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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cookbook Challenge: Week 37, Hearty

Beef Provencale

Recipe: Beef Provencale
From: Darina Allen's Ballymaloe Cookery Course

The theme for this week's Cookbook Challenge is hearty, and to paraphrase Ange: almost everything I'm cooking at the moment could be classified as hearty. It's this damned weather - why oh why when Alastair and I left Wellington didn't we move to a tropical country? Or Queensland? (Oh yeah, because it's Queensland.)

For the theme this week I made beef provencale - well sort of. Normally when I make a beef stew I don't follow a recipe. I just throw in whatever vegetables I have (normally carrots and celery) along with copious amounts of onion and garlic, plus whatever spices and seasoning I feel like.

Beef Provencale

For this beef provencale I read the recipe, and then.... well let's just say I used it for inspiration purposes only. Marinating the meat? Didn't do that. Followed the instructions for cooking? Didn't do that. Used the same ingredients? Yep, didn't do that either.

Anyway, it's a beef stew. As long as it's cooked low and slow, it all turns out edible and delicious. I did add the anchovies, capers and vinegar near the end of the cooking, which gave it an interesting salty, sour element. And I made a large pot of garlic mashed potatoes to eat with the stew - definite hearty winter fare.

See previous Cookbook Challenge posts here.

Beef Provencale

Beef Provencale

From: Darina Allen's Ballymaloe Cookery Course

Serves 8

1.3kg lean stewing beef (I used gravy beef)

2 tablespoons olive oil
300ml dry white or red wine
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme, sage or annual marjoram
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
110g carrots, peeled thinly sliced
110g onions, peeled thinly sliced
Two sticks of celery, thinly sliced

450g bacon, cut into 1cm lardons
1 x 400g tin tomatoes, chopped
150ml homemade stock (I only had chicken, though the book says beef)
175g sliced mushrooms
10 anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons capers
3 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
2 cloves garlic, mashed

Cut the beef into chunks about 3-4cm. Mix the marinade ingredients together and add the meat. Cover and place in the fridge overnight.

When ready to cook, remove the meat to a plate. Reserve the vegetables and the marinade.

Heat some oil in a frying pan and cook the bacon until crispy. Remove and then brown the marinated meat in batches.

In a large pot or casserole, add the fried bacon, browned meat, tinned tomatoes, reserved marinated liquid and vegetables, and stock. Bring to the boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Allow the meat to simmer on a gentle heat until the meat is tender - about 1.5-2 hours.

When the meat is tender, liquidise the anchovies, capers, parsley, wine vinegar and garlic. Add to the casserole with the sliced mushrooms. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. If necessary, thicken the sauce by whisking in a little roux (cornflour mixed into water).

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with mashed potatoes.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Christmas in July pudding making workshop at The Langham

Pudding making class at the Langham

Disclosure: I attended this event courtesy of The Langham and Media Moguls.

So it’s July, and you know what that means, don’t you? Time to think about Christmas! Okay, perhaps it’s not quite time to plan for Christmas, but it will be right about the corner before you know it. Isn’t that a scary thought?

Last week I headed to the Langham with several other food bloggers and food media for a Christmas in July event. I was particularly excited by the fact that we would be having a Christmas pudding making session.

After a series of canapés and glasses of bubbles (I didn’t take pictures of the canapés, but check out some of the other bloggers linked below for details), we put on aprons and chefs’ hats and headed down to the pastry kitchen. Being a food geek, I was very excited at taking the big elevator down and checking out the commercial kitchen. Oooh. It was so shiny! And clean! And bright! And shiny! Plus you should have seen the massive commercial mixer – ahhh. It was almost as tall as me – which is not saying much, to tell you the truth. I wish I had thought to take a photo of it!

Pudding making class at the Langham Pudding making class at the Langham

We were split into two groups and into two different kitchens. My group were introduced to pastry chef Zara, who talked to us about tempering chocolate and about chocolate truffles.

Pudding making class at the Langham

Zara dipped pre-filled truffles in melted white chocolate, and showed us how to make the spiky pattern – by rolling it around on the rack with a fork. Easy! Well, she made it look easy anyway.

The white chocolate truffles were filled with elderflower liqueur and raspberry ganache. I always say that I don’t really like white chocolate... but I made an exception for these truffles! They were delicious and the sweetness of the white chocolate really highlighted the elderflower and raspberry.

Pudding making class at the Langham
Pudding making class at the Langham

Zara had also prepared some rum balls that she dipped in Lindt milk chocolate and decorated with cocoa nibs. She confessed that she put rather a lot of rum in them. She certainly did! Wow wee. They were great!

Pudding making class at the Langham Pudding making class at the Langham
Pudding making class at the Langham

And… can you believe she told us we were free to taste the items on this bench?!

Pudding making class at the Langham

I would have loved to have spent more time listening to Zara but we had to move on. We swapped with the other group and headed into the kitchen next door to make pudding. Chef Anthony Ross was in charge of this session, and he started things off by tipping a large amount of butter, almond meal and hazelnut meal on to the bench.

Pudding making class at the Langham

He told us to get our hands into it and start rubbing the butter into the almond/hazelnut meal. (Yes we washed our hands first!)

Pudding making class at the Langham
Pudding making class at the Langham

After the butter and almond/hazelnut meal were well mixed, the fruit was tipped in. The fruit had been prepared earlier, and had been macerating in a brandy mixture. When it was tipped out, a heady scent of brandy and spices wafted around the room. It smelt amazing!

Pudding making class at the Langham

After more mixing, it was all piled up and a well was formed in the middle, into which liquid was poured – I think it was a combination of juice, milk, eggs and spices.

Pudding making class at the Langham

Plus a couple of cans of stout and a touch more brandy.

Pudding making class at the Langham

After more mixing, we had pudding! Well – almost.

Pudding making class at the Langham
Pudding making class at the Langham

We each selected a charm to put into our puddings (the charms were wrapped in tinfoil for hygiene reasons) and then the pudding was placed on top. For some reason I selected a ballerina (?!).

Pudding making class at the Langham

And look – all the puddings ready for steaming! They were taken away to be steamed for a couple of hours, and we’ll receive our puddings in about five months time. Pretty cool, huh? I’ll let you know how it tastes in December!

For more posts see:

Sarah Cooks
Iron Chef Shellie
I Eat Therefore I Am
Addictive & Consuming

The Langham
1 Southgate Avenue
Phone: 03 8696 888
Web: The Langham – Melbourne

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cookbook Challenge: Week 36, Comfort Food

Lemon delicious

Recipe: Lemon delicious puddings
From: AWW Bake

The theme for this week's Cookbook Challenge is "comfort food". After a rather busy week, this weekend has been incredibly lazy so something comforting and puddingish sounded good to me.

I have rather a lot of lemons (due to Maria giving me 5kgs from her tree) and I've been doing my best to cook and bake my way through them. So for this week's theme, I decided to make lemon delicious in an effort to use up more lemons. If you don't know what lemon delicious, it's a classic - a baked pudding that ends up with two layers: a light sponge on top of a tangy sauce.

Lemon delicious

My puddings were well risen when I took them out of the oven, but by the time I got around to taking photos they had deflated. Well, they still tasted good! I loved the lightness of the sponge layer, and the almost custardy sauce. But next time I make it, I would reduce the sugar - they were a bit sweeter than I wanted.

It's such a great pudding - warm, but not too heavy. And well named too, since it really is delicious!

See previous Cookbook Challenge posts here

Lemon delicious

Lemon delicious puddings

From The Australian Women's Weekly Bake

Serves 6

125g butter, melted
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
1&1/2 cup (330g) caster sugar
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup (75g) self-raising flour
1/3 cup (80ml) lemon juice
1&1/3 cups (330ml) milk

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease six 1-cup ramekins.

In a large bowl, combine the butter, lemon rind, caster sugar and egg yolks. Stir in the sifted flour and lemon juice.

Gradually add the milk, stirring until combined and smooth.

Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold a third of the egg whites into the lemon mixture with a large spoon. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites.

Place the ramekins in a large baking dish and divide the lemon mixture among them. Add enough water to the baking dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake the puddings for about 35 minutes.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Campari House: a toast to Campari House roasts

As part of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival June roast dinner series, the Boys and I headed to Campari House with Maria and Daz, where we were treated to five grazing courses accompanied by five wines.

Campari House

When we arrived, all the glasses had been lined up on the table, and we were advised that all the wines would be poured at once. This was so we could taste each one with the different courses and make our own mind up about the wine and food matching. Which was a great idea, with the only problem being that it was a school night... and the wine pours were VERY generous and our glasses were topped up whenever they were nearing empty.

The five wines were:

Blue Pyrenees NV Brut, Blue Pyrenees Savignon Blanc 2009, Sticks Chardonnay 2009, Red Claw Pinot Noir 2008, and Campbells Bobbie Burns Shiraz 2008.

I’m not hugely knowledgeable about wines so I won’t talk about them – except to say that the more I drank, the more I enjoyed them. Isn’t that always the way? Hah.

Campari House

Our first course was a braised black trevally on wild mushroom rissoni and pistachio dust. I don’t remember tasting the pistachio dust, but I can tell you that the rissoni was AMAZING. It was indulgently buttery, strongly mushroom flavoured and cooked just right. The fish was also very good, with a crispy skin, but this dish was all about the rissoni.

Campari House

Next up was a rabbit ballontine, with caramelised pearl onion and game jus. The jus was made with rabbit and quail (bones, I’m assuming) and the rabbit had been boned, stuffed and then rolled up into a bundle. Around the outside of the rabbit was bacon – mhmmm bacon.

Campari House

The third course was a cauliflower gratin with truffled white polenta. At first glance and first taste, this was a simple dish and not terribly impressive. The cauliflower was covered in a cheese sauce, and initially we couldn't find any polenta because of all the sauce. But when we dug to the bottom, we found the polenta – and lordy the polenta was fantastic. Cheesy and grainy (but in a good way), and really really moreish. We all gave up on the forks and started scraping out as much polenta as possible with our knives (classy, I know). At least we didn’t lick the plates, though I was tempted.

Campari House

And for the last savoury course, there was a slow roasted mustard beef with sticky winter mushrooms. As you can see, The beef was served quite rare with a hint of mustard and the sweetish mushrooms were hidden underneath the beef. It was a nice dish without being a stand out.

Campari House

Dessert was a chilled strawberry soup with basil foam and a shortbread straw. It sounds odd, but it tasted great and I think Maria will be trying to replicate this one! It would be a perfect summer dessert – it was very sweet and fragrant with the flavour of strawberries and a touch of basil. Sadly the shortbread straw wasn't a proper straw though it was nice and buttery.

I really enjoyed the evening at Campari house, and it wasn't due to all the wine! I was impressed with the food, with the standout dishes being the polenta and the risoni, followed by the strawberry soup. We spent the night on the ground floor, but I believe there's several levels, including a roof top bar which I'm sure would be great in the summer. Judging from what we ate, there's some good food coming from the kitchen at Campari House, and it's definitely worth another visit.

Campari House
23-25 Hardware Lane
Phone: 03 9600 1574

Campari House on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 18, 2010

International Tacos Incident Party

Tacos de Lengua

International Pizza Pie Incident Party

Welcome to the tacos edition of the International Incident Party. We had noodles, we had dumplings, we had pizza pie, we had gnocchi, and now it's time to taco it up.

On offer for the party today, I have tacos de lengua. They sound much more attractive in Spanish, since tacos de lengua means tongue tacos. And they are delicious - no really!

Tongue is one of my most favourite things to eat. I think many people have childhood memories of tongue being chewy and tough, but when it's cooked properly tongue becomes tender and rich, with a wonderful buttery texture.

Tacos de Lengua

For these tacos, I cooked a whole tongue in water until it was soft. When it was tender, the diced meat was fried with onions, (rather a lot of) garlic, red and green capsicum, as well as cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper. After that I stirred through some chopped up coriander and served them in home made tortillas. The seasoned tongue was spicy and tender, and the home made tortillas were definitely worth the effort.

Although to tell the truth, there wasn't that much effort in making the tortillas - they were easy! The dough was basically just masa harina (maize corn flour) and warm water. I don't own a tortilla press, so I improvised by flattening golf ball sized balls of dough with a large cookbook (The Cook's Companion!) and then thinning out the circles even further with a rolling pin. This helped keep the tortillas round(ish). Next time I'll add a pinch of salt to the tortilla dough, but a warm tortilla straight out of the frying pan was bliss. And they taste like corn chips! Amazing.

After the tongue had been cooked and diced, it looked like any other meat - except more delicious! Alastair, who doesn't really like tongue, tried a taco and he seemed to enjoy it (don't worry, he didn't miss out completely - I made a pork version for him to eat. What a good wife.). If you're not a tongue lover, I hope that I may have inspired you to give it a go. And if not, well I guess that just means there's more for me!

Check out the other attendees to the party below:

Tacos de Lengua

Tacos de lengua - tongue tacos

Makes rather a lot - serves 4-6?

1st step:
1 cow/ox tongue
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly crushed
10 peppercorns, roughly crushed

2nd step:
1 onion, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 red capsicum, diced
1 green capsicum, diced
1 chili, diced
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
1 bunch coriander, well washed
A packet of tortillas - or make your own!
Lemon/lime juice

Place the tongue in a large pot and cover with water. Add the onion, garlic, pepper and salt. Cover the pot, bring the water to a boil, and then turn down to a simmer. Cook for the tongue for several hours, or until it is soft (I did mine in a thermal pot overnight, so am not sure how long it would take on the stove. You can tell when it's soft if you can stick a chopstick into it easily!)

Remove the tongue from the liquid and set aside to cool. Peel the thick skin off the tongue, and dice the meat into cubes.

Heat some oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions, and cook until soft. Turn up the heat and add the diced capsicum, the diced tongue, and the spices. Season with salt and pepper and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir through the chopped coriander.

Build the tacos by placing the meat mixture into a tortilla and serve with a squeeze of lemon/lime juice.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cookbook Challenge: Week 35, Spanish

Spanish lunch

Hola! Welcome, welcome! Come in, take a seat, and get comfy. I would feed you all if I could, but unfortunately because technology hasn’t quite progressed to that point, you’ll just have to read all about the following lunch, and wish you had been there!

The theme for this week's Cookbook Challenge is Spanish, and last Sunday a few bloggers came over for a Spanish themed potluck lunch. At first I really struggled with the Spanish theme and wasn't sure what to make. I don’t own any Spanish cookbooks, and couldn’t find anything in any of my other cookbooks that wasn’t paella. I didn't want to make paella, and interesting no one else made it either - we really needed Kat to come and cook it for us!

After a whinge on twitter, I received some good suggestions from @gastromaniac, which helped me decide on one dish - salted wrinkled potatoes with mojo verde. The following day, I went to the library and while I couldn’t find any Spanish cookbooks, I borrowed Saffron and Sunshine which contained assorted recipes from around the Mediterranean. When I flicked through it, I realised it was a goldmine and I came away with four additional recipes I wanted to make. So um, that would be five recipes altogether. Uh oh. I did consider culling my number of recipes but I really wanted to make them all.

So I did! My five recipes were:

Wrinkled salty potatoes with mojo verde
Andalusian chickpea stew with chorizo
Andalusian spiced oxtail casserole (which was actually beef)
Catalan lemon tart
Catalan cream fritters

Wrinkled salty potatoes with mojo verde

Spanish lunch
Spanish lunch

I followed a recipe out of The Cook's Companion for the potatoes, which basically said to boil the washed, whole potatoes in a pot of salted water. One cup of salt is used per litre of water (Yes, that’s one whole cup). When the potatoes were soft, they were drained, and sat in the uncovered pot on the stove on a low heat until all the liquid evaporated and they were covered in a thin film of salt.

These were served with mojo verde, which was made with a cup of coriander leaves (I just used the entire bunch, roots and all, well washed of course), ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil, a small crushed garlic clove, ½ teaspoon of ground cumin and 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar. All the ingredients went into a food processor and were processed until smooth.

The potatoes were really nice – surprisingly not too salty, despite the amount of salt in the water! Because I reheated them in the oven when everyone arrived, they lost their film of salt, but you can see it in the photos. The mojo verde went very well with the potatoes, but coriander haters might think otherwise!

Cocido con chorizo - Andalusian chickpea stew with chorizo

Spanish lunch

I am a big fan of chickpeas, but normally I go for the tinned version. However, I decided to go to the effort of using dried chickpeas for this recipe because they are cooked with ham bones and chorizo, and I thought that the slow cooking for dried chickpeas might help infuse them with some porky goodness. I think it worked. I thought they were pretty tasty, but like I said, I do love chickpeas. Although now that I've reread the recipe while typing up this post, I realise that I forgot to add potatoes to the dish. Whoops! I don't think the potatoes were missed, but for the recipe, see the end of this post.

Rabo de buey cordobes - Andalusian spiced oxtail casserole

Spanish lunch

This was meant to be an oxtail casserole, but when I went to the butcher they had sold out of oxtail (they had some the day before too – grr!). So I just picked up some gravy beef and made the dish with that instead. The meat is slow cooked in a red wine sauce and spiced with paprika, cinnamon, and cloves. I added a small amount of chilli flakes just to give it a tiny bit of kick. This was a savoury rich stew and I cooked the meat until it was very tender. It would make this again - it was delicious. For the recipe, see the end of this post.

Tortell de limon - Catalan lemon tart

Spanish lunch

Okay, on to dessert! I made two desserts - the first being a lemon tart. To be honest, it was okay but it wasn't the best lemon tart I've ever made so I won't post the recipe. It had a very short, biscuity pastry, and a sweet but very tart filling. The top was sprinkled with sugar which was blow-torched to caramelise it.

Leche frita - Catalan cream fritters

Spanish lunch

And finally, the second dessert was Catalan cream fritters, which is basically a very thick custard, egged, breadcrumbed and DEEP FRIED. OH YES. I made a very thick custard, flavoured with a touch of lemon zest, and then poured it into a mini cupcake tin to cool and firm up in the fridge overnight. If anyone is keen on making these, I would suggest putting the custard in the freezer - I wish I had! After we had all eaten lunch, I spooned the custard out of the tin, dipped it in egg, then panko and into a pot of hot oil. They are very delicate, so I had to be careful not to break the crust. They were served dusted with icing sugar and cinnamon. They were very small little morsels, but very rich, as you can imagine! For the recipe, see the end of this post.

Spanish lunch Spanish lunch
Spanish lunch Spanish lunch

And as if that wasn't enough food - check out what the other bloggers made!

April brought along garlic and chilli prawns, plus home made bread rolls and chocolate chip friands.

Penny brought along octopus with olives and chorizo, buttered garlic mushrooms and baked sardines with white wine.

Spanish lunch Spanish lunch
Spanish lunch Spanish lunch

Ange made us a roasted pepper, garlic, onion and tomato salad with a sherry vinegar dressing.

Cherrie made morcon, which were Filipino beef rolls - a dish influenced by the Spanish!

And Leigh brought over chorizo and pea parcels, plus three kinds of Catalan biscuits. (I didn't take photos of the biscuits because I was too busy deep frying!)

PHEW. You can understand why I was highly tempted to have a nap after everyone left! Particularly since there were very little left overs - yes we ate almost everything. A big thanks to everyone who came to lunch, it was a blast!

See previous Cookbook Challenge posts here.

Spanish potluck lunch

Cocido con chorizo - Andalusian chickpea stew with chorizo

From Saffron and Sunshine

Serves 4-6

350g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 whole small head of garlic
2-3 links of chorizo (about 100g)
a short length jamon serrano bone or bacon knuckle
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 dried red pepper, torn into pieces of 1 tablespoon paprika
1-2 bayleaves
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, roughly crushed
13 black peppercorns, roughly crushed

To finish
1 large tomato, skinned, deseeded and chopped
1-2 potatoes, peeled and chunked
a handful of spinach or chard, rinsed and shredded
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Drain the chickpeas and put them in a large pot with enough cold water to cover generously. Bring the water to the boil and skim off the foam that rises.

Meanwhile, roast your garlic - the book recommends doing this by charring it over a flame. Personally, I would just skip this step and peel and roughly crush the garlic.

Drop the garlic and remaining ingredients into the pot. Turn up the heat and bring it up to the boil. Cover the pot loosely, and lower the heat to a simmer, and let it cook for about 1&1/2 - 2 hours, or until the chickpeas are quite soft. Add water if necessary.

When the chickpeas are soft, add the chopped tomato and potatoes. When the potatoes are just soft, add the spinach, bring the pot back to the boil and cook until the leaves are wilted.

Taste and add salt if necessary. Remove the ham/bacon bone, stir in the olive oil and serve.

Spanish potluck lunch

Rabo de buey cordobes - Andalusian spiced oxtail casserole

From Saffron and Sunshine

Serves 4-6

1 whole oxtail (about 1.5 kg) cut into its natural sections (alternatively, use 1 kg of gravy/stewing beef if you can't find oxtail)
2 tablespoons olive oil
50g diced jamon serrano or prosciutto scraps or bacon
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, crushed with 1 teaspoon salt
1 stick celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3-4 cloves
1 bayleaf
150ml red wine

Wash the oxtail and trim off any excess fat.

Heat oil in a large casserole. When the oil is hot, brown the oxtail in batches, removing from the pan and seeing aside.

Add the ham/bacon, onion, garlic, celery and carrot to the pan drippings and cook gently until the vegetables are soft. Return the oxtail to the casserole, adding the spices, seasoning and red wine.

Turn up the heat and add enough water to cover the meat. Bring it up to the boil and then down it down to low, putting the lid on and leaving it to simmer gently for about 2 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bones.

Check it occasionally, adding more water if necessary. Taste it when it is ready to serve, adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Add a small amount of chilli flakes if desired.

Spanish lunch

Leche frita - Catalan cream fritters

From Saffron and Sunshine

Serves 4

600ml milk
25g butter
75g flour
1 pinch ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons caster sugar
3 egg yolks
finely grated lemon zest from a lemon

To finish
1 whole egg
2 tablespoons milk
breadcrumbs for coating (I used panko)
oil for frying
sugar and ground cinnamon for dusting

Place all the ingredients except the lemon zest into a saucepan. Heat it gently over a low heat, whisking and stirring constantly so it doesn't stick. Just before it comes to the boil, add the lemon zest and simmer until the mixture is very thick. Note: my mixture never came to the boil, it suddenly thickened, so I turned down the heat at that stage.

Pour the custard into a lightly oiled dish in a layer as thick as your thumb - I poured it into mini cupcake moulds. Wrap it with clingfirm and leave to cool and firm overnight in the fridge. You might want to try the freezer.

Mix the egg with the milk on a plate and spread the breadcrumbs on another plate. Cut the custard into bite-sized squares. Dip the squares into the egg, and then into the breadcrumbs.

Heat a generous amount of oil in a heavy frying pan. When hot - if you add a cube of bread it should immediately sizzle - carefully slip in a few of the breaded custard squares. Turn them once, being careful not to break the crust. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper while you fry the recipe.

Serve sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.

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