Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Cookbook Challenge - Week 11 - Mixed

The theme for this weeks cookbook challenge is mixed, definitely one open to interpretation.  I am making 2 recipes where the ingredients are mixed up.  The first mixes savoury lamb with the sweet fruit pomegranate.  I know it's nothing new to mix fruit and savoury and it's always a winning combination so what makes this recipe different for me is that I have never worked with a fresh pomegranate before.  Now that I have I love them and will be rushing back for more, it was so sweet and lovely and the crunchy texture was brilliant.  Overall this dish was a winner, a little bit time consuming to prepare, even having to start the yoghurt the day before but in the end worth it.  I also have a confession to make, I was a little tired after a morning/afternoon out breakfasting at Hellenic Republic, strolling down Lygon street doing a bit of shopping and finishing off doing the groceries at Barkly square so I actually got Michael to make this dish.  Isn't he fantastic, from someone who really couldnt cook other than from a packet or jar when I met him let alone follow a recipe, I can now hand over a recipe and feel confident that he will pretty much be okay even if he does make a shocking mess of the kitchen!  I did prepare the yoghurt and plate up so I did lend a teeny bit of assistance.

Lamb kibbeh with parsley and pomegranate salad - Recipe from a recent (?) issue of Gourmet Traveller

230g burghul, soaked in cold water for 10 minutes
1 onion, finely chopped in a food processor
2 tblspn finely grated lemon rind
2 tblspn finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 tspn each of allspice and ground cinnamon
1/4 tspn groound chilli
450g minced lamb
Olive oil, for shallow frying
Hummus, to serve
Extra virgin olive oil, to serve
Flatbread, to serve

Mint Yoghurt Filling

500g plain yoghurt
1/2 cup firmly packed fresh mint leaves, coarsley chopped
1 tspn dried mint
1 clove garlic, coarsley chopped

Parsley & pomegranate salad

2 tbspn extra virgin olive oil
1 tbspn lemon juice
2 tspn pomegranate molasses
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tspn sumac
1 cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley, torn
1 cup loosely packed mint leaves, torn
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

For mint yoghurt, combine yoghurt, fresh and dried mint, garlic and 1 tspn sea salt in a food processor and process until smooth, then place in a muslin (or chux as I did) lined sieve, tying the ends up.  Place over a bowl and refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight, to drain.

Drain burgul through a sieve, then transfer to a clean tea towell and twist to remove excess water.  Place in a large bowl with onion, lemon rind, parsley and spices and season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.  Using your hands, mix to combine.  Add lamb, mix until well combined then refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Divide mixture into 18 portions.  Roll each into an oval shape, make an indentation with your thumb and shape into a thin hollow shell.  Place 1 tbspn of yoghurt filling into each cavity, then moisten edges with a little water and press to seal.  repeat with remaining lamb & filling, then place on a tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Shallow fry lamb in batches for 3-4 minutes or until brown and cooked through.  Drain on absorbent paper.

For salad, combine oli ce oil, lemon juice, molasses, onion and sumac in a bowl, toss to combine.

To serve, spread some hummus on a flatbread, top with kibbeh and scatter with salad.

The second recipe for the week was chocolate and beetroot muffins, this time I'm mixing sweet chocolate muffin with savoury beetroot which of course is a vegetable.  I have been wanting to try out this combination for a while now so this seemed the perfect opportunity.  See how bright & pink the uncooked mixture is, very pretty, cooked they still have a pink tinge but look quite ordinary, lets face it most muffins even if they taste spectacular look a bit dull, especially compared to say, a dazzling iced cupcake.  They were nice, especially when you hit the big chocolate chunk in the middle, you could really taste the earthiness of the beetroot though not in a bad way so it was okay.  Overall I wasnt completely in awe of them so I probably wouldnt make them again, just nice to try once.

Beetroot and Chocolate Muffins - from Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Garden Companion

Makes 12.  Preheat oven to 180c.  Grease a 12 hole muffin tin with melted butter.  Grate 1 large beetroot & set aside 250g.  Sift 175g plain flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 2 tablespoons cocoa powder into a bowl and set aside.  Lightly whisk 2 eggs with 1/4 cup milk.  Process 60g softened butter, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1/4 cup caster sugar & 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar in a food processor until smooth & creamy.  Gradually add egg mixture then add to flour mixture & fold through. Stir in beetroot.  Spoon mixture into muffin pans.  Break 100g of dark chocolate into 12 squares & poke 1 in each muffin.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until well risen and springy to touch.  Cool in tin for a few minutes then turn onto a wire rack to cool. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Cookbook Challenge - Week 10 - Cool

This weeks theme for the Cook Book Challenge was cool and I thought it would be nice to include a savoury & a sweet dish for the week.  The challenge is inspiring me to create as many recipes as I can for each week,  if time permits, I may even make 3 in a week one of these days.

Cool was an easy theme given that we have had such warm and sometimes too hot weather (minus the surprising cold spell that snuck in).  Salads and frozen/refrigerated desserts have been big on my menu regardless of the challenge so I didnt have to look to far for my recipes.

I have had an abundance of tomatos in my garden so each week I am on the hunt for new and interesting recipes to use them all up.  Nigella Lawson's  Express had this great recipe for cherry tomatoes and a salad to use them in.  She calls them 'moonblush' tomatoes as you cook them overnight in an oven that isnt even turned on, very clever.  I only thought of making them the morning I wanted to use them and 6 hours or so in my oven seemed to be perfectly enough time.  This is a fantastic way to use up cherry tomatoes, you get a nice little semi dried tomato with lots of bite.  I used dried oregano as I dont keep dried thyme in the house as I have enough growing out the back to keep me going continuously, I actually have oregano too though sometimes I prefer using this herb dried depending on the recipe, this was one such case.  To cook them you heat up the oven to 220c and then as soon as you put the tray in you turn the oven off, pretty amazing, I didnt think the heat would keep going for that many hours to keep them cooking but it sure did.  For the salad it was a very simple mix of some salad leaves, goats cheese, mint, lemon juice and the tomatoes, lovely.  These tomatoes would work well thrown in most salads or served simply on their own as a side, tossed through pasta, in a sandwich, the possibilities are endless.

Moon Blush Tomatoes - Nigella Lawson - Nigella Express

500g (about 24) cherry or any small tomatoes
2 teaspoons maldon salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 x 15ml tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 220c.  Cut the tomatoes in half and sit them cut side up in an oven proof dish or tray.  Sprinkle with the salt, sugar, thyme and olive oil.  Put them in the oven and immediately turn it off.  leave the tomatoes in the oven overnight or for a day WITHOUT opening the door.

Slow Roast Tomatoes, Goat's Cheese & Mint Salad - Nigella Lawson - Nigella Express

200g rocket or spinach salad
2 x 100g tubs soft goats cheese ( I used marinated myself)
1 x 15ml tablespoon lemon juice
1 x 15ml tablespoon olive oil
2 x 15ml tablespoon chopped fresh mint

Arrange the salad leaves on a large dish and then scoop out spoonfuls of the goats cheese and dollop it here and there.  Add the tomatoes.  In the same dish the tomatoes cooked in, whisk together lemon juice & Oil and pour over the salad.   Scatter with the chopped mint and serve.

My second dish was a very simple watermelon granita from Bill Granger's holiday.  Apart from the fact that I didnt chop my watermelon small enough and some of it wouldn't process properly, this was a breeze and even more delicious than a luscious slice of  watermelon on a hot day, why wouldn't it be with the addition of sugar, lime juice & a bit of freezing action, highly recommended.

Watermelon Granita - Bill Granger - Holiday

Serves 10-12

2kg Seedless Watermelon
115g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
3 tablespoons lime juice

Cut the watermelon flesh into bit sized chunks and freeze for 1-2 hours in zip-lock freezer bags.  Put the frozen watermelon in a food processor and mix until completely  smooth.  Add the sugar and lime juice and process again until completely incorporated.

Transfer the mixture into an airtight container & freeze for 3-4 hours or until firm.  Once frozen, scrape into crystals with a fork & serve immediately.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Cookbook Challenge - Week 9 - Berry

This weeks Cookbook Challenge theme was berries, pretty good pick for a week that started out so hot.

With Melbourne's latest heatwave having struck I decided to try out a couple of cooling berry recipes, the first was this smoothie.  I know you really dont need a recipe for a smoothie but seeing it in a book just gave me the nudge I needed to drag the blender out of the cupboard (cant remember the last time I even used it!), and start the first (hopefully now there will be more to come), of summers cool concoctions.  As mentioned in the ingredients, I found this a bit on the sour side so added some ice cream to sweeten things up.

Raspberry and Strawberry Smoothie - from Bill Granger, Bills Open Kitchen

4 strawberries, hulled
30g (1/4 cup) raspberies
15g plain yoghurt
125ml milk
3-4 large ice cubes
(I also added a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream as I found it too sour without)

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into a tall glass and serve.  Makes 1.

The second recipe was a frozen raspberry whip to go over strawberries, sounded a bit different to anything I have made before so I thought I would give it a go.  Easy, peasy to make, just throw everything into the trusty kitchenaid and whip for 10 minutes to find an airy mass of sweet berry goodness.  From such a small amount of ingredients it is incredible to see how much it increases in volume, impressive.  It was very yum though quite sweet so serve with more strawberries than whip as you only need a bit of whip with each mouthfull or it is too much, unless of course you have an incredible sweet tooth.

Frozen Raspberry Whip with Strawberries - from Marie Claire, Zest

150g (1 punnet) raspberries
1 teaspoon lemon juice
115g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
1 egg white
500g (2 punnets) strawberries
1 tablespoon icing sugar

Whip the raspberries, lemon juice, sugar and egg white with electric beaters for 10 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy and has tripled in size.  Spoon into a container and put into the freezer for several hours or overnight until it is frozen.  Just prior to serving, hull and halve the strawberries.  Sprinkle the berries with the icing sugar and lightly toss until they are well coated.  Leave for 5 minutes and serve with a scoop of the frozen whip.  Serves 4-6.

Monday, January 04, 2010

The Cookbook Challenge - Week 8 - Sweet

I had a few friends over for a bbq on the weekend so it was the perfect opportunity for me to pick out something sweet from one of my many books for this weeks challenge - sweet.

Michael had bought me a lovely bottle of limoncello  for Christmas and as we're not huge drinkers anymore & I knew I had recipes for lovely desserts all over the place with this lovely lemon liqueur, I went on the hunt.

I decided on Nigella Lawson's Anglo-Italian Trifle from Forver Summer, the recipe can be found on her site here.


I have to say even though everyone swears they loved it (maybe they were being polite?), I wasnt actually that keen on it myself, the 250ml of limoncello I found way too overpowering & I think I could have used half that amount.  Also the recipes calls for 8 trifle sponges????  correct me if I'm wrong but I dont think we sell anything specifically called 'trifle sponges' here & I'm guessing whatever they are they are pretty small as 8 cakes would call for a much larger bowl.  As it is I used the recommended 2 litre bowl & squeezed in one supermarket bought sponge along with all the other ingredients & I  actually had to fish out about a cup of berries to make everything fit & I still couldn't fit all the cream on top so served it on the side.  Also I had to use mixed berries, raspberries, blackberries & blueberries as couldnt find 750g of blackberries.

So in conclusion I found the alcohol too strong & overpowering & not enough cream to balance it out even with some of the extra on the side.  The last trifle I made was this delicious lemon & blueberry one, should have stuck to that instead!