Saturday, April 25, 2009

Orange, hazelnut and goat's cheese salad

Hello everyone, this week I have had the luxury of a bit more time on my hands and I have been looking at other blogs written by food lovers. One of the most impressive is Grab Your Fork which details the author's eating adventures, and my, she does a lot! I also came across Not Quite Nigella when trying to find the name of a new chocolate shop I had visited recently. I was a bit overwhelmed for a while looking at some of the other blogs as they are so beautifully done with photos and links to other sites, but in the end I figured that I only ever intended to stick up a few helpful recipes and don't think I'm going to let this mission take over my life!

As my contribution to the restaurant reviewing game however, I must report that I enjoyed an excellent meal with the most charming service at Kika Tapas Bar (the website is still coming but it's a handy reminder) in Darlinghurst during the week. Yes, my Spanish passion continues unabated and if anything it was further fired here with the most luscious jamon and crispy churros. Definitely a must-return.

This week's recipe offers something a little lighter - back to a nice winter salad now that the days are a little shorter and cooler. I made this for dinner one night and loved it. It's from my Growers Market book, a never ending source of inspiration for seasonal goodies.

Have a wonderful week. Love from Jane xx

Orange, hazelnut and goat's cheese salad

Serves four

What you need:
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and rubbed in a clean teatowel to remove the skins
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 250g watercress, rinsed and dried
  • 1 cup baby English spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
  • Segments from two oranges (peeled)
  • 300g firm goats cheese, sliced into 4 equal portions

What you do:
  1. Make the dressing by combining the nuts, juices, and a pinch of salt in a food processor.
  2. With the motor running, gradually add the olive oil a few drops at a time. When about half the oil has been added, pour in the remainder in a steady stream.
  3. Pick the leaves from the watercress and combine in a bowl with the spinach, orange segments and two tablespoons of the dressing.
  4. Toss to combine and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
  5. Arrange the salad on four serving plates.
  6. Heat a small non stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and brush the pan lightly with olive oil.
  7. When the oil is hot, carefully press each slice of goats cheese firmly into the pan and cook for a couple of minutes, or until a crust has formed on the cheese.
  8. Carefully remove the cheese from the pan and arrange on top of the salads, crust side up.
  9. Drizzle over the remaining dressing and serve.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spaghetti with chunky tomato, olive and chilli sauce

Hello everyone, I decided last week that I was going to defrost my freezer as it hadn't been done for some time. Of course, this entailed emptying the freezer, so instead of my usual recipe driven approach I chose recipes based on what was there. Two of the highlights were a fabulous chicken and vegetable pie that I made to use up some puff pastry and a gorgeous Spanish style minestrone into which went some chorizo I had picked up on my Spanish Safari a few weeks ago. So now I have a clean, ice-free, empty freezer. This week I'm going to fill it up with three different kinds of soup which will provide lunches for weeks and a great Moroccan style chicken dish that I love. It's so good having ready cooked food in the freezer, especially with winter coming on!

Now this week's recipe is for an absolutely luscious pasta sauce from Belinda Jeffery's Tried-And-True Recipes and I can tell you that when I made it I wished that I had done at least the full quantity so I could store some in the freezer to enjoy later. As it's a chunky style sauce you'll find it's really substantial and probably only needs some good bread to be served with it. I know it looks like a long list of ingredients but really once you have chopped the vegetables you are half way there.

Have a lovely week. Love from Jane xx

Spaghetti with chunky tomato, olive and chilli sauce

Serves four

What you need:
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 medium sized carrots, cut into smallish dice
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 small red chilllies (seeds and all), finely chopped (use your judgement - I used half this quantity and it was just right for me)
  • 1 heaped tablespoon tomato paste or sun dried tomato pesto
  • 800g can diced tomatoes
  • A big pinch of sugar
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 500g spaghetti
  • 150g pitted olives (use whatever olives you like, I love green olives so I used them and they were sensational)
  • Large handful of basil leaves, roughly torn
  • 4 scoops of fresh ricotta
  • Finely grated Parmesan, to serve

What you do:

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium to high heat.
  2. Tip in the onions and carrots and cook them, stirring occasionally, for ten minutes or until soft.
  3. Add the garlic and chilli and stir again, cooking for a further two to three minutes.
  4. Mix in the tomato paste or pesto, and cook, stirring, for one minute until fragrant.
  5. Pour in the tomatoes and their juice and sprinkle on the sugar, salt and pepper.
  6. Bring the sauce to the boil, then turn down the heat to low and leave to bubble away gently for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is quite thick.
  7. Cook the pasta while the sauce is cooking.
  8. Just before the pasta is ready, add the olives and basil to the sauce.
  9. Drain the pasta and stir it into the sauce, mixing well so that all the strands are coated.
  10. To serve, add a scoop of ricotta to each pasta bowl, and pour the spaghetti with sauce on top. Serve with the Parmesan.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Roast pork with soy roasted pumpkin

Hello everyone, today I took my nieces to see Artexpress for the second year running. I remember that last year they just walked from art work to art work wide eyed, completely overwhelmed by it all. This year they interacted with it a lot more, darting off to various pieces that caught their attention, analysing some of them, completely ignoring others, and making lots of comments. Last year when I suggested we all nominate our favourite piece they politely said they couldn't choose (which I interpreted as code for "no idea what any of this is about"), but this year they were very quick to make up their minds and give reasons. It was fun! Then we took ourselves off to Woo-mi, a very good sushi train in Mosman, where they put away more sushi than I thought was possible. I guess a good balance for all the Easter eggs to come!

This week's recipe is for a luscious roast pork which I cooked last week, out of my Marie Claire Comfort book (it's such a beautiful book). The butcher very kindly cut a smaller piece for me so I roasted it for dinner and then had some for sandwiches during the week. Just enough. It is the easiest thing in the world to do - you literally put everything in the oven and go away and let it cook itself. It will fill the house with a beautiful aroma as it cooks and provide comfort on these rapidly cooling autumn evenings.

Have a happy Easter! Love from Jane xx

Roast pork with soy roasted pumpkin

Serves 6

What you need:
  • 1.5kg piece of pork shoulder (ask your butcher to score the skin)
  • 4 sage leaves
  • 1 kg kent or jap pumpkin
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder

What you do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C.
  2. Pat the pork dry with paper towels (very important to get the crackling nice and crisp) and rub the scored skin with a generous amount of salt. Season with freshly ground pepper.
  3. Scatter the sage leaves over the base of a roasting tin, then place the pork on them, skin side up.
  4. Cook the pork for 25 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180C and cook for a further hour.
  5. While the pork is cooking, peel the pumpkin and cut into small chunks.
  6. Place the chunks in a large bowl and add the oil, soy sauce, chilli and five spice.
  7. Toss well, then transfer to a baking tray and add to the oven 30 minutes before the pork is due to finish cooking. By then the pumpkin should be cooked and golden.
  8. Remove the pork from the oven and reduce the heat to low to keep the pumpkin warm.
  9. Test if the meat is done by inserting a sharp knife into the centre - the juices should run clear. Transfer the pork to a warm serving platter and rest, covered with foil, for 15 minutes.
  10. Carve the pork and serve with the pumpkin.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Chocolate peanut butter fudge sundae

Hello everyone, this week's recipe is something I have wanted to try out for ages. It's a Nigella recipe from the November 2007 copy of delicious, and I marked it at the time and have just taken this long to actually make it. I did plan to serve it when I had friends over for dinner in January, but they thwarted my plans by bringing a cake with them. So in the end I gave my workmates a surprise last week by serving up some ice cream with this sauce one afternoon. Safe to say it was a hit.

One word of warning - Nigella says that this quantity makes enough for four. All I can say is that her guests must be able to pack away an ENORMOUS quantity of sauce. I think it easily makes enough for twice that many.

Have a fabulous week, love from Jane xx

Chocolate peanut butter fudge sundae

What you need:
  • 175ml thin cream
  • 100g very good quality milk chocolate, chopped
  • 100g smooth peanut butter (buy it freshly made from a health food store)
  • 3 tablespoons golden syrup
  • Ice cream to serve
  • 4 tablespoons roughly chopped salted peanuts
What you do:
  1. Place the cream, chocolate, peanut butter and golden syrup into a saucepan and place on a medium heat to melt, stirring occasionally.
  2. In about two minutes your sauce should be ready.
  3. Pour the warm sauce over the ice cream and sprinkle with the chopped peanuts.