Thursday, February 24, 2011

{Moroccan Chicken With Saffron Honey Jam}

I pick up recipes from all over the place, once I was sitting waiting in a noodle shop and ripped an orange and date scone recipe out of the saturday newspaper, a little boy waiting with his dad made a big song and dance about it and rightly so. 

I now employ spy like techniques to remove recipes covertly. This one came out of a book, not a cook book but a fiction book, no I didn't rip it out, I copied it out before returning the book and I am glad I went to the trouble because this is a such a beautiful dish, its so fragrant the saffron honey jam is divine, I don't know about you but I have orange blossom water in my pantry because I live close to a middle eastern market, if you don't you could use orange juice but up the amount to about a tbsp, this is lovely dinner for two.

...the dish
500g chicken thighs
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, large dice
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tsp baharat spice mix
400g tin diced tomatoes
3/4 cup chicken stock
pinch of saffron threads
2 1/2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp orange blossom water
handful toasted flaked almonds
handful coriander
cous cous to serve

Cut the thighs in half and season with s+p, brown them in the olive oil using a casserole dish or frypan with a lid, once brown remove to a plate and add the onion into the oil, cook it till its soft and starting to colour then add in the garlic and baharat, cook for a few minutes then tip in the tin of tomatoes and let it simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally, while that's simmering add the saffron to the hot stock, once the five minutes is up add the stock to the pot and then the chicken and any juices from the resting plate, simmer gently for half an hour.

Remove the chicken pieces to a bowl and cover. Bring the sauce to the boil and reduce for ten minutes till quite thick, next add in the honey and reduce for a further ten minutes till its really jammy, then add in the orange blossom water and return the chicken cooking for a few more minutes to warm it thru.

Serve on cous cous scattered with the toasted almonds and coriander.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

{Warm Chickpea & Rocket Salad}

I realise I got a bit hysterical over the brownie, so to calm things down here's a salad, its really interesting and delicious in its own right, in a salady way its just as good as the brownie, the contrast between the hot chickpeas with their hot dressing and the cool leaves is a nice surprise, yes the rocket wilts a bit but its all good, warm rocket after all is not a bad thing, its all just a little bit different and there is nothing wrong with that, I can't wait to make it again.

...the salad
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
400g tin of chickpeas
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
two big handfuls of rocket
half of a small red onion, thinly sliced

Pop the rocket and sliced onion into your salad bowl.

Put the olive oil in a frypan over medium heat and when its hot, add the ginger, garlic, and cumin seeds and cook stirring constantly until fragrant and the garlic and ginger are cooked (couple of minutes). Chuck in the drained and rinsed chickpeas, season with s+p and cook until the chickpeas are well coated and hot.

Remove from heat and stir in the vinegar and honey, now toss it with the rocket and red onion and eat immediately.

{Dark Chocolate Brownie}

This brownie is so good that I feel like I need to make an acceptance speech, I want to shout, I can cook brownies!!! actually I did shout that and do a little dance which freaked out the wee peas a bit, but you see I've never really made a perfect brownie, never one that I am super proud of, the dense, fudgy, moist (sorry George) kind of brownie. 

I actually still can't believe it came out of my oven, as soon as Jay got home from work I rushed to him with a slice on a plate and said "look, just look at it, its perfect !!!!" So to my speech, I'd like to thank Shara for reading my blog (and liking it) and for listening to me whine about my brownie baking deficiencies which resulted in her sharing with me Bill Grangers recipe, brownies are now officially on the list of things I can cook.

...the brownie
1 1/2 cups caster sugar

2/3 cups cocoa powder
(as per Shara I used 1/3 cup cocoa and 1/3 cup dutch cocoa)
3/4 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs, lightly beaten
200g unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
(I used 70% cocoa)

Preheat the oven to 160 or drop it to 150 if your oven is fan forced only like mine. Line a 22cm square baking tin with baking paper. Whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, flour and baking powder in a bowl. Mix in the lightly beaten eggs, cooled butter and vanilla until combined, and then lastly mix thru the chopped chocolate. Pour into the tin and bake for 40-45 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes, then using the baking paper pick it up and pop it onto a wire rack.

Little tips re the baking time, (I suffer a bit with anxiety when it comes to timing brownies) it needs to feel set when you press it in the middle but a skewer should not come out clean, it will come away from the edge of the tin a bit, and its better to undercook it than overcook it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

{Everyday Bread}

This everyday bread recipe came from over at Lucy's blog The KitchenMaid, shes pretty talented, she writes for Frankie and as you see here she bakes a good loaf of bread, she is aiming to make bread for her little family everyday, I admire that but am far from an everyday bread baker myself, however once in a while I do get the urge to chuck one together, this recipe makes two large loaves, we used one for a BLT dinner and for toast the next morning and the other one I made into a garlic and herb bread for a dinner with pals, all three were yum.

...the loaf
800g unbleached strong flour
200g wholemeal strong flour
1 tbsp instant dried yeast
1 tbsp fine salt
2 tbsp olive oil
600ml lukewarm water

Put all the ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix gently until you have a smooth and non sticky dough (about 8 minutes). If you don't have a mixer, knead by hand for about 15-20 minutes.

Divide the dough in half (I followed Lucy's advise and weighed it to be sure) and put each half into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with tea towels and leave until doubled, about one hour. Knock back and knead each piece for a couple of minutes, then return to bowls, cover and let them rise again for about thirty minutes.

Gently form each piece into a loaf shape and place on a generously floured piece of baking paper. Allow to rise for another thirty minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220, with a baking tray inside. 

Once its time carefully lift the baking paper and loaves onto the hot tray (I had my baking paper on top of one of those colour coded flexible chopping boards and slipped it off onto the hot tray) bake for about twenty minutes, then turn over and bake for another ten minutes (depending on your oven), keep going until the the base of each loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

{Green Tomato Pickle}

I've come over all CWA (country women's association) lately and tried a bit of preserving, this is my first go at green tomato pickle, but I don't think I'll need to try any other recipes, its really good, I used my homegrown tomatoes but seeing as its coming to the end of the season you should be able to pick some up at your grocers or its a good way to use up those little tomatoes that get stuck on your vine when the sun stops shining.

This batch made six 200ml jars which I have been giving away as gifts, its so nice to share these little jars with my pals and its getting good reviews, according to one of my besties its a taste sensation, i'll take that !! I'm not going to give you any advise on sterilising, I found thru my own research there are many ways to go about this, I used the dishwasher method and bottled warm pickles into hot jars but you do your thing, maybe ask your nanna.

...the pickle
1.4kg green tomatoes, sliced
450g brown sugar
450g apples, peeled, cored, sliced
450g onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
6 shallots, sliced
1 tsp cinnamon
generous pinch of cayenne pepper
4 cloves
a bouquet garni
(I used parsley, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, peppercorns, 2 slices fresh ginger wrapped in muslin and tied with cooking twine)
1.2 litres vinegar
(I used 900ml white and 300ml malt)

Sprinkle the sliced green tomatoes with salt and leave them overnight, you need to do this in a non metallic bowl. The next day, drain them well and put them into a large pot with the remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil then lower heat and simmer until reduced and tender (about four hours).

Remove the bouquet and let the pickles cool slightly before transferring into hot, sterilised jars with lids, let the pickles rest for one month before tasting.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

{Chocolate, Walnut & Currant Cookies}

The base cookie mix here is from Ottolengthi's book but I mix around the fruit and nut combination depending on what I have and what I feel like, this time as you can see I had walnuts, dark chocolate and currants, they are really so good, crisp immediately after baking but they soften by the next day, not in a bad way, in a I just had three with my cup of coffee way (oink...) c'mon they are practically healthy, there really is not much butter in them considering it makes about 30 cookies and dried fruit and nuts are totally in the good for you part of the food pyramid thingy.

...the cookies
90g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
100g butter softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
110g brown sugar
25g caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
80g rolled oats
100g roughly chopped walnuts
100g roughly chopped dark chocolate
50g currants

Preheat oven to 170. Cream the butter, sugars and vanilla till pale, add the egg in making sure its nicely incorporated. Sift over the dry ingredients, then add the oats, nuts and fruit and choc, mix till just combined.

You might want to chill it at this point for about 15 minutes then roll balls about the size of a walnut, pop them onto a lined tray leaving a bit of space for spread and bake for 12 minutes until a nice golden brown colour, leave on the tray for a couple of minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

{Rustic Onion Tart}

I love the word rustic, its so comfortable and this is comfort food for summer, I dreamily made my pastry thinking its the kind of tart you would chuck together if you had a little farm with a veg patch, some chooks and a cow, maybe you walked down the lane to another little farm to grab your wholemeal flour, from Joe the hot farmer wearing the dungarees but no shirt ??!! 

I think I've possibly been reading too many books about moving to the country, and am possibly going a bit mad living so close to the city. Anyway the pastry was a real surprise with this tart, its so delicious (maybe that's the parmesan!) its crisp and flaky and totally lush, enjoy with a green salad and a glass of vino.

...the pastry
60g sr flour
60g wholemeal flour
pinch salt
1/2 tsp mustard powder
60g butter, cubed
40g parmesan, grated
cold water

...the filling
700g onions, sliced thinly
60g butter
2 eggs
150ml cream
2 tbsp parmesan, grated

For the onions, simply slice them up thinly and then cook them gently in the butter till they are golden brown, this will take about 30 minutes, give them the occasional stir while you make your pastry.

Sift the flours, mustard and salt into a bowl then rub in the butter till it forms breadcrumbs, then add the parmesan and enough cold water to bring it together to a nice smooth pastry (its not much), form it into a disk then wrap in clingwrap and pop into the fridge for 30 minutes.

Have your oven at 180. Roll the pastry out, spray your pie dish with spray oil then drop the pastry in, squish it around till its lined then prick the bottom gently with a fork and bake for 15 minutes, take it out and brush it with some of the whisked egg you are going to use for the filling then pop it back in the oven for 5 minutes.

Add the cream to the eggs, season them and give it a good whisk.

Now layer the onions on the bottom then pour over the cream mixture, sprinkle with the extra parmesan cheese and bake for around 25 - 30 minutes till golden brown.

Let it stand for ten minutes before slicing up.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

{Jam Doughnut Muffins}

Some days I think if I have to make one more cheese and sauce (yes that's tomato sauce) sandwich for Jack I am going to scream, as a Taurus there are lots of things in life I like to repeat, that sandwich not so much, but when you have kids you get used to making that favourite sandwich, watching that DVD over and over, feigning surprise to find them in the same hide and seek spot each day and sometimes you just cook or bake them what they want and more importantly what you know they will eat. 

These jam doughnut muffins are a little treat for my milo drinking, popcorn snacking, monsters inc watching darling Jack, they are really really good eaten warm, trust me.

...the muffins
2 cups sr flour
2/3 cups caster sugar (plus extra to finish)
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sunflower oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
raspberry jam (or your fav)
100g melted butter, cooled (plus extra to finish)
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 190, line a muffin tin with cupcake papers this recipe makes 10 standard size muffins.

Sift the flour into a large bowl, add in the sugar and stir. In a separate bowl combine the milk, cooled melted butter, oil, vanilla and egg and whisk together. Then add the wet to the dry and stir till just combined, don't over mix.

Fill each case one third full with muffin batter then dollop on a teaspoonful of jam finish by covering with more batter almost filling to the top. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes till golden.

Once they are cool enough to handle but still quite warm, brush with melted butter and roll in cinnamon sugar, (about a 1/4 cup caster sugar combined with 1/4 tsp of cinnamon).

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

{Cucumber & Macadamia Salsa}

There is something nice about eating outdoors on a warm night, the kids seem to eat more and its just good to mix things up a bit, this salsa is perfect bbq food, cucumbers are so fresh and summery, and these ones came from our neighbours vege garden, in typical italian fashion the boys went over there to retrieve a lost ball and came back with a bag of tomatoes (which I roasted last night with a chicken, they were divine !!) a few cucumbers and some lemons, things really do taste better when you grow them yourself or know who does, this salsa rocks you should try it next time you are eating outdoors.

...the salsa
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp caster or palm sugar
4 tsp fish sauce
6 lebanese cucumbers
2 chilli's, seeded and finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh coriander or mint
1/2 cup toasted macadamia nuts, chopped

In a bowl whisk together the lime juice, vinegar, sugar and fish sauce till the sugar has dissolved, cover the bowl and pop it into the fridge.

Peel the cucumbers in stripes, halve them longways scrape out and discard the seeds then slice them into little moons. Toast the macadamias in a dry pan, then chop them roughly, slice and remove the seeds from the chillis and finely chop those and lastly coarsely chop the fresh herbs (I used mint because thats what I had in my herb garden).

Assemble the salsa at the last minute by combining everything and giving it a quick stir.