Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Polenta cake for someone who thinks that they do not like polenta

Someone I know said they don't like polenta. They have obviously never had nice gooey polenta with parmesan cheese and mushroom ragu. They had never had this cake either. Now I think they like polenta!

This cake seems weird. But it is delicious.

This is a true Italian Cake. If you like Italian cakes you will like this. Wow.

It is a kind of cup of tea cake.
Or I guess dessert cake if you add a bit of cream/ice cream or some nice poached fruit would be amazing.

The mixture is super sloppy when you put it in the tin. Don't worry at all. It will thicken up when it is cooked and the pine nuts will float to the top and it'll go golden and delicious.

40g (1/3 cup) sultanas
2 tbsp brandy
225g ricotta cheese
250g caster sugar
225g polenta
pinch of grated nutmeg
grated zest of one lemon
seeds from one vanilla bean (or 1/4 tsp extract)
1 generous tbsp butter
2 tbsp pine nuts
Icing sugar, for sifting

Soak the sultanas in the brandy with enough water to just cover them. Leave for 30 minutes. Drain. Dry well on paper towels. Discard brandy (or drink it).

Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease and line the base of a 25cm springform cake tin

Put the ricotta in a large bowl. Add 440mL of cold water. Mix until smooth. Add the sugar and mix until dissolved. Add the polenta, nutmeg, lemon zest, vanilla and sultanas and mix until smooth.

Pour into the prepared tin. Dot the surface with butter and sprinkle with pine nuts. (At this stage I was sure this cake was going to be a complete failure. It was completely liquid and the butter and pine nuts had disappeared beneath the waves of polenta. Don't worry if yours is like this.)

Put the tin on a baking tray to catch drips. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours or until golden and set.

Serve warm or cold, dusted with icing sugar. Accompany with whipped cream and poached fruit.

Slow cooked Andalucian Lamb with Saffron

This is great! (That is all I need to say about this one)
From Gourmet Traveller.

Serves 6 generously
1 tsp saffron
4 cloves
8 black peppercorns
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 tbsp sea salt

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1.5 kg lamb leg, cut into 4cm chunks

1 green capsicum, cut into thick slices
1 yellow capsicum, cut into thick slices
2 onions, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
2 tomatoes, chopped
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges

200mL red wine

Steamed rice and vegies to serve

Pound saffron, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, garlic, parsley and salt in a mortar with a pestle into a rough paste. Add 100mL warm water.

Heat oil in a large casserole dish over medium heat. Fry the lamb in batches for 5-7 minutes or until nicely brown on all sides. Remove to a large bowl.

Fry capsicum, onion, carrot in a saucepan for 10-12 minutes or until softened. Add tomato and cook for 5 minutes.

Add lamb, spice and water mix and red wine. Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer for 1 hour over low heat. Add more water as necessary.

Add the potatoes and cook for 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, lamb is cooked and the sauce is thickened.

Serve sprinkled with fresh flat leaf parsley, with steamed rice and greens

Monday, July 19, 2010

I wish I had an excuse to make such an extravagant looking delicious banana-rum cake with cream cheese icing and walnuts.. but I don't

We had three bananas ready for banana cake last Thursday. It is now Monday and I decided they were more than ready for banana cake. Completely black and super mushy!
I wanted something a little more indulgent than the typical banana bread. Try banana cake. The cake mixture is from Smitten Kitchen "Caramel Walnut Upside Down Cake". I altered it slightly and added a cream cheese icing - good move.
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 large eggs
1 generous cup of mashed very very ripe bananas (3-4 bananas depending on size)
3 tbsp sour cream (or yoghurt or buttermilk)
1 tbsp dark rum (I used bundy..)
1 3/4 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 170C fan forced. Grease and line two 20cm sandwich tins.

Cream the butter and sugars. Add the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well. Add the banana, sour cream and rum and beat again. At this stage my mixture curdled and looked entirely unappetising - don't worry if this happens because when I added the flour it all turned lovely and shiny again.

Fold in the sifted flour, baking powder, bicarb soda and salt very gently.

Divide the mixture between the two greased cake pans. Bake on the middle shelf in the oven for 25-30 minutes (mine was 29 mins) or until they spring back when touched and start to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Leave to cool in their pans for about 5 minutes, then put onto a cake rack to cool completely. Ice when cold.
Cream Cheese Icing
In a bowl beat together 250g cream cheese, 3 tbsp butter, 1 tsp of rum (or more to taste) and the zest and juice of one large lemon. Gradually add 4 cups of icing sugar. Mix until you have a smooth consistency.

Place one cake (rounded side down) onto the serving plate. Cover generously with icing, and then sprinkle with lots of roughly chopped walnuts. Place the second cake on top, rounded side up, and cover with more icing. Decorate with more walnuts.

Store it in the fridge.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

McKenzie's ham and vegetable soup like a minestrone

Who is McKenzie? I have no idea... but their "Italian style soup mix" does the trick for me. A packet of dried "peas, beans and legumes".
This recipe is one of my favourites. It comes off the back of the packet of peas/beans/legumes that form the base of the soup. You can go from nothing to warm tummy soup in about 2 hours (most of that time is spent sitting around).
This makes a gigantic pot of soup.. probably enough for lots of people (I'm bad at estimating volumes so I'm not going to try.. just trust me that this is one huge pot of soup)
Be careful with your knife skills - however nicely you cut all your vegies will determine how nice the final dish looks.
1 bacon hock
1 pack of bacon bones (I think I had about 8 small bones)
375g Italian Style soup mix (or mixed dried lentils, chickpeas, beans)

1 large brown onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cans chopped tomatoes
3 cups cabbage, chopped (about 1/2 a small cabbage)
4 tbsp brown rice
3/4 cup small shell pasta
Salt and pepper

Parmesan cheese and fresh bread, to serve

In a saucepan place the soup mix and the bacon bones and hock. Cover with 5 cups of water. Bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 45 minutes with the lid on. Keep an eye on it and add more water as necessary.

Remove the bones from the mixture. Carefully remove all the meat off the bones, removing all fat and skin. Cut the meat into small dice and set aside.

Skim the fat and scum off the top of the bean mixture water.

In a large saucepan gently saute the onion in 2 tbsp olive oil for 3-4 minutes. Add the celery, carrot, parsley and garlic. Saute for another 5-10 minutes or until the vegies are soft.

Add the canned tomatoes, reserved bacon meat, cabbage, rice, pasta bean mixture and liquid and 3 cups of water. Simmer gently for 20-30 minutes or until the vegies are tender.

Thin with water as necessary. Season very generously with pepper and salt.

Serve with parmesan cheese and bread and butter.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

home-made oreos - better than from the packet. oh yum!

I almost fell over when I tasted my first bite. These are seriously good.
Just make them. Today.
Then share them with someone you will have a friend forever. They really are that good.
I haven't even tried one dipped into icy cold milk yet.... I can't wait.
Thanks to Deb from Smitten Kitchen for the original recipe which I did change slightly.
I made 33 little sandwiches of perfection

1 1/4 cups plain flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp room temperature butter
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Place the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt and caster sugar into a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add the butter and pulse until you get coarse breadcrumbs. Add the egg and process until you get a ball. You may need to add a touch of cold water to make it come together.

Roll the dough out on a floured bench until 5mm thick. Cut into circles (mine were about 1 inch across). Place onto lined baking trays (they will only spread slightly so can be close).

Bake in the oven for 8-9 minutes. They are really quick at cooking so keep a close eye on them. They will puff up in the oven and look super cute. Remove from oven. Cool on trays for 2-3 minutes then move to a rack to cool completely. Fill them when cold.
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup copha (vegetable shortening)
2 cups icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence

In the food processor pulse the butter and copha until smooth. Add the icing sugar and vanilla and mix until smooth and fluffy.

Sandwich two biscuits together with a generous spoon of filling. You can be quite generous - I had lots of leftover filling. Be a bit delicate with the filling so you don't break the biscuits. My filling was quite thick, but if it is thin enough you could pipe it onto the biscuits.

Monday, July 12, 2010

fish pie is nice in rainy cold windy weather

This is my rendition of Jamie Oliver's fish pie. From his ministry of food book.
It sounds strange and looks strange before it is cooked. It is great once cooked.
Eat it in cold weather with tomato sauce.
Maybe put some green stuff on the plate to go with it - salad, beans, peas.. your choice (or just be lazy and eat pie by itself)
I do not like food that has had all the flavour sucked out of it in the interests of being healthy, gluten free, lactose free etc. This meal is actually super healthy and doesn't sacrifice flavour for the healthy factor. Yay. It is also gluten free (amazing).
Serves 6-8

300g salmon, skin removed, cut into bite sized chunks
300g smoked cod fillet, skin removed, cut into bite sized chunks
150g peeled and deveined prawns

1 carrot
1 bulb fennel
2 stalks celery
150g cheese (I used 80g cheddar and 70g parmesan), plus extra for sprinkling
1 tbsp grainy mustard
1 red chilli, roughly chopped
Zest of 2 lemons
Juice of 1 lemon
Handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
A large handful of baby spinach leaves

800g potatoes
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Cut the potatoes into chunks and put into a pot of salted water on the stove. Bring to the boil then simmer until tender. Drain well. Mash the potatoes, add a good glug of olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper.

Grate the carrot, celery, fennel and cheese. Mix with the mustard, chilli, lemon juice and zest, parsley, baby spinach and seafood.

Pile the mixture into a large casserole dish. Smooth out gently. Pour over the mashed potatoes. Make a nice spiky design on top - this will help it go crispy. Sprinkle over extra parmesan cheese.
Bake on a tray in the oven for 40 minutes or until cooked through. Yum.