Sunday, April 25, 2010

{Roasted Cauliflower & Almond Salad}

This is a Karen Martini recipe, I really love Karen Martini, I have all her cookbooks, watch her on TV, tear her recipes from the weekend papers and i've met her and she kissed me on the cheek ! she did I tell you. 

You know how with some cook books you can turn ten pages before you see something you want to make, well its not like that for me and Karen, I want to make everything she makes, she is the bomb, we once had a whole Karen Martini christmas dinner but I digress, I'm here to tell you about this roasted cauliflower salad which needless to say really good, you could eat it at any time of the year and I can't wait to make it again.

...the salad
4 freerange eggs
1 small cauliflower, broken into small florets
80ml olive oil
3 tbsp flaked almonds toasted
1 handful flatleaf parsley leaves
2 green chillis sliced
15ml white wine vinegar
4 tbsp good quality egg mayo
2 tbsp plain yoghurt

Preheat the oven to 200. Boil eggs for 7 minutes then leave to cool before peeling. Toss the little cauliflower florets in 30ml of olive oil, spread on a tray and cook in the oven till they are golden brown, about 20 minutes, remove and cool slightly. 

In a big bowl combine the cauliflower, toasted almond slithers, sliced chillis and chopped parsley plus the remaining olive oil and the vinegar, season well and give it a big stir.

Cut the eggs in half and divide between plates, drizzle with the mayo and yoghurt which you have combined in a separate bowl. Top with a pile of the cauliflower salad.

Monday, April 19, 2010

{New York Deli Loaf}

I came across this recipe a while ago, I copied and pasted it to myself in an email and it took me about 3 months to make it, what a waste of 3 months !! this is the kind of bread that stops you from trying any other bread recipe. Its the kind of bread you would happily pay five bucks for at the farmers market, the outside is crunchy, it actually crackles as its cooling on the rack and the inside is sourdoughy and chewy, its really divine and the whole loaf always disappears within a few hours, completely irresistible. 

On the down side it takes more than a day to make but don't let that put you off, for 24 hours you are just leaving it alone to do its thing.

...the loaf
3 cups white bread flour
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups, plus 2 tbsp water
extra polenta or flour for dusting

Mix flour, yeast, salt and water together until if forms a shaggy and sticky dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it on your bench or somewhere warm for 24 hours, its ready once its doubled in size and the surface is covered in bubbles.

Lightly flour your bench and hands and pop dough on it (its sticky), turn it over on itself a couple of times then cover with plastic wrap and leave it for 15 minutes.

Get a clean tea towel and put a thickish layer of polenta or flour over half of it then pick up the dough and drop it on top, sprinkle polenta or flour on the top of the loaf and then fold the tea towel over it and leave it for another 2 hours, it will double in size again and won't bounce back when gently poked.

Half an hour before the dough is ready heat the oven to 220 with your Le Crueset (I use the dutch oven shape) in there, or any other cast iron or casserole dish with a lid, when the dough is ready and pot heated carefully slide your hand under the towel and turn dough over into the hot pot. Give it a bit of a jiggle then put the lid on and pop it in the oven for 30 minutes, after 30 mintues remove the lid and bake for another 20 - 30 minutes or until nicely browned and hollow when tapped. Pop onto rack to cool.

Friday, April 16, 2010

{Olive Oil Crackers}

Yesterday I was inspired to make crackers by Rhiannon over at Toast and Life so I got out my Ottolenghi cookbook which has had a little piece of paper marking these olive oil crackers for ages. 

Also on my travels through blogville I noticed Lucy at Nourish Me has made these and recommended adding rosemary so I did that, I also added 1/4 cup grated parmesan although that was more of a mistake being distracted while making the dough I read the parmesan from the recipe on the opposite page! they are really moorish and sexy to look at.

...the dough
250g plain flour plus extra for rolling
1 tsp baking powder
115ml water
25ml olive oil plus extra to brush on them
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp chopped rosemary needles
1/4 cup grated parmesan (if you like)
flaked sea salt to sprinkle

Mix everything together in a bowl except the extras and the flaked sea salt, make a soft dough, do it by hand its really quick, knead it for 5 minutes or so till its all come together nicely, cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge for an hour.

Preheat oven to 220. Cut off walnut sized pieces and using the extra flour roll out till its a long tongue shape and paper thin (really really thin, my first tray load I didn't roll thin enough). Place crackers on a tray lined with baking paper, brush generously with olive oil, sprinkle on the sea salt and bake for 6 - 8 minutes till light golden brown, cool on a rack.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

{Simple Cupcakes}

Little Jack has been asking to make cupcakes now for a week, this morning he got out his little wooden kitchen and was play making them so once Billy went down for his sleep we got to it, this is the recipe I use, it makes 12 good sized cupcakes. 

I love it that my little fella likes to bake, I started baking with him when he was really young and he's a great stirrer! and don't we all have memories of licking the batter off the spoon? plus for me its a nice change from playing with cars. I'm a bit over playing with cars.

...the cupcakes
115g butter, room temperature
225g caster sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
150g self raising flour, sifted
125 plain flour, sifted
125ml milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla 

Preheat oven to 180. Line 12 patty tins with cupcake cases. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla till pale, add eggs one at a time mixing between each one, add in the flours and milk and mix till its all combined then spoon a generous tablespoonful of mixture into each case, I do this using two tablespoons, one to pick up and one to drop off. Bake for around 18 minutes, cool on a rack then ice.

For a really simple flat style icing I use a 1 1/2 cups icing sugar a heaped tablespoon of butter which I melt in the microwave, 1 tsp of vanilla extract and a few drops of milk to get it to the right consistency, then I add a few drops of colouring as per Jacks instructions, and he does the rest.

Monday, April 12, 2010

{Red Lentil & White Bean Soup}

As the weather finally starts cooling down its time to eat soup, yesterday, our sunday we spent the day at the NGV art gallery in the city with the kidlets, when we got home we lit an open fire, our first for this year and I made soup, this is the recipe I used it's really delicious and warming, its also a wee bit fancy with the crisp pancetta and thyme topping. Fancy pants.

We had it with homemade bread, a white one called the New York Loaf, I'll post that recipe later. Its the best bread I've ever baked.

...the soup
12 slices pancetta - chopped
1 onion - chopped
3 cloves garlic - crushed
bunch fresh thyme
400g tin of diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 cup red lentils - rinsed
2 tins white beans (cannellini)
olive oil

Put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in your pan (I use my Le Cruset for soup) and get it hot, add half the pancetta and about 8 sprigs of thyme and cook till brown and crisp, drain on paper towel and just put it somewhere safe (away from the Rex the cat in our house).

Turn the heat down to medium and add the rest of the pancetta, the onion and the garlic to the pan and cook till the onion is translucent but not coloured, add the lentils, tomatoes, stock, water and another 4 sprigs of thyme, bring to the boil then reduce heat and cook for around 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Stir thru the rinsed white beans, add seasoning and cook another 5 minutes till beans are warmed thru.

Spoon into bowls and top with some of the crispy pancetta and thyme, its enough for 4.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

{Gingerbread People}

I've never made gingerbread people before but Jack wanted to make cupcakes today and I only had one egg, not enough for cupcakes but enough for gingerbread dough so we gave it a go. They are good, not too sweet and the dough was really silky and easy to work with, the control freak in me comes out in the kitchen but today I just filled the piping bags and let Jack do his thing.

Sometimes I have to remind myself he is 3 and let him enjoy himself and forget about all the little gingerbread people having two eyes, a smile and buttons, I am sure they are as happy with their new outfits at Jack is.

125g softened butter
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup golden syrup
1 egg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp bicarb soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups plain flour

Cream butter, sugar and golden syrup until pale, add egg mix it through. Sift over flour, spices and soda, combine to a ball, knead on bench for a couple of minutes (my favourite part) then wrap in plastic and pop in the fridge for half an hour.

Preheat oven to 150. Roll out dough to 4mm thick and cut out your peeps, place on lined tray and bake for 15 minutes. Cool on rack then decorate with icing.

{Brown Rice Sausage Rolls}

As the name suggests my sausage rolls contain brown rice, its not all brown rice mind you there is some sausage in there too but this way they don't taste too sausagey, if you know what I mean. 

Everyone loves sausage rolls, I don't think I know a single person who doesn't, I like to make these for birthday parties and they disappear the moment I pop them out, its also good to have them in the freezer for dinner, lunch or snacks, they are all rounders sausage rolls.  Gotta love that. 

These are both delicious and sneaky, you can put any vegies in them as long as its grated, pumpkin, zucchini whatever. I like to cook the rice the day before so it dries out a little like you do for fried rice, or sometimes if I'm feeling lazy or I'm short of time I'll use some of the Sunrice 90 second brown rice, you can chuck that straight in the mix.

...the rolls

400g sausages or sausage meat
2 cups cooked and cooled brown rice
2 grated apples
2 grated carrots
1/4 cup of sultanas
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large onion chopped finely
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

4 sheets of butter puff pastry
1 egg
sesame seeds to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 200. In a big bowl chuck the sausage meat(squeezed out of casings if using sausages), rice, apple, carrot, onion, sultanas, garlic, crumbs and generously season with s+p then using your hands get it all mooshed together really well.

Cut the butter puff sheets in half, put half a cup of sausage mix onto each half and form into sausage shape, leaving a 2 cm space closest to you, brush egg along there then roll it into the sausage roll shape, cut in half and then cut each half into 4 (is this getting confusing?).

Pop the sausage rolls onto a tray lined with baking paper, brush tops with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cook for 30 minutes or until pastry is golden.