Friday, July 13, 2012

It's been a long time between drinks!

It's hard to know where the time goes, seems not that long ago I was blogging at a break neck speed, then life got busy I guess.  Since my last blog I have been lucky enough to spend some time overseas in France, England and visit Croatia for the first time.  I have still been cooking a great deal and now give cooking lessons which I really enjoy, I think I must be a frustrated home economics teachers!  I recently held a hands on pasta making lesson with a couple of easy sauces.  The day was a hoot and the people were keen students who got over their fear of the dreaded pasta machine.

Introducing people to new cuisines and culture is also something I have been pursuing inasmuch that now I actually take people on tours around different suburbs known for their diversity in food.  It's a wonderful experience when people enjoy something new, such was the case for a couple of people who tasted yum cha for the first time.

As well as introducing new cuisines I have started hosting dinners celebrating a different cuisine each time and in some cases perfect strangers attend and leave as friends looking forward to the next one.   Eating around a table is a great tool to bring people together, perhaps all countries in political strife at the moment should try it.

I hope you enjoy the pictures and look forward to doing some serious food blogging in the next week or so, I have made a number of different things all with pictures, just have to get my act together.

Happy cooking

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fond memories

I was listening to Rick Stein on the radio today and was interested to hear how he had been responsible in  instilling a desire to visit France for so many people after his series A French Odyssey.  For me also this series  prompted  us to venture to rural France, tasting tasting wonderful food while we cycled the Canal du Midi. He actually barged the canals which is an experience I look forward to doing one day also.  

The canal systems around France are amazing, the engineering involved, given these were all dug without the benefit of machinery, blows you away. 

Dotted along the canal are many small eateries providing local produce, duck cooked in a variety of ways spoils you for choice.  I was glad we were cycling, at least it burnt off a few of the calories.  There are very few hills so cycling is relatively easy, which is a great thing!   Every so often you will see a supply barge, which services the multitude of barges and noddy boats on the waterways.  The English, Germans and Dutch are keen on barging, some traveling down from Holland.  Holland apparently build fabulous barges and are keenly sought after.  It was astounding the amount of people, all nationalities actually living on the canal, their decks dotted with potted colour, bbq's of all shapes and sizes and various flags flying from the stern.  I look forward one day to flying an Australian flag and taking a very slow sail down one of the many canals, stopping as often as possible and trying new and delicious food, making new friends and soaking up all life has to offer.  Hope you enjoyed some of my memories.  Next blog, back to me actually cooking something and not waffling on!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Roasted pumpkin soup

   It' good to see my daughters on the ball adding a post here and there while I have been out of sorts, and her pizza looked great, less is always more with pizza, nothing worse than so many fillings on top it just ends up looking like a mess and the flavours just start to bind together, not allowing any one great ingredient to shine!


Yep, a picture of a pumpkin which I bought on special for 67cents a kilo, pretty good I thought.  I try to put recipes up here that are for the most part quick and easy, and this ticks those boxes.  First thing put your pumpkin in a baking dish and roast on 160 degrees until you can easily insert a skewer through it. Remove and cool slightly.  Gently fry three finely sliced onions, 3 cloves garlic, a good tsp of very finely chopped rosemary, until just beginning to brown.   Remove skin and seeds from pumpkin and all the flesh to the onion mixture, season well, add 2 litres of chicken or veg stock (unsalted) simmer over a low heat for about 30 mins, place in a blender and whiz till you are happy with the consistency.  Voila, I don't even put cream or milk in it, because using the whole pumpkin roasted gives it a lovely creamy texture, this way you can freeze what you don't use.  Throw and handful of finely chopped parsley over the top, and serve with some crunchy bread.Another tip is, fancy it a bit on the spicy side, add a tsp or two (taste after one) of red curry paste (I use Mai Ploy) garnish it with coriander instead of parsley and add a dash of coconut cream to the finish, instead of bread use roti to dip.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pizza Time

Hi Mum! I made these pizza's for a quick friday night dinner, they were delicious.

I made the dough when I got home from work it was a simple one which I found online to match the ingredients I had in the cupboard! No fancy flour here! I let it rest for just over an hour while I had a shower and glass of wine.

I made a quick Napoli. Fried 2 cloves of garlic added a tin of diced tomatoes, about a tablespoon of chopped oregano and salt and pepper, this simmered until I had a reasonably thick sauce.

I made a pizza bianca with taleggio cheese, pancetta and potatoes with onion and rosemary. For the potato I browned one onion before adding thin slices of potato, salt and rosemary. The other pizza was a simple Margherita topped with fresh prosciutto and basil.

Roast pork with apple cider & caramalised onions

This is an easy dish, a little time consuming because of the potatoes, but well worth the effort, as I have yet to meet anyone who doesn't like them!

I used a loin of pork, seared it in some olive oil and small amount of butter on all sides, I than added 3 small brown onions, thinly sliced, salt, pepper, garlic cloves (4) and about 1 1/2 cups apple cider, then popped into the oven on 160 degrees for about 1 hour, removing the meat wrapping in foil and allowing to rest, well as it was very tired :)

By this stage the onions have broken down, so it's simply a matter of reducing some of the liquid, thus browning and thickening the remaining sauce, tasting for seasoning and waiting until you are ready to put it all together on the plate.                                                                                                                                                                       

The potatoes need to be sliced thinly to ensure even cooking, I normally allocate 2 potatoes per person, be generous with these spuds, your guests will love you for it. Grease an oven proof dish and lay about two layers of potatoes down, season very well, drizzle with cream and complete layering in this order till all potatoes are used.  Apply another cream layer on top, ensuring you cover the whole area, remember to season between each layer.  Cover with baking paper, then foil and bake in a 160 oven for 2 1/2 hours, then turn it up to 190 for last 30min to brown on top.  This dish needs slow long cooking, nothing worse than undercooked spuds

After your sauce has reduced you will notice that the colour, texture and consistency has changed to form a really nice gravy, no flour, no mess and all in the one pan, you have to love that.

When cooked your potatoes should look as these do beautifully browned on top and soft and creamy on the inside.  If you really wanted to go overboard you could add some swiss cheese in between the layers. this also tastes sensational.   I served this meal with some steamed greens, and followed it with a stick date pudding, my guests told me they would roll home after dinner, but all looked forward to doing it again.  Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

Happy cooking!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Boned & stuffed chicken

I must admit this was a bit fiddly, but the end result was worth it.  I boned out a size 16 chicken and removed the skin (in one piece).  I made up a stuffing by gently frying 2 finely diced small brown spanish onions, 4 rashers bacon, 3 cloves garlic, 125gram chopped pistachios and adding this to 1kg of minced chicken (from the thigh) one egg, 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs, a good handful of finely chopped flat leaf parsley, salt & pepper, combining the mixture well.  I then placed this mixture on top of my boned chicken, spreading it liberally and putting it in any gaps.  I then rolled the chicken up as firmly as I could and then rolled it back into the skin, placing a few sage leaves along one side, in between the skin & meat. (Place the bird on some kitchen paper, it makes it easier to roll) I then secured it by tying it firmly with kitchen string, it will look like a very large sausage by the time you are finished.  Next I seared the bird well in some olive oil on all sides till very brown and pretty.  Next into the oven for around one and a half hours.  After you remove the chicken you will see a great deal of juice left in the pan, a small squeeze of lemon juice is all I found that was needed to pour over the bird.  I served it with roast potatoes and greens.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce

There are countless recipes for this dessert and while I like mine dense and very pudding like, there are those that prefer a lighter more cake like texture.  This is my version. Place 125 grams chopped dates in a saucepan and just cover with water, bring to slow boil, simmer for about 8 minutes, cool slightly and add 1tsp bicarb soda, it will fizz madly for 30 seconds or so, this lightens the mixture. Cream 120grams butter with 1 cup brown sugar until light and creamy, add two eggs one at a time, beat well after each addition. Add half a tsp of good vanilla. To this add 1 cup sifted sr flour, mix through then add date mixture, it will be of a sloppy consistency.  Pour into greased lined baking dish and cook for about 1 hour, then test with skewer.  Given the amount of date to flour ratio in this pudding, it will collapse down to a flat finish, I did say it was dense.  Now for the sauce, and you need to be generous 250 ml cream, 100 grms butter, 2/3 cup brown sugar, all in together and gently heat in a heavy based saucepan.  The thing about this dessert, if it wasn't for the sauce, which is delicious it really isn't that calorie loaded, well that's my story anyway.  There you have it, slice pour over the sauce add some more cream if you dare or ice cream.  If you do like it a little more on the cake side, add an extra 1/2 cup of sr flour.  This pudding freezes well, so double the recipe make two and when you have guests whip it out of the freezer and make up some sauce, or if you are calorie counting just use low fat ice cream, yeah as if that's going to happen :) Happy cooking.