Monday, April 30, 2007

Browniebabe of the Month

When Myriam from the wonderful Once Upon a Tart first announced this event I knew that I just had to take part. Brownies are one of those classic items that everyone seems to love.

It might sound strange but I haven't made that many brownies - they aren't really part of Italian cuisine so I've been trawling the books trying to find one that appealed to me. I finally settled on one from Australian Gourmet Traveller's Chocolate. I liked the fact that it used almond meal as this tends to give a moist result and rather than using nuts, it's dotted with chunks of white chocolate.


Chocolate, Almond and White Chocolate Brownies

125 grams softened butter, cut into small cubes
110 grams caster sugar
2 eggs
55 grams ground almonds/almond meal
65 grams plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa
125 grams dark couverture chocolate, melted (I used 70% Callebaut)
110 grams white couverture chocolate, roughly chopped ( I used Lindt)

Preheat the oven to 170°C/340°F and grease and line the base of a 20cm/8 inch square cake tin.

Sift the plain flour, baking powder and cocoa together and set to one side.

Place the softened butter and sugar into the bowl of a mixer and beat until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure they are fully incorporated before adding the next.

Sprinkle over with almond meal and fold through using a rubber spatula. Next add the sifted flour mixture and stir through.

Pour over the melted chocolate and mix this through before finally adding the white chocolate chunks.

Spoon this out evenly into your prepared pan - you may need to use the back of a spoon to smooth out the surface.

Bake for about 40 minutes - the surface should be cooked but there should still feel springy to the touch.

Let it sit in the tin for about 5 minutes before moving it onto a wire rack to cool.


Cut into squares and serve.


The top is set with that slight crackling and the interior has that lovely chewy consistency that you expect with brownies.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Weekend Herb Blogging #80

Glenna from A Fridge Full of Food is our host for this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging.

This week I'm following on from last week and having a closer look at Capsicums or Bell Peppers


Capsicums are a good source of Vitamin B9 and also contain Vitamins A, B1, B3, B6, C and K along with Iron and Manganese. Other benefits are associated with their particular colouring.

Green Capsicums contain lutein and zeaxanthin which help age-related eye problems, Orange Capsicums contain beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin which help reduce the risk of developing emphysema and lung cancer while Red Capsicums contain lycopene and beta-cryptoxane. Lycopene helps to reduce the chance of developing prostrate cancer as well as cervical, bladder and pancreatic cancers.

With the much anticipated and needed rain starting to fall I've decided to make a dish that is an autumn favourite in our house, the wonderfully flavoursome Peperonata.

Peperonata is basically a dish of stewed capsicums - slow cooked with onions and tomatoes, their innate sweetness concentrating over the long cooking time. It is one of the dishes I started to learn to make as a child, it's actually a great dish to make with your children as you don't have to be too pedantic over the slicing, a certain unevenness is actually preferred as it results in differing textures. I'd also add that the more variety in capsicum colours the better though for this batch I made even my green capsicums were predominately red.

Serve it hot as a side dish to just about any meat or if you have any leftovers, it's just delicious cold in a sandwich or as a filling to an omelette.


3 medium red onions, sliced finely
1 kg assorted capsicums, cored and sliced lengthways
1 kg ripe roma tomatoes, cut into chunks (you can substitute Italian canned tomatoes)
freshly ground salt and black pepper

Heat a little olive oil and a knob of butter into a deep pan and when the butter has melted and started to sizzle add the onions.

Cook until they soften and are just starting to colour then add the sliced capsicums. Stir this well and continue to cook until the capsicums start to wilt then add the chopped tomatoes along with the salt and pepper. You might need to add a little water as you want the mix to be fairly wet - don't worry it will evaporate but the end.

Let this cook in a gentle simmer for about 2 hours. If you find it's too liquid then just increase the heat and let it boil off, but be careful as to not burn the peperonata.


One of my favourite ways to enjoy this dish is quite simple - served over buttered rice with a generous sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano it's some of the best comfort food you can have on those cold rainy days.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Presto Pasta Night #9

It's still hectic for Ruth as she settles into her new home in Halifax so I'm thinking that I should make something easy, comforting but quite luxurious for this weeks Presto Pasta Night.

The pasta I'm using today is called Bavette and it comes from Genoa. It's basically a flattened spaghetti with a slight convex shape - it's particularly good for carrying sauces and would be the pasta to use with pesto.

Once again I'll be tempting fate with the pasta purists as I'll be using it with a carbonara sauce. Strictly speaking carbonara is made from a "soffritto di guanciale" - guanciale is cured pork cheek and it's simply sautéed until crisp. The sauce is made from a combination of raw eggs, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino - there's no cream in it at all. Once the pasta has cooked, the guanciale is tossed through along with the beaten eggs and cheese and basically the heat of the pasta cooks the sauce.

In this version I'm using pancetta since guanciale is not available here. I've also added red onion because I think it adds more flavour to the dish. The rest of the process is fairly traditional and the end result is definitely satisfying.


Bavette Carbonara
[Serves 2]

Bavette, fresh or dried
1 medium red onion, sliced finely
120 grams Pancetta, cut into batons
2 eggs
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
freshly grated Pecorino
freshly ground black pepper

Heat a little oil in a pan and add the Pancetta batons - sauté until golden and then remove from the pan. Add the onions and cook until softened and starting to colour - return the pancetta to the pan and keep on a low heat.

In a bowl, add the eggs along with a handful of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino and a good grinding of black pepper. Whisk with a fork to amalgamate.

When the pasta has cooked add it to the pancetta and toss it well then pour in the egg mixture, remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir - there should be enough heat in the pasta and the pan to cook the eggs without turning them into scrambled eggs. You'll notice the sauce start to thicken and cling to the pasta.

Serve it immediately with a little extra Parmigiano-Reggiano.


The colour of the dish will depend of the eggs used and luckily the ones I buy have wonderful yellow yolks that translate into this gloriously rich and almost golden sauce.

I don't add any salt to the sauce as there is more than enough in the pancetta and cheese.
I buy the pancetta as a thick slice about 1-2 centimetres and then slice it myself into the appropriate sized batons. You could substitute bacon or another cured pork product.
You could also add some finely diced chilli when cooking the onions if you prefer it a little hotter.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Cheese: Woodside Cheese Wrights

It's back to South Australia to sample a most interesting cheese from Woodside Cheese Wrights.


Cheese Maker: Woodside Cheese Wrights
Cheese Type: Vigneron
Location: Woodside, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Retail Outlet: 7 Henry Street, Woodside, South Australia
Open: Monday - Sunday: 10am - 4pm

As mentioned in an earlier post, Woodside is now owned by Coriole Vineyards and this cheese is very much a product of that relationship.

From the label we are told
This cheese is the result of a challenge from the winemaker at Coriole Vineyards "make us a vigneron's cheese" he said. We gently wash the cheese in Adelaide Hills Chardonnay and wrap it in vine leaves selected from the vineyard

This is a white mould goats' milk cheese.


There's quite an earthy scent coming from this cheese with an undertone of piquancy from the vine-leaf. Appearance wise, it's certainly one that will be sure to gain attention.


Inside, it has that typical goat cheese "whiteness" - this still has a couple of weeks to go to reach peak maturation. The centre is quite creamy but mild and as you move out the flavours develop - the vine-leaf adds a sharp, acidic quality which cuts across the creamy core. I would class this as a cheese for the more adventurous.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Polenta Tomato and Basil Bread

Andrew from Spittoon Extra is once again hosting Waiter, There's something in my...and that something is the staff of life, bread.

This is the perfect event to try out one of the latest purchases, Paul Gayler's World Breads and in particular a recipe I've had my eye on since I first picked the book up.

The colour of the bread is the first thing that lures you in and if that wasn't enough, the ingredients leave you unable to resist. Polenta, roasted tomatoes and basil all combine to form this bread - the tomatoes leaving it with a red hue. I have however, sacrificed some of this colour by using Spelt flour but if you use strong white bread flour you will get a much more intense colour.

polenta tomato and basil bread© by haalo

Polenta, Tomato and Basil Bread
[Makes one]

250mls/1 cup water
100 grams fine polenta
10 grams fresh yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
60mls milk
400 grams spelt flour or strong bread flour
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
150mls water, approx
100 grams semi-dried tomatoes (you could use drained sun-blush tomatoes), roughly chopped
5 basil leaves, torn

Place the 1 cup of water into a saucepan and bring to the boil then add the polenta, mixing well until smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Put the yeast, sugar and milk into a small bowl - stir to dissolve the yeast and set aside for 10 minutes to ensure the yeast has activated.

Sift the flour with the salt and add to the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Break up the cooled polenta and add to the flour. Mix on a low speed until the polenta has worked through the flour much the same way as you would work butter through flour when making pastry.

Pour in the yeast mixture along with the chopped tomatoes and basil and continue to mix - adding water a little at a time until it just comes together. Increase the speed and knead until a soft, smooth and pliable dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured board and knead briefly by hand to form a smooth ball. Place this in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place until doubled in size.

When this happens, turn it out again onto a floured board, gently knock it back and shape to form a long sausage that will fit your bread pan.

Cover and let this rise again for about 45 minutes.

Bake in a pre-heated 180°C/350°F oven for about 30-45 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

polenta tomato and basil bread© by haalo

This is a dense bread but surprisingly it doesn't feel heavy - the polenta leaves it with a wonderfully moist crumb and it's one bread that you can happily eat all by itself.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sugar High Friday #30

Sugar High Friday is turning the big "Three-Oh" and our host Monisha from Coconut Chutney would like us to celebrate with all things floral.

My floral offering comes in the form of Orange-Blossom water, an ingredient I've detailed before. Having had great success with the Orchid Cupcakes I thought I'd try another recipe from AWW's Cupcakes.

I've made some minor changes of a decorative nature and you could follow the original recipe and use Rose Water instead of Orange-Blossom.


Pistachio White Chocolate Cupcakes
[Makes 12]

60 grams White Couverture, roughly chopped (I use Lindt)
40mls Orange-Blossom Water
125mls water
45 grams pistachio nuts, processed until finely ground
90 grams softened butter
220 grams soft brown sugar
2 eggs
100 grams self-raising flour
2 tablespoons plain flour
pure icing sugar
Orange-Blossom water, extra
ground pistachio nuts

Line a 12 hole standard or 6 hole Texas muffin pan with paper cases.

Put the water, orange blossom water and chopped white couverture into a small pan over a low heat and stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Set to one side to cool.

Place the butter and brown sugar into the bowl of a mixer and beat until smooth - add the eggs and continue beating until well combined.

Sprinkle in the ground nuts and stir through.

Mix the plain and self-raising flours and then sift - add to the egg mixture using a folding motion. Pour in the cooled chocolate mix and continue to stir until just combined.

Don't worry if the mixture appears to be runny, it will work.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake in a preheated 180°C/350°F for about 25-35 minutes for the standard cakes or 35-45 for the large or until golden and cooked through.

Let the cakes sit in the pan for about 5 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool.

I opted for a simple topping as these cakes are so delicious you won't want to waste time doing something elaborate.
I simply mixed pure icing sugar with a little orange blossom water until a soft paste forms. Be sure to taste the mixture, you may want to replace some of the Orange-Blossom water with just plain water if you feel the flavour is too strong. You could also use lemon juice for a variant.

Smear a little paste on the tops of the cooled muffins and then sprinkle generously with the finely ground pistachio and let it set on a wire rack.


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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Weekend Herb Blogging #79

Sher from What did you eat? is the host of this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging.

The item in the cross-hairs this week are Baby Peppers...

tumbling peppers

They have started appearing in the last couple of weeks at the markets and typically, I couldn't resist buying a few. A world of warning, the mild and hot versions look identical so it's best to check to make sure you've selected the right ones for your taste.

All peppers are excellent sources of Vitamins A and C, with red peppers containing higher levels of Vitamin C and beta-carotene. They also contain Lutein and Zeaxanthin which are thought to help with age-related eye problems.


The recipe I'm making isn't the most attractive dish in the world, in fact I'd say it's fairly ugly when compared to the before shots. However, as part of a tapas, the intensity of flavour makes it an ideal morsel - just dim the lights or better yet, light a few candles, after all every thing improves with candle light.


Stuffed Baby Peppers

Baby Peppers/Capsicums/Peperoncini
Chèvre - like this or this
basil pesto
fresh parsley, roughly chopped
Lemon-scented olive oil

The first step is to remove the skin - there are many ways of doing this. My preference in the case of these small peppers is to place them under a grill to blacken their skin. When this happens place them in a bowl and seal with plastic wrap - this will help loosen the skin. Let them sit for a few minutes and then peel the charred skin from the peppers. It doesn't matter if there are little bits left on this adds to the rustic appeal of the dish.

Next remove the stems and using a very small spoon, scoop out the seeds and any membrane.

The filling is even easier - mash up your favourite Chèvre and then slacken the mixture with fresh pesto. How much pesto you use is entirely up to you and your particular taste.

Take teaspoons of the the mixture and roll into sausage shapes smaller than the openings in the peppers. Guide the mixture into the pepper, reshaping the pepper to resemble it's original form. Resist the urge to overfill.

Put the stuffed peppers onto an oven-proof dish and drizzle over with a little olive oil then place in a pre-heated 180°C/350°F oven for about 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese has softened and the peppers have warmed through.

Arrange on a small plate and drizzle with lemon-scented olive oil and chopped parsley - serve at once.


Related recipes:
Roasted Red Capsicums
Sweet Chilli Sauce

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Fish and Quips

Last year for St. George's Day, we were asked What's for Pud? - this year Sam sent us on a far more earnest quest to show that English food isn't a joke.

You've got to love a nation that turns having a cup of tea into a fine art, a cuisine that's resplendent in lard and dripping and real butter and not to mention clotted cream. A cuisine that turns stale bread into heavenly bread and butter pudding or can turn simple cake and jelly into the Trifle of your dreams - this is a cuisine to be saluted.

As it's supposed to be Autumn here and the nights are getting cooler, there is a quintessentially English dessert that we swear by - served with a dollop of double cream and still warm from the oven, you just can't beat Apple Crumble.

As Paalo is the resident Englishman he is quite strict on his crumble criteria and does insist of a most generous layer of crumble so do bear that in mind with this recipe - you can always add more apples ;)


Apple Crumble
[Serves 8-10]

8 medium sized Granny Smith apples
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
4 tablespoons golden syrup
juice of half a lemon

220 grams self-raising flour
75 grams shredded coconut
100 grams rolled oats
200 grams soft brown sugar
200 grams butter, melted

Prepare the apples:
Peel and quarter the apples, cutting out the core and cutting into thick slices. Toss them through the lemon juice to stop them from discolouring.
Place the soft brown sugar, golden syrup and apple mix into a saucepan. Cover, and cook on a low heat until the apples have just softened.

Spoon this mixture into a shallow baking/casserole dish.

Prepare the crumble:
In a large bowl, add the flour, coconut, rolled oats and brown sugar. Stir this to ensure it's well combined. Make a well in the centre and pour in the melted butter. Continue stirring until it's been absorbed and all the ingredients are moistened.

Take handfuls and sprinkle over the apples to form a level topping.


Bake in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven for about 30-45 minutes or until golden brown.


You can eat it hot from the oven, warm or even cold - better yet, try all the ways and find out which way you enjoy the most!


Looking inside you'll see those lovely apple juices, some of which will have bubbled up over the sides and the crumble that is wonderfully crisp yet chewy, it's depth giving you a greater level of textures and experiences.


To fully indulge in the experience, a generous blob of double or clotted cream is a must! One bite and you'll no longer be joking about English food.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Presto Pasta Night #8

With Ruth right in the middle of a move, I'm sure finding time to do anything is one of the more difficult tasks. So for this week's Presto Pasta Night I thought I'd do another "lighter" style of pasta that's also pretty quick to put together.

I'll be using a special pasta from Sardinia called Malloreddus or Gnocchetti (Gnocchi) Sardi


When you see the word gnocchi you probably initially think of the typical potato variety. These are a pasta made from durum wheat and saffron and they are rolled to form these tiny ridged shapes.

In Sardinia, you would most likely have these served with a simple tomato based sauce and Pecorino - Pecorino as it's the cheese of the region. Since I'm not Sardinian and don't want to receive hate mail for messing up their classic dish, I'll be doing them my own way.

With saffron in the pasta itself I'll be introducing some more into my sauce along with the equally luxurious taste of fresh asparagus. Not to tempt fate too much, I've also used Pecorino instead of my usual Parmigiano-Reggiano.


Gnocchi Sardi with Asparagus and Saffron
[For 2]

Gnocchi Sardi, fresh or dried
1 red onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
10 asparagus spears, medium thickness
pinch of saffron strands - added to a little boiling water and left to seep for about 1 hour
freshly ground salt and pepper
freshly grated Pecorino Cheese

Prepare the asparagus:
Remove the woody ends and discard. Slice the tips at an angle and put to one side. Slice the remaining stalks at an angle into even sized slices - you want the slices to be of a similar size to the pasta.

Toss the asparagus tips into the pasta pot as you're cooking the pasta - they'll only need about a minute just to remove the rawness. Drain and set aside.

Heat a little olive oil and a knob of butter into a saucepan - when the butter has dissolved and started to sizzle add the onion and garlic and sauté gently over a low flame. When the onion has softened and started to colour add the sliced asparagus stalks, stir well and allow this soften also.

Add a small handful of grated pecorino and the saffron liquid and saffron strands to the pan - stir this well and allow it to come back to temperature and the liquid to reduce. Add in the asparagus tips along with the drained cooked pasta.

Cook this for about a minute, stirring frequently so that the Gnocchi Sardi are well coated. Season with freshly ground salt and black pepper and another grating of pecorino.

If you like you could add cream - but do this at the stage you add the saffron and it's liquid to the pan.

Serve the Gnocchi Sardi in bowls and top with some more grated pecorino.


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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Cheese: Barossa Valley Cheese Company

You might recall the rather pretty label found on a cheese called La Petite Princesse, well here is it's other half


Cheese: Le Petit Prince Chèvre à Croûte Lavée (Washed Rind Goat Cheese)
Location: Cheese Cellar - 67B Murray Street, Angaston, South Australia

You might be able to work out the quote that's written on the side but if you don't it's by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry from The Fox and the Little Prince
It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important

This is quite the substantial block in the hand and one of the more pleasant aspects is to inhale deeply and enjoy the scent of this type of cheese. It's a clean, fresh smell just like walking into a cheese room.


Unwrapped you can immediately see the orange skin through the fine white mould.


It's quite an interesting type of patterning on the top and bottom - a quasi corrugation of sorts.


When sliced it's white curd confirms this is a goat cheese. It's still quite firm at this stage you can make out a bit of softness near the edges - keep in mind that this is basically straight out of the fridge - give it a little time to come to room temperature and it will continue to soften.


To best enjoy serve generous segments on roughly torn sourdough - this is a type of cheese that appreciates bread, please no wimpy water crackers for this one!


Other Barossa Valley Cheese Company tasted:
Goat Camembert (La Petite Princesse)
Washington Washrind

If you're interested in finding this cheese and live in Melbourne, I've found all three at Delicatess at Prahran Market.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Weekend Herb Blogging #78 - Recap


It's been a great week and it culminates with this round up - it's been a true pleasure to be hosting and as usual, there's been a fantastic mix of classic, new, unusual and forgotten ingredients from around the world.

I must begin with the creator of Weekend Herb Blogging, Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen and this week she continues her exploration of Parsley and offers a flavoursome Carrot, Parsley and Garbanzo (chickpea) Salad with Cumin.


Scott from Real Epicurean who even though is on holidays planned well ahead to submit his post on Herbal Teas. Head over to Scott's post and let him know what your favourite blends are.


Ruth from Once Upon a Feast somehow manages to find time to take part even though she's in the midst of a move to Halifax. She prepares two dishes, one a salad of marinated artichokes hearts and avocado with a Fatoush dressing and the other a wonderfully refreshing dessert of fresh strawberries and blueberries with vanilla yoghurt and mint.


The lovely Myriam from Once upon a Tart offers up a work of art in the form of an Oregano Pain de Champagne. If this bread isn't a perfect example of why we should all get ourselves a bannetone I don't know what is.


Ramya from Cascading Flavours arrives bearing a wonderfully rich Pluot Jam. Pluots are a plum and apricot hybrid and by the look of Ramya's jam it will be well worth seeking out this fruit.


You can find Valentina in two places, her original Trembom and Trembom in English and you can find her luscious Ricotta and Tomato Tart in both places! It's a dish not to be missed in any language. Starting from a recipe by another Australian, Bill Granger, Valentina decided to try a cornmeal pastry base instead of puff pastry to lighten the dish. Topped with ripe red tomatoes, this is a dish perfect for summer.


Pille offers us a taste of Estonia from her blog Nami-Nami. Needing to find a dish that would compliment a Danish style rolled pork belly called Rullepølse she found the perfect solution in Dandelion leaves. Picked fresh from her Grandmothers place and tasting somewhat like wild rocket, Pille tosses them in a simple dressing of extra virgin olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and tarragon leaves. She also helpfully suggest soaking them in cold water for 30 minutes to remove any harshness.


Joanna from Joanna's Food posts about Watercress - a leaf she loves but has been unable to source locally (what is available comes in from America!). Something that I found quite amazing considering how watercress is such a typically English product - what would summer be without watercress sandwiches? Joanna finds a solution in the form of Watercress seeds and I hope she will soon have a plentiful crop of that tangy, peppery leaf.


Susan from The Well-Seasoned Cook presents a wonderful recipe for that bitter Italian leaf, Treviso Radicchio. After separating the leaves of the radicchio they are laid out randomly, drizzled with olive oil and grated parmigiano or grana before being baked for only 10 minutes. The result is best left to Susan's evocative description "edges crackled with cheese, the middle mellow and rich with oil and the wide thick base of stalk still bitter enough to recall its salad days".


Helene hails from Landau, Germany and her blog is Neues aud der Küche - News from the Kitchen. You can find her recipe for Paprikapesto - Pesto of Red Peppers in both German and English. Using the full flavour of roasted red peppers (bell peppers/capsicums), they are combined with pine seeds, garlic, lemon and olive oil to produce an intense pesto. Helene uses it to make a quick pasta sauce that's sure to please.


Cate from Sweetnicks is enjoying her holiday Ham and provides a wonderful accompaniment to those that might be feeling a little jaded. She adapts her own Broth-simmered rice by adding sautéed mushrooms and extra beef broth to amp up that mushroom taste.


We return to Germany with Ulrike from Küchenlatein and during her recent holiday to the North Frisian Islands she finds a local seaweed called Bladder Wrack. Be sure to check out Ulrike's holiday shots and find out more about this most interesting seaweed!


Katie from Thyme for Cooking is extremely happy to have finally found Green Garlic at her market and taking inspiration from her first experience of Green Garlic in Spain, creates meltingly soft Green Garlic Scrambled Eggs with Prosciutto-wrapped Asparagus Tips. Forks are at the ready to dig into this dish!


Next week's host Sher constantly provides the answer to the question, What did you eat? This time she uses a herb that's new for me but used in traditional Mexican recipes, called Epazote - also called Skunk Weed. Sher notes it has an anise-like flavour and since it has anti-flatulent properties she like to use it with beans. Now due to an incident we might all relate too she needed to make something that was quick but satisfying and could be made literally while standing on one leg, the result is her delicious Eggs with Epazote and Frijoles.


Newly-wed Anna from Morsels and Musings finds her way into my heart with her Patatosalad Kyrpriaka - Cypriot Potato Salad. Though my love for potatoes doesn't extend to eating them raw, a fight may ensue over this Tessa Kiros inspired salad. How could you not enjoy this mix of potatoes, red onion, capers, parsley, lemon juice, olives, extra virgin olive oil topped with chopped boiled eggs.


Cucina Bella is Sarah's blog and as she didn't want to bother with her Kitchen Aid she decided to hand knead her favourite focaccia dough and discovers there is indeed a difference in the final outcome. Sarah presents her Easter selection of three focaccias - Kalamata Olives, Asiago Cheese and Thyme; Asiago and Romano with a sprinkle of crushed Red Pepper and the favoured Sun-dried Tomato, Romano and Rosemary. I think we'll need to have at least a piece of each and probably two...okay, maybe three just to make sure.


It's always great to see what Burcu from Almost Turkish Recipes has made as she always provides us with a fragrant taste of her homeland. This time she uses Green Lentils to present a dish from her grandparents region of Eastern Thrace - Yeşil Mercimek.


Last week's host the lovely Anh from Food Lover's Journey presents a dreamingly delicious offering using Tara Root. When choosing Taro, Anh helpfully informs us to seek out the smaller ones as they have a sweeter and more delicate texture. Anh makes an impressive dish based on one found at a local restaurant here in Melbourne - steamed taro is flavoured with Chinese fermented bean curd and then stuffed into eggplant slices which are then coated in a besan batter before finally being deep-fried!


Staying in Australia but heading up to Sydney, we find Y and her blog Lemonpi and she recounts a cautionary tale of the $50 tomato. With such a prized possession the problem becomes what to do with it and Y offers up a few worthy suggestions. You might be asking why did the tomato cost so much - ah, head to the post and find out!


Vani's blog is called Batasari, which in her native tongue means Traveller and she presents a traditional healing soup called Miriyala Chaaru - Andhra Pepper Rasam. This is a south Indian soup made from a variety of spices which include cumin, fenugreek, black mustard seeds, and turmeric along with cilantro (coriander), garlic and curry leaves. The rasam broth is based on Tamarind. Do head over to find out how all these flavours come together in a most intriguing soup.


Veggie Friendly is Sydneysider Kate's blog and this is her first post for Weekend Herb Blogging and I do hope she'll find time to take part again. Kate uses her favourite vegetable, the eggplant to make that wondrously smoky and creamy dish that no-one can resist, Baba Ghanoush. Kate also offers excellent hints on the use of Tahini and ideas for variations to this dip.


Sridevi from Sreelu's Tasty Travels selects mint as the focus of her post and makes the most charming Mint Tea Sandwich with Roasted Garlic and Sun-dried Tomato Cream Cheese. She first whips up a Mint Chutney using mint, coriander, chillies, black salt and lemon juice and then teems it with a Roasted Garlic and Sun-dried Tomato Cream Cheese to create a full-flavoured three slice sandwich using toasted whole wheat bread.

Big Cook, Tiny Kitchen is Ashley's blog and she is another who has had a most hectic week but has managed, even with the one and a half hours of chopping to make this colourful and tasty Asian Coleslaw. In the dressing she uses a combination of rice wine vinegar, vegetable oil, creamy peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, fresh ginger and garlic and for the salad she mixes up green, red and Napa cabbages along with red bell peppers, carrots, green onions and fresh cilantro (coriander)! The end result scores an A+!


In Singapore we find Angie at My Kitchen:My Laboratory where she presents a fruit well loved by this blog, the Seckel Pear. Adapting a Donna Hay recipe Angie poaches the pears in her very own mix of Muscat and natural Red Grape Juice that has been spiced with cinnamon stick and clove - the pears developing a delicate pink blush as they poach.


Anna from Anna's Cool Finds shares with us a dish created for a Supper Club date. Anna does say it's an "unusual salad flavour combination" but I think you'll be intrigued and impressed by her Spicy Spinach Salad with Chocolate Dressing! The salad is made with Organic baby spinach, orange serrano peppers, organic strawberries and sliced almonds and for the dressing, well, head over and read the details for yourself!


Nick's blog is The Tracing Paper and he lives in England and works for the East Anglia Food Link which helps to promote and develop local and sustainable food supply chains. It's very fitting that his post revolves around a forgotten vegetable known as Alexanders. Nick describes them as a little like celery and parsley but that they fell out of common usage with the introduction of new celery varieties in the 19th century. For a full background do read Nick's well researched and informative post.


Brigitte is from Küchendunst aus Singapur and her focus is on lovely Rosemary and she uses it to make Rosemary Lamb Kebabs with Roasted Cumin Potatoes and Walnut Lambs Lettuce. Lamb loins are trimmed and marinated then skewered - you can use rosemary stalks to do this and then they are simply grilled until just browned. If that isn't enough to tempt you, then make sure you pay particular attention to her potatoes - the magic ingredient of goose fat is used to ensure they are full of flavour and extra crispy.


Superspark's Emily is from Southern California and finds a delicious solution for her large bag of Spinach. Inspired by Mark Bittman's article in the New York Times, Emily whips up a heavenly stack of Swedish-inspired Spinach Pancakes. I think you'll agree these would be perfect at any time of the day!


Multi-talented Patricia from Technicolour Kitchen offers a different spin on Risotto with her Baked Zucchini and Bacon Risotto. Adapting a method from Donna Hay and although initially feeling a little unsure that it would work, Patricia happily reports back with complete success - the proof is definitely in the picture!


Finally, it's my own offering of Roasted Swiss Brown Mushrooms with Chèvre and Lemon Thyme


What can I say to sum up - the variety on offer perfectly illustrates why Weekend Herb Blogging is such a great event - we travelled near and far and had the most amazing mix of ingredients, some traditional some modern but all uniquely different.

I hope you all return next week where Sher will be hosting - don't forget you can find all the details on Weekend Herb Blogging at Kalyn's Kitchen.

If I have left anyone out or there are problems with any of the links please just let me know and I'll see to it right away.

Many thanks go to all of you who have taken part and I hope you've enjoyed this journey as much as I have.

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