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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Sticky Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Herbs

IMG_2126Sweet, sticky cherry tomatoes slow baked with fresh herbs. The flavour really intensifies with the long cooking! Serve on their own, as part of a salad, as a side dish with scrambled eggs for instance, or heaped on crusty bread as part of an antipasto platter.

Ingredients

15 cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp caster sugar

Ground black pepper

A handful thyme sprigs and/or rosemary sprigs

1/2 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar

Salad greens and Irish soda bread to serve

Method

Preheat the oven the 130 degrees C. *

Place the tomatoes cut side down in baking dish, sitting them snugly next to each other. Scatter with the fresh herb sprigs. Sprinkle over the salt, sugar and black pepper. Pour over the extra virgin olive oil, making sure all the tomatoes are covered.

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Place the tomatoes in the oven, then cook for 1.5 hrs or until the tomatoes are soft and slightly shriveled.

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Remove from the oven, dress with the aged balsamic and leave to cool.

Serve at room temperature, as a side dish or salad.

Or as I did with radicchio lettuce and my Irish soda bread with black treacle: https://thequirkandthecool.com/2013/04/27/irish-soda-bread-with-black-treacle

*If you wanted to cook the tomatoes really slowly, cook at 100 degrees C for 2.5 – hours.IMG_2090

 

Berry, Apple, Golden Syrup and Oat Flapjacks

IMG_2186I found a recipe for flapjacks while surfing the internet for “tray bakes”. As a food etymologist I was intrigued by the name, not overly used in Australia. We tend to talk more of “slices”.

The following recipe is very loosely based on one of my finds, Blackberry and apple oaty flapjacks: http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/511747/blackberry-and-apple-oaty-flapjacks.

My traybake turned out more of a tart as it was quite soft. I think the apple makes it soft, so you could try less apple to firm it up or cook it for longer.

My next incarnation of the flapjack will be apple-free and I’ll make the berries into jam before cooking. Watch this space!

Ingredients

1 large or 2 small apples, peeled and chopped

200g  rolled  oats

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tbs store bought caramel

200g fresh or frozen mixed berries

2 tbs golden syrup

Crumble topping:

60g rolled oats

1 tbs butter cut into small pieces

1 tbs golden syrup

Handful of flaked almonds

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a medium sized baking tin. I used a flan mold for something different.

Place the chopped apple in a saucepan with enough water to cover.  Put on the lid and cook until soft.  Drain the water and puree or mash the apple.

Mix the oats and the cinnamon in a large bowl, add the apple and caramel and combine well.

Spread the oat mixture Into the base of the tin or flan and spread out into an even layer.

Scatter the mixed berries on top of the oat mixture, having cut in half any larger berries such as strawberries.  Drizzle the golden syrup over the berries.

To make the crumble topping, combine oats, butter and extra golden syrup.

Spoon the crumble mixture over the berries, lastly scattering the flaked almonds.

Press down slightly to stick the layers together. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the flapjack is golden brown and the berry juices are bubbling.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before cutting into pieces.

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Crunchy Granola Suite

IMG_2050This is one of many variations on the muesli theme that I recently made. I’m a firm believer that muesli and granola can be concocted from whatever you have in the store cupboard by way of grains, seeds, nuts and dried fruit.

The variations are endless. I regularly visit The Source at Balmain, a treasure trove of all of the above plus flours, sugars, honey and oils.

I toasted this batch to make granola. Not a particular fan of Neil Diamond, however, I like any song named after food!

I added a little honey and oil to the mixture for extra crunch and to make it “clump”. When I’m being ultra healthy, I leave them out, but the result, while virtuous, is not as moreish!

Ingredients

2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup kapai puku seed mix

1/2 cup spelt  flakes

1/4 cup pistachios

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup coconut flakes

1/4 cup any neutral vegetable oil

1/4 cup honey (any honey – but a lovely bush honey will give a robust flavor to the granola)

Any dried fruit you fancy: I used raisins, sultanas, apricots and figs

Method

Preheat the oven to low, about 140 degrees C. Combine the grains, nuts and coconut in a bowl.

Gently heat the oil and honey in a microwave or in a saucepan on the stove top to combine. Stir into the mixture.

Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet or large pan lined with baking paper in one thin layer.IMG_1923

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the grains and nuts are slightly browned and toasty, and are clumped together.IMG_1998

Remove from the oven, and when cool, add the dried fruits.

Serve with milk, yoghurt or fresh fruit. I often mix the granola with other cereals for different textures and tastes.

 

 

Shakshouka: The 5-2 Diet

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This is a great recipe from the Fast Diet Recipe Book by Mimi Spencer.
The 5-2 Fast Diet Intermittent Fasting really works, and is great for people like me who love their food and don’t want to deprive themselves every day! It’s based on the idea of 2 days of very low calorie intake – 500 calories for women, 600 for men – and 5 days of normal eating.
Worth checking out if you haven’t already done so. Dr Michael Mosley is the brains behind the concept.
http://thefastdiet.co.uk/
“Shakshouka is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers and onions often spiced  with cumin. It is believed to have a Tunisian  origin”.
I love the dish as it’s so tasty and moreish and is great for breakfast or lunch or dinner!
I omitted the red pepper in the original recipe as I don’t like them. Feel free to put it back in for the authentic recipe.
The recipe serves 2, although even eating the whole dish yourself doesn’t break the calorie bank.
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Ingredients

1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
2 free range eggs
1 tbsp parsley and coriander, chopped

Method

Heat a medium sized frying pan and add the olive oil. Add the chopped onion and sauté for a few minutes until it begins to soften. Add garlic and cook for 5-7 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste, with the spices, and simmer for a further 5-7 minutes until the sauce starts to reduce.
Season, and crack the eggs directly over the tomato mixture. Cover with a lid or a large plate and cook until the egg whites are firm but the yolks still runny.

Scatter the chopped parsley and coriander over the top of the dish and serve, rustic style, in the frying pan.IMG_1821

 

 

 

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Carrots

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I found this recipe in a fabulous cook book of mine, the Silver Palate Cookbook. This book, plus the follow up The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook, are treasure troves of stunning recipes; some hearty, some fancy, some healthy, some decadent!
The carrot cake recipe is unusual is that it contains cooked carrots. These give the cake a deep, slightly caramelized, flavour.
I have added ground ginger as well as cinnamon, as ginger works well with carrot. You can omit the walnuts, as I did in the pictured cake, for your nut free friends.
The candied baby carrots were my addition, and they looked really pretty and tasted great!
Ingredients
Carrot Cake

3 cups plain flour
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tbl bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp each ground cinnamon and ground ginger
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 large free range eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbl vanilla extract
1 1/2 walnuts, chopped
1 1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 1/3 cup pureed cooked carrots
3/4cup drained crushed pineapple

Cream Cheese Frosting

250gms cream cheese, at room temperature
100gms reduced salt butter, at room temperature
3 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla pate
Juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Grease two 23 cm springform tins.

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the oil, eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Fold in the walnuts, coconut, carrots and pineapple.

Pour the batter into the prepared tins. Place on the centre rack of the oven and bake until the edges have pulled away from the sides and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean, about  50 minutes.

Cool on a cake rack for 3 hours. Fill and frost the cake with the cream cheese frosting.

Cream together cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl. Slowly sift in the icing sugar and continue beating until fully incorporated. Mixture should be free of lumps. Stir in vanilla, and lemon juice if desired.

Decorate with candied carrots and sifted icing sugar.

Candied Carrots

Take 6 baby carrots, trim, leaving some green tops.
Keep smaller carrots whole and slice larger carrots in halves or quarters through the length of carrot.

In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water. Place over high heat, and bring to a boil, brushing the sides of the saucepan with cold water to prevent the sugar from crystallizing. Add carrots, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until carrots are translucent, about 25 minutes.

In another small saucepan, combine 1.5 cups of sugar with .5 cup water. Place over high heat, and bring to a boil, brushing the sides of the saucepan with cold water to prevent the sugar from crystallizing. When the sugar has completely dissolved, remove from heat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer candied carrots from the syrup in which they boiled to this new sugar syrup. Let stand until completely cooled; discard the old syrup.

Transfer carrots to some baking paper, gently pat dry with kitchen towel. The carrots can be used to decorate the cake or stored for a couple of days in an airtight container.

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Salted Caramel Cake Bar

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Salted caramel cake bar began life as a blondie, but on making it for the first time it was clear that the baking powder and the eggs make it much more cake like, and I have re-named it. Maybe it’s a cakey slice? Or a blondie cake?

Ingredients

2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup salt reduced butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 cups light brown sugar
2 free range eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup caramel * (warmed in microwave)
Sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Line a 22 cm square baking tin with baking paper.

Put melted butter and brown sugar in a food processor and whizz until completely dissolved. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix to combine. Add the flour, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and fold gently with a rubber spatula into the mixture.

Press half of the mixture into the prepared tin (it will be quite soft), smoothing the top with a spatula.

Stir the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt over the caramel. Pour the  caramel on top of the mixture and spread in an even layer, leaving about a 1centimetre of space around the edges.

Drop the remaining mixture in spoonfuls over the caramel and gently spread with the spatula until the caramel is covered. Sprinkle the mixture with a little sea salt if you want a really salty  taste.

Bake the cake bar for about 20 minutes, or until the top is brown and a skewer inserted into the bar comes out with just a thin coating of caramel. Cool the bar to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the caramel layer to set. Cut into squares to serve.

*Nestle Top Fill is great for the caramel.

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Jamie Oliver’s Smoked Salmon and Yorkshire Pudding

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This recipe is from Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals. It’s basically a big Yorkshire pudding with smoked salmon, char-grilled asparagus and baby beetroot, with a yoghurt sauce. I added some char-grilled green beans. I simply served the cooked beetroot as is, without caramelising it as Jamie suggests in his recipe.

Jamie cooks the Yorkie in an oven proof frying pan; I don’t have one (yet!) so I cooked it in a cake tin, omitting the first step of cooking the batter in the frying pan on the stove top.

Here is the Jamie original from 15 Minute Meals:

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It’s a great recipe – really easy and super fast. Maybe not quite 15 minutes – but not much more!

Ingredients

Yorkshire pudding
Olive oil
2 large eggs
150ml low fat milk
65g plain flour
180g smoked salmon

Asparagus, Beans and Beetroot
1 bunch of asparagus
A handful of green beans
Juice of ½ lemon
6 baby beetroot

Sauce
3 heaped tbsp fat-free natural yoghurt
1 heaped tsp horseradish or French mustard

Method

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sized cake tin and place in the oven and heat till the oil is really hot.

Put the eggs into a blender or food processor, add the milk and flour, then blitz until smooth.

Carefully pour the batter into the hot cake tin and cook in the oven until golden (about 12 minutes). Don’t be tempted to open the oven door!

Trim the asparagus and beans and put dry on a hot char grill plate or barbecue, turning until nicely charred on all sides.

Drain and slice the beetroot, then place over some salad greens on a board or plate. Mix the yoghurt and horseradish or mustard in a bowl, then season to taste with salt.

Squeeze lemon juice over the asparagus and beans, add salt and pepper, and pile on the board or plate.

When the Yorkshire pudding is really high and puffed up, remove from the oven, slide it on to the board or plate and place the smoked salmon on top of the pudding.

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Fresh Fig, Taleggio and Walnut Pizza on the Grill

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Another pizza on the grill using autumn produce. Figs were plentiful, relatively cheap in Sydney and delicious, during the Indian summer and early autumn.

I added my current favourite cheese, taleggio, with walnuts. Taleggio and walnuts are a match made in heaven, in ravioli, in salads, grilled on cape seed bread and of course on pizza.

The grilled pizza is my usual recipe, featured several times on this blog.

Ingredients
Dough

2 ¼ tsp dry yeast
1 cup warm water (40.5 – 46 degrees C)
2 to 2 ½ cups bread (strong) flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp sea salt
Extra-virgin olive oil

Toppings

2-3 fresh figs,sliced
100-150g taleggio cheese, torn into chunks
1 tablespoon chutney or sweet onion relish, or to taste
A handful of walnut pieces, roughly chopped

Method
Pizza
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in most of the flour and the salt, stirring until smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until the dough comes away from the bowl but is still sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead with lightly floured hands. Knead the dough until it is smooth, elastic and soft, but a little sticky, about 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to bowl lightly oiled with extra virgin olive oil, turn to coat. Cover with cling wrap and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume, about 2-3 hours. Press it with your finger to see if it’s done; an indent should remain.

Remove the dough from the bowl, divide in half and shape each half into a ball. This quantity makes 2 small pizzas. Or leave as 1 ball for 1 large pizza.

Brush with more oil and set aside for 30 minutes.

Heat your barbecue to very high.

Stretch and shape the ball/s of dough into a rectangle or round – or any rustic shape! Brush the top/s with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let rest for 15 minutes. Place on the grill directly on the bars, oiled side down, and grill until lightly golden brown, about 1 minute. Flip over and grill for 1 minute longer.

Place the pizza/s on a baking tray and apply your toppings:

Scatter over fresh figs, taleggio cheese, chutney or sweet onion relish and walnut pieces.

Return to the barbecue, turn down the heat  to medium, close the cover and cook until the cheese has melted and the pears are heated through, about 5 minutes.

Serve with a scattering of greens – rocket, baby spinach or similar and fresh herbs.

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Chocolate Chunk Fudge Cookies with Raspberry and Rhubarb Jam

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Chocolate Chunk Fudge Cookies
 
This recipe was featured in the May 2014 delicious. magazine.
It originates from the Sydney cooking school BakeClub:
The cookie mixture is particularly rich because of the amount of melted chocolate stirred through it.
I used a mixture of dark and milk chocolate, although the original recipe specifies dark chocolate only.
The short cooking time plus the chocolate base give this cookie a fudgy centre. Quite delicious!

Ingredients

450g good-quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped or a mixture of dark and milk chocolate

125g butter, softened

125g firmly packed brown sugar

2 free range eggs, at room temperature

225g  plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Put 300g of the chocolate (dark) in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Stir over low heat until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside, stirring occasionally until cooled to room temperature. Or alternatively melt very carefully in a microwave.

Beat the butter and sugar until well creamed.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until well combined. Add the cooled chocolate and beat until combined.

Sift the flour and baking powder together over the cookie mixture. Add the remaining 150g of chopped dark, or dark and milk chocolate. Stir gently to combine.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for up to an hour or until the mixture is firm enough to roll into balls. I found the mixture firmed up after half an hour.

Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper.

Roll heaped tablespoonfuls of the cookie mixture into balls and place about 5cm apart on the tray. Place any remaining dough back in the fridge. Use your hands to flatten the balls slightly, to about 4cm in diameter.  Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until they are still slightly soft to the touch.

Remove the cookies from the oven and cool completely on the tray. Repeat with the remaining dough.

The cookies are great solo but also go well sandwiched with homemade raspberry and rhubarb jam.IMG_1190
Raspberry and Rhubarb Jam

Ingredients

500g frozen raspberries
150g lightly cooked rhubarb
400g sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Method

Put the raspberries into a china or plastic basin (not metal).  Cover with the sugar and leave for several hours or overnight.

Add lemon juice and gently stir the mixture to make sure all the sugar is dissolved. Add the cooked rhubarb.

Transfer to a large saucepan and boil briskly, testing for setting point regularly. When setting point* is reached – about 15  minutes, remove pan from the stove. Ladle carefully into sterilised jars and leave to cool.

Note: use a wooden spoon and do not stir vigorously so that the berries are kept mostly intact.

*Testing for setting point
While the jam is cooking, place a small saucer in the freezer to thoroughly chill (about 5 minutes). When you think the jam may have reached setting point, remove the saucer form the freezer, place a teaspoonful of jam on it, put back in the freezer for 3 or 4 minutes. If the jam has a jelly-like consistency or a crinkly skin has formed on the sample, the jam is ready.

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Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks in Pedro Ximinez – Movida Recipe

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This recipe hails from MoVida Bar de Tapas, restaurants in Melbourne and Sydney, from the cookbook MoVida: Spanish Culinary Adventures.

http://movida.com.au/slowly-braised-beef-cheeks-in-pedro-ximenez-with-cauliflower-puree-carillera-de-buey/

I cooked the beef cheeks in the oven rather than on the stove top as the original recipe suggests. The temperature needs to be low and the cooking time long.  This is slow cooking at its best!

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cookbook MoVida: Spanish Culinary Adventures
cookbook MoVida: Spanish Culinary Adventures
cookbook MoVida: Spanish Culinary Adventures

Ingredients

1.5 kg  beef cheeks
125 ml  olive oil
3 carrots, roughly chopped
1 garlicky bulb, halved
1 brown onion, sliced
500 ml  Pedro Ximenez sherry
500 ml  red wine
3 bay leaves
3 tablespoons thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C or even lower if your oven is hot (like mine).

Trim the beef cheeks to neaten them up and remove any sinew and silver skin. Season well.

Heat half the olive oil in a large heavy-based baking dish over high heat. Brown the beef cheeks for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden, then remove from the pan.

Add the remaining olive oil, then add the carrot, garlic and onion and sauté over high heat for 12-15 minutes, or until well browned. Stir in the sherry, wine, bay leaves, thyme, sea salt and 500 ml water.

Reduce the heat and add the beef cheeks.  Cover and place in the oven to cook for 3-4 hours, or until the cheeks are beginning to fall apart.

The sauce from the beef cheeks should by now be reduced and glaze-like. If it needs further reducing, remove the cheeks from the baking dish, cover with foil to keep them warm and simmer the sauce over high heat on the stove top until nicely reduced. Gently reheat the cheeks in the sauce if necessary.

I served the beef cheeks with slow baked yellow, orange and purple carrots, and grilled corn tortillas to soak up the sauce – mash or pappardelle or rice would also be good.

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