Saturday, July 31, 2010

Double chocolate muffins

Hello everyone, this week I heard someone say that the Melbourne Cup is only a few weeks away. Well, that is probably stretching reality somewhat, but it did give my heart a lift and the thought that tomorrow heralds the beginning of the last month of winter for another year is a very good thing. I have tried so hard to not complain about the cold weather this year as I usually do (and have realised how many others do, I must have been drowning out their voices previously) but I will be so glad to welcome back longer, brighter, warmer days.

Having said that, I do love winter cooking and have just popped some fennel with a lovely crunchy topping into the oven to bake for my dinner. It is a recipe in the August edition of delicious and as I love fennel, I was very keen to try out both the baked fennel and a fennel soup from the same article. Another lovely thing to have baking on a cold winter morning, as I did last Sunday, is a batch of muffins for morning tea. Now I have baked my fair share of muffins over the years and I have to say, I think these are the best yet. They are so chocolately (as the name suggests) and very moist. Do make sure you use very good quality chocolate - I have been buying the chocolate buttons from Adora chocolate (in the plaza outside the Sofitel Wentworth in the city) and they are excellent. I'm sure you'll think these muffins are great too when you whip up a batch yourself!

Have a happy week! Love from Jane xxx

Double chocolate muffins

What you need:
  • 150g dark chocolate, either buttons or chopped
  • 125g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 150g white chocolate, either buttons or chopped

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.
  3. Place the chocolate and the butter in a saucepan over a very low heat and stir until melted and combined. Set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.
  5. Add the sugar and stir to combine.
  6. Whisk together the eggs and buttermilk.
  7. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients.
  8. Stir in the cooled chocolate and the white chocolate bits, and stir everything together just until combined. DON'T over mix - muffins need a very light hand.
  9. Divide the mixture between the prepared cases and bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the muffins shows they are cooked. You might want to leave them slightly under-done in the middle to get a nice fudgy texture.
  10. Serve as is or drizzled with a little melted dark chocolate if you wish.

You can also serve these muffins as a pudding for dessert, by warming gently and serving with cream and/or ice-cream and chocolate sauce. In that case you might want to make six larger muffins.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sicilian Potato Salad

Hello everyone, a chair that I had sent away to have re-upholstered has just been delivered back to me. The chair belonged to my great grandmother and was passed from her to my grandmother's sister, Aunty Sheelah. When Aunty Sheelah died some years ago the chair came to me. I've wanted to have it re-done for years, as it was in a rather old lady-ish pink, so I'm very excited to have it all done! I have gone for more of a neutral look, using a linen fabric in a colour that might be described as a slighter darker shade of oatmeal. The possibilities for cushions to dress it up are endless! I will look forward to sitting in my chair at some stage during the weekend and continuing to devour an anthology of short stories by one of my favourite authors in the world (who has sadly departed this world), Carol Shields.

Now as regular readers know, I love my potatoes, and am firmly of the view that you never can have too many potato salad recipes. This week's one is from my favourite food writer, Matthew Evans. I found the recipe years ago in his column in Good Weekend magazine. He says that the dish originates in Palermo. It's certainly delicious and best served warm or at room temperature.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Sicilian potato salad

Serves 4-6

What you need:
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 kg potatoes, preferably waxy, washed and/or peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 large Spanish onion, peeled and chopped
  • 60g capers, preferably salted, soaked for 15 minutes and rinsed
  • 150g green olives, rinsed well
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt

What you do:
  1. Heat enough oil in a frypan to fry the potatoes until nearly cooked through.
  2. Add the onion and fry until it becomes translucent and the potatoes are fully cooked.
  3. Add the capers and the olives.
  4. Whisk the vinegar with the sugar and some salt and pour over the potatoes.
  5. Simmer for a few seconds, then turn off the heat and allow the vinegar to soak into the potatoes.
  6. Season to taste and serve in a pretty serving bowl.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Linguine with lemon, parsley and mint

Hello everyone, this week's recipe is one I cut from the newspaper some time ago. It's one of those really simple pasta dishes that you can whip up in a hurry (after you have prepared the lemon oil ahead of time). It's lovely and delicate with a good tang from the lemon and mint.

Have a lovely week! Love from Jane xx

Linguine with lemon, parsley and mint

Serves four

What you need:
  • 1 lemon
  • 150ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 500g linguine
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Sea salt

What you do:

  1. Finely grate the lemon rind and squeeze the juice of the lemon into a bowl.
  2. Mix in half the olive oil with the rind and juice and leave for an hour so that the lemon flavour seeps into the oil.
  3. Cook the pasta.
  4. When the pasta is nearly ready, warm a serving bowl.
  5. In that bowl, whisk together the lemon oil mix, the remaining oil, cheese, parsley and mint and 5 or 6 spoons of the pasta cooking water.
  6. Drain the pasta and toss in the bowl with the sauce, adding pepper and a little salt if needed.
  7. Serve immediately.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Jamie's burger

Hello everyone, this week's recipe is quite easily the best tasting burger I have ever encountered. That's a big call as I have made a lot of burgers in my time but there was just something about it that made it extraordinary. It comes from Jamie's America, a book I am absolutely loving (having never bought, read or used any of Jamie's other books I'm now thinking that might have to be the next serious addition to my cook book library).

Now I'm not going to give you the whole recipe from the book - it's well worth doing but really, once you have the basic burger you can put together your burger with any bread, salad and sauce you like. I'm sure you will love this mix.

Have a great week. Love from Jane xxx

Jamie's burger

Serves six (I found the quantity very generous)

What you need:
  • Olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
  • 4 slices of bread, crusts removed and blitzed in the food processor (if you already have breadcrumbs in the freezer, just use them)
  • 500g good quality lean minced beef
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 heaped teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • A handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

What you do:
  1. Add a splash of olive oil to a frying pan on a low heat and add the onions.
  2. Fry, stirring now and again, for about ten minutes or until the onions are cooked, then put aside to cool.
  3. Mix the onion with the rest of the burger ingredients.
  4. Form the mix into patties, as small or as large as you like.
  5. (If you have time to spare) Put the burgers into the fridge for about an hour to allow them to firm up. I didn't and they stayed together beautifully.
  6. Preheat your oven to 200C, or fire up the BBQ.
  7. Cook the burgers to your liking - I did 20 minutes in the oven.
  8. Combine with your chosen bread, salad and sauce. Jamie gives a recipe for a spicy mayonnaise to go with these burgers which works really well but you could add whatever you like.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Not-for-the-faint-hearted hot chocolate

Hello everyone, with the freezing cold weather this week I have been drinking more than my fair share of hot chocolate. I have found a source of quite good chilli hot chocolate close to my office, and there really is no better way to defrost early in the morning! I am also enjoying the luscious hot chocolate from Mitra's Chocolates in Mosman. They do a chilli hot chocolate that really packs a punch, and their milk chocolate is very good too.

This week's recipe shows you how to make incredible hot chocolate at home, just perfect for cold winter nights. It is a recipe I cut out from Good Living a few years ago, created by Matthew Evans, and I think it is in his new book, The Real Food Companion.

(Greg, this one is for you!)

Have a happy week! Love from Jane xxx

Not-for-the-faint-hearted hot chocolate

Could serve either one or two - up to you!

What you need:
  • 150ml milk
  • 100ml cream
  • 100g dark chocolate, broken into smallish bits (generally I prefer milk chocolate, but in this recipe dark is definitely preferable; milk is just too sweet)
  • 1 tablespoon really good quality cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1-2 tablespoons brandy, cognac or whisky

What you do:

  1. Heat the milk and cream carefully in a small pan until warm.
  2. Whisk in the chocolate and sifted cocoa.
  3. Bring to just near the boil, remove from the stove and whisk in the alcohol.
  4. Serve in front of a fire or the heater.