Saturday, March 24, 2012

Super Slice - River Cottage

I've become a big fan of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his River Cottage Everyday program, which is being shown on the ABC here in Australia at the moment

This week he featured bread....but while looking at his site to check out some other recipes, I found this delicious slice, which he calls a booster bar that's great for an energy hit at breakfast.

I have to agree with him... it really is better than anything you'll find in the health food aisle at the supermarket

I usually make MONT a cake or something to take to Bonnie Doon so thought this would be nice as a bit of a change. It doesn't look particularly attractive while making it, but it's the end result that's important.

Grease and line a baking tin about 20cm square and preheat the oven to about 160c

In a pot on low heat, gently melt together: 125g unsalted butter, 150g soft brown sugar, 125g crunchy peanut butter (the one with no added sugar)  75g honey and the finely grated zest of a lemon and an orange. I also added the juice of the lemon, just to give it a bit of a zing

Stir in 200g porridge oats and 150g dried fruit. I used some currants, sultanas, a couple of chopped dried figs and a few dried cranberries that I had left over. I also added a handful of pistachio nuts and a few pecans

Hugh suggests adding seeds as well, like pumpkin, sunflower, poppy, linseed and sesame seeds

Spread the mixture out evenly into the baking tin and, if you like,  scatter a few seeds on the top. Then bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until it's started to brown at the edges and is golden in the centre

You have to let this cool completely in the tin before you take it out and cut it, otherwise it'll break apart.

Hugh has this as a breakfast energy bar...I also like it with a cuppa.

If you're not a fan of peanut butter you can replace it with a mashed up banana. Just stir it in after all the other ingredients have been mixed together.

As I mentioned, I added the juice of a lemon. Next time I'll also add the juice of the orange, just to help lighten it a bit. I'll also get some pumpkin and sunflower seeds to mix in.

Use your imagination. That's the best thing about cooking. There's always something you can substitute if you don't have the original ingredient

I'm a River Cottage convert.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mini fry pans

Have you seen the itsy bitsy fry pans that are in the shops at the moment?

They are extremely small and can fit maybe one egg in them at a time

You can get cast iron ones...

High end designer styles that cost a bomb...

...and the multi coloured non stick variety.

I've seen them priced from a couple of dollars to well over $30 and when I first saw them I couldn't work out what they were for, then today saw one labelled "Blinis Pan"

Blinis or Blini is a small Russian pancake that you top with caviar, or so the recipe I saw said.

I have another theory as well....and it's just a theory.

I think manufacturers are trying to cash in on the growing number of people who live alone and don't want large pots and pans to clean up.

I guess it may also be due to the tiny sinks, no bigger than a salad bowl, that are being installed in some flats/apartments now. I mean, how can you possibly fit a large pot or roasting pan in those sinks and wash them successfully? In fact a little while back we heard of some apartments being built with virtually no kitchens at all. It seems the developers and architects thought people who were "cool" enough to live in these places were too cool to cook and would eat out or have food delivered...sort of like the Singapore model where the evening meal for many people, is delivered to their apartment door in returnable metal containers that help keep the food hot.

I guess the cooking show craze hadn't caught on there yet

What I've also seen them used for though is to make individual potato rosti....

I came across a cooking show a week or so ago and had a light bulb moment when I saw the guest chef use one of these tiny pans to make a potato rosti...then he plonked some lovely steak medallions on top and it looked fabulous!

The rosti was crisp and brown and caramelised on the outside...and rich and creamy on the inside.

I'm going to buy one of these tiny pans (the discounted $2 variety) and see how I go with it...I'll post the recipe when I make it later in the week.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What's for dinner?

This week I made Pasta with tuna and peas and slow roasted tomatoes and it was very quick and very nice.

I slow roasted the tomatoes through the afternoon...I used the Roma's, slice them in half, sprinkle with a little raw sugar and freshly ground pepper and salt, then a drizzle of olive oil and roast in a 120 degree C oven for about 2 hours.

Boil the pasta of your choice. Throw some frozen peas into the boiling water about a minute before it's ready, then a can of tuna, (I used one in oil) throw it in the pot of hot, drained pasta and stir it around.

Bowl it up, place some tomatoes on top, grate or slice some good cheese of your choice over the top, (I used Parmesan) and eat.

The quantities are really up to you...that's what's good about this. You make it to suit yourself.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Baking Panettone

This is very easy...a little time consuming but so worth the effort....

You'll need

1 tablespoon dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
5 tablespoons caster sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup plain yoghurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
500 gr plain flour
1/3 cup currants
1/3 cup sultanas
1/4 cup candied orange peel
1 tablespoon icing sugar

Preheat oven to 170c

In a medium bowl, combine yeast, water and caster sugar, then stir and cover and let stand for 10 minutes until it starts to foam. In another bowl, combine yoghurt, eggs, vanilla, zest and salt and mix together, then add to the yeast mixture. Let it sit for about 10 minutes until it foams and bubbles

Stir in the flour, a little at a time until a dough starts to form into a manageable ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary, until dough is soft and pliable, but not sticky

Place the ball of dough into a lightly greased bowl and cover with a tea towel.

It'll take about an hour for the dough to double it's size

Lightly grease a round 20cm cake tin and place two layers of baking paper in the bottom, then in a small bowl, mix the dried fruit with the icing sugar. Punch down the dough, transfer to a floured surface again and knead in the fruit

Put the dough into the cake tin and let is rise again...for about half an hour

Then bake for about 35-40 minutes,

Delicious with a good coffee for breakfast or afternoon tea.

The original recipe had the oven at 180 deg and a baking time of 45 minutes. I tried it a little lower as my oven is fan forced. I also tested the Panettone after 35 minutes and it was fine, although some of the fruit on the top was a little crispy, as you can see.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Thai Chicken Risotto

Delicious Magazine has provided another winner, and it's super easy because you start it off in a heavy casserole dish on top of the stove, then plonk it in the oven for about half an hour to finish it off.

Quantities are for 6, so you can adapt it for however many people you're cooking for

You need:

Peanut oil
500 gr chicken thigh fillets, cut into 2cm pieces
1 onion finely chopped
1 red chilli, chopped and de-seeded
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 kaffir lime leaves finely shredded
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup Thai red curry paste
2 cups chicken stock  (I used water)
1 cup coconut cream
2 tbsp fish sauce
200 gr green beans, trimmed and chopped
Coriander, fried Asian shallots and lime wedges (to serve)

Preheat oven to 180 c
Heat oil in flame proof casserole dish and then add the chicken in batches and fry until browned. Remove the chicken and add the onion, chilli, garlic and half the kaffir lime leaves and fry for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly. Add the rice and curry paste and stir to coat the grains
Return the chicken to the dish with the stock and half a cup of water. Let it simmer then cover with the lid and cook in the oven for about 25 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the oven and stir in the coconut cream, fish sauce and beans then cover and let stand for 10 minutes.

Top the risotto with the chopped coriander, fried Asian shallots and remaining kaffir lime leaves and serve with lime wedges.

Dinner is served