Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Sprouting Broccoli and Oyster Mushrooms in Ginger Broth with Pumpking and Macadamia Dumplings

This one is out of one of my favourite recipe books, a gift from my sister called Wild Garlic, Gooseberries and Me, by Denis Cotter. It's really great.

This is also the last of my backlog, which means that I will probably be falling silent for a while as I have some travelling coming up.

So! The first thing I have to admit to is that in Dunedin it is impossible to find either sprouting broccoli or oyster mushrooms. So, um. That was fun.

I ended up using portobello mushrooms and ordinary broccoli, so it was probably totally different to how it was meant to be. But, it was still pretty good.

So, You start by bringing1.5 litres of water to the boil in a large saucepan, and throwing in a chopped onion, 2 chopped celery sticks, a chopped carrot, some garlic cloves (recipe says four, I probably used more, because I always do), a thumb of sliced fresh root ginger, a sliced chilli, some coriander leaves and parsley leaves. Turn down the heat and simmer for 20 mins. Then strain through a sieve and discard the veggies, keeping the broth. (This part always breaks my heart, but I assume all the goodness of the veggies in the juice by then anyway.)

Then steam 100g pumpkin diced up till it's soft. (I actually steamed this over the broth while it was cooking.) Mash it up. Stir in a tablespoon of finely chopped macadamia nuts (I used significantly more than that. Mmmmmm macadamias.), grated zest of half a lemon, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (I just squeezed it over the pumpkin and guestimated), and 2 tsp chopped coriander. Leave it to cool.

The recipe calls for 8 wonton wrappers, but I made more than that. Possibly I used too much pumpkin. I basically just kept going until the mixture was finished.

So place the wantons on a work surface, put a teaspoon of the pumpkin mixture in the middle, moisten the edge of the wrapper and fold it to make a rectangle, pressing down the edges. (A few of mine burst open, so make sure about those edges!)

Reheat the broth gently, Fry the broccoli (350g) and mushrooms (100g) in some olive oil in a pan, occasionally ladling in some of the broth to keep them moist. Add 4 sliced spring onions, and cook a little more.

Bring the broth to the boil, and drop the dumplings in, simmer for two minutes, and serve broth and dumplings poured over the fried veg.

This dish was really tasty - the broth was amazing. It didn't survive longer though, so eat it all immediately! It sort of went mushy and gross after a day.

But those dumplings - NOM. Highly recommended, even though it's a bit fiddly.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Spicy prawn and lemon grass soup

I honestly thought I'd written this one up, but it's not there, so I guess I didn't.

This is actually one we have made a few times in the past, so it's more tried and tested than experimental, but the deal was every recipe, and so we made it anyway. Also, because it's delicious!

Bring 1.2 litres of chicken stock to the boil in a big pot. Throw in some lemon grass. The recipe says "two lemon grass stalks", but we can't find fresh lemon grass here, so I basically just threw in a bunch of the bottled stuff. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 10 mins. (It says remove the lemon grass and discard. This is probably necessary with the fresh ones, but with the bottled stuff I didn't bother.)

Add 8 lime leaves, 3 fresh red chillies, seeded and chopped, a pinch of black pepper, 3 tablespoons of fish sauce and three tablespoons of lime juice. Let it simmer for a few minutes, then throw in the prawns (225g, shelled and de-veined) and remove from the heat and leave to stand for ten mins. Stir in two chopped spring onions and some fresh coriander and serve immediately.

This is a really great soup for a starter. It's quick and easy, and light and exceptionally tasty.

Lots of thumbs up!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Eggplant in Garlic Tomato Sauce

I'll be honest and say it's been so long since I made this one, I don't remember it that clearly. I know we had it as a side dish with something else, and I do seem to remember it was pretty yummy, but I don't recall much else.

*sigh* Note to self: MUST write these up soon after cooking them!!

In any case, here's how it went:

Cut an eggplant into 1cm wide strips, place in strainer, and salt them. Let them stand for 30 mins, and then rinse. (You know, almost every eggplant recipe has instructions like these. I don't know what it's meant to do. I often leave it out because I don't have time, and have never noticed a notable problem with it. But you know, whatever. I wonder if it's like salting the water in which you cook pasta - just one of those things "everyone knows you should do", but it's not actually necessary. Anyway...)

Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the eggplant in batches till brown and soft. Remove from heat. fry some chopped brown onion, add some undrained crushed tinned tomatoes, 1/2 cup of water, a tablespoon tomato paste, a tablespoon chopped basil and a pinch of black pepper. (The recipe wants a pinch of sugar too, but I always leave that out.) Bring to the boil, simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes, pour over eggplant and serve hot.

Like I said, my memory says this was yummy, but I don't remember details. Look at those ingredients though! It had to have been delicious and Med and nom. ;)

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Garlic Bread

It really doesn't get more simple than this.

Take one French loaf. Cut it into thick part slices (about 3/4 of the way through). Combine 125g butter, a bunch of chopped garlic (the recipe says 2-3 cloves, but I put a LOT more than that in), a tablespoon of chopped parsley and some black pepper. Beat it till it's smooth. (I made it in advance, melting the butter, because it's COLD in Dunedin, and butter doesn't go soft. Then I left it to harden partially.)

Spread the butter mixture between each slice of bread. Wrap bread in foil and bake for 10-15 mins on 180C.

Basic garlic bread, ftw. Delicious. NOM.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Chickpea and Lamb Soup

This one is out of a recipe book of Mediterranean Street Food. It is an awesome book.

I did the lazy version of this recipe. The recipe involves dried chickpeas, and rinsing them and peeling the skins off and so forth. I just used tinned ones, and didn't bother with any of that.

So, throw a tin of chickpeas in a saucepan, with about a cup of diced lamb, a thinly sliced onion, a third of a cup of chopped parsley, a pinch of saffron threads, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, a can of tomatoes and 2 quarts of water. Bring to the boil, and then drop in 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and leave it to boil for an hour.

Stir in 1/4 cup of broken up vermicelli, 1/3 cup cilantro, 3/4 tablespoon of tomato paste and the juice of a lemon. Reduce the heat to low, and leave it to simmer gently while you make the thickening stuff.

Which is just 3 or 4 tablespoons of flour mixed with 2/3 cup of water, which you dribble slowly into the soup, stirring to avoid lumpiness. Add salt to taste and cook till the noodles are done, and then serve hot.

My biggest issue was that I found the vermicelli really hard to work with. Unlike other noodles, it doesn't break up easily, so I ended up putting too much in and it sort of monopolised the soup. But apart from that, it was really very tasty. I love these sort of Med flavours, so I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Saturday, 9 June 2012

Salt Pilchard Bruschetta

Okay, so we played sort of fast and loose with this one. We can't get salt pilchards here, so we used fresh sardines. Here's how it goes:

Take 4 salt pilchards/sardines and descale and clean them. Preheat the grill to high, and grill the fish for about 3 minutes on each side. Leave to cool, and then break the fish into small flakes. Throw out the skin and bones (or turn it into fishstock, if you're feeling really energetic!).

Toast slices of ciabatta (or something similar) on both sides. Rub one side of each with peeled garlic cloves and drizzle with good olive oil.

Put the fish on the bread, top with slices of vine-ripened tomato, some very thinly sliced red onion, some chopped parsley, and freshly ground black pepper.

Eat, with delight.

At least, that's the idea, but I was not that convinced. It was... nice. But I wasn't blown away. I think maybe sardines weren't a great replacement for pilchards, even though I think, technically, they're the same fish at different ages. (I may be totally wrong about that, and I am too lazy to google it right now.

In any case, it was okay. But not fabulous. I expected more from this recipe. On the plus side, it was pretty quick and easy.

Muesli Pie

I've written before about the "Eating for Sustained Energy" series. This recipe came out of the book for kids. So, it's a low GI supposedly kid friendly breakfast meal.

The only problem is, it really wasn't that great.

Here's the recipe:

Combine 500ml oats, 500ml digestive bran, 125ml sugar, a pinch of salt, 10ml baking powder, 125ml sultanas or dried fruit, 30g chopped walnuts or pecan nuts. In another bowl, beat 2 eggs, and add 4 small grated apples, 500ml fat-free flavoured yoghurt and 5ml vanilla essence.

Add them together, mixing well to make sure that they're all mixed together, and there are no dry patches.

Spoon into a greased cake tin, and bake for 40 mins at 180C, until "firm and golden brown".

Remove from pan and cut into 16 equal sized wedges.

Now, I don't know if I did something wrong, or didn't bake it long enough or what, but I was expecting something like muesli bars. You know, crunchy and tasty. It was more like.... cooked breakfast cereal. Kind of stodgy and, once cold, really not very inspiring.

Frankly, I think I'd have done better just eating it as muesli with yoghurt.

These books are normally great, so I have to wonder if I did something wrong. Maybe I put too much yoghurt in? Maybe the oven didn't cook hot enough? (Our oven can be a bit temperamental at times.)

Either way, this recipe turned out sort of meh all round.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Beef and Prawn Pouches

I have a lot of catching up to do on this blog! I actually did a bunch of cooking that I never wrote up, so I will be trying to write as much of it up as I can, but you may have to forgive me if my memory is a bit hazy about how things worked out.

This one I remember though, because they were AMAZING!

Basically, in a pan, you cook up 2 tablespoons of olive oil, some garlic (recipe says one clove, but I scoff at one clove! I probably put in four or five), and a small chopped onion. Cook stirring till translucent, then add 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh ginger, 80g minced beef. Cook till meat is browned. Then stir in 60g small prawns (the recipe says cooked, but honestly, prawns require such a tiny amount of cooking, I wouldn't worry about it), 1 small grated carrot and two green shallots. Cook for a minute more, then turn off the heat and throw in a handful of fresh basil. (Okay, the recipe says a tablespoon, but I just chucked some in.) The recipe also says a tablespoon of sugar, but I left that out, and was quite happy with the result. That said, I do tend to not like things sweet, so YMMV.

Let it cool.

Get a 250g packet of wonton pastry. Brush pastry shells with beaten egg, plonk about a teaspoon of the mince mixture on it, and then pinch the edges of the pastry together to make little pastry packages. I ran out of mince, and did a few with blocks of dark chocolate inside, which were... interesting.

Deep fry them in hot oil just before you want to serve.

The recipe comes with a sweet chilli sauce recipe, which I made. (1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce, 1 small red fresh chilli and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Stir over heat until sugar dissolves, bring to boil, simmer uncovered for 5 mins or until thickened.) Honestly though? It's a bit of a pain, and not really as good as the standard sweet chilli sauce we get from our local Asian supermarket. So, I wouldn't bother.

The packages, though, are gorgeous. Really really delicious. Putting them together is a bit of a pain, but well worth it. NOM.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Seared Tuna with Pepper-Dhania Crust on a Salad with Chinese Rock Sugar Dressing

The first cookbook I ever bought myself was Provocative Cuisine by Kitchenboy (aka Braam Kruger). Yes, that is an AGE RESTRICTION on the cover. That's how you know it's a good one.

This is the first recipe in that book. I hasten to add that this is also the first recipe book I read all the way through. It is more than just a bunch of recipes, it is a work of art. You should buy it. Go, now.

In the meantime, let me tell you about this amazing tuna.

You start with the dressing. Melt 50g chinese rock sugar in 50ml rice vinegar and 50ml white wine vinegar. Add 50ml rice wine (if you have it, which I didn't). The recipe does everything in slow steps, but I was in a hurry, so I just threw everything in. So, throw in a dash of soy sauce, 15g fresh ginger (or, if you're me, a chunk, chopped up into pieces), an onion, 2 cloves of garlic, a spring onion and 15ml dhania (which google tells me is coriander). The recipe then says "infuse for 3 hours", which of course, I didn't have time for because I was not that organised. I just left it there while I made the rest.

Then, in a bowl, mix two tablespoons of black pepper, 4 tablespoons of chopped basil, 1 tablespoon of chopped dhania (coriander). I will say I just used the dry stuff, which is probably a travesty, but it was still delicious. Roll the tuna around in it.

The recipe has a complicated thing involving shaping the tuna into discs. I didn't bother with that.

Season with salt, and sear in a hot hot pan. He says, "Aim for the thinnest possible whitening of the crust, remaining raw inside". He's right. NOM.

The salad is just cucumber chopped into sticks, some blanched snow peas and a handful of bean sprouts.

Make a pile of salad, dribble the dressing over it and around the plate, pop the tuna steak on top, and dot the plate with some wasabi.

This is what mine looked like:

Pretty delicious looking huh? 

Pretty delicious tasting too, I tell you what! The flavours marry beautifully. It was incredible. 


Basic Chocolate Sauce

It doesn't get much more basic than this, guys.

About half a cup of water. A tablespoon of castor sugar. And 50g of good dark chocolate.

Melt the sugar in the water. Add the chocolate, and stir till melted. Take off the heat and serve immediately over icecream or chocolate sponge cake.

It's not as thick as I like my chocolate sauce usually, but it does the trick.

Talk about basic.