Monday, August 22, 2011

Strawberry Mousse

Strawberry season came early to Queensland this year so I decided to make my favourite strawberry dessert - mousse.  I don't like using gelatine if possible so this mousse is not as thick as normal however the taste and texture is lovely.  If you prefer a more solid mousse add a few gelatine sheets to the strawberry puree.

Strawberry Mousse

 - 500g strawberries
 - 1/2 lemon-juice
 - 1/2 cup caster sugar
 - 1/2 cup cream
 - 4 egg whites
 - pinch of salt

1. Wash and hull the strawberries and place in a food processor with the caster sugar and lemon juice.  Pulse till strawberries are completely pureed.  Place the strawberry puree into a large bowl
2.  Using a electric beater to whisk the cream until it is very thick.  Slowly fold the cream into the strawberry puree.
3.  In a clean bowl (be sure the bowl and whisk is completely clean and the egg whites have no egg yolks in them) add egg whites and beat until they begin to thicken.  Add a pinch of salt and continue to whip until very stiff peaks form.
4.  Fold half the egg whites into the strawberry mixture.
5.  Gently pour the strawberry mixture into the bowl with half the beaten egg whites and fold very gently.
6.  Place in container and place in the fridge for 2-4 hours before serving.
Enjoy :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Panforte-Traditional Tuscan Cake

At the beginning of the year, Nick and I travelled to Sienna and bought some of the most magnificent panforte I have ever eaten!  It is so hard to find good panforte in Australia so I decided to try to make my own as a gift for dad (as panforte is his favourite dessert).  This recipe is adapted from 'Complete Italian Food', written by one of my favourite Italian chefs, Antonio Carluccio.  This cake will last a very long time but be warned - its very more-ish!

 - 250g skinned, blanched whole almonds
 - 150g walnuts
 - 50g pecan nuts
 - 55g candied citrus peel
 - 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
 - 2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
 - 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
 - 200g plain flour
 - 200g icing sugar
 - 200g honey
 - 1tablespoon water
 - 2-3 sheets of rice paper (enough to line the base of the tray)
 - 2 tablespoons fine vanilla sugar

1.   Preheat the oven to 160°C
2.  Toast the almonds on a frying pan on medium heat (be careful not to burn the nuts).  Slice the candied citrus peel into thin strips.
3.  In a bowl, add the toasted almonds, candied citrus peel, walnuts, pecans, cinnamon, coriander seeds, nutmeg and flour and mix.
4.  Place icing sugar, honey and water in a pot over low heat until dissolved.  Increase the heat to high and allow the mixture to begin to bubble.  Once bubbling use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture until a dense, pale brown liquid is formed
5.  Pour the hot caramel over the nut mixture and mix until all the nuts are covered by the caramel.
6.  Line a shallow cake tin (I used a 21cm round tin) with rice paper. Add the mixture and level the top.
7.  Place in the middle of the oven for 30mins.
8.  Allow the panforte to cool in the tin.  Dust with vanilla sugar.
Enjoy :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Yoghurt, Orange and Pistachio Cake

This cake is perfect as a tea cake.  I felt like making a cake that is not too sweet and had a middle eastern style and therefore I made it using semolina.

Yoghurt, Orange and Pistachio Cake

-       100g whole pistachios
-       75g self raising flour
-       1 ¼ cups fine semolina
-       1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
-       ¼ cup white sugar
-       ¾ cup plain yoghurt
-       3 eggs
-       2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
-       zest of 1 small orange
-       ½ cup orange juice
-       1 cup water
-       1 cup white sugar
-       orange peel of 2 oranges

1.     Preheat oven to 180°C.  In a large bowl, add pistachios and sift flour, semolina, bicarbonate soda and sugar.  Mix.
2.     In a separate bowl add yoghurt, eggs and oil.  Beat for 3-5 minutes.
3.     Add orange zest and orange juice to the egg mixture and mix
4.     While stirring the flour mixture, slowly add the yoghurt mixture until combined.  Let it rest for 5 minutes.
5.     Butter the cake tin.  Pour in cake mixture. Place in oven for 30 minutes.
6.     Cover the cake with foil and place in oven for another 15 minutes.
7.     Whilst the cake is baking julienne the orange peel.  Add the sugar and water to a pot.  Dissolve the sugar in the water over medium heat.  Add the orange peel and cook for 20 minutes.
8.     Remove cake from tin.  Poke holes in the top of the cake.  Slowly drizzle the syrup over the top of the cake.  (Do this very slowly to allow the cake to absorb the syrup).
9.     Decorate with the candied orange peel.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Breakfast Smoothie

This is just one way you can make a breakfast smoothie, play around with it depending on what ingredients you have on hand - as long as it includes fruit, yoghurt and rolled oats.

Breakfast Smoothie

¾ cup mixed berries
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon rolled oats
1 tablespoon LSA (ground linseed, sunflower and almond)
1 teaspoon sunflower kernels
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon raw sugar or honey
½ cup plain yoghurt
¾ cup milk/ soy milk

Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse for 3 minutes.

Apple, Cinnamon and Yoghurt Cake

A perfect winter cake which is light and moist and simple to make.  You can substitute the apple with pear.

Apple, Cinnamon and Yoghurt Cake
-       60g butter (at room temperature)
-       300g plain flour
-       230g brown sugar
-       50g white sugar
-       2 eggs
-       1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
-       pinch of salt
-       1 teaspoon bicarb soda
-       1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
-       1 cup plain yoghurt
-       2 Granny Smith apples

1.  Preheat oven to 180°C
2.  Beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla essence with an electric hand beater until creamy.
3.  Add cinnamon and salt and mix with wooden spoon.
4.  Sift in flour and bicarb soda and mix with a wooden spoon.
5.  Add yoghurt and mix till homogenous mixture forms.
6.  Peel apple and cut into 1cm cubes and add to the cake batter and mix OR slice apples into thin slices and place on top of the batter once it is in the tin. 
7.  Butter individual ramekins or a large cake tin.  Add cake batter.  Sprinkle the top with a thin layer of white sugar and cinnamon.  Place into oven on lower shelf.  The cooking time will vary depending on the container used.  Individual ramekins will cook in about 40 minutes and a large cake tin should take about 60 minutes.  However check, using a skewer whether the cake is fully cooked inside.
8.  Serve warm with fresh cream :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Middle Eastern Lamb and Yoghurt Stuffed Zucchini

Middle Eastern Lamb and Yoghurt Stuffed Zucchini or Eggplant

-       500g lamb mince
-       3 teaspoon ground allspice
-       2 teaspoon cinnamon
-       4 teaspoons dried mint
-       salt
-       pepper
-       6 small zucchinis or 2 eggplants
-       2 onions, diced finely
-       2 cloves garlic, crushed
-       4 tablespoons plain yoghurt
-       2-3 tablespoons pine nuts
-       plain yoghurt, to serve
-       Fresh mint leaves, to serve

1.       Heat a pan on medium-high heat with a little olive oil.  Add the lamb, allspice, cinnamon, mint, salt and pepper.  Break up the lamb to avoid any clumps.  Fry until the lamb is just browned.

2.     Take the lamb off the heat and place in a sieve.

3.      Sauté the onion and garlic until they are translucent and just beginning to brown.

4.       Place the lamb in a bowl and add the fried onions.

5.      Brown the pine nuts in the pan.  Add to the lamb mixture

6.      Add the yoghurt to the lamb and mix

7.      If using zucchini - cut the ends off the zucchini and slice lengthways in half.  Using a teaspoon, remove the pulp of the zucchini.Steam the zucchini skins for 15-20 minutes
If using eggplant - cut the end off and grill for 20 minutes under hot grill, turning every 5 minutes.  Cut the eggplants in half and remove half of the flesh - you can add this flesh to the lamb mixture or discard.

8.     Arrange zucchinis/ eggplants on a serving dish, fill with lamb mixture.  Place under hot grill for 5 minutes.  Drizzle with a generous amount of plain yoghurt and garnish with fresh mint leaves.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Yoghurt, Feta and Herb Dip

A refreshing, yummy and very easy dip.  (As it's exam time I won't be able to write too much before the recipes I post)

Yoghurt, Feta and Herb Dip
 - 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
 - 200grams feta (preferably low salt)
 - 1/2 cup plain yoghurt
 - 1/3 cup of fresh herbs (continental parsley, coriander and dill)

1.  Place butter, feta and herbs into a blender.  Pulse until smooth consistency forms.
2.  Transfer the mixture into a bowl.  Add yoghurt and stir.
      Serve with your favourite vegetables or biscuits.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Rhubarb and Cinnamon Cake

A delicious moist cake, perfect for winter.

Rhubarb and Cinnamon Cake
 - 60g butter (at room temperature)
 - 300g plain flour
 - 350g brown sugar
 - 2 eggs
 - 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
 - pinch of salt
 - 1 teaspoon bicarb soda
 - 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
 - zest of 1 lemon
 - 1 cup creme fraiche/sour cream (or 1/2 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup cream)
 - 3-4 sticks of rhubarb

1.  Preheat oven to 180°C
2.  Beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla essence with an electric hand beater until creamy.
3.  Add cinnamon and salt and mix with wooden spoon.
4.  Sift in flour and bicarb soda and mix with a wooden spoon.
5.  Add creme fraiche (or substitute) and lemon zest and mix till homogenous mixture.
6.  Wash and cut rhubarb into small pieces and add to the cake batter and mix.
7.  Butter individual ramekins or a large cake tin.  Add cake batter.  Sprinkle the top with a layer of white sugar and cinnamon.  Place into oven on lower shelf.  The cooking time will vary depending on the container used.  Individual ramekins will cook in about 40 minutes and a large cake tin should take about 70 minutes.  However check, using a skewer whether the cake is fully cooked inside.
8.  Serve warm with fresh cream :)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sweet Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Cinnamon Scented Cous-Cous

I absolutely love Moroccan food and though I have eaten it a fair few times I have never attempted making a Moroccan dish.  I decided not to look at traditional recipes for ideas of what ingredients to use and how to cook the lamb but rather go with the flavours I know so well from eating the food.  So this recipe is not traditional however it makes a delicious tagine that does have all the typical Moroccan flavours.

Sweet Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Cinnamon Scented Cous-Cous
 - 850 g lamb shoulder (boned and fat trimmed, cut into cubes)
 - 2 onions, sliced
 - 2 garlic, peeled and crushed
 - 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
 - 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
 - 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
 - 1/2 teaspoon mint flakes
 - 1 teaspoon ground pepper
 - 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
 - 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
 - 1 orange
 - 2 tbsp almond meal
 - 1/2 cup chicken stock
 - handfull of dried apricots
 - 2 handfulls of dates
 - 3 tablespoons pistachio
 - 1 tablespoon pine nuts
 - 1 tablespoon honey
 - salt
 - 2 cinnamon sticks
 - 1 cup cous cous
 - 1 tsp cinnamon
 - 1 tablespoon oil
 - 10g of butter
 - sultanas

1.  Brown the lamb in small amounts on oil in a hot pot.  Remove the browned lamb.
2.  In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, mint, pepper, nutmeg and ground coriander.  Fry the onions and garlic in the pot on medium heat.  Add the spices and fry till the onions become translucent.
3.  Add the browned lamb to the pot and mix - ensuring the spices cover all of the meat.
4.  Add the chicken stock, fresh orange juice and enough water to just cover all of the meat.  Bring the heat down to very low and cover.
5.  Chop the dates and apricots into quarters and add to the pot along with the almond meal, honey, 1 cinnamon stick, pine nuts, pistachios and salt.  Simmer on low heat with the lid open for 1.5 - 2 hours, mixing every 15 minutes or so to ensure the bottom of the pot does not burn.  Taste for seasoning at the end and add salt and pepper if needed.
6.  To prepare the cous cous.  Boil 1 cup of water with cinnamon stick, sultanas, oil and salt.  Once the water has boiled, take off the heat and add the cous cous.  Close the lid and leave for 5 minutes.
7.  Using a fork fluff up the cous cous.  Add butter and a few tablespoons of boiling water.  Place over a medium flame and continue stirring with the fork for 3-4 minutes.
8.  Serve the lamb tagine on top of the cous cous and enjoy :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Vichyssoise Soup

This potato and leek soup is another one of mums recipes.  At the beginning of the year Nick and I went to a wonderful restaurant in Victoria's Mornington Peninsula and enjoyed a delicious lunch.  Before our meal a small tasting of potato and leek soup was served to us, compliments of the chef.  It had a blue cheese mixed through it, the saltiness of it cut through the creaminess of the soup perfectly.   I decided to use mums recipe to make the soup and at the end mix through some blue cheese.  If you're not a fan of blue cheese, the soup tastes delicious without it and is another very easy recipe to make.

Vichyssoise Soup
 - 3-4 leeks
 - 5-6 potatoes
 - 1L milk
 - 1 cup water
 - salt
 - pepper
 - 25g butter
 - blue cheese (I used King Island Roaring Forties)

1. Trim the dark leaves and the hairy roots off the leek and wash thoroughly.  Cut the leek along its length and slice.
2.  Wash and peel potatoes.  Dice.
3.  Add leeks, potatoes, milk and water to a pot and place on medium-high heat till it begins to boil.  Be sure to use a wooden spoon to mix it everynow and then so the milk does not burn.  Once it begins to boil, turn down the heat to medium-low and cook for 45 minutes.
4.  Add salt and pepper to taste and the butter.  Take off heat and use a barmix to mash the soup, ensuring no lumps.
5.  Optional - add blue cheese and mix or serve as is.  Enjoy :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lemon Butter Snapper with Wilted Spinach

Today I had a busy day studying for an upcoming exam so I wanted to make dinner something quick, with little fuss and tasty.  I had a flick through Donna Hay’s cookbook, ‘Seasons’ and was inspired to cook fish.   I decided to make a simple lemon butter snapper with a side of spinach.  Both the fish and the spinach can be cooked in the same pan so cleaning up isn’t too hard.

Tip: When cooking this dish ensure not to overcook the fish as snapper can become dry or rubbery easily.

Lemon Butter Snapper with Wilted Spinach
 - 1-2 tbsp plain flour
 - 1 skinned, boned snapper fillet
 - 20g butter
 - 1/2 tbsp olive oil
 - 1/4 lemon
 - 1 clove of garlic
 - handful of baby spinach leaves
 - 6-8 pitted black olives ( I used Kalamata)
 - 1 tbsp chopped dill
 - salt
 - pepper

1.  Mix flour, salt and pepper.
2.  Dry the fish and lightly coat it in the flour.
3.  Heat the pan on a medium flame with olive oil and half the butter.  Once the butter melts add the coated fish.
4.  Cook the fish for 2 minutes on each side.  I cut the fillet in half so it cooked faster.  It also ensures that the thinner parts of the fillet are not overcooked.  If you decided to use the whole fillet, cook for 3-4 minutes on each side.
5.  Squeeze lemon juice over the fish and remove from the pan.
6.  Add the remaining butter and crushed garlic to the pan.  Cook for 1 minute or until the garlic is browned.  Add the spinach, olives and dill to the pan.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until the spinach wilts.  Serve with the snapper.

I love dipping sauces and when my parents came to visit a few weeks back, mum brought me a delicious chilli, coriander and lemongrass sauce.  This dish went so well with it!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Roasted Potatoes

Last night I made Maggie Beer's roast chook (which appeared on Masterchef) and I served it with a side of roast potatoes.  The roast chicken turned out very succulent however there wasn't enough flavour as the only ingredients other than the chicken were garlic, rosemary, verjuice, lemon, oil, salt and pepper (see photo).

Roasted potatoes - such an easy side to make but so often the potatoes are dry, not crispy or undercooked.  This recipe will tell you how to make the perfect roast potatoes that are moist, crispy, easy and work every time.
Note - if boiling root vegetables always place them in cold water rather than boiling water.  This results in the vegetables cooking through rather than being over cooked on the outside and raw inside.
I got the idea of mixing the potatoes before roasting them from Clotilde Dusoulier's blog 'Chocolate and Zucchini'.

Roasted Potatoes
 - 4 medium sized potatoes (this recipe works with any type of potatoes)
 - 5 blanched non-peeled garlic cloves
- 3-4 sprigs of rosemary
 - 2-3 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- sea salt

1.  Preheat oven to 210°C
2.  Peel potatoes and cut them into medium sized chunks (approx. 16 pieces per potato)
3.  Place the potatoes in a pot of cold water and place on high heat (with the lid on)
4.  Once the water begins to boil, take the heat down to medium and let the potatoes cook for 5 minutes. Drain.
5.  Place the potatoes back in the pot with the lid on and shake them.  This sounds a bit silly but it actually roughens up the sides of the potatoes allowing a larger surface area for a crispier outer layer.
5.  Line a baking tray with baking paper.  Spread out the potatoes.  Add garlic, rosemary and sea salt.  Drizzle with good quality EVOO and toss lightly to ensure all the potatoes are evenly covered in the oil.
6.  Place in middle shelf of oven for 15 minutes. (Toss the potatoes once half way through)
7.  Change the oven to grill and place the potatoes under the grill for another 5-10minutes or until they are golden brown, crispy on the outside and soft in the inside.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Katia's Beef Stew

I bought a slow cooker last year and since then I have been often making stews, trying to find the best combination of flavours.  Last night I think I finally got the flavours perfect.  Stew's are so hard to make look appetizing however I guarantee this stew's smell will entice. I used a sauce that Nick's parents make called 'Drop Dead'.  It is a tomato based sauce and has an absolutely wonderful flavour.  You can use tomato sauce, mild chili paste or tomato paste (or a combination of both) as a substitute.  As I didn't start cooking till 5pm, I didn't use the slow cooker but this recipe can easily be made in the slow cooker.

Katia's Beef Stew
- 500 grams diced beef (most fat removed - ask your butcher for the best cut they have for stewing)
 - 2 potatoes
 - 2 carrots
 - 1 red capsicum
 - 8-10 brown mushrooms
 - 1 onion
 - 3 cloves of garlic
 - 1 tsp ground coriander
 - 1/2 tsp turmeric
 - 1 tsp paprika
 - 1 tsp salt
 - 1 tsp cracked pepper
 - 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
 - 1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
 - 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
 - 2 tbsp soy sauce
 - 1 can diced tomatoes
 - veggie stock cube
 - 2 tbsp drop dead
 - 2 tsp flour
 - 3 bay leaf
 - 1 tbsp sugar

1.  Finely slice onion and crush the garlic and put aside.  Peel and cut into chunky pieces the potatoes and carrots.  Cut the mushrooms coarsely.  Chop the  capsicum very finely.
2. Make the spice rub by mixing the ground coriander, turmeric, paprika, salt, pepper, mixed herbs and ground coriander seeds.  Mix the meat with the spices.  Heat the pot with olive oil on high heat, add half the beef and brown, remove off heat and repeat with the other half of the meat.
3.  In the same pot fry the onions and garlic on medium heat until transparent (add any leftover spice mix).
4.  To the pot add the browned meat, diced tomatoes, all the veggies, dissolved veggie stock cube in 2 cups of water, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, bay leaf, drop dead sauce (or alternative).  Mix all the ingredients, cover the pot and place on low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5.  After 30 minutes take some liquid and mix it with the flour until a homogeneous mixture forms.  Add back to the stew and mix.  Add sugar.  Cook the stew on very low heat for 1.5 hours (I used the smallest cook top at the lowest flame).  Insure to stir occasionally and after an hour has elapsed try the sauce.  It may need some salt - it will depend on the stock used.
6.  Serve and enjoy :)
N.B. test that the meat falls apart after 2 hours of cooking has elapsed, if not cook for another 30 mins.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rich Dark Chocolate Moelleux

I was in Paris at the beginning of the year and of my many excellent meals eaten over there one dish stood out - a French style chocolate lava pudding known as 'Moelleux'.  As soon as I tasted the rich velvety taste I knew I had to replicate it when I got home.  Though this recipe is my own rendition of this dessert, it still has the rich gooey taste I remember so fondly from Paris.  Remember to use the best chocolate and butter for this recipe as it will make a huge difference to the taste.  The moelleux can be prepared ahead of time and kept in the fridge and placed in the oven just before serving.  Serve with your favourite fresh berries.

Dark Chocolate Moelleux
Makes 4

 - 170 grams 70% Cocoa chocolate (I used Lindt)
 - 170 grams unsalted butter
 - 3 eggs
 - 1/2 cup white sugar
 - 1/3 cup white flour

1. Preheat oven to 180°C
2. Break up chocolate and cut up butter and place in a bain-marie and melt gently, stirring continuously until all the chocolate and butter has melted.  Take off heat and let cool to just above room temperature (about 15 minutes)
3.  Whilst waiting for the chocolate mixture to cool, in a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs and sugar together.
4.  Using a whisk or spatula to mix the eggs, slowly add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture until all combined.
5.  Add flour and mix.  Divide the mixture between 4 ramekins.
6.  Place in oven for 8-10 minutes for a very rich, gooey dessert or keep in for a little longer for a moist cake to form.  Enjoy with lots of fresh berries.

Chicken and Mushroom Wontons

These wontons are very easy to make and freeze well.  The dried black fungus mushrooms (available at asian grocers) used in the filling gives a really lovely texture.  You can also add very finely chopped spring onions to the filling.  I boiled the wontons, however they can be deep fried.  Enjoy :)

Chicken and Mushroom Wontons
Makes approx. 60 wontons
 - 500grams chicken mince
 - 7-10 dried whole black fungus
 - 7-10 slices of dried shitake mushrooms
 - 1 tsp grated ginger
 - 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
 - 2 tsp olive oil
 - 2 tsp white sugar
 - 2 eggs
 - pinch of salt
 - half bunch of coriander
 - won ton wrappers or goo gee wrappers (available in supermarkets and Asian grocers)

1. Place the dried mushrooms into a small saucepan and cover with water.  Bring the water to the boil on moderate heat and keep it boiling for 10 minutes. Remove from heat
2.  While waiting for the mushrooms to hydrate, in a bowl add chicken mince, eggs, ginger, soy sauce,oil, sugar and salt.
3.  Very finely chop the coriander and add to the mixture
4.  Once the mushrooms have boiled, wash them under cold water.  Chop (not too fine so the filling still have some texture) and add to the mixture.  Mix.
5.  Use this mixture to make the wontons.  There are many ways to fold the wontons.  I folded the square wontons in half to make triangles.  You can fold them anyway you like but just remember to use a little water at the joins and ensure that no air is trapped.
6. Gently place in simmering water for 5 minutes or until the filling has cooked through.
7.  Serve with home made chicken soup