Thursday, March 31, 2011

Donna Hay's Chicken with Haloumi and Honey

Donna Hay has a show called Fast, Fresh, Simple on at the moment and quite a few recipes have caught my eye. This one for chicken and haloumi really is quite simple but certainly doesn't lack in flavour.

The chicken breast is baked with haloumi, thyme, lemon zest and a drizzle of honey and olive oil. We served it as suggested with a fig and rocket salad.

It was really delicious, I would be happy to eat this again!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Margaret Fulton's Nicoise Salad

Before children we had an awesome place we would go to on our our trips out west and have our favourite wood fired pizza. Problem is when my daughter was old enough to eat properly she didn't like the pizza! Well it came about oneday  - the Nicoise salad was ordered and she LOVED it, so problem solved. We now stop to have the most delicious pizza and my three year old eats Nicoise salad :)

So I decided to I would make it, finding a recipe here. Yes it was simple to make but did involve preparing all the components - boiling potatoes, boiling eggs, steaming beans, picking rocket, halving the tomatoes, chopping up some olives - ok, it wasn't difficult at all ! Even then I managed to overcook my potatoes and eggs (i like a runny centre). The dressing was gorgeous - dijon, garlic, oregano, lemon juice, vinegars (I used verjuice and apple cider) and olive oil.

I used a few different potato types (from my brothers vege patch) - spot the purple one :)
This was absolutely delicious, and yes my daughter loved it. We will definitely be making this on a regular basis. The other exciting thing - it was almost all home grown, my brothers beans, tomatoes and potatoes, our rocket and eggs from my parents chooks!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pumpkin Kibbeh Pie

I saw this interesting Pumpkin Kibbeh Pie recently on The Food Blog and thought I should try it. I love trying food from different cultures (just in case you haven't noticed!!). Apparently it is far from the traditional Lebanese kibbeh which is usually made with meat.

I roasted the pumpkin and then pureed with cinnamon and seasoning. I then mixed in uncooked bulgar and allowed to sit for a little while. I didn't squeeze liquid from the pumpkin as it was already dry and thick. Half the pumpkin is then layered in a cake tin with caramelised star anise onions and gently roasted walnuts. The pie is then baked.

The kibbeh was very tasty, the flavours of the walnuts and onions went really well with the pumpkin. But the whole thing was too dry, I should of added much less bulgar (1 cup instead of 2). I think it would make a really great side dish to take to a bbq. Maybe I should have a Lebanese themed party!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brioche Pudding

The reason I chose to cook this incredibly wonderful dessert of Pumpkin Cheesecake Bread Pudding all came about when Willow Bird Baking put up a Cheesecake Challenge. It is probably not something I would normally choose to bake but I am having a love affair with pumpkin and spice lately. The recipe also calls for Brioche and I had seen an amazing Brioche recipe on Snippets of Thyme recently that I was hoping to bake. And bake I did!

I just have to start by saying that this was a sensational dessert, I loved it. The cheesecake component had the most beautiful lush creamy texture and the flavour of spices and pumpkin and cream cheese..... The brioche perfectly matched the mousse like cheesecake filling. I ate it while still slightly warm and it was really good but actually the next day straight out of the fridge it was at its best, the flavours had really developed. I am trying to eat healthy and lose weight but having this in my fridge was the hardest challenge yet - I could not resist breaking off pieces of the brioche and scooping up extra cheesecake......
I made my husband take it out that night to feed his fellow band members (check it out - Letters to Home), hopefully they weren't on a diet too!

So to begin I made the brioche, it is not a difficult process, just takes time, including an overnight stint. The dough is rich with eggs and milk and butter and sugar. I was not sure if I had eaten brioche before but once it was finally baked the taste was ever so familiar. Although it is not really a bread I would eat on its own it was the perfect vehicle for my cheesecake.

To prepare for the pudding I baked butternut pumpkin with a little cinnamon until nice and soft and then pureed. The cheesecake mixture is a combination of the pumpkin with cream cheese, eggs, sugar, milk, cream, vanilla, and generous amounts of allspice, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon.

The baked brioche was sliced nice and thick, each side coated with melted butter and placed in a baking dish. I poured over the creamy custard and allowed the bread to soak it all in under some tight cling wrap before drizzling the pudding with a combination of brown sugar and butter. The dish was placed in a water bath for baking.

Once removed from the oven I was immediately impressed with how beautiful this turned out. I really wanted to create one of the other cheesecakes suggested in the challenge for their beauty but this one I now know stands out in its own right.

I would suggest once cooled put this in the fridge and enjoy the next day cold, it was sooooo yummy! I would go as far to say it could possibly be my new favourite dessert!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Creamy Avocado and Basil with Wholemeal Tagliatelle

I saw this pasta dish on Bake Bike Blog a few weeks back and I finally got round to making it. The original recipe can be found here. It is really pure genius, avocado adds a beautiful creaminess to this dish.

After the success with my spelt pasta I decided to make some wholemeal wheat flour pasta to go with this dish. Although it is a little extra work for the dough to come to the right consistency it worked really well. The final tagliatelle was so delicious, like fresh pasta is, the wholemeal flour added flavour and a little texture.

The avocado sauce is so very simple. Firstly blend lemon juice, garlic (i blanched with skin on in my pasta water) and olive oil. Then process in your avocado, basil (I used twice as much as suggested) and seasoning. As soon as I tasted this greeness I was really impressed, the lemon juice cut through the basil and the smooth avocado added something special.

I blanched some asparagus (also in my pasta water!) and served with the pasta. I thought this was a really fantastic and simple meal. The rest of my family loved it too.....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Nigella's African Chicken Drumsticks with Freekeh and Roasted Vegetables

Yet another recipe from Nigella Kitchen, this one for African Chicken Drumsticks. The drumsticks are marinaded in tomato sauce, worcestershire sauce, onion, apricot jam, ground ginger and mustard powder. They are then baked.

I decided to serve them with green wheat freekeh and roasted vegetables. I found this recipe where they used maple pecans with beetroot and decided to give it a go, also using a similar mustard dressing. So I roasted beetroot and carrot throwing in some asparagus for the last 10 minutes. I toasted some pecans in butter and then added a little maple syrup and seasoning. I tossed all the vegetables together with the cooked freekeh and pecans, adding the mustard dressing.

The drumsticks were very tasty but it seemed more like a barbeque sauce then anything. My freekeh was really interesting, it is a similar texture to brown rice. I liked the flavour and the more you ate the more appealing it became. The beetroot, carrot, pecans and freekeh all went really well together with the mustard dressing. The asparagus was a little out of place (though it still tasted delicious!).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Nigella's Turkey Meatballs with Rocket and Lemon Couscous

Last night I cooked another recipe from Nigella Kitchen - Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce served with Rocket and Lemon Couscous.

The tomato sauce is a basic recipe with garlic, celery, onion and tinned tomatoes. I did use slightly less water then the recipe suggested. For the meatballs the turkey mince is combined with other classic meatball ingredients like bread crumbs, egg and parmesan. You do add a little worcestershire sauce which is slightly unusual. They are rolled quite small, about a teaspoon size and then popped into the simmering sauce raw.

The cous cous is cooked pretty much the usual way and once ready you fork through some lemon zest and juice as well as some rocket and seasoning.

I thought the meatballs were a little bit dense for my liking, especially compared to the beautiful soft beef meatballs I cooked recently. The flavours were nice and everything went really well together. I especially like the couscous with the fresh lemon. It was one of those meals where you just kept putting a 'little bit more' on your plate!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Anna's Pork Roast

I have actually cooked this recipe of Anna Gare's for pork roast many times - it is absolutely delicious and results in crispy crackling every time. I was inspired to cook pork roast as we bought some fennel and the lovely lady we bought it from said it could be roasted. I did a little bit of searching and found Not Quite Nigella had a pork roast with fennel. Normally when I have cooked Anna's I have gone all out and cooked all the suggested accompaniments - potatoes and balsamic pears with prosciutto, buttery spinach and beans....but this time it is roasted potatoes, apples and fennel.

We bought a lovely piece of rolled free range pork from our excellent local butcher. As part of Anna's recipe you blanch the skin in boiling water very briefly and then rub onto the flesh a paste of fennel seeds, garlic, rosemary and salt that you smash together with a mortar and pestle. The pork is then placed upon a vege bed (carrot, onion and celery) to roast. The final 30 minutes of cooking time you crank up the heat in the oven to make sure your skin crackles perfectly.

I roasted my apple, potatoes and fennel separately. The funny thing is I completely overcooked and hence dried out my fennel making it basically inedible - the whole reason I was inspired to cook the pork roast!!
It didn't matter, the whole thing was delicious, once again. I especially liked the roasted apples. If you have never managed to master the crackling on a pork roast I recommend you try this recipe - just make sure you buy good quality pork.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Nigella's Scallops with Thai Scented Pea Puree and Spelt Noodles, & Miniature Rhubarb Chocolate Cakes with Dark Chocolate Truffle Centre

We had left over scallops and left over pasta from our delicious Scallop Ravioli, so the Scallops with Thai Scented Pea Puree recipe in Nigella Kitchen seemed like a great idea. We decided to make noodles with the left over spelt pasta to accompany the dish.

The pasta we had not rolled out was kept in the fridge overnight and was still quite a good consistency to work with. I rolled it out to 7/9 on our pasta machine and then put it through the cutters to make noodles.

For the puree you cook some frozen peas and puree with a little cream and curry paste (we used curry paste that I had in the freezer from the Pumpkin and Lentil Curry). This is where I recipe went from Thai Scented to a very spicy (and tasty) pea puree as I had left my husband in charge (whilst feeding bub) and he didn't read the recipe.... So he just added the entire remaining curry paste rather then starting with 1/2 tbsp and tasting!!! It was really delicious still just very spicy, too much so for my daughter.

The scallops are seared and the pan deglazed with lime juice. That was perfect for this dish as the lime cut through the spice and sweet of the peas and scallops. What was amazing is the flavour of the scallops still held up beautifully against the heat of our puree. But thank goodness we had the delicious noodles on the plate as they made what would have been a too-hot-to-eat dish very nice to eat indeed.

I also cooked some little chocolate cakes yesterday. I first stewed rhubarb with sugar and once this was cooled I stirred it to a mush and folded it through my chocolate cake mix at the end. I put the mixture in a mini muffin pan and popped in a piece of dark chocolate truffle. The final result was beautifully soft and moist chocolate cake with a soft gooey chocolate centre - YUM! The rhubarb flavour did not really stand out and I think you could easily add extra to the recipe.

Miniature Rhubarb Chocolate Cakes with Dark Chocolate Truffle Centre

1 stick rhubarb sliced + 1tbsp raw sugar + 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup plain flour (I used organic unbleached)
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
1/4 cup cocoa
2 tbsp oil
1/4 cup natural yoghurt
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup raw sugar
Chocolate truffles cut into quarters

Put the rhubarb, sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat to stew, should only take 5 minutes so keep and eye on it. Once cooled mix with a spoon until soft.
Grease a 24 mini muffin tin and preheat oven to 180C.
Whisk the flour, bi-carb and cocoa together in a bowl and make a well. Whisk the oil, natural yoghurt, egg, vanilla and raw sugar in a jug and then using a spatula add to the dry ingredients until just combined. This will be very thick. Fold through the rhubarb.
Put the chocolate mix into the prepared tin and pop a piece of truffle in covering with a little of the mix as you gently push it.
Bake for 10 minutes or until the cake feels cooked (springs back).

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Scallop Spelt Flour Ravioli in Butter and Sage Sauce with Roasted Pumpkin, Rocket and Goats Cheese Salad

This dish we (and I must stress 'we' as my husband probably did the majority!) cooked last night was inspired by Janella Purcell when I saw her make scallop ravioli on Good Chef Bad Chef with spelt wholemeal flour. I have seen spelt used in many dishes but I have been hesitant to buy it as it is so expensive. For those of you who don't know spelt flour is an ancient wheat grain that is easier to digest and lower in gluten then todays wheat.

Well my husband made the pasta and rolled it out, and it looked amazing, the texture was not as silky as refined wheat flour but was still very smooth. I coated our scallops (small scallops with no roe) in olive oil, garlic and seasoning before placing one scallop into the middle of a pasta round and using water to stick another round on top. I sadly did not photograph any of this process as we had guests over and I simply forgot (again!).
The ravioli were cooked in boiling water for a couple of minutes only, just until the pasta is cooked. Our scallops were just a tad bit small and ever so slightly over cooked. We served with a butter and sage sauce (heat butter to a froth, throw in sage then a squeeze of lemon).

We served the scallop ravioli with pumpkin (roasted with cinnamon and allspice), tossed with some rocket leaves and lemon pepper goats cheese.

Everything came together really well, the flavours of the warm pumpkin salad complimented the scallops really well. When you sliced open the ravioli the scallop juices oozed out mixing with the butter sauce. The spelt pasta was great, and the flavour not incredibly different to modern wheat. I can see why spelt is becoming so popular as a wheat alternative. Overall a very delicious dish.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sausage Stew

We have some frozen cooked sausages left over from a summer bbq that need to be used. I have been doing some sausage recipe searches and found Italian Sausage Stew (also known as Happy Husband Maker!) on Not Quite Nigella. No my sausages are not Italian (at all) but they are very delicious and I just added some leek, thyme and chilli as extras to the original recipe.

The recipe is really quite a basic stew recipe with onion, garlic, tinned tomatoes, chicken stock, olives and carrots. What attracted me to the recipe was the addition of pearl cous cous for the final cooking stage.
It was a really delicious hearty stew, and either though it wasn't Irish Stew, I think it was a fitting dinner for St. Pats Day :)
And yes I believe it did make my husband happy.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Grilled Fig on Sourdough with Lemon Pepper Goats Cheese

Perfectly ripe figs were a plentiful on the weekend at the markets and we just had to buy some. We also bought  some Willowbrae Goats cheese coated in lemon pepper. After we arrived home we just had to eat some of our purchases for lunch!

We also bought a stick of sourdough so I sliced it and put some fig segments on top then drizzled with olive oil and grilled. I topped with a little goats cheese and rocket as well as a touch of some lemon honey dressing (olive oil, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper). It was a perfect lunch, absolutely delicious.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nigella's Homestyle Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas (or in my case kidney beans!)

I have to confess that I occasionally enjoy watching Come Dine With Me (UK), it really is quite hilarious watching them cook! One dish that continually comes up with the contestants trying to cook is Jerk Chicken, or Caribbean Chicken. So when I saw this recipe for Jerk Chicken in Nigella Kitchen I knew I had to try it. She serves it with the classic accompaniment of Rice and Peas, which is meant to contain Gungo Peas but I used kidney beans.

The chicken breasts are first marinated in a quite complex mixture of allspice, thyme, cayenne pepper, ground ginger, nutmeg, ground cinnamon, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, rum, lime juice, soy sauce, cider vinegar, red chillies and onion. After I blitzed it all together it was giving off a nose tingling vapour!
The chicken is then baked with its marinate whilst you prepare the rice and peas which is a more simple rice dish cooked with coconut milk and beans. I was meant to add chillies but left them out as I at least wanted one part of the dish toned down for my daughters sake.

The dish was really delicious. The chicken coated in the thick marinade was really delicious and perfectly complimented by the coconut in the rice. I was actually really surprised at how good this was. In the process I've already found some more delicious recipes in Kitchen I will be trying next week ;)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nigella's Indian Rubbed Lamb Chops with Butternut, Rocket and Pine Nut Salad

Last night I cooked this recipe from Nigella Kitchen and I was really impressed, it was delicious.

The butternut is coated with oil, salt, turmeric and ground ginger, and then roasted. The sultanas and dressing are mixed in the bowl the butternut and spices were tossed together. The whole thing is then all brought together with rocket and toasted pine nuts.

The lamb is simply coated lightly both sides in a spice mix of cumin, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, salt and cayenne pepper. My husband then cooked it for me in a griddle pan.

When this dish came together on the plate it was amazing, all the different elements added so much. It was a perfect flavour combination.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Nigella's Sweet and Sour Chicken

I haven't been cooking as many recipes from Nigella Kitchen lately but I have pulled out a couple to cook this week. Last night it was her Sweet and Sour Chicken.

Please ignore the arm of my daughters doll in the background!
I must say it was a very interesting dish to create - with such ingredients as pineapple juice, soy sauce, apricot jam, tomato sauce.....
But the final product was actually quite sweet and sour!

She leads into the dish by saying it will be loved by your children. Although my daughter liked it, she didn't go crazy for it. It was a very tasty dish and simple to prepare but it is probably not something I would cook very often.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pine Mushroom Tarte Tatin with Roasted Baby Carrot and Beetroot

We went to the farmers markets at Castle Hill yesterday. I was a little disappointed at the lack of stores selling fresh fruit and vegetables but there were loads of stores selling other amazing products.

When I checked out the mushroom store I saw these gorgeous pine mushrooms, their colour is so vividly orange. Using the recipe I spotted on Delicieux the other week I used them to make a mushroom Tarte Tatin.

It is a fabulously simple recipe with sauteed leek and garlic, mushrooms and thyme and a puff pastry case. We absolutely loved it, you could taste all the ingredients and the mushrooms were so delicious. Not to mention the beetroots and carrot I roasted up to go along side, they were perfect. They really had so much flavour.

I am totally sold on buying your fruit and vegetables this way, everything we used in this dinner - mushroom, garlic, leek, beetroot, carrot and thyme (my garden) would have been picked fresh and grown with love, you could taste the difference.