Monday, June 30, 2008

Something different

When I see something a bit different at the market, you can pretty much guarantee that it will end up in my basket. This was exactly the case when I spied this little fellow

cocktail avocado ©

I'm not going to play "What am I?" as there is a far more pressing question to be asked. This is a cocktail avocado and like all baby vegetables or fruit, they are incredibly cute.

Just how small is it? Well, to put it in perspective you should be able to gauge its size by the eggcup in the next photo

cocktail avocado ©

I should add that this was one of the larger ones.

How these differ from the full-sized versions is that there isn't a seed -

cocktail avocado - halved ©

there's a small hollow in what will eventually house the seed. Preparation is simple, just peel and eat.

Besides just enjoying them whole, I'm having trouble decided how else I could use them - I don't want to chop them as that just defeats the purpose of buying them this size so my question is, does anyone have any ideas on the best way of utilising this product?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Prosciutto and Cabbage Salad

Salad is the theme of this edition of Weekend Cookbook Challenge hosted by Mike of Mel's Diner.

It may be winter here but I wanted to avoid the more usual salads based on roasted vegetables - so I sought inspiration in Melbourne Chef, Karen Martini and her latest book "Cooking at Home"

Karen Martini - Cooking at Home

One of the many salads in the book immediately appealed to me, a Bresaola and Cabbage Salad. I've substituted Prosciutto for the Bresaola but basically stayed true to the recipe. A simple lemony dressing is tossed through the finely shredded cabbage, fennel and parsley leaf salad - the salad is then presented on the bed of prosciutto slices and topped with shaved parmigiano-reggiano.


Prosciutto and Cabbage Salad
[Serves 6 as a starter]

finely sliced prosciutto
250 grams shredded cabbage
1 small fennel bulb, finely shredded
handful fresh parsley leaves

approx. ½ lemon, juiced (add to taste)
50 mls extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

shaved parmigiano-reggiano, for garnish

Make the dressing:
Place the oil, salt and white pepper and whisk in the lemon juice - be sure to taste the dressing to adjust the amount of lemon juice to suit your own palate.

Assemble the salad:
Place the cabbage, fennel and parsley leaves into a bowl and dressing over with a spoonful or two of the dressing, just use enough to lightly moisten the mixture - season and toss well.

Lay the prosciutto slices across the base of a serving platter and then top with the salad. Drizzle over with more of the dressing and finish off with a good sprinkling of shaved parmigiano.

Serve at once with any leftover dressing on the side.

prosciutto and cabbage salad ©

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Parsnip Soup

Weekend Herb Blogging returns home as Kalyn is hosting - this week I'm revisiting a winter root - parsnip

parsnip © haalo

I've previously posted about parsnip for Weekend Herb Blogging but in that case I used it to make a Chocolate and Parsnip Loaf.

Parsnip, due to its high levels of potassium can help reduce blood pressure and needless to say, a recent event has certainly raised my blood pressure so I can use all the parsnip I can get.

To bolster the comfort factor that I'm seeking at the moment, I'll be making a soothing and creamy parsnip soup with a slightly indulgent twist.

parsnip soup ©

Parsnip Soup

300 grams grated parsnip
150 grams grated potato
1 leek, sliced finely
sea salt and pepper

Heat a little oil and a knob of butter in a saucepan over a low heat and when the butter has melted, add the sliced leek.

Allow the leek to slowly soften without colouring - while this is happening, you can prepare the parsnip and potato.

Peel the parsnips and then grate them - usually I would cut the parsnip into even sized pieces but I thought I'd try cutting down the cooking time and therefore, hopefully, keep more of the nutrients within the potato.

Peel the potatoes and grate them - remove the excess moisture by squeezing the grated potato between your hands.

By this stage the leek should have softened, so add both the parsnip and potato to the pan. Give it a brief stir before adding enough milk to just cover the vegetables.

Simmer until the vegetables have softened - taste and add salt and white pepper to suit.

Blend the soup until thick and creamy - an immersion or stick blender does this best. Pour the blended soup into a cleaned pan and bring it slowly back up to temperature, being careful not to allow the soup to boil. You may need to add extra milk if you feel the soup is too thick.

parsnip soup ©

To make the soup a little more special, I've incorporated what might seem at first to be an unusual ingredient - truffle chocolate

truffle chocolate ©

This is pure cocoa mass that has been infused with truffle - not the chocolate truffle, the tuber Truffle - as soon as you open the package that incredible truffle aroma just wafts up to greet you. This product is not meant to be eaten like chocolate but rather used as a finishing touch - for example, it can grated over pasta or risotto where the warmth of the dish will melt the cocoa leaving you with that truffle flavour.

If you don't have any fresh truffles on hand then this is certainly a novel way of enjoying the truffle experience.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Stop Thief

I shouldn't be surprised at the lengths people go through to steal photos and just how devious they can be but this latest one has certainly got me shaking my head.

This is my original photo


and this is what I found - with many thanks to a reader who gave me the heads up



The photo has been flipped, cropped and sharpened to an inch of its life.

I won't speak to the (lack of) character of this person - it is enough to point you in the direction of the this site -

The photo has been replaced with another stolen photo and I suggest you check out the site as most of the photos look like they have been stolen too. In fact in that broccoli soup post, the basket photo is from this post from Ashwini.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Spaccatelle with Duck Ragu

Ruth has handed over hosting to Hillary from Chew on That for this edition of Presto Pasta Night and I'm back with a dried pasta called Spaccatelle

spaccatelle ©

It's an interesting shape - a bit like a curved, fat linguine that's about the size of a finger. I'm matching this pasta with a flavoursome duck ragú.

spaccatelle with duck ragu©

Spaccatelle with Duck Ragú
[Serves 2]

Spaccatelle pasta

Duck Ragú
1 duck breast, skin on
1 red onion, sliced finely
1 carrot, diced
2 sage leaves, sliced finely
2 cloves garlic, sliced finely
400 grams canned diced tomato (or use fresh tomato in season)
½ cup green peas
freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano, to serve

Cook the duck breast:

Score the duck skin in a criss-cross pattern being careful not to cut through to the flesh. Give the skin a good grinding of sea salt.

Heat a heavy-based pan over a medium heat without any oil and when the pan has heated, add the duck, skin side down. The aim here is to render the fat from the duck skin as it will be in this rendered duck fat that the vegetables will be cooked.

Give the duck skin side about 5 minutes over a medium heat - the skin should have coloured and you'll notice that there's a good amount of fat in your pan.

Season with salt and pepper and turn the duck over and cook for about a minute or until the flesh has changed coloured - you don't want to cook the duck now, it will cook in the sauce.

Remove the duck from the pan and set aside.

Make the sauce:
In the same pan you cooked the duck, leave the fat in the pan and add the onions, carrots and sage and cook for about 15 minutes over a low heat until soft and beginning to caramelise.

Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.

Cut the duck breast into bite sized chunks and return to the pan along with the tomatoes and just enough water to slacken the mixture.

Simmer over a low heat for about 30 minutes to allow the sauce to reduce and the duck to finish cooking.

Toss in the peas and continue to cook until the peas have cooked through.

Add the finished sauce to the drained cooked pasta - stir it through well and serve with a generous sprinkling of parmigiano.

spaccatelle with duck ragu©

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Slow-cooked Beef Ribs

On occasion I've seen these Argentine beef ribs at the market but up until now I've never bought them.

argentine beef ribs ©

As it is winter here, I'm in the mood for something comforting and the idea of slow-cooked ribs certainly does appeal.

I've approached this as I would osso buco - there's a base of slowly cooked vegetables, a soffrito of sorts, to which the browned ribs and tomato has been added. Cooked in a low oven for quite a few hours, the final product is meat that just falls away from the bone - deliciously tender and full of flavour that only long, slow cooking can provide.

slow cooked beef ribs ©

Slow-cooked Beef Ribs

1 kilo argentine beef ribs - choose those with a good ratio of beef to bone
2 red onions, sliced finely
1 large red capsicum (bell pepper), roughly diced
2 carrots, diced
6 garlic cloves, peeled
fresh rosemary
fresh sage leaves
400 grams can diced tomatoes (use fresh tomatoes in season)
sea salt and pepper

Brown the beef ribs:

Salt and pepper the bone side of the beef ribs.

Heat some olive oil and a knob of butter over a medium heat in a large heavy based pan (it should be big enough to hold all the ribs). When the butter has melted, add 5 sage leaves and the leaves of one rosemary sprig - when this has started to sizzle, place the ribs, one at a time, bone side down into the pan. Take your time in adding the ribs as you don't want to lose the heat in the pan.

I try not to disturb the ribs until I'm ready to turn then - when it has browned, season this side with salt and pepper and sprinkle over with a little more rosemary and sage leaves. Turn the ribs over and continue cooking until browned.

Once browned, remove from the pan and set them aside.

Cook the vegetables:

In the same pan, add the onions, carrots, garlic cloves and capsicum - turn the heat down to low and sauté the vegetables until softened and golden - this can take take a good 20 minutes or more.

Once cooked - return the ribs back to the pan, placing them bone side up. Add the tomatoes and enough water to cover the ribs.

Increase the heat so the mixture returns to a simmer and then place in a preheated 120°C/250°F oven to slowly cook for 3 to 4 hours. At this temperature, the liquid will slowly evaporate allowing the meat to absorb all the flavours of the vegetables and herbs as they caramelise.

slow-cooked beef ribs ©

Serve with creamy mashed potatoes or polenta - or some crusty bread to help soak up the rich sauce.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Waldorf Salad

Joanna from Joanna's Food is hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and it's about time that I re-visited that gnarled beast of a vegetable - Celeriac (or Celery Root)


High in dietary fibre, Celeriac also contains Vitamins C and B6, Folate, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid and Riboflavin along with Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium and Zinc.

It may well be winter here but I'll be using this celeriac to make a Waldorf Salad. While the original is a mix of apple, celery, walnuts with a mayonnaise based dressing this dish is based on Shannon Bennett's version from his book My French Vue where celeriac is used as a replacement for celery.

Waldorf Salad ©

Waldorf Salad
[Serves 6]

1 small celeriac
1 green apple
100 grams walnut pieces
½ lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons Mayonnaise
1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard
6 quail eggs

Prepare the Celeriac and Apple:

Peel the celeriac, cut it into thin slices and then cut these slices to form long juliennes. Place the celeriac into a bowl and drizzle over with a little lemon juice to stop it from oxidising.

Peel and core the apple and proceed to slice into a similar sized julienne. Add this to the celeriac sticks and toss.

Make the dressing:

In a small bowl, place the mayonnaise and mustard along with the remaining lemon juice. Stir well to amalgamate, taste and then season with salt and pepper as desired.

Cook the eggs:

You might notice that my quail egg is square - This hasn't been cut after cooking, I've actually cooked the eggs in a small square cutter.

Place an oiled non-stick skillet over a low heat and when the the pan has heated, add your square cutters if using. Carefully break each egg into a cutter - the pan should be hot enough that the egg white sets quite quickly. As soon as the white is set, take the pan off the heat and cover with a lid to complete the cooking. This time off the heat should also cause the white to pull away from the cutter, enabling an easy removal.

Assemble the Salad:
Add the dressing to the celeriac and apple sticks along with the walnut pieces - toss to combine and divide the mixture between 6 small dishes. Top each with the quail egg and serve at once.

Waldorf Salad ©

Serve with some good crusty baguette and you've got an instant starter.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Spiced Chickpea and Onion Soup

The theme for this month's No Croutons Required, hosted by Lisa from Lisa's Kitchen is legumes and we were asked to prepare either a salad or a soup that incorporates any legume we desire.

I've chosen to use chickpeas (or garbanzo bean) in a tomato based soup that is thick with slowly caramelised onions. There's a hint of spice in the form of harissa and a touch of green with a last minute addition of baby spinach and rocket (argula).

Spicy Chickpea and Onion Soup

Spicy Chickpea and Onion Soup

2 red onions, sliced finely
2 garlic cloves, sliced finely
1 teaspoon harissa (use more or less to taste)
400 grams canned diced tomatoes (or equivalent fresh tomatoes in season)
400 grams canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
handful rocket leaves
handful baby spinach leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Heat some olive oil and a knob of butter in a saucepan over a low heat and once the butter has melted add the onions and garlic - stir and then gently sauté for a good 20 minutes or until the onions have softened and become golden.

Stir in the harissa and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and continue to simmer on a low heat for a further 10 minutes to allow the flavour to intensify.

Stir in the chickpeas and enough water or vegetable stock to cover the mixture. Simmer for 15 minutes - as the chickpeas are already cooked all you are doing is getting them up to temperature and absorbing the flavours.

Toss in a couple of handfuls of rocket and baby spinach - stir and then taste, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as desired.

The soup is now ready to serve.

Spicy Chickpea and Onion Soup

I've also whipped up some cheese and rocket filled pita breads - toasted in a sandwich press until the cheese is soft and runny, they make a delicious accompaniment to the soup.

Spicy Chickpea and Onion Soup

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Blog Party #35

As soon as Stephanie announced Chocolate as the theme for this month's Blog Party I made extra sure that this would be something I wasn't going to miss.

The only trouble came in deciding what to make, so after much deliberation I finally settled on these chocolate offerings

Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse Cinnamon and Vanilla Hot Chocolate by Haalo

Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse and Cinnamon and Vanilla Hot Chocolate

The recipes can be found by following the links.

Don't forget to check out Stephanie's site for the recap on Saturday.

Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse

The title is a bit confusing as the raspberries are presented as a compote at the base of the glass and the mousse is piped over the top. I decided to keep the components separate because visually, it looks better in the glass and it gives you the ability to play with the chocolate and raspberry ratios.

I've used frozen berries and very briefly rinsed them under cold water to remove any ice crystals that had formed. If you are in summer with fresh berries then just give them a quick rinse to remove any impurities. There should be enough moisture within the berry itself and in any water that has clung to them to form the syrup you need to make the compote.

As this is part of my Blog Party offering, they have been presented in tall shot glasses but it can be adapted to make a regular sized dessert.

Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse

Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse

120 grams dark chocolate, roughly chopped (I used 72% Ghana Cocoa)
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites
3 teaspoons icing sugar
Raspberry Compote
100 grams raspberry (I used frozen)
icing sugar, to taste - this does depend on the sweetness of the fruit

Make the raspberry compote:

In a small saucepan, placed the rinsed raspberries and a teaspoon of icing sugar and place over a low heat. Stir gently, being careful not to break the berries. Once heated, the berries will have softened and released their liquid - taste this liquid and add extra sugar if desired. Simmer for a minute and then remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Make the dark chocolate mousse:

Place the chocolate into the bowl over a pot of simmering water and allow to melt completely.

When melted, remove the bowl from the pan and allow to cool for a couple of minutes.

Add the egg yolks one at a time, stirring vigorously until amalgamated.

In a clean bowl, whip the egg-whites until soft peaks form - add the icing sugar and continue whipping until incorporated.

Take a quarter of the egg-whites and stir into the chocolate mixture to slacken the mix. Then fold in the remaining egg-whites using a large spoon. Use a figure eight cutting motion to keep as much air in the mix.

Assemble the dish:

Place a generously spoonful of the raspberry compote into the base of each glass.

raspberry compote

Place the mousse into a piping bag and pipe the mousse over the raspberry. Store, covered in the fridge for a few hours to allow the mixture to set.

dark chocolate and raspberry mousse

Cinnamon and Vanilla Hot Chocolate

For the drink element of Blog Party I've decided on something warming and a little decadent for those chilly winter nights, though for those in warmer climes you could turn this into an iced version quite easily.

Cinnamon and Vanilla Hot Chocolate

Cinnamon and Vanilla Hot Chocolate

¾ cup milk
¼ cup cream
50 grams dark chocolate (I used 72%)
ground cinnamon, to taste
vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract, to taste

Place the milk, cream and chocolate into a saucepan and over a low heat allow to come slowly to near boiling point. Stir often to ensure the chocolate melts into the milk rather than stick to the bottom of the pan.

When the chocolate has fully melted add ground cinnamon and vanilla bean paste or extract to taste. Let this infuse for a few minutes at simmering point.

Remove from the heat and using a stick blender, blend until light and frothy.

Pour into cups and enjoy at once!

Cinnamon and Vanilla Hot Chocolate

Monday, June 16, 2008

Garibaldi Redux

That last batch of Garibaldi Biscotti certainly seemed to have disappeared so I thought I'd whip up another tray and incorporate two of my favourite flavours - pistachio and white chocolate to create these:

Pistachio and White Chocolate Garibaldi Biscotti

Pistachio and White Chocolate Garibaldi Biscotti - the recipe is the same except I've replaced the dried shiraz for 60 grams of Slivered Pistachio and 60 grams of small White Chocolate Buds.

By the rate these are getting eaten, I'll be having to make some more tomorrow!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Garibaldi Biscotti

Astrid from Paulchen's Food Blog is the host of this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I've found a new type of dried fruit - Dried Shiraz

dried shiraz grapes

Shiraz or Syrah is better known as a wine variety so the whole idea that shiraz has been dried rather than turned into wine might be a touch sacrilegious to some.

These dried Shiraz are quite a lot darker than normal sultanas - it's to be expected as they are a red grape. They are also a little smaller in size and have been dried with the seed inside. Tastewise you'll find that they contain all those typical flavours found in shiraz wine - touches of berry, coffee, chocolate, black pepper and violets.

As soon as I saw these dried Shiraz I knew exactly what I'd use them for - a variation of the much loved Garibaldi Biscotti or as Paalo rather sheepishly calls them "squashed fly biscuits". The recipe comes from Ursula Ferrigno's La Dolce Vita and are a simpler version of the traditional treat. Instead of sandwiching the dried fruit between two buttery pastry layers, the fruit is stirred through the pastry itself. It's an addictive combination of sweet fruit and melt-in your-mouth short pastry.

garibaldi biscotti

Garibaldi Biscotti

120 grams 00 or plain flour, sifted
90 grams butter, cut into small cubes
50 grams caster sugar
120 grams Dried Shiraz (or currants)
1 egg, lightly beaten

Place the flour and butter into a bowl and rub the butter in using your fingertips. When most of the butter has been incorporated, sprinkle over the caster sugar and continue.

When the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, stir in the dried shiraz (or currants) until evenly distributed.

Add the egg, a little at a time until a soft but not sticky dough forms.

Roll the dough out to cover the base of a 20x28cm tin.

garibaldi biscotti ready for the oven

Brush the pastry with the remaining egg and bake in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven for about 20 minutes or until golden.

Once out of the oven, cut into squares and place on a wire rack to cool.

Garibaldi biscotti

You might want to consider doubling the batch as these will disappear very quickly!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Lemon Delicious

With the decidedly cooler weather upon us, puddings have become the order of the day to help satisfy those sweet cravings. This one certainly lives up to its name - Lemon Delicious. It is amazingly simple to make but the end result really does need to be tasted to understand just how good it is.

It is put in the oven as a fairly slack batter but a little miracle happens as it cooks - the batter separates into a light and fluffy sponge topping a thick, sweet but tangy lemon sauce.

It really is a classic dessert so I've used a classic recipe from the AWW's Bake cookbook.

lemon delicious ©

Lemon Delicious
[Serves 6]

125 grams melted butter, cooled
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
330 grams caster sugar
3 egg yolks
75 grams self-raising flour, sifted
80mls lemon juice
330mls milk
3 egg whites

Pour the butter into a bowl and stir in the lemon zest followed by the sugar. Once incorporated, stir in the egg yolks.

Sprinkle over the sifted flour and lemon juice and stir until combined. Slowly add the milk a little at a time to ensure you get a smooth batter - the mixture will be quite runny so don't be alarmed.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slacken the batter with a spoonful of egg white and then fold in the rest.

Pour the mixture evenly into 6 individual soufflé dishes (or you can use one large baking dish).

Place the dishes on a baking tray and pour in enough water so that it comes halfway up the sides of the soufflé dish.

Bake in a preheated 180°C/350°F for about 35 - 45 minutes, depending on the size of the dishes used. The surface should be golden brown and puffed and beginning to pull away from the sides of the dish.

lemon delicious

Let them rest for a couple of minutes, dust with icing sugar and serve at once. One bite and you're sure to agree, these are delicious!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Queen of Puddings

It's the Queen's Birthday holiday for most of Australia (Western Australia celebrates later in the year) so I thought it would be a fitting occasion to make a regal dessert - Queen of Puddings.

I've taken inspiration from Delia Smith for this recipe as she is, in her own way, the queen of the kitchen and a bit of an English institution.

You might be asking what exactly is the Queen of Puddings - well, there's a custard base, jam and a fluffy meringue top and it looks like this

Queen of Puddings©

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Catalogna and Chorizo Tart

Maninas from Maninas: Food Matters is the host of this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I have something new -

catalogna rossa

Bit too esoteric? Maybe seeing the leaf would help...

catalogna rossa

This is the rather hard to find Catalogna Rossa - also known as Red Dandelion Catalogna. As a member of the Chicory family, it is much loved for its bitter flavour and when cooked, manages to keep that red colour. The levels of bitterness increase with age, so select younger plants (or the inner leaves) for use in salads - boiling will also help lessen those bitter flavours.

I'll be using this catalogna in a tart and I will be building up the red content - teaming it with that spicy red sausage, Chorizo, Spanish onions and some of those Sapphire potatoes.

catalogna and chorizo tart

Catalogna and Chorizo Tart

shortcrust pastry
1 bunch catalogna
1 red onion, sliced finely
1 chorizo, diced
2 sapphire potato, boiled until tender, sliced thickly
3 eggs
½ cup cream
½ cup milk

Prepare the Catalogna:
I like to divide the catalogna into stem and leaf sections as these require different cooking times - cut through the bunch at the point where the leaves stop. Place the leafy tops aside and chop the stems into small bite-sized pieces. The ones closer to the centre are the least bitter so you can cook these with the tops.

In rapidly boiling salted water, cook the stems until tender. Remove the stems and allow to drain then place the leaf tops in to cook. When they are tender, tip them into a colander to drain. When they are cool enough to handle, form into a ball and squeeze between your palms to remove the excess water - chop them roughly.

Make the filling:
Place a little olive oil and a knob of butter into a pan over a medium heat and when the butter has melted add the sliced onions. Cook until translucent - then add the chorizo. When the chorizo has browned add the catalogna stems - cook them for a few minutes and finally add the potato and catalogna leaves. Sauté for a few more minutes until the ingredients have intermingled.

Make the tart base:
Line a 20x28cm tart tin with shortcrust pastry - lightly prick the base with a fork and set aside to rest for 1 hour.

Cover the pastry with baking paper and pie weights and bake in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven for about 10 minutes - remove the weights and continue to cook for another 15 minutes or until the base looks dry.

Assemble the tart:

Place the eggs, cream and milk into a bowl and whisk until amalgamated.

Place the filling loosely into the tart case and then pour over the egg mixture. Bake in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven for about 30 minutes or until golden and cooked through. If you feel it is browning too quickly, drop the temperature and cover the tin with foil.

catalogna and chicory tart

Let it sit in the tart tin for 5 minutes before serving.

catalogna and chicory tart

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Prawn Dumpling Soup

Soup is on the menu for this edition of Presto Pasta Night - this week I've made a very simple but warming, Prawn Dumpling Soup using those ultra handy wonton wrappers.

prawn dumpling soup

Prawn Dumpling Soup

Chicken Stock
ginger slices
fresh lemongrass
3 spring onions, finely sliced, extra

Prawn Dumplings:
30 wonton wrappers
250 grams shelled raw prawns, deveined
50 grams bamboo shoots, diced finely
fresh ginger, finely sliced
salt and freshly ground brown pepper
sesame oil
3 spring onions, finely sliced
1 egg, lightly whisked

Make the dumpling filling:
Set aside 100 grams of the prawns and cut them into a rough dice.

Place the remaining prawns, ginger, half the bamboo shoots, salt and pepper into a food processor and process until it's quite smooth - spoon it out into a bowl. Add the remaining prawn, bamboo shoots, a dash of sesame oil and spring onions - stir until mixed through.

Make the dumplings:
The filling should make about 30 dumplings.

Place a rounded teaspoonful of filling into the centre of each wrapper - lightly brush the edges with egg.

Fold to form a triangle - being careful to squeeze out all the air. Place the triangle on your middle finger and taking the ends curl them under this finger while your index finger pushes against the top to form a tortellini like shape.

prawn dumplings

Make the soup:

In a saucepan, place the stock along with slices of fresh ginger and lemongrass - let this slowly come up to near boiling point so that the stock becomes infused with the flavours.

Have the stock at a gentle simmer before adding the dumplings and the extra spring onion. Cook until the dumplings have warmed through - they will swell as they cook and as long as you keep the stock at a low simmer they shouldn't break.

prawn dumpling soup

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Rhubarb and Lemon Curd Tart

I suppose if I wanted to make life easier I would have used my standard never fail sweet shortcrust pastry but then again, I do like exploring new recipes.

I was very interested to try a Sour Cream Pastry recipe by Sophie Young that I spied in the latest Vogue Entertaining & Travel magazine. The free-form tart looked awfully fetching (but then so does all food photographed by Petrina Tinslay) and it seemed that it would be ideal for this rhubarb and lemon curd tart I had planned to make.

No complaints in making the pastry, it all went well...except when it went in the oven.

It was fortuitous that I peeked at about the 10 minute mark and saw that my tart was, for want of a better word, melting. The pastry is so short and there isn't any egg to help bind it, that the heat was making it virtually dissolve into an unrecognisable mass.

Desperate measures were needed to try to hold this tart together - I somehow managed to scoop it onto a flexible board and reposition it in a high-sided baking pan, all the while trying to re-shape it back into its original rectangle.

The high-sided tray made one side come back into alignment - the other side I managed to reinforce with an edge made from a row of small soufflé dishes. Yes, it ended up wider than planned but I must say, the pastry itself was worth the drama.

It combines the right amount of crispness with that melt in the mouth feel - it's like having a tart made from shortbread! I have learnt a valuable lesson which is that next time I will not make a free-form tart but use the pastry to line a baking tin, that should contain the unwanted spread. It does though leave me wondering about that magazine photo.

Rhubarb and Lemon Curd Tart

Rhubarb and Lemon Curd Tart

half portion of Lemon Curd
Stewed Rhubarb, drained (stew the rhubarb until they have just softened but not broken down)
Sour cream Pastry
250 grams plain flour
60 grams icing sugar, sifted
200 grams chilled butter, cut into small cubes
80 grams sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract

Make the pastry:
Place the flour, icing sugar, butter into a food processor and pulse until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
Add in the sour cream and vanilla and continue to pulse until the mixture begins to come together.
Place onto a lightly floured board and very gently press together to form a rectangle.
Cover in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for a few hours.

Roll out to form a large rectangle about 25cmx40cm (10x16 inch) - you can trim the edges but I kept them uneven. Place the rolled pastry onto a baking paper lined tray.

Spread the lemon curd evenly along the centre of the pastry leaving a 2 inch/4cm border all around.

Position the rhubarb pieces over the lemon curd and then fold the border over the filling.

rhubarb and lemon curd tart - ready for the oven

Brush the pastry with milk and then place in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven for about 30 minutes or until golden and cooked through. If you feel the pastry is browning too quickly, cover with foil.

rhubarb and lemon curd tart

Let the tart sit on the tray for about 15 minutes before placing it on a wire rack to cool.

As I mentioned at the start, this is not how I would make the tart again - I would place the rolled dough into a rectangle fluted tart pan and proceed from there.

rhubarb and lemon curd tart

It doesn't look as nice as it could have but you can't fault the taste. The lemon curd and rhubarb are meant for one another, the pleasant tang of the curd really coming through to compliment the rhubarb. Better yet, it's not a bad use of leftovers!
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