Sunday, September 28, 2008

Weekend Herb Blogging #151 - Recap

There's not long to go until Weekend Herb Blogging celebrates its Third Anniversary and in previous years we have voted on our favourite herb and then our favourite vegetable.

Unfortunately I campaigned too late for Potato last year and Tomato somehow managed to win - I'm sure there were some shady dealings going on with lettuce, arugula and cucumber, I mean tomato isn't even a real vegetable.

So just in case we'll be selected our favourite fruit, I thought I might just jump the gun and cover all bases.

votesage© by Haalo votepotato.jpg© by Haalo votemango© by Haalo

Without further ado, time to recap the fascinating entries for this week and you'll find that I have grouped them by their featured ingredient or where more than one ingredient is used, by the dish made.

Assam Laska

In New York, Lesley from Beachlover's Kitchen treats us to Assam Laska - Spicy and Sour Fish Noodle Soup


The distinctive flavour of this Assam Laska comes from Tamarind but as Lesley explains even if you can't make this base from scratch there is a handy alternative to give it that authentic flavour.


Grilled Zucchini Lasagne with Italian Sausage, Tomato and Basil Sauce


WHB founder Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen shows us that you don't need pasta to make an utterly delectable lasagne. Here she's used grilled zucchini rounds and layered them with her sausage and marinara basil sauce and a mix of cottage cheese, mozzarella and pecorino.

Bitter melon

In Manilla, Ning from Heart and Hearth makes a Bitterless Bittermelon Salad - Ampalaya Salad


If you've been unsure of bitter melon because of its bitterness than this post is for you. Ning explains her relationship with the flavour and her quest to find an easy way to eliminate that bitter taste. She also gives handy tips on choosing bitter melon. Once you read Ning's method of removing that bitter taste you too can make and enjoy her bitter melon salad.

Burdock Root

In Chicago, Jude from Apple Pie, Patis, and Pâté makes Kinpira Gobo - Stir-Fried Spicy Burdock Root


It's not an "anaemic carrot" - it's Burdock and Jude features this uncommon root in a stir fry using Japanese techniques and flavours - sake, soy and shichimi togarsashi. The finishing touch is a sprinkling of toasted white sesame seeds.

Butternut Pumpkin/Squash

In Mountain View, CA Maggie is The Salad Girl and has made Butternut Squash with Carrots and Basil


The colours of autumn are alive on this plate. Maggie's intriguing dressing for this dish uses apple cider vinegar, garlic, lemon juice, cinnamon, cumin, chilli powder, sesame oil as well as a generous handful of fresh basil leaves. It's tossed through a mix of steamed butternut squash, carrot and garlic.


From Vancouver, js and ts of [eatingclub] Vancouver make Caper Salad


ts draws on inspiration from a fellow blogger to make this Caper Salad - a simple mix of boiled potatoes, capers, garlic, vinegar, red onions, chives, oregano and olive oil, mashed together it's served at room temperature. Just reading the description makes my mouth water.


Cook's Sister!, Jeanne from London prepares Pork Medallions in a Creamy Chanterelle Sauce


Jeanne has been sick with the flu all weekend so I'm sure you'll join me in sending well wishes her way. She's managed to champion through and post about her first experience with Chanterelle mushrooms. I can understand Jeanne's excitement over them - where's my knife and fork when I need them?


Becke is the Columbus Foodie and offers up Crustless Swiss Chard Quiche


This is Becke's first recipe using Chard and reading just how quickly this quiche disappeared, it's no surprise to find that it will be made again. Both the stems and leaves are used along with onion, shredded cheese, eggs and milk.


Pam from Sidewalk Shoes whips up Cilantro Lime Sour Cream


There's an usual ingredient in this flavoured Sour Cream - it's not the cilantro or cumin or lime - you'll just have to check out Pam's post to find out.

Cheryl from Gluten Free Goodness prepares a gluten free and vegan dish of Salsa Mole


A glut of tomatoes led Cheryl to make this salsa mole - a mix of avocado, tomatoes, sweet pepper, shallot, cumin, cayenne, lime and fresh cilantro.

Curry Pastes

Graziana from Erbe in Cucina (Cooking with Herbs) treats us to a trio of Curry Pastes


Graziana not only supplies us with a basic curry paste she also shows just how easy it is to whip up these trio of classic curries - Thai Red, Thai Green and Thai Yellow - it's like a traffic lights of curry!

Dill and Parsley

Fellow Victorian, Pam from The Backyard Pizzeria creates grand final worthy Dill and Parsley Pots


Pam and I can commiserate on the various misfortunes of our respective teams this year but we can all join together to enjoy this delightful dish. A pesto is made using spring onions, pecans, dill, parsley and lemon juice and it's then mashed into persian feta to create these herb spiked cheese pots. Pass the crackers please!

Finger Lime

Sydneysider Anna from Morsels and Musings gives us something to cheer about, Finger Lime Martini


I do adore finger limes but I have nothing but problems trying to find them so I'm over the moon to see Anna's. If finger limes draw a blank for you, then all the answers to this intriguing native fruit can be found in her post.


Dee from Choos and Chews whips up a Lemony Three Mushroom Pasta


There's a plethora of mushroomy goodness in Dee's post but she settles on three - dried porcini, field and button mushrooms to form the heart of her pasta sauce.

From Surrey, Valentina from Trembom - English Version creates an Open Lasagne of Mushroom and Spinach


Valentina not only manages her Spanish site Trembom but also does it all again in her english site. If that isn't enough, Valentina will also be hosting next weeks WHB! For this dish, Valentina takes sheets of lasagne that have been cooked off with a little ras el hanuout and alternatively covers them with mushrooms and spinach - parmesan finishes the dish.


Burcu from Almost Turkish Recipes supplies us with a fascinating Purslane Tomato Salad - Pirpirim/Semizotu Piyazi


Purslane may well be considered a "weed" but I'm sure you'll agree that this salad of purslane, parsley, tomatoes, cucumber, red & green peppers looks utterly irresistible. The dressing uses pomegranate syrup, sumac and paprika along with lemon juice and olive - it's a fabulous combination of spice and perfume.

Red Corn

Food Blogga Susan presents a unique and colourful dish of Red Corn with Cilantro and Cotija Anejo Cheese


They may look like pomegranate seeds but they are red corn kernels. Susan explains the story behind this coloured corn and describes its taste and texture and how it differs from everyday corn. For those of us without access to red corn you'll be happy to know you can substitute traditional corn in this dish.

Red Shiso

In San Jose, we find Nate from the House of Annie and this delightful bowl of Pork and Eggplant Soup with Tomato and Red Shiso


Nate grows his own Red Shiso and I certainly hope the plant will survive the cooler weather especially when it's used in such a comforting soup. I need to find my spoon and dig into this!


From picturesque Lake Garda comes Bri from Briiblog with her Lemon Confit with Rosemary - Limoni confit al Rosmarino


Flavoured with rosemary, juniper berries and chilli, these confit lemons offer an interesting variation on preserved lemons. Make them now and you'll be enjoying them at Christmas.


From San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, Victoria from Flavors of the Sun joins us with a wild Mexican Herb, Yerba de Venado


Yerba may be hard to find but Victoria supplies us with all the information we need to use it. While it finds its way in local dishes it also has medicinal properties as an aide against indigestion. Victoria searches for this herb by scent and she certainly has me yearning to follow and seek out this most elusive herb.

Zucchini Flowers

Maria from Organically Cooked brings us a beautiful Italian inspired dish of Fried Zucchini Flowers - Κολοκυθοανθούς α λα ιταλικά


Maria lives in Crete and grows her very own zucchini - the flowers of which are used for this dish. With an abundance of flowers, she decides not to make the traditional rice stuffed versions but instead whips up a bounty of crispy fried zucchini flowers. Maria offers many serving suggestions that will surely have you dreaming of the Mediterranean.

One more to finish:



My own offering of Chocolate and Beetroot Cakes

I hope you enjoy this recap as much as I have - I don't know what other event offers such an amazing variety of ingredients and recipes. Every week without fail, there's something new to discover.

Remember that next week Valentina will be hosting - send your posts to
valentina (dot) jacome (at) gmail (dot) com

Don't forget to check out the WHB rules and hosting schedule.

If I've missed anyone out or if the details are incorrect or links not working - just shoot me an email or leave a comment and I'll fix it up.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chocolate and Beetroot Cakes

For this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging which just so happens to be hosted here, I've selected a root vegetable

beetroot© by Haalo

Beetroots (or Beets) are a relative of Chard. While the leaves are high in Vitamin A, the roots are high in Vitamin C - they also contain Calcium, Folic acid, Magnesium, Manganese, Iron and Potassium - they are also rich in the antioxidant Betacyanin.

While beetroot is predominately known for its savory uses, the dish I'm making highlights the sweet side to its character. The recipe comes from Pierre Roelofs, the amazing pastry chef from Interlude, who constantly intrigues us with his combination of flavour and textures and nudging of the boundries of "dessert".

In combining beetroot with dark chocolate, in the form of dutch cocoa, we not only bring out the chocolate notes of beetroot but show the earthiness of cocoa.

Chocolate and Beetroot Cakes© by Haalo

Chocolate and Beetroot Cakes

1 cup beetroot puree (see below for details)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
¾ cup melted butter (or vegetable oil)
⅓ cup cocoa powder
1¼ cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

Make beetroot puree:
Peel and dice the beetroot. Place the beetroot into a pot of boiling water and boil until very soft. Drain and then cool. Process the cooled beetroot in a blender or food processor until a smooth puree forms. You will need 1 cup of this puree for the recipe.

Make the batter:
Place the beetroot puree, sugar, eggs, melted butter, cocoa powder, plain flour and baking powder in a food processor and process until just combined.

Use this batter to make cupcakes or as I have done, small cakes.

Bake in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven until firm and cooked through - the time taken will depend on the size of cupcakes.

Chocolate and Beetroot Cakes© by Haalo

I've actually made two different forms - these small sunflower shaped cakelets

Chocolate and Beetroot Cakes© by Haalo

and these friand-sized versions.

There is still plenty of time to take part in this week's Weekend Herb Blogging - just send your post to hellohaaloATgmailDOTcom or check out this post for all the details.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Semolina and Yoghurt Syrup Cake

Armed with the Grandvewe Yoghurt and needing to use up the last of my lemons I turned to the ever reliable Australian Women's Weekly to find something to make. The answer came in the pages of their book "Bake".

It certainly ticked all the boxes - the cake uses yoghurt and as an extra bonus, semolina and when cooked, its soaked with a sweet but tangy, lemon syrup.

Semolina and Yoghurt Syrup Cake© by Haalo

Semolina and Yoghurt Syrup Cake

250 grams softened butter, cut into small cubes
1 lemon, rind, finely grated
200 grams caster sugar
3 eggs, separated
150 grams self-raising flour
150 grams semolina
280 grams yoghurt
Lemon Syrup
200 grams caster sugar
80mls lemon juice

Make the Lemon Syrup:
Place the sugar and lemon juice into a saucepan and and place over a low heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and then allow to come to a gentle simmer. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Make the Cake:

Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form - set aside.

Place the butter, sugar, lemon rind into a bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Sift the flour with the semolina and add it and the yoghurt to the creamed egg mixture. Stir this through until combined.

Take a spoonful of egg white and fold it through the batter to slacken it and then add in the rest of the eggwhite - fold through with a metal spoon.

Pour the mixture into a lined cake tin (22cm/9 inch) and bake in a preheated 180°C/350°F until golden and cooked through - this should take around 45 minutes.

Let it sit in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack. Pour the warmed lemon syrup slowly over the cake - make sure it has soaked in before continuing to pour. Once all the syrup has been absorbed let the cake cool.

Semolina and Yoghurt Syrup Cake© by Haalo

As the syrup sets it will form a translucent glaze over the cake.

Semolina and Yoghurt Syrup Cake© by Haalo

The interior is almost lemon-like in colour - probably due to the eggs used, its wonderfully moist with a soft and almost creamy texture due to the semolina and yoghurt. The lemon flavour both scents and gently infuses the cake. You don't need to serve this anything on the side, perhaps a cup of tea or coffee - it's an ideal tea-time treat.

Grandvewe Yoghurt

When I've previously made mention of Grandvewe it has been about their cheese but I've finally found another part of their range - Sheep Yoghurt

Grandvewe Honey & Vanilla Sheep Yoghurt© by Haalo

Two types of yoghurt are available - plain and honey & vanilla flavoured. Sheep milk is quite good for us - it has twice the calcium of cows milk as well as increased levels of B group Vitamins, phosphorus and zinc. It can also be eaten by 98% of lactose intolerant people.

Grandvewe Honey & Vanilla Sheep Yoghurt© by Haalo

Its a creamy yoghurt with a slightly tart finish - the flavours of honey and vanilla are both evident. Partner it with fruit salad or just enjoy it as an alternative to your regular yoghurt.

I found this at Organic Elements at Prahran Market but it is also available by mail order from the Grandvewe website.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Weekend Herb Blogging #151 Hosting


I am very pleased to announce that I will be hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging - that ever evolving and constantly motivating smorgasbord of delights.

To participate:

Post about any herb, plant, fruit, vegetable or flower - for details on posting do check out Kalyn's rules

then send an email to


with WHB#151 in the subject line and the following details:

1. Your Name
2. Your Location
3. Your Blog
4. The Post URL
5. A photo - 250px width preferred

Please include a link to this announcement post and to Kalyn's Kitchen

The deadline for submissions is:
3pm Sunday 28th September - Utah Time
7am Monday 29th September - Melbourne Time 

You can use this converter to find out the appropriate time in your area.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Apple and Blueberry Strudel

Zorra from Kochtopf is hosting Weekend Herb Blogging and this week, I've come up Apples!

braeburn apple© by Haalo

While we claim the Granny Smith, Braeburn Apples have their origins in New Zealand (Would it be facetious to make mention that the Braeburn is an offspring of the Granny Smith?). They are characterised by a streaky skin in red and orange tones. It's a juicy apple with a sweet but crisp finish and when cooked, tends to keep its shape.

Having just purchased Michel Roux's latest Pastry it supplied me with the perfect use for these apples - a filo pastry strudel!

If you don't have Braeburn's then the Cox apple makes an excellent substitute. This version of strudel certainly got my attention due its unusual method. Instead of just piling the fruit in one spot, the apples are very finely sliced and layered over all the pastry - it's then rolled to form a spiral of alternating layers of apple and filo.

While the original used raisins I've replaced them with dried bluberries and for a little extra crunch, walnuts.

Apple and Blueberry Strudel© by Haalo

Apple and Blueberry Strudel

filo pastry (I used this filo)
6 Braeburn apples
80 grams dried blueberries
60 grams walnuts, roughly chopped
1 lemon, juiced
50 grams caster sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
melted butter
caster sugar, extra

Make the filling:

Take a cup of boiling water and pour it over the dried blueberries. Let this sit for 5 minutes, then drain.

Halve the apples, core, and then slice very finely. Place the apples into a bowl along with the drained blueberries.

Put the lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon into a small dish - stir to dissolve the sugar and then pour over the apples, tossing gentle to ensure the slices are well coated. Let this sit for 15 minutes.

Assemble the strudel:

I am using a rather rustic filo that certainly looks like it is made by someone's Greek gran and it is a bit thicker than the commercial varieties so only one sheet is needed. If you were making this with commercial pastry you'd need to use multiple sheets, each layer buttered to the next to provide the necessary strength.

The sheet I used was roughly 55cm square (23 inch).

Drain the apple slices really well before using.

Leave the top quarter of the pastry uncovered as well as an inch on the sides - cover the rest of the sheet in a single layer of the filling. Scatter over with the walnut pieces.

Apple and Blueberry Strudel© by Haalo

Fold the inch border over the filling and then begin to roll the filo to form a sausage shape - when you reach the uncovered section, brush this well with melted butter before continuing to roll.

Place this onto a baking paper lined tray and brush the top with butter and give it a light sprinkle of caster sugar.

Apple and Blueberry Strudel© by Haalo

Bake in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven until golden - this will take around 30-45 minutes depending on the type of pastry you have used.

Apple and Blueberry Strudel© by Haalo

Let it stand on the tray for a few minutes before sliding it onto a wire rack to cool.

Apple and Blueberry Strudel© by Haalo

It's certainly a new twist on an old favourite but utterly delicious!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Blog Party #38

We're having a birthday bash for this edition of Blog Party which is rather fitting since our wonderful hostess Stephanie celebrates her birthday this month.

With a call for fun and delicious food and drink I'm joining in with these two offerings

Croissant and Butter Puddings© by Haalo Mandarin Sorbet Float© by Haalo

Croissant and Apricot Butter Puddings and Mandarin Sorbet Float - the details can be found by following the links.

Croissant and Apricot Butter Puddings

This is just a variation of a bread and butter pudding - I've used croissants instead of bread and added apricot jam into the mix.

While it's more common to make this as a large pudding as it is for Blog Party, I've made individual serves.

croissant and butter puddings© by Haalo

Croissant and Apricot Butter Puddings

croissants, cut into thin slices
apricot jam
softened butter

1 egg
⅓ cup cream
⅓ cup milk
15 grams sugar

Make the custard:
I've listed the basic formula for the custard which can be easily multiplied to cope with a crowd - this amount should be enough to make 6 single serve puddings.

Place the egg, cream, milk and sugar into a bowl and whisk until just combined. Set aside until ready to use.

Make the pudding:
Lightly butter the slices of croissant and then top each slice with a little apricot jam (you can substitute your favourite jam or jelly).
Lay these slices, jam side up, into small pudding dishes - I used these ceramic muffin cases. There are two layers of croissant in each case and I only lightly pack the croissant into each case.

Place the dishes onto a baking tray and carefully pour over the custard mixture. Don't overfill, but allow the custard to be absorbed before adding more.

Bake in a preheated 180°C oven for around 20 minutes or until golden and puffed.

When cooked, remove to a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.

croissant and butter puddings© by Haalo

These are best served warm.

croissant and butter puddings© by Haalo

Mandarin Sorbet Float

Since it is a birthday theme for this month's Blog Party, you've got to make something that is colourful and playful.

For this drink I've taken the idea of a traditional "float" and used a combination of mandarin sorbet and a refreshing and "girly" Sparkling Pink Lemonade - for those that like a little kick in their beverages, a little vodka can also be added.

mandarin sorbet float© by Haalo

Mandarin Sorbet Float

Mandarin Sorbet
Parker's Sparkling Pink Lemonade (it's a mix of grape, apple, lemon and strawberry juices)
Vodka, optional

  • Place a small scoop of mandarin sorbet in a martini glass
  • Top with Pink Lemonade and Vodka, if using

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mung Bean Fettuccine

Psychgrad of Equal Opportunity Kitchen is hosting this edition of Presto Pasta Night and I've found another one of those unusual pastas

mung bean fettuccine© by Haalo

These olive green rippled fettuccine are in made from mung beans and come from the same people that make the black bean spaghetti I featured a few weeks back. As these are just made with green mung beans and water they are gluten free.

If you are interested here is a link to this product.

I'm going to keep the sauce very simple and focus on bringing in a bit of colour contrast. Using a base of sage and burnt butter sauce I've incorporated tender cubes of butternut pumpkin and topped it all with flakes of parmesan.

Mung Bean Fettuccine with Pumpkin© by Haalo

Mung Bean Fettuccine with Pumpkin & Sage Burnt Butter Sauce

Mung Bean Fettuccine
fresh sage leaves
diced butternut pumpkin, steamed until just tender
salt and pepper

Place a generous knob of butter and sage leaves into a skillet and allow to melt under a gentle heat. When the butter is starting to separate and colour, add in the diced pumpkin - season with a little freshly ground salt and pepper. Gently toss it to ensure it is well coated in the sage infused butter and keep it on a low heat until you see the pumpkin just starting to colour.

Remove from the heat and add in the cooked fettucine, carefully folding them through the sauce.

Place the pasta into serving bowls and finish off with a sprinkling of flaked parmesan.

Mung Bean Fettuccine with Pumpkin© by Haalo

That sweet nutty character of the pumpkin and sage burnt butter sauce worked well with the more austere nature of this type of pasta.
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