Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Cookbook Challenge - Week 2 - Indian

The theme for week 2 of The Cookbook Challenge is Indian.  Following on from week 1 I made another recipe from Nigella Lawson's Forever Summer,  Keralan Fish Curry.  Kerala is a state in South Western India & though Nigella admits it might not be entirely authentic I thought it fit the theme perfectly & it was meant to go with the rice I made for week 1 which I had stashed in the freezer so that part was out of the way at least.  The rice defrosted perfectly too so no issues in making ahead. I used some fresh yellow belly that my brother caught, & then generously scaled & filleted for me.  The curry is really light & fresh so perfect for a summer meal, hence the fact that it's in her Forever Summer book I guess.  The whole mellow yellow look & feel of the dish was exactly as it tasted, a good quick curry to whip up for a yummy mid week meal.

Keralan Fish Curry - From Nigella Lawson Forever Summer


1.25kg firm white fish
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, halved and cut into thin half-moons
2 long red chillies
4 cm piece fresh ginger
pinch ground cumin
400ml tin unsweetened coconut milk
1–2 tablespoons concentrated tamarind
1 tablespoon liquid fish stock


Cut the fish into bite-sized chunks, put them into a large bowl, and rub with a little salt and 1 teaspoon turmeric. Heat the oil in a large, shallow pan and peel and tip in your fine half-moons of onion; sprinkle them with a little salt to stop them browning and then cook, stirring, until they’ve softened; this should take scarcely 5 minutes.
Cut the whole, unseeded chillies into thin slices across (although if you really don’t want this at all hot, you can seed and then just chop them) and then toss them into the pan of softened onions. Peel the ginger and slice it, then cut the slices into straw-like strips and add them, too, along with the remaining teaspoon of turmeric and the cumin. Fry them with the onions for a few minutes.
Pour the can of coconut milk into a large glass measuring cup and add a tablespoon of tamarind paste and the fish stock, using boiling water from the kettle to bring the liquid up to the 4-cup mark. Pour it into the pan, stirring it in to make the delicate curry sauce. Taste and add more tamarind paste if you want to. And actually you can do all this hours in advance if it helps.
When you are absolutely ready to eat, add the fish to the hot sauce and heat for a couple of minutes until it’s cooked through, but still tender.

Serves 4-6

Fancy Weekend Breakfast

Here is a photo of the tarted up bircher muesli I served to Megan for breakfast on Sunday. Oats soaked in apple juice overnight, in the morning stir in some yoghurt, honey & crushed strawberries. Serve in a fancy glass with layers of blueberries & strawberries in between & piles of fruit on top. As I've mentioned before, bircher muesli is a favourite summertime weekend breakfast of mine & it can be varied with any fruit combo you can imagine & it's pretty much guilt free so you can go there whenever you want...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bill Granger cooking on a rainy Melbourne Sunday

Yesterday I had big plans to spend the whole day outdoors gardening, I have a lot of work to do before summer sets in.  I know the forecast was for rain but lets face it, when does it ever rain when the weather man says it will?  Anyhow it did rain so I was stuck indoors most of the day, to make the most of it I decided to do a bit of cooking. 

I started off by making Bill Granger's puffed apple pancake from Holiday for Michael & Chloe when they got back from the mornings swimming lesson.  The idea of making one giant pancake to share rather than standing over the stove making them one by one was appealing.  Mine doesnt quite look as appealing as Bill's did however I really loved it.  The caramelised apples were rich & buttery & surrounded by the batter with the yoghurt on top was a winning combination for me.

Next I whipped up Bill Granger's Easiest Chocolate Coconut Slice from Feed Me Now.  The in laws were coming over for a visit & I had a friend plus little ones coming over today so I needed something to serve with coffee.  The fact that this was the easiest slice I have ever made was also appealing & it came together very nicely. 

By this time I was noticing a pattern & then I decided on dinner & yep it was yet another recipe from Bill.  This was all unintentional mind you but I do find his recipes quick & easy so it's no surprise that I whipped up 3 in the one day.  Dinner was Grilled Chicken with Chickpea salad from Open Kitchen which took me a whole 14 minutes from start to serve, I kid you not.  The whole dish only took the time the chicken had to cook for.  I had to be at the cinemas at 6.15 to watch New Moon so again I really appreciated the quick & fresh dish.  Very healthy grilled chicken with a touch of olive oil added & a salad of raw ingredients dressed simply with olive oil & lemon juice.  Thanks Bill!  Maybe one day I will feel like I can take on some more elaborate recipes but for now simplicity works best.  Oh & I even managed to get in half an hour of gardening before being rained out

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Cookbook Challenge - Week 1 - Citrus

I decided to join in The Cookbook Challenge that Rilsta is holding over at My Food Trail.  The Challenge is to cook a recipe from your cookbooks each week, each week has a new theme, week 1's theme is citrus.  I usually use my cookbooks each week so I think the challenge for me will be the theme as it will force me to cook recipes from my books that I've previously ignored, it will also be good for me to have a project to concentrate on.  I've really been enjoying cooking lately so I am looking forward to getting stuck right in.

This weeks recipe comes from Nigella Lawson's Forever Summer, a book I have had for quite a while & therefore tend to forget about, seeing that we are having a crazy hot November in Melbourne I thought it was appropriate to drag it off the shelf.  I decided to join in the challenge at the last minute so didnt have a lot of time to ponder this weeks theme.  Flicking through the book I came across this lemon rice which is suggested to go with a curry, as next weeks theme is Indian I thought I could be one step ahead & cook the rice now & also have some for next weeks curry, it will also be a test to see how well it freezes.  I like spiced rices & this one is very tasty, I love the crunch of the toasted mustard seeds thrown in at the end.

Lemon Rice

1 tblspn vegetable oil
250g basmati rice
1/2 tspn tumeric
1/2 tspn dried mint
juice & zest of 1 lemon
approx 500ml water
1/2 tspn salt (or more to taste)
1 tblspn black mustard seeds

Heat the oil gently in a saucepan with a tight fitting lid before adding the rice.  Stir until well coated with oil & add the turmeric & mint, stir to mix.  Squeeze in the lemon juice & add the water, so that it covers the rice by a good couple of centimeters.  Stir in the salt, put the lid on tightly, bring to the boil, then reduce & simmer until all of the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.  While the rice is cooking, toast the mustard seeds by heating them for a couple of minutes in a dry frying pan.  Sprinkle over the rice with the lemon zest to serve.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Frozen Chocolate & Nougat Tartufo

Saturday night I had a couple of girlfriends over for dinner & with the threat of another stinking hot night I planned well in advance to make a frozen dessert, that way it was all done the morning before & no need to sweat or heat up the kitchen on Saturday. As it turned out it didnt up being that hot though no matter as this dessert was a stunner in my eyes & one to keep for the long hot summer ahead.

It's a frozen chocolate & nougat tarufo from the May 2008 issue of delicious & the recipe can be found here. Soft Italian Nougat was called for & what better place to source the best than Mediterranean Wholesalers on Sydney Rd where they had a whole display of different varieties, I chose pistachio which would have to be one of my favourite nuts. To assemble, there was lots of melting, whipping & blending, nothing too difficult & no ice cream maker to churn required, though I do have one of course! To serve a simple unmoulding & rolling in toasted coconut & you're done. Once again a lovely dessert for a hot night.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Accidental tomato patch

As well as my veggie patch out the back I have this incredible accidental patch out the front, as you can see it's already nearly as high as Chloe. What I mean by accidental is that all of these plants grew out of my compost. They are all thriving & we have so many little tomato's already starting to grow & they appear to be all different shapes & sizes so lets hope they do well & I have a bumper crop. Will be interesting to see what does better, the bought plants out the back or my self starters out the front.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


This is a pasta dish I made the other night. It is orecchiette with cauliflower, mint, peas & breadcrumbs (panko) & the recipe can be found here. The recipe featured in a recent Delicious magazine & it came from Matt Moran. I liked the look of it's simplicity as well as the fact that it was a bit different from the usual pasta recipes I cook up. I didnt use any panko as I couldnt get my hands on any in the time I needed. I love orecchiete pasta, it's chewiness is really very tasty & it feels more substantial than say spaghetti or penne therefore I tend to eat less in a serve which is a great thing. A great dish for that occasional pasta indulgence.

Fabulous Broad Beans

The last few weeks I have been busy trying out new recipes with my fabulous broad bean patch. My firm favourite is still smashed beans on toast, where you smash them in a mortar & pestle with parmesan, oilive oil, salt & pepper & then heap them on top of grilled sourdough rubbed with garlic. The crop is dwindling & the bush looks a bit mangy so not many more beans for this season which is sad, I love them & in particular I love the shelling process, I find it quite relaxing & this year I've had a very interested little helper in Chloe which makes it even more fun. We sit at the bench with a big bowl in front of us & just go for it, it doesn't seem like a chore that way at all.

Anyway last night I made the above salad which I didnt have high hopes for yet it turned out a treat. It is a recipe from Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Dinners - Moroccan Broad Bean salad with yoghurt & crunchy bits. It's basically beans double podded dressed with lemoin juice, olive oil, mint & salt & Pepper. These sit on a bed of yoghurt & are topped with fried red onion, cumin & breadcrumbs. Sounds a bit weird but the flavour combo was delicious. I served this along side some simple grilled chicken which I had marinated in olive oil, lemon juice & oregano. A fantastic meal for a warm pre-summers night.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Masterchef Masterclass at Home

Above is George Calombaris Open Beef Kofta from Season 1 of Masterchef. I made it for dinner a couple of weeks ago & loved it even though I now have a bit of an aversion to George himself thanks to his thoughts on food bloggers which I'm sure you are all aware of.

Not being a food stylist myself, you will note that my photo looks nothing like the photo on the website, the only thing I left out were the deep fried shallots to serve, let's face it who could be bothered when cooking a quick dinner after a hard days work in the garden.

Anyway as I said, this was delicious, light, tangy & yet enough to satisfy not just myself but Michael with the mans appetite & it will be made again. I will however pick on the recipe a bit. To start with the recipe states that it serves 2 & makes 1 kofta. It suggests using a 22cm round flat bread which then has 500g of mince loaded on top plus all the other bits & pieces & is only cooked briefly in the frying pan & then grilled for 4-5 minutes. Now if you ask me all of that mince piled on 1 pita bread would be mighty thick & unappealing to me & I cant see it cooking sufficiently in the time given. I actually made 5 pitta's with the above quantities & they fed the 2 of us for 2 nights & were perfect that way.

So tell me, has anyone else tried this recipe or what do you think of the recipe as is?