Monday, July 31, 2006

Hay Hay It's Donna Day #4

Bron has taken up the Donna Hay baton and is hosting this edition of Hay Hay It's Donna Day where Bruschetta gets "hay-erised".

I'm quite partial to a Sweet Bruschetta and was quite pleased to incorporate the Red Wine Poached Pears in this offering.


Pear, Almond & Ricotta Bruschetta

Makes 2 serves

2 thick slices of Briont (Briont is a Brioche type bread)
unsalted butter
2 Red Wine Poached Pears, sliced in half
150 grams Ricotta
2 tablespoons icing sugar
30 grams flaked almonds, roasted
Red Wine Reduction (make from the poaching liquid), optional, to serve

Lightly dot the bread with a little butter - grill until golden (A sandwich press is an excellent way to do this). Place on a wire rack to cool slightly.

Regarding the Ricotta - don't even think of making this from the stuff you find at the supermarket in tubs, it just won't work. You need to find the real thing from a good deli.

Push the ricotta through a fine sieve (this lightens the mixture) and place in a bowl with the icing sugar. Stir well to combine before folding in the roasted flaked almonds.

Scoop the ricotta out onto the toasted Briont - keep it light and don't be tempted to press it down. Top with the halved Pears and drizzle over with Red Wine Reduction. Serve immediately.


When it comes to savoury it's hard to go past the traditional Bruschetta al Pomodoro but I think this Mixed Mushroom & Goat Cheese Bruschetta might give it a run for it's money.


This is served on grilled Sour Dough Baguette.


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Red Wine Poached Pears

How was I supposed to resist buying these pears?

red d'anjou pears© by haalo

Gorgeous and oh-so-small Red d'Anjou Pears - they called out to me, buy me, make something delicious with me.

It's your Birthday..


It's that time of the year again, Paalo's Birthday. The last two weeks haven't been the best for him as he recovered from the removal of his gall bladder - so we're taking it easy, they'll be no degustation feast from Vue de Monde!

I have however made something as sweet as he is and it should bring a smile to his face. One of the first things I ever cooked for him was Pineapple upside-down cake - I must have done something right since he's still around. Then again, I have a feeling that might be due to my mother's ravioli and cappelletti!

Instead of making the traditional styled cake, I've made individual cakes, each the size of one pineapple ring. I think they look cute!


Happy Birthday!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Combinations #4

Basic Juice is hosting this month's Combinations and they've gone green - green with herbs that is. A bit of a twist on the theme, we're to use at least 3 fresh herbs and find some wine to match.

Herbs are something I use quite a bit in the kitchen so I thought I'd utilise three staples and turn them into a nice light tart, perfect for a weekend lunch. I should add that the three main herbs used are Thyme, Basil and Chives.


Roasted Baby Roma Tomato and Fetta Tarts
Makes 2 x 15cm tarts

½ portion Shortcrust Pastry
10 slow roasted baby roma tomatoes, depending on tomato size cut them in half
a few pieces of Marinated fetta, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chopped chives,
6 large Basil leaves, ripped roughly
2 eggs
½ cup cream

Make the tart shells:
Roll out the pastry and line two 15cm tart tins, leave a little overhanging to compensate in case of shrinkage. Let this rest an hour. Cover with baking paper and fill with weights. Cook in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven for around 15 minutes or until the pastry is starting to become golden. Remove paper and weights.

Make the filling:
Place the eggs and cream in a bowl and whisk until amalgamated. I find I don't need to use salt and pepper here as the tomatoes and fetta are already seasoned.

Prepare the tarts:
Place the par-cooked tart shells onto a baking tray - this makes it easier to place into the oven and helps contain any spills, if they occur.
Place the tomato pieces in each of the pie shells, then add the fetta. Sprinkle over with the basil and chives. Pour in the filling and place back into the oven and cook until the filling has set - this should take between 10-15 minutes.

Remove from the tins and serve immediately.


Hey, but what about the wine?

We tasted this with two wines - a Hungarian Bor Forrás and Loire Sancerre.

The Sancerre is 100% Sauvignon Blanc, not quite as acidic as Australian versions tend to be, it certainly tasted better with the tart than it did without.

The Bor Forrás is a sweeter styled red wine with berry flavours and hints of honey. This went surprising well with the tart - the berry characteristics matched with the flavoursome tomatoes and the residual sweetness was a good foil for the herbs (especially nice with the chive flavours).

It's not the result that I had initially expected but the Bor Forrás wins!

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Weekend Herb Blogging #43

Weekend Herb Blogging is back home with Kalyn and this week I've delved around in dark places and found some mushrooms.

The first is the wonderful Oyster Mushroom:

Oyster Mushroom© by haalo

How could you not love it's elegant lines, it's almost sensual curves - soft to the touch and quite tactile. They have a delicate, subtle flavour but are quite juicy when you bite into them. They absorb flavours easily and are best cooked quickly.

Oyster Mushrooms are good sources of Niacin, Riboflavin and Vitamin D. These days you'll also find them in a range of colours like pink, white, beige and

yellow oyster Mushroom© by haalo


Next is a Japanese variety called Shimeji

shimeji© by haalo

and in the wild it's found growing on trees. They have a nutty yet delicate flavour and are a good mushroom to sauté. They are sold in clumps and to use you just cut the mushroom from the base.

Shimeji mushrooms are good sources of Thiamine (Vitamin B1) and Lysine - Lysine is an essential amino acid and Thiamine helps with circulation, blood formation and metabolism of carbohydrates. It also helps the nervous system and the brain.

In the recipe that follows I used one other mushroom, the Portobello - it's more flavoursome and resembles a Swiss Brown and thought it would be a good counterpoint to the other mushrooms.

But what did I make? A Bruschetta.

Mixed Mushroom Bruschetta with Goat's Cheese© by haalo

Mixed Mushroom Bruschetta with Goat's Cheese

Equal quantities of Portobello, Shimeji and Oyster Mushrooms
1 small red onion, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
fresh lemon thyme leaves
freshly ground salt and pepper
Olive oil
Verjuice or White Wine
Thick slices of Crusty Bread - I used a Sour Dough Baguette and sliced it at a steep angle to get long slices
1 garlic clove, peeled, extra

Prepare the Bread:
Drizzle a little olive oil on the bread slices and set them on a heated grill to toast. I've mentioned this before but I use a grilled sandwich press to toast up the bread - I find that it eliminates all possibility of the bread burning, leaves wonderful grill marks and really dries the bread nicely to give it excellent crunch. Once toasted, take a peeled garlic clove and rub it over the toasted bread - this is the real secret to making authentic bruschetta.

Prepare the Mushrooms:
Portobello - whip off any dirt and keep the stem intact before cutting into thick slices
Oyster - depending on the size, you may need to cut the larger ones in half, otherwise just cook them as is
Shimeji - just cut them off from the base and use whole

To cook:
Heat up a non-stick pan over a medium heat, drizzle in a little olive oil and add the red onion and garlic. Sauté, stirring frequently until the onion has softened. Add in the sliced Portobello, along with the fresh lemon thyme leaves and continue cooking until the mushroom wilts slightly and has begun to brown. Toss in the Oyster and Shimeji and keep an eye on the heat - you don't want the mushrooms to stew, you want to keep the pan fairly dry.

Near the end of the cooking time, you can de-glaze with a splash of Verjuice (or White Wine), keep the mushrooms moving to give them a nice glossy coating. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper and a few more fresh lemon thyme leaves.

To assemble:
Lay goat cheese pieces roughly over the toasted bread then top generously with the mushroom mix. The heat of the mushrooms will soften the cheese and bring out it's flavours. Serve immediately.

Mixed Mushroom Bruschetta with Goat's Cheese© by haalo

Naturally, you can use other mushrooms, use your favourites and whatever cheese you use, do use a good cheese - it is well worth it and the flavours are divine. This makes a great change from the everyday sandwich and coupled with a glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc, an excellent reason to have a leisurely lunch.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Sugar High Friday #21 - Blackberry Semifreddo

Sarah from The Delicious Life decided on an icy theme for this month's Sugar High Friday as a way to beat the heat. Heat isn't really a problem here at the moment, maybe if you stand too close to the fireplace, then yes, I'll give you that. Just because it's winter doesn't mean we can't indulge in some frozen delights.

I decided to forgo the ice cream maker and use a different method and an unusual ingredient to make a semifreddo - after all, semifreddo doesn't sound nearly as cold as ice-cream.

The unusual ingredient is Sheep-milk Yoghurt - and it's used to make the Blackberry Semifreddo and the Sheep-milk custard that accompanies this creation.

blackberry semifreddo© by haalo

Thursday, July 27, 2006

From My Rasoi #7

Revathi from En Ulagam is hosting this month's From My Rasoi and the theme chosen was Comfort Food.

Something that sprang to mind, especially as it's winter here, was the magical Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding. Why magical? As a little kid I couldn't help but be amazed as it starts off with the liquid on top but during it's time in the oven, magic happens and the liquid moves to the bottom, forming a luscious chocolate sauce - a perfect foil to the soft sponge topping. It's still pretty magical to this day. As for comfort, you can't really go past something that's gooey and chocolate when it's really cold outside.

The recipe couldn't be simpler and it never fails to produce a perfect self-saucing pudding and it comes originally from the venerable Australian Women's Weekly.


Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding

1 cup self-raising flour
¾ cup castor sugar
¼ cup cocoa
½ cup milk
30 grams melted butter
Chocolate Sauce:
170 grams brown sugar
¼ cup cocoa
1¼ cup hot water

This mix will make one large or 6 individual serves - your choice.

Sift the flour with the sugar and cocoa. Stir in the milk and melted butter, mixing until combined.

Place the mixture into a greased pudding bowl, smoothing the top lightly.

Make the Chocolate Sauce:
Place the sugar and cocoa in a jug and stir in the hot water until the ingredients have dissolved.

Pour this carefully, using the back of a spoon, over the sponge mixture - if making individual serves then be careful not to overfill with sauce as it will overflow during the cooking process.


Let it sit for a minute before placing in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven for around 35 minutes or until cooked through.

Dust with icing sugar before serving. This is best eaten straight from the oven though you can have it cold, the sauce will be quite thick.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Chicken with Olives, Almonds & Oregano

This is another dish from "Where the heart is" by Karen Martini like many of her recipes there's a lot of flavours intermingling resulting in something a bit more complex than might be found in a typical Donna Hay recipe. This really is a complete meal in a pot, potatoes and onions line the base and soak up all those wonderful juices from the chicken. The chicken itself has two marinades, one based on red chillies, mustard and lemon and the other on fresh herbs, olives and green chillies. Almonds provide a textural element in their sweet crunch. The final result has a definite kick but deliciously moorish to boot.


Chicken with Olives, Almonds and Oregano

80 grams blanched almonds, roughly chopped (you can use raw almonds)
40 grams pitted Kalamata olives, chopped (you can use green or your favourite type)
½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
½ bunch oregano leaves, roughly chopped
1 green chilli, sliced (adjust to your preference)
50ml extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 long red chilli, sliced (adjust to your preference)
2 cloves garlic, sliced finely
½ lemon, rind zested and juiced
freshly ground salt
¾ tablespoon Dijon Mustard
2 free-range Chicken Marylands, jointed
2 large Desiree potatoes, finely sliced (I prefer to leave the skin on)
1 red onion, sliced into rings
¼ cup water
¼ cup Verjuice (or White Wine)

Mix the almonds, olives, parsley, oregano and green chilli with a drizzle of oil in a large bowl. Grind over with pepper, stir until combined then set aside.

Into a non-reactive bowl add the red chilli, garlic, lemon juice, mustard, salt & pepper - stir well before adding the chicken pieces. Toss around to coat, then leave for 10 minutes.

Heat the remaining oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add the chicken, keeping the heat high so not to stew the pieces. Cook until the chicken has been browned then remove from heat. Add the chicken to the almond mixture.

Lightly grease an ovenproof dish and cover the base with the potatoes and onions. Place the chicken pieces on top of this, sprinkling over an leftover almond mix.

Add the wine and water to the mustard marinade, mix well before pouring this over the chicken.

chicken dish

chicken dish

Cover the dish with foil before placing in a preheated 200°C/390°F oven - cook for 20 minutes before removing foil. Bake for at least another 15 minutes or until the chicken is golden and cooked through - turn down the heat if you think it's browning too quickly.


Serve immediately with some crusty bread so you can enjoy those lovely pan juices. There's enough here for two very generous serves - or serve with a simple green salad and have the leftovers for a most appetising lunch.


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Monday, July 24, 2006

Woodside Cheese Wrights Virgo

Based in the Adelaide Hills (in South Australia) Woodside Cheese Wrights was started in 1994 by Paula Jenkin and subsequently purchased in 1998 by Coriole Vineyards. They produce both cow and goat milk cheese that are hand made and free from artificial preservatives or stabilisers. Batch Pasteurisation is used which is a slower pasteurisation method - it's said to be more gentle on the milk structure and results in the retention of the seasonal variances of the milk.


Cheese Maker: Woodside Cheese Wrights
Cheese Type: Virgo
Location: Woodside, Adelaide Hills, South Australia


The cheese is extremely soft, almost fragile - there's a very light, white mould that continues to develop as the cheese ages.


Next to the rind sits an almost runny layer, the cheese becomes firmer but retains a curd like appearance as you move to the centre.


This does have a pronounced goat cheese tang - it's sharp but the flavours are quite clean. It's exceptionally moist and very creamy in the mouth with low acid levels.

Compared to the Holy Goat Mature Veloute it's much more stronger in flavour - not a cheese to start with if you are a goat cheese beginner.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Weekend Herb Blogging #42

This week, Paz from The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz is hosting Weekend Herb Blogging and I thought I'd continue with the recent Japanese feel and focus on two ingredients.

This first is Shiso:


Shiso is a member of the mint family but is often known as Japanese Basil. I find it's taste is somewhat similar to Thai Basil - it has a distinctive aroma, almost grassy, quite pungent, it's taste is slightly bitter. The leaves are almost papery - they will only keep a few days in the fridge.


These leaves are Green Shiso but you can also find Red Shiso - it is predominately used as a colouring for pickles. Green Shiso is used as a herb and a garnish - if used in tempura, only the underside of the leaf is coated and fried.

The next is Umeboshi:

These odd looking things are salted pickled Ume, otherwise known as the Japanese Apricot. Ume can't be eaten fresh as they are too astringent so they are processed to form Umeboshi, Jam, Liqueur and sweets.

To make Umeboshi, Ume are picked in a mixture of Shochu (a rice based spirit) and salt. Red Shiso leaves can also be used to add colour the mixture turning the Ume bright red. The ones in this photo are the uncoloured versions. Umeboshi is said to have tonic characteristics that aid digestion and keep the intestines clear. It's commonly eaten with rice for breakfast.

The recipe I'll be doing comes from Emi Kazuko and it's a dish that I've had a few times in restaurants and thoroughly enjoyed. This dish is Iwashi No Umé Maki Yaki or Rolled Sardines with Plum Paste. I have a soft spot for Sardines, especially the wonderful West Australian Sardines we're able to get and this dish presents them a little differently. It might not appeal to many but give it a go, you just might like it.


Iwashi No Umé Maki Yaki (Rolled Sardines with Plum Paste)

4 sardines, cleaned and filleted
1/2 teaspoon salt
15 grams Umeboshi (about 2-3)
1/2 teaspoon Sake
1/2 teaspoon Sesame Seeds, toasted
8 shiso leaves, sliced in half lengthways

To make the Plum Paste:
Remove the stones from the Umeboshi and place in a small bowl with the sake and sesame seeds. Using a fork, mash together to form a smooth paste.

Cut the sardine fillets in half - lay them out, side by side, and sprinkle with the salt. Spread a thin layer of paste over each fillet, then top this with a half shiso leaf. Now, if you're a bit unsure about the flavour of the shiso and find it a little too strong then feel free to cut down the amount used in each fillet.

Roll the sardine to form a tight coil before skewering.


To Cook:

You can grill these but I just cook them slowly in a frypan with a little oil until they turn a nice golden brown and are cooked through. Serve them hot.


These would make an excellent starter for a Japanese style dinner - I've served these on extra Shiso leaves.


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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Blog Party #12

It's the first anniversary of Blog Party, a wonderful event hosted by Stephanie from Dispensing Happiness. For this twelfth edition we're celebrating with a Passport Party. One of the countries I haven't got to yet but would love to, is Japan - after all it is home to the Iron Chefs!

Japanese food is a favourite - it's simple and elegant, with clean flavours and wonderfully fresh ingredients. It's pleasure starts with the visual and ends with the taste.

yakitori cocktail

On offer:
Chicken Yakitori
Japanese Slipper

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Cocktail: Japanese Slipper

A perfect cocktail to go along with the Yakitori for the Passport Party, this month's theme for Blog Party 12.


Japanese Slipper

30ml Midori
30ml Cointreau
30ml Lemon juice
crushed ice

Add all the ingredients to a shaker and shake until combined. Strain into a martini glass and serve.

Makes 1 drink.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Chicken Yakitori

Along with Gyoza, Yakitori is another of our favourites and is usually one of the starters to our Japanese meals. It's not surprising that it's one of the most popular bites to have with drinks in Japan.


Chicken Yakitori

4 skinless & boneless chicken thigh fillets
spring onions, sliced into 3cm/1.5 inches batons

For the Yakitori Sauce
75ml Japanese Soy Sauce
60ml Sake
15ml Mirin
1 tablespoon caster sugar

To make the Yakitori Sauce:
In a small saucepan add the Soy, Sake, Mirin and caster sugar - stir and slowly bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce thickens.

Prepare the Chicken:
Trim the chicken of any excess and then cut into bite sized cubes. I tend to cut each thigh fillet into thirds and then slice that into thirds again. Naturally, this does depend on the size of the thigh fillet.

To make the skewers:
If you use bamboo skewers make sure you have soaked them first to stop them from burning.

Thread alternately with chicken and spring onion baton - don't put too much on each skewer, 4 pieces of chicken and 3 spring onion batons should be enough for each skewer.


If you are doing this as finger food, then just use one piece each of chicken and spring onion.

To Cook:
You can do this on a grill or in a frypan - choice is yours.

Brush the yakitori sauce over the prepared skewers before placing them (sauce side down) on the heated grill/frypan. Brush the topside of each skewer before turning. Continue brushing and turning until the chicken is cooked and nicely browned. The sugar in the sauce will result in that lovely caramelised effect.


To Serve:
As part of a main meal, rice makes an excellent accompaniment. As a nibble, try them with an Asahi or even a glass of plum wine.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Mixology Monday V

Jonathan from Jigger the Handle is hosting this month's Mixology Monday and the theme is Lemon.

Looking through the bar turned up two lemon based spirits

1-DSC_6009.jpg 1-DSC_6013.jpg

Absolut Citron (which is flavoured with lemon, lime and lemon peel) and Limoncino Romanoli - an Italian Lemon liqueur. So it's only right that I made two cocktails.

The first cocktail comes from one of my favourite mixologists Hayden Wood - Lemon Vanilla Fizz


For 1 drink:
1 vanilla pod
2 lemon leaves
60ml Limoncino Romanoli
soda water, to top

Muddle the lemon leaves & half the vanilla pod in a little dash of Limoncello, then strain into glass. Add crushed ice and the remaining Limoncello. Top with soda water, stir and garnish with the left over vanilla pod.

The second, involves both spirits to make a Lemon-tini


45ml Absolut Citron
15ml Limoncino Romanoli
lemon rind

Place ice, Absolut and Limoncino in cocktail shaker - shake and strain into martini glass. Garnish with a curl of lemon rind.

Both drinks are highly refreshing and perfect for those hot summer days.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Holy Goat Mature Veloute

Holy Goat
There's a lot of good things said about our produce so I thought I might explore some of the items we should justifiably be proud of.

Cheese is a slightly contentious product, centred upon the debate about raw milk cheese - here in Australia we aren't allowed to produce cheese from raw milk and up until recently there has been bans on the importation of raw milk cheese (exceptions to this were the hard-cooked curd cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano). The laws have been relaxed a little and we can now get some raw milk cheese, it's still a risky venture for the importers. Lovers of Roquefort know the pain.

With the limitations of the production of certain cheese, we still produce some fine dairy products. For my first cheese, I'll be showing an organic goat's cheese produced here in my home state of Victoria.


Cheese Maker - Holy Goat
Cheese Type - Mature Veloute
Location - Sutton Grange Organic Farm, Victoria

Hand made in the French-style from an Organic Certified (Level A) Goat herd. Slow lactic acid fermentation combines with hand ladling into individual forms where the cheese is allowed to drain purely under the effect of gravity.


Veloute is described as a "barrel shaped cheese with a white mould surface and delicate flavour at 3 weeks which becomes more complex and nutty as it matures between 3-10 weeks"



I particularly enjoy the mushroom aroma and taste from the white mould rind (very similiar to camembert), there's a bit of that goat cheese tang at the back of the palette but it's wrapped in the creaminess of the cheese.

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