Friday, June 30, 2006

Slow-roasted Baby Roma Tomatoes

Weekend Herb Blogging is back home with Kalyn and I thought I might just make some time for Thyme.

thyme© by haalo

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Gyoza are those wonderful Japanese dumplings - they are quite simple to make at home and make for a wonderful start to a meal or a light snack.



Gyoza or Gow Gee wrappers
120g pork, minced
180g cabbage, very finely shredded
3 spring onions, finely sliced
1 tablespoon Japanese Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Sake
1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
1/2 teaspoon Sansho
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten


Gyoza or Gow Gee Wrappers are round and are white rather than yellow like Won Ton wrapper. It's these wrappers that will give you the best result.

To make the filling:

Combine the minced pork (I like to mince it myself from pork shoulder) with the cabbage, spring onions, soy, sake, sansho, sesame oil and egg in a bowl and mix well. Place this in the fridge for at least an hour to allow the flavours to amalgamate.

Making the Gyoza:

Take a wrapper and place it on a bench. Moisten the edge with a little water - this will help it seal. Lay a small amount of filling along the centre of the wrapper. Be careful not to overfill.


Draw the edges together to form a half moon. Press to make sure the edges have sealed.


Stand the gyoza upright and push down slightly to flatten it's base, then move along the edge pinching and twisting. Traditionally, it's said that gyoza should have 5 pleats.


Keep repeating the process until you've used all the mixture up. These will freeze really well - the best method is to place them in the freezer on a tray for an hour or so before moving them into storage containers where you will keep them in single layers. The initial chilling should stop them from sticking.

To cook:

Gyoza have a two part process. The first is steaming and the second is frying. There are various ways of doing this - I quite like this one-pan method.

In a fry-pan pour in a thin layer of water. Let it come to the boil before adding the gyoza. Place a lid on the pan and turn down the heat and let them simmer. The water should just about be gone by the time the gyoza are ready. Remove the gyoza, dry the pan and add a little oil. Heat this then add the gyoza - cook the base and one side only until they are nice and crispy.

Serve with Japanese Soy Sauce or Ponzu Sauce.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

From My Rasoi #6

Paz from The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz is hosting this month's From My Rasoi and the theme is Rice.

Initially I'd thought of making a risotto but while flicking through the pages of a recent acquisition ("A little taste of Morocco" by Tess Mallos) I was swayed by a photo of a luscious rice pudding and I knew then I had to make it. It's a bit unusual from the rice puddings I've made in the past, this is flavoured with a combination of almond extract and orange flower water and to add a little more texture, ground almonds are incorporated into the mix. To top it off, a drizzle of warm honey and orange flower water soaked raisins.


Rice Pudding with Raisins

110g short-grain rice
4½ cups milk
55g sugar
55g ground almonds
2 tablespoons cornflour
¼ teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons orange flower water
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons honey, warmed

Steep the raisins in 2 teaspoons of orange flower water before you start cooking this dish.

Put the rice in a large non-stick saucepan with 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt. Place over medium heat and cook stirring occasionally until the water has been absorbed.

Set aside ½ cup of milk.

Stir 1 cup of milk into the rice, bring to a simmer and when the rice has absorbed the milk, add another cup. Continue to cook the rice until all the milk has been added, ensuring each addition of milk is absorbed before adding the next. This should take around 30 minutes and with the final cup the milk should barely be absorbed.

Mix the sugar with the ground almonds to break up any lumps. Stir into the rice mixture and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Mix the cornflour with the ½ cup of reserved milk and stir into the rice. When thickened, boil gently for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the almond extract, 1½ tablespoons of orange flower water. Stir the pudding occasionally to cool it a little.

Pour the pudding into a serving bowl and sprinkle with the soaked raisins and drizzle with warmed honey. Serve warm or cold.


It's a simple dish but packs a lot of flavour.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Celebrating the Bakewell Tart

Andrew from Spittoon Extra has sounded the alarm, the Bakewell Tart is at risk of extinction! Is this the result of global cooling..err global warming...umm climate change? No, it seems that it's the fault of those "health-conscious" types.

When Paalo found out about this, his English heart almost broke - if there's something that the English could gastronomically be proud of, it was in their ability to produce sugary delights. "You must do something!" he beseeched. Who was I do deny his request?

Reading up, I found that the true origins of the Bakewell Tart were somewhat clouded. It's supposed to been "invented" in the 1860's by a cook who made a mistake when making a tart and instead of putting the jam over the tart put it inside.

There also seems to be some controversy on whether the pastry case is puff or shortcrust and indeed if the jam is raspberry or strawberry. Then there's that British thing they have for calling anything sweet "pudding" - it makes it most confusing when the dessert in question isn't a pudding but a tart! Maybe this might be one of the Bakewell's problems, it's just too confusing.

In the 1869 edition of Mrs Beeton's Book on Household Management she has two recipes for Bakewell Puddings.

The "Very Rich" version uses puff pastry and directs that the jam is spread to a half inch in thickness! This is one of the major differences I've found in comparison to more modern versions, they suggest as little as a quarter cup of jam. For reference, the other version had a crust made simply of breadcrumbs.

So finally, here we have one Bakewell Tart presented in all it's glory - encased in it's real butter shortcrust shell lies a thick pool of sweet raspberry jam that's been smothered in a mix of butter, eggs and almond.


Bakewell Tart

1 portion Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
350g Raspberry Jam
120g softened butter, cut into cubes
120g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 eggs, at room temperature
120g almond meal
flaked almonds
icing sugar, for dusting

Line a fluted pie tin with pastry and let rest for at least an hour. Here I've used a 23x23cmx3cm square tin. Cover pastry with baking paper and fill with weights.

Preheat over to 180°C.

Cook pastry case for 15 minutes then remove paper and weights and continue cooking for another 10 - turn the oven down if you feel that the case if browning too much.

While the case is cooking, prepare the topping.

In a bowl of a mixer, place the butter, caster sugar and vanilla essence and beat until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at the time and make sure they are well incorporated before adding the next. Finally, just gently stir in the almond meal.

Remove the tin from the oven and spread the jam evenly over the base, the heat will make this really easy to do. To get to Mrs Beeton's magical 1/2 inch I would probably have to double the amount of jam used and double the depth of the cake tin too.

Gently scoop out the topping and spread it out over the jam, careful not to disturb that layer to much. Sprinkle over with the flaked almonds and return to the oven.

Cook for another 20-30 minutes or until the topping has set and is golden brown - if you feel it's cooking too quickly, turn the oven down.

Let the tart cool slightly before removing it from the tin.

Dust over with icing sugar and serve warm or cold - with a decent blob of clotted cream.


When serving your very traditional English Tart it's always nice to serve it on wonderful old English patterned plates.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Mixology Monday IV: Apéritif

Jimmy Patrick from Jimmy's Cocktail Hour is hosting this edition of Mixology Monday and it's theme is Apéritif.

This is one area where it's hard to go past anything Italian. There is a great tradition of aperitivi and digestivi and I would have to say that arguable the best example of an aperitivo is that Italian classic, Campari.


This crimson coloured aperitivo is classed as an amaro or "bitter" based on it's taste. It was made by the Campari brothers in Milan in the mid 1800's and it's still produced by the family.

It's Campari Soda bottles are a delight to the eye - the Campari's certainly developed a marketing style for their product. The famous cone shaped bottles first hit the market in 1932 and were designed by Fortunato Depero, an Italian futurist designer.

Most will enjoy their Campari in a chilled glass with soda, though for Mixology Monday I'll make that other classic cocktail, Negroni.



45ml Campari
45ml Gin
15ml Rosso Vermouth
slice of orange

Place the slice of orange into your glass. Add the spirits and stir with some ice if desired. Serve immediately.


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Sunday, June 25, 2006

IMBB #27 + SHF #20: The Joy of Soy

This month sees Is My Blog Burning? and Sugar High Friday join forces. Hosted by Reid of 'Ono Kine Grindz the theme is The Joy of Soy.

This had me flummoxed for a while - let's say I'm not a huge fan of soy, sorry but dairy wins the day with me. Then Paalo helpfully reminded me that I did indeed enjoy tofu in miso. That would give me a savoury dish but what about sweet? Since I was going to use tofu I decided on using it as the base of my sweet dish - and this is what I came up with.


Miso soup with Silken Tofu, Shiitake Mushrooms and Spring Onions
Blueberry, Honey & Silken Tofu Whip

Miso soup with Silken Tofu, Shiitake Mushrooms & Spring Onions


Miso soup with Silken Tofu, Shiitake Mushrooms & Spring Onions

1 tablespoon Hon-Dashi
3 cups water
3 spring onions, sliced finely
3 fresh shiitake mushrooms
200g silken tofu, cubed
1 tablespoon Dulse Flakes

In a saucepan, add the hon-dashi to the water and let it heat up. When the dashi has dissolved add the spring onions and shiitake. Simmer for a couple of minutes before adding the tofu and dulse flakes. Continue on a low flame until the ingredients have warmed through. Serve immediately.

This is a wonderfully refreshing soup - full of fresh flavours.

Blueberry, Honey & Silken Tofu Whip


Blueberry, Honey & Silken Tofu Whip

140g silken tofu
100g blueberries
2 tablespoons organic honey

Add all the ingredients to a blender and process until smooth and creamy. Pour into glasses and chill until ready to serve.

This would make an interesting alternative to ice-cream on those hot days - surprisingly quite tasty.

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Weekend Cookbook Challenge #6

This month, Sara and Alicat decided on Picnic food as the theme for Weekend Cookbook Challenge. Perfect timing, as one of the latest books to enter the collection is entitled "Picnic: Outdoor feasts in the Australian Landscape" by Sophie Zalokar.

The dish I'm "cooking" today is something a bit different - it's going to be a dish to revisit when the weather warms up. Picnics should be stress-free events and the beauty of this dish is that you make it the day before and it basically finishes "cooking" in the fridge. How easy is that?


Escabèche of Ocean Trout

¼ cup currants
¼ cup verjuice
40g unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely sliced
1 bay leaf
1/2 small bulb fennel, finely sliced
1 oranges, cut into skinless segments
1 tablespoons fresh dill sprigs
1 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 x 200g pieces of ocean trout
plain flour for dusting
2 sprigs fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper

For this recipe I'm using ocean trout tails


it's just my preference - being tail sections they are boneless, though if you prefer, use the middle cut fillets but make sure that all the bones have been removed, there can be a fine set of bones left in these sections.

Soak the currants in the verjuice overnight - or just heat the verjuice and currants under a low heat until the currants have absorbed most of the liquid. Cool before using.

Melt half the butter in a pan and gently sauté the onion with the bay leaf until the onion softens. Add the fennel and cook until it just starts to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the currant & verjuice mixture, then remove from the heat and place in a bowl.

To prepare the orange, first cut a slice from the top and bottom. Place the orange on the bench and with a sharp knife cut along and down the curve of the orange, removing the rind, pith and outer membrane - keep turning the orange until it's done. You may need to flip it over and remove any stray bits of rind that has remained.
To skinless segment the orange, place it in your hand and cut along the segment membrane until you reach the core - the repeat the process on the other side of the segment. The first one is the most difficult, once it's done you'll just have to release one side to get the segment out. The membranes will look like pages in a book. Place the segments into a bowl and then squeeze out any juice that remains in the membranes collecting it in your bowl.

Add the orange segments and juice to the onion/fennel mixture before adding the dill and pine nuts.

Heat the remaining butter with the olive oil in a non-stick frypan. Dust the trout very lightly with flour and place them, skin side down first. Turn over when lightly browned and remove when both sides have been coloured. If you're a bit concerned that the fish isn't cooked enough, rest assured, the orange juice will continue the process in the fridge even though it will retain that pinkness.

Place the fish in a non-reactive dish and cover with the fennel orange mixture. Strip the sprigs of fresh thyme and sprinkle over, followed with a grinding of salt and pepper, to taste.


Seal and place this in the fridge to marinate at least one hour but preferably overnight.


To serve: crusty bread and a simple green salad (made with parsley leaves and rocket and dressed with a simple olive oil vinaigrette)...and a glass of bubbly, of course!


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Friday, June 23, 2006

It's polenta Jim

but not as you know it...(with apologies to Star Trek)

polenta chips© by haalo

These golden fingers are not potato but polenta!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Combinations #3

Alex & Andy from Eating Leeds are hosting this month's Combinations, an event devised by Andrew from Spittoon - the objective is to cook a recipe that's supplied and match it to a beverage of your choice.

This month's recipe was Flatbreads with Spiced Chicken, Pistachios and Roasted Peppers - it's flavours reminded me of those found in Turkish pizzas so I immediately focused on a fruity white. As this dish seems really suited to serve as finger food, a sparkling wine would be appropriate - so with that in mind I decided to match this with a Brown Brothers Moscato.


Brown Brothers Moscato is made of predominately Muscat of Alexandria grapes. With it's tropical fruit flavours, floral aromas and light fizz, it works well with the spices - though I would have to add that this dish wasn't quite as spicy as I had thought it would be.

Now if the thought of drinking Moscato seems a bit girlie, then Paalo has helpfully suggested an alternative, once again, focusing on this dish as finger food, he recommends a Coopers Sparkling Ale - it's clean, crisp and cleansing and if you listen to the marketers, it's the beer wine drinkers drink!

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Slow-cooked Beef in Red Wine

Those in warmer climes will probably overlook this recipe but for those of us experiencing winter this should be pleasant way to snub the cold weather. There's nothing overly taxing in this recipe, if fact it's just left in the oven to it's own devices most of the time, save for a stir or two. The result is quite heavenly, meat that just melts at a forks touch and smothered in an intense sauce that only time can create and best of all, there's enough wine left to enjoy a glass (or two) with your meal! If that doesn't warm you up, I don't know what will.


Slow-cooked Beef in Red Wine

1kg gravy beef
1 onion, sliced finely
2 sticks of celery, stalks and leaves, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 carrot, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
375ml good red wine (if you aren't willing to drink it, then don't use it in your food!)
1 cup peas
salt and pepper
fresh parsley, leaves roughly chopped

First step is to prepare the gravy beef. Remove any sinew and excess fat, then cut into large chunks.
Dust these pieces very lightly in plain flour while you heat up a heavy based pan with some oil and a little butter.

Brown the pieces, a few at a time so you don't drop the pan's temperature and end up stewing the beef rather than browning. Once browned, remove to a plate and continue cooking the remaining pieces. You want the beef to have a lovely crusty brown skin. I haven't seasoned the beef at this stage as I want to keep the juices inside.

When all the meat is cooked then add the onions, carrot, garlic and celery to the pan and sauté over a gentle heat - use a spatula to loosen any particles left by the meat, these are full of flavour. This should take around 10 minutes, you don't want this mixture to get too much colour, take it slow and let the vegetables sweat and absorb all those pan flavours. Season with a little salt and pepper at this stage.

Add the tomato paste and mix it through - cook this for a few minutes to rid it of that harsh raw taste. By cooking it down a little you intensify it's flavour. Add all the meat to the pan and any juices that have been released - stir it thoroughly through the vegetable mix. Increase the heat and then pour in the red wine - depending on the size of the pan used, it should cover the meat, if you find it doesn't add a little beef/vegetable stock.

Simmer this on a high heat for 5 minutes before placing it, covered in a preheated 180°C oven. Let this cook for an hour undisturbed.

After an hour, remove the lid, stir in the peas and return to the oven for another hour, checking after 30 minutes. You should find that with the lid off the liquid starts to evaporate and the sauce thickens - if it's getting too thick then add a little beef/vegetable stock and turn down the oven to 160°C.

Roughly speaking total oven time of 2 to 3 hours should be enough - but you'll need to be the judge of when the meat has reached that lovely spongy consistency. Taste it again for seasoning and adjust if necessary and then in the last 5 minutes of cooking, stir in some freshly sliced parsley - reserve some to garnish the final dish, this just gives you two levels of parsley flavour.

To serve:
Mashed potatoes would be a wonderful match but for this dish I've used grilled polenta instead. It's simple to do - once you've made the polenta, pour it into a lined deep-sided rectangular tray, smooth out the top and let it set. When it's firm, give it 15 - 30 minutes, lift it from the tray using the paper. You can now cut the polenta into whatever shape you like - I've used scone cutters to cut out rounds.

Using a fry-pan (or grill pan if you prefer), cook the shapes until they crisp up on both sides and the polenta has warmed through. Place them on a plate and top with the beef, sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.


Best eaten in front of a roaring fire while sipping on a glass of red!

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Watercress & Potato Soup

I really couldn't go past this lovely bunch of watercress at the local farmer's market. But with the weather decidedly chilly, making those oh-so-english watercress sandwiches was out of the question, a more fitting solution was a bowl of warming soup!


Watercress & Potato Soup

1 bunch of Watercress, picked and rinsed
400g potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 onion, diced very finely
1 garlic clove, sliced finely
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
salt and finely ground white pepper, to taste
fresh cream, to taste

In a deep saucepan, drizzle in a tablespoon of oil and a knob of butter, heat and when butter has melted add the diced onion and garlic. Sauté to soften, about 5 minutes then add the watercress and potato pieces. Continue to sauté over a low heat for another 5 minutes before adding the warm stock. You should use enough stock to cover the vegetables. Simmer until the potatoes have softened, then remove from heat.

Using an immersion blend (if you have one), process the soup until smooth. Taste and season with salt and white pepper. If you prefer a richer soup, then add some cream before gently reheating.


Perfect with crusty bread and a small dollop of cream.

As this will be part of Weekend Herb Blogging #38 I thought I'd add a little more information about watercress - this week it's on the road again and travelling to Nantes, France where the host is Virginie from Absolutely Green.

Watercress is a perennial herb and part of the Nasturtium family, something that is obvious when you look at it's leaves. It has a peppery characteristic along the lines of rocket/arugula. It has high levels of Vitamin C along with Vitamin A, iron, calcium, and folic acid - it's also know to aid digestion, which makes it an excellent component at the start of a meal.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Quince and Blueberry Crumble Cake

Quinces are abundant in the markets at this time of the year and this cake from AWW's "Cakes, Slices and Biscuits" offers up another way to enjoy this fruit. Poached quinces and blueberries are scattered upon a buttery cake base and then covered in a rich cinnamon crumble. This is one cake they'll all be asking for "more please!"


Quince and Blueberry Crumble Cake

185g butter, softened
165g caster sugar
2 eggs
335g self-raising flour, sifted
180ml milk
300g fresh or frozen blueberries
2 teaspoons cornflour

Poached Quinces
750ml water
165g caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1kg quinces, peeled, cored and each cut into 8 wedges (keep the pieces in lemon water to stop them from going brown)

Cinnamon Crumble
110g plain flour
2 tablespoons caster sugar
110g brown sugar
100g butter, diced
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

To poach the quinces:

Mix the water, sugar, cinnamon stick and lemon juice in a saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the quince and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 1 hour 30 minutes or until the quince is tender and rosy in colour. Cool to room temperature in the syrup before straining out the quince. Store both the quince and the syrup in separate containers.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line a deep 23cm square cake pan with baking paper.

Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions until just combined. Carefully, stir in the flour and milk in two batches.

Spread the mixture over into the pan, smoothing the top before baking for 25 minutes.

While cake is cooking make the crumble.

In a food processor, add all the crumble ingredients and pulse until combined.

When the cake is cooked remove from the oven. If using frozen blueberries toss them through the cornflour. Top the cake with drained quince then scatter over the blueberries before finally covering it with the cinnamon crumble mixture.

Put this bake in the oven and bake for another 20 minutes. Stand the cake 5 minutes before turning out, top-side up onto a wire rack. You should be able to pull the cake out with the baking papers.


Serve the cake warm or cold with the reserved quince syrup.

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Meme - Confessions in Groups of Five

Kalyn has tagged me to confess and I shall happily oblige

5 items in the freezer
1. ice!
2. various frozen soups
3. puff pastry
4. chillies
5. frozen peas

5 items in my closet
1. some might say too many Black boots
2. Hats
3. Coats
4. Linen
5. the Iron

5 items in my car
1. some piece of computer equipment
2. Melways street directory
3. E-tag for citylink
4. pens
5. chamois
and one bonus confession - I don't drive!

5 items in my purse
Not sure if this means a wallet or a handbag so I'll give you a bit of both
1. Sony Ericsson 750i camera phone - it's the one with the 2mb camera - have to take pictures of the food at restaurants
2. Little Notepad and pen - have to write down what we ate and drank at the restaurants
3. Dymocks Booklovers card - might just have to buy a cookbook or two
4. Cash and Plastic - to pay for the things listed above!
5. Keys

5 people to tag (and do this only if you want to )
1. Susan from Porcini Chronicles
2. Noodle Cook from Electronic Restaurant
3. Gabriella from My Life as a Reluctant Housewife
4. Tankeduptaco from Food for Thought
5. Mellie from Tummy Rumbles

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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Pork Dumplings in a Kaffir Lime Leaf Broth

Weekend Herb Blogging is back home with Kalyn and this week I'll be focusing on a plant from our neighbours.

kaffir lime leaf© by haalo

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Blog Party #11

Stephanie has once again come up with an unique theme for this month's Blog Party - man food! I've had to use Paalo as the token male for this and these are certainly a couple of dishes that has him asking for more.

1-DSC_4686.jpg 1-DSC_4967.jpg


Lemongrass Prawns - when these are served just step back and try not to be crushed by the stampede

Ricotta filled Cannoli - you can never make enough of these

Rusty Nail - it's a manly drink!

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Ricotta Filled Cannoli

I'll be posting on how to make the cannoli shells a little later but for now I'll deal with the filling. This is the more traditional Sicilian version filled with a mix of ricotta and glacé fruits.


Ricotta Filled Cannoli

300g fresh ricotta
100g icing sugar, sifted
assorted glacé fruits (I've used orange slices, cedro, pear and apricot)

The key is to use real ricotta - not that stuff that's found in tubs in the supermarket. It just won't work. You need to find basket pressed ricotta at a good deli.

For this amount of filling I've used 2 orange slices, 1 pear, 2 apricots and a small piece of cedro. You don't want to overcrowd the ricotta with fruit so use it sparingly. You'll also need to dice the fruit quite small as you'll be piping this into the cannoli tubes and you don't want pieces of fruit stuck in the nozzle.

Push the ricotta through a sieve and into a bowl then add in the sifted icing sugar. Stir well before adding in the diced glacé fruit. Continue mixing until it's well amalgamated. Store covered in the fridge until ready to use.

Your cannoli shells need to be cold and you need to fill them just before you want to serve them.

Use a large star nozzle to pipe the filling into the tubes - pipe in one end before turning and piping the other end.


Dust with icing sugar and serve.

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Rusty Nail

Finding a manly drink for this month's blog party was a little difficult so I had to use Paalo as my guinea pig. He is quite fond on a good scotch whisky so this simple cocktail will appeal - it's a warming drink with hints of honey and a double dose of scotch!

rusty nail

Rusty Nail

30ml Scotch Whisky
30ml Drambuie

Add the whisky, drambuie and ice to a glass, stir and serve.

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Honey-dipped Briouats with Almond Paste

Barbara from Tigers & Strawberries came up with an very interesting theme for this month's The Spice is Right and that is the perfumed garden. Now with winter well entrenched here I've headed to the cupboard for some inspiration and in it's come in the form of a bottle of Orange-Blossom Water.

orange blossom water© by haalo

Orange-blossom water is produced from the blossom of the sour orange tree - most notably Seville orange blossoms. It's mainly used in syrups and served with fruits though it can be added sparingly to savoury dishes as seen in many middle eastern dishes. A very simple use is to just add a spoonful to fresh orange juice to make it a little special.

The recipe I'm making uses Orange-blossom water in the filling and in the dipping syrup and comes from "A little taste of Morocco" by Tess Mallos.

Honey-dipped Briouats©  by Haalo

Honey-dipped Briouats with almond paste

Almond Filling:
200g ground almonds
90g unsalted butter
60g icing sugar
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon orange flower water

6 sheets filo pastry
125g smen (see note below), melted

260g honey
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon orange flower water

Under a medium heat, add the ground almonds to a heavy-based saucepan and stir constantly until lightly browned - about 3-4 minutes. Tip out into a bowl when done.

Add the butter to the pan and stir until melted. Let this cool before adding it to the toasted ground almonds along with the icing sugar, almond extract and 1 tablespoon of the orange flower water. Mix thoroughly - set aside while you prepare the filo.

Stack the sheets on a cutting board with the longer side toward you and cut into strips 11cm (4½ inches) wide and 28-30 cm (11½ - 12 inches) long. Stack the sheets in the folds of a tea towel to prevent them from drying out.

Take a sheet and place in on your board, brush half of it lengthways with smen, then fold in half to give a strip 5.5cm/2¼ inches wide. Brush over the top with smen then place a heaped tablespoon of the filling towards the end of the strip. Fold the end diagonally across the filling so that the base lines up with the side of the strip, forming a triangle.

Honey-dipped Briouats©  by Haalo Honey-dipped Briouats©  by Haalo

Continue folding in the same manner to the end of the strip - trim any excess pastry with a knife. Repeat with the remaining sheets and filling and when completed, brush the tops lightly with smen. This should make 18 briouats.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Do this after the triangles have all been made to ensure the kitchen is cool and doesn't dry out the pastry.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until puffed and lightly golden.

Place the honey, water and orange flower water in a 1.5 litre saucepan. Just before removing pastries from oven, bring this mixture to the boil before reducing to a low heat. Put two hot pastries into the honey, leave for 20 seconds then remove with two forks to a baking paper lined tray. Repeat with the remaining pastries. Be careful as the honey will bubble and rise when you place the pastries in.

Honey-dipped Briouats©  by Haalo

Let the pastries cool before serving them - they are best eaten on the day they are made.

A note on Smen

Smen is a clarified butter with milk solids that have been allowed to brown slightly, giving it a nutty flavour. You can make this yourself.

Cut 250g (9 oz) of salted or unsalted butter into pieces and place them in a heavy based saucepan over a low heat. Simmer on the lowest flame possible for 25 minutes. Pour through a sieve lined with muslin - the clear oil collected is the smen and this can be stored in the fridge in a sealed jar. It should keep for a few months.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Wine Blogging Wednesday #22

Tim from Winecast is hosting this month's Wine Blogging Wednesday and he wants us to seek out the light - light alcohol red wine that is. He also expressed an interest in seeing, amongst other things, if there were Australian Shiraz that met the less than 12.5% criteria. This piqued my interest and offered a perfect excuse to brush aside the dust and explore the cellar.

I was most excited to see that one of my all time favourites did in fact meet the requirement - it comes in at only 12% and it's a Shiraz!


This wine is a Yarra Yering 1997 Underhill Shiraz.

The wine comes from the Yarra Valley which is located about an hour's drive east from the centre of Melbourne.

Yarra Yering was started by the unique Dr Bailey Carrodus in 1969. The wines produced are distinctive and as individual as the man himself. Some of the interesting aspects of the winery is that it is dry-irrigated and the vines pruned to produce less then 2 tons per acre. The result are wines with intense colour and fruit flavours and legendary cellaring ability.

Vintage wise, 1997 was a very good season in the Yarra Valley. A cold and wet spring was followed by a hot and dry summer. This resulted in a small but high quality yield - tiny berries that were packed full of flavour.


Onto the tasting:
It does appreciate being opened and allowed to breathe for a few hours - rich ripe fruit nose, gorgeous depth in colour, a deep red/purple with a tinge of brown, on the palette it's the fruit that comes through, wonderfully balanced without any harsh tannins.

This was a perfect match for the Moroccan slow-cooked Beef.

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Moroccan Slow-cooked Beef with Herbs

I was looking for something a little different to make and the answer came from one of the latest cookbooks I had purchased. Moroccan cuisine is quite fragrant with it's use of such herbs as spices as cinnamon, saffron, coriander, chilli and parsley. The slow braises in the form of tagines bring succulent characteristics and complex flavours to their contents that develop from the long slow cooking time. This recipe comes for "A little taste of Morocco" by Tess Mallos.


Moroccan Slow-cooked Beef with Herbs

1kg gravy beef (beef shin and chuck steak can be substituted)
1 red onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Ras el Hanout
½ teaspoon Harissa
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 ripe tomatoes, skinned and de-seeded, dice the flesh very finely
2 pieces of preserved lemon, pulp and membrane discarded, rind sliced
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons coriander leaves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons parsley leaves, roughly chopped
extra coriander and parsley leaves roughly chopped, to serve
extra piece of preserved lemon, prepared as above

Preheat the oven to 140°C/275°F.

Trim any sinew and fat from the meat and cut into one inch pieces.

Place the beef in an ovenproof dish - then add the onions, garlic, olive oil, Ras el Hanout, Harissa and pepper - stir through the beef.

Then add the tomato pulp, preserved lemon rind, honey, coriander and parsley leaves - mix this well through the beef mixture.


Place in the oven and cook for 3½ hours - check after 1½ hours to make sure it's not drying out, if so add a little water.

When the meat is very tender, place it on a serving dish and scatter over with extra preserved lemon rind, fresh coriander and parsley.


Serve with fluffy couscous.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Red Lentil & Pumpkin Soup


No that isn't a red lentil - it's a Pumpkin and the star of a delicately spiced soup with a wonderful creamy consistency, thanks to the addition of red lentils.


Red Lentil & Pumpkin Soup

1kg of Pumpkin, skinned and de-seeded, cut into small chunks
150g red lentils, rinsed and drained and any odd lentils picked out
1 red onion, sliced finely
2 cloves garlic, sliced finely
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups boiling water or light chicken stock
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
plain yoghurt, to serve

Add a little oil to a pot and over a medium heat sauté the onion and garlic until softened. Sprinkle in the ground turmeric, ground coriander and ground cumin - cook, stirring constantly for a few minutes.

Add the pumpkin pieces, red lentils and boiling water (or stock). Bring to the boil then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes or until the pumpkin and lentils are soft. Put it aside to cool slightly before blending until smooth.

Taste and season with salt and pepper before reheating.


Serve with a dollop of yoghurt in the middle of the soup.

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