28 October 2010

Carrot, Coriander and Orange Soup

A pile of beautiful organic carrots from Epicurean Supplies was the inspiration for this soup.  Full of flavour but light, fragrant and with hint of orange it is a perfect Spring soup.  What's more you can rustle this up in under 30 minutes.  So easy to put together even as a light mid week dinner.  And you can make a batch and freeze it too.

Carrot:  Carrots were originally purple, black, yellow or even white.  It was the Dutch who bred the carrot to orange in the 18th century. Avoid carrot with green shoulders as they will be bitter. The versatile carrot can be boiled or steamed but becomes even sweeter when slow cooked or roasted in a little butter or olive oil.

Carrot Likes: butter, dill, mint, parsley, cream, sour cream, walnuts, almonds, honey, brown sugar, orange, ginger, cardamon, cinnamon, coriander and poppy seeds.

Carrot, Coriander and Orange Soup

Ingredients
Serves 4  

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
500 g carrots, roughly sliced
1 tsp ground coriander or 2 tbsp coriander seeds ground in a pestle and mortar
Zest of one orange
1.2 litres vegetable stock
1 large bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper


Directions 

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the onions and the carrots.  Cook for 4-5 minutes until starting to soften.  Stir in the ground coriander, orange zest and season well with salt and pepper.  Cook for a minute or 2.  Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil.  Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 - 15 minutes.  Blend with a hand blender or in a blender until smooth. To serve stir in the fresh coriander and serve with crusty bread and butter for light and tasty lunch.  I also added just a wee drizzle of chilli oil.  They heat played very nicely with the sweetness of the carrots and freshness of the orange zest.

Enjoy!

26 October 2010

Supper Club #5

A little belated in getting this one up.  Another fun filled Supper Club with delicious food and exceptional company.  Thanks Steph for a beautiful meal and Supper Club girls for fun!

To kick things off Polpettine.  Tasty little Sicilian Meatballs by way of Annabel Langbein.  For those of you not in n NZ you should look her up.  Great fresh, seasonal inspiration.  The lemon flavour really comes through and the currants add a little sweetness...seriously moreish little morsels.


Polpettine

Ingredients
Serves 6 as an appetizer

1 cup day old breadcrumbs, preferably ciabatta or sourdough 
1/4 cup water or milk 
500g minced pork 
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1tbsp chopped capers 
1/2 tsp chilli flakes, you could add a few more if you like a little more heat.
1/4 tsp fresh rosemary, very finely chopped
2 tbsp currants, finely chopped 
1/4 cup Parmesan, freshly grated 
Zest of 1 lemon 
Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 250 °C.
Mix the breadcrumbs with water or milk to soften. Stand for a couple of minutes before adding all the remaining ingredients.  Work the mixture together well with your hands. Use wet hands to form mixture into 24 balls about the size of big walnuts.
Place meatballs on a shallow baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 8-10 minutes until firm to the touch and lightly golden.   Alternatively they can be fried in a little olive oil until golden brown (about 12-15 minutes.) Serve hot with dipping sauce.

Crème Fraiche Sauce 
Mix 1 cup crème fraiche with 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and 1 tablespoon chopped capers. Makes just over 1 cup and it will keep in the fridge for a few days.)


Cooks tip:  I just used traditional supermarket breadcrumbs and they were fine. These browned up well in the oven but use a metal tray (the ones on the Pyrex tray didn’t brown!)  Annabel says this is also nice served with a tomato pasta sauce. Only light Crème Fraiche was available which made the sauce quite watery – hold out for the full fat stuff!

For the main event Veal Scallopini, a classic and it was delicious.  I love mushrooms so anything in a creamy mushroom sauce works for me.

Veal Scallopini

Ingredients
Serves 4

4 veal steaks 
30g butter 
1 small onion chopped finely 
1/4 cup (60ml) dry sherry 
2 tsp flour 
1/2 cup (125ml) beef stock 
125g button mushrooms, sliced thinly 
2 tbsp cream

Directions

Remove fat from veal and pound it out thinly. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and cook the veal, while butter is foaming, about 3 minutes, turning once. Remove from pan and cook the onion until soft. Pour in the sherry. Bring the sherry to the boil. Stir in the blended flour and stock and stir until sauce comes to a boil. Return the veal to pan. Add the mushrooms and mix well. Cover the pan ad simmer gently for 10 minutes. Stir in cream and stir until heated through.

 
On the side Potato Fennel Gratin from Ina Garten the Barefoot Contessa...fail proof, flawless and always delicious recipes.  With all the butter and cream they are always going to taste great.  This was creamy, cheesy and decadent and just how a gratin should be.  Pretty sure as with most gratins these are always great the next day too.  Sadly not often any leftovers!

Potato-Fennel Gratin (The Barefoot Contessa)
 
Ingredients

Serves 10 - easy enough to half for smaller quantity.
2 small fennel bulbs 
1 onion, thinly sliced 
2 tbsp good olive oil 
1 tbsp unsalted butter 
1kg russet potatoes (4 large, I used Agria) 
2 cups plus 2 tbsp cream
2 1/2 cups (250g) grated Gruyere 
Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 180 °C. Butter the inside of a 25cm x 40cm x 5cm (10 cup) baking dish. Remove stalks from the fennel and cut the bulbs in half lengthwise. Remove the cores and thinly slice crosswise. Sauté the fennel and onions in the olive oil and butter on medium-low heat for 15 minutes, until tender.
Peel the potatoes, and then thinly slice them by hand or with a mandoline. Mix the potatoes in a large bowl with 2 cups of cream, 2 cups of Gruyere, salt and pepper. Add the sautéed fennel and onion and mix well. Pour the potatoes into the baking dish. Press down to smooth the potatoes. Combine the remaining 2 tbsp of cream and 1/2 cup of cheese and sprinkle on top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours until potatoes are very tender and the top is browned and bubbly. Allow to set for 10 minutes before serving.
 
These two dishes are nice served with fresh green beans. I can attest to that.

Cooks Tip: I used Veal Back Straps from Nosh (gourmet market in NZ) – amazingly tender. I tried to flatten the steaks out with a glass (no mallet) which didn’t really work but they still tasted nice!
I also noticed that the steaks cooked terribly in the electric fry pan vs. the more traditional fry pan.


Frangelico Affogato (inspired by Steph's friend Jane!)


Frangelico:a brand of noisette, or hazelnut and herb-flavored liqueur which is produced in Canale, Italy. It was released in the 1980s, gaining attention largely because of its unusual packaging: its bottle was designed to look like a friar, complete with a knotted white cord around the waist.  Frangelico is made in a similar manner to some other nut liqueurs: nuts are crumbled up and combined with cocoa, vanilla berries, and other natural flavors, and then left to soak in the base spirit. After the spirit has absorbed the flavor of the ingredients, the liqueur is filtered, sweetened, and bottled. This is also great served over ice with a squeeze of fresh lime.


Ingredients
Serves 4

2 cups freshly brewed strong espresso (plunger fine) 
80ml (1/3 cup) Frangelico liqueur 
4 scoops vanilla ice-cream  

Directions
 
Combine the coffee and liqueur in a jug. Spoon the ice cream in the serving glasses. Pour coffee mixture over. Serve immediately.

Yum...ice cream, Frangelico and coffee.  The perfect ending to another fabulous Supper Club.  Next stop Ms Teresa's so watch this space.

Gemma also enjoyed Supper Club...


25 October 2010

Broad Bean Salad with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette


For me my broad beans being ready to eat heralds Spring is well and truly hear.  I love those bright green sweet little beans that are young, fresh and tender broad beans. If picking them young they don't need any cooking of peeling, they are perfect just as they are. Italians are big fans of very fresh, very young, very tender broad beans raw served simply with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and a few shavings of Pecorino or Parmesan - as always they do simple so well and just let the fresh flavours speak for themselves.  If using older or frozen broad beans they are bit of work but so worth all the podding, cooking and peeling to savour these little green gems.

This tasty salad ticks the boxes on a number of fronts.  First and foremost it is delicious and another something a little different to add to your salad repertoire.  As an added bonus the broad beans are full of protein and fibre and that's not all, then there is a whole lot of antioxidants from the corn, cucumber, garlic and parsley.  It was also a great way to savour some fresh broad beans straight out of the garden. The roasted garlic adds a lovely nutty sweetness that only roasted garlic can.


Clara also loves the vegetable patch.

Broad Beans Like: pasta, rice and egg dishes, salad greens, salty hard Italian cheeses, cream, butter, ham, bacon, salmon, prawns, crab, carrots, peas, artichoke, asparagus, saffron, mushrooms and olives.  Also great pureed or mashed.

Broad Bean Salad with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette - tweaked a little from wholeliving.com

Ingredients
Serves 4

For the vinaigrette
1 head garlic, 1/2 inch cut off top to reveal cloves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
3/4 cup (2 ounces) walnuts, toasted and chopped
Freshly ground pepper, to taste 





For the salad
1lb, 500g shucked fresh broad beans (from 3lb, 1.5kg pods; 3 1/2 cups)
2 cups fresh corn kernels (or frozen work well too)
1 medium cucumber, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions
Make the vinaigrette. 
Preheat oven to 190°C
Drizzle garlic with 1 teaspoon oil. Wrap in parchment, then in foil. Bake until soft, about 30 minutes. Squeeze garlic from skins. Mash until smooth. Whisk together the remaining ingredients with 1 tablespoon of the roasted garlic and remaining 2 teaspoons oil.  
Make the salad: Prepare an ice-water bath. Cook the broad beans in a large pot of boiling water for 2 minutes if using older or frozen beans. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the broad beans to an ice-water bath to stop them cooking further. Let them cool completely and remove them with the slotted spoon. Cook the corn in the same pot for 1 minute, and drain. Peel the thin shells off the broad beans. Toss the broad beans with the corn, cucumber, onion, parsley and the vinaigrette.

Perfect as a side with some grilled chicken or fish and as per the original recipe a little crumbed feta would be a welcome addition.


Enjoy!
 


23 October 2010

Herb Crusted Fish and Crispy Rosemary Potatoes

Mum and Dad just arrived from the UK and post a very long long haul flight wanted to serve up something light, healthy and tasty.  After all that time at 30,000 feet I always crave fresh and light food.  Some fish fresh from the Auckland Fishmarket sounded perfect to me.  I went with the intention of getting some snapper but they had some beautiful looking blue cod, so I went with that.  Delicious simply pan fried with a little lemon juice or baked with some tomatoes and olives. 

I decided to go with a herb bread crumb crusted fish with a few crispy rosemary potatoes and a fresh green salad.  Light and healthy with just a little hint of indulgence...balanced I say.  This is a super quick supper, the potatoes take the longest but they can be popped in the oven while you prepare everything else.


Herb Crusted Fish

Ingredients
Serves 4

Pre-heat oven to 190°C.  
Enough Fish fillets for 4, I used blue cod and those fillets are huge, so 1 fillet is plenty for 2.
2 cups fresh bread crumbs, just whiz up some bread in a food processor.  You could use bought bread crumbs or panko crumbs at a push but really just not the same with this dish.
50g butter melted
Bunch chives, chopped
Handful mint leaves, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper 

Directions

Place the bread crumbs in a bowl with the herbs, lemon zest and melted butter.  Season and mix everything together.
Place the fish in a shallow baking dish and top with the bread crumb mixture.
Place in pre-heated oven for 10 - 15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets. Place in the same oven as the potatoes for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking.



Crispy Rosemary Potatoes

These are a variation on Parmentier potatoes.  Antoine-Augustin Parmentier is remembered as a vocal promoter of the potato as a food source.  Thanks largely to Parmentier's efforts, the Paris Faculty of Medicine declared potatoes edible in 1772. Prior to this it was mainly used as animal feed and n 1748 the French Parliament had actually forbidden the cultivation of the potato on the ground that it was thought to cause leprosy among other things!  Two dishes are named after Parmentier: Pommes Parmentier is 1 cm diced cubed potatoes fried in butter (bacon, onions garlic or herbs can be added), the potage parmentier, a pureed leek and potato soup. Unpureed the soup is referred to as potage parisien. 
Ingredients

1 medium sized potato per person, diced to 1.5 cm / 1/2 inch cubes.  If larger potatoes not a problem, these crispy little morsels are terribly moreish so any extra will likely be more than welcome.
2 tbsp Rosemary, finely chopped
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper

Directions

Place the potatoes on a baking tray and toss with the rosemary and enough olive oil to coat the potatoes.  Season well with salt and pepper and place in a 190°C pre-heat oven for 30 minutes or until crispy and golden.

Serve with the herb crusted fish and a green salad.  Lovely with nice chilled glass of pinot gris.  The crust is really fragrant with the herbs and the lemon zest lifts it to that next level of citrus freshness.  As of for the potatoes, I reckon it is pretty much impossible for any crispy golden type potatoes not to taste amazing.

Really a lovely Spring / Summer dinner.


Enjoy!

21 October 2010

Creamy Lemon & Asparagus Pasta

I love asparagus.  Those bright green spears are here for such a short time but so worth the wait and such a taste of longer days, BBQs and Summer just around the corner.

Asparagus Likes: butter, hollandaise sauce, toasted bread crumbs, garlic, seafood, smoked salmon, prosciutto (simple blanched and wrapped in prosciutto is delicious), tarragon, dill, parsley, thyme, chives, anchovies, capers, olives, broad beans, zucchini and artichoke.

Asparagus also loves a soft boiled egg...



Served simply steamed with a soft boiled egg for breakfast, just perfect.

Again thanks to Epicurean Supplies for the giant bunch of beautiful asparagus.  My new donna hay magazine also arrived  with it's stunning bright yellow cover...how gorgeous is that.


Full of Spring cooking inspiration and of course some asparagus.  It is Labour Weekend here in NZ on the weekend and a dozen or so friends round for a BBQ.  Fingers crossed for sunshine.  On the menu barbecued butterflied leg of lamb, possibly with lots of rosemary and garlic and thinking the perfect side could be some asparagus with Pecorino and Lemon Dressing courtesy of donna hay magazine.

Asparagus with Pecorino and Lemon Dressing
Serves 2, but easy enough to double or triple up to serve a few more.
Place one tbsp of lemon juice, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp lemon zest, 1 clove garlic, crushed and 1/4 cup shave Pecorino in a bowl and toss to combine.  Use to top asparagus, trimmed and blanched just for a moment or 2.  How easy is that?  Reckon it will go a treat with the lamb.

This pasta dish also caught my eye.  Creamy Asparagus and Lemon Pasta.  Light, yet creamy, so just a hint of indulgence which is always good, and of course asparagus.

Creamy Asparagus and Lemon Pasta


Ingredients
Serves 4

400g linguine (I had spaghetti in the pantry so used that)
340g asparagus sliced length ways, use a vegetable peeler for long thin ribbons.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup, 240g sour cream
1/2 cup, 125 ml lemon juice, I added some zest too, hard to break the habit and I love it!
1/3 cup, 80ml chicken stock (Or vegetable stock would work too)
Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup, finely grated Parmesan plus extra, to serve
3/4 cup basil leaves

Directions

Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water, remember it should taste like the sea.  Cook according to the packet instructions.  I actually like to do a moment or 2 less to keep it al dente, with just a little bit of bite.  Plus it will keep cooking while combing with the sauce.
Add the asparagus in to the saucepan with the pasta for the last couple of minutes.  Drain and return to the pan to keep warm.
Heat a large non stick frying pan over a medium heat.  Add the oil and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add the sour cream,lemon juice (and zest), stock, salt and pepper and mix until well combined.  Add the pasta and asparagus to the pan with the Parmesan and basil leaves and mix to combine.  Top pasta with extra Parmesan to serve.



Creamy, light and lemony.  A perfect Spring dinner that can be rustled up in no time at all, pretty much as long as the pasta takes to cook.  With a simple green salad and a nice wee chilled glass of pinot gris, delicious and Spring on a plate.

Enjoy!

18 October 2010

Potato, Celariac and Truffle Oil Soup



I found some celeriac in the fridge that needed immediate attention.  Don't be put off by the ugly appearance.


So what to do?  I was actually browsing through Jamie Oliver's website and found myself amongst soups.  Even though it is Spring I was most definitely in soup making frame of mind.  And with parents arriving from Scotland next week thought I'd stock the freezer up with some quick lunches.  What really caught my eye was "truffle oil". 

Until recently I have not been a huge fan of truffles full stop.  I find they can be so overwhelmingly pungent and over powering, taking over rather than enhancing.  That was until a visit to Sabato a week or so ago when they had Mas Portell White Truffle Infused Olive Oil open for tasting.  Just beautiful.  Pungent yes, but not too much  and just the smell, slightly sweet and fragrant aroma - it was heavenly. They actually have quite a plethora of truffle stuff...truffle butter, truffle salt, truffle juice, truffle puree, whole truffles and truffle cream which I think could possibly be quite exceptional with pasta.  Potentially foresee a truffle phase coming on as this is my new favourite ingredient.

And then I came across this recipe potato, celeriac and truffle oil soup.  A perfect match with ingredients on hand.  I held off on the cream and had a delicious, rich, full of flavour soup.  Cream would of course take it to the next level and most certainly be decadent.

Celeriac: this round, rather ugly ball has a wild tangle of roots at the bottom and tick green inedible stalks and leaves at the top.  Celeriac can be roasted or steamed and they make for an excellent mash or creamy soup (see below).  Or it can be made in to the classic French remoulade.  Thin freshly grated celeriac mixed with mustard mayonnaise...a tasty little condiment.
Once peeled celeriac will brown quickly so to avoid this, if not using straight away, just place it in some acidulated water, that would be water with a little lemon juice.


Celeriac Likes: butter, apples, cream, mayonnaise, walnuts, lemon, mustard, chives, parsley, pickles, gherkins and cheese (blue, Gruyere, cheddar) For a truly wicked gratin layer slices of celeriac with Gruyere cheese, season each layer, pour in some cream and bake in until bubbling and golden brown.

So here is the recipe for the soup that will be ready for supper in only 40 minutes or so.

Potato, celeriac and truffle oil soup
Ingredients
1 white onion, peeled and roughly chopped ( I also added a few stalks of diced celery)
1 good knob of butter
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch of fresh thyme
500g celeriac, peeled and roughly diced
500g floury potatoes, peeled and roughly diced
1.1 litres chicken stock (if you want to go vegetarian vegetable stock would work too :))
100ml double cream - I didn't happen to have any and this still came out beautifully.
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3–4 tablespoons truffle oil

Directions
In an appropriately sized pot, slowly fry the onion in the butter and olive oil for about 5 minutes until translucent and soft but not coloured at all. Get your bunch of thyme, tie it up with a little string and add to the pot with the celeriac, potatoes and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 40 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add the cream, bring back to the boil, then remove the thyme and purée the mixture in a liquidizer or food processor. Season carefully to taste, adding the truffle oil tablespoon by tablespoon – the oil can vary in strength depending on the brand. Divide between your serving bowls. Feel free to improvise by adding croûtons, a little extra cream or, if you're really lucky, some real black or white truffles shaved over the top.

To serve I added a few celery leaves, a little quenelle of sour cream and a drizzle of the white truffle oil - totally in love with that stuff.  The warmth of the soup releases the wonderful aroma of the truffle oil.  Great for lunch with some crusty bread and butter.  Comfort food indeed!



Enjoy!

17 October 2010

Ginger Chilli Chicken

I was in need of a few nibbles before heading out to celebrate my gorgeous friend Kerry's 40th Birthday Outrageous Fortune style.  If you're not from these parts rather hard to describe the traditional Westie style! Click through to Outrageous Fortune to get an idea.  Will definitely be a fun night, however some sustenance needed pre party.

Rather than chips and dips thought I'd rustle up some  chicken nibbles, easy, tasty and real food.  This ginger chilli marinade is spicy and fragrant.  It can be whipped up in a moment or 2 and could be used as a sauce for noodles and stir fries as well as a marinade for chicken or fish.

I promise you it couldn't be easier to liven up some chicken nibbles.

Ginger Chilli Chicken
Ingredients
1 tbsp sesame oil
1-2 sliced long red chillis, I like 2 as I like it quite spicy. If you like less heat just use one and de-seed.
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup chicken stock
750g chicken nibbles (chicken wings) 


Directions
Mix everything together in a bowl.
Place chicken and marinade in sealed Glad bag and give the marinade a good massage in to the chicken nibbles.
Place in refrigerator for an hour or 2 to marinate.
Place chicken on a baking tray and place in to a pre heated 190°C for 30 - 40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and golden brown.  The juices will run clear when cooked through. With Summer around the corner these would also work well in the BBQ.

 
Go on give it a go as it really is as easy as that and use as a marinade, as a sauce for stir fries, or to brush on meats just before grilling.

Enjoy!