Friday, December 29, 2006

Spaghettini with lemon, prosciutto and chilli

Another quick & tasty pasta combination from Bill Granger that Michael cooked up for me – this one’s from Bill’s Food

Spaghettini with lemon, prosciutto and chilli

60ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice
60ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
2 small fresh red chillies, seeded & finely chopped
12 slices prosciutto, cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
250g rocket leaves, shredded
400g good quality dried thin Spaghettini (or any other pasta really!)

Whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, chilli & some salt & pepper in a bowl to blend.

Put the prosciutto, lemon zest and rocket in a bowl & toss to combine.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil & cook pasta to packet directions. Drain & add the prosciutto mix, pour the dressing over & toss to combine.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Raspberry Frangipane Tarts

Raspberries again, today in Frangipane tart form, recipe courtesy of Matthew Moran as featured in an old Delicious edition. The tarts were absolutely scrumptious & apart from the number of steps you need to take, all in all very simple. I have only one complaint with the recipe, it is supposed to make 8 & there was at least half of the pastry left over which is not too much of a problem as I froze it, but then there was also heaps of filling left over too which if I had of known I would have prepared extra shells to start with, as it was I was a bit stuffed by the time I got to that stage & threw the rest out, what a waste! Also take car not to overfill as I did as it all came spilling over the edges & Michael now has a nice mess in the oven to clean out for as in my current state I am not allowed to do much, I am lucky I am still allowed to cook occasionally!

Raspberry Frangipane Tarts

150g Raspberries
Icing sugar, to dust

Shortcrust pastry
90g icing sugar, sifted
2 cups (300g) plain flour
185g chilled unsalted butter
1 extra large egg

180g icing sugar
180g unsalted butter
3 eggs
1 ½ cups (180g) almond meal
1 ½ tablespoons dark rum

Sift the icing sugar onto a cool work surface (or large bowl as I used) & add the plain flour. Chop the chilled butter, then use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour & icing sugar until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Make a deep well in the centre of the dry mixture and add the egg. Gradually bring the dry ingredients into the centre, then combine with your hands to form a smooth ball. (Alternatively, process ingredients in a food processor until well combined). Enclose in plastic wrap & chill for 20 minutes, then divide pastry into 8 portions.

Roll out 1 pastry portion to 2.5mm thick on a lightly floured surface. Lightly flour the rolling pin. Drape over the tart case & press into base & sides, the cut off excess. Repeat with remaining pastry & pans. Chill for 30 minutes.

For the frangipane, cream the butter & sugar until pale & thick (don’t over do or it will rise & collapse in the oven). Add the eggs one at a time, mixing continuously and adding some almond meal between additions. Slowly add the rum to the mixture until all ingredients are combined.

Preheat oven to 180c. Divide the frangipane mixture among the tart cases & smooth top. Press 6 raspberries gently into each tart & bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned & cooked through. Cool in pans for 5-6 minutes, serve warm dusted with icing sugar with left over raspberries & vanilla ice cream

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

My contribution for the family Christmas lunch yesterday was Nigella Lawson’s fabulous Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova from Forever Summer. Raspberries are so Christmassy & around for such a short time that I have been trying to make & eat as much as possible with them for now. This pav is a winner, I’m not normally a Pavlova lover but add the chocolate & raspberries & it is sensational & to prove it there was definitely none left over after the day despite the abundance of desserts on offer.

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

For the Meringue base
6 Egg Whites
300g caster sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder, sieved
1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
50g dark chocolate, finely chopped

For the topping
500ml double cream
500g raspberries
2-3 tablespoons coarsely grated dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 180c & line a baking tray with baking paper.

Beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form, then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff & shiny. Sprinkle over the cocoa & vinegar & the chopped chocolate. Then gently fold everything until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in. Mound onto the baking paper in a fat circle approximately 23cm in diameter, smoothing the sides & top. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the oven down to 150c & cook for about 1 – 1 ¼ hours. When it’s ready it should look crisp around the edges & on the sides & be dry on top, but when you prod the centre you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers. Turn off the oven & open the door slightly & allow to cool completely.

When ready to serve, invert onto a big flat bottomed plate. Whisk the cream until thick but still soft & pile on top, then scatter over the raspberries & the chocolate shavings on top.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Easy Paella

This delicious ‘Paella’ recipe came from a recent delicious magazine, think from memory it is a Bill Granger recipe from his new book. While not traditional Paella by any means, for a quick meal for Michael & I it was easy to knock out & really yum!

Easy Paella

1 tablespoon olive oil
500g chicken breast fillets (pref with skin on), cut into bite sized pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
1 chorizo sausage, chopped
1 cup (200g) basmati rice
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
425g can chopped tomatoes, drained
1 red capsicum, chopped
1 small red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
2 cups (500ml) chicken stock
250g cooked prawns, peeled
425g can cannelloni beans, rinsed, drained
100g baby green beans, topped, blanched & refreshed in cold water
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
Lemon wedges, to serve

Heat the oil in a large, deep frypan over medium heat. Cook the chicken pieces fro 3-4 minutes, turning until golden & cooked through. Remove & set aside to drain on paper towel.

Add the onion and the chorizo to the pan & cook, stirring occasionally for 1-2 minutes until the chorizo begins to crisp. Add the rice & turmeric & cook, stirring for 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes, capsicum, chilli, garlic & stock. Bring to the coil, then reduce heat to medium-low & cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Return the chicken to the pan with the prawns, cannellini beans & green beans. Toss & heat through for 1 minute. Stir in the coriander & serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Butter Cut Out Cookies - Christmas Treats Part 3

Lastly for the Christmas boxes were some iced butter cut out cookies, recipe from Nigella Lawson in both How to be a Domestic Goddess & Feast. To save time I made the dough for these a few days ago & stuck it in the freezer, very good idea because by the end of the gingerbread men & the 60 or so of these I had to cook and ice I was exhausted, nothing was too difficult, it was just a lot to get through. I think they look really cute in my rustic hand made way & make a nice addition to the gift boxes, the tasted nice too. Can’t wait to see if everyone likes their goodies…

Butter Cut Out Biscuits

175g soft unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
400g plain flour, pref Italian 00, plus more if needed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
300g icing sugar, sieved, and food coloring

Biscuit cutters

Preheat oven to 180c. Cream the butter & sugar together until pale & moving towards mousiness, then beat in the eggs and vanilla. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder & salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and eggs, and mix gently but surely. If you think the finished mixture is too sticky to be rolled out, add more flour but do so sparingly as too much will make the dough tough. Halve the dough, form into fat discs, wrap each half in plastic wrap & rest in the fridge for at least an hour. Sprinkle a suitable surface with flour, place a disc of dough on it (not taking out the other half until finished with the first) and sprinkle a little more flour on top of that. Then roll it out to about ½ cm thickness. Cut into shapes, dipping the cutter into flour as you go, and place the biscuits a little apart on baking trays lined with baking paper.

Bake for 8-2 minutes, by which time they will be lightly golden around the edges. Cool on a rack and continue with the rest of the dough. When they’re all fully cooled, you can get on with the icing. Put a couple of tablespoon of just not boiling water into a large bowl, add the icing sugar & mix together, adding more water as needed to form a thick paste. Color as desired. Makes 50-60.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Gingerbread Men - Christmas treats Part 2

The next item for my goodie boxes was gingerbread men, I didn’t have a recipe so kept my eye out & ended up using the recipe from Not Just Desserts. I found the dough very crumbly but don’t worry be patient & they end up holding together & giving a nice crisp cookie, once again though my decorating skills needs some perfecting!

Traditional Gingerbread recipe

350 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda (or baking powder)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
100 grams unsalted butter
175 grams brown sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons golden syrup
Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Line baking trays with baking paper. Sift flour, bicarb and ginger into a large bowl.Rub in butter until mixture resembles breadcrumbs then rub in the sugar. Beat egg and syrup together and stir into flour mixture, mixing lightly to form a smooth dough. Rest in the refridgerator for 30 minutes.
On a floured surface rollout dough to 4-5mm thickness. Cut into shapes and transfer to baking tins. Bake for 12-15 mins or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly on trays. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely then ice.
200 grams of icing sugar
1 egg white
1 tablespoon lemon juice.
Beat the egg white until soft peaks form and gradually beat in the icing sugar followed by the lemon juice. Ice the biscuits and decorate with silver/coloured cashous for buttons.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Mini Chocolate Puddings - Christmas treats Part 1

This year for Christmas I thought for that for the first time I would try & be creative & make some festive treats to pack up in boxes & give out to the family for Christmas. The first thing to go in is these minature chocolate puddings, recipe from the Christmas edition of Donna Hay. This is more of an assembly job than a recipe. Note that I doubled the recipe which is suppsoed to make 30 & only ended up with 42 so I must have made them too big. Also with doubling the chocolate started to harden up a bit towards the end making it a bit messy to roll the balls in. as you can see from the photos I totally got the rustic look happening, my chocolate coating & decorating skills far from perfect. I think they taste great though Michael thinks they're a bit rich, he is not much of a chocolate/sweet lover though. Will have to wait to see what everyone else thinks.

Mini Chocolate Puddings

350g store bought Christmas pudding, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon brandy
200g dark cooking chocolate, melted
1/4 cup cachous, (silver decorating balls)

Place the pudding and brandy in a food processor and process until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Roll teaspoons of the mixture into balls, using a fork dip into the chocolate, place on a baking tray lined with baking paper & decorate with cachous. Allow to set at room temperature for 1 hour.

Lamb Cutlets with Special Basil Sauce

Another quick & easy mid week meal from Jamie's dinners, it doesnt look all that pretty but I guarantee the taste was much better than the looks, the rub complimented the lamb & the basil sauce was yum, I also served it with sweet pototo mash which I think worked very well too.

Best Lamb Cutlets with Special Basil Sauce

12 lamb cutlets
a small handful of fresh thyme leaves, picked
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
400g mushrooms, brushed clean & torn
a small handful of fresh flat leaf parsley
1 lemon
2 handfuls of pine nuts
2 large handfuls of fresh basil
3-5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Slap the cutlets with the heel of your hand to flatten them slightly. Bash up the thyme in a mortar & pestle and add a little olive oil. Mix together, then rub the oil over the cutlets & season both sides with salt & pepper, put aside.

Cook the mushrooms dry on the bars of a hot griddle pan, then put in a large bowl. Once the mushies are done, put the lamb on (either the same pan or on the bbq), cook for about 3-4 minutes each side or done to your liking. When cooked put in the bowl with the mushies & drizzle with a little olive oil. tear over the parsley & add a good squuze of lemon juice. Season lightly & toss around. Place to one side to rest.

Meanwhile make the sauce. In a mortar & pestle poud up the pine nuts until you have a mushy pulp. Remove to a bowl then use the mortar & pestle to bash up the basil. Add to the nuts & loosen with olive oil so that the sauce easily drips off the end of a spoon. Add the vinegar to give it a bit of a zing. Serve with the lamb & either a salad or the sweet potoato mash worked well for me too.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Bar Lourinha - Spanish Tapas in Melbourne

Bar Lourinha is a wonderful newish Spanish/Portuguese style bar tucked away in Little Collins street run by Matt McConnell, ex Berardo's Noosa, Diningroom 211, Hairy Canary. The bar is tiny, with a couple of communal tables and a bar surrounded by tall bar stools to sit & while away the night on. There’s also a little couch area at the frnt area which is where we chose to sat, being preggers I didn’t fancy houts on a ba stool this time! The d├ęcor worked for me, an odd mix of paintings, a lit up reindeer on the wall, and odd bits & pieces, not overly crowded.

The drinks menu had plenty on offer, though sadly I didn’t get to sample any of the promised delights, no cocktails, no apertifs, etc, just a bottle of wine for us to share, which was very nice indeed though I cant remember what it was as the girls did the choosing tonight assisted by our very friendly & knowledgeable waitress. The food menu consists of maybe 15 or so sharing dishes which all sound mouth watering, very hard to choose really. There were 3 of us gilrs eating last night & the dishes we chose were more than enough to satusify our appetities. While choosing our fare we had a plate of cracked grren olives which were very good. Then we started with the yellowtail kingfish "pancetta", salt cured and dressed with lemon oil, fresh thyme and slivers of red onion, a great melt in your mouth dish with the onions & dressing proving just ther ight amount of flavour for the delicate fish slices. Next was a plate of vine grilled sardines over a fennel salad, followed by a great salad of buffalo mozzarella with crispy jamon – how can you go wrong with these two ingedients – it was superb. This was followed by some delicious roasted mushrroms in a creamy garlic sauce.

To finish off with we had the par-cooked, whole smoked chorizo sausage finished over brandy spirit flamed at the table. A couple of minutes on the flames (which sadly my photo hasn’t picked up very well) and our sausage is done & ready to eat, it was fabulous, nice & spicy & love that flame grilled taste & quite a produciton really!

After all of this we still had a little room for dessert of course, there was no way I was missing out on churros. So we shared the churros (long sugar coated Spanish doughnuts which have to be sampled if you have never tasted these delights before), they were served with a caramel type flavoured dipping sauce rather than the usual chocolate I have normally seen, fantastic & I could have had the whole serve to myself. We also tried a dish of pomegranate crema (? Think this is what it was called) with a pistachio praline, again delightful.

All in all this place highly impressed me & is one to keep card handy for.

Bar Lourinha
37 Little Collins Street
03 9663 7890
Mon-Wed, noon-11pm; Thu and Fri, noon-1am; Sat, 4pm-1am

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Char Sui Pork with Asian vegetables

Another quickie tonight – so quick in fact that Michael whipped it up as I was held up on my way home from work (shopping & late trams as usual). After I marinated the pork last night there wasn’t much left to do except for a bit of chopping & grilling. The recipe comes from Ben O’Donoghue and Curtis Stone, Surfing the Menu. The pork is fantastic, juicy & tender from all the marinating & char sui is such a delicious flavour, with the added extra’s it was even better. The veggies were ok however the sauce was a bit too strong for my liking so wont be making them again.

Char Sui Pork with Asian vegetables


200g char sui paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
1 garlic clove, bruised
1cm piece ginger, sliced

2 medium pork fillets


½ head of broccoli
1 zucchini
1 carrot
¼ each of red, yellow & green capsicum
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 Asian shallot, sliced
1 small clove garlic, crushed
¼ teaspoon grated ginger
½ head pak choy, shredded
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Mix all of the marinade ingredients together in a ceramic or glass bowl and add the pork fillets, turning to coat. Cover & refrigerate for 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 180c. Remove the pork from the marinade & seal on both sides in a medium fry pan, 5-6 minutes. Transfer to a roasting dish for 8 minutes in the oven, remove & rest covered with foil for 3-4 minutes.

Cut the broccoli, zucchini, carrot & capsicum into bite sized pieces. Heat oil in wok add the veggies & shallot, garlic, ginger & pak choy. Stir fry for 15-20 seconds. Add soy & oyster sauce & continue to fry until vegges soft, about 20-30 seconds. Stir through sesame oil & serve with the pork carved into 1 cm slices. Drizzle ay juices from the roasting dish over & serve.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Shanghai Ling, East Brunswick - Another great local

I finally got around to trying out Shanghai Ling, one of my local restaurants that I’ve heard many good things about. The place is much like any local Chinese, nothing flash to look at, yet the menu is much more inspiring than just the usual lemon chicken & beef & black bean. They specialise in Shanghai & Si Chuan cuisine & it is recommended that you try the specials rather than sticking to the ordinary menu, do this & you will be highly rewarded.

To start with we had the fried pumpkin cakes, I cant remember what’s in these exactly, though sure as well as pumpkin they contained some sort of sticky rice, any way they sound strange yet absolutely yummy & moorish, we also had the freshly steamed Shanghai-style pork dumplings served with a soy dipping sauce, very fresh & delicate & as you can from the photos the serves were very generous especially considering the price (think about $4.00 & $7.00 respectively). Next we had some Red Hot Chilli Beef which wasn’t red hot at all so the name was a bit deceiving, though the taste was very fresh, the beef melted in your mouth which is a nice change to what I usually seem to get in these type of dishes, that is very chewy meat. Alongside this we had the sweet & sour barramundi fillets in a tomato & pine nut sauce, a huge serving & the fish & batter was nice & light & cooked to perfection, the sauce nice & tangy with out the sickly sweetness you would expect form a dish like this. Unfortunately this is all we could fit in tonight but cant wait to go back & try out some more of there specials. Oh and a tip for you, they do take away but the take away menu is printed with only the standard dishes so would suggest you really try eating in.

Shanghai Ling
180 Lygon Street
East Brunswick
Tel +613 9381 0644
Open Mon-Sat 6.00-10pm
Licensed and BYO (wine only)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Cherry, White Chocolate & Almond Muffins

Today I made these luscious muffins, they are a Bill Granger recipe so how could I go wrong, I believe the recipe is from his new book, Every Day? & they featured in a recent edition of delicious. Cherries are my absolute favourite fruit of all & it is a crying shame that they’re season is so short. So now that they are here I am eating as many as I can, the pitting was great fun, one for the muffins, one for me, & lots of gorgeous cherry red juices to lick off my fingers when it was all done. Add some white chocolate, almond meal & this was definitely a recipe for success to be repeated many times.

Cherry, White Chocolate & Almond Muffins

2 ½ cups (375g) plain flour
1 tbsn baking powder
2/3 cup (150g) caser sugar
½ cup (60g) almond meal
90g unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
1 ¼ cups (200g) pitted fresh or frozen cherries, halved
150g white chocolate, chopped
Demerara sugar to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 180c. Line a 12 hole muffin pan with paper cases.

Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl, add caster sugar & almond meal & stir in. Whisk together the melted butter, egg & buttermilk, then add to the dry ingredients & stir until just combined. Stir in the cherries and white chocolate.

Divide the mixture among the muffin holes, sprinkle with sugar & bake for 20-25 minutes until firm, golden & a skewer inserted comes out clean. Turn onto wire racks to cool.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Saffron Scented Chicken Pilaf

Apologies if the cooking is a bit light on lately, I am too busy going to Christmas parties & enjoying other peoples efforts so not much time for the home kitchen. It is making a nice change I must say. So last night I did my first bit of cooking for the week. This lovely & simple rice dish from rom Nigella Lawson, Forever Summer , was perfect for a quick mid week fix, the chicken flavours after marinating in yoghurt, lemon & cinamon were spectacular - dont think I have tried this flavouring before & the subtle & exotic flavours in the rice, cardoman, nuts, saffron, etc were beautiful.

Saffron Scented Chicken Pilaf

500g chicken breast, cut into approx 2 x 1cm pieces
1 x 200g tub Greek yoghurt
juice of half a lemon
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon saffron threads
1 litre chicken stock
15g unsalted butter
2-3 tablespoons groundnut oil
500g basmati rice
3-4 cardamom pods, bruised
juice and zest of 1 lemon
50g cashew nuts
50g flaked almonds
25g pine nuts
3-4 tablespoons shelled pistachio nuts
small bunch fresh parsley, chopped

Marinate the chicken in the yoghurt, lemon and cinnamon for about an hour. Soak the saffron threads in the chicken stock.

Over medium heat, in large pan with a lid, melt the butter along with 1 tablespoon oil and add the rice, stirring it to coat gently. Pur in the saffron & chicken stock, add the cardamom pods, lemon juice & zest & bring the pan to the boil, then put on the lid & turn down to very low heat for about 10-15 minutes, by which time the rice should have absorbed & the liquid cooked through.

While the rice is cooking, shake the excess marinade off the chicken using a sieve. Then fry the meat in a hot pan with the remaining spoonful or so of oil, do in batches if necessary.

When the rice is cooked, take it off the heat & fork through the chicken pieces. Toast the nuts except pistachios, by shaking in an oil free frypan until they begin to colour. Add to the pilaf along with chopped parsley & top with chopped pistachios.