Wednesday, October 29, 2008

King Island Dairy Double Brie

It's that time of year when you seem to do a lot more entertaining and cheese is usually on the menu.

king island dairy double brie© by Haalo

Maker: King Island Dairy
Name: Cape Wickham Double Brie

king island dairy double brie© by Haalo

The double brie is made by adding cream to the mix which produces a much richer and creamier finish and lush flavours.

king island dairy double brie© by Haalo

Deep bold coloured interior that stays firmish - there's a little softening towards the middle. Full flavours that seem to stick in your mouth, courtesy of that extra cream content.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Worth the wait

All over the world people are waiting to see this in their mailbox...

alinea mail box

It has probably been a year since I first ordered the book from Alinea and just on a week ago when I finally received that long awaited email - the book was in the post. There's no counting on the mysteries of the mail system between Australia and the world so I was beyond surprised to see this package on my doorstep today.

There were a few benefits to pre-ordering - one was that you got this lovely slip cover that isn't available anywhere else

alinea slip cover© by Haalo

alinea cookbook© by Haalo

alinea cookbook© by Haalo

and then of course there's the true star of the whole thing - the actual Alinea Book

alinea cookbook© by Haalo

alinea cookbook© by Haalo

And for us patient folk, the books have all been signed

alinea cookbook - signatures© by Haalo

I certainly look forward to slowly savouring this book - there's no reason to rush things.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Petit Pois a La Francaise

Laurie from Mediterranean Cooking In Alaska is our host for Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I have something that when I first laid eyes on them at the market I physically stopped in mid-step. Was I seeing things...are they really red skinned peas?

red-skinned peas© by Haalo

I haven't played around in photoshop to fiddle with the colour at all. From what I can gather and I don't have much information on them, they are just another variety of the common green pea - the major difference is that they have a deep red, almost maroon skin.

At this point, you may well be getting a bit excited wondering just what colour those peas are, so wait no longer. They are in fact...

red-skinned peas© by Haalo

a rather disappointing green. I shouldn't really say disappointing because fresh peas like these are so very hard to beat. When compared to the frozen form (and I would be lost without frozen peas in the off season) these taste as vibrant as they look.

The dish I'm making is a take on a bistro favourite Petit Pois à La Française - which is a dish made with onion, bacon, lettuce and fresh peas. Cooked in a good amount of butter which forms the sauce along with the cooking juices of the vegetables it's an ideal side for any occasion.


Petit Pois à La Française

500 grams peas, unshelled weight
1 leek, quartered and sliced finely
1 bacon rasher, cut into lardons (pancetta can be substituted)
100 grams Iceberg lettuce, shredded finely
salt and freshly ground white pepper

Place a generous knob of butter into a saucepan over a low heat and when melted add the bacon and leek. When the leek has softened but not coloured add the podded peas and cook until they are almost tender, about 5 minutes.

Add in three-quarters of the shredded lettuce and continuing cooking for a few more minutes. Add the remaining lettuce to the pan and cook until it has wilted. 

Taste and season with salt and white pepper as desired.


Serve at once with perhaps some baguette to soak up those buttery juices.

**Stop Press**

Next week is Weekend Herb Blogging's third birthday and Kalyn has ensured we're all in for a great time.  Make sure you read this post for all the details - You won't want to miss out on the celebrations.

If you are a bit unsure of who to vote for I offer for your consideration the following candidates:

votesage.jpg votepotato2.jpg votemango

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Spring Bruschetta

In Spring, even the most ordinary vegetables seem a little sweeter. Produce like Peas, Beans and Broad Beans come alive with flavour - too good to be shuffled off as side dishes. So in this Spring Bruchetta these vegetables are very much the star of the show.

spring bruschetta© by Haalo

There are slivers of yellow beans, green peas and broad beans, steamed long enough to just take the edge off and then lightly drizzled with aged Balsamic Vinegar. They are then piled high on thick slices of truffled goat curd smeared slices of toasted Ciabatta.

It's a dish that just makes you happy.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

White and Green Asparagus Tart

Amy and Jonny from We Are Never Full are our hosts for this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I'm wrapped my hands around some White Asparagus.

white asparagus© by Haalo

While regular old green Asparagus can be found just about everywhere at this time of the year, White Asparagus requires a little more effort.

There's no genetic difference between the two, the only difference is absence of light as it grows. Chlorophyll, the green pigment needs light for photosynthesis to occur and in turn give asparagus its green colour.

As an aside if you ever wanted to extract Chlorophyll, here's a post that explains the process.

If you are growing asparagus at home and would like to produce some white asparagus, the old fashioned process is to mould the soil around the spear has it grows - the soil stops light from hitting the spear.

White Asparagus contains Vitamins A and C as well as Calcium, Folate, Iron and Zinc. In Green Asparagus you'll also find high levels of Vitamin K.

In the recipe I've made, I will also be using Green Asparagus

green asparagus© by Haalo

to create a two tone tart. Alternating stripes of white and green asparagus are set on top of a leek and green asparagus filling which is bathed in a creamy egg mixture and baked until golden.

white and green asparagus tart© by Haalo

White and Green Asparagus Tart
[Makes an 18cmx28cm tart]

5 spears White Asparagus
10 spears Green Asparagus
1 large leek, quartered and finely diced, about 150 grams
6 sheets filo pastry
3 eggs
½ cup cream
½ cup milk
salt and freshly ground white pepper

Prepare the White Asparagus:
Remove the woody ends and trim the asparagus to fit across the tart tin. Slice the asparagus in half lengthways and set aside.

Prepare the Green Asparagus:
Remove the woody ends and trim 5 Aspargus to fit across the tart tin. Slice these in half lengthways and place with the white asparagus. Blanch these spears in boiling water for about 1 minute - drain immediately. These will be used to top the tart.

Slice the remaining Asparagus into discs - be sure to incorporate any of the white and green asparagus trimmings to this. You should end up with about 150 grams of sliced Asparagus, though you don't need to be precise with these quantities.

Make the filling:
Sauté the asparagus and leek gently in a little butter until softened but not coloured. Season with salt and white pepper and then set aside to cool before using.

Make the tart:
Take six sheets of filo pastry - sandwich each layer with melted butter and then use them to line the tart tin.

Lightly scatter over the filling, ensuring it evenly covers the base of the tart.


Lightly whisk the eggs with cream and milk, season with a little salt before pouring it over the filling.

Carefully lay alternating coloured slices of asparagus over the tart - make sure you alternate the spear direction as well.


Bake in a preheated 160°C/320°F oven until golden and the pastry is crisp, about 30 minutes.


Let it cool for a few minutes in the tart to allow the mixture to settle - you'll notice that the filling will have puffed out when you first remove it from the oven. As soon as it deflates, it is ready to serve.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Blog Party #39

Gross Anatomy is the theme for this month's Blog Party, graciously hosted by Stephanie from Dispensing Happiness and it certainly had me heading to the books for inspiration.

I had flittered with the thought of using Ljubomir Erovic's The Testicle Cookbook but perhaps that might just be taking the theme a little too far. So I've come up with two more appropriate offerings instead:

ladies' fingers© by Haalo, on Flickr melting martian© by Haalo

Ladies' Fingers and Melting Martian

Ladies Fingers

While the name fits in with the theme for this month's Blog Party, these delectable Lebanese treats will be welcome at any celebration.

The recipe comes from local cooking legend and restaurateur Abla Amad and her classic book The Lebanese Kitchen. The original recipe calls for lamb mince but I have used beef.

Please note: No fingers have been harmed in the making of the following dish.

ladies fingers© by Haalo, on Flickr

Filo Pastry
40 grams pine nuts
250 grams minced beef (or lamb)
1 onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon sumac
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make the filling:
Drizzle a little olive oil in a skillet and place over a low heat. Add the pine nuts and stir constantly until golden. Be very careful as they will very easily burn. As soon as you see them start to change colour, remove the pan from the heat and keep stirring. When they are evenly coloured, place them on paper towels to drain.

In the same pan, add a little oil along with the onion, cumin, allspice and sumac. Cook until the onion has softened and become translucent. Add the meat and continue to stir - cook until the meat has changed colour and cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and add back the pine nuts, stir to distribute them evenly and then place the mixture into a bowl to cool.

Make the Ladies' Fingers:
Cut the filo sheets into 8cm/3 inch wide x 25cm/9 inch long strips.

Form pairs with these strips - sandwich these layers together with a little melted butter.

Take one sandwiched pair and place it in front of you and then place another sandwiched pair at the base of this strip to form an inverted T.

Place a good teaspoon of filling in the centre to form a sausage shape.

ladies fingers© by Haalo

Fold the sides in and over the filling. Brush the exposed pastry with a little melted butter and roll to form a tight cigar shape.

ladies fingers© by Haalo

Repeat the process with the remaining filling - you should get around 20 ladies' fingers. You can store these in the fridge until you are ready to cook between sheets of baking paper so they don't stick together.

To cook:

Place a sheet of baking paper onto a baking tray - brush the sheet with a little olive oil and then arrange the ladies fingers on top. Brush these with a little extra oil and then bake in a preheated 180°C/350°F until golden - about 20 minutes.

<ladies fingers© by Haalo

Arrange on wire racks to cool slightly - these are best served warm from the oven.

ladies fingers© by Haalo

Melting Martian

While the Ladies' Fingers aren't quite what they seem, this next item for Blog Party isn't for the squeamish.

There are some people that want you to believe that Midori is really melon liqueur but I know the truth. Its lurid green colouring gives it away - it is really liquefied Martians!

See, you thought all those "Mars Rover" expeditions were about exploring Mars. Seriously though, Mars Rover is really a giant juice extractor. Why do you think the missions are always "failing"? They don't want you to see the truth.

Now before the authorities come knocking at my door, I better hurry up and give you the instructions to make this


1 tablespoon Liquefied Martian Midori
1 tablespoon Lemon Vodka
Martian Eyeballs or Melon Balls
Angostura Bitters

  • Pour the Midor and Vodka into a glass, stir and top up with lemonade
  • Drop in two Martian Eyeballs or if you can't find them, a couple of melon balls drizzled with a little angostura bitters for effect

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Stuffed Swiss Brown Mushrooms

While looking in the fridge I spied a few Swiss Brown Mushrooms lurking in the corner.

swiss brown mushroom© by Haalo

Nearby sat a little ricotta and some of that truffled goat curd. From the tortelloni, I know those ingredients go well together so why not continue with that theme and use them to stuff these mushrooms.

Rather than just throw away the mushroom stems, I've cooked them up and added them to the filling to give it an extra mushroom hit. The end product gives you the best of both worlds - that rich mushroom flavour that oven roasting brings out and a soft and creamy center that works to carry those flavours.


Stuffed Swiss Brown Mushrooms

6 swiss brown mushrooms
50 grams ricotta
2 tablespoons Truffled Goat Curd
salt and pepper

Prepare the mushrooms:
Remove the stem from each cap and set them aside.
Gently clean the cap with a moist towel to remove any dirt.

Cook the stems:
Finely dice the reserved mushroom stems and sauté in a little butter until golden. Set aside to cool.

Make the ricotta stuffing:
Push the ricotta through a fine mesh sieve - stir in the truffled goat curd. Fold the cooled mushroom stems through the mix - taste and then season with salt and pepper as desired.

Stuff the mushrooms:
Spoon or pipe the stuffing into each cap - make sure the filling rises high above the cap. Store these in a sealed dish in the fridge until ready to use.


Cook the mushrooms:

Drizzle a little oil over a baking paper lined tray. Place the mushrooms, one a time onto the tray, smearing them across the oil to give them a light coating.

Bake in a preheated 160°C/320°F oven until the mushrooms have cooked and the stuffing has set.


Serve at once as finger-food or as a side dish.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sweet Corn Veloute

Susan from The Well-Seasoned Cook is hosting Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I've turned to Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn© by Haalo

Corn is a good source of many helpful nutrients that include Vitamin B1 and B5, Vitamin C, fibre, folate, manganese and phosphorous. It also contains two powerful anti-oxidants - lutein and zeaxanthin. These compounds are useful in reducing the risk of macular degeneration. So not only is corn pleasant to look at, it might just help save your sight.

In this week's dish, I'm concentrating on bringing out the pure flavours of sweet corn. As it's the Spring Racing Carnival my mind turns to entertainment and ideas for finger food - especially items that are easy to make but look and taste impressive.

As the weather can be a bit hit and miss in Spring, I'm making a soup sip - or as I've called it a Velouté - it's just that much more richer and luxurious that it deserves the title (even though it isn't a traditional velouté).

You may well look at the ingredient list and say "is that is?" but believe me, you won't get a soup more creamier with more of those pure sweet corn flavour than this. It's a little glass of sunshine!

Sweet Corn Velouté© by Haalo

Sweet Corn Velouté

1 cob sweet corn, husked
freshly ground salt

Carefully slice down the cob to remove the kernels - chop the core into thick slices.

Place the corn kernels and core into a saucepan and top with enough milk to generously cover.

Simmer on a very low heat until the kernels are tender - discard the cores.

Tip the ingredients into a blender and process until smooth.

For an extra velvety result, pour the blended ingredients through a fine sieve and discard the solids (you can also use these solids in the croquettes).

Place this sieved mixture into a clean saucepan, taste and season as desired. Simmer until reheated.

To get a creamy finish, use a hand blender to froth up the velouté before serving.

Sweet Corn Velouté© by Haalo

As a bonus, I've served the velouté with these little Potato, Corn and Chorizo Croquettes.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Potato Corn and Chorizo Croquettes

While these croquette make an excellent accompaniment to the Sweet Corn Velouté, you'll find that they will work just as well as stand-alone finger-food.

With its potato base you can really incorporate whatever flavourings suit the occasion and your particular tastes. Your imagination truly is the only limit.

Potato Corn and Chorizo Croquettes© by Haalo

Potato, Corn and Chorizo Croquettes
[Makes about 20]

1 medium potato
½ chorizo, diced finely
2 tablespoons pureed corn
freshly ground salt

Sauté the diced chorizo until crisp. Drain them on paper towels and allow to cool before using.

Boil or steam the potato until tender. Push the potato through a ricer to obtain a fine mash.

Add the chorizo and pureed corn - stir well until combined. Taste and season as desired.

Take small spoonfuls of the mixture and roll to form cylinders.

Potato Corn and Chorizo Croquettes© by Haalo

When all the mixture has been rolled, you can now crumb them.

Break an egg into a small bowl and lightly whisk with a fork. Pour a generous quantity of breadcrumbs into another bowl.

Roll the cylinder gently around the egg, drain well and then place in the breadcrumbs. Gently roll the cylinder around the breadcrumbs until coated and place to one side. Repeat the process until all the cylinders are crumbed.

To get an extra crunch, I double crumb the croquettes - dip them in egg and re-roll in crumbs.

You can store these in the fridge until ready to use.

Potato Corn and Chorizo Croquettes© by Haalo

Either shallow or deep fry until golden. I like to shallow fry using a small sauce pan and I only cook about 3 at a time. This gives me much better control over the temperature of the oil and the speed at which the croquettes cook.

Once golden, drain on paper towels and serve while hot.

Potato Corn and Chorizo Croquettes© by Haalo

The crisp shell hides the fluffy interior, spiked with crisp chorizo.

Potato Corn and Chorizo Croquettes© by Haalo

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Banana and Dark Chocolate

The individual puddings went down so well that I'm revisiting them. This time I'm making a full size version using croissants again instead of bread but I've added fresh banana and dark chocolate to the mix for a little extra bit of indulgence. Who can really resist those pockets of molten dark chocolate?

banana & dark chocolate puddings© by Haalo

Banana & Dark Chocolate Croissant Butter Pudding

3 stale croissants
softened butter
1 banana, halved lenthways and sliced
Dark chocolate - I used Lindt 58% Piccoli
2 eggs
⅔ cup cream
⅔ cup milk
30 grams caster sugar

Slice the croissants lengthways into four even slices. Lightly butter each of these slices.

Form the first layer using the bottom and top pieces of croissant - keep the internal slices for the next layers.

Scatter over with half the banana slices and some dark chocolate pieces.

Repeat, ending with a layer of buttered croissant.

Whisk the eggs with cream, milk and sugar until just combined and carefully pour this over the croissants to ensure they are all soaked.

Sprinkle over with a little extra caster sugar.

Place the baking dish onto a baking tray and cook, in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven until golden and puffed, around 30 - 45 minutes.

banana & dark chocolate puddings© by Haalo

Let it rest for a few minutes before serving.

banana & dark chocolate puddings© by Haalo

Use a large serving spoon to scoop out your servings.

anana & dark chocolate puddings© by Haalo
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