Thursday, 23 October 2014

Chicken and Leek Gratin

This is the kind of food I want to eat when I'm tired and cranky. Sit me on the sofa, put the TV on, tune it into the Food Channel, give me a bowl of this, then walk away, It's good advice.

Chicken and Leek Gratin
adapted from here
Serves 6

For the Topping:
1/2 loaf of good bread (I used sourdough), cut into large dice
4 cloves garlic
2 handfuls parsley leaves
1 teaspoon coarsely chopped rosemary leaves
60g unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup coarsely grated parmesan

For the Chicken:
45g unsalted butter
4 leeks, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt and
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup cream

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Make the Topping:
Throw all the topping ingredients into a food processor and blitz until it's a course crumb. Set aside.

Make the Chicken:
Heat the butter in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the sliced leeks and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 15 minutes until softened, but not brown. Remove from the heat and add the cream. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken and toss to coat.

Spread the leeks over the base of an oven-proof baking dish. Lay the chicken over the top of the leeks. Cover with the topping mixture and bake for about 1 hours, until the chicken is cooked and the top is golden and crunchy.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Raspberry and Rosemary Cake - Gluten Free

Most Wednesday afternoons, my sister and niece come to my digs. We have coffee and cake and talk about everything, EVERYTHING! We laugh and sometimes cry and sometimes we laugh until we cry... and drink coffee and eat cake. It's all good.

Raspberry and Rosemary Cake - Gluten Free
adapted from here

125g unsalted butter, room temperature
200g (1 cup) coconut sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 scant teaspoon finely chopped rosemary, plus extra for sprinkling
2 eggs, room temperature
75g (3/4 cup) almond meal
105g (3/4 cup) fine brown rice flour
55g (1/3 cup) potato flour (potato starch)
1 1/2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
Good pinch of fine sea salt
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 cup of frozen raspberries
Icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 170C. Spray a 23cm cake pan with cooking oil spray and line the base and sides with baking paper.

Put the coconut sugar into a food processor and blitz until you have a fine power. Coconut sugar is quite course and blitzing it will make it quicker and easier to cream with the butter. Set aside,

In a bowl, sift the flours, baking powder and salt together. Add the almond meal and stir combine. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, coconut sugar, lemon zest and rosemary on medium until fluffy, about 4 minutes, Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Turn off the mixer and add the flour mixture and the buttermilk and fold until just incorporated. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Strew the raspberries over the batter and sprinkle with a little extra chopped rosemary leaves (not too much, as rosemary is has a  strong flavour). Bake for 45 - 55 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave it in the tine for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. dust with icing sugar before slicing.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Beer Battered Fish Tacos with Tomato and Kiwi Salsa and Yoghurt Lime Crema

My youngest son was home from school yesterday with a cold. He had just come off three weeks in Japan, followed by a cross-country race and straight after that, spent four days sleeping rough with a bunch of other kids at school camp. He has recently walked hundreds of kilometers around Tokyo, Hakone, Takayama, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Osaka. He's walked up a mountain in Miyajima. He's lead his parents around Tokyo Disneyland for days. He's sprinted for 3 kilometers across country in the rain. He has been rafting, abseiling, hiking, swinging from a giant ropes course and flying on a flying fox in the back of beyond with his school friends. No wonder his little body is saying "enough". But he still had the energy to powder-down a few fish tacos at the end of the day. That's my little soldier.

Thanks to Lakes Entrance Fisherman's Co-operative and Seafood Industry Victoria for supplying the delicious *Yellow Eye Mullet for these Tacos.

* Yellow Eye Mullet are a delicious, sustainable and underrated fish and the same species as the famed Coorong Mullet in South Australia. They are absolutely perfect in this dish. If you can't find it, ask your fish guy or gal to recommend something similar.

Beer Battered Fish Tacos with Tomato and Kiwi Salsa and Yoghurt Lime Crema
Serves 4 - 6

For the Cabbage Salad:
1 small head white cabbage, shredded
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup roughly chopped coriander leaves,
Salt and pepper
Juice of 1/2 lime

For the Tomato and Kiwi Salsa:
1 cup cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
1 kiwi fruit, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons coriander leaves, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon agave
Salt and pepper

For the Yoghurt Lime Crema:
1/2 cup thick Greek yoghurt
Juice and zest of 1 lime
Salt and pepper

For the Beer Batter and Fish:
1 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ancho chilli powder (or your favourite chilli powder)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
300ml beer (any sort)
1/4 cup sunflower oil
12 small fillets of fish (I used *Yellow Eye Mullet)

To Serve:
Twelve warm flour tortillas, lime wedges, hot sauce and plenty of cold, cold beer.

Make the Cabbage Salad:
Put the cabbage, onion and coriander into a large serving bowl. Spritz with lime juice and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Toss gently and set aside.

Make the Salsa:
Put the lime juice, agave, salt and pepper into a serving bowl and whisk until thoroughly mixed. Add the tomatoes, kiwi fruit and onion and toss. Sprinkle with coriander leaves, toss again and set aside.

Make the Crema:
Put all the ingredients into a small serving bowl, stir and set aside.

Make the Batter:
Put the flour, cumin, onion powder, smoked paprika, chilli powder, salt and garlic powder into a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Pour in the beer and whisk to mix. The batter should be the consistency of pouring cream.

Fry the Fish:
Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat and add the oil. Once the surface of the oil starts to shimmer, dip the fish fillets into the batter, coating them completely, and fry them for about 2 - 3 minutes on each side until they are golden and crispy. Cook the fish in batches until they are all cooked, leaving them to drain on a wire rack set over a baking tray as you remove them from the pan. Keep the fish warm in a low oven until all the fish is cooked.

To Serve:
Put a piece of crispy, golden fish into a warm flour tortilla. Add some cabbage salad, tomato and kiwi salsa and top with a dollop of yoghurt lime crema. Add an extra squeeze of lime and a drizzle of your favourite hot sauce and apply to face.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Apple and Amaretto Crumble Cake

While I was editing the code for this post, I noticed that even the code swears at itself  - " umuB6IdGtE/VERSB1w2K2I/AAAAAAAAWYQ/mngZDlFU2ck/s800/Apple%2Band%2BAmaretto%2BCrumble%2BCake%2B2.jpg " - So it's not just me?

Apple and Amaretto Crumble Cake
adapted from here

For the Cake:
250g peeled and coarsely grated apple
30g walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons of Amaretto
210g plain flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon ground cloves
45g ground almonds
3 eggs
180ml sunflower oil
230g caster sugar
1/3 teaspoon salt

For the Crumble:
70g plain flour
20g brown sugar
50g unsalted butter

Make the Crumble:
Put all the ingredients into a bowl. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients until well incorporated and the mixture resembles course breadcrumbs. Set aside.

Make the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a 21cm x 11cm loaf tin with baking paper or a loaf tin liner and set aside.

Mix the apple, walnuts, lemon zest and Amaretto together in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and cloves. Stir in the ground almonds. Set aside.

Separate 2 of the eggs, keeping the whites separate while mixing the yolks with the third egg. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the oil and sugar together for about 1 minute. Slowly add the yolk and egg mixture. Quickly add the dry ingredients, followed by the apple mixture. Mix until just combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with the salt until stiff peaks form. Gently fold them into the cake mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and sprinkle the top evenly with the crumble mixture. Bake for 60 - 70 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin. Remove from tin when the cake is room temperature.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Corn and Ricotta Cakes

These are great as a light weekend lunch with a green salad and a glass of dry white wine. But if you wanted to make them for Sunday brunch along with a Bloody Mary and a side of crisp, fried bacon, you won't hear any complaints from me.

Corn and Ricotta Cakes
Makes 8

1 cup cooked corn kernels
3 eggs, separated
250g fresh ricotta
2 tablespoons pecorino
50g plain flour
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, plus extra for frying
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
Sea slat flakes
Lemon and mint leaves for serving

In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, corn kernels, ricotta, pcorino, flour, melted butter, herbs and chilli flakes. Season with salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. Add them to the ricotta mixture and fold them together until just combined.

Heat a small amount of butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Spoon the mixture into the pan, forming four, 8cm diameter cakes. Cook for about 2 minutes per side, then transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm. Continue with the rest of the mixture to make another four cakes.

Serve warm with a squeeze of lemon juice and extra mint leaves.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Chocolate Cake with Butterscotch Cream and Toffee Hazelnuts

You can wait for a special day to make this celebration cake, or you can make this cake on a "normal" day and just celebrate the fact that you made it. It's your call.

Chocolate Cake with Butterscotch Cream and Toffee Hazelnuts

adapted from here

For the Toffee Hazelnuts:
110g (1/2 cup) caster suagr
40ml (3 tablespoons) liquid glucose
12 hazelnuts, skins removed

For the Cake:
1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly
125ml (1/2 cup) buttermilk
180g (1 1/4 cups) plain flour
50g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
125g (1/2 cup firmly packed) light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
125g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, lightly beaten

For the Ganache:
100g dark chocolate, chopped
50g unsalted butter
150ml thickened cream
1 tablespoon liquid glucose

For the Butterscotch Cream:
300ml thickened cream
1 1/2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the Toffee Hazelnuts:
Place the sugar, glucose and 1/4 water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Swirl the pan occasionally until the sugar dissolves then cook for 6 - 8 minutes until you have an amber caramel. Set aside to cool until slightly thickened.

Carefully pierce each hazelnut with a long wooden skewer. bend the end of the skewer so that when the caramel drips, it doesn't drip down the skewer. Line a baking tray with baking paper, put an orange into the bottom of a tall jug and put the jug on the baking paper (bear with me). Dip each hazelnut into the caramel, then poke the other end of the skewer into the orange and let the caramel drip over the edge of the jug onto the baking paper. The caramel will drip down to form a trail. Cool then remove the nuts from the skewers.

Make the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 160 C. Grease and line a 20cm round springform cake pan.

Mix the redcurrant jelly with 1 tablespoon of the buttermilk until smooth. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combined the flour, cocoa powder, caster sugar, brown sugar and salt until fully mixed. Add the butter, vanilla, eggs, redcurrant jelly mixture and remaining buttermilk and stir until just combined. Spoon into the prepared pan and bake for 40 - 50 minutes until s skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the Ganache:
Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water (don't let the bowl touch the water). When melted and smooth, remove from the heat.

Place the cream and glucose in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to simmering point. Pour it over the chocolate mixture and stir until combined. Chill for 30 minutes or until thick.

Make the Butterscotch Cream:
Place all the ingredient into a bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form. Chill until ready to use.

Assemble the Cake:
Use a serrated knife to cut the cake in half horizontally. Place the bottom half of the cake onto a cake plate and spread it with the Butterscotch Cream. Place the top half of the cake on top and spread it with the Ganache. Top with the Toffee Hazelnuts.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Quinoa Mushroom Salad with Parsley Pesto and Hazelnuts

The weather has been a little cray cray. Apparently there are parts of the country under a cover of snow where they were fighting bush fires last year at this time. So, while it's officially spring, it's not too late to indulge in a little hazelnut-cranberry action before the heat of summer burns off our taste for cozy comfort food. That's my way of thinking. But then, I am a little cray cray when it comes to 'shrooms.

Quinoa Mushroom Salad with Parsley Pesto and Hazelnuts
adapted from here
Serves 4

For the Parsley Pesto:
1 clove garlic
Pinch salt
Large handful parsley leaves
60g toasted hazelnuts
100ml extra virgin olive oil
70g Parmesan cheese, finely grated

For the Salad:
15g dried porcini mushrooms
30g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
250g mushrooms (I used Portobello), thinly sliced
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 glove garlic, minced
175g quinoa
100g dried cranberries
1 quantity parsley pesto
Squeeze lemon juice
75g toasted hazelnuts

Make the Pesto:
Place all the ingredients except the cheese into a blender and blitz. Stir the cheese through and set aside.

Make the Salad:
Put the dried mushrooms into a heatproof bowl and 350ml boiled water. Set aside.

Put half the butter with the olive oil into a frying pan and heat over high heat. Add the fresh mushrooms and saute until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Return the pan to a medium heat and add the remaining butter. Add the shallots and cook until they start to soften. Add the garlic and quinoa and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Strain the soaked mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid, and finely chop and add them to the quinoa. Pour in the soaking liquid and bring to the boil. Season generously with salt, lower the heat  and simmer gently for 18 - 20 minutes until the quinoa is soft and the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the cranberries and the cooked mushrooms.

Stir a couple of tablespoons of the pesto through the salad and then add a squeeze of lemon juice. Spoon the salad onto a big serving plate and drizzle with more pesto. Sprinkle with hazelnuts and spritz with lemon.