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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Salmon Fillet with Spaghetti and Pesto

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I love the the hot smoked salmon from the Orange Grove Markets in Lilyfield, as indeed I love all the produce there on a busy Saturday morning.

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This was my first visit in 2014. So I made spaghetti with pesto and served it with the flaked salmon fillet. I also made a simpler version just with spaghetti and simple green herbs, served with salad including roast golden beetroot.

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The recipe for pesto follows, very loosely based on a recipe of Jamie Oliver: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetables-recipes/pesto

The rest is just assembly – what you feel like at the time!

Pesto

Ingredients

•    1 handful pine nuts, very lightly toasted
•    1 clove garlic, chopped
•    A couple of grinds of sea salt
•    3 good handfuls fresh basil, leaves picked and chopped
•    1 good handful parmesan cheese, freshly grated
•    2-3 tbls extra virgin olive oil

Method

Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan for a couple of minutes until they colour and start to release their oil.

I lightly toast the chopped garlic cloves too in the frying pan –  but this is definitely not traditional.

Pulse the pine nuts, garlic, salt and the basil leaves in a food processor.  Don’t over process. Add the parmesan. Spoon into a bowl and gently stir in the extra virgin olive oil – add  enough to bind the sauce and get it to an oozy consistency.

Check for seasoning and consistency and add more oil if necessary.

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Plum, Raisin and Walnut Jam with Lemon Slices

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Raisins and walnuts make this plum jam sticky, sweet, and crunchy – almost a paste, and wonderful with sourdough, whole grain toast or crumpets. Great with butter or creme fraiche – I had the jam on Sonoma sourdough with creme fraiche.

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I make lots of jams all year round but summer is great for berries and stone fruit. Strawberries, raspberries, apricots and plums all make fantastic jam and conserves.

Plums are so full of pectin that setting point is easily reached. Blood rums, with their ruby red colour, make beautiful jam. This jam is based on a plum jam from Jams, Jellies and Marmalades by Margaret O’Sullivan. Her recipe uses orange slices but being “orangeless” today I substituted lemon slices instead – equally delicious!

Ingredients

500 gms blood plums
Sugar
100 gms raisins
Half a lemon, cut into very fine slices, then quartered
100 gms walnuts, chopped


Method


Chop the plums and remove the stones. Measure the plums and raisins and lemon slices and add sugar equal to 3/4 of the amount. 
 You will need to boil the lemon slices for about 10 minutes in water to soften  – if you don’t mind a little crunch, just add as is to the plums and raisins.

Put plums, raisins and lemon slices into a preserving pan and cook slowly for about 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently, until setting point is reached.

Test for a set by placing a little jam on a saucer in the freezer for a couple of minutes. The surface should be set and wrinkle when pushed with a finger. If the jam is not set, return the pan to the heat and cook for a further few minutes until setting point is reached.

Stir in the chopped walnuts. Pour into sterilized jars and seal.

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Quick Mix Citrus Cake

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This cake is based on Annabel Langbein’s Orange Lightning Cake from her recent book Simple Pleasures. It’s an easy cake where most of the ingredients are combined at the same time.

The original recipe calls for an uncooked whole orange. I substituted candied cumquats and lemon for the orange, as I had a jar of cumquats from winter bottling in the store cupboard which I though would be quite piquant. The cumquats were cooked. I added half a lemon (uncooked) as I thought the cake might be a little sweet. I cut down on the sugar in the recipe for the same reason.

I used a fluted tin for presentation.

Ingredients
1 orange (unpeeled)*
1 tsp bi-carbonate of soda
125 gms softened butter
1 cup sugar#
2 eggs
1 tsps vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 cup sultanas or raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Method
Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Grease a 20cm diameter cake tin or fancy tin and line the base with baking paper.
Cut the orange or other fruit into segments, remove the seeds and whizz in a food processor until finely chopped.
Dissolve bi-carbonate of soda in 1/2 cup water and add to the food processor with butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and flour. Whizz to combine. Add sultanas or raisins, and walnuts if using, and stir with a spoon or pulse several times to just combine.
Pour into prepared cake tin and bake until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean 50-60 minutes.
Cool for 5 minutes in the tin before turning out onto a cake rack. Serve with a dusting of icing sugar, or fresh berries, or lemon or orange water icing.

* I substituted 1/4 cup candied cumquats and half a lemon.

# If using cumquats use 3/4 cup sugar.

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Vegan Chocolate Cake

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While making my Christmas Spruce Cake last year for some work colleagues, https://thequirkandthecool.com/2013/12/04/christmas-spruce-cake/, I needed to provide an alternative for a vegan friend. I found this recipe which I made festive by baking it in some Nordic ware individual fancy molds.

Ingredients


175 gms self raising flour

3 level tsps baking powder

25 gms cocoa
 (I used Dutch cocoa for flavour)

100 gms rapadura or other unrefined sugar*

125 mls vegetable oil

325 mls cold water




Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  Grease a loaf tin, 20 cm cake tin or 4-6 small fancy molds with oil spray.

Place all the cake ingredients in a food processor in the order given and whizz. 
Place mixture into the greased tins or molds and bake for 30 minutes for the loaf or cake tin, 15 minutes for the molds, in the pre-heated oven.

Cool for 5 minutes before gently turning out onto a wire rack.

This cake is great served on its own, or you can add fresh berries or a vegan icing.

* It’s important not to use white sugar, as white sugar is refined using animal bones to “bleach” the colour of the sugar.

Pavlova with Salted Caramel and Berries

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I’ve made lots of pavlovas over the years, and this recipe is a winner! It’s from delicious. Love to Cook, by Valli Little, the recent 2013 cook book from delicious. magazine.

The pavlova is crisp on the outside and has a lovely marshmallow centre. The salted caramel sauce goes very well with the pavlova, and is a sweet contrast to the slightly acidic berries.

Thank you to my talented colleague Gez for the title photograph.

See http://www.gezxaviermansfielddesign.com/ for more of his photography and designs.

Ingredients

Pavlova

6 egg whites

350 gms caster sugar

1 tbs white balsamic vinegar

1 tbs cornflour, sifted

50g icing sugar, sifted

600 mls thickened cream

500 gms mixed fresh berries – raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries work well.

Salted Caramel

550 gms caster sugar

300 mls thickened cream (at room temperature)

1/2-1 tsp sea salt flakes, to taste

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Pavlova before the salted caramel

Method

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C, non fan-forced. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
Place egg whites in the clean, dry bowl of an electric mixer and whisk on high speed for 3-4 minutes to soft peaks.

Add caster sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each to be incorporated before adding the next, whisking until mixture is glossy. Reduce speed to low, then add balsamic vinegar, cornflour and icing sugar, beating to combine.

Spread mixture over the baking paper in a round or oblong shape, fairly high, making a slight indent in the centre. Reduce oven to 125-130  degrees C depending on how hot your oven is, and bake pavlova for 1 hour. Turn off oven and leave meringue in the oven, with the door ajar, for 1-2 hours until cooled completely.

Remove from oven and place on a serving plate or board.

For the salted caramel, combine sugar with 125 mls water in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium and cook, without stirring, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan with a damp pastry brush, for 8-10 minutes until a golden caramel forms.

Remove from heat and pour in cream – be careful, as mixture will bubble fiercely. Return saucepan to low heat, add salt to taste and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes until smooth.

To serve – whisk cream to soft peaks, then spread over pavlova. Scatter over berries When ready to serve, drizzle with the salted caramel that has been gently warmed.

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Pavlova with salted caramel drizzle

Crumpets Revisited

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I love home made crumpets and I haven’t made them in ages so I cooked up a batch on the weekend. A previous post in 2013 used a recipe involving both bicarbonate of soda and soda water:

https://thequirkandthecool.com/2013/05/05/home-made-crumpets-3/

The recipe that follows is based on one from Gourmet Traveller and omits the soda water and uses more milk. The results were similar although I think the soda water version was a little lighter.

Ingredients
400 mls milk
20 gms butter, plus extra, softened, for greasing and cooking
1 tsp caster sugar
4 gms dried yeast
250 gms plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Method
Heat milk and butter over a low heat until butter melts, then stand until lukewarm.Combine sugar and yeast in a small bowl, add 100ml milk mixture, stir to dissolve then stand in a warm place until foamy (4-5 minutes).
Combine flour and a pinch of salt in a large bowl, make a well in the centre and add yeast mixture, stirring to incorporate a little flour.
Add remaining milk mixture, stir until smooth and combined, cover and stand in a warm place until very foamy (1-1½ hours).
Dissolve bicarbonate of soda in 25 mls warm water, add to batter, beat to combine.
Cover and stand until bubbling (25-30 minutes).
Heat a frying pan over low-medium heat. Add a little butter, then place buttered crumpet rings in the frying pan and fill each two-thirds full with batter.
Cook until mixture bubbles and small holes form on the surface  (4-5 minutes).
Remove rings, turn crumpets and cook until light golden (1 minute).

Serve warm immediately or serve toasted the following day. I ate them with butter and jam and I also tried golden syrup and fresh berries and yoghurt.  This quantity makes about 10 crumpets.

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Summer Holiday Food

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Here are a few of the summer holiday meals I’ve shared with friends over this Christmas and New Year break.

I am always a big fan of the communal rustic platter, but even this quirky cook has taken “rustic” to new heights!

A broken ankle on my recent trip to Shanghai has meant cooking on crutches or one foot – so near enough has definitely been good enough! My very understanding friends have been great helpers in the serving department and in supplying some lovely Christmas cheer in bubbly form…

Smoked salmon, stuffed eggs and ham, a colourful vegetarian barbecue pizza with “the lot”, Christmas cake and ice-cream babas with meringue and chocolate ganache, were easy options for holiday entertaining.

Smoked Salmon Platter

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Lots of things go well with smoked salmon – this platter is made up of salmon, stuffed eggs with mayonnaise, Christmas ham, sauteed potato salad, cherry tomatoes and greens.

Vegetarian Pizza with “The Lot”

This is my usual grilled pizza recipe from a previous post: https://thequirkandthecool.com/2013/10/20/pear-artichoke-and-blue-cheese-grilled-pizza-with-rose-and-cranberry-dressing/

The toppings for this pizza are: peach, avocado, feta, vintage cheddar, baby beetroot, cherry tomato, spring onion, quince paste and rosemary and basil. After barbecuing the pizza I served it with a dressing of home made mayonnaise.

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Christmas Cake

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This is the recipe from a previous post: https://thequirkandthecool.com/2013/12/08/little-christmas-cakes/

This is the medium size version – the cake quantities are the same as in the post. This cake has marzipan as well as royal icing.

Full recipe for cake plus icing to follow shortly.

Ice-cream Babas

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Take 250 mls of good vanilla bean ice-cream softened and mix in a couple of generous tablespoons of whipped cream.

Add chopped glace fruit to taste and a tablespoon of rum or orange liqueur. Fold in some crushed meringue.

Spoon into rum baba molds – or any decorative individual molds and freeze for at least several hours.

Remove from molds by carefully running base under the hot water tap for a very few seconds.

Serve with more crushed meringue and chocolate ganache as a sauce.

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