Wednesday, March 30, 2011

{Creamy Tomato Soup with Sage & Cheese Toasties}

As you can see I am practically throwing myself at autumn, making crumbles and soups and yesterday it was 28 degrees, I wore a sweatshirt to pick up the wee pea from kinder and suddenly realised it wasn't really soup weather, still I pressed on and I'm glad I did because it was a gorgeous dinner. 

I love soup, I love it sitting there bubbling away on the stove, you can serve a bowl at a moments notice to anyone who utters the words "i'm hungry", just like yesterday "oh darling" I said wiping my hands on my apron, "here you go have a nice warm bowl of soup", the response to which was "mum I'm hot can I have an iceblock instead" darn it I am peaking too early again.

...the soup
2 x 800g tins of whole tomatoes packed in juice, drained, 

3 cups juice reserved
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
60g unsalted butter
4 large shallots, diced
1 tbsp tomato paste
a pinch of allspice
2 tbsp plain flour
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup cream
2 tbsp brandy or dry sherry


Preheat the oven to 220 and line a rimmed baking dish with foil. With your fingers, carefully open whole tomatoes over a sieve set in bowl and push out the seeds, allowing juices to fall through sieve into the bowl (you need 3 cups of seedless juice). Spread seeded tomatoes in single layer on foil, sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Bake until all liquid has evaporated and tomatoes begin to colour, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile heat the butter over medium heat in large soup pan or casserole dish until foaming. Add in the shallots, tomato paste and allspice, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened, about 10 minutes.

Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly combined, about a minute then gradually add chicken stock, whisking constantly to combine, stir in reserved tomato juice and roasted tomatoes. Cover, increase heat to medium, and bring to a boil, once it done that reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.

Next you want to blend it till smooth, I just used my handheld blender. Add cream and warm over low heat until hot, don't boil it once the cream has been added. Off the heat, stir in the brandy and season with salt and cayenne or black pepper.

Get a nice loaf of bread and make cheese toasties, when you butter the outside slices press some sage leaves in and cook as usual, nice one.

{Strawberry & Rhubarb Crumble}

This is the best crumble combination I've ever had and the perfect crumble for right now, right this moment, in between the seasons, the summer strawberries are on their way out and wintery rhubarb is on its way in. 

My strawberries were a surprise delivery from a gorgeous brunette and serendipitously I had just been oohing and ahhing over a crumble recipe in the latest edition of Delicious. I changed it a little to suit what I had, this is my version, it is really good I just ate the last of it for lunch which is a bit naughty but I had to take a photo so I could post the recipe today for the brunette, oh the things we do for friendship :)

...the fruity bit
400g (about 1/2 bunch) rhubarb, stalks trimmed, 
cut into 3cm lengths
500g ripe strawberries, topped, 

halved or quartered if large
110g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

...the crumbly bit
185g plain flour
125g caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
180g chilled unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 200. Place the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar and vanilla into a large baking dish and using your hands, gently but thoroughly mix everything together then spread it out evenly.

For the crumble, whiz the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a food processor to combine. Scatter the butter over the top, then pulse until the mixture resembles fine to medium breadcrumbs, or put it all into a large bowl at once and use your fingers to do it like me (I am food processor less).

Sprinkle over 2-3 teaspoons iced water, then toss with a fork so that some of the crumbs stick together to form slightly larger crumbs, making it look a bit more like gravel. Sprinkle crumble evenly over the fruit mixture, then bake for 35-40 minutes, until crisp and golden, and the juices from the fruit bubble up through it. Cool the crumble until it’s lukewarm, then serve with scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

{Son In Law Eggs}

So the story goes if you are a thai dude and your mother in law puts this dish in front of you its a hint you are not being a good husband and its time to pull your socks up, I love that, you can just imagine the looks at the dinner table, its not very subtle. This was a nice end of summer dinner and fun to make as it included the challenge of peeling and frying soft boiled eggs, its a delicate operation which I undertook on a friday night after busy week, a couple of wines and with a two year old hanging off my leg.

Due to this the first time I made the dressing I made a tamarind toffee, its not going to take off as a new culinary discovery so watch your sugar carefully and add the tamarind and take it off the heat as soon as the sugar starts to disolve.

...the salad
8 freerange eggs
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp tamarind puree
1 tsp fish sauce
1 cup veg or peanut oil
1/2 sliced red chilli
2 tbsp lime juice
bunch of coriander
small bunch of mint
2 tbsp fried shallots

Place the eggs in a big saucepan of water and bring them to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and set the timer for two minutes, remove the eggs to a bowl of ice water, once cool gently peel them.

In a small saucepan, heat the sugar until it starts to melt then add in the tamarind and fish sauce and remove it from the heat.

Heat the oil in a wok or deep frypan until very hot then add in the eggs a couple at a time (it will spit a bit) turning till they are golden brown all over, drain on paper towel.

To serve stir the lime juice and chilli into the dressing, arrange the herbs on your plates top with halved eggs and generously spoon over the dressing finishing with a scattering of the fried shallots.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

{Kari Ayam - Malaysian Chicken Curry}

Ok so the colour of this particular curry is a little bit on the dodgy side but if you can get past that, maybe by eating by candlelight then do because its delicious. 

I wanted to make this as a shout out to my darling pal who is now living in singapore, this is singapore hawker food, its a little bit different in that you fry the potatoes before adding them, nice one, giant chips built into a curry what more could you ask for, its also easy, quick, authentic plus that interesting shade of khaki.

...the spice paste
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground fennel (or fennel seeds)
1 teaspoons chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (or 5-6 cloves)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (or seeds of 7-8 cardamoms)
1/4 cup water

...the rest
600g chicken thigh fillets
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
400mls coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Prepare the chicken thigh fillets by cutting them into chunky pieces. In a blender, or little food processor whizz all the ingredients of spice paste, till smooth. Heat the oil in a wok or casserole over medium heat and fry the potatoes for about five minutes until lightly browned. Remove and set aside. Add spice paste to wok and fry for another five minutes, stirring constantly until fragrant. 

Then add in the chicken pieces and stir them around well to coat them with the spice paste, once that's done pour in the coconut milk, salt, sugar and pop back in the potatoes. Simmer gently and partially covered for forty minutes.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

{Lavender Lovelies}

These little treasures are so simple to make and so delicious, I found them over at cooks republic, they have a slightly crisp outside and a chewy middle, divine and the perfect cookie for the moment as I've come over a bit nana. I got my crochet bag back out last weekend so i've been busy making granny squares, yesterday I had a major mind blank and couldn't think of the word 'exclusion' and this weekend we visited an open garden, all things you might expect your nan to do so these little lavender lovelies really suit my current headspace.

If you have a lavender bush in your garden (or there is one around the corner lush and growing over a fence!) then I reckon you should whip up a batch of these, not many of them have made it into the biscuit tin, I might have to go for another "walk" later.

...the cookies
100g unsalted butter, softened
90g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon fresh lavender flowers

Preheat the oven to 150 and line a baking tray with baking paper. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until pale. Mix the dry ingredients with the lavender flowers (just the delicate little petals at the end) and stir into the butter mixture to make a crumbly dough. Shape into small walnut sized balls and put them on the prepared baking tray. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes, remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

{Chicken Pot Sticker Dumplings}

I had planned to make some steamed chinese brocolli to go along with these but then I totally forgot so we just had dumplings for dinner, turns out thats ok because they are really filling and the recipe makes thirty so I even packed the Mr off to work with them for lunch the next day, lets not mention the fact I didn't put the top on the dipping sauce properly, mmmmmm sorry about your bag babes.

...the dumplings
500g chicken mince (or pork mince or even add some chopped prawns)
1 clove garlic, microplaned (finely chopped)
thumbsize piece of ginger, microplaned (finely chopped)
3 spring onions, sliced thinly
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 red chilli (or more, but I wanted my kids to eat them)
5 tbsp fresh finely chopped herbs, I used coriander, basil, thai basil and mint
packet of gow gee round dumpling wrappers (30)
vegetable oil for frying
2 cups chicken stock

Combine everything except the last three ingredients and give it a good mix to combine. Now lay out your dumpling wrappers, I did four at a time, put a generous tsp of filling in the middle of each, dip your finger in water and run it around the circumference of the dumpling wrapper then bring the two sides together and pinch them closed, making sure they have a flat bottom. Pop onto a tray lined with baking paper and once they are all filled, you can put them in the fridge to chill or use them immediately (or even freeze some).

Put a little drizzle of vege oil in the bottom of a frypan with a lid, put 6 dumplings into the pan and over a medium heat brown the bottoms, once they are a nice golden brown tip in a splash of chicken stock enough to cover the bottom of the pan but not too much, chuck on the lid and leave them to steam for five minutes. Done. Serve with soy sauce or your favourite dipping sauce.  I like these two.

...pickled cucumber + chilli
125ml (1/2 cup) rice vinegar
125ml (1/2 cup) water
100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
1 Lebanese cucumber, halved lengthways, deseeded, finely chopped
1 fresh long red chilli, halved, deseeded, finely chopped

To make the dipping sauce, combine the vinegar, water and sugar in a medium saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Cook for 5 minutes or until the syrup thickens. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool. Transfer to a bowl. Add the cucumber and chilli and combine. Cover and place in the fridge for 1 hour to chill. + ginger dipping sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp grated ginger

Combine, taste add more ginger if you like.

{Jelly Slice}

I probably don't even need to tell you that the kids loved this slice, but then again so did all the grown ups. I took some to my buddy round the corner and her beautiful face lit up, it brought back memories of her first attempts at baking, she used to make it all the time. 

It is a classic australian slice that's fallen a bit out of fashion, I've just discovered it and I loved it, I don't mind that its a little bit retro I think it would be awesome for a kids party, its fun, sweet and its pretty to boot.

...the slice
1 packet marie biscuits
170g melted butter
1 tin condensed milk
juice of 2 lemons
3 level tsp's gelatin dissolved in 1/4 cup boiled water
packet of strawberry jelly crystals

For the base crush the biscuits, add the melted butter, stir then press into your slice tin, pop into the fridge for half an hour to firm up.

For the middle layer, mix together the condensed milk, the lemon juice and the gelatin which you have dissolved in the boiling water till combined then pour over the biscuit base and put back into the fridge till its set.

Lastly make the jelly according to the packet directions, let it cool down then pour it onto the set lemony layer and refrigerate once again till firm.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

{Lime Crunch Semifreddo}

This semifreddo recipe is so easy that I made it last friday and today five days and a fair few less brain cells due to wine consumption later when I sit down to post it I don't need to look it up, it came out of the christmas issue of Delicious magazine and is by the lovely Belinda Jeffreys. Everyone loved it, its really zesty and was perfect after the disaster dinner I cooked this saturday for my darling friend Jus who was down from sydney on her way to live in singapore.

I had wanted to do something special and made Neil Perrys crumbed chicken and moroccan eggplant with cumin mayo.......big mistake, way too much oil for one meal, icky slicky. Anywho this turned out to be the perfect dessert to follow it and is so simple to make, my layers are a bit wonky, precision clearly is not my thing, but its a beautiful dessert and enough to feed a whole gang, "totes appropes" as Jus would say :)

...the semifreddo
6 limes, zest of all
3/4 cup of lime juice
150g digestives
1 x 375g condensed milk
300ml pure cream (the runny one)

Lightly oil (I used spray oil) and line a loaf tin with 2 layers of clingfilm with a bit of overlap all round and put that and the bowl you plan to whisk the cream in into the freezer.

Open the tin of condensed milk and empty that into a big bowl along with the zest of all six limes and 3/4 cup of lime juice, give it a good stir and allow it to sit. Crush the digestives into fine crumbs.

Whisk the cream to soft peaks then gently fold into the condensed milk and lime mixture.

Now spoon quarter of the cream and lime mixture into the bottom of the loaf tin , flatten out and sprinkle over quarter of the crumbs, pop it into the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up ready for the next layer keeping the rest of the cream and lime mix in the fridge. Repeat the process three times, the last time cover the top layer of crumbs with the overhanging clingfilm and return it to the freezer for at least 8 hours or overnight.

To serve, unwrap the top, invert onto a serving platter, unveil, slice and serve.