Saturday, May 31, 2008

Potato and Caper Terrine

Wandering Chopsticks is the host of Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I've returned with some more potatoes - this time it's another purple variety called Sapphire.

Sapphire Potato

Sapphire is a purple skinned potato with a mottled interior and I have already used this previously in the dish of Pizzocheri Valtellina. It is not as mealy as the Purple Congo so it is well suited for use in potato salads.

The recipe this week comes from Shannon Bennett's latest book My French Vue and it is one of his light lunch offerings - a potato and caper terrine. While the original recipe calls for Kipflers I've changed that to be an even split between the Sapphire and Kipfler potatoes - the curly endive salad has been replaced with a bit of crunch in the form of very finely shredded cabbage. The final touch is a just cooked egg.

potato and caper terrine

Potato and Caper Terrine
[Serves 2]

2 Sapphire potatoes
2 Kipfler potatoes
1 shallot, finely diced
2 tablespoons pancetta lardons, fried
2 tablespoons tiny salted capers, rinsed
2 anchovies, crushed
2 tablespoons Mayonnaise
4 tablespoons finely shredded cabbage
2 eggs

Boil or steam the potatoes until tender. Cool slightly before peeling and then cut into medium sized pieces.

Place the potato pieces into a bowl along with the shallots, capers and lardons - toss the mixture to combine.

In a small bowl, add the mayonnaise and anchovies - stir this well to amalgamate before adding it to the potato mixture. Stir again, crushing the potatoes slightly as you do - sprinkle over with half the shredded cabbage and just gently fold it through.

Divide the mixture into two and using an egg ring, place it in the centre of your serving plates. Press the potato into the egg ring to form a compact terrine.

Remove the egg ring and top with the remaining shredded cabbage and finally, a just cooked egg.

In the recipe, Shannon tops his terrine with just the egg yolk - the egg yolk in simmered in 60°C/140°F oil for about 4 minutes or until the yolk has just warmed through.

I've taken a different approach and cooked the egg, using the egg ring again to form the shape, over a very low heat until the white has just set on the base. I've then taken it off the heat, sprinkled over a little sea salt flakes and then covered the ring with a lid and let the pan heat continue to set the white without hardening the yolk.

With the white fully set, slide it onto a wide spatula and position it onto the formed terrine - use the egg ring to keep it on the terrine while you slip the spatula away - once in place, remove the egg ring.

potato and caper terrine

The final thing left to do is slice the yolk and enjoy!

potato and caper terrine Potato and Caper Terrine Potato and Caper Terrine

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cheese: Barossa Valley Cheese Company

It's been a while between cheese and I'm back with one of the smallest specimens I've seen.


Babybert is a Baby Camembert produced by the Barossa Valley Cheese Company and it's surely a cheese meant to be enjoyed alone as it only weighs about 50 grams.


It's a fairly firm cheese to begin with - let it come to room temperature and it does soften becoming somewhat spongy rather than oozy. It also has those typical earthy, mushroom notes to its aroma.


Tastewise, it is quite smooth on the palette with an enticing creamy texture.

Other Barossa Valley Cheese Company offerings:
La Petite Princesse
Le Petit Prince
Washington Washrind

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Fig Twist

Andrew is back hosting Waiter, There's Something in My... and this month he selected dried fruit and nuts as the theme.

This has provided another perfect excuse to explore Dean Brettschneider's Global Baker and make his Fig and Aniseed Scone Twist. As I'm not a huge fan of aniseed, I've omitted them from the recipe - if you like them, just add 1 teaspoon of crushed aniseeds to the filling.

Fig Twist ©

Fig Twist
[Makes 2]

380 grams plain flour
30 grams caster sugar
25 grams baking powder
60 grams butter, cut into cubes, softened
190ml milk
1 egg
250 grams dried Turkish figs, chopped finely
50mls dark rum (I used Bundaberg Black)
50 grams melted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Egg Wash
1 egg
2 tablespoons water
Jam Glaze
4 tablespoons jam
2 tablespoon water

Make the filling:
You should make this the day before.
Place the figs, Rum, butter and cinnamon into a small bowl and stir well to combine. Cover and allow to sit overnight - the figs will absorb the rum.

The next day, if the mixture looks too chunky, then briefly pulse it in a food processor to get a spreadable consistency.

Make the Jam Glaze:
Make this while the twists are cooking.
Place the jam and water into a small pan and place over a medium heat - stir until the mixture comes to a boil and then remove from the heat.

Make the dough:
Sift the flour, sugar and baking powder into a bowl.

Add the butter and work in using your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Lightly whisk the milk and egg and add to the flour mix, stirring until just combined. It's important that you avoid kneading the dough as this will cause it be tough.

Tip out onto a floured board divide into dough into two.

Roll out to form a 25cm/10inch square.

Brush the bottom edge (about 1cm/½ inch) with egg wash.

Spread the rest of the dough with half of the fig filling.

Roll the dough, swiss-roll style from the top edge towards the bottom edge.

Arrange the roll, so that the join is on one side an then cut through the center of the roll, leaving the top 2cm/1 inch uncut.

Turn these two strands so the cut side is facing you and then just twist one strand over the other - press the ends together firmly.

Fig Twist©

Repeat the process with the other half of the dough.

Place both twists on a baking paper lined tray - allow room for the twists to expand.

Brush each loaf liberally with egg wash and then let them rest for 15 minutes before cooking.

Cook in a preheated 180°C/350°F for about 30-35 minutes until golden and cooked through - turn the twists halfway through baking to ensure even colouring.

When done, remove from the oven and brush over with the jam glaze - they can now be placed on a wire rack to cool.

Fig Twist ©

It does take a bit of effort not to eat it as soon as it comes out of the oven but it is a good idea to let to cool down a little. It looks very attractive as is but cutting it reveals its inner beauty

Fig Twist ©

Enjoy it with nice cup of tea or coffee.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Polenta Taragna

A few weeks back I posted about Pizzoccheri, a pasta from Valtellina, a valley in the region of Lombardia. I've now found another product from Valtellina - Polenta Taragna

Taragna Polenta ©

This speckled polenta is a blend of course ground corn flour and buckwheat - it tastes a bit nutty when compared to regular Polenta and the texture is a little more rougher. This isn't one the instant types of polenta so it will take around 30 minutes to prepare but it's time well spent.

I've teamed this polenta with a hearty Italian Sausage Ragú - for a non-meat option, this polenta is perfect served with a braise of mixed mushrooms.

Polenta Taragna with Sausage Ragú ©

Polenta Taragna with Sausage Ragù

1 brown onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
rosemary, finely chopped
celery leaves, finely chopped
250 grams mushrooms, cut into large pieces
6 Italian sausages, skinned, cut into bite sized pieces
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can crushed tomatoes or 400 grams chopped fresh tomatoes
salt and freshly ground pepper
freshly grated Parmesan

Make the Sausage Ragú:

Place olive oil and a knob of butter into a large pot over a medium-low heat and when the butter has melted and has started to sizzle add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and rosemary. Stir this well and allow to cook slowly until the vegetables soften and start to colour. This should take around 15-20 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, stirring them through the mix and cook until they have slightly coloured.

Now add the sausage pieces a few at a time - stir this well but don't be rough as you want them to stay chunky.

When all the sausage has been added, stir through the tomato paste. Increase the heat slightly and cook for 5 minutes before adding the crushed tomatoes and celery leaves. Turn the heat down and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering make the Polenta.

Make the Polenta Taragna:

For 1oo grams of Polenta I used about 2 cups of water though the amount of water will depend on the polenta itself and will vary.

Place the water into a pan and place over a medium heat. When the water has started to bubble, sprinkle in the polenta. Start stirring and if the polenta seems to be too thick then add just enough water to slacken the mixture.

About half way through the cooking I added about 50 grams of cubed butter and a handful of grated Parmesan.

Near the end of the cooking time, stir through another handful of grated Parmesan - the final mix should be soft and creamy.

Assemble the dish:

Place the polenta into the base of an oven proof dish and then top with the Sausage Ragú. Sprinkle over with grated Parmesan and place in a preheated 180ºC oven - cook until the cheese has melted and then serve at once with an extra sprinkling of Parmesan.

Polenta Taragna with Sausage Ragú ©

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Goat Cheese and Red Capsicum Pancakes

It's been a little while since I last took part in a Weekend Cookbook Challenge but when I saw Sara had chosen the theme of TV Cooks I knew I could find something interesting lurking on my shelves.

Now there certainly was a large selection to choose from, Jamie, Nigella, Ramsay and his adversary Marco, Locatelli, Two Fat Ladies, Delia, the ever smiling Bill Granger even Keith Floyd and the Galloping Gourmet but eventually settled on English chef, Gary Rhodes.

The recipe I'm making comes from his book, At the Table and it proved to be a perfect companion to my Parsley Root Soup. These Goat cheese and Red Capsicum Pancakes are simple to make but utterly more-ish.

goat cheese and red capsicum pancakes ©

Friday, May 23, 2008

Parsley Root Soup

Cate from Sweetnicks is hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I've found some Parsley Root

parsley root©

It does look a lot like a parsnip but just one look at the attached foliage and it's real identity becomes obvious

parsley root©

Both the root and the leaves are edible - taste-wise, the root has elements of celeriac, parsnip and apple while the leaves are exactly like herb parsley. For a longer life, you should keep the leaves attached and only remove them when its time to use the root.

parsley root©

While it isn't necessary to peel the root I have in the case of the dish I've made - a simple but creamy Parsley Root Soup.

Parsley Root Soup©

Parsley Root Soup
[Serves 4 as a starter]

1 parsley root, peeled, cut into small chunks (300 grams)
1 potato, peeled, cut into small chunks (150 grams)
1 leek, finely diced (50 grams)
salt and freshly ground white pepper

As with most of the pure vegetable soups I make these days, I use milk rather than stock. I find it really accentuates the natural flavours of the vegetable and gives the soup a delicious creamy texture.

Place a knob of butter in a saucepan over a low heat and when melted add the leek. Allow the leek to soften but not colour and after about 5 minutes add in the parsley root - stir it well and then add the potato. Give it a brief stir and then add enough milk to cover the vegetables completely.

Let this simmer very slowly until the vegetables have completely softened.

Strain, reserving the liquid and place the solids into a blender - process until smooth adding back the liquid to create a smooth base.

If you like a velvety texture then I would recommend passing this mixture through a fine mesh sieve.

The soup at this stage will be quite thick - add back enough milk until it reaches your perferred consistency. Taste and then season with salt and pepper as desired.

Place it back on a low heat and allow it to come back to serving temperature - remove from heat and serve at once.

parsley root soup©

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Lemon Curd

With the arrival of the first flush of lemons from my mother's tree, it's the prefect time to indulge in some home-made Lemon Curd.

The method I use is from Stephanie Alexander and it simplifies the whole curd making procedure so that anyone can make this is luscious treat in under 15 minutes!

lemon curd©

Lemon Curd

4 egg yolks
150 grams caster sugar
100 mls lemon juice
70 grams butter, cut into small cubes

Place the egg yolks and sugar into a bowl and beat using an electric mixer until the sugar has dissolved. You'll know when the sugar is dissolved when the mix no longer feels gritty when rubbed between your finger tips.

Put this mixture in a small saucepan along with the lemon juice and butter and place over a low heat. Whisk constantly until it almost reaches boiling point - you'll notice that it will begin to thicken quite quickly and at this stage take it off the heat. At this stage it will have the consistency of a thick custard.

Once off the heat, whisk again and then pour it immediately into hot, sterilised jars. Seal and allow to cool and then store in the fridge.

lemon curd

Pixie from You Say Tomahto, I Say Tomayto and Rosie from Rosie Bakes a Peace of Cake are co-hosting an event called Putting Up in which we're asked to share our favourite preserve - I hope they will enjoy this tangy offering.

lemon curd©

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Roasted Baby Beetroot and Goats Cheese Salad

Holler is back hosting No Croutons Required - a monthly event in which either soup or salad is celebrated. This month Holler has asked us to whip up a salad with cheese.

I suppose I should start with the cheese:

Meredith Dairy Marinated Goat Cheese ©

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Pistachio and White Chocolate Cookies

Gay from A Scientist in the Kitchen is the host of this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I have that green jewel of a nut - pistachio


I have in an earlier WHB featured fresh Pistachio but as that brief season is long gone, it's back to the more common dried versions.

There does seem to be a few research papers indicating that Pistachios can be quite good for you - they aid in the improvement of the cardiovascular system, relieve stress and decrease the levels of bad cholesterol. They also have high levels of Lutein - an important antioxidant in the fight against macular degeneration.

Nutrionally these small nuts pack a punch - they contain Vitamins A, B6,C, E, and K, Betaine, Choline, Folate, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Riboflavin, and Thiamin along with Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium and Zinc.

For this week's recipe I've delved into one of my latest acquisitions, Dean Brettschneider's Global Baker and pulled out the most amazing recipe for Pistachio and White Chocolate Cookies. Now, I'm sure that since pistachios are so good for us, that these cookies surely can't be all bad.

pistachio and white chocolate cookies

Pistachio and White Chocolate Cookies
[Makes about 42 cookies]

140 grams softened butter, cut into cubes
100 grams caster sugar
100 grams soft dark brown sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons milk
vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
150 grams plain flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
50 grams rolled oats
60 grams pistachio nuts, chopped roughly
140 grams white chocolate, chopped roughly (I used Lindt)
slivered pistachio nuts, extra

Put the softened butter, caster and brown sugar into a bowl and using an electric mixer, beat until creamy and light. You'll have to scrap down the sides of the bowl a few times to ensure an even result.

Place the egg, milk and vanilla bean paste or extra into a small bowl - whisk together with a fork and then add to the creamy butter mixture. Continue beating until it has been absorbed.

Double sift the plain flour together with the baking powder and baking soda and on a low speed add this along with the oats to the creamed mixture. Beat until almost incorporated, toss in the nuts and chocolate and while still on the lowest speed, beat until just mixed through.

The book recommends a weight of 35 grams for each cookie but I felt this was just too large - I've used a small ice-cream scoop to scoop out the dough and the resulting balls weigh around 20 grams.

Sprinkle the top of each ball with a little of the extra slivered pistachios - If you want a more even spread of pistachio I would add them halfway through the cooking time.

Space them well apart on baking paper lined trays as they will spread and bake in a preheated 170°C/340°F oven for about 10 minutes - if you want them crunchy rather than soft and chewy you'll need to bake them for a few minutes more.

Let them cool on the tray for a few minutes before moving them onto a wire rack to cool completely - they are very pliable straight out of the oven.

pistachio and white chocolate cookies

I'd like to finish by adding that this marks a bit of a milestone for me - my 100th WHB posting!

It was a surprise, when organising photos in Flickr, to find that my WHB set was at 99 photos - so to mark the occasion I made a little mosaic.

Weekend Herb Blogging #1 Weekend Herb Blogging #2
Weekend Herb Blogging #3 Weekend Herb Blogging #4

The last 100 were tasty and colourful and I hope the next 100 will be just as enjoyable.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Mixed Mushroom Free-Form Lasagne

It's Friday and time for another edition of Presto Pasta Night hosted by Ruth from Once Upon A Feast.

This week I'll be using these dried lasagna sheets

pasta sheet

but not to make a traditional lasagne.

I've opted for a more free-form style to produce a somewhat lighter dish. A mix of mushrooms are sautéed with garlic, onion and pine nuts and then finished with a little crème fraîche to create a bit of a sauce.

The cooked lasagna sheet is folded in thirds with a combination of mushroom and ripped bocconcini forming the filling on each of the three folds. It's finally given a light dusting of grated parmesan and then baked in the oven until the bocconcini begins to melt and the top browns.


Mixed Mushroom Free-Form Lasagne

lasagne sheets, cooked
1 red onion, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
portobello mushrooms, sliced
swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
oyster mushrooms, sliced
shimenji mushrooms
pinenuts, handful
crème fraîche (or cream)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
bocconcini, roughly torn (or mozzarella)
finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Slowly sauté the onion and garlic in a little olive oil and butter until softened.

Remove the onions from the pan, increase the heat and sauté the various mushrooms - it's best done this way as I don't want the mushrooms to stew, but I do want to give them some colour.

When the mushrooms are nicely coloured, return the onion mixture to the pan along with a handful of pine nuts - turn down the heat and cook for a few more minutes. The mushrooms will now release some of their excess moisture and this will be used to help form the sauce.

As a final touch, remove from the heat and stir through a spoonful of crème fraîche, taste and then season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Assemble the dish:

Take one sheet of cooked lasagna sheet and place on a baking paper lined oven tray.

Place a good spoonful of the mushroom mixture over one-third of the sheet, top with a little ripped bocconcini.

Fold the pasta sheet back over the filling.

On this flat surface add a little more of the mushroom mix with a little more ripped bocconcini.

Fold the remaining pasta back over itself.

You will have an s-shaped stack.

Top with a little more mushroom along with some grated Parmesan.

Bake in a preheated 160°C/320°F oven until heated through and the bocconcini has melted.


For me, this dish just speaks of autumn, flavoursome and nourishing without being too heavy - a perfect treat for a weekend lunch.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Blog Party #34

Stephanie always comes up with the most interesting themes for Blog Party and this month is no exception. In honour of all things Slayer, we've been invited to join in The Buffy Bash.

As always, we are asked to provide a drink and something to eat and my offerings are these Spicy Skewered Prawns and to drink, Bluddy Slayah

spicy skwered prawns bluddy slayah


Spicy Skewered Prawns

Since Buffy spent a lot of her time "skewering" vamps, I think she might enjoy these skewered prawns for a change.

To give them a touch of heat, I've used Harissa paste which also tends to give it a little red colour too.

Spicy Skewered Prawns

Spicy Skewered Prawns

whole prawns, peeled with tail left intact
fresh coriander leaves
fresh parsley leaves
olive oil

Make the spicy paste:

Use equal quantities of coriander and parsley and process until they are finely chopped. Add the harissa, to taste, along with olive oil and pulse to form a spreadable paste.

Prepare the Prawns:

Make sure your have removed the intestinal tract from the prawns, along with head and outer shell but do leave the tail intact.

Take a wooden skewer and thread it through the centre, lengthways, to give you a straight prawn.

Place the prawns into a flat dish and generously spoon over the spicy paste - turn the prawns around to ensure then are completely covered.

You can set this aside, covered, in the fridge to allow the flavours to develop or you can cook them straight away.

spicy skewered prawns

Cook the prawns:

You can cook them on a BBQ, grill pan or flat plate. As they are flat they will cook very evenly, as soon as one side has browned, turn them over to colour and then remove them. They shouldn't take more than a minute or two to be cooked to perfection.

spicy skewered prawns

Serve them hot.


Bluddy Slayah

For a Buffy Bash, the beverage should be blood red but I think this more girly shade would fit in just as well.

Bluddy Slayah

Bluddy Slayah
[Makes 1]

30mls Lemon Vodka
10mls Lemon juice
mixed berry juice
handful ice cubes

  • Place all the ingredients into a blender and blend until frothy.
  • Pour into a tall glass and serve at once.

Bluddy Slayah


Monday, May 12, 2008

Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake

I think a love for chocolate and hazelnut must have be programmed into the Italian DNA and when I first saw this recipe in the April edition of Taste Italia I just had to make it.

It may have been originally intended as a substitute for Easter eggs but it works equally well as an alternative to boxed chocolate for Mother's Day too.

chocolate and hazelnut cake

Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake

180 grams butter, cut into cubes and softened
120 grams caster sugar
5 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
120 grams 00 plain flour
60 grams cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
180 grams chopped roasted hazelnuts
icing sugar, for dusting

Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa together into a bowl.

Place the butter and sugar into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

Add the vanilla extract and 1 egg and continue beating until the egg has been incorporated.

Add the second egg and when it has been incorporated add 2 tablespoons of the sifted flour mixture.

Continue adding the remaining eggs, one at a time and when all have been added, fold the flour through the batter with a metal spoon.

Finally stir the hazelnuts through the mix and then pour into a buttered and floured 20cm/8inch cake pan.

Bake in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven for 40-50 minutes or until firm to the touch.

Let it cool in the tin before removing.

Sift over with icing sugar and serve.

chocolate and hazelnut cake

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