Month: August 2015

Veg serving ideas !

I love the taste of freshly steamed vegetables .The true taste is often preserved and I like my veggies crunchy with no oily taste.

However sometimes vegetables on their own are just plain boring and need a little flavour to make them go from boring to inspiring !

My tips for dressing up simple steamed vegetables are

1 simple balsamic glaze is great with green veg like beans

2 likewise a splash of fresh fruity extra virgin oil gives those same green beans flavour and a glossy coat

3 For an Asian twist fry some shallots with chili add a dash of ke cep manis and you suddenly have a dish worthy of eating on it’s own

4 Greens also marry well with a passata and olives along with a hint of chili

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Crazy Weird foods

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This week I invited a friend Graham to dinner. Graham is a very fine cook and is always keen to try cooking and eating new foods. Whilst shopping in our local little vietnamese area “” little Saigon” he picked up some very delicious Sydney rock oysters, as well as some sea urchins.

He gave me a quick ring and asked if I was up to the challenge of preparing a new food. I certainly was very curious about what was going to arrive and knowing it was purchased in the market that is called “Little Saigon” I guessed that it would be probably be a seafood.

I have tried sea urchins before during a boat ride around a greek island. The fisherman simply lifted one out of the water cracked it open and we all tried the roe. I didn’t have fond memories of it or the texture !!

This time Graham opened the first sea urchin carefully (they are quite spiky) and removed the roe , a pale soft mustard. We squirted a little lemon juice over and I was enraptured ! The second and third urchins had a completely different flavour and I didn’t enjoy them at all.

It shows how important it is to keep trying new things !!

Delicious Winter Deserts

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On Sunday I was asked to give some cooking classes at South Melbourne market. I jostled with a few different ideas. It has been soo cold in Melbourne and the food we eat when it is cold  becomes even more important. Should it be slow cooked meals ?? Perhaps hearty soups, but in a moment of needing sugar we decided on winter deserts!!

Over four hours we cooked chocolate steamed pots, cherry clafouti, Pear and Almond tart, but the all time favourite was white chocolate, croissant and raspberry pudding.

This pudding is a fancy take on the good old fashioned bread and butter pudding that our mothers made ,to help keep hungry stomachs happy.Then my mother made the pudding with simple white sliced bread, but I prefer to use either a good fruit bread or left over panetone. I have even been known to store one in the freezer from christmas so I can whip up this treat in winter.

The key to getting this desert right is using fabulous croissants !!! We were lucky enough to have a new patisserie called Agate

open just a week earlier and her croissants are amazing. They are light buttery and crisp !!!

I cut the croissants into half , spread with a nice berry jam and then cut them into four smaller pieces.Place these pieces into a heat proof dish. Dot the croissants with raspberry’s and small pieces of white chocolate. The quality of your chocolate will always have an impact so lindt is best.

Heat 425ml cream and 100g castor sugar until the sugar has dissolved. When this mixture is cool whisk in 4 eggs. Pour this mixture over the croissant and rest in the fridge for at least two hours. This step allows the croissant to soak up the custard .

Bake in an oven at approximately 180c for 35 to 40 minutes. Allow to stand for at leaf 10 minutes before serving.

Roasted Strawberries Cakes

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Cooked Strawberries adds a new element to a cake. Uncooked strawberries are full of moisture and this will often seep out and make the finished product, such as a cake too watery. Even strawberries that are seemingly tasteless can taste sweet once heat has been applied .Roasting strawberries makes delicious desert.

Simply cut washed strawberries into quarters, place on a baking tray.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and dust with icing sugar. Cook at 160c for approximately 30 minutes until cooked. The finished berries will be softened and be surrounded with a thick

syrup.

Once cool I like to place a couple of strawberries on top of this cake mixture and bake at 160c for approximately 25 minutes.

The cake mixture is simply mixing 6 egg whites with 1/2 cup sr flour, 1 cup icing sugar, 1 cup almond meal , 175g melted butter, along with the grated rind of one lemon. The egg whites don’t need whipping so this is a very easy cake mixture. I like to make them in muffin or friand tins.

Tips for a better result are.

  1. room temperature egg whites are best
  2. grinding your own almonds will always taste better and fresher than shop bought almond meal
  3. Spray the inside of the muffin tray for easy removal of your cake

Jerusalem Artichokes

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Yesterday I was out walking with good friend Stella.I met Stella when our two children started at kindergarten and feel lucky to have such a great friend, that also loves food and cooking.

Stella teaches at the local primary school, where they have a very fine vegetable patch. On our walk around our neighbourhood, Stella suggested we stop in at the primary school and have a look at what she described as a very strange vegetable.

Digging through the soil we turned up a great patch of Jerusalem Artichokes. They look like large pieces of ginger but are actually a tuber that are part of the sunflower family. I rarely see them at the supermarket, or even at market.

I think most people don’t know what they are or what to do with them !! Sadly they are delicious once cooked and make an excellent soup. The downside is that they take foreever to peel and it is peeling them today that reminds me how fidlly it can be !!!

My recommendation is to preserver and cook them with leek or onion , stock and make a delicious soup,or steam them and mash them like a potato.