Wednesday, December 16, 2009

There is Always Time For a Tea Party

I always find baking rather decadent as we didn't have this kind of food growing up- I come from a very healthy household, so I find getting into the kitchen to mix butter, flour and sugar such a treat that I need to share with friends. A good way I've found of doing this is to have tea parties, which I utterly adore.  This years tea party that I made had a very English feel about it. I made Fresh Ginger Cake, Scones with French berry jam and clotted cream, Upside Down Pineapple Cake, Eccles Cakes, and Caramel Toffee Apples. The teas were Roobios, Turkish Apple and Mint. (photos by Sarah Redimerio)
There is something so satisfying and joyful about sharing sweet baked goods with a cup of hot drink to wash it all down with.
I had to bake the upside down pineapple cake twice as the first one leaked out of the tin and the tin bubbled up- a bit freaky. So I dashed down to my local supermarket and bought a cake tin for a third of the price of the other one and it worked great. The scones had to be redone as well as my oven was burning them underneath. A friend dropped by early and told me to do my hair and make up and wear a smile, another friend helped me with the  caramel toffee apples and stuck chop sticks in them as I couldn't find sticks haha.
This was my third annual tea party, I'm already looking forward to next years:)

Little Puffs of Ricotta and Orange Zest

  I had run out of my usual breakfast foods, and came across this cute recipe from Nigel Slater and saw that I had all the ingredients- hoorah!
The texture and look were like fluffy pillows made of clouds, each caressed with a golden sunset.
Each pancake was only a slight bit bigger than a soup spoon. So after seeing the soft pile of them that I made, it felt rather indulgent to eat so many (although there were still plenty left over on my plate).

RECIPE: (in AUS and UK measurements)

ricotta cheese 250g
caster sugar 4 Tbl
eggs 3, separated
zest of one large orange
plain flour 50g
melted butter 2Tbl

In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta, caster sugar and egg yolks. Grate the orange zest into the bowl and stir it in gently with the flour. Beat the egg whites till they are stiff, then fold through them through the ricotta mixture. Be gentle with this step, so as not to knock out the air.
Warm a non-stick frying pan over a moderate heat, add the butter, then, as it starts to sizzle lightly, place a heaped tablespoon of mixture into the pan. You will probably be able to fit in three at a time. Let them cook for a minute or two till they have risen somewhat and the underside has coloured to a golden shade, then, using a palette knife, flip them over to cook the other side. After the other side has coloured nicely, serve immediately with a little melted jam and icing sugar.


Chicken Salad For a Summer Day

A cold meal is always a good match for a hot day, so I filled my belly with this refreshing salad . I made this for lunch and was so full that I didn't need to eat dinner.
The ingredients were vermicelli noodles, asparagus, Chinese cabbage, spring onions, coriander, skinless smoked chicken breast- although I think prawns would also be delicious in this dish, 
sweet chilli sauce, fish sauce, lime juice and peanut oil.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nigel Slater

For those of you who don't know- I love Nigel Slater. For those who do know this small fact, I can sense your smiles and chuckles, and nodding heads;) For those of you who don't know who he is, he is a food writer and cook from Britain. His approach to cooking and writing is romantic, whimsical, down to earth, organic, seasonal, simple and just delicious. I want to carry him around in my pocket all day.
Today I purchased his newest book titled "Tender-volume1", it is about his small garden in his backyard over in London, and the vegetables he has been growing and making from it. I was glad I was sitting down when I started reading it today, as I simply went weak in the knees from his sentences. (this photo by Sarah Redimerio)
At this stage I can only dream of being as wonderful as he is as a food writer- but I am working on it:) 

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Night Time Picnic For Two

I am a fan of picnics, this day time treat is also just as good at night time on a warm night with a blanket, cushions and candles to give a soft light.
I made a foccacia with tomatoes, garlic, rosemary and olive oil on top, chicken drumsticks with fresh oregano and  lemon zest and a salad of spinach leaves and grilled asparagus.
My friend and I then read children's books by the candle light and ate bowls of buttermilk vanilla ice-cream with smashed up raspberries over the top.

A Simple Lunch of Left Overs

I had left over roast potato and roast sweet potato from my dinner the night before. Again I rustled about in my fridge for ingredients to go with these.
I put the potatoes onto my plate, and crumbled over some Danish feta, then put a dollop of European style yoghurt- the delicious thick type- a sprinkle of freshly cut mint and coriander. I heated a piece of roti bread and enjoyed every mouthful of my lunch.

A "What Will I Have For Dinner Tonight" Moment

I was having one of those regular moments of opening up the fridge and hoping something amazing would jump out. After rustling about in there for a bit, I found potatoes and sweet potatoes, mixed salad leaves, spring onion and lemon.
I cut up the potatoes, and roasted them in the oven with some olive oil. I let them cool off a little bit when they were ready and then placed them into a bowl with salad leaves. I made a dressing of extra virgin olive oil, Celtic sea salt, spring onion chopped finely, lemon juice and lemon zest.
And yes- it was amazing.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sometimes Only a Bowl of Ice-Cream Will Do...

I am a huge fan of Maggie Beer and her food products. Her new ice-cream is a lemon and orange curd flavour, with small pieces of peel in it. The combination of fresh blueberries adds such a lovely natural sweetness to the sourness of the citrus.
This is perfect for a late afternoon on a long hot day, when all you want to do is escape the heat that beats down outside.

Vietnamese Style Salad

During a week long heat wave I was needing a bowl of cooling food, I looked through Nigel Slaters "The Kitchen Diaries" book and came across this recipe. This book is one of my absolute favourites- I fall in love with Nigel every time I read his words.
Although this salad mainly consists of spinach and bean shoots, I found that I was very full after eating it, although not for an extended time.

A hot, sour bean shoot salad (enough for two people)-

spring onions 6-8
lime juice 2 Tbl
Thai fish sauce 2 Tbl
sugar 1 Tbl
bean shoots 250g
half a cucumber
chilies 1-2 small, red hot ones
spinach 100g/2 good handfuls
coriander leaves 1 good handful
mint the leaves from 4-5 sprigs

Trim the spring onions and grill them till they are soft and brown on all sides. Meanwhile, make the dressing by briefly whisking the lime juice with the fish sauce and sugar. Wash the bean shoots and leave them to soak for a few minutes in cold water. Cut the cucumber into matchsticks and add it to the dressing. Chop the chillies finely, discarding the seeds, and mix them with the cucumber.
Rinse the spinach, drain the bean shoots and add them to the dressing along with the spring onions. Rinse the herb leaves and toss them with the rest of the salad.

This Little Bear Wanted Porridge

The only thing I didn’t measure when I made this was the oats- sorry! So just follow the instructions on your packet. Add milk instead of water, as much as the packet directions say.
Next add a grated Granny Smith apple, a spoon of honey, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 cup shredded coconut.
Stir as required.
Serve with macadamia nuts on top.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant with Chickpeas

A delicious early Spring dish that will make your taste buds feel refreshed and alive after the cold winter. It is also great cold the next day for lunch.

6 large tomatoes
Eggplant- medium
120ml olive oil
red wine vinegar-50ml
cumin seeds- 1tsp
chickpeas-two 400g tins
basil leaves- 12

for the dressing:
harissa paste-1 tsp
olive oil- 60ml

Preheat the oven to 200C. Cut each tomato into 6 pieces, put them into the roasting tin.
Slice the eggplant into four lengthways slices, and then into short chunks. Put them into the roasting tin with the olive oil, vinegar, cumin seeds, freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. Roast for about an hour, until the eggplant is brown and the tomatoes are juicy.
Take them out of the tin, and put them into a mixing bowl. Mix in the chickpeas.
Make the dressing by mixing the harissa paste and olive oil into the roasting juices and then pour over the veggies and chickpeas.
Serve with basil leaves on top.
Good serving for four people.

My Cute Kitchen

I love cute and pretty things to put in my kitchen and use.
I feel happier when I have these things to use in my kitchen, I feel like I'm in a fairy tale cottage:)
The colours I love the most are light yellow, light blue, light green and light pink and splashes of red.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Tasmanian Christmas

I didn't have a "traditional" Christmas feast until I was 16 and went to my now late Aunt's and my cousin's home in Sydney. Every Christmas time before that had been in Hobart with my mum and siblings. My mum and her sisters had grown up in Papua New Guinea, and mum loved feeding us tropical foods when summer time came around. Pan fried fish and banana with a mango sauce, mountains of mangoes, fresh coconuts, lychees, paw paw, pineapple, and many more foods.
Her idea of a special Christmas feast was to give us all a glass platter filled with tropical fruits to graze on throughout the day- with occasional other types of food. It's kind of funny considering the amount of times the rain had been lashing down onto the windows on Christmas day, and there we were with our platters of sunshine. Others times it was hot enough to laze around outside.
So, it's at this year that my taste buds start desiring tropical foods, to go along with the hot sun and occasional humid day.
I do miss those "Tropical -Tasmanian -Christmas" times, and have experienced many a traditional Christmas since moving out of home...and yet if I don't see any of the fruits mum would give me, it just feels like something is missing.
So if you have me over at your home over the Christmas season, and you see me looking longingly at a mango in your fruit bowl, please just let me eat it so that I can feel like I'm home again- even if it is just for a few moments.

A Fragrant Chicken Curry For a Cold Day

After making curries for 12 years, I took a break of making them for the last two years. So I was surprised when I craved one this week.
I went down to my local Indian shop, and felt a little shy just before going in- I felt as if I was visiting an old friend who I hadn't seen for a long time.
My eyes scanned the once familiar spices and packages and I bought what I needed: coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, ground tumeric, curry leaves, coconut milk, naan bread and basmati rice Back home I added fresh ginger, onion, garlic, chilli and fresh chicken to my small pile.
Crushing the seeds in my mortar and pestle, their freshly broken aroma was quickly released into my tiny kitchen.
After browning the chicken pieces, I then used the pan to heat up the crushed seeds, added the diced onion and grated ginger and tumeric and garlic. I poured in the tomato and coconut milk, curry leaves and finally the chicken. The colour was so vibrant.
The heady scent of the spices and the sweetness of the coconut milk filled my apartment which made me warm as the spring dusk was cooling down outside.
Sitting down to eat this dish, I found it to be refreshing, fragrant and light. Both my taste buds and belly were satisfied.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Younger Sister's Wedding

I arrived in Sydney with four hours sleep on a muggy hot Friday morning- with my cookbook tucked safely into my weekend bag.
My sister picked me up and we ran some last minute errands and went back to our older sisters home, which was looking like a chaotic scene from the TV show “Packed To The Rafters”, with my older sister and her husband and their two tiny boys, my mum, my younger sister and I all squashed into the home and having a million things to do.
My two sisters and I got organised in the kitchen to begin the wedding food preparation. First to be made was the Spanish tortilla. We shared the chopping and cooking of the egg, capsicum, onion, garlic, chorizo and potato. It was then popped into the oven to cook. After dinner, I then made Sushi squares of rice, nori, pickled ginger, cucumber, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce. That was left overnight with board on it to keep it in a firm flat shape. Next was cooking the spiced prawn pappadums. I cooked the pappadums in the microwave- one of the few reasons I use one! After that I prepared the prawns and made their marinade of tandoori paste, yoghurt, lime zest and coriander leaves.
The next morning I sliced up the tortilla into squares, and also the sushi.
I then made candied tomatoes by making a sugar candy in a small pot and dipping the cherry tomatoes in, one at a time. I had them cool for a few minutes and placed them onto individual basil leaves.
After the wedding ceremony on the beach, I placed the prawn mixture onto the pappadums and sprinkled some coriander leaves on top before serving.

Green Spring Dinner

I was tired and uninspired but had to eat and too tired to go to the shops for ingredients for what was really on my mind.
I opened the fridge and there was some home made pesto, hmmm that’s always a good start! Rummage, rummage, oh some fresh baby spinach leaves, oh look some Granny Smith apples and fresh goats cheese- still unopened for a moment such as this:)
I put the spaghetti on to boil and made a simple salad of spinach leaves, grated apple and dollops of cheese. To finish it off I drizzled a little bit of extra virgin olive onto it and served it along side my pesto covered spaghetti.