In My Kitchen – August 2013

Thank you Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for allowing me to participate In My Kitchen August 2013. This month, in my kitchen are …

Loose Leaf Tea House

I tried three teas from The Loose Leaf Tea House, with English Breakfast being my firm favourite.

Herbies spices

Fragrant Sweet Spices by Herbie’s Spices. I have used 1/8 teaspoon in a mug of hot chocolate to give it a lovely warm spicy taste. You can also add 3 teaspoons to a cake mixture – I tried it with some gluten free chocolate brownies.

I recently interviewed Ian Hemphill from Herbie’s Spices.

Melinda's Red Velvet Cake

Melinda from Melinda’s Gluten Free Goodies allowed me to try some of her delicious products. My favourite was the gluten free Heavenly Chocolate Fudge Brownies. The Decadent Red Velvet Cake is the last one I have to try – but I’m saving it for a special occasion.

San Remo Spelt Pasta

We have been having San Remo spelt pasta and using spelt flour instead of wheat, as spelt is one of the more tolerant gluten grains. Both are easy substitutes and we have hardly noticed the difference.

JarKey

This nifty little device is called a JarKey and it helps lift off the lid of bottles and jars. It’s invaluable and every kitchen should have one, especially if you have arthritis in your hands or you do a lot of preserving.

We are giving away plenty of passionfruit to family and friends.

Posted for In My Kitchen August 2013 hosted by Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

Best recipe: Trifle

Trifle

I was wanting to make something British to celebrate the arrival of the Royal baby boy. I’ve tried to make this trifle as traditionally as possible, but there is some debate about whether to add jelly or not to a trifle. I like the strawberry wobble, so it’s staying.

The British touches I have used are reminiscent of strawberries and cream at Wimbledon. My British mother-in-law sets the fruit in the jelly, so you could try that but leave a few strawberries aside to decorate the top of the trifle. This trifle is a celebration of all things British and seasonal for their summer time.

I’ve used mini Jam Swiss rolls for the cool effect it gives to the side of the glass bowl, but you could also use Madeira cake or Victoria sponge.

Congratulations Kate and William on your new baby boy. I wonder what he will be called? We have our fingers crossed for George.

British Trifle recipe

1 packet of strawberry flavoured jelly
150ml Madeira or sherry
250g Jam mini rolls, or Madeira cake or Victoria sponge
600ml pouring custard
1 punnet of strawberries, halved
300ml pure double cream
50g milk chocolate, grated (Green & Blacks

  1. Make up the jelly following the instructions on the packet. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours to set.
  2. Cut the cake into small chunks and soak in the Madeira or sherry.
  3. Assemble the trifle, by layering the cake around the base of the bowl.
  4. Then add a layer of jelly, strawberries, and then custard. Repeat with the cake again and the other layers until finished.
  5. Whip the double cream with an electric hand whisk until it is firm but still floppy. Use cream for the final layer and decorate with some strawberries and grated chocolate.

 

Best recipe: Sirloin steak with Cafe de Paris sauce

sirloin steak

Cafe de Paris butter sauce was originally created way back in 1941 by Freddy Dumont for the restaurant of the same name, in Geneva. The original recipe remains a secret, so this is rumoured to be a close version. If you don’t have all the exact 25 ingredients, don’t worry just use what you have and the result will still be delicious. Although it is better to make the butter in large quantities, this recipe is cut down as much as possible. Use the butter on steak, baked potatoes, or under the skin of roast chicken.

The butter sauce will keep for about a week in the refrigerator or for several months in the freezer (wrapped in plastic).

Sirloin steak with Cafe de Paris sauce recipe

250g unsalted butter
3/4 Tbsp tomato sauce
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp capers, well rinsed
30 g shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 Tbsp of parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp of chives, chopped
3/4 tsp dried marjoram
3/4 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
3 fresh tarragon leaves
a pinch of ground dried rosemary
1/2 to 1 small clove of garlic
2 anchovy fillets, rinsed
1 tsp good brandy
1 tsp Madeira
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
a pinch of sweet paprika
a pinch of curry powder
a pinch of cayenne pepper
The zest of 1/8 a lemon
The zest of 1/8 orange
The juice of 1/4 lemon
Season with salt
1 sirloin steak per person 

  1. Leave the butter out so that it is at room temperature.
  2. Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl, pressing them together with the back of a fork or beat on low with an electric mixer. 
  3. Transfer the butter to a sheet of grease proof paper and roll into a sausage shape.
  4. Refrigerate and cut into discs as required.
  5. Preheat a frying pan or grill to high.
  6. Season steaks with salt and pepper. Spray with oil.
  7. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes each side for medium-rare or until cooked to your liking.
  8. Transfer to a serving plate. Cover with foil and set aside for 2 minutes to rest.
  9. Slice butter and place a disc on top of each steak.

Many servings.

 

Best recipe: Scrambled eggs

scrambled-eggs

When I say that this is an easy recipe, I really mean it. The trick to cooking moist scrambled eggs is to restrain yourself and let the eggs cook as long as the recipe says, which I found difficult as I don’t particularly like runny eggs. I secretly wonder if Bill Granger uses more cream than the recipe calls for in his restaurant. This recipe is very indulgent and I don’t expect you’d use cream every weekend.

An old boyfriend taught me his secret to scrambled eggs. He used the lowest heat possible and combined half a glass of milk to each egg and then cooking them for at least half an hour. Yawn. I much prefer this quick recipe!

Chef Bill Granger says, always use a non-stick pan with a wooden spoon for best results and easy cleaning. Don’t over-stir – think of these as folded eggs rather than scrambled. The eggs should have the texture of soft curds. It’s best not to cook more than three portions in one go as you will overcrowd the pan and the eggs won’t cook as well. For larger numbers, cook in two pans rather than one.
Perfect scrambled eggs – BBC GoodFood

Scrambled Eggs

Adapted from Perfect scrambled eggs by Bill Granger

2 eggs, organic
1/3 cup pouring cream
10g butter, organic
pinch of salt

  1. Add the eggs and cream to a bowl and mix together with a whisk. 
  2. Heat a non-stick pan to high and melt the butter.
  3. Pour in the egg mixture. Allow the egg to cook and fold them in with a wooden spoon when they have set on the outside edge.
  4. Repeat this until the egg mixture has just set, and just moist. They will continue to cook slightly when they have been turned out.
  5. Season with salt and serve with some hot buttered toast.

Serves 1.

Best recipe: Risotto with sausage and borlotti beans

risotto sausage and borlotti beans

Risotto is a recipe I learnt to cook before I knew my husband, Matthew. It’s one of the few recipes that I can cook better than he can.

As we had no bones for the stock, we decided to make a vegetable stock consisting of half a stalk of celery (plus leaves), half an onion, several parsley stalks, a bay leaf and a few peppercorns. I boiled the lot for half an hour.

As it is difficult to find sausages with no spices (because I am intolerant to chilli and paprika) I decided to use pork mince and a pinch of fennel seeds.

This risotto recipe has excellent flavours, even though I hardly followed the recipe instructions.

Rose Gray says the following about the recipe:

I’ve always been a fan of Marcella Hazen. She’s an evocative food writer who is also very good on detail and precision and understands the importance of texture. This is a warming, wintry dish for people who love eating. I first came across it on a wine trip to Verona about 10 years ago. At that time you could only buy dried borlotti beans in the Uk; it’s only recently that fresh ones have arrived in our markets. They have a beautiful creamy consistency; they take on all the flavours of the fennelly sausage.

Risotto with sausage and borlotti beans recipe

Adapted from Risotto with sausage and cranberry (borlotti) beans – Marcella Hazan, Marcella Cucina

200g tin of borlotti beans
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsps butter
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/2 cup of pork mince
1/2 tsp of fennel seeds
4 cups of vegetable stock
1/2 cup of arborio rice
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbs chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley (optional)
salt and pepper

  1. Heat the vegetable stock in a saucepan and maintain a low simmer.
  2. Add the olive oil to a second saucepan and gently cook the onion until translucent. Add the pork mince and brown. Add the fennel seeds and stir in.
  3. Add the butter and when melted add the rice and reduce the heat to low. Coat all grains of rice with the butter.
  4. Add some vegetable stock to just cover the rice and increase the heat to medium.
  5. Mash the beans in a bowl and then add to the risotto.
  6. Cook, stirring until all the liquid has been absorbed.
  7. Gradually add more stock waiting until each new batch has been absorbed. Keep stirring so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot!
  8. When the rice is ready stir in the Parmesan cheese and parsley (if using). Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Serve after 25 minutes, or when the rice is al dente.

Serves 2.

Best recipe: ANZAC biscuits

ANZAC biscuits

The original ANZAC biscuit recipe is easy to find online, but I decided to go with a moist and chewy ANZAC biscuit recipe as that’s how I prefer them. The original biscuits were hard, as they had to last the journey across the sea to the men fighting in Europe. Most recipes share the same ingredients and just vary the amounts. Curtis Stone in his latest cookbook, “What’s for Dinner?” calls them “Oatmeal Coconut Butter Cookies”!

I guess I could have waited until ANZAC day to make these, but I thought they’d be simple to make and something good to start learning to cook with.

My first problem was that I don’t own any baking trays, so I had to use a roasting tray. Then it took about 20 times to start the gas powered oven – I hope it’s not on its way out!

I mixed together all the dry ingredients, but the brown sugar left lumps, so it took about five minutes to squish them against the side of the mixing bowl. Then I moved on to the wet ingredients. It was taking a long time to pour the CSR golden syrup from the squeeze bottle into the measuring spoon.

Matt said “You know you can take the lid off of that.”

“Now you tell me” I replied. “I’m nearly finished!”

“Well, you need to work on your muscles.”

I combined the dry and wet ingredients and then popped the biscuits in the oven. In the meantime, I decided to do the washing up. I hate washing tongs, wooden spoons and plastic containers, and this load had all three! The stupid timer stopped with four minutes to go. Fortunately I noticed.

The first batch was a little under done and one of the biscuits crumbled apart as I slid them onto the wire cooling rack. I reread the instructions and saw that I was supposed to let them “Stand on trays for 5 minutes” but I missed that step. The second batch had a distinctive home-made look about them, but they are still not brown enough! The third and final batch were just what I was looking for in an ANZAC biscuit.

ANZAC biscuit recipe

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour*
2/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda*
125g butter, organic
2 tablespoons golden syrup

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Prepare baking trays by lining three of them with baking paper.
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients – oats, flour, sugar, coconut, and bicarbonate of soda – in a bowl.
  3. Place butter, syrup and 2 tablespoons cold water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir for 2 minutes or until butter has melted.
  4. Combine the dry and wet ingredients by stirring the butter mixture into oat mixture.
  5. Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls. Place on baking trays about 5cm apart. Flatten slightly with the back of the spoon.
  6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden. Stand on trays for 5 minutes.
  7. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Variations

I made my biscuits wheat-free by swapping the 1 cup of flour and bicarbonate of soda, for one cup of Melinda’s Gluten-Free Goodies Self Raising Flour. To make them gluten-free swap the oats for quinoa flakes.

 

Best recipe: French onion soup

french onion soup

I got a little worried at the first reading of the Onion soup Les Halles recipe, as I don’t own either ovenproof soup crocks, nor a propane torch. The recipe I’ve chosen comes Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook. I’ve never tried authentic French onion soup in a restaurant, mainly because I love to have snails or frog’s legs as a starter, so I’m not sure how to judge a good onion soup.

My first challenge was researching to find out what a bouquet garni is made up of.  For this dish, I decided to use celery, basil leaf and thyme. My second challenge was converting the recipe to metric and halving the amount. I used the very handy The Cookbook People’s Kitchen Conversion Cheat Sheet.

My eyes started to get teary cutting the first onion, so I precariously tried to chop it at arms length. I was worried I’d cut myself because I could hardly see through the tears. Fortunately, I washed the board and knife, wiped away my tears on my t-shirt sleeve, and then other next three onions were tearless. I have heard the rumour that a blunt knife makes cutting onions harder.

There is some debate about how long it takes to caramalise the onions* – most recipes have 30 minutes, and some suggest at least an hour. Felicity Cloak’s recipe suggests “This will probably take between 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on your nerve.”

Flour is often added to thicken the soup, but I didn’t add it. Emmenthal works as well as Gruyere on the toast. Some people prefer to serve the cheesy toast on the side. Apparently the soup improves the day after cooking, but I didn’t notice any difference.

French onion soup is ideal as a winter dish. You could easily make a vegetarian version by changing the stock, and I’m sure this dish has many restorative powers.

French onion soup recipe

Adapted from Onion soup Les Halles recipe from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook.

For the broth:

100g butter
4 brown onions, thinly sliced
2 Tbsps port wine
2 Tbsps balsamic vinegar
4 cups of homemade chicken stock or beef stock (or vegetable)
100 g bacon, cut into cubes
bouquet garni

For the croutons and cheese:

8 baguette croutons
3/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese 

 For the broth: 

  1. In a large pot, heat the butter over medium heat until it has melted and begins to brown. Add the onions and cook over medium heat. Keep an eye on the onions so they don’t burn and stir occasionally, until they are soft and browned (for at least 30 minutes)*.
  2. Increase the heat to medium high and add the port wine and the vinegar. Don’t forget to stir in all that brown goodness from the bottom of the pot into the liquid. Add the chicken, beef or vegetable stock.
  3. Add the bacon and the bouquet garni and bring to a boil.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Reduce to a simmer. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove the bouquet garni before serving.

For the croutons and cheese:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Place croutons on a baking tray.
  2. Toast croutons on one side in the an oven for about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the croutons from the oven and turn them over, and sprinkle on the grated cheese.
  4. Return the croutons to the oven, and toast until the cheese has melted.

Add the croutons to the soup and serve immediately.

Serves 4 people.

Cooked for the 100 recipes to cook in your lifetime challenge. 

Damper Recipe

Australia isn’t known for its bread, but we do have damper. To make the traditional campfire bread more festive I’ve added some herbs from the garden, some leftover semi-dried tomatoes and a fresh tomato from our garden. The green and red flecks of colour make it ideal to serve at this time of the year. We prefer semi-dried tomatoes to the full sun-dried ones.

Damper

2 cups of self-raising flour
30g butter
2 tbps chopped chives and basil
1 tomato
6 semi-dried tomatoes
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup milk

  1. Sift flour into a bowl and rub in butter with your fingertips.
  2. Add the herbs and chopped tomatoes and mix.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the mixture, add the combined water and milk in batches.
  4. Mix quickly to form a soft dough. Add more flour or water/milk, if required, to get the right consistency.
  5. Place on a tray lined with baking paper. Brush with milk.
  6. Bake at 220°C for 15-20 minutes.