Wednesday, December 9, 2015

490/1038 - Cauliflower and truffle soup

It has been a crazy couple of weeks in our house and with things finally settling down, I felt the need to cook something soothing and warm.

As much as I would like to say that I headed out and bought a 50g truffle for this recipe, I decided I just couldn't part with the required $125 in order to construct a mid-week meal. In fact I changed quite a few things around as I made this recipe, making do with what I had in the pantry and compensating for those things I simply forgot to stock up on. 

The onions - Generally I would have onions in the pantry, but not today! I decided the caramelised onion we were storing in the fridge would be a wonderful substitute...until I realised we had run out of those too! As a substitute, I used a few scoops of onion marmalade. A bit odd, but it worked.

The truffle - As previously mentioned, I skimped and used truffle oil. I did, however, fish out the piece of truffle from inside the oil bottle, chopped it up and added it to the soup, saving just a little for garnish. We also drizzled some truffle oil into our bowls and it was seriously good. Not as good as fresh truffle of course, but fabulous nonetheless. 

Stock - I used pre-made chicken stock but given that it comes in 1 litre containers, decided to top up with 500ml of water. Half containers of stock NEVER get used in my house and I simply can't bear food waste. 

Potatoes - Whilst I DID have potatoes, I was around 50g short (doesn't anybody go shopping around here?) and so made up the difference with some extra cauliflower. 

Wonderful and easy, we were all thrilled with this soup tonight. 

...and the home-made bread was pretty fabulous too x

Monday, November 23, 2015

489/1038 - Lemon salad based on Marcella's

What you see above is but a portion of this wonderful salad. I thought I would make one small, pretty plate to photograph and then a messier, more thrown together version for our dinner. Once the photograph was taken, I had a small taste...which turned into the entire plate disappearing in record time! 

What an absolutely delicious combination. I had always passed by this unusual salad on my way through the chapter for lemons and limes, wondering what on earth a lemon salad would taste like. The answer is summery, fresh, zingy and absolutely fabulous. 

Even better, I served this for dinner (the remainder that I didn't eat!) with a new dish that I created which consisted of Lebanese couscous cooked in a risotto style, with sliced chicken thighs thrown in for the last ten minutes. The result was sort of like a creamy chicken casserole to which I added an enormous handful of chopped herbs, fresh from the garden.

Mixing this salad through the "casserole" as we ate, we were thrilled with how well one complemented the other. The slight saltiness of the lemons has inspired me to add preserved lemons to my couscous casserole which I will definitely be making again.

Now to try and remember what I put in there x

Monday, November 16, 2015

488/1038 - Bush marrow with dill

With the most incredible array of herbs growing wildly in our garden, it seemed appropriate to showcase one of them in a recipe! 

I adore dill and the plant we have right now is the best we have ever grown. In fact the herb garden is looking so incredibly lush I find myself wandering out into the backyard, coffee in hand, staring at the wonderful green-ness of it all. 

Steaming, rather than boiling the zucchini, seemed an acceptable alternative cooking method for this recipe given that I was actually working with young zucchini rather than tough old bush marrow. 

The only change I made to the sauce was to use Greek yoghurt rather than cream or sour cream. The result was absolutely full of flavour and I do believe the tart notes of the yoghurt offset the creaminess of the sauce beautifully. 

With more zucchini on hand than actually required, it was amazing to see this bowl emptied and wiped clean in record time. 

Another brilliant recipe enjoyed by all x

Friday, November 6, 2015

487/1038 - Haricot beans in cream sauce

I realise my pantry is unusual in that I can easily put my hand to some haricot beans, but don't usually carry basics such as cream or celery. Enter Mum.

There is something special about living so close to your mum that you can ask her over for a coffee and she can turn up within 15 minutes..."and by the way Mum, would you mind bringing half a cup of cream and some celery with you?"

My lovely Mum came through and the haricot beans became a lovely side dish, dressing and sauce for the rest of our meal. 

Being high in fructose (which is far from my friend) I did struggle a bit after dinner but the taste was absolutely worth it. My sensitive little stomach was pleased to discover that we now have only one recipe left in the dried beans chapter; one of thirteen on the brink of completion!

Expect to see many milestones (including the big FIVE-OH-OH) very soon x

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

486/1038 - Mechouia - Tunisian roasted vegetable salad

There are thirty six recipes in the first edition of The Cook's Companion which did not make the cut for the second (or third) versions. This is one of those recipes and it was delicious! The only reason I can think that it might have been cut is its similarity to peperonata, which appears in all three versions. 

This was a bit fiddly to make and so perhaps not for everybody. The peppers were roasted and then peeled, finely diced and mixed together with roasted garlic and tomato. The mixture was then doused in olive oil, lemon juice and scattered with capers, which I chopped finely.

I actually made this to take to a cup day barbecue but was thrilled to have some leftovers all to myself. For lunch today I toasted one of my little bread rolls (I have the knack of being able to flick tiny sized bread out of my toaster!) and ate it with a slice of boiled egg and a good spoonful of mechouia. 

A fabulous combination! x

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

485/1038 - Almond frangipane tart

It was Melbourne Cup day today and we were lucky enough to be invited to a friend's barbecue to celebrate. Knowing we would be served wonderful food and drink, I was keen to contribute to the table and so took along a roasted pepper salad (post to come), a batch of fresh bread rolls and this lovely tart. 

I don't generally have flaked almonds in the house and so used slivered almonds as the tart topping instead. I thought they worked wonderfully, adding a much needed crunch to what is quite a soft tart. 

The proof was, as they say, in the pudding. Nervous to serve an untested recipe to so many people I had not met before, I was so pleased when the feedback came back positive. 

I did manage to sneak a small piece for myself and was pleased to find the pastry slightly crumbly and the filling delicately flavoured, with just a hint of cognac coming through. 

Another lovely tart x 

Friday, October 30, 2015

484/1038 - Sautéed cauliflower

1,569 days into this challenge and I am only just finishing my twelfth chapter out of one hundred and twenty five.

I sometimes worry that I will get to the last leg of this challenge and will be left with a whole pile of recipes with tricky ingredients! This fear stems mainly from the fact that so often I will trawl the book looking for recipes which contain ingredients I already have in the house. How lazy is that? 

The only thing stopping me from cooking this simple little dish sooner was the addition of anchovies, which I haven't had in the house since I whizzed them up with sardines and made some home-made anchovette (which was fabulous by the way!). 

In my last couple of posts I have written about the wonderful haul I carted home from the Asian grocer in Glen Waverley, and one element of that shop was a bag of dried anchovies.They worked very well as a replacement for the marinated kind and also added a little salt kick to the dish. 

As a result of the wonderful flavour in this dish, we ate almost an entire head of cauliflower with our dinner and the boys asked for more - definitely a good sign! 

A little update on chapters finished to date;

          Sweet potatoes
          Asian greens
          ...and now cauliflowers!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

483/1038 - Egg white batter

Breaking my "no deep frying" rule, last night's dinner was fried tofu in egg white batter.  

It's always so interesting to see that my boys are like me and find fried food a bit rich and hard to eat in large quantities. Having said that, we all loved the tofu cooked this way even if we could only manage a couple of pieces each! 

I used Earth Source Foods' firm tofu for this recipe, which held together beautifully and stayed lovely and tender in the centre.

I have quite a bit left over because I fried up two packages of tofu (silly me!) and so am thinking that a lovely fresh salad with tofu pieces tossed through could be on the menu tonight. 

There are forty four "basics" recipes to cook and I have now completed twenty four of them. Back broken! x

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

482/1038 - Tostones and salsa

"What on earth is a tostone?" I hear you ask. 

A tostone is a slice of fried plantain. 

Still none the wiser? A plantain is related to the bananas we are used to, but they are not sweet at all and actually taste more like sweet potato. The fruit is stuck to the peel and requires peeling with a vegetable peeler. Interesting hey?

As usual, I just couldn't bring myself to deep fry this dish and so shallow dried the slices in coconut oil and then baked them for around 10 minutes. When they came out of the oven, they were lovely and soft. The idea was then to cover them in baking paper and flatten them with a mallet, but I found that I could simply squash them flat with the base of a small glass.

I did fry them a second time, but again only in a small in a small amount of oil. The guests were divided regarding this dish, the adults liking them (or perhaps they were just being polite?) and the kids not liking them very much at all. I do think this was largely because they looked like fried slices of banana and the children were expecting a much sweeter taste. 

There was a unanimous positive vote for the salsa, however, which was wonderfully tangy and fresh. I did halve the tostone recipe, but made the full quantity of salsa, which in hindsight was a wonderful decision.

I am not sure if I will make this again, but am glad I have tried tostones and can now speak quite knowledgeably about plantains! 

Monday, October 26, 2015

481/1038 - Avocado mousse

I happened to be out in Glen Waverley last week dropping my youngest to a chess tournament. Needing to pass a bit of time, I headed over to The Glen shopping complex and discovered the most WONDERFUL Asian grocer! 

The amount of time I spent staring at the wonderful array of goods must have had the staff wondering if I was ever going to leave. I came away with two heaving bags and a pledge to return before too long. 

Watercress was one of the things I picked up, which allowed me to finally make this recipe. To be honest I don't know if I allowed my mousse enough time to set completely, but the taste was absolutely wonderful and went well with the baked potatoes we were eating for dinner. With a hint of heat from the Tabasco, this also made a fabulous spread which we ate topped with fresh salsa. 

My haul from the Asian grocer at The Glen

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

480/1038 - Baked custard tart

Custard tarts are a favourite dessert of mine from my childhood, although I never actually ate one that was made at home. A custard tart was always something that was bought from a bakery; all of which were a standard consistency with a wobbly but rather firm filling, which was quite yellow in colour. They were always sprinkled with a good amount of nutmeg.

I finally got around to making this little baby and eagerly awaited my first taste, expecting to be instantly transported to my childhood. At first I was disappointed, the filling being fluffier and lighter than I expected and the taste being less...well...custardy. 

After the second and third bites, however, I realised that this tart was so much better than those I had remembered. The filling did not include any custard powder or flour, therefore keeping it light, fluffy, and tasting more like cream than heavy custard. The crust was absolutely fabulous too, being made from scratch and coated in an egg white wash which made it even crunchier than usual.

Desserts are an interesting prospect in my house. It is, quite surprisingly, a rare thing for all four family members to agree that a dessert is both absolutely wonderful and also one they would like to see making a repeat performance. 

The presentation, and subsequent eating of this tart, was one of those rare times in which we were all on the same page.

10/10 from all family members...and the tart disappeared in two days. 

Dessert win x

Friday, October 16, 2015

479/1038 - Tuscan lentil purée

Hamburgers were on the menu tonight and the thinking was that this lentil purée would be a lovely addition to the burger ensemble - perhaps smeared on the buns? 

Instead of stock I decided to use the water drained from the cooked lentils, with a tiny dash of stock powder. Seemed a shame to waste the lovely lentil flavoured water! I gave the remainder to the chooks mixed with a handful of oats and they thought it was pretty fabulous too. 

Not expecting anything spectacular, I was beside myself with happiness when this purée was made and I realised that IT WAS FANTASTIC! Plans changed quickly and I dumped most of it into the beef mixture, creating my very own tasty beef and lentil burgers. 

Beef and lentil burgers
I always bake my burger patties and must admit I had no idea what would happen to the lentils after a stint in the oven. 

All went well - the patties were moist and wonderful and tasted incredible. With an oozy egg and home-made bun, dinner wasn't the healthiest, but gee it tasted good. 

Beef & lentil burgers with a freshly home-made bun

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

478/1038 - Grilled sardines

I guess it's no accident that sardines and anchovies are listed in the same chapter; most people are either lovers or haters of both of them! 

Being a sardine lover, I was in heaven with tonight's dinner, which was ridiculously easy to make given that my sardines had been filleted for me.

The crispy skins were to die for and had me questioning all other sardine cooking methods; until I remembered that we love those too. They truly are a wonderful, wonderful fish.

Dinner was an eclectic mix of elements which worked beautifully together. They included;

  • Grilled sardines
  • Raw veg - capsicum, tomato, spring onion, cucumber
  • Smoked tofu 
  • Boiled egg
  • Mini bruschetta on home made rolls with garlic, tomato & basil
A bit like me - crazy, but somehow balanced x

Monday, October 12, 2015

477/1038 - Rosie's chicken dinners (but for Albert)

This is a recipe that appeared only in the second version of The Cook's Companion. Given the number of people who avoid cooking for humans, I suspect it is only a niche group who have undertaken this recipe on behalf of their trusty four legged companions. 

At the pet store today for chook pellets, I spied the chicken mince and thought it was high time I treated our beloved greyhound, who subsists largely on uninspiring dry food, to a special meal.

I decided to leave the vegetables chunky as Albert is young and strapping enough to manage a few pieces of cooked carrot in his dinner. Also, I couldn't face the thought of dirtying the Thermomix just to blitz some vegetables for the dog!

The resulting "meal" actually smelled OK, and I had to warn each boy as they arrived home not to stick their fingers in for a taste. 

There it was; the one and only pet food recipe in this challenge done and dusted....and one very happy greyhound x

Albert waiting patiently for his dinner

Friday, October 9, 2015

476/1038 - Coconut tart

This tart is one I have been keen to make for a long time. All of the ingredients generally sit in my pantry or fridge - except cream which is where I come unstuck each time I look to make it. 

Of course I made my own pastry but was a bit worried about doing it in the heat of the day and so had my trusty ice pack on hand to keep my hands and implements cool. I decided to make shortcrust instead of Stephanie's sweet version because it is much easier to handle, and I was already concerned about the consistency with the temperature of the day already topping 30°C. To compensate, I added a good sprinkle of icing sugar to the pastry before putting it in the fridge for the first chill.

The tart filling was ridiculously easy to put together (put everything in the Thermomix and press start!) but I did find that I ended up with a bit too much. No matter, I simply poured the extra into a ramekin and cooked it alongside the tart. My little one and I do love to dig our spoons in as soon as something comes out of the oven so we were both very pleased.

The most expensive thing about this tart was the three limes but they were absolutely worth the money, beautifully balancing the sweetness of the coconut.

This was another fabulous dessert which was wonderful with cream, but in hindsight I wish I had also saved some of the lemon zest to sprinkle over the top.

...and yes, the pastry was fabulous too x

Making pastry on a hot day requires an ice pack to keep things cool!

Monday, September 28, 2015

475/1038 - Daikon and beancurd snack (...but with radish)

My husband and I have been together since we were quite young. When we met he was quite the devoted carnivore; dinner just wasn't dinner unless there was meat on the plate. Occasionally I would dish up a vegetarian meal, only to catch him an hour or two later frying up a steak for dessert.

After almost twenty one years together, I am pleased to be able to say that he still manages to surprise me. I put together this little tofu snack and was blown away by just how much he loved it. He wasn't wrong; it was absolutely fabulous, but I just couldn't believe he was that excited about tofu!

I used silken tofu generously provided by Earth Source Foods and was thrilled to find it wonderfully smooth and delicately flavoured. I am never a fan of having to store leftover tofu and so used the entire tub (300g) rather than the 250g listed in the recipe. 

Not being able to source a fresh daikon, I decided to use little red radishes instead, which we all agreed provided a wonderfully gentle bite and also a beautiful pink hue to the dish. 

With roasted nori, ginger, soy sauce and spring onions scattered all over, this was a wonderful snack and an even more fabulous addition to our main meal of steamed rainbow trout. 

...completely meat free and still fabulous x

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

474/1038 - Cabbage stuffed with pork, liver and capers

I am so lucky to have a family who will eat anything I throw at them. 

Last night's dinner was an interesting affair, with many cabbage leaves being stuffed with a pork and liver mixture and then cooked in stock. 

I don't mind eating livers but I will admit I really don't like the cleaning process. With stomach churning, I got through the trimming and chopping of all eight of them but was very relieved when it was all over. 

Interestingly, this dinner was lovely with a splash of soy, not something I would have expected, but it worked all the same. 

We have leftovers and so tonight we will eat these as soup, chopped up and served in the stock in which they were cooked. Perhaps with some rice if I could be bothered. 

Only time will tell.

Monday, September 21, 2015

473/1038 - Giant zucchini cake

I once made chocolate mousse with avocado.

It was an event which changed the course of cooking in my kitchen and prompted an ongoing assassination of my character which continues to this day. Every time I mention a new dessert I will be making, I invariably hear a little voice asking, "You're not putting avocado in it are you?". 

In my defence, the mousse was a healthy alternative to a regular chocolate mousse. While it was not as sweet as the regular version, I thought it was lovely - which was fortunate because the boys in my house refused to eat more than their initial spoonful.

Imagine the ribbing that ensued when I told the boys I was making a cake with zucchini. They were wholly unconvinced that a cake with so much green inside could possibly taste good, and made it quite clear that they did not support the making of this cake.

Minds were changed and much cake was consumed once this lovely thing came out of the oven. Sweet and moist, this one was another crowd favourite and was just as lovely with cream as it was with a dollop of greek yoghurt.

I loved the addition of walnuts and yes, ate way too many pieces.

Oh well, life is short xx

Friday, September 11, 2015

472/1038 - Crêpes

Last night I decided to do something a little different. We love a good bolognese in this house and I thought I might whip one up and pair it with some crêpes for a bit of a treat. Amusingly I got the idea from a meal I had at The Pancake Parlour circa 1990! 

I do enjoy playing with the ingredients and making my bolognese taste just a little different each time. As a result of my many bolognese experiments, I have come to the following conclusions;

   a) chorizo has a more interesting flavour than bacon
   b) you can hide any vegetables you like in there and diners would be none the wiser
   c) bolognese is versatile (think pies, pasta, lasagne, crêpes, timpana etc.)
   d) the flavour can be corrected no matter how badly you mess it up
   e) when you need to correct the flavour, sauces are your friend
   f) slow cooking is best for a more complex flavour
   g) bolognese always, always tastes better the next day

I outdid myself and made a fabulous version last night, loaded with chorizo and heated slightly with two chilli sauces from the Darwin Chilli Co; sweet chilli and barbecue. For the benefit of our health I also added a heap of sliced brussels sprouts and mushrooms. 

The crêpes were a lovely addition to our meal, but it took me a while to get them to cook correctly! For someone who has made more batches of pancakes and pikelets than I can count, this surprised me greatly. This was, of course, until I realised I was cooking on the electric burner which had been on for hours and was already raging hot. Once I cooled things down, we were away! No harm done, I had two boys happy gobbling up mangled crêpes as fast as I could cook them.  

As well as tasting great, the bonus of the night for me was seeing the surprised expressions on the boys' faces when I announced we would be having crêpes for dinner. Granted we were not having them with maple syrup and ice-cream, but they were thrilled just the same.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

471/1038 - Sweet ricotta fritters (baked, not fried...)

With a kilo of ricotta to hand I decided to double this recipe, knowing my boys would be happy to devour the same dessert for a few days running if required. Once the batter was mixed and I realised just how much of it I had, I just couldn't bring myself to head down the deep frying path.

While I do try my very best to stay true to Cook's Companion recipes, I have been known to bake rather than fry recipes on a number of occasions in the name of health.

This was one of those occasions.

I poured the mixture into ramekins, muffin tins and mini muffin tins and baked them at 180°C, removing each tray when the "fritters" were firm, puffy and brown.

When I first mentioned that I would be making these, my eldest was disgusted, calling me crazy for wanting to put cheese into a dessert. Once I reminded him that cheesecake was one of his favourite things, his revulsion quickly subsided. 

These fritters actually did taste a bit like very dense, baked cheesecakes and I am pleased to report that they are disappearing at a rapid rate. My extended family, the recipients of a little fritter care package, also gave these a big thumbs up.

Monday, August 31, 2015

470/1038 - Buckwheat and currant bread rolls

After a brief hiatus from my regular bread making activities, I decided I would return with a bang and bake a batch that was a little different. 

I loved that I made this recipe entirely in the thermomix, reducing time, mess and energy. First the buckwheat went in to be ground to a flour and then in went the rest of the ingredients. Kneading was completed with the push of a button after which I left the dough in the bowl to rest for an hour. 

Once the hour of resting was up, it was another button push for the final knead and then a bit of manual labour as I split the dough into sixteen balls. I will confess that I weighed my dough and divided the total weight by sixteen so that as I rolled each ball I knew it would be the correct size. It may seem pedantic, but when it comes to baking, attention to detail can be the difference between sixteen evenly baked rolls and a pile of uneven rolls, some of which are too big and undercooked and the remainder too small and burnt through.  

The rolls were painted with coffee before the final prove and I was fascinated to see how this would affect the final taste. As it turned out, the flavour was lovely and subtle and not at all coffee flavoured. The paint job also helped the rolls to emerge from the oven beautifully brown. 

As I write this, I am aware that five of the sixteen rolls have already disappeared, so I am going to call that a convincing win! x

Thursday, August 27, 2015

469/1038 - Friands

Having been a parent for many years now, I am a firm believer in the effectiveness of role modelling the behaviour we want to see in our children, rather than lecturing to them. While I certainly don't want my children to be carbon copies of me, I will confess to being secretly thrilled every time my youngest seeks to use food as a way to make others happy. He could have picked up worse traits from me! 

It was his teacher's birthday last week and my gorgeous boy came straight home  asking what he could take to school to help him celebrate. I have been a bit slow off the mark and even though it's a week late, I think his teacher will be pleased with what I have turned out. A big fan of almond meal, I absolutely LOVE friands and this batch definitely did not disappoint.

Using both regular and mini muffin tins, I made an assortment of blueberry, raspberry and blackberry friands. Just to be sure they were wonderful, I have tested (read: inhaled) a few already and am incredibly pleased to report that they are crunchy on the outside and wonderfully sweet all the way through. 

I think it might be time to go and work off today's calorie intake now....

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

468/1038 - Aïoli

With a hideous head cold going around, I felt it was time to bring out the garlic big guns.

Aïoli is such a wonderful way to eat garlic because of course raw garlic is best when trying to kick a cold. As I was testing the flavour of my concoction, I inadvertently discovered a way to completely unhinge my husband. I took him over a spoonful to taste, thinking he knew what I was making. It turns out he had no idea and simply going on looks alone, thought I was giving him a taste of sweet lemon curd. Needless to say, his reaction was not a good one! 

Tasting mishap aside, the aïoli was a wonderful addition to our dinner of baked snapper, boiled eggs, rice and pumpkin. It tasted amazing but definitely left a strong taste in the mouth. 

A simple little recipe, but one that should definitely be made x  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

467/1038 - Spicy fried pork balls (well, baked actually...)

The flavour of these pork balls was AMAZING and I can only imagine how wonderful they would have tasted had I fried them as the recipe instructed. As it was, I decided I would bake them instead, mainly with our health in mind given how badly we were struck down with colds this week. 

The baked balls were fabulous, but a tiny bit dry in the middle and so I decided to break them apart and stir fry them in a modest amount of coconut oil with some garlic and a huge pile of vegetables. To further enhance the flavour (and moisture) I covered the whole lot with a good swig of sesame oil.

Served atop a mound of brown rice, this combination was another winner. I especially loved the way the flavour of ginger popped through; strong and tangy enough to excite me, but mild enough to keep my youngest from balking.

Great for cocktail parties and mid-week dinners alike x

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

466/1038 - Parsley and garlic cream sauce

Continuing my recent trend of finishing chapters...this recipe marks the completion of number eleven, parsley. 

I decided that this sauce would be a wonderful topping for pasta and am pleased to report that I was absolutely correct. With the addition of some leftover pumpkin and roast chicken, the entire family agreed that this combination worked wonderfully. My favourite thing about this recipe was the incredibly GREEN taste of the sauce, which was packed with an insane amount of fabulous, fresh parsley. 

I halved the recipe, knowing that one cup of cream was going to be plenty for my little family and didn't relish the idea of finding a mouldy container of leftover sauce in the fridge one week later. The amount was perfect for four and now we are crossing our fingers that the garlic helps us get over the nasty cold that has gripped our house in the past 24 hours. 

Here's hoping! x

Monday, August 10, 2015

465/1038 - Carrot and nutmeg tart

This little recipe sees my 10th chapter done and dusted!

Contrary to what this picture suggests, I made a full sized carrot and nutmeg tart rather than individual serves. This little portion was created especially for my youngest who is a lover of both pastry and beautiful plates of food. It turned me into mother of the day and also used up the little bit of pastry I had left over after lining my tart tin. 

We all adored this dessert, particularly the strong nutmeg flavour which is possibly one of my family's favourite tastes. We ate it with cream and caramel, honey and macadamia ice-cream (which I didn't make). Wonderful combination. 

So that was the carrot chapter! Eight recipes full of carroty goodness. 

It finally feels like this challenge is getting somewhere; 10 chapters down, 115 to go.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

464/1038 - Papillote of fish with lemon myrtle

With some lovely dried lemon myrtle to hand, I thought it high time I entered the world (well, chapter) of bush foods. This recipe required fresh lemon myrtle leaves but I made the dried version work!

The fish we landed on was a lovely blue grenadier and I honestly couldn't believe how wonderful it tasted cooked in this way. One of the best parts of cooking this was that I finally had use for the circles printed on the pastry mat bought for me by my ever-thoughtful husband. (Honestly I NEVER would have thought to buy a pastry mat, but it is SO handy for pastry and pasta making!)

Once my little paper butterflies were cut, it was time to pile some goodness on the fish. I went easy on the lemon myrtle (because it was dried) and hard on the butter and chilli. 

I slightly altered the amounts in each package (fish, chilli etc.) and so decided to label them for easy identification at meal time, which was actually a lot of fun! 

Big, big winner with the entire family. The most difficult thing was cutting out the paper butterflies. Once that was done, this was so easy I am adding it to my list of dinner party entrees. Simply wonderful x  

Monday, August 3, 2015

463/1038 - Cantonese-style sweetcorn and crab meat soup

Warning: This soup comes with very big pros and cons! (Spoiler - the cons are worth it...)

Crab and corn soup seemed like a very simple Sunday night meal, and indeed it was. As evening approached I set out my ingredients and got ready to cook, completely oblivious to the mess that was to come. 

The first step in the recipe was to grate five cobs of corn. Seemed simple enough. Except that the corn I used was ridiculously juicy and I ended up covered in it! With yellow speckled glasses, hair and clothes, I realised too late that I should have cut the kernels from the cobs and thrown them in my trusty Thermomix. No matter, I promise you the mess was worth it. 

This soup is dead simple to put together and had the most wonderful taste, with just the right amount of sesame oil, soy and black vinegar to create a flavour that was more complex than expected. The recipe made four exact serves and they had all but disappeared before I had finished photographing my meal. 

So with a new focus on the chapters with only one recipe uncooked, here is another chapter complete. Farewell corn! 

Nine down, one hundred and sixteen to go x  

Friday, July 31, 2015

462/1038 - Parsley chicken breast with verjuice and crème fraîche sauce

Chicken lovers - you must try this dish! 

I was left to my own devices a few nights ago when my boys deserted me to check out the prowess of the wonderful football players of Real Madrid. I was making flatbreads for my sister for her taco night and so kept one for my dinner, topping it with a salted chilli chicken breast and pan-fried vegetables. (Yes it was as good as it sounds!)

With a chicken breast left over, I decided to add it to another 500g pack and whip up this delicious dinner the following night for the family.

This was one of those fabulously tasty dishes that saw the entire family go quiet as they started to eat. The chicken was cooked perfectly and was juicy and amazing. Slightly spiced up by the paprika flavoured flour in which it was coated and enveloped in a pile of parsley, the pièce de résistance was the verjuice and crème fraîche sauce which took the taste of the chicken to somewhere out of this gastronomic world.

Highly, highly recommended x

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

461/1038 - Orange ricotta tart

Ooh I do love discovering a wonderful new dessert!

We were on orange duty for my son's soccer match a couple of weeks ago and unfortunately the game was cancelled due to a sad and soggy ground. Being the diligent parents that we are, we had already purchased said oranges before the cancellation notice came through. This of course meant that we were left with a bag of them to use up, and as well as eating them for snacks and making the odd juice, I thought this tart sounded like a lovely way to finish a meal.

Starting with home-made shortcrust pastry (love my pastry!), the filling for this tart was ridiculously easy to put together. I replaced two thirds of the Grand Marnier with orange juice given that my young'uns were to be enjoying this dessert. Of course I realised I was reducing the intensity of the flavour by doing this but the result was still really lovely, and even better with some orange zest grated over the top. 

As usual, the pastry was the hero, yummy and crumbly. I honestly don't think I could go back to the packet variety! If you were wondering, yes I buy my butter by the kilo x

Friday, July 17, 2015

460/1038 - Grissini

Crunchy and salty - what's not to love?

I made a lovely little soup for dinner the other night, using up a pile of vegetables about to hit their expiry date. These petite and crunchy little breadsticks were a big winner and I was thankful I had doubled the recipe!

Being an almost daily baker, I have thoroughly enjoyed making my way through the bread recipes. I only have three left to cook in a chapter I will definitely be sad to see the back of. 

To be honest I think I will quadruple this recipe next time and keep the leftovers for little lunchbox fillers. Anything to keep hungry boys happy x

Monday, July 13, 2015

459/1038 - Abalone braised with white wine

Abalone braised with white wine = completion of my 8th chapter! Of course there are 125 chapters in total and so mini-milestones are what keep the energy levels high in this challenge. 

To recap, I am now completely finished with;

                    Asian greens
                    Sweet potatoes
Abalone is now officially one of my favourite things and I enjoyed cooking them five different ways. This recipe was particularly simple and had the family crowded around the plate scoffing abalone like you have never seen it scoffed before. 

I have mentioned before how truly devastated we were when our first son acquired a taste for our favourite seafood. I am now incredibly sad to report that our youngest is now an additional little hand grabbing at our favourite things. They said parenthood would be challenging but we definitely did not consider the smaller portions of seafood when we decided to extend our family. Quite devastating really. 

In all seriousness, I was pleased to see the boys enjoying these as much as we did. Definitely a little luxury, but absolutely worth it. 

458/1038 - Confit of abalone

More abalone! 

I thought I would space out the abalone recipes and this one is the second last in the chapter. Cooked in olive oil and an enormous pile of vegetables, herbs and spices, these were buttery, soft and full of flavour. 

It's such a shame abalone are so expensive because my family love them!

The boys have been on holidays for the last couple of weeks and I thought it would be nice to treat them with some spectacular seafood just before they went back to school. To be honest I have been cooking up a storm lately and so they were pretty much spoiled for the entire two weeks. Treacle bread was my absolute favourite new recipe (thanks to the Press Club for sharing), with the abalone coming in a close second. 

So far, so good. Every abalone recipe has been a winner. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

457/1038 - Slow-cooked shallots

Shallots to me are the shining lights of the onion world; so pretty and with such a lovely, gentle flavour. 

Such a simple little recipe, I decided to include it as a part of our dinner party entrée. I also included smoked tomatoes which I have been dying to try since I added a smoking gun to my cache of kitchen toys. Big lovers of anything smoky, we all loved the result and I am now keen to use this little toy more often! Keep an eye out for a smoked chocolate dish coming to the blog soon.

The shallots were supposed to be cooked with a bay leaf and thyme, but sadly when I ventured into the backyard I discovered my three varieties of thyme had all but disappeared from the garden. Devastated, I decided to use rosemary as a substitute, given that our rosemary bush is simply enormous and crying out to be used. 

With twenty shallots in the recipe, we had a number of them left over after the dinner party. Some were eaten as a nice little snack and the rest were included in last night's spaghetti carbonara. 

Another simple little recipe crossed off the list! 457 down, only 581 to go...

Slow cooked shallots served with za'atar baked zucchini,
smoked tomatoes and crispy shallots

Monday, July 6, 2015

456/1038 - Moroccan-inspired chicken

Don't be put off by the extensive list of ingredients! This is a lovely dish with beautiful flavours and is not at all complicated to make.

In order to feed dinner guests and also my family again the following night, I decided to double the recipe. What I hadn't counted on was running out of room in the pan! So doubling turned into "one and a half-ing" some of the ingredients and also splitting the ingredients into a second pan halfway through the cook. 

We had a four year old at the table on the night I served this and so I was feeling a bit guilty about spicing up the couscous. Although it didn't thrill our little guest, I thought it was wonderful! 

Served with freshly made whole meal flatbreads, this was a good hearty meal that we will definitely enjoy again soon.  

Sunday, July 5, 2015

454 & 455/1038 - Simple apple tart with sweet shortcrust pastry

It is very satisfying to knock off two recipes in one dish!

Given that I am now a self-professed master of shortcrust pastry, I decided it was time to tackle the slightly trickier sweet version. Mixing the dough was easy enough, but rolling it out took significantly longer than I am used to!  

Thankfully all of the effort was worth it; the resulting pastry was wonderfully firm and held my apple tart together beautifully. The tart was a lovely mixture of apples and apricot jam, which I decided to leave lumpy, quite liking the idea of a chunky, jammy finish. 

Served with lemon myrtle ice-cream (oh my goodness, yum!!) and rosemary flowers, this little dish was definitely the highlight of our dinner party x