Wednesday, June 28, 2017

572/1038 - Rosemary and lemon panna cotta

I can not BELIEVE it has taken me this long to make panna cotta!

Such a simple recipe but so easy to get wrong. There is nothing worse than a panna cotta which is either flavourless or too firm. Being regular diners at lovely restaurants, sadly we have been on the wrong end of both of these disasters. 

The panna cotta recipe in The Cook's Companion (third version only) is absolutely foolproof and creates a perfectly wobbly dessert that has to be tasted to be believed.

The flavour choice is left completely up to the chef and I opted for lemon and rosemary because I still had some fresh rosemary sitting on my bench after creating rosemary skewers last week.

The reason I decided to make my panna cotta in glasses rather than moulds was due to a complete lack of any sweet oils in the pantry; required to ensure the panna cotta would slip easily from the moulds. If you are thinking coconut oil, forget it. Experience has taught me that this is a wonderful oil to use in cooking but is completely hopeless when used as a non stick agent.

For those seeking to make themselves a panna cotta treat for dessert tonight, this little beauty can be found hiding in the basics chapter.

Yum, yum and yum again x

Sunday, June 25, 2017

571/1038 - Greg's Lebanese pizzas with lamb, pine nuts and pomegranate

A funny thing happened in my kitchen last night...

Preparing to make this recipe, I pulled some lamb from the freezer and lamented the lack of a mincer in my cache of kitchen appliances. My husband gave me one of those looks that said, "For a very smart lady, you can be a bit vague sometimes..." and pulled my KitchenAid mincer attachment from the cupboard. 

Oh joy!!

Yes, little things make me VERY happy. 

This pizza was unbelievably good. Again, I used the grenadine I made earlier in the week in place of pomegranate molasses, adding just a dash of lemon juice to balance the sweetness. The addition of fresh pomegranate seeds and sliced nasturtium leaves was my own little twist on the pizza and they worked wonderfully. Of course, they also helped to make the photo look much prettier!

For those not into pizza, I would still highly recommend this recipe. The lamb mixture could be served with rice or on greens and would also make a great filling for a wrap. The flavour really is outstanding. 

LOVING my pomegranates right now x

Saturday, June 24, 2017

570/1038 - Duck with walnuts and pomegranate

Duck is a very big deal in our house! Barely a month would go by without a duck meal gracing our dining table and yet the appeal never dims. There are those who find duck a dish that is too fatty for the palate. If I am honest, the fat is probably what we like most about it! 

I will admit to changing this dish around a bit, which is probably obvious from the picture. Instead of one cup of stock, I threw in a litre as the recipe stated that the liquid should barely cover the duck and the bird I used was particularly enormous. Also, I opted to use the grenadine I had made instead of pomegranate juice which meant that the liquid in my concoction would have been a little short. 

Once the liquid was strained, the duck on our plates was topped with the most wonderful pomegranate and walnut mixture. The meat was incredibly moist and I am now wondering if we have a contender which just might be more popular than my standard Chinese-style roast duck; a regular in my duck repertoire. 

Of course the most exciting thing about making this dish was giving my brand new copper Mauviel Rondeau a run. This wonderful addition to my kitchen was an absolute extravagance but my husband didn't even blink when I said I wanted it. Honestly, you can keep your high fashion and expensive jewellery, just give me a fabulously decked out kitchen and I am one happy lady. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

569/1038 - Pomegranate syrup - the real grenadine

I have decided that it is pomegranate week here in the challenge household! 

Our lovely fruitmonger at the Queen Vic Market had an explosion of pomegranates when we visited last week and so of course we came home with a small pile. We could have happily eaten them all, but while they are in season it just makes sense to knock off a few pomegranate recipes!

The pomegranate chapter did not appear until the second version of The Cook's Companion and consists of seven lovely recipes. I aim to cook three of those this week however this plan has the potential to be thwarted by my gorgeous fruit bat of a son. It is likely to be a race to see who can get to them first!  

Opening my little red fruit marathon was grenadine. Nice and easy and able to be made in the Thermomix. So very simple! I would share the temperatures and timings I used to create this lovely cordial but I was largely cooking by eye and did not record any details for future use. 

I will share my no-waste tip though! Weirdly, the seeds end up very pale after soaking with the sugar overnight. The colour leeches right out of them and they are left looking quite pale and unappetising. Not to be put off, and supporting my intense loathing of  food waste, I used them in my sparkling water and enjoyed a sweet and crunchy pomegranate drink. 

This morning it was mocktail for breakfast! Orange juice, grenadine and sparkling water made for a lovely and refreshing start to the day x

Monday, June 19, 2017

568/1038 - Grilled spiced beef on rosemary skewers

We had a couple of wonderful gum trees on our property which were stunning to look at and created a soft edge to our home from all viewing directions. Unfortunately they were both planted ridiculously close to our house and between their leaves and roots, were starting to create problems that were only going to get worse over time. 

With heavy hearts, we realised we needed to have them both removed. The removal occurred and as well as having to mourn the loss of two beautiful trees, I had to mourn my beautiful rosemary bush which became collateral damage of the tree felling process. 

Rosemary bushes are hardy and so mine is still hanging on to life. Just. No longer a majestic sight to behold, it now resembles a sad, flat pile of twigs, only half of them still producing anything green. Needless to say, I was pleased to find ten pieces that could be turned into skewers for this lovely little dish. 

I used the tri-tip/bottom sirloin triangle cut of beef for this recipe. Simply blitzing the meat and the various spices in the Thermomix made the making of the flavoured meat paste a breeze. Given that I was uncharacteristically organised on this day, my gently constructed little sausages had a spell in the fridge for a few hours prior to dinner which probably helped them to hold together in neat little bundles. 

Not being much of a barbecuer, my sweet looking little skewers were fried in a pan on the stove top. Served with baby spinach, gently fried mushrooms and mashed potato flavoured with feta, these were another hit with the family.

A wonderful dinner and a timely reminder to myself to reposition our rosemary and get it flourishing again x

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

567/1038 - Jerusalem artichoke proven├žale

I adore Jerusalem artichokes and so was of course pleased when my husband brought home a huge bag of them; yet another gift from one of his lovely clients.

A right pain to peel, 500g saw me standing at the bench for more time than expected last night. The process was not helped by the fact that they were homegrown and so every groove was packed tight with dirt; still tricky to get out even when using two water baths. Given the unexpected delay, I decided to leave the tomatoes unpeeled and thought the result was still fabulous, regardless.

We have decided that this dish would be equally lovely if we were to substitute the hard to find Jerusalem artichokes with either potato or pumpkin. I do believe we will be trying this alternative very soon!

The reason I was keen to hasten our dinner last night was because I have other, much more interesting, things on my mind! The last little while has seen me holiday planning and I am feeling quite proud of myself for finally putting together a trip that will satisfy the needs of all four members of my family.

My family travel well. We enjoy one another's company and are open to new experiences. But, of course, we each look for slightly different things that will ensure a holiday is perceived as being truly special. If I had to summarise; my husband likes to see the popular sights, my eldest is turned on by sports, the little one enjoys connecting with local customs and for me, it is meeting new people. It is a given that we are all excited about the food! 

Our upcoming trip ticks every one of these boxes and even better, will see us catching up with seven very special friends along the way. Half of these friends were acquired on a previous holiday, and were the result of being seated together at a wonderful dinner under the stars. Within minutes of our meeting, I had invited our new friends to come to our home for a dinner party. 

I am not actually an impetuous person, rather I like to think I am simply a good judge of character. My instinct was proven correct; our second meeting was just as wonderful. This is why I am excited that in no time at all, and this time on their side of the world, we will be enjoying our third get together.

...and of course we are excited about the food! x

Friday, June 9, 2017

566/1038 - Beef donburi

This dish is dead simple and very, very tasty! 

The recipe is designed for one person and so I dutifully quadrupled it for my little family. Of course I completely forgot to factor in the teenage "eat your body weight in food" element of the equation and so the boys were rifling through the pantry looking for additional sustenance. 

Personally, I thought the amount was perfect and the flavour was incredible! The only change I made was to replace the mirin (none in the fridge) with a blend of red rice vinegar and plum vinegar. Given that both of these have quite strong flavours, I did reduce the amount by around one third. I also lined the wok with sesame oil before heating the vegetable oil just to add a little hint of one of my very favourite flavours. 

Happy, happy, happy x