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Monthly Archives: February 2014

Meatballs with Italian Tomato Sauce and Pasta

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This is a  simple recipe which can be created quite quickly. Everyone has their favourite meatball recipe – as usual I got my inspiration from a couple of Jamie Oliver recipes.

Meatballs

Ingredients

500 gms good quality minced beef

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 large free range egg

2 tbls fresh breadcrumbs

Dash of Worcestershire sauce and/or a dash of HP  brown sauce

1/2 tsp sambal oolek

A few sprigs of rosemary or  thyme

Sea salt and black pepper

1 tbl olive oil

Method

Mix all the ingredients with the exception of the olive oil in a large bowl, making sure you break up all the lumps! If the mixture is too wet, add a few more breadcrumbs.The mixture should be firm enough to handle.

Roll the mixture into small balls – I like golf ball size meatballs, but you could go a little bigger if you wanted.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and cook  the meatballs for 8–10 minutes until brown. You can test that they’re cooked by opening one up – there should be no sign of pink. Remove from pan and set aside while you make the sauce.

Italian Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

1 tbl olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

A couple of tbs tomato paste or to taste

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 glass red wine

Pinch of sugar

Sea salt and black pepper

Method

Using the frying pan from the meatballs, heat the olive oil and fry the garlic for a minute. Add the tinned tomatoes, breaking them up gently to help them reduce into a sauce. Add all the other ingredients, stirring gently.  Simmer for 20 minutes.

Pasta, Cheese and Basil

Ingredients

400 gms pappardelle

Shaved parmesan cheese

A few basil leaves

Method

Cook pasta according to packet  instructions.

Putting it Together

Add the cooked meatballs to the tomato sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.

Drain the cooked pasta, reserving a tablespoon of cooking liquid to add to the tomato sauce.

Spoon the tomato sauce and meatballs over the pasta, and serve with shaved Parmesan and basil leaves.

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Blueberry, Cumquat and Pecan Cake – Two Ways

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I revisited this cake made last year which is based on an Annabel Langbein recipe.

I made it two ways, my original recipe tweaked a little and a vegan version.

Below is the link to the original recipe:

https://thequirkandthecool.com/2013/07/14/blueberry-and-cumquat-cake-with-sugared-pecans/

Original Version

My “tweaks” were to use a couple of tablespoons of preserved cumquats instead of jam, as I had run out of cumquat jam. I blitzed the cumquats pretty thoroughly so as not to have big chunks in the cake. When adding the final teaspoon of cumquat preserve, I added the syrup rather than the fruit.

Here is the link to preserved cumquats: https://thequirkandthecool.com/2013/08/26/cumquats-in-sugar-syrup/

I also served the cake with lots of fresh berries and more preserved cumquats.

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Vegan Version

This is a similar recipe to my vegan chocolate cake, minus the cocoa. I also made a plain vanilla cake as well. I used my fancy Nordic ware molds which I love.

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Ingredients


175 gms self raising flour

3 level tsps baking powder

100 gms rapadura or other unrefined sugar* + 1/8 cup

125 mls vegetable oil

325 mls cold water

I/2 cup blueberries

1/8 cup chopped pecans




Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.
  Grease 20 cm cake tin or 4-6 small fancy molds with oil spray.

Place all the ingredients  (except the blueberries and pecans and additional sugar) in a food processor in the order given and whizz. 
Place mixture into the greased tin or molds.

Scatter the blueberries and chopped pecans over the batter. Lastly sprinkle over 1/8 cup rapadura sugar, making sure the nuts are well covered.

Bake for 30 minutes for the cake tin, 15 minutes for the molds, in the pre-heated oven.

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

Bruce Springsteen – A Day on the Green

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A late summer evening in the beautiful Hunter Valley. A year after the Neil Young concert, we were back On the Green for the Boss.

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Hype, gossip and a little hysteria had heralded the concert. His other Australian gigs had been sell outs, so we were really looking forward to this!

Rain had threatened earlier in the day, but as always for Hunter concerts, the night was balmy and warm. The biggest audience the Hunter had ever seen made for a noisy, buzzy crowd, but they were good natured and friendly, some albeit a little under the weather as the night wore on…

We’re great people watchers, so we were fascinated by the crowd  – everyone from lavender rinse grannies, to dads and daughters, groupie mums, as well the usual concert suspects, with tats and T shirts and an amazing ability to consume copious amounts of alcohol.

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So, the concert.

Bruce walks on stage and with one unison movement 22,000 people got up from the grass or their seats and stayed up!  Three  hours later we were still standing and could have stayed on. Bruce seemed to get more energy as the night progressed, and we got the feeling that he could have stayed too.

A fabulous concert!  As much showman as musician, he worked the crowd and gave them whatever they wanted, although reading afterwards about the gig online and getting feedback from other concert goers, I had the feeling that the concert repartee and audience participation were maybe carefully engineered…

Nevertheless, the concert was three hours of great rock and roll, tinged with a little folk and some interesting covers.

My standouts were American Skin (41 Shots), High Hopes, and the Ghost of Tom Joad.

SET LIST

Rozelle Substation – Suburban Abandon

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Nestled in between suburban dwellings in a quiet back street in Rozelle, Sydney, is an electricity substation dating back to 1934.

The building is no longer in use. The front facade has the clean angular lines of an art deco influenced style; the rear of the building, hidden behind barbed wire, is in a lovely leafy back lane and could almost be mistaken for a garden outhouse.

More romantically, it reminded me of early 19th century English garden architecture, where a rough hewn building in a garden landscape might contain a hermit. Tom Stoppard in his play Arcadia writes about the “hermitage” and the “hermit” in English landscape gardening.

“English landscape was invented by gardeners imitating foreign painters who were evoking classical authors…. Capability Brown doing Claude, who was doing Virgil. Arcadia!…. It’s the Gothic novel expressed in landscape.”  Tom Stoppard, Arcadia.

The gently decaying building pictured below, with its little door, abandoned furniture and lovely overgrown garden might, perhaps, contain a hermit, and I half expected one to appear…

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Passionfruit Ice Cream Slice

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Annabel Langbein has a great ice cream recipe which doesn’t require churning.

I have had a number of ice cream makers over the years, and currently have a Sunbeam Gelateria  ice cream maker which I thought would be used heaps as one can make ice cream from scratch in half an hour.

However the machine languishes on my bench top and I use it so infrequently that I have had to get the instruction book out each time I want to use the machine!

There are a number of no churn ice cream recipes that are really good. Here is the link to Annabel’s recipe: http://www.annabel-langbein.com/recipes/pistachio–berry-ice-cream/288

I made a passionfruit version served with fresh passionfruit.  I made a third of the quantity (pictured) which was just enough for two…or one greedy ice cream eater…

The following recipe is the full size quantity as this is probably what you would make for family or friends.

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Passionfruit Ice Cream Slice

Ingredients
3 eggs
10 tbsp caster sugar, divided in half
2 tbsp boiling water
2 cups cream, chilled
6-8 passionfruit pulp, plus pulp of 4 more for sauce.

Method
Line a large 2.5 litre container or 6 molds or ramekins with baking paper.

To make the ice cream base, begin by separating the eggs. Place the egg whites in one bowl and the egg yolks in another, ensuring no yolk gets mixed in with the whites.

Once you have separated all three egg whites, add 5 tbsp of the caster sugar and beat the mixture until it forms stiff peaks. This will take about 6-7 minutes.

Now take the bowl containing the three egg yolks and add the remaining 5 tbsp of caster sugar and the 2 tbsp boiling water. Without washing the beater, beat until the egg yolks are pale, thick and ribbony. You will know they are ready when they hold a figure of eight.

In the third bowl, beat the cream to soft peaks.

Gently add the egg yolk mixture and cream a to the beaten egg whites. Fold together using a large flat spoon, then add the passionfruit pulp. Pour the mixture into the prepared container or molds or ramekins.

Freeze for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight, until set. To serve, lift the ice cream out of its container/s, cut into slices and serve with more passionfruit pulp.
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Grilled Pizza…again

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I’m revisiting Pizza on the Barbecue, one of my current cooking obsessions. I was interested to to see that the February edition of the wonderful delicious.magazine featured Pizza on the Grill on the front cover!

The recipes featured a similar rustic approach to grilling pizza dough on the barbecue then applying various fillings of choice.

Below is the cover of delicious.magazine and the pizzas that have been featured on this blog already – plus some new variations.

delicious.magazine

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Pear, Artichoke and Blue Cheese Grilled Pizza With Rosé and Cranberry Dressing

https://thequirkandthecool.com/2013/10/20/pear-artichoke-and-blue-cheese-grilled-pizza-with-rose-and-cranberry-dressing/

IMG_6062Avocado, Pear and Two Cheeses Pizza with Chutney and Red wine Dressing

IMG_5524Free Range Leg Ham, Artichoke and Cherry Tomato Pizza

https://thequirkandthecool.com/2013/11/10/avocado-pear-and-two-cheeses-pizza-free-range-leg-ham-artichoke-and-cherry-tomato-pizza/

IMG_6140Cherry Tomato, Artichoke, Walnut and Pecorino Pizza

IMG_6724Peach, Beetroot, Avocado, Green Olive and Fetta Pizza

IMG_7604Roast Pumpkin, Avocado, Cherry Tomato, Sugar Snap Peas, Leek and Taleggio Pizza with Red Wine Dressing

Soft and Chewey Chocolate Chip Cookies

I like it because the cookies are rather soft and “squidgy”. They are a little less robust than ordinary cookies so need to be stored carefully – they are firmer if kept in the fridge.

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup soft dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg
2/3 cup plain flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark, milk and white chocolate chips

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Beyond Ambient

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Quiet Space on Radio National is the highlight of my listening week. Mentioned before on this blog, I look forward to the hour between 12 midnight and 1.00am on Sundays and Mondays, when the inimitable Paul Gough presents a radio program of contemporary music that encompasses ambient, electronic, field recordings, distressed instrumentals and ethereal drones.

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/quietspace/

The Quiet Space Top 50 2013 has been revealed over the last few weeks in January 2014. Some fabulous music from a year of fabulous music!

Check out the website for the Top 50.

Here is my pick of the wonderful music I’ve been listening to in 2013. Beyond ambient, the creators of these performances, from many countries across the globe, make music that transcends boundaries, eludes definition and is highly atmospheric and evocative.

Some of these albums have been featured on Quiet Space or I have found them through links to albums thus featured.

Documenting the Decay and Book of the Folded Forest have been played, and played again, by me; haunting music that engenders reflection and contemplation on the natural and man made worlds, on entropy and decay.

a2132894020_9Documenting the Decay – Charles Vaughan

a0348918827_9Book of the Folded Forest – Orla Wren

a1611162738_9Visiting Tides – Simon Bainton

a3634851268_9A Sense of Uncertainty  – Good Weather for an Airstrike

a3888832538_9Epilogue – Endless Melancholy

a2227694531_9naimina-longeur – Chris Herbert

a3315961257_9Weathered – epic45

Raspberry Meringue

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This luscious meringue is a Maggie Beer recipe.

It was created by a wonderful friend, as part of his Christmas feast at home in beautiful Palm Beach. His skills as an architect are obvious in the meticulous construction!

Many thanks to the Architect for the photograph and recipe. The Architect was ably advised by the Delegator, my very dear friend of many years…

Ingredients

6 egg whites

Pinch of salt

2 cups caster sugar

1 tbl cornflour

1 tablespoon white vinegar

500 mls thickened cream, whipped

250 gms creme fraiche

3 punnets raspberries

1/2 cup macadamias, lightly roasted

Method

Preheat oven to160 degrees C (140 degrees C fan-forced). Mark 3 x 22 cm circles on baking paper. Place paper on 3 oven trays.

Beat egg whites and salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating after each addition until dissolved.

Fold in cornflour and vinegar. Spread meringue evenly onto circles.

Bake meringue disks for about 40 minutes or until dry and crisp. Cool on trays.

Combine whipped cream and creme fraiche in a medium bowl.

To serve, place 1 meringue disk on a serving plate, spread with half the cream mixture and sprinkle over 1 punnet of raspberries. Top with a second meringue disk, the remaining cream mixture and 1 punnet of raspberries. Top with the remaining meringue disk and raspberries. Sprinkle over the macadamias.

Ravioli with Thyme, Taleggio and Walnuts and Ravioli with Pecorino and Sundried Tomato

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Last weekend I decided to make fresh pasta. I hadn’t made pasts in ages, and I was a little apprehensive about setting up the pasta machine and actually using it again.

Of course I had forgotten how easy it was…even if I had to be reminded how to to use it via a YouTube video…

I followed faithfully a recipe from Jamie Oliver ‘s Cook with Jamie. I am a huge fan of Jamie Oliver and have every cookbook. I think that Cook with Jamie is a really great book with its no nonsense approach to basic cooking skills.

I will therefore refer the reader directly to the link for the recipe: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/pasta-recipes/a-basic-recipe-for-fresh-egg-pasta

This recipe makes quite a lot of pasta dough. I suggest halving the quantities to make about 12 large ravioli.

I mixed in fresh thyme leaves to half of the dough before the kneading stage to make the Thyme, Taleggio and Walnut Ravioli.

For each kind of ravioli, use the pasta machine to roll the dough so you have 2 thin sheets. It’s important to roll the pasta sheets so they are very thin; I didn’t quite get the sheets thin enough so the pasta was a little thick.

Thyme, Taleggio and Walnuts Ravioli

Combine a small handful of fresh thyme leaves,100 gms or so of taleggio and a dozen or so walnuts chopped.

Ravioli with Pecorino and Sundried Tomato

Combine 100 gms or so of pecorino and a small handful of chopped sundried tomatoes.

For each kind of ravioli, place 6 small spoonfuls of each mixture on one pasta sheet, allowing for a border when you come to cut the ravioli. Moisten the exposed pasta and put the other pasta sheet on top. Press down to divide the sheets into 6 and, making sure you don’t trap any air with the filling, seal the ravioli edges.

Cut pasta into shapes using a pastry cutter or a sharp knife. I dusted the ravioli with a little flour to help them keep their shape as I wasn’t cooking them for an hour or so.

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Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and put the ravioli in. Cook for 5 minutes until al dente.

For a quick sauce, heat a little butter in a frying pan until the butter foams; pour over both kinds of ravioli and serve with additional shaved pecorino.

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