Thursday, August 30, 2007

Presto Pasta Night #27

Time for another round of Pasta, enthusiastically hosted by Ruth from Once Upon a Feast. This week I'm having a double dip with my Romanesco.

Romanesco Florets

I used the larger florets in the frittata but for this recipe I'll be using the smaller florets and leaving them whole. In the photo above it shows the variance just between the small and the smallest florets.

I've decided to use orecchiette as they have an affinity with vegetables such as broccoli and Romanesco is a member of the brassica family. In trying to keep the flavours clean, I've opted to use fresh basil leaves rather than pesto. I have finely shredded the leaves which is a big no-no but as they are cut and added at the last moment, I find that I don't lose its flavour.

Oh, if you take a close look you'll see a little floret caught in the hollow of an Oriecchietto.

Orecchiette with Romanesco, Potato and Basil

Orecchiette with Romanesco, Potato and Basil
[Serves 2]

1 red onion, finely sliced
4 small Kipfler potatoes, boiled until just tender
Romanesco florets
Basil leaves, shredded
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Heat a little oil and a small knob of butter in a pan and when the butter has melted add the sliced onion. Cook over a low heat until the onions have softened and have started to colour.

Cut the potatoes into thick slices and add to the onions - toss well and allow this to cook for a few minutes so that the potatoes can start to absorb the flavours.

Blanch the Romanesco florets in the boiling pasta water for 30 seconds and remove, drain well then add to the potato mixture. Continue cooking to allow the florets to heat through.

Season with freshly ground salt and white pepper and add a good sprinkling of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano to the pan - mix this through then add the cooked orecchiette. Toss this as you keep it over the heat to allow the cheese to melt - add the finely shredded basil leaves, take it off the heat and stir through.

Serve into bowls and top with another sprinkle of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Orecchiette with Romanesco, Potato and Basil

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lunar Eclipse

It's happening right now...

Lunar Eclipse

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Grilled Halloumi Salad

Jeanne from Cooksister is hosting this edition of Waiter, There's something in My... and chose the theme of the "meatless" BBQ.

Now after getting over the initial shock of the whole concept of a meat free BBQ I managed to work through it and settled on making an accompaniment, after all man and woman do not live by meat alone.

I turned to Cyprus for the solution in the form of their wonderful cheese called Halloumi that just loves to be grilled

Halloumi©  by haalo

Halloumi is a mix of Cow, Goat and Sheep Milk and when heated doesn't melt, it just softens and when eaten, squeaks in your mouth.

I've paired the grilled Halloumi with a simple salad of Rocket (Arugula) and made a dressing based on lemon juice, Ligurian olives, extra virgin olive oil and shredded mint.

Grilled Halloumi Salad© by  haalo

Grilled Halloumi Salad

Halloumi, drained and patted dried, cut into slices
Wild Rocket (Arugula)
pitted Ligurian olives, roughly sliced
freshly squeezed lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil
fresh mint leaves, finely shredded

Make the dressing:
Place the olive pieces, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and some shredded mint leaves into a bowl and whisk until emulsified.

Grill the Halloumi:
Place the cheese slices on a hot grill and when they have coloured on one side, turn over and repeat.

Assemble the dish:
Toss the rocket with a little of the dressing and then place on your serving platter. Arrange the slices of grilled Halloumi and then dot the remainder of the dressing over the cheese and the rocket. Finish with a sprinkle of mint leaves.

Grilled Halloumi Salad© by haalo

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sugar High Friday #34

Going Local is the theme of this edition of Sugar High Friday hosted by Johanna from The Passionate Cook.

After tossing a few ideas in the air I finally settled on an ultra sweet treat that I haven't made in the longest time - Golden Syrup Dumplings. A timeless favourite that is a nod to our English heritage.

Golden Syrup Dumplings

Golden Syrup Dumplings
[Serves 4 or more]

1¼ cups self-raising flour
30 grams softened butter
1/3 cup golden syrup
1/3 cup milk

30 grams butter
175 grams brown sugar
½ cup golden syrup
1½ cups water

Make the Sauce:
Place the butter, brown sugar, golden syrup and water into a large pan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat slightly until the mixture reaches boiling point, then turn the heat down and simmer for about 1 minute.

Make the dumplings:
Sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the softened butter. Add the the golden syrup and milk and stir until just combined.

Take tablespoons of the mixture and roll into balls.

Add the dumplings to the simmering sauce and cook, covered for about 20 minutes or until the dumplings are puffed and golden. You will have to turn the dumplings half way through the cooking time. It's also important not to overcrowd the pan as the dumplings do expand.

When they are cooked, serve immediately.

Golden Syrup Dumplings

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Weekend Herb Blogging #97

Scott from Real Epicurean is hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and we are steadily marching towards the big 2 year celebration.

This week it's another farmers' market find and it's the first time I've managed to score myself one of these - it makes my mathematician heart flutter, the sculpturally magnificent Romanesco

Romanesco or Romanesco Cauliflower

This is another one of those vegetables that is known by various names such as - Broccolo Romanesco, Cavolo Romanesco, Romanesco Cauliflower, Romanesco Broccoli and Fractal Broccoli - what they all share in common is that this is a member of the brassica family.

Romanesco Cauliflower

Not only is this a fractal it's also an example of a Fibonacci equation.

Romanesco Cauliflower

It's a fractal form because it's made up of a repeating pattern that is formed by smaller copies of the overall shape and this repetition continues to infinity.

Romanesco Cauliflower

Its spiral form is known as an equiangular spiral.

floret floret

I thought I'd include a closer look at the individual florets, they are a clearer illustration of its fractal form.

floret halved

Now before this becomes Weekend Maths Blogging I should actually cook something with this. Since this is an Italian vegetable and I wanted to keep the integrity of its form, I've opted for an Italian dish - a simple frittata studded with romanesco florets and flavoured with leeks and marinated fetta.


Romanesco Frittata
[Serves 2]

3 large eggs
1 leek, white only, cut in half and sliced finely
marinated fetta
Romanesco florets
salt and freshly ground pepper

Cut the larger florets in half and leave the smaller ones whole. Boil in lemon infused water for a minute, drain and set aside. Use a slice of lemon in the water to lock in that vivid green colour.

Lightly whisk the eggs with a little salt and freshly ground white pepper - set aside until ready to use.

Place a little oil and a knob of butter in a small frypan and when the butter has melted add the sliced leeks. Cook gently until the leeks have softened and have started to colour. Place the cooked leeks into a sieve to drain off the excess oil and butter.

Return the leeks to the pan along with a small knob of butter and when melted add most of the florets, positioning them evenly in the pan. Turn up the heat a little and add the eggs - sit the remaining florets on top of the frittata and then scatter small pieces of marinated fetta.

When you see the edge of the frittata has sealed, use a palette knife to lift the edge and tilt the pan to re-disperse the uncooked egg - this will give you lovely puffed edges to your frittata.

Lower the heat and cover the pan to give it a chance to cook through - if you think the underside is getting too brown, then place the pan under an overhead grill to set the top.

When the frittata has just set - remove from the heat and serve at once.


Notes on Romanesco - you can eat it raw, in fact that is one of its more traditional ways of eating it. It has a flavour similar to cauliflower and broccoli but without the chalky edge found in raw cauliflower. Though I would say that if you could eat the colour green, then it would taste like Romanesco.

This was available at the Slow Food Farmers' Market but this is the last of the grower's crop - it was a test planting this year but next year he will be planting a lot more.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Presto Pasta Night #26

We've reached a mini-milestone - Presto Pasta Night has been running for half a year and in that time we've seen mountains of pasta of all description from all corners of the world and each week without fail, Ruth has gathered our goodies and lovingly prepared them for all of us to share. If you are newcomer to this event do head to Ruth's site and check out the round-up archives, it's simply inspiring.

This week I'll be using Orzo

orzo ©

which I previously used in a soup. This time it's served "asciutto" which means dry as a regular pasta dish.

Orzo with Chicken, Capsicum and Zucchini

Orzo with Chicken, Red Capsicum and Zucchini Ribbons
[Serves 2]

2 large chicken thighs, sliced roughly
1 red onion, sliced finely
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red capsicum, sliced finely
1 zucchini, sliced into fine ribbons, using a peeler gives the best result

Heat a little olive oil in a pan and sauté the chicken in batches. When the meat has browned, remove it from the pan and set it aside - repeat until all the chicken has cooked.

Add the onion and garlic to the empty pan and over a low heat allow to soften and lightly colour. Add the capsicum slivers and toss well - continue over a low heat until the capsicum has softened. Finally add the zucchini ribbons and when they have wilted return the chicken to the pan.

Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

When the orzo is cooked, drain and add to the chicken mixture along with a little freshly grated Parmigiano - stir the mixture well and serve in bowls with a little extra shaved Parmigiano on top.

Orzo with Chicken, Capsicum and Zucchini

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bread and Marmalade Pudding

Bread and Butter Pudding has got to be one of the more satisfying desserts you can make. Not only does it make use of something we might throw away, it uses ingredients that we probably have sitting in the pantry and fridge. It's also incredibly simple and quick to make.


For this pudding I've added an extra tang in the form of Seville Orange Marmalade.

Bread and Butter Marmalade Pudding ©

Bread and Butter Marmalade Pudding

stale sliced bread (I used a sour dough bread)
softened butter
Seville orange marmalade (you could also use a jam or jelly)
1 cup cream
1 cup milk
3 eggs
¼ cup caster sugar
Demerara sugar, for topping

Slice the crusts from the bread slices - butter one side only of the bread and then coat each with a little marmalade.

Arrange the bread unbuttered side down into a baking dish - you should have enough bread to form two layers. Don't try to make a uniform arrangement of the slices, a patchwork type pattern is best.

In a bowl, add the eggs, cream, milk and caster sugar and lightly whisk until just combined. Pour this over the bread, making sure all the bread is coated by the liquid. Let this sit for 15 minutes to make sure that the bread has fully absorbed the liquid.

pudding ready for the oven

Sprinkle generously with Demerara sugar (this caramelises as the pudding cooks to give a nice crunch to the top) and then bake in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven for about 45 - 60 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

It will puff quite a lot, a bit like a soufflé but it will deflate once out of the oven - make sure your baking dish is deep enough to contain this expansion.

Bread and Butter Marmalade Pudding

This is best eaten warm from the oven.

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Barambah Butter

Barambah Organics is based in Queensland and are producers of a large range of dairy products and for a change instead of featuring a cheese, I'll be looking at their butter.

Barambah Butter

Barambah Organics Butter with Sea Salt - it wins a tick with its ingredients list, the only ingredients Organic Cream and Sea Salt. Makes a welcome change from commercial butters where you'll see that water has been added.

Barambah Butter

Open the lid and you'll be rewarded with a sunflower yellow butter - it's not as homogeneously churned as the commercial product, there's slight veining through the mix that gives it a little character.

Barambah Butter

To get a proper indication of the butter I have relied on butter aficionado Paalo for his expert opinion - it's more salty than regular butter but also feels more creamier in the mouth.

Although this is a more expensive product it probably is on par with the price of French imports. Try it on some good crusty bread and perhaps, use it in a bread and butter pudding.

Bread and Butter Pudding ©

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Warka Pastry

Tunisian Brik Pastry (Feuilles de Brick) is the name you'll see on the packet but that is more an indication of what you can make with the pastry.

warka also known as malsouka, dioul, brik, feuilles de brick

Warka is name for this ultra thin pastry that is a bit like a crisp crepe - you can see it has a fine cellulose structure in the photos. Unlike filo (phyllo) this is a cooked pastry. It's pliable yet feels firm. It's quite an different product to work with as you are constantly thinking that you will rip it and it's just too thin to use.

warka also known as malsouka, dioul, brik, feuilles de brick

The pastry is used to make Tunisian Briks or Brics (which are sweet or savoury filled parcels) and Moroccan Bisteeya (traditionally a pigeon pie).

I am not going to pretend that I'm making anything remotely traditional or authentic with this pastry, I've just used it as a wrapper for a savoury meat filling.

Savoury Bricks

Savoury Bricks

200 grams roughly minced beef
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Ras el Hanout
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon sumac
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup peas

Make the filling:

Heat a little oil in a pan and when heated, add the onion. Sauté over a medium-low heat until softened and starting to colour. Don't cook this too quickly as you want the flavour of the onion to develop.

Add the minced meat in batches to maintain and even temperature in the pan. When browned add the next batch.

When all the meat is added, sprinkle in the spices - do taste as you go and adjust the spices to suit your palate.

Cook this for about 5 minutes before adding the peas and then continue cooking on a low heat until the peas are tender.

Let the mixture cool before using.

Make the Bricks:

The sheets are sold as circles (30cm/12 inch diameter). I'll be rolling them to form a "spring roll" type shape.

Place one sheet on a board and fold the bottom edge over slightly to create a flat edge on the circle.

Place the filling along the width of this flat edge - roll over once and then fold in the sides to create a rectangle. Continue rolling until you nearly reach the end - brush the surface with a little oil before rolling it up. Place it seam side down while you make the remaining rolls.

Cook the bricks:

Heat a little oil in a non-stick skillet and when hot add the bricks, seam side down - depending on the size of your skillet try not to cook more then two at the same time.

The pastry needs to sizzle when it hits the pan or you won't get that crisp finish. When it has browned, turn it over and cook the other side. Remember to also cook the narrow sides of the roll to get that all round even colouring.

When cooked place on paper towels to remove any excess oil and then serve at once.

savoury bricks

These are best eaten as you make them to fully enjoy that wonderful crunch of the pastry. It is a little fiddly but well worth it if you are interested in trying something a bit different.

In Melbourne, you'll find these sheets at The Essential Ingredient. Similar sheets are also available in Amazon.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Apricots and Almonds

It's still a few months until we get to indulge in summer produce so until then, canned fruit comes into its own.

This is another quick and easy cake to make and combines canned apricots halves with flaked almonds and a lightly caramelised topping. The cake batter is my tried and tested butter cake.

Apricot and Almond Cake© by Haalo

Apricot and Almond Cake

50 grams softened butter
50 grams soft brown sugar

200 grams plain flour
50 grams almond meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
225 grams caster sugar
125 grams melted butter, cooled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
80mls milk
16 apricot halves (approximate), drained
flaked almonds

Butter and flour a 20cm/8 inch cake tin (one with a removable base or a spring-form tin - it must be high-sided as the cake does rise) - line the base with baking paper.

Make the topping:
Place the sugar and butter into a bowl and mix together until well amalgamated.

Make the cake batter:
Sift the flour, almond meal, baking powder and caster sugar into a bowl. Lightly beat the eggs with the milk and pour into the dry ingredients, along with the cooled, melted butter - stir well until combined.

Pour this into the cake tin and roughly smooth out the top.

Arrange the apricots on top, cut side down.

Dot the top randomly with small pieces of topping - when you've used half of the topping, sprinkle over with flaked almonds and then continue with the topping.

Place in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven and cook for about 45-60 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. If you feel it's browning too quickly, cover with baking paper lined foil and lower the oven temperature slightly.

Let the cake stand for a few minutes before removing from the tin - let it cool on a wire rack.

Apricot and Almond Cake© by Haalo

Some of the apricots will be swamped by the batter and look like they are peeking through but I tend to like the rather random looking top.

Apricot and Almond Cake© by Haalo

Give the cake a light dusting with icing sugar before serving.

Apricot and Almond Cake© by Haalo

Monday, August 20, 2007

Cheese: Grandvewe

Time for another cheese - this time I'm featuring another sheeps milk cheese from Tasmanian Dairy, Grandvewe

Grandvewe Cheese

Cheese Maker: Grandvewe Cheese
Cheese Type: Primavera
Location: 59 Devlyns Road, Birchs Bay Tasmania
September - June: 10am-5pm, 7 days excluding Christmas day
July - August: 10am-4pm daily except Tuesdays

Grandvewe Primavera

Primavera is made in a Manchego style. Only milk from Spring is used to make this cheese and it's matured between 2 and 8 months.

Grandvewe Primavera

Primavera is a semi-firm cheese, it won't crumble when cut but it's soft enough to be broken into pieces by hand. Creamy in the mouth with that typical sweet sheep milk characters. It is not a sharply flavoured cheese and is fairly mild - it is very pleasant to eat just on its own.

Related Posts:
Grandvewe Birchs Bay Blonde

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Weekend Herb Blogging #96

Zorra from Kochtopf is hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and I thought I might take a closer look at Dried Figs

Organic Dried Turkish Figs ©

These are Organic White Turkish Figs. They are fairly soft with quite a moist interior.

Figs contain Lignin, an indigestible fibre and Ficin, a digestive enzyme that has a mild laxative effect. These two ingredients help to make Figs and especially dried figs, a bowel friendly food. You'll also find Vitamins A, B6, C, E and K along with Calcium Copper, Folate, Iron, Manganese, Magnesium, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Potassium, Riboflavin, Selenium, Sodium and Thiamine. If that wasn't enough there's a host of Amino acids, Beta-carotene and Benzaldehyde, an anti-cancer compound.

Since Zorra is a bread making guru I thought I might offer up a quick and easy bread. This recipe has been adapted from Liz Franklin's Quick Bread where it started life as a Blue Cheese, Fig and Walnut Bread. I've remove the cheese and replaced it with fresh dates and played around with the proportions to make a bread suitable for both sweet and savoury uses. Serve it with cheese or your favourite preserve, it's bound to please.

Fig, Walnut and Date Bread

Fig, Walnut and Date Bread

120 grams dried figs, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons Marsala
200 grams plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 eggs, lightly beaten
200mls crème fraîche or sour cream
120 grams dates, roughly chopped
100 grams walnuts, roughly chopped

Soak the figs in the Marsala for about 30 minutes. If the dates are hard, soak them in hot water to soften.

Sift the flour with the baking powder into a bowl. Lightly whisk the eggs with the crème fraîche and then pour this into the flour mixture.

Stir until smooth then add the drained dates, walnuts and figs with any remaining Marsala and fold through until evenly distributed.

Butter and flour a loaf pan and pour in the batter. Bake in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven for 45 minutes or until cooked through. If it appears to be browning too quickly, cover with foil and lower the oven temperature slightly.

Let it cool slightly in the pan and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Fig, Walnut and Date Bread

How you eat this is up to you - it's an excellent match to thick chunks of cheese

Bread with Camembert

or sticky globs of honey

Bread with Honey Comb

toasted or untoasted, the choice is yours.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Beetroot and Marmalade

Beetroot and the one recipe. It really isn't that odd and trust me, it's quite delicious.

Since I recently made Seville Orange Marmalade I do have a few jars of it lurking about the kitchen. Rather than limiting myself to having it on toast I've been incorporating it into other recipes.

One of the things I especially like to use Seville Orange Marmalade is in this dish.

beetroot and marmalade

It's simply segmented cooked beetroot (just boil them until tender, peel them and then cut them into eights) that have been gently sautéed in marmalade.

Before adding the beetroot, heat the marmalade in a pan until melted and starting to bubble - add the beetroot and toss them well, making sure they are fully coated in the molten marmalade. They will bleed out to form a deep red sauce that is alive with intense orange flavours. Continue cooking until the beetroot have warmed through and the sauce has thickened again. The touch of sweetness works well with the earthiness of the beetroot.

This is an excellent companion to all sorts of roasted meats.

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Wine Matching

A couple of weeks ago, Sean from asked if I'd like to be involved in their "Blow the Bank" column - each week they match a wine with a recipe from the Blogosphere .

I'm certainly not adverse to a glass or so with my meals and find the whole wine pairing process very interesting, it was obvious that I would say yes.

Well, Sean has selected to make the Eggplant Involtini and if you'd like to see how he matched it, do head over to InterWined and read his post!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Presto Pasta Night #25

For this edition of Presto Pasta Night I'll be using a different type of pasta and it's not really the shape that is different.

Stelline or Stars made with spelt

These are called Stelline or Stars and used in soups. What makes them unusual is that they are made using spelt which gives it that brown colouring. I've been very impressed with spelt when I've used it in bread making so I'm interested to see how it behaves when turned into pasta.

With this rather wholesome pasta I've decided to make a rather wholesome soup and will team it up with prawns and one of my favoured brassicas, Cavolo Nero

Cavolo Nero or Tuscan Kale or Black Kale

Cavolo Nero is also known as Tuscan Kale, Black Cabbage and Dinosaur Kale. With the smaller leaves I'll just roughly chop them as they are but with the larger outer leaves I'll strip the leaf from the stem and just use the leaf in my soup.

Stelline, Prawn and Cavolo Nero Soup

Stelline with Prawns and Cavolo Nero Soup
[Serves 2]

chicken stock
1 onion, finely chopped
cavolo nero, leaves stripped and roughly sliced
prawns, chopped roughly

I've left the measurements rather loose as it should be done to taste - some might like more prawns, others more pasta.

Heat up a little oil in a pot and gently sauté the onions until translucent and softened. Add the cavolo nero and toss through, allowing it to absorb the onion flavours.

Pour in the hot stock along with the stelline and simmer until the pasta is cooked. Drop in the prawn pieces at the last minute - taste and then season with salt and freshly ground white pepper.

Ladle out into bowls and eat at once.

Stelline, Prawn and Cavolo Nero Soup

Now, for the difference, the stelline were almost barley like in consistency and taste and definitely added a lot more substance to what is a very simple soup.

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