Sunday, January 17, 2010

Spaghetti Bolognese

I feel a bit silly posting about Spaghetti Bolognese because it is one of the easiest meals to cook.  But Jared taught me something about spag bog which has changed the way I prepare it and makes the end result so much more satisfying.  Jared blitz's the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in a food processor after sweating it off in a pan of olive oil.  For this recipe I've also added basil and a chilli.  The end result is that the bolognese sauce sticks to the spaghetti rather than slipping off as you raise it to your mouth.   We also use wholemeal spaghetti because of its nutty flavour and its just a tad more healthy.  But I do cover it in loads of kraft parmesan.  I'm a big fan of using real parmesan wherever possible but for spag bog - I believe it is sacreligious to not use Kraft Parmesan.

I cooked this for dinner tonight after an afternoon of house hunting.  Jared and I are selling his unit and buying a house in the Adelaide Hills.  It's very exciting!  So this bolognese didn't cook for the standard 3 to 4 hours that I would prefer, but still was absolutely yummy and really comforting on a tired Sunday evening.  And shouts out to Leslie my neighbour who just delivered me Triple Chocolate Chip icecream!  Thank you.

2 cloves garlic
1 onion
1 carrot
2 sticks celery
1 large red chilli
1 handfull basil
1 big glug of Olive Oil
600g beef mince
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tin's tomato
Bolognese Herbs
salt & pepper
Wholemeal spaghetti
Mountains of bogan parmesan

Sweat off the garlic, onion, carrot, celery, chilli and basil in a fry pan with some olive oil.  Then Blitz it in a food processor til it is fine.   Add the mince and stir until all browned.   Add the tomato paste and tinned tomatoes.  Add salt and pepper and bolognese herbs.  Stir and then simmer for as long as you can with the lid partially on, cover it if it is cooking down too much.

Cook your wholemeal spaghetti and then serve with mountains of bolognese sauce and parmesan on top.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Lamb Tagine with Apricots and Pistachio

Once again I cooked and forgot a major ingredient!  This time it was chicken stock.  Thankfully I realised about 40 minutes before I was due to serve so I quickly got it in there.  I was hoping to cook a "Slow Cooked Lamb Chop Stew" that was in the June 2008 edition of Delicious. magazine but I've lost the magazine and no matter how hard I googled, it couldnt find it. (If you have that edition PUH-LEASE email me the recipe??) So as a substitute I cooked this for dinner. 

This dish has awesome flavour but I prefer tagines to have loads of veg.  This dish was only meat and a few apricots.  (I left out the raisons as I'm not a fan of them in cooking).  I also didn't feel like i was actually cooking anything.  All you have to do is mix some spices together and dump it in the oven.  There is no joy in that; so to compensate I made honey roasted carrots and moroccan zuchini.  (Slice two whole zuchini's lengthways, score in a criss cross manner across the length of the zuchinis, drizzle with olive oil, sea salt and moroccan spices and roast in the oven for an hour).

I found this meal to be really yummy but it didn't blow my mind.  Jared on the other hand said it was amazing.  He said that if he had cooked it himself he would think it was the best thing he'd ever made.  I'm very confused by this as he has cooked me many dishes that impressed me way more than this one.  Maybe I was just over it by the time I served it. 

2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
1.2kg diced lamb
1 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup thick, Greek-style yoghurt
1/2 cup pistachio kernels, roughly chopped
couscous, to serve

Combine spices and salt in a large bowl. Add oil, rind and half the juice and stir to form a paste. Add lamb and stir until well-coated in paste. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours if time permits.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Put lamb mixture into a casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid. Add stock and remaining lemon juice. Stir until well-combined.

Cover and cook for 1 hour. Stir in dried apricot and raisins. Cook, covered for a further 40 minutes or until lamb is tender. Serve immediately with a dollop of yoghurt, sprinkling of pistachio kernels and couscous on the side.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Passionfruit Layer Cake

I was coming on here to rant and rave about how much I hate recipes that lead you up the garden path and the end creation is nothing like the photo or as the recipe says it should be.  I've been cursing for 3 days about how my cake turned out nothing like the picture.  But just as I have logged on here to begin my bitch, I've had another read of the recipe and I've made the frosting completely incorrectly!!  I've used sour cream, passionfruit pulp and icing sugar!!  The recipe asks for cream cheese, sour cream and icing sugar!!  Where on earth did I get a cup of passionfruit pulp from and just neglected to add any cream cheese??  No wonder it was so runny and wouldn't stay on the cake!  The icing that I incorrectly made is thankfully really yummy so we didn't have to throw the cake away.  Jared and I have been living on about three slices a day since New Years Eve.
Hopefully by now you've worked out the cake in the picture above is not my cake!!

But having said that:

1. Although I forgot to add 250g of cream cheese, it still wouldn't have come close to covering this cake plus three layers through the centre - I strongly suggest doubling the icing mixture. Several reviews of the recipe at Taste suggested the same.

2. The syrup also creates far too little to be spread over three layers.  I would strongly suggest trippling it.

Overall though - this cake is actually really yummy and my own version of the icing is also really refreshing and not too sweet.  I'm not happy at all with how mine looks but clearly that was my fault by forgetting a very important ingredient which would have made all the difference. 

It has been really hot in Adelaide these past few days and I made the cake for New Years Eve which was 40 degrees Celcius.  I thought passionfruit would be more refreshing than chocolate, and it is really light and zingy and I will most definitely be making it again but will remember the cream cheese next time!  A picture of my cake is below.


Melted butter, to grease
250g butter, at room temperature
430g (2 cups) caster sugar
6 eggs
150g (1 cup) plain flour
75g (1/2 cup) self-raising flour
85g (1 cup) desiccated coconut
160ml (2/3 cup) coconut milk
Fresh coconut, shaved, to serve

Passionfruit syrup
125ml (1/2 cup) fresh passionfruit pulp
2 tbs caster sugar
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind

1 x 250g pkt cream cheese, at room temperature
125g (1/2 cup) sour cream
80g (1/2 cup) icing sugar mixture

Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush 2 round 20cm (base measurement) cake pans with melted butter to grease. Line bases and sides with non-stick baking paper.

Use an electric beater to beat together butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, until combined. Stir in the combined flours and coconut. Stir in coconut milk. Spoon the mixture among the lined pans and smooth surfaces. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in centres comes out clean. Set aside for 30 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, to make the syrup, combine passionfruit, sugar and lemon rind in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to the boil. Cook, stirring, for 3-5 minutes or until syrup thickens. Set aside to cool.

To make the frosting, use an electric beater to beat the cream cheese, sour cream and icing sugar mixture in a bowl.

Use a large serrated knife to remove the top of each cake. Use the knife to split each cake in half crossways. Place 1 layer of cake on a cake stand. Spread over one-sixth of the cream cheese mixture and spoon over one-third of the passionfruit syrup. Continue layering with the remaining cake layers, half the cream cheese mixture and the remaining syrup. Spread the remaining cream cheese mixture over the top and side of the cake. Arrange the coconut over the top and side of the cake and serve.