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!