Monday, June 28, 2010

Hold the Coriander! Peppery Chicken Curry

Apart from the glossy magazines that litter my living room, there are also the half-pages of recipes neatly cut from newspapers and their Sunday supplements.  And at the risk of sounding like an old-timer, haven't newspaper photos come a long way - they are now in colour and in some instances, quite appealing.

This recipe for a Peppery Chicken Curry was found in the Sydney Morning Herald's Good Living section, and it joined the other cutouts I've collected over the years.  However, after seeing Almost Bourdain's gorgeous version of it, I just had to promote it to the front of the queue.

The 'curry' is non-creamy and uses onions, cooked to a paste, as a base.  I chopped up some chicken thigh cutlets (with bone and skin on), instead of the chicken pieces that the recipe originally called for.  I also changed some of the ingredients to match what I had on hand at the time.  And I left out the coriander garnish because I can't stand the stuff...

Peppery Chicken Curry
serves 2

2 chicken thigh cutlets, approx 400g, chopped into 2.5cm (1") pieces
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tblsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
Pinch of saffron
2 tsp ground black peppercorns
2 onions
2 tblsp vegetable oil
Steamed rice, to serve

1.  Mix together the garlic, ginger, salt, vinegar, turmeric, saffron and 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns.  Spread over the chicken in a shallow bowl and leave to marinate.
2.  Peel and chop one onion.  Place the onion in a food processor and blend to a paste.  Slice the remaining onion and set aside
3.  Heat the vegetable oil in a deep saucepan.  Add sliced onion and 1 teaspoon of pepper and cook for 10 minutes, until golden.  Add onion paste and cook over low heat for 10 minutes until golden brown.
4.  Add chicken and marinade and cook, stirring to coat all sides and brown the meat.
5.  Add 150 ml of water, bring to a simmer and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, until the chicken is tender.
6.  Serve the chicken with rice, and with extra ground black pepper.

Recipe adapted from Sydney Morning Herald (15th June 2010)

Ingredients; mixed to a vibrant turmeric and saffron-y paste; the onions are chopped, then also processed into a paste

The resulting curry, fragrant with the spices and onion paste, is served with rice...

...and extra black pepper
(but no coriander, never coriander...)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Easy Leek and Potato Soup

Do you ever order soup in cafes or restaurants?  Excluding Asian-style tom yum, pho or wonton soups, that is.
Ordering soup when eating out seems rather strange to me - it's not quite a meal, if you know what I mean.  I think the only time I've had soup was as an accompaniment to a sandwich, though it was more of an afterthought, in case the sandwich wasn't enough.

Anyway,  I came across some lovely, thin leeks the other day and decided to make leek and potato soup.  And rather than trawling through my hundreds of magazines for a recipe, I looked up my well-thumbed copy of Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion.  It's a fantastic reference for all types of food, and I've found it particularly useful for finding out how to select, store and prepare items that you don't normally buy, eg. how long can you store pomegranates for, and how can you tell if that pear is a good one?  Brilliant!

Leek and Potato Soup
serves 4

2 tblsp olive oil
6 small leeks, washed and sliced
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, sliced
1 stick celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 sprig of thyme
Salt and pepper, to season

1.  Heat olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add leeks, potatoes, onion, celery and garlic, then lower the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the leek has softened.
2.  Barely cover the vegetables with cold water, then add the thyme.  Simmer, uncovered, until potato is tender, about 15 minutes.
3.  Remove the thyme and blend or puree the soup (in a blender or with a stick mixer) until the soup is very smooth.
4.  Season well with salt and pepper.  Note:  There is not a lot of flavour in the soup, so be sure to taste it and season accordingly.
5.  To serve, reheat to boiling.  The soup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days, or frozen for 3 months.

Recipe adapted from the cook's companion

Lots of rustic ingredients, including onion, celery, potato and thyme

After blending the soup till it's smooth, serve with crusty bread

Blackboard special - today only!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Footie Clafoutis

A clafoutis: can be eaten while watching the World Cup foutis (aka 'the footie').

A clafoutis can also be savoury or sweet, and usually consists of stewed fruit or vegetables under a crusty or crumbly topping.  I found this sweet recipe in the back of Jamie magazine (the one with the lamb shanks), and it's the perfect thing to throw together before settling in for a night of World Cup action - it's also great comfort food for when your team gets walloped 4-blot by Germany.

Apple Clafoutis
serves 2

4 crisp red or green apples, cored, sliced, skin on
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
120g caster sugar
2 eggs
100ml double cream
50ml milk
30ml melted butter
60g plain flour
Warm custard, to serve

1.  Preheat oven to 190 deg C.
2.  In a pan, melt 25g butter, then add the apples and cinnmon.  Cook for a 5-6 minutes, turning the apples until they are golden.
3.  Place the apples in 2 round 12cm ovenproof dishes.
4.  In a bowl, whisk the caster sugar, with the eggs until thick and creamy.  Add cream, milk, melted butter and flour, and mix until combined.
5.  Place the batter on top of the apples.  Bake for 7-8 minutes or until golden.
6.  Serve the clafoutis warm with custard.

Recipe adapted from Jamie magazine.

Ingredients, including 2 red and 2 green apples; cooking the fruit in cinnamon and butter; the stewed apples ready for baking; fresh out of the oven.

Serve the clafoutis with some warm custard.

And all that sweet sugary goodness will give you lots of energy for yelling at and berating the incompetent referee when he gives out another red card...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Another sausage shortcut: Italian Sausage Ragu

Warning, warning! Shortcuts ahead!

"Pork or beef sausages, removed from their casings, make an ideal base for bolognese or ragu-style pasta sauces."

I've found that when I use just plain mince, there isn't much flavour in the dish, and a lot of water and/or oil always leaks out.  So I prefer sausage meat as an alternative.  There may be additives in the sausages, obviously, but for me, the flavour outweighs this - just try and get your snags from a trustworthy butcher or organic source.

This Italian Sausage Ragu is a rich and tasty accompaniment to pasta: the dash of rosemary and glug of red wine also helps!

Italian Sausage Ragu
serves 4

1 tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
6 Italian-style pork sausages (about 500g), casings removed
1 tblsp rosemary leaves, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup (250ml) red wine
1 tblsp tomato paste
400g can chopped tomatoes
400g short pasta, such as fusilli or penne
Parmesan cheese, to serve

1.  Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Cook the onion, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until softened.
2.  Add the sausage meat, rosemary and garlic, breaking up the sausage. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the meat is browned.
3.  Add the wine to the pan and let it bubble for 2-3 minutes, until reduced slightly.
4.  Stir in the tomato paste, then add the tomatoes.  Season with salt and pepper, stir, then increase heat and bring to the boil.
5.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until the mixture is reduced.
6.  Meanwhile, cook the pasta.
7.  Serve the ragu with the drained pasta, with parmesan cheese.

Recipe adapted from delicious (May 2010)

(anti-clockwise): Some of the ingredients; browning the sausage meat; reducing the sauce; served with parmesan and pasta

This saucy ragu has become a dinner favourite - it is also good when served with pearl (Israeli) couscous, as well as pasta.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Delicious Pear Pancakes

As a self-confessed mag hag, I love this time of month when the new issues of glorious food magazines are released.  The July issue of delicious is a prime example of 'Ooh, look at that recipe!', and it's already chock-full of my little post-it page tabs on things I want to make.

The first thing I made were these pear pancakes, inspired by Belinda Jeffery's apple and pear pikelets that appear in the magazine.  As luck would have it, I received some gluten-free Vitarium products to try* and they included a wonderful pancake mix.  So, all I did was slice up a pear, prepare the pancake batter, poured the batter over the pear, and voila! light, fluffy, gluten-free breakfast.

Pear Pancakes
serves 2

200g Vitarium gluten-free Pancake Mix
300ml milk
1 pear, thinly sliced
20g butter

1. Whisk the pancake mix with the milk until a smooth batter forms. 
2.  Melt the butter in a non-stick frypan, then add 2 or so pear slices (leave room for the pancake batter around the pears).  Cook for 1 minute on each side, until lightly golden in colour.
3.  Spoon 1-2 large tablespoons of pancake batter over each pear slice and smooth it out so the batter forms a circle around the pear.
4.  Cook for about 2 minutes until the underside is golden, then carefully turn the pancake over (with a thin, slotted spoon, if available), and cook the other side for 2 minutes.  Remove to a plate and cook the remaining pancakes and pear slices, adding more butter to the pan if necessary.
5. Optionally, sprinkle the pancakes with sugar before serving.

* Many thanks to Genevieve from Haystac for the Vitarium gluten-free goodies. Vitarium are also having a 'bake-off'.  See their website for details.

Ingredients: The Vitarium gluten-free pancake mix produced really great pancakes (there is no wheat flour in it).  I used a beurre bosc pear that didn't disintegrate when cooked.

The pancakes were not overly sweet, so a sprinkle of sugar only makes it better!

Fabulous for breakfast, or afternoon tea.

Friday, June 11, 2010

a la MasterChef Roast Chickpeas and Cashews

So, this notion of eating smaller 'meals' throughout the day, as opposed to substantial breakfast, lunch and dinner - are you for it or are you against it?  The idea is reasonable, I suppose, as it may sate your hunger more consistently, but the temptation is there to increase the portion sizes regardless (that's what I'd probably do, anyway).

It also comes down to what you are actually eating - a handful of raw almonds every 2 hours would probably be better than a handful (or 2) of Tim Tams...

In an effort to eat more healthily, snack-wise, I was inspired by an idea in the first MasterChef Australia magazine, for some chickpea nibbles. The magazine had almonds and chickpeas, but I have substituted cashews.  I'm not really qualified, but in terms of nutrition, almonds would probably have more health benefits.

Roasted Chickpeas and Cashews
makes 1 1/2 cups

1 x 400g chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tblsp olive oil
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt flakes
2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1.  Preheat oven to 200 deg C.
2.  Place the chickpeas on a paper towel and pat them dry.  Then put them in a baking tray with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and toss to coat.  Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, stirrring occasionally so they brown evenly.
3.  Reduce oven to 180 deg C.  Add the cashews to the baking tray together with remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, cumin and salt.  Roast for a further 10 minutes, until the cashews are golden brown and the chickpeas are crisp.
4.  Add the rosemary and roast for another 5 minutes.
5.  Set aside to cool before serving.

The chickpeas and nuts can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days.

Ingredients; chickpeas covered in oil before roasting

Fancy enough to serve at your next drinks party.
Or just grab a handful for a snack - much better for you than a Tim Tam!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Dark and moody: Lamb Shanks with Leeks

You know, I like to keep things light and bright around here, picture-wise. So this is a slight departure from the norm.

The reason is the recent 3 whole weeks of non-stop rain. Rain, rain, go away, already!!  And the rain has now been replaced by a wind chill in the single digits - so we all need something to warm us up.  Oh how I wish I had a lovely (real) fireplace - the house I live in was built in 1890, so it probably had one originally, prior to its 21st century makeover...

Anyway, here is a recipe for heart-warming lamb shanks with white wine and leeks.  It's adapted from Jamie Oliver, to highlight the northern hemisphere spring lamb, but it works just as well for us chilly southerners below the equator.

Lamb Shanks with white wine and leeks
serves 2

1 leek, trimmed and roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tblsp smoked paprika
2 sprigs of mint, leaves chopped
Olive oil
2-3 lamb shanks
1/2 bottle of white wine
1/2 head of garlic, broken into cloves, unpeeled
1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
1/2 bunch of thyme

1.  Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the leeks and celery and soften for 5 minutes.
2.  Mix the paprika, mint, some sea salt and pepper, and a drop or two of olive oil. Rub over the lamb shanks before placing snugly into the pan with the leeks.
3.  Pour over the wine, then add the garlic cloves, chilli and thyme. The lamb shanks should be almost covered with liquid - if not, top up with water or vegetable stock.
4.  Bring liquid to a simmer, cover and cook gently for 2 hours, until the meat is falling off the bone.
5.  Serve with roast potatoes or rice.

Recipe adaped from Jamie magazine

Some of the ingredients - lots of wintery (or spring-y) lamb and vegetables.

Meat is falling off the bone, as per the recipe. 
I also added some Chinese cabbage (wombok) to the pan

A comforting dish, perfect for eating in front of an imaginary fireplace.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A little something for the weekend

One of the advantages of living near Adriano Zumbo's Patisserie is being able to sample the new creations as they arrive.
One of the disadvantages is sudden, unaccountable weight gain around the midriff area - muffin top, anyone?

Another disadvantage is that a 'new' Zumbo cake appears that you don't think you've had before, and it turns out to be a 'work in progress' - the original cake has evolved into something different, yet the same.

Here are two cases in point:

Still a great pear of.
The green icing has been replaced by a square of green marzipan and a candied almond.

What the?? This is the cake formerly known as 'Blackcurrant', now called 'Vitamin C'.
And it's covered in jester's hat spines that are actually blackcurrant-y macarons.  And I saw them and I ate them and liked them very much.

I have had some other new cakes as well, and you can see them here.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Classy Saucisse et Haricots

Hands up if you're sick of coming home after a long, hard day at work and have to think of something tasty and interesting for dinner.  Keep your hand up if you refuse to get takeaway yet again.
Good, so it's not just me.

To get around the conundrum of work/decent dinner balance, I decided to plan ahead and make a big batch of 'something' that I could freeze for later.  Luckily, I came across this idea in Donna Hay magazine (the '50th issue' issue).  I probably could have found something on my own, but I do like it when someone else does the thinking for me!

Chorizo and Beans
serves 8

2 tblsp olive oil
2 red onions, sliced
2 chorizo, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tsp dried oregano leaves (or 4 sprigs fresh oregano)
1 tblsp brown sugar
3 x 400g cans white cannellini beans
1 tblsp red wine vinegar

1.  Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
2.  Add the onions, chorizo and garlic, and cook for 8 minutes until the chorizo is brown and the onions are soft.
4. Add the tomatoes, paprika, chilli flakes, oregano and brown sugar.  Stir to combine, then lower the heat to medium and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.
5.  Add the cannellini beans and heat through for 3 minutes.
6.  Serve the chorizo and beans in a bowl, with crusty bread.

Recipe adapted from Donna Hay magazine.

Other methods of serving: Stir through cooked penne pasta, or put some of the mixture into a small pie dish, top with puff pastry and bake in the oven until pastry is golden.
The chorizo and beans can also be split into smaller portions and frozen (for up to 3 months) in an airtight container or ziploc bag.  Reheat for a few minutes on the stove.

Ingredients (oregano and brown sugar not shown)

Serve with crusty bread (not shown)

While dishing the remains of this into an airtight container, I felt quite domesticated and frugal. 
 I also felt that way when buying all those cans of beans!

And don't let the name of this dish put you off - surely we can come up with something a bit more, uh, classy?
'ow about:
 "plat de saucisse et haricots"?
"piatto della salsiccia e fagioli"?
"la salchicha y habas"?
Vote now!