Friday, October 31, 2008

Pink grapefruit, avocado and watercress salad

Hello everyone, in the last couple of weeks I have made lots of salads. Regular readers will know that I did quite a few winter salads too, using roasted vegetables. Now with the warmer weather there's a whole new range of vegetables and fruit to use, and when I spotted this recipe in the October edition of delicious I just had to try it as it contains lots of different ingredients that I love. I made it for dinner on Sunday night last week. It really only took five minutes and looked and tasted stunning. Non vegetarians might like to add a few slices of prosciutto. I might add that when I was shopping for the ingredients that morning I must have tested every avocado in the shop and they all felt too firm, so I selected one and put it out on the windowsill for the day. By night time it was fine.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xxx

Pink grapefruit, avocado and watercress salad

Serves four

What you need:

  • 16 macadamia nuts
  • 1 pink grapefruit
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • A bunch of watercress, sprigs picked
  • 8-12 slices prosciutto (optional)
  • 8-12 wafer thin slices pecorino (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley

  • 1/2 tablespooon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (or whatever you have to hand)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons hazelnut oil, if you have it, otherwise use more of the extra virgin olive oil

What you do:
  1. For the dressing, combine the mustard and vinegar in a small bowl with a pinch each of salt and pepper.
  2. Whisk in the oils, then set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 and then toast the nuts until they smell nice, about ten minutes.
  4. Peel the grapefruit, removing all the pith, then cut into segments over a large bowl to catch the juice.
  5. Halve, stone and peel the avocado, then cut into slices of a similar size to the grapefruit slices.
  6. Add the avocado to the grapefruit with the watercress and toss very gently to mix.
  7. Drizzle half of the dressing over the salad and toss lightly, so you don't break up the avocado or grapefruit slices.
  8. Arrange the salad on a plate, interleaving the prosciutto and pecorino slices, if using, with the watercress, grapefruit and avocado.
  9. Sprinkle with the parsley and drizzle over the remaining dressing.
  10. Scatter over the macadamias and serve.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mixed cress, zucchini and raw salmon salad

Hello everyone, last night I made this divine salad for dinner. I adore sashimi, so when I saw this recipe that uses it I just had to try it. It is from my Spring/Summer SOS book. It is light and summery, and best of all, you can whip it up in just a few minutes. Mind you, I was making some rocky road at the same time as I was making the salad, so made sure I was really concentrating when it came time to tip the sliced salmon into one of the bowls I was using! It shouldn't be difficult to find the sashimi - I bought mine from a suburban fish shop - but make sure you use sashimi quality salmon that is ultra-fresh. The fishmonger cut it fresh for me and it was beautiful.

Have a lovely week, love from Jane xxx

Mixed cress, zucchini and raw salmon salad
(Serves four as an entree or two as a main)

What you need:
  • Four handfuls of mixed leaves, preferably a mix of watercress, curly cress and lamb's lettuce (you can usually buy these sorts of leaves at farmers markets; if you are relying on your local greengrocer then just use a mix of what you can find)
  • 2 trimmed zucchini
  • 500g sashimi quality salmon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon of any light oil you have to hand
  • Juice of a quarter of a lime
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives

What you do:
  1. Place the leaves in a serving bowl.
  2. Using a vegetable peeler, slice thin strips from the zucchini and add to the leaves.
  3. Thinly slice the salmon and add to the leaves.
  4. Combine the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  5. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss gently and serve immediately.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Nat's Best Ever Brownies

Hello everyone, I went to Sculpture By The Sea yesterday and as usual it was fantastic. Splendid even, particularly as it was a gorgeous sunny day and there was a whale frolicking just off the coast. Unlike other years, there wasn't one sculpture that I thought particularly outstanding and which will stay with me for years, but lots of really good pieces, particularly ones that sculpted single pieces of silver or glass.

On the way over there, with no relevance to the conversation at the time, my niece piped up "Jane, we really like chocolate brownies" which reminded me of this recipe I have made countless times now and for which people always ask. It is so easy as you throw everything into a mixing bowl (not all at the same time) and just keep mixing. As a result, you get a great, smooth texture. This is yet another recipe from my Epicure Chocolate book, and the recipe was contributed by someone called Natalie who is herself a baker.

Enjoy. Love from Jane xxx

Nat’s Best Ever Brownies

What you need:
· 4 large eggs
· 360g castor sugar
· 320g salted butter
· 130g chocolate
· 120g plain flour
· 80g Dutch cocoa
· 160g cream cheese, chilled
· 180g raw walnuts or pecans, chopped roughly (about halves)
· Optional flavours: 2 tablespoons strong espresso or grated zest of one orange

What you do:
1. Preheat oven to 160°.
2. Line an 18cm x 28cm lamington tin with baking paper.
3. Using a hand held electric beater, beat the eggs and sugar for two minutes on a low speed.
4. While it is mixing, melt the butter and pour over the chocolate and stir to melt.
5. If you are using the coffee or orange, add to the chocolate butter mix at this point.
6. Scrape the chocolate butter mix into the egg mix and continue to beat on a low speed for two minutes.
7. Sift together the flour and cocoa.
8. Add the flour mix to the mixer bowl and mix for two minutes. At this point the batter should begin to look matte and creamy – if it is still dark and glossy, mix it for longer.
9. Drop marble sized pieces of the cream cheese into the mix and continue to mix. Beating in all of the cream cheese makes a rich, gooey brownie; gently folding in larger pieces gives a slightly different texture but it will still be moist.
10. Stir in the nuts.
11. Pour the mixture into the lamington tin.
12. Bake for about 30 minutes or until fine cracks begin to appear on the surface and the edges are starting to puff a little.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pomegranate salsa

Hello everyone, I was part of a funny conversation in the office during the week. An email came around to a group of us who sit together, advising that one of the group is having a significant birthday this weekend and the sender thought it would be nice to have a cake. Did we all agree? Of course I didn't hesitate to vigorously agree that a cake would be a very good thing. Then came the next question: what sort of cake should we have? So the three men in the group entered into a great discussion about what sort of cake they would like. Eventually, being the service delivery kind of person I am, I interrupted them by saying "Why don't we ask the birthday boy what kind of cake he likes?" Great consternation. How on earth could we extract that information? (And the subtext was "why on earth...") So, birthday boy walked back into the office and I engaged him in a conversation about cooking, family recipes, our favourite discover that he likes all kinds of cakes! Very easy to please. So we have settled on orange poppyseed.

This week's recipe is something that I made last weekend to go with some garlic chicken that I barbecued. The two went together beautifully, and it would also pair well with fish or roasted vegetables. I think one of the best things about it is how pretty it looks. I am unsure whether pomegranates are available at Christmas, but it would be perfect then as the dish is red and green. It's great for entertaining as it is something a little bit unusual and tastes great.

Have a fantastic week, love from Jane xx

Pomegranate salsa

Serves 4-6

What you need:

  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pomegranate
  • Salt

What you do:
  1. Cut the tomatoes into quarters, discard the seeds and chop the flesh into small dice.
  2. Roughly chop the mint leaves and add to the tomatoes with the pomegranate molasses, lemon juice and oil (taste as you go and adjust the quantities to taste).
  3. To extract the seeds from the pomegranate, cut off the crown at the top. Cut the fruit into quarters. Put the quarters in a bowl of cold water, then carefully bend back the skin to open up the membrane, prising out the seeds. The membrane and skin will float to the top of the water while the seeds will sink.
  4. Sprinkle the seeds into the salsa base.
  5. Season to taste with salt , stir to mix and serve.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Spanish Omelette

Hello everyone, those of us living in NSW are lucky enough to be having a long weekend. I love being at the start of this slightly extended break, thinking of all the things I am going to do. I have been planning to sell a whole lot of stuff on e-bay for a year now and am determined to get around to doing something about it this weekend. I keep putting it off because I think it's hard, but I'm sure once I start I'll get into it. The longer I put off starting the more time I have to find things around the house that I don't want so my e-bay pile is growing every week! Any opportunity to de-clutter is a good thing.

I am also hoping to do a bit of cooking this weekend of course. In a happy coincidence, when I was choosing recipes to cook over the next fortnight, one I selected was for some garlic chicken that I am going to do on the BBQ (I can't wait to get the barbie fired up again) and another was for a pomegranate salsa, which the author recommends serving with barbecued chicken. How good is that!

This week's recipe is from a Belinda Jeffery book, Tried And Trued Recipes, through which I am currently making my way. I like this book because she has arranged the recipes according to her favourite ingredients, so there are chapters on cheese, chicken, tomatoes, bread, chocolate and others. And every one I have cooked so far has been delicious, in fact one of them that I cooked a couple of months ago has become the best dish I think I have ever made! It's a beautiful saffron and cinnamon chicken casserole. Fortunately I had the foresight when I made it to do the full quantity which gave me a number of meals over the next weeks. Anyway, the recipe I'm giving you here is a simple Spanish omelette, just the thing for a light lunch or supper when you don't want something too big.

Have a fabulous week! Love from Jane xx

Spanish Omelette

Serves 3-4

What you need:
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil (seems like a lot but it is used for flavouring the potatoes as well as cooking them and the excess oil is drained away)
  • 750g potatoes, peeled and sliced to about 5mm thick
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 eggs
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Small handful of chopped flat leaf parsley

What you do:
  1. Heat the oil in a deep frypan over a medium heat.
  2. Add the potatoes to the pan and cook them gently (you will probably have to do in batches).
  3. Turn the potatoes regularly for 20 minutes or until they are cooked through (but not coloured or crisp). Don't worry if they break up a bit.
  4. Half way through cooking the potatoes add the onion.
  5. When the potatoes are cooked, gently move the mix to a sieve set over a mixing bowl and allow the oil to drain through. (You can save the oil to cook other savoury foods).
  6. Whisk the eggs lightly in a large bowl, then add the salt and parsley.
  7. Tip the drained potato and onion mix into the eggs and stir everything together.
  8. Wipe out the pan and reheat a couple of tablespoons of the leftover oil over a medium heat until it is hot.
  9. Pour in the omelette mixture, reduce the heat to low and spread out the potatoes evenly.
  10. Stir with a fork for the first 30 seconds, then leave it to cook, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent the mixture sticking.
  11. Cook the omelette gently until it's set and golden underneath.
  12. Very carefully, flip the omelette onto a flat plate so it's cooked side up, then slide it back into the pan to cook the other side.
  13. Continue to cook until the omelette is pale gold underneath and firm but still moist. It will take up to five minutes.
  14. When the omelette is cooked, slide it onto a serving plate and allow to cool a little.