Saturday, February 28, 2009

Date, gorgonzola and prosciutto tart

Hello everyone, I am very disappointed with myself because I just realised that only four days into Lent I have already failed! I have given up chocolate (and alcohol) for Lent but as I write this am sitting here eating a slice of (very delicious) chocolate cake!

You see, I drive past a shop called Kiss Me Cake every day and have been intrigued by it and desperate to get in there (although knowing once I do, if they are any good it won't be the last). Being the keen chocolate cake baker that I am it's important that I keep up my research on other people's baking, so I decided to pop in there today and see if anything appealed. Well of course, everything did, their cakes look and sound amazing. So I bought a slice of a milk chocolate and caramel cake and it really is delicious. Tastes home made. I will have to extend Lent by one day now to make up for this slip!

Today's recipe is another one of those things that has all my favourite ingredients in it, although I'm not overly fond of dates so I'm pretty sparing with them in this. It is very easy to put together and a bit unusual, so great for sharing with friends. It's from the 2006 delicious calendar.

Have a lovely week. Love from Jane xx

Date, gorgonzola and prosciutto tart
Serves four

What you need:
  • 1 frozen puff pastry sheet, thawed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4-5 thin slices of prosciutto
  • 2/3 cup pitted dates, roughly chopped
  • 100g gorgonzola, crumbled
  • 1 cup picked watercress leaves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

What you do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Place pastry on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  3. Fold in the edges of the pastry to form a 1cm border, then prick the base with a fork and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  4. While the pastry is chilling, lay the slices of prosciutto on another baking tray and crisp in the oven for 5 minutes.
  5. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg and bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  6. Cover the pastry with another baking tray to flatten and bake for a further 5 minutes.
  7. Lay the crisped prosciutto over the tart and scatter with dates and cheese.
  8. Return to the oven for 3 minutes or until the cheese starts to melt.
  9. To serve, scatter the tart with the watercress leaves and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, and slice.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sage and ricotta frittata

Hello everyone, yesterday I met my friend Angela for lunch in Bowral. It was a very Southern Highlands kind of day, as it was chilly and grey and it rained on and off. We met at a gallery which has a cafe attached to it, in a building that used to be a milking shed. It was fantastic! The fit out of the building makes really good use of the space and the light, ensuring that there is heaps of space in the cafe, with a really nice lounge area where we had after lunch coffees (hot chocolate in my case of course). The kitchen is on the middle level and then the gallery is on the ground floor. They have a mix of pictures, photography, sculpture, furniture, jewellery, glassware and textiles and I saw heaps of gorgeous things. It was a real find.

This week's recipe is another frittata, I think I have done a few now so might have to have a frittata category! It is delicious and very quick, so another one that is good for whipping up if you come home late from your day's activities. Just remember to get the eggs out of the fridge before you leave in the morning so they aren't cold when you go to cook with them.

Have a lovely week - unfortunately the last week of official summer. Jane xx

Sage and ricotta frittata

Serves four

What you need:
  • 12 eggs
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • A pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • 50g butter
  • 12 fresh sage leaves, washed and dried
  • 80g fresh ricotta
  • 20g good quality Parmesan, grated

What you do:
  1. Preheat oven to 150C.
  2. Using a fork, lightly beat the eggs until just combined, then add the salt and pepper.
  3. Melt the butter in a non stick pan over a moderate heat. You will need to place the pan in your oven later, so make sure it will fit.
  4. Add the sage leaves and allow them to infuse in the butter, but not to brown.
  5. Pour in the eggs and using a spatula, begin drawing the mixture to the centre of the pan. Don't stir it too much and don't let it brown, so stay at the stove all the time you are doing this!
  6. Once the frittata is set, but still a bit wobbly, turn off the heat under the pan and add dollops of ricotta to the top of the frittata.
  7. Place the pan in the preheated oven for about three minutes, or until just set.
  8. Remove from the oven and serve with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Chicken sausage and couscous salad

Hello everyone, I had fun today. I had arranged to take out my nieces for a few hours during the day. Being such a cold and wet day my thoughts turned to pizza, so I thought I'd take them to Rosso Pomodoro at Balmain. No go - they don't like pizza anymore. They did last time I looked, but there was no interest in going out for pizza. As they do currently love sushi, I took them to a sushi train instead. Emma, the nearly ten year old managed two pieces of sushi and decided she was full. But Rachael, the seven year old, completely embraced the whole sushi train concept. She loved it! She matched me plate for plate, studied the menu to confirm what she thought she was grabbing from the conveyor belt, and commented a couple of times "I could stay here all afternoon watching all these dishes go around!" So there is now an expectation that she and I are going to try out every sushi train we can find in Sydney. Only the good ones of course!

This week's recipe is a great cold dish which early subscribers to my email recipe service might remember seeing. It is great for entertaining as it makes a huge quantity, and with the chicken sausages kids love it. It certainly has all my favourite flavours in it with the lemon and mint and green olives. The recipe comes from my Womens Weekly Salads cookbook, which has been the source of many good, substantial salads for me. I have a note to myself with the recipe that the Womens Weekly test kitchen must have invited in people to try out this salad who had ENORMOUS appetites as according to them it serves four, and by my reckoning it easily serves eight very generously. See what you think.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xxx

Chicken sausage and couscous salad

Serves between four and eight, or maybe more, you be the judge

What you need:
· 8 thick chicken sausages
· 1 ½ cups chicken stock
· 1 ½ cups couscous
· 1/3 cup finely chopped preserved lemon rind
· 1 medium red capsicum, sliced thinly (or chopped, your preference)
· 300g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
· 1 cup seeded large green olives, halved lengthways
· 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, chopped
· 1/3 cup lemon juice
· 1/3 cup olive oil

What you do:
1. Cook the sausages however you like – I usually stick them in the oven for half an hour and they come up beautifully. When cooked, slice them thinly.
2. Meanwhile, bring stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat, stir in the couscous and cover. Stand for about five minutes or until the stock is absorbed, then fluff up the couscous with a fork.
3. Place the sausages and couscous in a large bowl with the remaining ingredients and toss gently to combine.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Chocolate ganache

Hello everyone, I was lucky enough this morning to be the "Gifted Gourmet" on Simon Marnie's program on ABC radio. It was a lot of fun. I listened to the suggestions of fresh and seasonal ingredients from the providores, and then gave Simon a menu of dishes that I would cook for my friends using those ingredients. I chose a mixed leaf, zucchini and sashimi salad to start, followed by lamb cutlets cooked on the BBQ and served with a mint pesto and some caponata on the side, with a peach flan to finish. It was really hard to narrow it down to those dishes, as there were so many different recipes I could think of. Anyway, hopefully it will give some home cooks some inspiration in the kitchen! The recipes for the sashimi salad and the lamb cutlets can be found on this blog and if you want to listen to the audio you can find it at this link:

During the week I baked a chocolate coconut cake to share with some friends and iced it with a chocolate ganache, which is so luxurious and much, much better than normal icing. I thought I'd give the recipe for the ganache today (you can find the cake recipe elsewhere on the blog too) as it's a very easy thing to make, very impressive and really versatile. I am pretty sure that the recipe I use is a Belinda Jeffery, always an indicator of something good.

Go and play under the sprinkler - we're allowed to now in NSW!

Love from Jane xx

Chocolate ganache

What you need:

· 1 ¼ cups thickened cream
· 200g good quality dark cooking chocolate, chopped
· 1 teaspoon unsalted butter

What you do:

1. Bring cream to the boil in a saucepan.
2. Reduce heat and mix in chocolate until it has all melted.
3. Remove from heat and whisk in butter. The ganache is now ready to use.

Cakes can be iced with ganache while cooling on a rack. Gently pour the ganache over the cake, letting it spread by itself over and down the sides (use a spatula if necessary). Alternatively, you can allow the ganache to cool and thicken and then spread it on the cake.

Place cake on a plate or a stand and let the icing set. Avoid handling the cake and refrigerate if necessary.

Leftover ganache can be reheated and used later on another cake or warmed very gently to make a lovely chocolate sauce. It also makes great icecream if you stick the leftovers in the freezer.