Friday, June 22, 2007

Toasted Grain & Nut Cereal

After my success with granola the other week I was really keen to try to make some more home made breakfast cereals & found this recipe for muesli in Bill Granger’s Sydney Food. I didn’t add the rye flakes as I couldn’t find them anywhere I looked, for the fruit I added apples & apricots & the end result was absolutely delicious, even better than the granola & a lot less fussy with less ingredients. Try some, it’s oh so much nicer than anything you will buy & as good as the ingredients you choose yourself to put into it.

Toasted Grain & Nut Cereal

125g unsalted butter
¾ cup honey
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla essence
500g rolled oats
1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup shredded coconut
¾ cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
1 cup rye flakes
1 cup chopped dried fruit, such as sultanas, apricots or apples (optional)

Preheat oven to 170c. Place butter, honey & vanilla in a small saucepan & cook gently over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until honey and butter are combined. Place remaining ingredients, except the fruit, in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Slowly stir in the butter mixture, making sure that each grain is evenly coated. Spread the cereal over 2 large baking trays & bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the grains are crisp & very lightly browned. Stir occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking to the trays.

Remove from oven, cool & then add the fruit & mix well. Can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Makes 1.5kg.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Chocolate Crusted Lemon Tart

This weekend I wanted to make something sweet & I had a bit of a chocolate craving, so I flicked through all of my books for the perfect recipe that would not require a mix master (I still haven’t decided what to buy). I ended up with this tart from Green & Blacks Chocolate Recipes, I adore a good lemon tart & have never had one with a chocolate base before & thought it sounded even better than a plain crust, I wasn’t far wrong, I loved it & the two flavours were perfect together, it would be even better with some fresh berries alongside too I think. Yum!

Chocolate Crusted Lemon Tart

175g plain flour
25g cocoa
pinch of salt
25g icing sugar
125g unsalted butter, chilled & diced
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons cold water

75g dark chocolate, grated
3 juicy unwaxed lemons
150g caster sugar
4 large eggs
150ml double cream
icing sugar to sprinkle

To make the pastry, sift together the flour, cocoa, salt & icing sugar. Rub in the cold butter using a food processor or your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Mix the egg yolk with the water, and add to the mixture to make a dough. You may need to a little more water. Gather the pastry into a ball, wrap it in greaseproof paper (or glad wrap as I did) & chill in the fridge for about 1 hour.

Roll out the pastry from the centre and away from you, then back to the centre & down towards you, using your weight to push down on it to avoid stretching it. Line a 23cm tart tin with a removable base with the pastry. Prick the pastry base with a fork in several places & chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 200c. Line the pastry case with foil & baking beans ad bake for 15 minutes, then remove the foil & beans & bake for another 5 minutes. Remove the tin from the oven & reduce the oven temperature to 170c. While the pastry is still hot, scatter the grated chocolate evenly over the base & then leave to cool.

To make the filling, finely grate the zest from the lemons into a mixing bowl. Squeeze and strain the lemon juice & add it to the zest with the sugar. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved, then whisk in the eggs & cream until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the filling into the cooled pastry case & carefully return it to the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes until just set. Remove from the oven & leave on a wire rack to cool completely before removing from the tin. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sicilian Roasted Fish with lemon, anchovies, capers & rosemary

Last night we had this delicious fish from Jamie Oliver’s Happy Days. The recipe called for Brill, turbot or halibut steaks which I’m not sure if you can even get here in Australia, certainly not at my local fish shop anyway so I used some lovely Blue Eye fillets instead. All of the flavours give the fish a beautiful flavour & I found no additional lemon or seasoning was required at all, it was perfect the way it came out of the oven. Also for the fist time ever I actually really enjoyed the anchovies, these being one item I was never that fond of when whole & only coped with when incorporated into sauces, stews, etc, amazing how your taste buds change over time. I served it with a simple baked potato & some salad.

Sicilian Roasted Fish with lemon, anchovies, capers & rosemary

1 handful of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
extra virgin olive oil
4 x 200g brill, turbot, halibut or blue eye tranches/steaks
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 large unwaxed lemons, finely sliced
1 large handful of salted capers, soaked
8 good anchovy fillers
a splash of white wine or prosecco

Preheat the oven to 200c. Bruise your rosemary in a pestle & mortar to bring out the flavour. Add 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil & scrunch together. Pat half of this flavoured oil round the fish, season well & put into an earthenware dish or roasting pan. Lay 4 or 5 thin slices of lemon over each steak, sprinkle over your capers & drape over the anchovies. Drizzle with remaining flavoured oil & bake for around 15 minutes off the bone or 25 minutes on the bone. Now you could splash the wine in if you like. Remove from the oven & allow to rest, like a steak for 5 minutes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Andy Fairfield Granola

Over the long weekend I thought it would be fun to make my own breakfast cereal. The recipe comes from Nigella Lawson’s Feast & is really simple & the taste is amazing, it’s great with milk for brekky or just by the handful as is whenever a snack is required. It makes about 2.5 litres worth so you end up with heaps & I think it was definitely worth the effort. Mine cooked for 40 minutes in a fan forced oven & was probably just slightly overdone though not too much the worse for it. And by the way I’ve never eaten Granola before though I’m pretty sure its just muesli by another name so I don’t know how this compares to the store bought variety.

Andy Fairfield Granola

450g rolled oats
120g sunflower seeds
120g white sesame seeds
175g apple compote or sauce
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
120g brown rice syrup or rice malt syrup or golden syrup
4 tablespoons runny honey
100g light brown sugar
250g whole natural almonds
1 teaspoon Maldon salt
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
300g raisins

Mix Everything except the raisins together very well in a large mixing bowl. Spread the mixture evenly on two large baking trays & bake in a 170c oven, turning over halfway through baking & re-distributing the granola evenly during the baking process. This should take anything from about 40 minutes. Electric tends to be faster than gas.

Once baked, allow to cool & mix together with the raisins & store in an airtight container.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Heart shortbread kisses

Well it looks like I have had disaster number 3 thanks to disaster number 2. I decided to make some shortbreads from Bill Granger’s Bill’s Food to take over to Megan’s for a sweet after lunch treat. The recipe stated minimal beating so I thought I could get away with doing it by hand while in the absence of a mix master. Not so, I don’t think the butter really mixed in properly & as a result the biscuits spread & melted into each other while cooking & some were so bad that they bubbled up & just crumbled when touched. So I ended up with about 8 biscuits (minus one perfect one I dropped on the floor) instead of the 15 the recipe states you will make. One thing though, disaster or no they still tasted amazing, that melt in the mouth buttery sweetness was fantastic sandwiched together with the sweet jam. Hopefully that’s it for kitchen disasters for while now, fingers crossed.

Heart shortbread kisses

40g (1/3 cup) icing sugar, sifted
250g unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
60g (1/2 cup) cornflour
185g (1 ½ cups) plain flour
a pinch of salt
80g (1/4 cup) raspberry jam
icing sugar for dusting

Beat the sugar & butter together in a bowl until just combined. Add the vanilla extract, sifted flours & salt & mix until a dough forms. Mould into a log 6cm in diameter, wrap in plastic wrap & refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180c. Remove the dough from the fridge & cut into 7mm slices, then cut shapes with a 5cm heart biscuit cutter. Reroll the excess dough & repeat the process until all the dough is used up.

Place the hearts on a greased & lined baking tray & bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to wire racks & leave to cool completely. Spread half the biscuits with jam, top with remaining biscuits & sprinkle with icing sugar.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Choc Oatmeal Cookies

On the weekend I made yet another batch of cookies & this time disaster struck again, my mix master blew up whilst creaming the butter & sugar, it is just a cheap Ronson that I have had for about 8 years (of which it probably has only been used a lot these last 2 years) & now the question is, what should I replace it with? I would love a Red Kitchen aid but will have to think long & hard before blowing that much cash on a kitchen appliance even though it will definitely be used! Now I’m just waiting for disaster no 3, you know what they say, things come in threes and I don’t suppose last weeks disaster where our drain water started dripping through the light fitting in the ceiling down into my kitchen due to a blocked toilet counts as that I am classifying as a plumbing disaster. Anyway the biscuits were from Bill Granger’s Bills Food & were nice & crunchy, they almost tasted like a butternut snap with choc chips to me which is good as I love butternut snaps. And thankfully they still turned out seeing as how I had to half beat them by hand – those arm muscles from carrying Chloe around are coming in handy lately.

Choc Oatmeal Cookies

150g unsalted butter, softened
230g (1 cup) soft brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
125g (1 cup) plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
235g (2 1/3 cups) rolled oats
175g (1 cup) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180c. Line three large baking trays with baking paper.

Cream the butter & sugar together in a bowl until fluffy & smooth. Add the eggs & vanilla extract & beat until smooth. Sift the flour, baking powder & salt into the bowl & mix lightly. Add the oats & choc chips & stir to combine.

Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls and place on the baking trays. Flatten the balls with a fork dipped in flour. Bake the cookies for 20 minutes, or until pale golden. Remove from the oven & cool on the trays for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Makes about 30.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Spring Vegetable Soup

For some cleansing this week I made yet another soup, this one chock full of fresh veggies & even using my very own vegetable stock, the recipe is from Bill Granger’s Sydney Food. The home made stock does make a big difference, especially as this one is full of extra flavour including such ingredients as garlic, parsnips & spring onions. Now that I’ve been good I can safely make some more cookies!

Spring Vegetable Soup

25g butter
½ cup sliced keels, white part only
1/3 cup diced celery
1/3 cup unpeeled, diced red potato
1/3 cup diced turnip
3 cups vegetable stock (recipe below)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup freshly shucked corn kernels
1/3 cup diced zucchini
1/3 cup chopped green beans
½ cup ripe, chopped tomatoes
1/3 cup peas
1/3 cup parsley, chopped, to serve

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add leek, celery, potato and turnip 7 cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Add vegetable stock, salt & pepper & bring to the boil. Lower heat & add remaining ingredients. Simmer gently for 5 minutes until vegetables are just tender. Ladle into bowls & top with chopped parsley. Serves 2.

Vegetable stock

2 tablespoons olive oil
500g onions, chopped
500g carrots, chopped
250g parsnips, chopped
2 celery sticks including leaves, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 leeks, white part only, sliced
4 spring onions, chopped into 6cm lengths
1 bunch parsley, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, parsnip, celery & garlic & stir fry for 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and 2 litres of water, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer & cook for 1 hour. Allow to cool, then strain. Makes 2 litres. Leftover keeps well in the freezer.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Baked Pears & Dates

Here is another beautiful recipe for baked pears, the spices leave a heavenly aroma wafting through the house & the sour cream is really good with the brandy & sugar mixed in. I even forgot the almonds so I suspect they would be even better with these sprinkled on top.

Baked Pears & Dates

¼ cup (55g) firmly packed brown sugar, plus 1 tablespoon extra
grated rind & juice of 1 orange
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
2 firm beurre bosc pears, cut into quarters & cored
8 dates, seeded
300g sour cream
1 tablespoon brandy or rum
½ cup (35g) slivered almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 200c. Combine sugar, orange juice, rind & mixed spice in a large bowl. Add pears to bowl & coat well. Place pears, cut side up, with juice and dates in a heatproof dish. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn pears, baste with liquid & bake for another 20 minutes, until pears are coloured & tender.

Meanwhile, combine sour cream, extra brown sugar & brandy in a bowl. Serve with warm pears & a little syrup, sprinkled with almonds. Serves 4

Cherry Tomato, Herb & Chilli Fish

For my birthday this year, Megan gave me this great little cookbook that I had never heard of, The Hungry Girls cookbook. It is a small collection of recipes put together by 3 Melbourne friends, each of the limited 200 copies are stamped, lined with cloth & sewn together by hand & it is truly a special gift. The recipes all look delicious & here is a look in, last night I made my first attempt which was seriously good & so very simple. I used flathead which cooked up perfectly, I was worried it would break up but no chance of that. The flavour of the tomatoes really penetrates the fish & along with the simple herb sauce went well with a simple baked potato & salad. The book was released In April so I’m not sure if there are any left but if you can get to any of the stores that stock it, pick up a copy, it is a real treat & I love something unique, especially when produced by local girls.

Cherry Tomato, Herb & Chilli Fish

1 whole white fleshed fish weighing 1.5kg, filleted & skinned, each fillet cut into 2 pieces
4 x 150-200g white fish fillets
salt & pepper
75g butter
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-2 red birds eye chillies, finely chopped
2 punnets cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons chopped basil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped chives

Pat the fish dry & rub with a little salt. Heat the butter & oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until the butter foams, then add the garlic & chilli, frying until the garlic begins to color. Add the tomatoes & fry for 30 seconds, then add the herbs & season with salt & pepper. Stir to combine, and make sure the tomatoes cover the base of the pan fairly evenly. Lay the fish fillets on top & gently press them into the tomatoes. After 2-3 minutes, when you can see the fish turning opaque up the sides, turn the fillets. Try to pick up some of the tomatoes underneath so they end up on top. Cook for another 2 minutes then serve. Serves 4.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Double Potato & Halloumi Bake

Here is a nice recipe for some lovely comfort food veggies topped with lovely comfort food cheese - halloumi, could you ask for more on a cold winter’s night? I nearly ate the whole tray it was so good. The recipe comes from Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Bites.

Double Potato & Halloumi Bake

1 large sweet potato
1 large Desiree or other red/firm potato
1 red onion
1 yellow capsicum
1 red capsicum
½ head garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil
black pepper
125g Halloumi cheese, sliced as thin as you can
ovenproof baking dish, 25 x 15cm

Preheat oven to 200c. Peel & cut the sweet potato into rough 4cm cubes & the potato slightly smaller, 2.5cm as the sweet potato will cook more quickly. Peel & halve the red onion, then cut each half into 4-6 segments, discarding any tough outer skin. De-seed the peppers & cut into 2.5cm squares, and separate the cloves of garlic. Put everything into a large roasting tin and, using your hands, give the vegetables a good coating of olive oil. Season with black pepper, but no salt as the cheese will make it salty (& make water leech out). Cook for 45 minutes, by which time the vegetables should be cook through & here & there tinged with brown. Turn the oven right up or use a grill & place the cheese on top of the bake & put in back in for 5-10 minutes until melted & slightly brown on top. Serves 2-3.