Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bacon broccoli beans - and quinoa (fritters)

I was pleased to see this recipe for Fritters in the recent Donna Hay magazine. With virtuous quinoa, no less, so how can you go wrong? Slight discontent, however, when the relatively short recipe in the magazine ended up taking ages to make – because of the prior preparation, such as cooking the quinoa, mashing the beans and steaming the broccoli.

However, as chippies all know, you should measure twice and cut once. Or, to translate into cooking terminology, measuring and organising everything you need beforehand (I think it’s called mise en place) makes the actual cooking much easier and error-proof.

Of course, having a food blog that features recipes that you just have to photograph every step for, well, it pretty much doubles the time it takes to prepare dinner, but it does make you focus on all the ingredients and prepping and making sure that the final result is worthy of blogdom. Hmm, not sure about being worthy, but this recipe is okay, nonetheless.

Bacon, Broccoli, Bean and Quinoa Fritters
serves 4

1 cup quinoa
400g tinned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 small head of broccoli, florets removed
4 rashers bacon, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup basil leaves, chopped
salt and pepper
1 tblsp olive oil

1. Cook the quinoa in 1½ cups of boiling water for about 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed, then set aside to cool slightly.
2. Mash the cannellini beans in a bowl and set aside.
3. Steam or microwave the broccoli until just tender, then chop finely.
4. Heat a non-stick frying pan over high heat and cook the bacon until golden, about 5 minutes.
5. Place the cooked quinoa, mashed beans, broccoli, egg, bacon, basil and lots of salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix to combine. Take 2 tablespoons of the mixture and shape into fritters. Place onto a plate and refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm.
6. Heat the oil in the frying pan over medium heat and cook the fritters for 4 minutes on each side, until golden. Serve.

recipe adapted from Donna Hay magazine (issue 62)

Ingredients, including cannellini beans, quinoa, broccoli, bacon, egg and basil

The prepared ingredients are mixed together to form fritters.

Serve au naturel, or with corn relish or chutney

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Drippilicous Pear and Maple tartes tatin

Small tarts are good tarts, because you can have more of them.
The Knave of Hearts (who stole some tarts) was onto a good thing.

Here are a couple of small tarts from a recipe that was originally intended for one large tart. 
There is a feature in issue 62 of Donna Hay magazine on tartes tatin (or is it tarte tatins?) and how to make them. These are upside-down tarts made with puff pastry. You can use any fruit you fancy, as long as you cook the fruits in caramel, which produces a sticky, gooey, hard-to-scrape-off sauce when the tarts are inverted.

Rather than the usual apple tarte tatin, I used Williams pears, which have a firm, juicy and sweet flesh. They go beautifully with the sweet caramel that has the added distinct flavour of maple syrup. There was quite a bit of cleanup with these tarts - pastry cutter, saucepan for the caramel, scraping off of the hardened caramel from the muffin pan, scraping the dripping caramel off my chin - but these tarts were so good that you have to make more so that you can eat more. Super yum!

Pear and Maple Tartes Tatin
makes approx 6

2-3 firm ripe pears, like Williams or Packham
1/2 cup caster (superfine) sugar
1/4 cup water
50g butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry, thawed

1. Peel, core and chop the pears into 2.5cm/1" pieces.
2. For the caramel: Place the caster sugar and water into a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. As soon as the mixture boils, do not stir any further. Cook until the colour changes to a golden brown (10-15 minutes) - be careful, it changes quickly. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and golden syrup until combined.
3. Pour the caramel into 6 standard-sized muffin tins. Place the pear pieces on top of the caramel.
4. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Use a circle-shaped cookie cutter to cut puff pastry to fit the tops of the muffin holes. Place pastry on top of the pears, tucking the pastry into the holes to enclose the pears. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
5. Use a large spoon to carefully remove the tarts from the pan and place onto plates. Serve with cream or ice cream, if you like.

recipe adapted from donna hay

Williams pears were used here, but other pears, like knobbly Packhams, would also be good. Williams pears are better, though, because they ripen more quickly, in 1-2 days.
Cut circles of puff pastry to fit over the pears.
The pear pieces lie in the maple caramel sauce.
After the tarts are cooked, run a knife around the muffin holes and use a spoon to get the tarts out. 

The dripping caramel gets everywhere, but it is easy to lick clean up (use hot/boiling water to dissolve it)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sydney Easter Show - pointer to food and stuff

Went to the Sydney Royal Easter Show 2012!

Ooh, Look - Craft to see it.
Lots of bright colours and rides and cake decorating.
And, because this is also a food blog, some food, like this:

Mmm, frozen Coke...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Three CH's - chicken, chickpea, chorizo

Let’s talk about the weather. And clothes.

The term ‘trans-seasonal’ has been having a good run lately, with summer making a late appearance here in the southern hemisphere – and by some accounts, summer is making an early entry in some areas of the northern equatorial.

The main advantage of the similarity in weather patterns (to me, at least), is that fashions in the northern part of the world can easily be worn here in the south. As an avid online shopper, this means that a funky, mod-inspired shift dress can be bought from a European or US-based site and it can be worn straight away (when it eventually arrives), without waiting for the weather to behave. I tell you what, I’m in Modcloth/ASOS/Ruche shopping heaven at the moment (if you're a shopaholic gal like me, you'll know what goodies this holy trinity of merchandisers contains).

The same seasonality applies to recipes – instead of cooking autumnal harvest dishes full of pumpkin, carrots and parsnips, we can work with the herbs and summery fruits for a little while longer.

Here’s an easy rice dish that’s perfect for easing into the changing season, whatever it may be.

Chicken, Chickpea and Chorizo Pilaf
serves 3-4

1 tsp olive oil
1 chorizo sausage, sliced into rounds
2 chicken thigh fillets, cut into 2.5cm/1in pieces
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 cup basmati or long-grain rice
400g tinned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 ¾ cups hot chicken stock
¼ cup chopped chives
2 tblsp chopped dill
Lemon wedges, to serve

1. Place the olive oil in a large frypan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the chorizo slices and cook each side for about 1 minute, until golden.
2. Add the chicken to the pan, and cook, turning frequently, until lightly browned all over.
3. Add turmeric to the pan and cook for 30 seconds. Add the rice and stir to coat with the turmeric and oil.
4. Add the chickpeas and chicken stock, stir and bring mixture to the boil. Reduce heat to low, then cover pan with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the liquid is almost absorbed.
5. Stir through the chives and dill and leave on the heat for another minute.
6. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Some fresh herbs, such as chives and dill, really add a great flavour to this dish.
So does the chorizo.
I've also made this dish several times without the chickpeas, so it's lighter in the tummy and all the better for fitting into that mod shift dress.

Sprinkle some more dill on top before serving with lemon wedges to squeeze over.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mushroom Carbonara and... Cat Chase pt 2

Well, it’s been over 6 months since I got an iPad ™. And while I probably don’t use it as much as I could, it’s still been an invaluable tool, toy and time-waster. I wonder if it’s because we’re in that transitional technology phase, where a particular object (in this case, a computer tablet) is trying to break into mainstream life but isn’t quite there yet.

I use my iPad mainly for reading and web-surfing. There’s nothing more cosy than lounging on the sofa (in comfy trackie-daks, thank you very much) and effortlessly flicking through the interwebs with the swipe of a finger. Of course, with the surfing comes the online shopping – is there anything finer than adding a delightful something-or-other to your virtual shopping cart and having it appear on your doorstep 7-10 (international standard shipping) days later? Let’s not worry about the credit card bit for now…

If there’s one thing that I’m not that good at, it’s keeping track of my purchases. I have too many black ponte dresses to count, and the online magazines are filling up my virtual bookshelves. I actually forgot that I had a short subscription to delicious magazine and bought this month’s real-life copy as well. Better make the most of it by trying another recipe from its tasty pages (this cheesecake is from the same issue).  Here's a mushroom carbonara that has no cream and is boosted by some porcini mushrooms.

Mushroom Carbonara
Serves 2-3

20g unsalted butter
1 tblsp olive oil
2 eschalots, finely chopped
2 tsp crushed garlic
8 sage leaves, shredded
250g button mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup dried porcini mushrooms
250g spaghetti
2 eggs, beaten
Grated parmesan and chopped chives, to serve

1. Soak the porcini in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Then drain and chop into 1cm pieces.
2. Melt butter in a frypan over medium-high heat. Add eschalots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until softened.
3. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds.
4. Add sage, mushrooms and chopped porcini. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until golden.
5. Meanwhile cook pasta in boiling salted water for 8 minutes. Drain the pasta, and while it is still hot, mix in the eggs to coat the pasta. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Divide the pasta into bowls, then top with the mushroom mixture.
7. Serve with parmesan and chopped chives

recipe adapted from delicious (April 2012)

Ingredients, including mushrooms, eschalots and sage. I also added porcini for something extra.
After coating the cooked spaghetti with egg, you could leave out the mushrooms and just sprinkle on some truffle salt - divine!

Finish off the dish with a sprinkle of chives.

Creamy (though without cream) and luscious (without being too rich), this recipe is worth having two copies of.

Tabitha vs Henry
Ep 8: Cat Chase (conclusion)

Where were we? Oh, yes.
The story so far: Evil Henry had invaded Tabitha's space and cornered her by the fishpond where Henry had  previously killed Spot the goldfish.

What did Tabitha do next?
Note: Our neighbour does not like cats, and was trying to get the cats off her fence. I would have taken a picture of her but didn't want her to see me doing it ;)

The End.

Score: Tabitha 1. Henry 0. Angry neighbour -1.

 Stay tuned for more adventures of Tabitha and Henry