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.