Saturday, September 27, 2008

Warm salmon and green leaf salad

Hello everyone, I don't know where the last week went. It feels as if the end of the year is racing towards us. Not a bad thing, as we move closer to Melbourne Cup day you just know that party season is right around the corner....All the blue sky and sunshine we are experiencing in Sydney makes me think of weekends at the beach, BBQs and hanging out with friends.

This week's recipe is a great one for Spring, combining salad and fish. It comes from my Spring/Summer copy of SOS, which is always one of the first books to which I turn at this lovely time of year. If you can get some watercess and keep it looking sprightly it makes the salad look so pretty. This makes a nice lunch if you are having friends around, and is also quick and easy for dinner after work.

Have a great week. Love from Jane xxx

Warm salmon and green leaf salad

Serves four

What you need:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons almond oil (or you can use all olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses or juice
  • Sea salt flakes
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Juice of 1-2 limes (or 1 lemon, limes are very expensive right now)
  • 4 x salmon fillets
  • 300g mix of rocket, baby spinach and watercress
  • 2 Lebanese cucumbers, sliced crosswise
  • 1/3 cup blanched almonds, toasted in the oven for about 6 minutes

What you do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 200.
  2. Combine the oils, pomegranate molasses, salt, pepper and a teaspoon of the lime/lemon juice. Taste the dressing to make sure it balances as the pomegranate molasses can sometimes be a little tart.
  3. Season the salmon and drizzle with the remaining lime/lemon juice.
  4. Roast the salmon, skin side down, on a lightly oiled baking tray (I would line the tray with baking paper as well) for 8-10 minutes or until the salmon is moist and just cooked.
  5. Break the salmon into chunks, discarding the skin.
  6. Place the mixed leaves in to a serving dish, place the salmon chunks on top, scatter with cucumber and the toasted almonds and add the dressing.
  7. Toss gently to combine and serve.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Maple and pecan croissant pudding

Hello everyone, I spent a few days in Canberra this week for work. Unlike a lot of people I really like Canberra, not least because one of the cafes that features on my list of top places for hot chocolate can be found there! It's a bakery in Kingston called Silo and as well as using good quality chocolate in this drink, it's served in a dainty cup and saucer, which in my view makes hot chocolate taste even better. I am delighted to report that I achieved a personal best of five hot chocolates in three days from this cafe - I figured I might as well make the most of it as I don't anticipate being in Canberra again in the near future.

I was also lucky enough to catch up with my good friends Ray and Clare and their beautiful daughter Rosa Grace for breakfast at the cafe at Old Parliament House. I had never been to OPH before so didn't know what to expect (I was suitably impressed). However, what really struck me was that I could have happily ordered pretty well anything from the breakfast menu - it was easily the most enticing list of breakfast dishes I have ever seen! If I lived in Canberra I think I would be there very regularly so I could work my way through them.

Anyway, today's pudding is a recipe that I cut out of Good Living in the SMH nearly four years ago (yes, that's how many recipes I have in my scrapbook - it's taken me this long to get up to it!) It was a story about using claypots for cooking. I have a claypot, which I originally gave to Dad and which he used a lot, particularly for Asian cooking. I use it a fair bit too for all sorts of things, especially dishes that are slow cooked. I tried out this pudding on a group of people recently and it went down very well. I made it again today for my sister and her husband and they seemed to enjoy it too. There are quite a few steps to it, so I work out my timing ahead of time and write it all down so that I know when to do each task. You'll notice as it cooks the pudding has the most gorgeous aroma.

Have a wonderful week. Love from Jane xxx

Maple and pecan croissant pudding

Serves four

What you need:
  • 1/2 cup sultanas
  • 45ml brandy
  • 4 large croissants
  • 50g butter
  • 40g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 300ml milk
  • 150ml thin cream
  • 120ml good quality maple syrup
  • 25g demerara sugar (if you only have caster sugar, that's fine)
  • Maple syrup and thin cream to serve

What you do:
  1. Place the sultanas and brandy in a small pan on the stove and heat gently until warm. Leave to stand for one hour.
  2. Soak a claypot in cold water for 15 minutes, then drain. Leave for 2-3 minutes then lightly grease the base and sides of the pot.
  3. Cut the croissants into thick slices and butter on one side (I know this sounds incredibly indulgent, and it is, it's really worth it).
  4. Arrange the croissant slices, buttered side up and slightly overlapping, in the claypot.
  5. Sprinkle the sultantas and pecan nuts on top.
  6. In a large bowl combine the beaten eggs and milk, then gradually beat in the cream and maple syrup.
  7. Pour the egg mixture through a sieve on to the croissants, sultanas and nuts. Let it stand for 30 minutes so that the custard soaks into the croissants.
  8. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the top, cover the dish and place it in an UNHEATED oven. Set the oven to 180C and bake for 40 minutes.
  9. Remove the lid and continue to bake for another 20 minutes, or until the custard is set and top is golden.
  10. Leave the pudding to cool for about 15 minutes. Serve with cream and extra maple syrup.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Walnut taratoor

Hello everyone, last night I made this interesting combination. I'm not quite sure what to call it, other than by its rightful name, a taratoor, but as I had never heard this term before and am guessing that most of you haven't either, that's not very helpful. I suppose you could consider it a very thick sauce, or a dip perhaps. According to the writer of the recipe it can be served with seafood, salads, fried vegetables or bread. I saw this as a fantastic opportunity to roast some potatoes of course and I served the taratoor with them. It was very, very nice and even though I only made a quarter of the given quantity I still have some left, so guess what? More lovely roasted potatoes tonight! (It's my Irish heritage). I think the taratoor would also go well with roast meat, or you could serve it as a dip with bread and/or vegetables, and it would probably work well swirled through some freshly cooked spaghetti with some parmesan cheese on top!

The recipe comes from my lovely Growers Market cookbook which is the only book from which I select randomly. That is because it is about cooking with seasonal produce, so I choose something that is in season right now to make my selection. I'm so happy that Spring is here, I feel as if Winter depresses me slightly more every year, so I'm hoping that the lovely warm conditions we have had in Sydney today will set the standard for Spring and Summer this year.

Have a great week. Jane xx

Walnut taratoor

Serves 8

What you need:
  • 250g fresh walnuts (it is so much better to use fresh nuts than packet nuts - in Sydney you can buy them at Harris Farm)
  • 80g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 60ml white wine vinegar (or if you have an apple cider vinegar in your cupboard I think that would be nice)
  • 1 cup olive oil (I reduced this quantity by three quarters as I wanted a thick texture)
  • Freshly chopped flat leaf parsley, to garnish

What you do:
  1. Finely chop the walnuts in a food processor. Set aside a teaspoon for the garnish.
  2. Add the breadcrumbs, garlic, vinegar and 3 tablespoons water and blend well.
  3. With the motor running, gradually add the olive oil in a thin but steady stream until smooth. Add a little more water if the sauce appears to be too thick. Season to taste.
  4. Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate.
  5. When you are ready to serve the taratoor, sprinkle the reserved nuts and parsley on top.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Broad bean and white wine risotto

Hello everyone, I am running very late with my blog this week as my computer and I had a dispute on Friday afternoon. Needless to say the computer won and sulked all weekend, presenting me with a black screen that refused to light up with all the usual features and the photo of dashing Adam Gilchrist which forms the centrepiece of my screen. Thankfully came to the rescue yesterday afternoon so I'm back in business.

I love broad beans. Have I mentioned that before? I'm not a lover of most green beans, but there is something about broad beans, which is partly about the shelling of them, partly about their beautiful colour and partly about their texture. They are very seasonal, so now whenever I see a recipe using broad beans I mark it and as soon as I see them at the greengrocers I buy some and choose the recipe to try. This is one I cooked during the week. I substituted verjuice for the wine as I no longer drink white wine, and it was sensational. It is another recipe from my other favourite recipe writer, Matthew Evans.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Broad bean and white wine risotto

Serves four

What you need:

  • 30g butter
  • 1 medium leek, pale part only,washed and chopped finely
  • 400g risotto rice
  • 400g double peeled broad beans (pod them first, then quickly blanch in boiling water, cool in cold water, then slip off the pale, coarse skin)
  • 500ml white wine or verjuice
  • About 1 litre of good stock (if not available use boiling water)
  • About 50g good Parmesan cheese, finely grated

What you do:
  1. Heat the butter in a large pan and fry the leek well to soften.
  2. Add the rice and continue to fry over a gentle heat until it starts to stick slightly (don't allow the rice to brown).
  3. Add half the broad beans and the wine/verjuice.
  4. Turn up the heat and stir constantly as the wine/verjuice evaporates.
  5. Keep adding stock as needed, until all of the stock is absorbed and the rice looks creamy.
  6. Add the remaining beans and half the cheese.
  7. Turn off the heat and allow to sit for a few minutes.
  8. Serve with the remaining cheese sprinkled over the top.