Monday, June 28, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
This week I found a fabulous recipe in my beloved Stephanie Alexander 'the cook's companion'. What a wonderful book, it is literally the A-Z for cooking. This recipe is incredibly simple, and used a method I had never thought of employing.
SEARED SPRING ONION SAUCE
4 SPRING ONIONS, finely chopped (I creep into the green bits, as I like the colour, but its up to you if you prefer using only the white section)
1 tspn FRESH GINGER, finely chopped
1 tspn GARLIC, finely chopped (that's about 2 cloves)
1/4 cup light vegetable OIL (I use rice bran oil and it works just fine)
1/4 cup SOY SAUCE
1 tbspn rice wine of dry sherry (I have neither, but threw in some rice wine vinegar)
1 tspn SESAME OIL
Mix the spring onion, ginger, and garlic in a heat proof bowl.
Heat oil until just smoking hot and pour it over the contents of your bowl. There will be a brilliant sizzle as the oil hits the bowl.
Stir, and add the remaining ingredients. The oil does separate, so have a whisk handy to give it a good mix before drizzling.
We had this sauce drizzled over some poached chicken and steamed asian greens with a bit of rice and it was delicious. Mr Hooper commented that it tasted very 'authentic', which translated, means it tasted like a stir fry from the local Chinese take away. I think that it is a huge compliment to the recipe, as we both love a good stir fry from the local Chinese take away! This could be our takeaway replacement, as its cheaper and MSG free, something I am happy to give up (even if it makes food taste awesome!).
I think this sauce is going to be super versatile, next time I am going to toss it through some egg noodles and serve with grilled prawns...YUM! Let me know how you served the sauce so I can add other combos to my repertoire.
Have a fab Friday!
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
This would make a great mid week pudding if you are craving something sweet and delicious but not so naughty that you can't go back for seconds.....there is fruit in it after all.
Friday, June 18, 2010
So to the stew (for 2 plus one school lunch), I found and modified a recipe on ifood.tv, I made this the conventional way in the oven, but a slow cooker would do the job as wel. You are going to need...
about 500g diced BEEF, cuts such as chuck, gravy or shin are great, and very economical
1/4 cup FLOUR
3tbs vegetable OIL
1 large ONION, chopped
3-4 cloves GARLIC, chopped
2 large CARROTS, diced
1 can whole or diced TOMATOES
1tsp ground CORIANDER and CUMIN
3/4tsp ground GINGER
1/2tsp SALT and BLACK PEPPER
1 1/2 cups of beef or chicken STOCK
2 CINNAMON STICKS
1 cup dried APRICOTS
Heat the oven to 160C. Roll the beef in half the flour and brown in small batches using the vegetable oil. Add more oil as you need it, our pan is of the pretend non-stick variety so I need a bit more oil. Transfer each batch to a heavy oven proof dish and set aside. (Sorry for the distracting carrot photo, this is the first time I have ever grown a carrot that actually looks like a carrot, isn't it beautiful!)
Add the onion, carrot and garlic to the same pan and gently cook until soft, this will take about 5 minutes. Scrap the pan to get all the tasty bits left behind by the meat.
Stir in the coriander, cumin, ginger, turmeric, salt, bp and ground cinnamon, over a medium heat, stir until the spices have become deliciously aromatic, about 30 second to a minute should do it. Add the remaining flour and stir.
Add the tomatoes, liquid stock, honey and cinnamon sticks. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer to the dish and stir to combine with the meat, cover with a lid or foil. Pop in the oven and leave for 2 1/2 hours, or so. I like to give it a stir every now and then. The ideal scenario is meat that will fall apart when pressed with the back of a spoon.
Once cooking time is done stir in the apricots and put back in the oven for about another 30 minutes, or until the fruit is swollen and soft.
I like my stew to be rich and thick, but if you prefer stew of a thinner consistency add some more water when you add in the apricots.
Serve the stew with some buttery couscous and green beans.
I love stew, and find it so economical, let me know your favourite stew, I am always keen to try different recipes.
We are off to another pot luck dinner this weekend, it may seem like this is the only social activity in out lives, and in truth without the occasional pot luck dinner we may never leave the house! Now I must go and decide what to cook, we are watching the All Blacks play so I think a sporting theme may be in order.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Wish me luck....
Thursday, June 10, 2010
So to remain true to the 'Rough Guide' Friday is dedicated to a meal that featured as a highlight from the culinary week that was. This week it has to be the corn pancakes we had for dinner on Wednesday night. Now Mr Hooper is a hard man to please (bearing in mind he is content to eat ham and cheese sammies every single day of his life), and when I asked for his feedback he said they were good, but would be better if I took the corn out, which would essentially make them a pancake, which would mean eating pudding for dinner, which would please him very much.
I love pancakes, and have modified a pancake recipe a little to create these delicious savoury treats....
1 cup self raising FLOUR
1 cup BUTTERMILK
1/4 cup POLENTA
1/2 tspn BAKING SODA
1/2 cup chopped CORIANDER leaves
1 tspn fresh CHILI, deseeded and sliced
pinch of CAYENNE PEPPER
1/4 tspn SALT
1 can whole kernel CORN drained
40g melted BUTTER
With a whisk, mix everything together in a bowl except the melted butter. Just before you start cooking the pancakes, add the butter and whisk until well mixed.
Warm the oven up and have a tray ready to put the pancakes in while you cook them all. Add some butter to a frying pan and melt, don't let the pan get too hot as you will end up with black pancakes. Spoon mixture onto a well buttered frying pan, wait till bubbles appear and then flip. You want them to be a lovely golden colour.If you don't have polenta in the pantry, just leave it out, I found it gives the pancakes slightly more texture and bite, but they will still be tasty without it.
We ate these with some strips of streaky bacon, cooked until crispy....divine! Along with a salad of baby spinach leaves, tomato and red onion. These would also be fantastic as miniature pancakes served as a nibbly snack before dinner, topped with perhaps a dollop of sour cream.
I can't wait for my random recipe to be selected tonight! Have a fabulous Friday.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
I found Jamie Olivers' recipe for pasta very good, and easy to follow, I think its best you go straight to the link for instructions from a pro. They are based on using a machine, and I used my arms, so my one tip is to roll, roll and roll some more, you want to be able to read a newspaper through the sheet, especially for pasta that is to be made into a parcel. I broke the dough into small lumps, as I was using my large wooden chopping board, so was limited on space. I also found this blog on Ciao Chow Linda really useful and very detailed.
The filling was delicious, and really easy to make.
To make 4-6 serves you will need...
250g RICOTTA (the recipe calls for buffalo, but my supermarket didn't have this)
a large bunch of BASIL, leaves picked
1/4 of a NUTMEG, grated (1/4 tsp of nutmeg powder would suffice or to taste)
a small handful of BLACK OLIVES pitted and chopped (about 10)
2 handfuls of PARMESAN CHEESE, grated
SALT and BLACK PEPPER to taste
extra virgin OLIVE OIL
Finely chop the basil leaves, reserving the small delicate leaves for garnishing. Put half this chopped basil into a bowl with the ricotta, nutmeg, olives and half the Parmesan. Season to taste and add a splash of evoo (I have been watching way too much Rachel Ray!), and the filling is done.
Now you are ready to fill your parcels. Cut the pasta into 10cm x 6cm rectangles. Place a teaspoon of filling in the middle and brush the edges lightly with water. Roll up and pinch hard at each end to secure. Keep on a flour-dusted tray in the fridge until you need them. Cook as fresh as possible. We guessed that Caramelle means it looks like a lolly in a wrapper, and it does...Italian Candy apparently.
So now its time for the sauce. You will need...
2 knobs of BUTTER
2 cloves of GARLIC, peeled and finely sliced
400g of the ripest TOMATOES, halved, deseeded and roughly chopped
the rest of the chopped BASIL
Gently heat the butter with a splash of olive oil in a saucepan. When the butter gets foamy, add the garlic and the remaining chopped basil, wait a minute and then throw in the tomatoes. Bring them to the brink of boiling and then turn down to a gently simmer for 5 minutes, until the tomatoes have softened. Taste and season, add a dash of balsamic vinegar. The sauce is good to go, it will smell so splendid, nobody will be able to resist salivating in anticipation.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add the caramelle gently, cook for 2-3 minutes. They should all be floating. Scoop them out carefully with a slotted spoon, I was too scared to use a colander for fear of dismantling my wonderful little packages. Put the pasta into the sauce and gently toss about, throw in the last handful of parmesan cheese, give it one more gentle shake and pop on the lid. By the time you have filled up the wine glasses and grabbed some plates the meal is ready to serve. Sprinkle with the little basil leaves for delicious perfection.
I don't have a photo of the finished product, my photos of food once the sun has gone down, look horrendous, so I don't want to put you off. But take me word for it, this was delicious.
If you have a spare afternoon, I think everyone should have a crack at pasta, it is not as hard as you think its going to be, and my under arm dangle is way less dangley because of it.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
If you have any hot tips on pasta making, please share them with me, I need all the help I can get!
Friday, June 4, 2010
These biscuits are a recipe I have adapted from a Nigella Lawson cookbook, Feast. They originally had dried cranberries and white chocolate, but I thought they fell a bit flat, so have modified the ingredients slightly.
If the biscuits last, they get better with a day or two behind them. By day 4 they are deliciously chewy.
So to begin....you will need
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
75g rolled oats
75g brown sugar
100g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or essence
75g dates, chopped
50g shredded coconut
140g dark chocolate chopped up, as chunky as you enjoy in a cookie.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Measure the flour, baking powder, salt and rolled oats into a bowl.
Put the butter and sugars into another bowl and beat until creamy.
Beat in the egg and vanilla.
Continue beating and add in the dry ingredients combined above.
Fold in the dates, coconut and chocolate.
Put the dough in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls, put them on a baking tay lined with baking paper and squish balls with a fork. I needed to do two batches as I only have one tray. I also do a quick tray rotation half way through the cooking time.
Cook for 15 minutes, when ready the biscuits will be tinged pale gold, but they will be too soft to lift immediately off the tay, so give them 5 minutes to harden before transferring to cooling rack.
The nutritional info, per 100g : Energy 1842kj, Protein 5g, Fat 20g (Sat Fat 12g), Carb 55g (Sugar 35g), Sodium 142mg. A little bit naughty, but worth every chewy mouthfull.
So one of the reasons for starting this blog is to get me cracking the cookbooks. Here is the stack, and it is always growing. So my faithful companion Mr Hooper, is going to keep me honest and will be the official random book/page selector. So stay tuned for the first challenge.
This is my kitchen. Its narrow, awkward and yes that is forest green. We rent so don't judge me for the colour scheme. And thats right, no dishwasher. For all its limitations, this kitchen serves me well, and the food comes out edible.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
- 800g Pumpkin (Butternut Squash is ideal but not essential, sweet potato or kumara is also pretty good)
- Olive Oil to drizzle
- 1 Onion, chopped
- 2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
- 50g Butter
- 1 Lt Chicken or Vegetable Stock
- 250ml Cream (milk works well also, if you are keen to make it a leaner dish)
- 200g Parmesan Cheese
Peel and cut the squash into cubes, spread in a roasting dish and drizzle with olive oil, roast at 180C for 20 minutes.
While the pumpkin is roasting, in a large saucepan gently soften the onions and garlic with the butter. Take care to use a low heat and avoid any browning.
Once the squash has roasted for 20 minutes, add it to the saucepan along with the stock, bring to the boil Add the cream or milk and simmer for 20 minutes at a low heat.
Once the pumpkin is perfectly tender, process in a blender until glossy and smooth.
Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and some chopped parsley if you would like a splash of colour. Season as desired, with salt and pepper. With or without hot toast this is truly a scrumptious soup, so please enjoy!
Butternut Squash offer a great source of Vit A, Vit C, and Potassium. They are also a source of Niacin, Vit B6, Thiamin and Vit E, who needs energy drinks!
Per 100g this recipe has the following approx nutritional content:
Fat 11.8g (This would be more like 9.0g for full fat milk or 8.3g for skim milk, and it is still really good!)
Sat Fat 6.0g