Monday, June 30, 2008

Expert Dessert Maker

Just had to share this collection of Rex's chocohotopots.
You can find the recipe here

Friday, June 27, 2008

Birthday Boy

Recently we celebrated Rex's 12th birthday. As it fell on a weekday the party was transferred to the Saturday following. Whenever there is a birthday in our extended family it means a family get together, which with kids and adults equates to 18 people. Usually we all bring something to spread the load and we never go hungry as the family cooking talent is excellent!!!! I decided though that I would cater dinner for everyone, I am on holiday from uni at the moment so it gave me an excuse to spend some quality time in the kitchen.
As Rex was having 5 of his friends over I tried to do something as middle of the road as possible. So I hit on doing a large amount of chilli con carne, serving it with nachos for the kids and with tortillas (and lots of different fillings) for the adults.
I used Nigella's recipe from
Feast: Food to Celebrate Life for the chilli, mixed together with Jamie's recipe from Happy Days with the Naked Chef. I liked Jamie's addition of sundried tomatoes and cinnamon sticks, so that was the variation added to Nigella's recipe. I browned it all off first in a pan then whacked it all into 2 slow cookers (it was alot of chilli!) and set it going all day - it tasted excellent with the slow cooking. It gets such a great result doing it that way, plus it is so stress free!
The whole meal was pretty stress free as so much could be prepared in advance. I simply melted some cheese over the nachos, and the kids just added their own chilli, guacamole and sour cream. They all seemed to enjoy it too. Result!
For the adults I made Nigella's 'Roqamole' as a dip to go with drinks - I was a little dubious about the idea of blue cheese with avocado, but it is divine, you should try it!!!For the tortillas I had (along with the chilli) grated cheese, sliced tomato, lettuce, grated carrot, sour cream, guacamole and blackbean salsa which I had made before and altered a little this time by adding some spring onions, lime juice, chopped coriander and about 1/2 c of whole kernel corn. It was a very tasty addition and looks gorgeous too!For dessert we went with a request from Rex for a Chocolate Feijoa Cake. I made two cakes the day before - this cake keeps really well- and iced it on the day. It was gorgeous as always! I used frozen feijoas that I had spirited away when they were plentiful, the flavour was as good as fresh.As there was plenty of chilli, I put a good quantity in the freezer for a quick and easy meal another day. We also had in on toast for breakfast the next morning- it tastes even nicer the next day! Roqamole (from Nigella Express: 130 Recipes for Good Food, Fast)

¼ cup sour cream
1 cup crumbled Roquefort or other blue cheese
2 ripe avocados, peeled and seeded
¼ cup sliced pickled green jalapenos (from a jar)

2 tablespoons finely sliced scallions
¼ teaspoon paprika
Blue-corn tortilla chips

Directions
Crumble or mash blue cheese with sour cream in bowl. Mash in ripe avocados with fork. Roughly chop sliced jalapenos and stir into mixture along with finely sliced scallions. Dust with paprika.

Serve in bowl, surrounded by tortilla chips on plate. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Chili: (from Feast: Food to Celebrate Life)

4 tablespoons olive oil
4 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried or crushed chili flakes
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
5 cardamom pods, bruised
2 red peppers, seeded and finely diced
3 pounds 4 ounces ground beef
7 cups canned chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
1/2 cup tomato puree
1 cup water
2 tablespoons cocoa
3 1/2 cups canned red kidney beans
I added 2 whole cinammon sticks and 1/2 finely chopped sundried tomatoes

Heat the oil in a very large pan and fry the onion and garlic until it begins to soften. Add the chili, coriander, cumin, and crushed cardamom pods and stir well.

Add the peppers then break up the ground beef into the pan and, using a fork, keep turning it to separate it as the meat browns. Add the chopped tomatoes, ketchup, tomato puree, and water stirring to make a rich red sauce. When the chili starts to boil sprinkle over the cocoa and stir it in. Add the beans and simmer partially covered for 1 1/2 hours. At this point you can cool and freeze the chili, or just keep it in the refrigerator overnight.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Tagine Saga

About a year ago, I had a dinner party in which I had a Moroccan theme (I got the recipe ideas from the lovely Coby on Nigella.com, I haven't been able to find it again to post the link here). It was a fabulous meal with a lovely lamb tagine, some gorgeous spiced couscous and a couple of well worked salads, vege dishes and flatbreads to go with it. I made the lamb tagine in the crockpot which worked well and it was really delicious. As a result of how well the night went my dear husband decided to investigate buying me the real thing- an authentic tagine that is! He found a potter in Wellington who makes them, picked a red one and got it couriered here as a surprise early anniversary present. He was so excited about having done this all on his own and having done something original that he kept telling me he had ordered me something, and that I would really, really love it!
Anyway, he hyped it up so much that when it actually arrived I was.......quite underwhelmed!
At the time it was the kind of thing that I would quite like to have- but there were probably 20 other things I could have rattled off that I wanted before that came up. So we had a bit of a 'tiff' over it, me thinking how well does he really know me, him thinking what an ungrateful cow!
Fair enough too, I was an ungrateful cow. It was a kind and thoughtful thing to do (even if I am only acknowledging it a year later!)
So, in honour of the love and kindness that went into its acquisition I thought I had better jolly well use it! I made a lamb, pumpkin and apricot tagine for its inaugural outing and it cooked just beautifully. The cone shaped design is suppose to affect the way it cooks, but to be honest all I care about is that it works and it looks great! So, I will be using it again soon, I have a lovely chicken and lemon tagine that is crying out to be made.......

Lamb and Pumpkin Tagine with apricots

Ingredients

  • 170g (about 1 cup) dried apricots
  • 1kg boned lamb shoulder or leg, fat removed or 1 x Leg of Lamb, bone removed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp oil or clarified butter
  • 2 garlic clove, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2cm fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 onions, peeled, chopped
  • 1 tsp each ground turmeric, cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder (or 1/2 tsp fresh chopped chilli)
  • 1 tsp each coriander, salt
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 450g piece pumpkin (2 cups peeled, diced)
  • Optional: 1 tbsp lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Soak apricots in cold water to cover. Cut lamb into 2cm cubes. Grind some pepper over and mix through.
  2. Heat oil and butter in a large, heavy-based metal casserole (or frying pan). Brown lamb, a little at a time; don't crowd the pan. Turn cubes with tongs; remove as they brown.
  3. Reduce heat. Add garlic, ginger and onions. Saute on low, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping bottom of pan well. Add spices and salt. Stir in hot water then diced pumpkin. Combine with browned lamb.

  4. Cook in covered casserole in oven, 160 degrees celsius, for 1 hour. Drain apricots and add. Cover and cook 1 more hour until lamb is tender.
    Optional: add lemon juice.
  5. Serve hot with rice or couscous and vegetables.

    Footnote: Of course as soon as I published this post I knew I would find the links I wanted! The Moroccan dinner party recipes can be found here: (I made all the recipes and they are all excellent! The tagine was made by Herluf Anderson and was purchased at Vessel (in Wellington)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Asian inspiration

I adore Asian flavours, no matter what direction it goes in, some of my favourites are Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese and Malaysian. I love the fresh flavours and the fact that often, cooking this way is light and nutritious. One of my favourite standybys for lunch in winter is my hybrid laksa/tom yum/noodle soup which is never the same, but always starts with some chicken or vege stock.
I found some lovely Asian greens at a local vege market and gathered together an array of veges plus some prawns and I had the makings of a gorgeous meal.

The basics

Stock
Sesame oil
Garlic
Fresh ginger, grated
Curry paste (be it green, laksa, red or another curry paste, get a good quality one)
Spring onions
Fresh coriander
Noodles cooked first (I use udon, but any egg based thin noodle would work)
Soy sauce
Brown sugar
Fish sauce
Lime juice

I don't even consider making this unless I have these ingredients- maybe the lime juice could be substituted for lemon or a splash of rice wine vinegar.

The variations include:

sliced mushrooms
thinly sliced carrot
thinly sliced capsicum
Asian greens, such as bok choy
green beans
nori (seaweed)
prawns
chicken
scallops
fish
mirin
sake
coconut cream(I am sure I will think of more variations once I have published this post!)

The quantities are all pretty changeable, depending on whether you are cooking for one or many more. I tend to make this for two (large) servings, and save one for lunch the next day too!
I am not even going to estimate quantities, as that would require too much thinking, and I hardly ever do the same one twice. I do know that the mix of all these ingredients together ALWAYS tastes fantastic and is such a filling meal. The general method is to cook the noodles first. Add sesame oil into pot, quickly fry the garlic, ginger and curry paste. Add in stock, veges (cut so they all cook at once). Season with soy, fish sauce, sugar and lime juice. Add in seafood or chicken to cook for the final few minutes(you would add in coconut cream here if using), then serve scattered with sliced spring onions and coriander.

Another two staples are fried rice and egg foo young. They are great store cupboard type recipes which are kid friendly. I am not going to tell you how to make fried rice (!) but the egg foo young recipe can be found here
I serve this yummy, quick and easy meal with sweet soy (kecap manis)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Homemade

How gorgeous do all those veges look, getting ready to be turned into fabulous, tasty stock!
I know I have raved on about this before, but I have to extol the virtues yet again of home made stock. I have yet to find a commercial product which rivals the homemade version, and when you take into account all the factors, such as packaging and wierd ingredients, homemade wins every time. Plus it tastes better, and you know what is in it, and it's not packaged in those horrible (completely unrecyclable) tetrapacks!!!!! Have I made my point yet??? Homemade stock can be varied depending on what you have to hand, I often find it drives what kind of dish I make with it too- you can pop ginger and lemon grass in for a more asian direction, you can use lamb or beef bones for something a bit richer and deeper, or leave the meat out all together and put an array of vege in, for use later in dishes such as soup, risotto, pilafs, or as a tasty base for sauces. To me, adding home made stock into any dish gives it that x-factor, that real taste, that is so often missing in commercial food. And it is SO easy, bung it all in the pot, add water and let it bubble. (My basic recipe is here) Strain it after the required cooking time then pop in a container for use straight away or into the freezer for another day. If you are a soup fan like me then you will always have the base to make a fabulous soup. And did you know that chicken soup has that same feel good ingredient that chocolate apparently does, for a lot less calories!
By the way, if you want to learn about those nasty recyclable tetra paks and all the other unaccounted for costs in commercial production, have a look at the movie on this site- it is a great little film that highlights the reliance we have on 'convenience' products and how at some point we are going to have to change our habits.

The Story of Stuff

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Why I still think Delia is cool

I know Delia has gotten a bit of bad press lately in the UK over her use of pre-packaged food, going from 'cooking' to opening packets and 'assembling', but if we gloss over that phase and hark back to all the good things she has done, then on balance she is still a legend. I bought her 'How to Cook' (book one) last year after 'discovering' it in a friends bookshelf. It was published in 1999, so is fairly old, and I think I remember looking at it all those years ago and thinking it was a bit too 'beginner' for me. (There obviously wasn't a t.v. series shown here to accompany the book!) How wrong could I be? Once I opened the pages I was drawn in and couldnt put it down. All sorts of things that I just took for granted about cooking were explained and suddenly many of the nebulous pieces of my cooking ability puzzle started fitting together! The section on eggs was a revelation. At first I thought, how condescending, how much does one need to know about eggs, but it turns out there is plenty to be learned!!!! I won't bore you with the details, lets just say my 'techniques' have sharpened quite a bit!
There are lots of really old fashioned favourites, one of the absolute winners (and worth the purchase of the book alone) are these Salmon Fish Cakes, served with Parsley sauce. They are a bit fiddly with the dipping in egg and breadcrumbing, but honestly worth the effort. Delia says that tinned red salmon is really the best option for them, not to go using the fresh stuff. Which makes this a reasonably priced meal and one that has become a bit of store cupboard staple, as I almost always have all the ingredients in my pantry.
The parsley sauce is fabulous, infusing the milk first with lots of flavour takes it to a whole new level, and again, is worth the effort.
My family adore this meal, even though my son hates tinned fish, he eats this no problem. I am looking forward to the next time I get a smoked fish delivered by my brother-in-law, as I think that would work very nicely too.
I will often plan to make these when I am having a meal with mashed potato, making extra all at once to use the next night for these. Every now and then if I have left over vege I will puree them up and add in too (for this one I had carrots, brussels and peas which I added in and they were fabulous- even better that the kids didn't know!!!!)

For the fishcakes:

15 oz (425 g) tinned red salmon
10 oz (275 g) Desirée or King Edward potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 heaped tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 heaped tablespoons salted capers or capers in vinegar, drained and chopped
6 pickled gherkins (cornichons), drained and chopped
2 large eggs, hard-boiled and chopped small
1 level dessertspoon anchovy paste or 4 anchovies, mashed up

2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ level teaspoon powdered mace (optional)
¼ level teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the coating and frying:

a little flour for dusting
1 large egg, beaten
3 oz (75 g) matzo meal or fresh white breadcrumbs

about 2 tablespoons groundnut or other flavourless oil

about ½ oz (10 g) butter

First of all boil the potatoes in salted water for about 25 minutes or until they're absolutely tender when tested with a skewer. (Be careful, though – if they are not tender you will get lumps.) Then drain the potatoes and mash them to a purée with the mayonnaise using an electric hand whisk, then add some seasoning.
Now, in a large mixing bowl, simply combine all the ingredients for the fishcakes together. Mix
really thoroughly, then taste and season again if it needs it. After that, allow it to cool thoroughly, then cover the bowl and place it in the fridge, giving it at least 2 hours to chill and become firm.
When you are ready to cook the fishcakes, lightly flour a work surface, then turn the fish mixture
on to it and, using your hands, pat and shape it into a long roll, 2-2½ inches (5-6 cm) in diameter. Now cut the roll into 12 round fishcakes, pat each one into a neat, flat shape and then dip them, one by one, first into the beaten egg and then into the matzo meal (or breadcrumbs), making sure they get a nice, even coating all round.

Now, in a large frying pan, heat the oil and butter over a high heat and, when it is really hot, add half the fishcakes to the pan, then turn the heat down to medium and give them 4 minutes' shallow frying on each side. Then drain on crumpled greaseproof paper and keep warm. Repeat with the rest of the fishcakes, adding a little more oil and butter if needed. Serve immediately on hot plates with the English Parsley Sauce, sprigs of parsley and some lemon wedges.

English Parsley Sauce

15 fl oz (425 ml) milk
a few parsley stalks
1 bay leaf
1 slice onion, ¼ inch (5 mm) thick
1 blade of mace (also optional)
10 whole black peppercorns
¾ oz (20 g) plain flour
1½ oz (40 g) butter
4 heaped tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon single cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and freshly milled black pepper

Place the milk and the next five ingredients in a small pan, bring everything slowly up to simmering point, then pour the mixture into a bowl and leave aside to get completely cold.
When you're ready to make the sauce, strain the milk back into the pan, discard the flavourings, then add the flour and butter and bring everything gradually up to simmering point, whisking continuously with a balloon whisk until the sauce has thickened and is smooth and glossy. The
n turn the heat down to its lowest possible setting and let the sauce cook gently for 5 minutes,
stirring from time to time.

To serve the sauce, add the chopped parsley, cream and lemon juice, taste and season, then serve in a warm jug

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mughlai Chicken and Rice Pilaf

We have been watching Nigella Feasts on Saturday afternoons and after seeing this recipe my son wanted to make it. So we made a list of all the things we didnt have in the house (there are a lot of ingredients), popped to the supermarket and then got stuck in. This is one of those recipes you need to 'prepare' yourself for mentally. There are a few steps but you just get on with it because you know that all those lovely ingredients can't help but taste good together. And they do taste very good together. It is not the most photogenic of dishes, all white and off white and beige together, but what it lacks in good looks it makes up in flavour. It is a very subtle curry, and while it was cooking I was concerned at how bland it tasted, but it developed over the cooking time to something we all enjoyed. Nigella suggests making this the day before and reheating for serving (as a time saving measure), and I have to say that I was glad there were plenty of leftovers, as it tasted fantastic the next day reheated!

Mughlai Chicken

1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
4 tablespoons ground almonds
1/2 cup water
5 cardamom pods, bruised
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
2 bay leaves
4 cloves
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 pounds boned chicken thighs, each cut into 2
2 onions, finely chopped
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sultanas (golden raisins)
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup flaked almonds, toasted, to garnish
Put the ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, and chili into a food processor, or into a mortar and pestle, and blend to a paste. Add the ground almonds and water and then blend again, set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the chicken pieces - in batches so they fry rather than stew - and cook them just long enough to seal on both sides, then remove to a dish.

Add the spices and turn them in the oil. Add the onions and cook them until softened and lightly browned, but keep the heat gentle and stir frequently, to avoid sticking. Pour in the blended paste, and cook everything until it begins to colour. Add the yogurt, half a cup at a time stirring it in to make a sauce, then stir in the stock, cream, and sultanas.

Put the browned chicken back into the pan, along with any juices that have collected under them, and sprinkle over the garam masala, sugar, and salt. Cover and cook on a gentle heat for 20 minutes, testing to make sure the meat is cooked through.

It's at this stage, that I like to take the pan off the heat and leave it to cool before reheating the next day.

So either now, or when you've reheated it, pour into a serving dish and scatter with the toasted flaked almonds.

Rice Pilaf

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves
3 cardamom pods, bruised
1 cinnamon stick, broken into 3
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds, optional
2 1/2 cups basmati rice
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted, for garnish
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
Cook the onion in the oil, in a deep saucepan with the cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, and nigella seeds, if using, until the onion is slightly browned and soft. Keep the heat medium to low and stir frequently; this should take about 10 minutes.

Add the rice and move it about in the oily spiced onion until it is slicked and glossy, then pour in the stock and bring the pan to the boil. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over the lowest heat possible for 20 minutes.

Turn off the heat, take the lid off, cover with a tea towel and clamp the lid back on the saucepan. You can leave the rice to rest like this for at least 10 minutes, and up to about 1 hour. Fork the rice through when you are ready to serve it, scattering the toasted sliced almonds and cilantro on top.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Clever Kids

I know I have skited plenty about my son's cooking ability before but his latest project had me feeling a very proud mum indeed. Recently, Rex was set a 'cooking challenge' at school, whereby he and two of his classmates had to come up with a three course meal, cook it and serve it (and eat it) with one of the teachers from school. As he was so excited about doing this Glen and I sat down with him and asked him what he wanted to do and from there gave him a few basics on how to organise himself to complete the task- such as making lists of ingredients and tasks and when they would need to be bought/done.
Now we have done this with Rex before, tried to take a big project and break it down into little bits so that he doesn't get into overwhelm and give up (it happens to us all!!!!) This time it seemed he was really self motivated to get everything done and I was seriously impressed with the initiative and effort he put in. He planned things to the last detail and along with his friends Josh and Zubin, shared out the tasks to make sure it all went smoothly. I came along on the day to make sure no-one sliced their fingers off or burnt their hands, but I was strictly an observer. Apart from a few reminders about things and when they should go on the stove or in the oven I can absolutely say that I was hands off! (it was hard!!!!)
Well the meal was a huge success.
Here is the menu: The table all set: The 'nuggets': The beef kebabs:
The 'chocohotopots':
The boys did a really fabulous job!

Rex had great fun doing practice runs of the chocohotopots, this is a recipe he has perfected really well and is now a standby dessert in our house. He can whip them up in a flash, and they taste GREAT!
The recipes:

Ritzy Chicken Nuggets (from Nigella Feast)

2 (each weighing approximately 8 ounces with the peg bone, less without) chicken breasts
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup oil (if you are frying the nuggets)
1 3/4 cups cracker crumbs (recommended: Ritz crackers)

Cut off the chicken peg bone if there is 1, and put the chicken breasts one at a time into a freezer bag so that it lies flat. Bash with a rolling pin until the chicken is quite thin, and then take it out and slice into about 6 to 8 slices. Repeat with the other chicken breast. This is easiest done with scissors.
Put the slices into a freezer bag with the buttermilk and leave in the refrigerator to marinade for up to 2 days.

When you are ready to cook them, heat the oil in a large frying pan, or preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Tip the cracker crumbs into a wide shallow bowl, and then shake off the excess buttermilk from the nuggets and dip them in the crumbs. Coat them well before lying gently in the hot oil, and cooking for about 2 minutes or so a side until they are golden brown. Transfer to a kitchen towel on a plate to blot the excess oil.
Alternatively, you can lay the crumb-coated chicken nuggets on a lined baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. They can also be frozen once marinated and crumbed. If cooking from frozen, add 5 minutes to the oven cooking time.

Juicy Beef Skewers (from Nigella Express)

500g beef rump

1½ tbsp red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar

3 tbsp freshly grated horseradish or hot horseradish sauce

2tbsp rosemary needles or teaspoon dried rosemary

60 ml olive oil

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp port (I used red wine concentrate instead)

200g crème fraiche or sour cream

½ tsp Dijon mustard

¼ tsp Maldon salt or generous pinch of table salt

4 tbsp chopped chives

Cut the beef into 2.5 cm cubes and put in freezer bag or ice cream container with the vinegar and 1 tablespoon of horseradish add the rosemary the olive oil the Worcestershire sauce and Port leave for 20 minutes but preferably overnight in the fridge.
Let the meat come to room temperature and soak about 10 bamboo skewers in water at the same time.
Make the dip by beating together the crème fraiche with the remaining horseradish the Dijon mustard salt and chives.

Chocohotopots (from Nigella Feast)

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, with 60 percent cocoa solids
2 eggs
3/4 cup superfine sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Special equipment: 4 (2/3 to 1-cup capacity) ramekins

Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.
Butter the ramekins with 1 tablespoon butter.
Either in a microwave or in a bowl suspended over a pan over simmering water, melt the dark chocolate or 1 stick butter then set aside to cool a little.
In another bowl, mix the eggs with the sugar and flour with a hand whisk and beat in the cooled butter and chocolate mixture. Divide the mixture between the 4 buttered ramekins. Bake for about 20 minutes, by which time the tops will be cooked and cracked and the chocolate gooey underneath.
Place each ramekin on a small plate with a teaspoon and serve. Make sure to warn people that these desserts will be HOT!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Aebleskiver

I have long had a serious relationship with these fantastic little 'pancakes'. I was first introduced to them when I was an exchange student in Denmark, and they were made regularly in the lead up to Christmas. I particularly remember them accompanying lots of gorgeous Gløgg, which is the Danish version of mulled wine. I was frustrated that in the buying decisions to be made just before leaving that the special pan you make them in was simply out of the reach of my meagre budget and they remained a distant memory for a very long time. That is, until my good friend Rachel (who was a fellow Kiwi in Denmark with me) kindly took pity on me when I visited her a few years ago. She of course had the good sense to bring one home, but it had sat gathering dust in her cupboard, and obviously my coveting of it, my hangdog "I want one" looks were too much and she VERY kindly gifted it to me. There are few things that make me happy, handing me coveted kitchenware is one of them!!!!!
Soooooo, that gorgeous little pan has been dragged out every winter since, I have tried and tweaked many recipes to come up with this one (that never fails me) and these addictive little numbers are firmly ensconced in my cooking repertoire and my heart. Every time I eat them it takes me back to the lovely country from which they come, and reminds of all the lovely people
and great times I enjoyed there.

This recipe makes around 40 balls. When they were served to me in Denmark they were accompanied with a strawberry conserve and icing sugar, my 'technique' is to dip in icing sugar then spoon on some conserve then shove it lovingly into my mouth!:) Of course a search on the
internet shows all sorts of things to put with them, but I stick to that one because it's what feels familiar, and I think it is the ritualistic aspect of foods such as these that makes the experience. If you feel the need to try this recipe the pans are available in New Zealand (at a price). I last saw them on the Millys website. To complete the sharing of this I had to video how the little pan works, they really are a marvel! It does help to get the recipe right, the wrong one makes for very difficult turning, but when it's right it is almost like poetry! Don't laugh at my video editing skills though, it is my first attempt!!!!!

Æbleskiver

250 g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
25g sugar

400 ml buttermilk
3 eggs
50 melted butter

1 tsp grated lemon zest
butter for frying

Put flour, baking soda and sugar in a bowl. Separate eggs and beat whites until stiff. Mix
buttermilk and egg yolks into dry ingredients until smooth stir in melted butter, then fold in egg whites until incorporated. Put a small knob of butter in each 'cup' of pan and fill each with the pancake mix to about 2/3 full. When the bubbles start to form on the top turn them over, I use two forks to do this. (check it out on the video!!)
Finish cooking and then turn them out and serve with strawberry (or any other fruit) conserve and icing sugar.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sacher Torte

I have always wanted to make a Sacher Torte. Thanks to Francesca on Violet's Pantry who included this recipe in her challenge, I have now made it! This is a gorgeous rich and dense cake, surprisingly easy to make and I loved being able to ice it and pipe the obligatory "Sacher" on it, I have always wanted to do that :) (I know, I know, what a sad life I lead!)
Francesca says that this cake keeps well, which makes it a great 'make ahead' cake for a special occasion. This will be very handy to have in the arsenal for birthdays and dinner parties, impressive but easy enough to not stress about!

Sachertorte
(from Green & Black's Chocolate book)

Torte:
melted butter for greasing
200g (7oz) dark chocolate, minimum 60% cocoas solids, broken into pieces
6 eggs
310 g (11oz) granulated sugar
150g (5oz) ground almonds
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground coffee
6 tablespoons apricot jam

Icing:
100g (3 1/2 oz) dark chocolate, minimum 60% cocoa solids, broken into pieces
40g (1 1/2oz) unsalted butter

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 / gas mark 4. Brush the tin with the melted butter, then line it with greaseproof paper.
2. To make the torte, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Separate 5 of the eggs, then whisk the egg yolks, the whole egg and the sugar until the mixture is thick and creamy.
3. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
4. Add the ground almonds, coffee grounds and melted chocolate to the egg yolk mixture and stir well. Gently fold in the egg whites and pour into the prepared tin.
5. Bake for 1 hour, covering the cake with foil after 40 minutes to prevent the top from burning. Check that a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and remove the cake from the oven. Release the springform and lave the cake on the base to cool on a wire rack.
6. Melt the apricot jam over a low heat, strain and then brush over the cooled cake.
7. To make the icing, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Add the butter and stir until it has the consistency of thick pouring cream. Pour the icing evenly over the cake, smoothing it over the top and sides using the back of a teaspoon. Make a pattern of rings on the top and around the sides of the cake using the back of a teaspoon. Leave to set.
8. After the icing has set use a little of the remaining icing to pipe Sacher in the traditional style

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Quick chicken

Another recipe from Nigella Express! This was a great 'leftover' recipe, I had made a large roast chicken the night before and was able to get all the leftover meat and use in this very nice salad. So easy, I was able to find tinned black beans too which made it oh so quick. (I didn't use the jalapenos, instead I used normal chilli, and I didn't use the jicama, I didn't miss it either!)
I had to go and complicate things of course by baking corn bread to accompany, which I have gone and lost the recipe to- it was on the back of the cornmeal box! Oh well, it was very much like a large cheese muffin made with cornmeal, a very tasty partner to the salad. This would make a great entertaining recipe too, it tastes really great. This to me is Nigella at her best, great flavour combinations and not too complicated!

Mexican Chicken Salad with Black Bean Salsa

For the dressing:
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon Maldon salt or 1/2 teaspoon table salt
A good grinding of black pepper

For the salad:
300g shredded cooked chicken
500g jicama, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch matchsticks (or 2 eight-ounce cans water chestnuts sliced into strips)
2 spring onions, finely shredded
1/2 cup finely chopped coriander
3 cups shredded cos lettuce

1. Spoon the flesh out of the avocado; put flesh into blender with all other dressing ingredients. Process dressing till smooth.

2. Place all the salad ingredients into a large bowl, pour dressing over and toss to coat.

Tomato and Black Bean Salsa

1 425g can black beans
2 tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped
1/3 cup roughly chopped pickled jalapeños
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon sea salt

1. Drain and rinse the beans; mix beans in a bowl with the tomatoes, jalapeños, lime juice, and salt.

2. Check seasoning, then serve with the salad above, either separately in a small bowl or on top of the salad itself.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Orange Cake

I came across this recipe on Pi's blog which she says is a recipe from Diana Henry's Crazy Water Pickled Lemons. As soon as I saw it I knew I would have to try it, the boiling up of the orange and then pureeing it was what intrigued me the most, also the fact that it has no butter or oil. It would suit the dairy free crowd (which isn't me but hey, just thinking of those who can't or don't!), it would also be easily adapted to be gluten free, the flour content could quite easily be substituted with some fine cornmeal or rice flour. With lots of ground almonds in it, it is not the cheapest to make, but it is ridiculously easy, with the finished product being dense and moist and wonderfully 'orangey'. I made it decidedly not dairy free by adding a cream cheese icing instead of the suggested orange flavoured cream, I just used 250g cream cheese, the rind and juice of an orange and 2c icing sugar, beat it all up and spread it on. We enjoyed a slice for dessert (and then a few the next day with a cup of tea!).

Middle Eastern Orange Cake with Marmalade and Orange Flower Cream


1 Orange
3 Eggs
250g (9oz) Caster Sugar
55g (2oz) Plain Flour, Sifted
5ml (1tsp) Baking Powder
200g (7oz) freshly ground Almonds
Icing sugar for dusting

for the cream:
55g (2oz) Fine-shred Orange Marmalade
125g (4 ½ oz) Mascarpone Cheese
30ml (2 Tbs) Greek Yoghurt
Icing Sugar to taste
5ml (1 tsp) Orange Flower Water

Put the orange in a saucepan, cover with water and simmer for an hour. Cut the orange in half, remove the pips, and purée the rest of the fruit in a food processor.

Grease a 20cm (8in) spring-form tin and line with greaseproof paper. Preheat oven to 180˚C (350˚F) Gas Mark 4. Beat the eggs and sugar together until they’re pale and thick. Fold in the flour, baking powder, almonds and orange purée. Pour into the tin and bake in oven for about an hour, or until skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Turn the cake out to coolTo make the cream, melt the marmalade in a small pan. Let it cool slightly, but don’t let it set, then mix it with the mascarpone and yoghurt. Add icing sugar to taste and the orange flower water.
Sift icing sugar over the cake and serve with the marmalade cream.