Wednesday, February 25, 2015

423/1038 - White bean purée

I have some friends coming for dinner on Sunday night and have been fiddling around with menu options for the last few days. One of my guests is loosely following the Wahls protocol, and so is currently avoiding gluten, dairy and sugar. 

Determined to include her in the bread eating, I am testing out some gluten free bread recipes to find one that tastes lovely and is also healthy. This was my first attempt which, after an initial surprise at the taste, I have come to quite like. The recipe is Cat Elliott's and is worth a try for anybody who does not tolerate gluten well. 

I am going to have a play with this recipe to aim for a bread that is not quite as sweet. In particular I am keen to try it sans honey and cinnamon and perhaps with some extra buckwheat instead of the coconut flour. I did love the texture of this bread though, which slices very smoothly like cake! The boys are not big fans, and I have been petitioned by the three of them to please abstain from including this bread in their lunchboxes in future. Message received. 

My new topping of choice is white bean purée, which is full of flavour thanks to the garlic and rosemary. It is wonderful spread thickly and topped with pepper and olive oil. I also served this with dinner the other night; in an artful smudge underneath a pork and apple sausage. Another great combination. 

Don't mind me...I am off to bake some more bread! Wish me luck x

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

422/1038 - Pumpkin, silverbeet and fetta salad with quinoa and nutmeg

I am always on the lookout for great quinoa recipes and this one is a cracker!

Of course anything with roast pumpkin in it is likely to be very good, but the complementing flavours in this recipe take it to another, wonderfully fabulous, level.

We ate this salad with amazing pork and apple sausages which I am hoping to replicate in my own kitchen very soon. Apple in sausage may sound weird but it was surprisingly fabulous. Perhaps a good one for kids as I found the aftertaste to be rather sweet. 

There was a heap of fresh ginger in the dressing, which I decided to chop finely rather than grate. I buy the most beautiful organic ginger and I am always keen not to waste a scrap. The lemon juice with the ginger and honey was a lovely combination and of course the addition of my best olive oil did not hurt.

Yet another good reason to upgrade to the third edition! x

Sunday, February 22, 2015

421/1038 - Béchamel sauce

Of course I have made béchamel a million times and so tonight, given that I was to blog the result, I thought I would incorporate it into a brand new recipe, only created today.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being introduced to the concept of making cannelloni with mortadella rather than pasta. Building on this concept, tonight I decided to make gluten free lasagne, replacing the pasta sheets with slices of  with ham. 

To bind my ingredients, I decided to include some cottage cheese into the mix. It tasted great, but unfortunately created a good deal of fluid in the dish as the lasagne cooked. This would not have been a problem had I taken the lasagne from the oven gently. I am often one to dash about my kitchen and tonight was no exception. Unfortunately as I whisked dinner from the oven, a good deal of the bubbling fluid ended up on me. Not too much harm done, but sadly I believe my hip will be attached to one icepack or another for at least the remainder of the evening. 

Injury aside, dinner was absolutely fabulous and I am now completely sold on the idea of replacing pasta with meat for a gluten free dinner. Of course, tonight's lesson has taught me that I will use ricotta rather than cottage cheese in future!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

420/1038 - Saffron and onion roast lamb

We do love a good roast lamb and this one was a beauty! 

I used a boned leg instead of fillets for this recipe and so the cooking time was an hour rather than fifteen minutes which was actually fabulous because it gave me the opportunity to bake some potatoes and beetroot alongside. 

Instead of rice, I decided to pair our roast with a little pile of quinoa, which we flavoured with the juices from the roasting pan. 

There was a quick call to my Mum on the morning of this meal, checking if she had some spare sumac. Of course she did and there was a special sumac delivery at my house only hours after the call. What service! 

There were plenty of leftovers which I used in a stir-fry with fresh noodles the following night. Sounds like a strange match but it worked well. Particularly with loads of leftover parsley and sumac included. 

Yum x

Monday, February 16, 2015

418&419/1038 - Zucchini chips with beer batter

I made these little chips to go with a roast lamb for dinner tonight. Most nights I insist on having greens on the plate at dinner time but these are not exactly the healthy option I usually have in mind!  

When I was young there was a GIO commercial that saw a lady deep frying chips. She was called away to the telephone and while she was gone, the chips caught fire and burned down the kitchen. My sister and I used to be highly amused that instead of "Oh my goodness, the kitchen!", she came in and said, "Oh my goodness, the chips!". Forgive me, I was eleven at the time and clearly very easily amused.

The reason I bring up the commercial is that I was almost in this situation today, walking out of the kitchen and getting caught up reading an article, completely forgetting that I had put the oil on to heat. When I finally remembered and rushed back in, the temperature reading was off the scale and I had to remove the pot from the heat to bring it back down in the vicinity of 175°C. 

Unfortunately I brought the heat down too much and then threw too many zucchini pieces in the pot, so that I ended up with chips that were not quite as crunchy as I would have liked. The second and third batches, on the other hand, were wonderful and crunchy and well loved by all. I added sumac and cumin to the mix but to be honest I couldn't really taste either in the final product. 

Of course it would have been wrong to tip the rest of the Stella Artois down the sink and so a sneaky beer in the evening was my little cooking bonus tonight x

Friday, February 13, 2015

417/1038 - Warm salad of seared kangaroo

It was a hot day in Melbourne today and so caramelising onions was not at the top of the list of things I wanted to do! But I had been promising this salad to the family for some time now, and so I bit the bullet, cranked up the cooling and got cooking. 

Kangaroo is considered a healthy meat choice, being high in protein and low in fat. Eating kangaroo is also considered to be good for the environment as the kangaroos killed are wild rather than farmed, therefore reducing the need for specifically set aside farmed land. In addition, kangaroos are low emitters of methane, a gas particularly damaging to the environment due to its contribution to the degradation of the ozone layer. 

These are all very valid reasons to eat kangaroo, but of course we also eat it because it's fabulous! My family are quite partial to meats with wonderfully strong flavours and kangaroo certainly does not disappoint on this front. 

This was a very quick dish to put together, if you don't count the caramelising of the onions. I will admit that I did not peel my tomatoes, figuring that all of that extra effort would not amount to enough difference in taste for me to consider it worth my while. Lazy, I know. 

Complete with perfectly cooked kangaroo (hooray!) and a gorgeous red wine sauce, we absolutely loved this salad. This recipe is in all three versions of the Cook's Companion which means everybody (well half a million Australians anyway) can join in the fun. 

I promise it will be worth your while x

Thursday, February 12, 2015

416/1038 - Chicken liver pâté

Lying in bed the other night it suddenly struck me that we had used the last of the bread and I hadn't made a fresh loaf for lunches the following day. I decided that the only solution was to set my alarm to go off earlier than usual and to make a soda bread in the morning. I did some quick calculations and decided that I could get the bread to cool by the time the kids had to leave for school. 

Later in the day I was thrilled I had made this fresh bread as my lovely pâté was finished and crying out for something to be spread on, The idea for making this pâté was sparked by a trip to my Mum's place on the weekend. Her partner had just made his own batch, and asked if I wanted his leftover livers, given that the butcher had snuck an extra half kilo into his bag. Don't you just love it when butchers do that?  

Such a quick recipe, the part that took the longest was pushing the mixture through the sieve to catch any sinews that remained. The boys love pâté and my youngest was keen to lick the spoon as I worked. I did double check that he realised it was made with liver and not chocolate and he assured me that he was still very keen to have a taste. A taste which turned into a heaped spoonful! Amazing kid. 

I was positive I had all of the required ingredients for the recipe and was shocked when I couldn't find any brandy in the cupboard. Then I remembered all of the egg nog we made at Christmas time... I spied the Cognac and wondered if it might be a good alternative. Off to Google I went to have a look, where I discovered that Cognac IS brandy! Who knew? Probably most people, but not being much of a spirit drinker, I was thrilled with my discovery. 

Cooking AND learning. Surely that's what this is all about x

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

415/1038 - Oyster soup

With three dozen fresh oysters on hand, Oysters Rockefeller was not all that was on the menu! 

I have always wondered what oyster soup would be like, imagining something very rich, and quite frankly not being terribly inspired to cook it myself. This recipe is certainly rich, but is also quite lovely and with many more ingredients than simply oysters. It is a creamy soup, flavoured with thyme, leek and of course those wonderful oyster juices. 

Of course unopened oysters are required for this recipe, so that the juices might be captured as they are shucked. Although I would not call myself a master of oyster shucking, the job we did was good enough to get us by in this case. Admittedly there was a need to sieve the juices which were filled with quite a few broken bits of shell! 

In order to make the croutons, I baked a seed and walnut bread which I just knew would complement the flavours of the soup beautifully. What a wonderful bread it was too! 

Of course I am pleased that I have finally entered the world of the oyster chapter, which in this challenge was number 104 of 125. It seems quite unbelievable that three and a half years into this challenge there are still 21 chapters into which I have not yet ventured.  

We all loved this soup, including my youngest who has now successfully enjoyed oysters two different ways in the same weekend. A tiny part of me is ever so slightly disappointed that I have yet another person in this house likely to steal oysters off my plate in future, however this is overridden by the special thrill I get whenever I see my children expanding their gastronomic repertoire. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

414/1038 - Oysters rockefeller

Our friends with the wonderful garden came through for us again, offering us the opportunity to purchase freshly caught oysters at a very low price. I immediately put up my hand for three dozen, knowing that I would have no problem putting them to good use. 

It was very exciting to receive our special delivery, and of course the first thing I did was to consult The Cook's Companion to see how they would be best used. We ate a couple with only a squeeze of lemon, but to be honest they were a tiny bit salty for my liking. This of course appeased any guilt I was harbouring with regard to cooking these incredibly fresh little babies. 

This was the first time we had purchased oysters that were yet to be shucked, and I will admit to having to resort to youtube for a quick lesson! It is a tricky little process, and one made much more difficult without the proper equipment (read: oyster knife) on hand. I got quite good at it by the end of the third dozen; gardening glove on for protection and Swiss army knife in hand.

I have cooked oysters many different ways over the years, but rockefeller blew our socks off. Even my little one, not an oyster lover, declared them "delicious" and much to my dismay, unexpectedly ate his entire share of the spoils.

With an amazingly creamy sauce offset by crunchy breadcrumbs, we were temporarily transported to oyster heaven while eating these.

Ever so highly recommended x

Friday, February 6, 2015

413/1038 - Fast pasta sauce with rosemary and meat juices

My youngest has been at me since late last year to buy him a thermos so that he might take the occasional hot lunch to school. I finally came through with the goods and he put in a request for a pasta lunch for the inaugural hot lunch event. 

We had a builder doing some work for us yesterday and so I needed to be on hand for questions and issues. I decided that a day of cooking was in order so that I might be busy but also available. Many racks of pasta later, I settled on this lovely and simple sauce to finish it off. I didn't have any meat juices available and so used reduced chicken stock instead which worked very well. 

Chock full of garlic, this one is definitely going to make an impression on classmates and the unlucky teacher today! My mini foodie also requested that the grated parmesan be packaged seperately, so that he might add it with a flourish. What a cutie. 

With so much buttery goodness, I just loved this dish. Of course my hand cut pasta might have helped the finished product! It definitely made me want to utilise our blooming rosemary bush more often, reminding me just how fabulous it tastes.

Mother of the year award is definitely back on track x

Thursday, February 5, 2015

411&412/1038 - Diana's fudgy chocolate cake with chocolate and honey icing

My eldest had a birthday recently and he requested a chocolate cake for dessert. This cake is a new addition to the book, appearing only in the latest version of The Cook's Companion. Honestly it was so good it is almost worth upgrading just for this recipe! 

On the evening of my son's birthday I was a bit tired and asked him if he would mind if we had the cake the next day instead. Bless his heart, he just looked at me and told me that he didn't mind at all. Feeling slightly relieved (and possibly a little guilty) I turned to my left only to see my husband with an absolute look of horror on his face. "You can't do that!", he exclaimed, mortified that I had even SUGGESTED delaying a birthday cake. 

I had to laugh and of course made it that night as originally promised. I know I must sound like a dreadful mother, but I am just not as into celebrations as the rest of my family. If Christmas and birthdays were to be cancelled, honestly I think I would cope rather well. It would of course take a large amount of therapy to get my family (and probably the rest of the world) on board. 

...So back to the cake. I am always nervous of pouring mixture directly into a cake pan that is designed to split into two and so I lined the gap with baking paper. Once tasting the mixture I knew this cake was going to be something special and couldn't wait for it to come out of the oven. 

The icing was also magnificent, interestingly not tasting much of honey, but it was silky and wildly decadent for a family who generally eat cakes sans icing. I usually find that I have way too much icing but in this instance the amount was just right. 

Being a huge berry fan, my son loved the addition of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries to the plate and a good dollop of cream was also warmly welcomed. 

Yum, yum, yum. Honestly I can not say that enough times! More light than fudgy, and unbelievably good. Another success...and my mother of the year award still intact. 


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

410/1038 - Chicken breasts with sage

If my herb garden is ever doing poorly, I can still feel confident that my hardy little sage plant will be thriving as always. It is a plant that seems to defy the odds, even we have been neglecting our watering duties or leaving the soil untouched for more moons than we can remember. So finding twenty four leaves for this recipe in my little garden was not too hard a task! 

My family adores crispy sage and the addition of this lovely little herb in this dish did not disappoint. I think my favourite element though was the marinade, which was boiled at the end and tipped over the finished dish, imparting a wonderful tang.

Served with brown rice and steamed veg, this was a very simple meal that satisfied on all counts. Looks, smell and most definitely taste.