Saturday, December 22, 2007

Fettucini with Sweet Tomato Sauce & Baked Ricotta

IM BACK!! I have not posted for 2 months! And it has been very frustrating! Over the last two months I've had a lot of changes in my life. I lost my job as my employer developed terminal cancer and closed down the practice. When I finished up there in late October I took two weeks off and went to Queensland to visit my brother and his wife who are expecting their first baby in April. Then I started a new job which has much much longer hours than my previous job! And on top of that Andy started a new job as a truck driver, travelling all over Australia - so I'm home alone a lot more - thus no one to cook for! :-( But I'm on Xmas holidays now, and so is Andy - so I finally finally was able to cook last night. And so this was the choice. Andy requested pasta, and I'd had my eye on this Jamie Oliver recipe for some time...

It was really really simple. I feared it would be a bit bland once I actually started putting the ingredients together. But it was delicious. Really filling, yet very light. Andy described it as refreshing. Didn't take long. Incredibly simple. And really yum served with hot crusty garlic bread..

450 gram piece of ricotta cheese
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 flat teaspoon of dried oregano
1 flat teaspoon of chilli flakes
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
a knob of butter
2 x 400g tins of good quality plum tomatoes
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
455g fettucini
a handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
2 handfuls of freshly grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius. Rub the ricotta all over with the olive oil, salt, pepper, chilli and oregano. Place on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 20 minutes until golden and firm. In a pan, slowly fry the onion and garlic in the butter and a good drizzle of olive oil. Cook for four minutes until sweet and softened. Add the tomatoes, simmer gently for about 15 minutes, then break the tomatoes up with a spoon. Add the balsamic vinegar and the sugar and stir until you have a fine tomato sauce.

Meanwhie, bring a large pan of salted water to teh boil and cook teh fetuccini according to the packet instructions. When cooked, drain and reserve some of the cooking water. Toss the pasta with teh tomato sauce and add a little of the reserved water to loosen if necessary. Correct the seasoning carefully to taste, and then, working quickly, add most of the basil and parmesan cheese. Place into a warmed bowl, rip over some extra basil and grate over a little extra parmesan. Either crumble the baked ricotta over the pasta, or serve it at the table with a spoon in it and let everyone crumble some over their plates...


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Risotto Relay Rundown

Well, its time to judge our very first blogging event - The Risotto Relay, and boy was it tough for the 2 of us to agree on one winner.

We had 14 entries and I reckon I could sit down at the dinner table and enjoy them all. I tell ya, looking at all this risotto means I am craving it and we're having it for dinner here in Sydney on this sunny Sunday.

There is probably more than 14 ways to say yummy but I can't think of them right now, instead take a look for yourself...

So the 1st entry we received was from Brilynn Jumboempanadas with her Prawn/Shrimp & Pea Risotto

2nd was Simona from PBJonrye with Pumpkin Risotto but we didn't get a copy of a photo and I am unable to get a link to take you directly there, its worth a look though. (Augustina, please email us a photo if you see this and we'll amend it).

3rd was Augustina from Briciole with an idea for leftovers, Risotto-al-salt

4th was Chez Denise from Chezdeniseetlaudalino with Abalone Mushroom Risotto

Number 5 was Gretchen from Canelaycomino with Mushroom Barley Risotto

Number 6 was Lizann from Bitsnbites, Saffron & Prawn Risotto

7th was Lisa from Chefmomcooks made Breakfast Risotto

Number 8 was Zuzana from Burntmouth made Mushroom & Wine Risotto

Number 9 , Annemarie from Divineambrosia had 2 entries, one was Annemarie, Squid Paella & Pumpkin & Sage

Next to arrive was Kevin from Closetcooking with Pear & Gorgonzola Risotto

The last entry to land in our inbox was the sweet Steph, from Whisk & a Spoon

And now for the winner, Deborah from Workingwomanfood! This was Deborah's 1st time with a risotto Liz and I were both amazed at how good it looked for a first timer. Well done Deb - we love you! Expect some famous Aussie Tim Tams in the mail soon. Deb made Chicken, Mushroom & Cashew Risotto which you can see here -

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Creamy Sundried Tomato Pasta

A few months ago I was on the Atkins Diet and was not allowed to eat carbs. Dave and Monique, our dear in laws, cooked this pasta dish for me and Andy. Being on Atkins I was not permitted to eat it, but it looked so good that I had a serve of the sauce, without the pasta. I nearly died - it tasted so good! You know how now and then you taste something that is just phenomenal? Bursting with flavour? You can actually feel your tastebuds dancing?? Well this is one of those dishes!

I decided to recreate it last night. Dave and Mon had shared the list of ingredients with me, but I hadn't asked measurements. I put it together with guesstimations and I think it turned out pretty close to perfect. I ate two bowls worth! And I cannot wait to get home tonight to have a third! I added quite a bit of chilli as I like my meals very hot. But you can, of course, add as much or as little as you like. mmm.
I really felt that no matter how many photographs I took, it did not do justice to this magnificent meal. So you'll just have to try making it yourselves!

500g penne pasta
Olive oil
175g bacon, chopped into small squares
1 bunch of spring onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon paprika
4 mushrooms, sliced
3 teaspoons fresh chilli, chopped
1 jar Leggo's Sundried Tomato & Roasted Garlic Stir Thru Sauce
400ml cream

Fry off the bacon until crispy and to your liking. Set aside draining on paper towel.

Boil pasta as per directions on the pack.

In a large fry pan, fry off spring onion and garlic until soft in a small amount of olive oil. Add the mushrooms and continue to fry for a minute or two. Add the sundried tomato stir thru sauce. Add the paprika and chilli. Allow to heat until it begins to simmer. Add the cream and stir. Allow to simmer for fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally, allowing to thicken.

Drain the pasta and place back in the pot. Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir through. Add the bacon. Serve.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Woman's Got Taste...

Jamie Oliver called this gorgeous recipe "Jool's Favourite Beef Stew" and by golly does Jool's have taste. It is so delicious. As soon as you put it all together in the pot the aroma fills the kitchen. The unfortunate thing is that you have to wait at least three hours to taste it!!

The recipe makes loads so Andy and I have been enjoying it for three days now! We had it with hot crusty bread and it was so moreish and flavoursome and warming! You've got to try it!

Olive oil
a knob of butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
a handfull of fresh sage leaves
800g stewing steak (I used gravy steak)
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
flour to dust
3 parsnips, peeled and quartered
4 carrots, peeled and halved
1/2 a butternut pumpkin, seeded and roughly diced
500g small potatoes, roughly diced
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1/2 a bottle red wine
285ml beef stock
zest of 1 lemon
a handfull of rosemary leaves, picked
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Put a little oil and your knob of butter into an appropriately sized pot or casserole dish. Add your onion and all the sage leaves and fry for 3 or 4 mins. Toss the meat in a little seasoned flour, then add it to the pan with the vegetables, the tomato puree, wine and stock, and gently stir together. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. Bring to the boil, place a lid on top then cook in the preheated oven until the meat is tender. Sometimes this takes three hours, sometimes four - it depends on what cut of meat you're using and how fresh it is. Once it's cooked, you can turn the oven down to about 110 degrees and just hold it there until you're ready to eat it.

The best way to serve this is by ladling big spoonfulls into bowls and some really fresh, warmed bread. Mix the lemon zest, chipped rosemary and garlic together and sprinkle over the stew before eating. Just the smallest amount will make a world of difference - as soon as it hits the hot stew it will release an amazing fragrance.


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Jelly Cakes

Jelly cakes have always been on the top of my list of favourite treats, and I discovered this weekend, while staying at my parents house, that they are my mum's number one favourite treat! So she was very excited I was making them!

I decided I would make them for a Daring Bakers Challenge being hosted by called the Boobie Bake Off. We had to make something Pink! So jelly cakes were perfect! They are so easy and so delicious! I've always bought mine from a bakery in Adelaide called Villi's, which is incredibly popular, and these jelly cakes taste exactly the same.

I would suggest doubling the mixture though as the recipe below only made ten. Thus, they lasted about two minutes...

60g butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup self-raising flour
2/3 cup milk
85g packet raspberry jelly crystals
1 cup boiling water
1 cup cold water
3 cups desiccated coconut
1/2 cup double thick cream

Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, a little at a time, beating until well combined. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold in half the flour and half the milk. Repeat with remaining flour and milk.

Spoon mixture into patty pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool cakes on a wire rack.
Stir jelly and boiling water together in a bowl until crystals are dissolved. Stir in cold water. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until cold and slightly thick.

Place coconut into a large bowl. Cut each cake in half horizontally. Sandwich halves back together using 1 teaspoon of whipped cream. Using a slotted spoon lower cakes, 1 cake at a time, into jelly. Drain excess jelly. Toss cakes in coconut until well coated. Place onto a lined tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until set.


The Best Chicken Sandwiches

These chicken sandwiches are in my Donna Hay cookbook which my wonderful parents gave me for my birthday recently. As soon as I saw the sandwiches I thought, I've got to make these! And as Donna Hay says, "they aren't just chicken sandwiches, they are the best chicken sandwiches!"

Then I saw a challenge on the daring bakers being hosted by called Show Us Your Sarnie and thought it was the perfect excuse to make these delicious sandwiches.

I was a little worried that they may be a bit girly and herby for the hard working men I was feeding them to, but I made seven sandwiches to feed four men, and they all went. Every last bite. Words the men used to describe them included "delicious" and "refreshing". I tried them and was delighted with the flavour. I'll absolutely be making them again!

12 slices white bread
Butter for spreading
2 cooked chicken breasts, skinned and chopped
6floz/170ml mayonnaise, plus extra for spreading
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped basil leaves
2 tbsp shredded mint leaves
Salt and pepper
6 tbsp finely chopped chives

Spread butter on one side of the bread.
Combine the chicken, mayonnaise, lemon juice, basil and mint, and season with salt and pepper.
Divide between half the bread slices and top with the remaining bread. Cut into small triangles and spread one edge with the remaining mayonnaise.
Press one side into the chives and serve.


Banana & Walnut Cake

I spent Friday and Saturday night at my parents Olive Grove again this weekend. Andy came too which was lovely. I'm sure he regretted it once he reaslied dad and his mate Don were paving the entire perimeter of the house - the house being 38 metres long!

And so while the boys worked hard I spent the day in the kitchen. Mum had some old bananas so we decided to use them and bake a cake. We used two bananas instead of one and made two cakes.
As you can see from the photos the sun was just setting as I finished icing them. It was a beautiful day in the Clare Valley. An entire cake was eaten after our roast pork dinner. The icing was delicious!

90 g butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 large banana
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 ¼ cups self raising flour
pinch salt
1/3 cup plain yoghurt
2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts

125g philli cheese
2 cups icing sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add lightly beaten egg, beat well. Stir in combined peeled, mashed banana and lemon juice. Fold in sifted dry ingredients alternately with yoghurt. Stir in half the chopped walnuts, mix until smooth. Spoon mixture into greased and greased paper lined 25 cm x 8 cm (10in x 3 in) bar tin, sprinkle with remaining walnuts.
Bake in moderate oven 40 minutes or until cooked when tested. Allow cake to cool 5 minutes in tin, turn out and cool on wire rack.

To make the icing. Beat the three ingredients together until smooth and delicious. If it is too runny, add more icing until it is at the consistency you require. E.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Lamb Curry

I had been trying to make this curry for weeks! But everything was working against me as things kept coming up, people kept cancelling or time did not permit! But I'd seen the photo in my Marie Claire cookbook and knew I had to make it! It just looked so tasty! And so last night was the night! I bought all the ingredients, and prepared the kitchen - and then read the method and realised the meat needed to marinate for three hours!! By this stage it was 4pm! I wanted it on the table before midnight!! So I opted to marinate for an hour and a half and it was still so lovely. The recipe also asks for 2 teaspoons of garam masala but I added about a tablespoon. Two teaspoons just didnt seem enought to me....

In the end it was absolutely lovely. And I think my photo turned out looking very similar to the one in the cookbook - without all the arty farty talent that their photographer obviously had! Andy said it was the best curry I've ever made! (I've only made 5 mind you...) But still, a compliment. Very quick and easy to get it all in the pot and mixed together (once the 3 hours of marinating is over that is), and the result is very much worth it!

1kg Lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 onions, finely chopped
400g chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 green chillis, seeded and cut into strips
250ml beef stock
10 mint leaves, finely chopped
300g plain yoghurt
steamed basmati to serve

Put the lamb cubes into a large ceramic dish and add 2 tablespoons of the oil, the lemon juice, ginger and garam masala. Massage teh ingredients into the lamb to ensure it is well coated. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate for 3 hours in the refrigerator.

Heat the remaining oil in a large heavy based saucepan and add the onion. Cook for a few minutes until the onion is soft then add the lamb - depending on the size of your pan you may need to cook the lamb in two separate batches. Cook for several minutes until browned. Add teh tomato, tomato paste, chilli and stock and return the rest of the lamb to the pan if necessary. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally over a low heat for 1 1/2 hours, or until the liquid has reduced and the lamb is coated in a rick, thick sauce.

Meanwhile, stir the mint leaves into the yoghurt. Serve the lamb spooned over steamed rice with a dollop of minty yoghurt. Serves 4


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Farfalle with Carbonara and Spring Peas

Yesterday was a public holiday here in Adelaide. Andy was playing computer games on my mobile so I couldn't get any conversation out of him at all. Eventually, after talking to myself for an hour, I started thinking about food and what I should cook for dinner. The decision was made to do a pasta, and Andy pulled himself away from his game long enough to say he wanted Carbonara. Carbonara is something I have never cooked before, although my sister in law Catherine has cooked it for me on a few occasions and it has always been perfect and delicious. But I have always been told to mix it up and serve it quick or it will be like scrambled eggs. I think for that reason, I have always avoided cooking it. I found a few basic recipes for Carbonara, but decided to go with a Jamie Oliver version which was a little different. It was really yummy and so simple. The flavours are so subtle and the peas really do burst in your mouth. I'm already looking forward to having the left overs this afternoon.
455g farfalle
1 egg
100ml double cream
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 rashes of pancetta or smoked streaky bacon, rouchly sliced
3 handfuls of fresh podded or frozen peas
2 sprigs of fresh mint, leaves picked
2 handfulls of freshly grated parmesan cheese

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the farfalle and cook according to the packet instructions. Whisk the egg in a bowl with the cream, salt and pepper. Put your panchetta or bacon into a second pan and cook until crispy and golden.

When the farfalle is nearly cooked, add the peas for the last minute and a half. This way they will burst in your mouth and be lovely and sweet. When cooked, drain in a colander, saving a little of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the pancetta and stri in most of the mint, finely sliced - if the pan isn't big enough, mix it all together in a warmed bowl.

Now you need to add the egg and cream mix to the pasta. What's important here is that you add it while the pasta is steaming hot. This way the residual heat from the pasta will cook the egg, but make sure they do not resemble scrambled eggs. The egg will actually cook enough to give you a silk smooth sauce. Toss together and loosen with a little of the reserved cooking water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with parmesan and the rest of the mint leaves and serve as soon as possible.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Summertime Pavlova

Pavlova is another dessert that is very big in my family. Mum used to make them all the time when I was a little girl; and decorate them to look amazing. I always assumed they would be very difficult to make, but as it turns out they are so simple. I wish I knew as they are one of my favourite desserts and I'd have been making a lot more if I knew how easy they are!

The pavlova does sink when it is finished cooking, but I was let in on a little secret. If your oven is electric then do open the door slightly as it cools. But if your oven is gas, leave the door closed and let it cool inside the oven.

I was very happy with my first attempt at Pav. It was crunchy outside and chewy inside. And it all disappeared in five miuntes flat!

3 egg whites
4 tablespoons caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon cornflour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
whipped cream, to serve
2 passionfruit to decorate
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Beat teh egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, then the vinegar, cream or tartar, cornflour and vanilla extract and continue to beat until soft peaks form.
Spoon the meringue onto the centre of the tray then spread it out to form a 20cm circle. Put into preheated oven for 15 mins, then reduce the heat to 120 degrees and cook for a furter hour.
Turn the heat off and leave the door slightly ajar and allow the meringue to completely cool in the oven.
Serve topped with whipped cream and passionfruit.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks

I went back to my parents fabulous olive grove in the Clare Valley... again, on the weekend. Had a wonderful, relaxing, rather drunk time. I was on cooking duty on Friday night and dad and I decided Lamb Shanks would be the go. I had taken all my cookbooks with me and we went through them and searched for the lamb shank recipe we fancied the most! In the end dad won out as he wanted the shanks with the most spice and flavour. Mum wanted veg and I wanted sauce! In the end I think we all got what we wanted.

The smell, flavour and texture of these shanks is unbeatable. Mum has decided to cook the same meal for all of her friends who are coming over for a dinner party this weekend; and I bought a few extra shanks when I was purchasing these, so Andy will be having shanks for dinner tomorrow night. And I truly can't wait!

4 lamb shanks
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons dried chilli
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 large carrot, quartered & finely sliced
5 sticks of celery, quartered & finely sliced
2 medium onions, quartered & finely chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
170ml dry white wine
6 anchovy fillets
2 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes
1 handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Season the lamb with salt & pepper. Smash up the coriander seeds & dried chilli & mix with rosemary & dried oregano in a mortar and pestle. Roll the lamb in this mixture, pressing it well. Dust the lamb with the flour.

Heat a thick bottomed casserole pan, add the oil, brown the meat on all sides & then remove from the pan. Add the garlic, carrot, celery, onions & a pinch of salt and sweat until softened. Add the vinegar & allow it to reduce to a syrup. Pour in the wine & allow to simmer for 2 minutes. Add the anchovies & tinned tomatoes, kept whole. Shake the pan & return the lamb to it. Bring to the boil, put on a lid & simmer in the oven at 180 degrees for 2 hours. Remove lid & cook for a further half an hour. Season to taste & stir in the fresh parsley.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Golden Syrup Dumplings

You cant get much more Australian than Golden Syrup Dumplings! They are so delicious and so naughty! In our family they were only served as a very very special treat, generally on our birthdays. It was the one day of the year that we could request whatever we wanted for dinner! So nine times out of ten it would be KFC for dinner and Golden Syrup Dumplings for dessert. They are most definitely in my top five favourite sweets!
And so last night was the first time I have ever made them. I've come up to Clare for a few days to stay with my parents and nana. So under mum and nana's guidance I made my first Golden Syrup Dumplings. I always believed, as did my sister, brother and father, that mum and nana never made enough syrup. You can never ever have enough syrup. So I tripled the syrup. The recipe below is the triple syrup version, and by far the best.
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup milk approx
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
4 tablespoons golden syrup
2 cups water

Rub butter and flour together with your fingertips until it resembles bread crumbs. Add the egg yolk and mix. Add dashes of milk until it forms a dough. Roll balls with the dough mix. About half the size of a golf ball.
Mix the syrup ingredients together and heat over medium/high heat until bubbles form around the edge then turn down to medium and add the dumplings. Let them cook themselves, no need to turn them or poke them. After about fifteen minutes when they have doubled in size and are golden brown, serve with cream.


Gingerbread Men

It's my nephew Louie's 6th birthday today! And so there is a big birthday party at his house this Saturday. I was placed on gingerbread man duty which I was very pleased about! I hadn't made gingerbread men since I was a little girl with my nana. I did drink a bottle of wine, and then some as i made them, so the icing is a little skewif! But I'm sure Louie and his friends will devour them! I was lazy (and drunk) so instead of making up my own icing I used the colourful, premade icing in the tubes. It did make it a lot quicker and easier. However, the premade icing tastes like musk. I believe a true gingerbread man should have home made icing. But overall they were really fantastic! I was very proud!

Melted butter, to grease
125g butter, at room temperature
100g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
125ml (1/2 cup) golden syrup
1 egg, separated
375g (21/2 cups) plain flour
1 tbs ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Plain flour, to dust
Icing, to decorate
Smarties, to decorate

Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush 2 baking trays with melted butter to lightly grease.
Use an electric beater to beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add the golden syrup and egg yolk and beat until combined. Stir in the flour, ginger, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Press dough into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.

Place the dough between 2 sheets of baking paper and roll out until about 4mm thick. Use a 9cm gingerbread man cutter to cut out shapes. Place on trays about 3cm apart. Repeat with any excess dough.

Bake in oven for 10 minutes or until brown. Remove from oven. Transfer to a rack to cool.
Pipe icing over gingerbread men to decorate. Finish with Smarties.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Risotto Relay!!

Sathya & Liz would like to invite all fellow bloggers to be part of our Risotto Relay! We luurve a good risotto and we want to accumulate as many fantastic recipes as possible! So put on your aprons and get chopping, stirring and garnishing!

Email us your name, blog name, link to your risotto and a photo, with the subject Risotto Relay, at . Mention the Risotto Relay in your post with a link to our site by the 20th of October and we will choose the winner for the most tantilising risotto of all!

As we are Australians, we would like to present the winner with a delicious packet of Tim Tams! Australia's most famous and delicious chocolate biscuits! So get cooking and let Australia see your talent...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tomato & Prosciutto Risotto

Risottos are one of my favourite dishes. However, when it comes to cooking them I always have a phobia of the "constant stirring" part; that I will somehow burn it and ruin it. Thus, the only risottos I have ever made have been the "bake in the oven" type. I decided it was time I moved past this fear, as it surely couldn't be that hard! And it wasnt!

It was the prosciutto that drew me into this one. It asked for four slices, but being the greedy guts I am, when it comes to prosciutto, I bought 8 slices. In the end though, it didn't need it. The flavour of the risotto is so lovely that too much prosciutto makes it a bit sickly. So I do recommend sticking with the recipe and not being a glutton like me!

It was very easy, only a few ingredients, but fantastic subtle flavours. I'll definitely be doing this one again... and again.

1 litre chicken stock
4 large slices of prosciutto, cut in half crossways
2 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large leek, finely sliced
1 1/2 cups risotto rice
3 ripe roma tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons dry sherry
4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
extra virgin olive oil, to serve
rocket, to serve

Bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan, then reduce to a low simmer.

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add the prosciutto. Cook on both sides until golden and crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels. Add the butter, garlic and leek to the saucepan and saute for 4-5 mins, or until the leek is soft and transparent. Add the rice and stir for a minute until the rice is well coated and the grains are glossy.

Ladle 250ml of stock into the pan and simmer, stirring until it is completely absorbed. Add another 250ml of stock and the chopped tomato. Cook, stirring, for a further few minutes until the stock is completely absorbed, then add another 250ml of stock. Cook until all the liquid has been absorbed, then test the rice to see if it is al dente. If it needs more cooking, add the remaining stock. Splash in the sherry and add half the parmesan, then lightly fold it through the risotto.
Spoon into four warmed pasta bowls and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan. Crumble the prosciutto into smaller pieces and scatter over the risotto. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and serve with a rocket salad. Serves 4.

Passionfruit Shortbread Biscuits

This is another recipe from the Stephanie Alexander book. My nana gave me a good quality piping bag for my birthday so I wanted a recipe for which I could use it. These biscuits were very easy and ready to eat in no time. They taste like a summers day. I love shortbread but sometimes it can be a bit much, but these are light and quite refreshing...
According to the recipe they store really well and taste better if freshly iced. So they suggest only icing them as you need them and storing the rest in an airtight container.

180g softened unsalted butter
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2/3 cup pure icing sugar
pulp of three passionfruit
100g cornflour, sifted
180g self raising flour, sifted

50g unsalted butter
1 cup pure icing sugar
pulp of 2 passionfruit
Briefly cream butter, zest and icing sugar in a food processor (be careful not to over process). Mix in passionfruit pulp, cornflour and flour. Scrape mixture into a bowl and chill for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 220 degrees. Pipe rounds or fingers of batter onto baking trays lined with baking paper and bake until golden brown, 5-8 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before icing.

To make the icing, melt butter in a bowl over simmering water. Add passionfruit pulp to butter and then stir in icing sugar. Beat hard for 1-2 minutes until the icing is really shiny. Dip each biscuit into icing and place on a wire rack with baking paper underneath to catch the drips.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Orange Cake

It was my birthday last Friday and I was absolutely spoiled!! Everyone gave me cooking foody stuff which was fantastic!! Best birthday for presents EVER I reckon!! And one of the presents I received from Andy was the Stephanie Alexander cookbook which I have had my eye on for a very long time. He also gave me a deep fryer (like my thighs need it!)

This Stephanie Alexander book is amazing. It is an encyclopedia for any cook, especially Australians!! It is divided into chapters based on the ingredient! So if you are looking to cook with limes for example, then head to 'L' for lime and it will give you a complete background on limes, how to store them, how to cook them, how to peel them, ideas and tips and information one would never reaslise about limes; plus a whole bunch of fantastic recipes which main ingredient is lime!
It has an amazing range of recipes for all the standard ingredients like beef, chocolate, cheese, olives etc; but also goes as far as kangaroo, pheasant, yabbies and rabbit, to chesnuts, tarragons, pommegranates and figs! I am going to have a fantastic time making my way through this book, all 1,126 pages!!!
So tonight I decided I would bake a cake! Also because Andrew's brother Dave and his fiance Monique gave me a gorgeous cake tin for my birthday. And so the orange cake seemed like the best choice...
It is delicious! The icing is like the glaze on Krispy Kremes! It has just enough orange flavour to not be overpowering. I couldn't wait to cut myself a slice!

250g softened unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups castor sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
100mg orange juice
250g self raising flour

1 cup pure icing sugar
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon orange juice
40g butter, melted

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and greace a 22cm spring form tin or round cake tin with a little butter.
Blend butter, sugar, eggs and orange juice in a food processor for about 1 minute. (I used an electric mixer). Add flour and mix again until smooth and creamy, about another minute. Spoon into tin and bake for 50 minutes or until skewer inserted into the middle tests clean. Transfer tin to a wire rack for 5 minutes, then turn cake out. Cool completely before icing.

To make the icing, combine all ingredients into a bowl and warm over a saucepan of hot water. Pour icing over cake, allowing it to run down the sides.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Lime Curd Cupcakes

It has been over a month since I have added anything to the Baker Curry Maker and I have missed it so much! But the diet is finally over and I am ready and rearing to get back into the cooking! Sathya pointed out this new monthly cup cake event and I thought it was a perfect way to get back into the baking! And what a fantastic ingredient to be using, lime!!

It was my 28th birthday this weekend and so Andrew and I decided to spend it at my parent's olive grove in the Clare Valley. Clare is one of South Australia's most well known and beautiful wine regions. One of my many wonderful gifts was a Donna Hay cookbook, which is where I found this recipe which I have adapted to make two delicious cupcakes using the key ingredient, Lime!

125g butter, softened
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup milk
icing sugar for dusting

Lime Curd
1/2 cup lime juice (approx 3 limes)
125g butter
1 cup castor sugar
3 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

To make the lime curd, place the lemon juice, butter, sugar and eggs in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of rapidly simmering water for 6-8 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened. Refrigerate until cool.

Place the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy. Gradually add the eggs and beat well after each addition. Add the flour, baking powder and milk and beat well.

Spoon the mixture into twelve patty cases and bake for 15 mins or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Set aside to cool.

Cut a circle out of each cupcake and fill with the lime curd. Top with the cupcake circle and dust with the icing sugar.

Fluffy Lime Cupcakes

Make the cupcakes as above but instead of cutting a circle out of the top, ice them generously with lime vienna icing!

1/2 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 drops vanilla essence
90g butter

Mix the above ingredients together and ice the cupcakes. Sprinkle lime rind over the top.