is to look on the packet for either the word "deo" which means soft, or "sieu mong" which means very thin. These words indicate rice paper that can be softened quickly and are best for rice paper rolls that will be eaten immediately. All other types (that do not have "deo" or "sieu mong" on the packet) will be more suitable for rolls that are to be pre-made. 

Tonight we used sieu mong rice paper, gobbling up the rolls the minute they were made. 

We didn't mix all of the ingredients together, choosing instead to stack them on the rice paper in the amounts that suited us best. I like mine piled with cucumber and loads of coriander and with a good helping of roasted peanuts. 

We really must eat these more often; such an easy and fabulous meal and everybody rolls their own. Perfect!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

361/984 - Fennel and tomato fish soup

It has become such a habit to pick up The Cook's Companion when I am planning meals that I sometimes wonder how it is going to feel when this challenge is over. Last night's soup was again one of those recipes that I might not have bothered to try if it were not for this challenge....and what a shame that would have been! 

My favourite thing about this dish was the citrus zest. I say citrus and not orange, because the closest thing to an orange I had in the fruit bowl was a tangelo. The recipe called for a strip of zest and I added quite a large piece because I love the tangy flavour so much. Once the soup had been blended it added an incredible freshness that made me pleased I had over-zested!

This recipe was in the fennel chapter, and while I am sure the fennel added to the amazing flavour of this soup, it was interesting to note that it was a bit lost in the overall taste.

Blended to a smooth consistency, and then with the addition of potato cubes and fish, this was a really lovely meal. 

Of course made even better with the addition of wonderful home-made soda bread x

Monday, September 8, 2014

360/984 - Mandy's coconut and caramel slice

Who doesn't love a caramel slice? 

This version was not as sweet as the caramel slices I have eaten in the past and I think there were two reasons for this. Firstly I made this in quite a large pan which meant that it was thinner than usual. Secondly, the base was very different from the standard biscuit base, this one made from a wonderful mix of coconut, nuts, oats and cinnamon. 

This was the second half of my high tea Father's Day spread, a lovely sweet finish to the savoury cheese and onion scones. My eldest polished off five pieces before I could herd him away from the plate and I must confess to sneaking a couple of pieces in quick succession.

I love Stephanie's idea of making this without the caramel, turning the recipe into one for a lovely chocolate covered biscuit. 

Now to figure out how to ignore the rest of the slice which is beckoning me from the fridge...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

359/984 - Cheese and onion scones

I decided to prepare a mini high tea for my Dad for Father's Day. On the menu was a caramel slice (post to come!) and a batch of cheese and onion scones. 

While Stephanie recommends the adding of cheese to the scone mixture, I decided to also add onion and cayenne pepper to spice things up a little. I minced half an onion finely to ensure an even spread of taste, and added the cayenne in and on top of the scones.

Although the recipe instructed the use of an appliance to mix the flour and butter, it is something I like to do by hand because it reminds me of when I was small, watching my mum do the same thing.

I wrapped the scones in a tea towel as soon as they were cooked and they were still warm when we got to my Dad's. They were lovely, but due to my fear of over cooking them, I accidentally undercooked the ones in the middle; a problem which was easily rectified by quick thinking and my Dad's George Foreman grill.

The empty plate at the end of our Father's Day visit was a good sign of success...

Thursday, September 4, 2014

358/984 - Potato flatbreads

With two friends coming over for dinner, I decided to make Stephanie's tried and true lasagne and these potato flatbreads to serve alongside. 

Given the small amount of potato in the mixture, I was interested to see if they tasted any different to other versions of flatbreads I have made. 

I decided to add an olive oil/rosemary/sea salt topping and threw them in the oven hoping for the best. Straight out of the oven, I was delighted to note that there was a slight hint of potato chip in the flavour. As they cooled, the main difference I noted was the slight crispiness to the shell of the breads which I assume was from the starch in the potato. Such an interesting texture, and not at all chewy.

I really liked these, however the long proving time means that although I will make them again, they will not be my first choice for a last minute addition to a meal. 

A big puffy bowl of proving dough.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

357/984 - Sabee Sabee Kumala

This was such an interesting dish, and definitely one for lovers of sweet potato. The only challenging element was getting used to the taste of banana in a savoury dish!

We went shopping twice looking for green bananas, which seem to be available in abundance when not required, but the best we could come up with were ones that had just a hint of green about them. To be honest once I got over the surprise of the banana taste, I really liked their slightly tangy flavour, which was a lovely contrast to the sweet potato and pumpkin. The onion imparted a wonderful flavour to the coconut milk through the gentle cooking stage which I think rounded the dish out nicely.

The family were not huge fans of this one and so I happily devoured the leftovers in a couple of separate sittings. I love my funny little family; they will devour tongue, trotters, liver and brains but baulk at the addition of a couple of bananas to their evening meal. 

Go figure.

Monday, September 1, 2014

356/984 - Mushroom confit

I feel the need to come clean up front regarding this recipe. I did not seal and store this confit for two months before eating it, but rather cooked and ate it on the same day. In my defence, the result was still incredible; I can only imagine how fabulous this would be after two months of storage. 

A main ingredient of this recipe, dried porcini mushrooms, are one of my favourite things at the moment. I love their fabulously intense flavour and the way they add a special something to egg, meat and vegetable dishes.

This recipe started with the roasting of a head of garlic, which made my house smell amazing! We buy our garlic from Angelica Organic and it not only tastes fabulous, but it lasts for the longest time. The garlic is then baked in oil with mushrooms, rehydrated porcini and some lovely fresh herbs.

Finished on the stove top with sherry vinegar, the result is an intensely flavoured mixture, that once minced, made a fabulous topper for steak and a wonderful breakfast on toast the next morning.

A wonderful topping for steak
Lovely roasted garlic