Wednesday, 31 January 2007

postcards & fattoush

Meeta from What’s for Lunch Honey? is hosting Blogger Postcards Around the World (BPW).

The last time this event took place I remember seeing loads of blogs with photos of their postcards, so this time I decided to join in the fun.

The theme was St Valentine’s but of course I muddled this up and made a kitsch Australiana postcard instead. I know, I am a bit of a git but since it was Australia Day I was feeling the 'Aussie'.

I have sent my little postcard off to an undisclosed location somewhere in the world and hopefully some lovely blogger will get it and feel happy.

Now . . . I wonder who sent me a card?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Since it’s summer here, and the wedding is fast approaching, I’ve become a bit of a salad fiend. Lately I’ve made tabouleh, Cypriot potato salad, Moroccan carrots, lentil salad, chasoba noodle salad and now fattoush.

Fattoush is a Lebanese salad, meaning “moistened bread”. This refers to the fried or toasted pita bread providing the salad with so much crunch but which also absorbs the lemon juice and olive oil dressing.

Fattoush is eaten all over the Middle East and has a robust, tangy flavour that comes from the sumac, a berry that's dried and ground into a sour spice powder.

I love fattoush because it’s so flavoursome and yet so fresh and light. It makes a seriously easy summer dinner and it a great way to use up stale pita bread.

Recipe from Gourmet Traveller ‘Modern Salads’. Serves 8.

1 cup olive oil, for frying
2 pieces Lebanese bread, quartered
500g grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Lebanese cucumbers, finely chopped
1½ cups [loosely packed] flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1½ cups [loosely packed] mint, finely chopped
4 radishes, halved and thinly sliced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 red capsicum (pepper), finely chopped
1 tablespoon sumac
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, for dressing
4 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. When hot add half the Lebanese bread and fry until golden. Drain on absorbent paper then repeat with remaining bread.
2. Combine tomatoes, capsicum, cucumber, parsley, mint, radishes and green onions in a large bowl and stir to combine.
3. Coarsely break fried bread and toss through salad.
4. Sprinkle in the sumac, drizzle some olive and lemon juice and toss gently to combine.


Monday, 29 January 2007

recipe carousel #31 - noodles

It’s interesting how in the Australian vocabulary noodles always signify an Asian dish whereas pasta signifies an Italian or European style meal.

Well, I've already done pasta, so now it's time for noodles.

I have always adored noodles soups but noodle salads and noodle stir fries are equally delightful. I’m a particularly big fan of rice noodles of any shape or size as well as chasoba and ramen.

Last week I made a delicious chasoba salad with miso dressing and this inspired me to seek out other noodle recipes from the blogosphere. So, here are seven noodle nibbles for your own enjoyment.

Crab Vermicelli w Garlic, Ginger & Coriander is a quick treat for Mae in the Channel Islands (Rice and Noodles). Not everyone is lucky enough to have a hunter close at hand, but Ian’s diving expedition produced a spider crab that turned into this gorgeous noodle meal. While vermicelli were soaking in hot water, Mae wok fried garlic and ginger, then added the crab meat, soy sauce, chillies and spring onions. She then combined these with the noodles and more soy sauce, removed it from the heat and added fresh coriander. Quick, easy and amazingly delicious. Photo courtesy of Mae.

Udon w Edamamme Pesto comes from Santos in Guam (The Scent of Green Bananas). Santos’ fondness for chewy udon noodles was indulged with an inspiring idea from Eric Gower's The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen. Santos used edamame (soy bean), smoked almonds, garlic, olive oil and fresh mint, coriander and flat leafed parsley to make an Asian style pesto. According to Santos, the smoky nuts and fruity olive oil seemed to blend well with the meatiness of the edamame. Photo courtesy of Santos.

Kerabu Bee Hoon holds special memories for Irvine in the USA (Rasa Malaysia). This was a dish her talented Nyonya grandmother would cook for family feasts. Belcan (shrimp paste) is blended with dried prawns, red chillies, lime juice, fish sauce and a sprinkling of sugar to make a sauce. This is then tossed with bee hoon (rice vermicelli) and fresh lemongrass, shallots, prawns, toasted coconut and kaffir leaves, producing a richly coloured, spicy, cold salad. Photo courtesy of Irvine.

Ho'io Fern Shoots w Shitake & Buckwheat Soba is an inventive recipe from Rowena in Italy (Rubber Slippers in Italy). During a visit to her home on Hawaii’s Kauai, Rowena gathered ho’io shoots (pohole) from the forest. Rowena describes the delicate flavour as similar to asparagus. She lightly cooks the fern shoots in boiling water with the soba noodles then sautés shitake mushrooms in sesame oil with minced garlic. The drained noodles and ho’io are added to the stir-fry along with soy sauce, lime juice and salt. The final product is sprinkled with sesame seeds before serving. Photo courtesy of Rowena.

Lemongrass Beef Noodle Salad is a Vietnamese dish cooked by Renz in the USA (Little Bouffe). Renz is not a huge fan of lemongrass, but on this occasion the risk was worth it. Rice vermicelli is dressed with basil, coriander and nuoc cham (lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, garlic, chilli) before being laid as the bed for slices of cucumber and beef marinated in lemongrass, fish sauce, chilli and soy sauce. Chopped peanuts add some crunchy texture. Photo courtesy of Renz.

Khao Soi Gai is a rich northern Thai soup recreated here by Aun in Singapore (Chubby Hubby). Trailing his food writer wife on assignment around Chiang Mai, this photographer and gastronome had sampled some of the best khao soi the city had to offer. Boiled noodles are topped with sawtooth coriander then smothered with a chicken yellow curry using coconut milk. And just in case you didn’t get your noodle fix, the dish is then garnished with noodles that have been deep fried until crispy. Photo courtesy of Aun.

Sesame Ginger Soba Noodles is a versatile recipe from Archana in the USA (Spicyana). This dish can be made as hot comfort food or served as a cold salad in summer. Using soba noodles, which Archana describes as having a “unique earthy and nutty taste”, the simple dressing consists of minced garlic, grated fresh ginger, chopped scallions, sesame paste, peanut sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and chilli paste. You can top this with your own choice of meat, seafood, eggs or vegetables. Photo courtesy of Archana.

Add your own recipe!
If you want to link in your own noodle recipe and share the love around, just leave the link in the comments section. You didn’t have to invent the recipe yourself, just make it and post it on your site. The whole idea of Recipe Carousel is that good recipes are shared with people who love to cook.
Note: Usual comments are more than welcome but all html links must be recipe related (yours or others).

Check out other Recipe Carousel themes: cookies, vegetarian mains, nuts, milkshakes, rice, festive food, legumes/pulses, eggs, pancakes, breakfast, raw food, berries, dips, cocktails, pasta, yoghurt, crispy snacks, vegetable desserts, fruit in savoury food, made from scratch, strawberries, jam, bread, seafood mains, ice cream, soup, chocolate and drinks.


Friday, 26 January 2007

prawns, not shrimp!

Paul Hogan has a lot to answer for. So does the Australian Tourist Commission.

In 1986 Crocodile Dundee was the world’s number one box office movie and Hogan shot to fame as 'Mick Dundee'. The film that cost $10 million to make was aimed at American audiences but became popular in many countries providing many people with their first (very warped) glimpse of Australia.

The same year the Australian Tourist Commission then hired Hogan to star in a TV ad trying to encourage Americans tourists to travel to Australia. Hogan stood in front of the Sydney Opera House with a view over the harbour and uttered the most toxic words that have haunted Australians ever since "I'll slip an extra shrimp on the barbie for you."

Since 1986 Americans have been reciting these lines back Australians. I have suffered greatly from this. I hate Paul Hogan and I hate the ATC.

It’s not really the Americans' fault: I mean we’re the ones that made them believe this is the kind of stupid thing we say!

But today, on Australia Day – Australia’s national holiday – I must set the record straight and tell all my American friends that the word shrimp does not exist in Australia.

It’s prawn. P-R-A-W-N. Prawn.

Not shrimp. No shrimp. Never shrimp.

During last week's Weekend Herb Blogging post I talked about chillies in general. This week it's specifically the ancho chilli.

I love it how the Mexicans have one name for a fresh chilli ie poblano or jalepeno and then a completely new name for that same chilli in a dried state ie ancho or chipotle.

It just goes to show they’re connoisseurs when it comes to the hot stuff, since the drying process has an effect on the sugar components of chillies creating an extra strong flavour.

Ancho chillies are dried poblanos and are dark in colour. They have a sweet, smoky, coffee and cocoa flavour (some people think they taste like dried fruit too) and are quite mild on the chilli heat scale. They are used in many traditional recipes like Camarones en Pipian - a Mexican recipe that I, a first generation Australian, cooked for a Japanese friend.

That’s what Australia is all about!

This week Weekend Herb Blogging is hosted by Ed at Tomato. This is very fitting because Ed lives in Melbourne - one of Australia's great cities, famous for it's good food, bohemian art and it's healthy disdain of Sydney!

So g’day wherever you are, chuck a prawn on the barbie, open a tinny and say “bottoms up” to the land down under.

Happy Australia Day!

Camarones en Pipian

Recipe from Jane Milton’s ‘Mexican’. Serves 6.
1 ancho (dried poblano chilli)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
8 tomatoes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ cup chicken stock
1 cup ground almonds
¾ cup crème fraîche
1 lime
1kg prawns, cooked and peeled
Coriander, lime wedges, rice and tortillas to serve

1. In a heatproof bowl, cover the ancho with boiling water and soak for 30 minutes. Drain, remove the stem, slit the chilli and remove the seeds then chop the flesh and set aside.
2. Score the skin on the bottom of each tomato then place in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. After 3 minutes remove and refresh in cold water. Drain and peel the skins. Cut in half, scoop out the seeds and pulp then chop the flesh into cubes.
3. Heat oil in a pan then sauté the onion and garlic until soft.
4. Add tomato flesh, chilli and cumin. Cook for 10 minutes and stir occasionally.
5. Put mixture in a processor or blender, add stock and process till smooth.
6. Pour mixture into a pot, add the ground almonds and stir over low heat for 2 minutes.
7. Stir in crème fraîche until it has been incorporated completely.
8. Squeeze the juice from the lime and stir into the sauce. Season to taste then turn the heat up and bring the sauce to boiling point.
9. Add the shrimp and heat for 2 minutes until warmed through.
10. Garnish with coriander and serve with rice, lime wedges and tortillas.

I hope you all enjoy this dish as much as Taka did!!!

Anna’s Australian inspired food:
Chilled Mulled Riesling
Honey-Vodka Poached Mandarins
Kangaroo w Quandong Glaze
Moreton Bay Bugs w Donut Peach Salsa
Pavlova Martini
Sydney Rock Oysters w Greek Salad Smoothies
Tomato Chilli Jam

Australian Slang (Strine):
Dictionary of Aussie Terms

Australian History & Facts:
CIA Factbook


Monday, 22 January 2007

recipe carousel #30 - cookies

I’ve been dreaming of chocolate cookies lately. Chewy, soft cookies with flecks of semi-melted bittersweet chocolate. I’ve also been dreaming of pecan and caramel cookies. And walnut cookies. And coconut. And lemon. Oh and gingerbread too.

Cookies are great. You can serve them with milk or a smoothie or even a thimble full of liqueur to make them a little more adult. In Australia most people call them biscuits, but my insistence on calling them cookies is yet another sign of my American father.

So, here are seven cookie recipes to sweeten up your week.

Fried Cardamom Cookies were made by Gattina in Hong Kong (Kitchen Unplugged). Gattina’s baking inspiration came from Beatrice Ojakangas’ “The Great Scandinavian Baking Book”. After slaving over cookie dough it occurred to Gattina that baking Scandinavian Christmas cookies during a sweltering New Jersey summer may not yield the exact dough consistency she’s hoped for. Alas this is all too well understood by the outnumbered southern hemisphere food bloggers who read from their fellow bloggers about stews in summer and ice cream in winter. Gattina’s recipe makes a batch of cardamom spiced dough that is rolled into circlets and sniped decoratively before being deep fried. Photo courtesy of Gattina.

Italian Prune Cookies were eagerly sought after by Annie in the USA (Mixed Salad Annie). Annie searched the internet high and low to come across these deliciously moist Italian sweets mad eof raisins, prunes and flavoured with lemon zest. After being baked the cookies are drizzled with lemon scented glaze. Resist if you dare! Photo courtesy of Annie.

Ginger Sables are recommended by JenJen in Australia (Milk & Cookies) to help stave off insanity during night shifts. These delicate cookies contain a good smack of warm ginger and a hint of cinnamon. Be sure to be patient and keep your dough in the fridge long enough to firm up. JenJen got a little eager and hers turned out flatter than she wanted – they look damn fine to me! Photo courtesy of JenJen.

Almond & Pink Peppercorn Cantucci is a recipe love by Johanna in the UK (The Passionate Cook). Johanna’s passion is caused by the unexpected alternations of sweet and spicy in every mouthful. Ground almonds flavour the overall biscuit while whole almonds, pink peppercorns and ginger paste provide texture and bite. These are true biscuits in that that are cooked twice: first to create form and then they are sliced and baked again until rock hard. In fact cantucci are traditionally very hard and are usually dunked into vin santo or coffee before eating. Photo courtesy of Johanna.

Brutti ma Buoni are a Piemontese specialty cooked up by Rowena in Italy (Rubber Slippers in Italy). Translating to “ugly but good”, these clusters are made of egg, chopped almonds, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Rowena calls them “delicately sweet” and recommends them with a cup of tea. Just remember not to curse Rowena for the sticky crust at the bottom of your pan – she promises it will wash off easily. Photo courtesy of Rowena.

Lenguas de Gato are feline favours from MarketMan in the Philippines (Market Manila). He declares these beauties to be “crisp, sweet and buttery” but isn’t quite sure how they got their name “cats’ tongues”. MarketMan also ponders over the watery white content of local eggs and wonders whether recipes should contain measurements rather than numbers of eggs. Photo courtesy of MarketMan.

Green Tea Shortbread Leaves are JulieBean (The Suburban Apron Company) in the USA’s afternoon tea after spending her birthday in a Japanese Garden. Martha Stewart’s recipe combines traditional shortbread ingredients with the verdant bitterness of matcha (green tea). JulieBean found the kitchen filled with the glorious scent of green tea as the cookies baked. This entry is one of those I included in the first two ever Recipe Carousels and so I’ve included it again under the cookie theme. Photo courtesy of JulieBean.

Add your own recipe!
If you want to link in your own cookie recipe and share the love around, just leave the link in the comments section. You didn’t have to invent the recipe yourself, just make it and post it on your site. The whole idea of Recipe Carousel is that good recipes are shared with people who love to cook.
Note: Usual comments are more than welcome but all html links must be recipe related (yours or others).

Check out other Recipe Carousel themes: vegetarian mains, nuts, milkshakes, rice, festive food, legumes/pulses, eggs, pancakes, breakfast, raw food, berries, dips, cocktails, pasta, yoghurt, crispy snacks, vegetable desserts, fruit in savoury food, made from scratch, strawberries, jam, bread, seafood mains, ice cream, soup, chocolate and drinks.


Sunday, 21 January 2007

algeria's loubia b'dersa

These days I can handle a significant level of spiciness, but that wasn’t always the case.

As a child I remember my American father and grandfather threading home grown chillies on strings and leaving them to dry in the Australian summer. These were then ground into chilli powder which seasoned most of their meals the way other people use salt and pepper.

I could never handle the heat of their spaghetti bolognese or chili con carne.

I built up my own chilli tolerance from bowls of tom yum goong. I simply adore this spicy and sour prawn soup from Thailand and so I forced myself to endure the physical pain so I could devour bowl after bowl. I soon grew used to the chilli and became an addict.

As I ingested more and more chilli I came to learn that different forms take on different types of spiciness. Chilli sliced fresh is a very different kind of heat form chilli powder which is different again from chilli paste.

This recipe for Loubia B'dersa uses a few different forms of chilli: dried birds eye chillies, cayenne powder and tangy harissa.

Harissa is a chilli paste. It’s usually a combination of smoked chillies, garlic, olive oil and spices. It can be used as a condiment with a meal, like a mustard or chutney, and can also be used to marinate meat and flavour couscous and stews. It’s a vital element in North African cooking, particularly in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.

This particular dish is a combination of various internet recipes as well as my own adaptation and additions. I figured since this is an Algerian dish, and has a chilli focus, it couldn’t be made without some harissa.

And the best thing about this dish is that red chillies are high in Vitamin C content, allowing a substantial increase in the uptake of iron from other ingredients (like the beans)!

Loubia B'Dersa (Algerian chilli)

Anna’s version of a common internet recipe. Serves 4.

400g kidney beans, canned
400g cannellini beans, canned
1 small onion, finely diced
2 small dried red chillies
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon harissa paste
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 litre vegetable broth
1 fresh bay leaf
5 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, tied together with cotton
5 sprigs fresh coriander, chopped finely
5 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped finely
Cider vinegar or red wine vinegar, to garnish

1. In a large pot heat olive oil over a medium heat and cook onion until tender (approx. 5 minutes).
2. Remove the seeds from one dried chilli then add harissa, chillies, garlic, cayenne pepper, paprika, pepper and cumin and cook until fragrant (approx. 2 minutes).
3. Add tomato paste and stir until spice and onion mixture thickens slightly (approx. 2 minutes).
4. Add tomatoes and 1 cup of stock. Bring to the boil.
5. Add remaining stock, bay leaf and whole parsley sprigs and bring to the boil. Lower heat then cover and allow to simmer for 10 – 15 minutes.
6. Drain and wash beans, then add to stew. Cook until tender (5 – 15 minutes).
7. To serve, remove bay leaf, chillies and parsley sprigs. Stir through chopped parsley and coriander. Serve hot with rice and a dash of vinegar.
Note: you could easily use navy beans, which are much more common in Algeria but not available canned in Australia.
Since around 7,500 BCE chillies have been part of the human diet and have been cultivated since around 5,200 BCE. They originated in the Americas and were spread throughout the world by Europeans in the 1400s.

It’s actually the stem end of the chilli that produces the spiciness (caused by capsaicin). The seeds and inner flesh of the chilli retain most of the heat so removing them can decrease the spice factor.

They’re high in vitamin C, provitamin A, vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium and iron. In fact chillies are said to assist arthritis as well as protect against tumours and gastro parasites. The pain caused by the spiciness is also said to trigger the brain to release endorphins and analgesics to create a sense of well being. I know I feel that way after a chilli dose!!!
Wikipedia has a great article on chillies if you're interested.

This week’s host for Weekend Herb Blogging is Scott from the Real Epicurean in the UK. Be sure to find out what else has been cooking!

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

greek salad smoothie

Anna from Anna’s Cool Finds has initiated an interesting food blogging event “A Taste of Terroir”.

Although terroir is usually used to describe the geographical characteristics imbibed in wine (and coffee and chocolate), Anna believes there is more to terroir than the chemical makeup of soil or the temperature and weather fluctuations.

In this event she wants to apply terroir “to those foods and drinks which truly give a sense of place, or the taste of the place can be observed in them”. She has kindly invited everyone to document “an edible piece of your locale that you have a special connection with and would like to share with the world”.

So now I’ve had to think of something special to share with the blogging world.

Since I had covered Moreton Bay Bugs only recently, I didn’t want to rehash this and I couldn’t think of a dish both special to me and quintessentially Australian.

So much of Australian cuisine is coloured by the people who built this country. Nearly one quarter of our population was born overseas which makes us a very new nation. The food I eat on a daily basis may amuse or confuse many people. I’ll start off with char siu bao for a quick brekkie, have a döner kebab for lunch and at dinner fill up on dhal. Then the next day it’s bircher, pho and tagine. I love this mixed up diet and my tongue delights in all the possibilities.

So again, what to choose for terroir? I had to go to the local produce for inspiration. And then, at the Fish Market, I saw the delightful little beauties twinkling back at me: Sydney rock oysters!!!

But what to serve with them? Having had enough of lemon juice and mignonette dressing, I decided to do something bold.

In the January 2007 Gourmet Traveller I saw an interesting concept devised by The Press Club chef, George Calombaris: Greek salad smoothies.

Greek Salad Smoothie

Anna’s recipe inspired by George Calombaris. Makes 350ml.
50g fetta cheese
1 tomato, diced
¼ cup kalamata olives, pitted
¼ cup good quality red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon crème fraîche
Juice of ½ lemon

1. Put the lemon juice, fetta, olives and tomato in a blender and slowly add red wine vinegar until it becomes a smooth paste. Blend for a minute to combine fully.
2. Drain through muslin or a fine sieve to remove tomato skins.
3. Whisk sauce with crème fraîche and serve over freshly shucked oysters.
Note: This makes 1½ cups of sauce. You could use it to dress two dozen oysters or even as a salad dressing.

Sydney rock oysters have a unique flavour that cannot compare to any other oysters I’ve tasted anywhere. They are small and creamy yellow in colour and their flavour packs a pungent hit of sweet meat and salty brine ending in the most moreish aftertaste that you can actually retain for days later.

An average Sydney rock oyster can take about 3 years to reach harvest size whereas the more common (and less flavoursome) Pacific oyster takes less than half that time.

Sydney rocks also have a longer shelf life than Pacific oysters since their growth period involves much harsher conditions and longer periods above the water line. Just to give you an indication, while the Pacific oyster needs to be eaten within three days of harvesting, the Sydney rock can survive in a damp sack for three weeks! Of course they are best consumed closer to harvesting.

If you want to read a little bit more about Sydney Rock oysters, I suggest the lengthy (and potentially obsessive compulsive) post I wrote last October after the Oyster Forum at Manta.

Be sure to visit Anna's Cool Finds to read the round-up of A Taste of Terroir.


Monday, 15 January 2007

recipe carousel #29 - vegetarian mains

With the wedding approaching (less than 7 weeks) I’m starting to fall in love with Jonas all over again.

All the stupid things that he does seem oh so cute and I fear I’m becoming an incurable romantic.

He forgot to tell me the plumber was coming over and my sister almost got caught in her birthday suit. Oh, what a silly billy!

In the middle of the night he stole all my blankets and ripped the pillow out from under my head because he thought they were his. How funny!

This morning he stole my girly pink razor to shave his face and then forgot to put it back. So cute!

Yes, I have contracted a very serious disease.

So in honour of my increasing love for my vegetarian Swede, here are seven vegetarian mains to wet your whistle.

Tofu al a Mode is a visual masterpiece from Chika in Japan (She Who Eats). I’m not a big tofu fan but this amazing assemble has me craving a plate right now! Chika uses hiya-yakko, or chilled tofu, which has a softer and smoother texture than silken tofu outside Japan. In this recipe Chika garnished her gorgeous tofu with shiso leaves, myoga, young ginger, red pepper, Japanese negi (like spring onions) and sesame seeds. Then she heated some sesame oil and poured it over to slightly ‘cook’ the ingredients and finally drizzled her tofu with soy sauce. I’m hooked. Photo courtesy of Chika.

Aubergine Parmigiana is a mouth watering recipe from Mae on Jersey in the Channel Islands (Rice and Noodles). She uses fresh basil, onion, garlic and chopped plum tomatoes to elegantly dress melanzane. Topped with parmesan cheese and mozzarella, this looks utterly divine. Photo courtesy of Mae.

Alu Palak is a spicy potato and spinach curry from Priya in the USA (Sugar and Spice). After some experiments to find quick, healthy vegetable curries using very little oil, Priya has found a gem here. Cumin seeds are heated until spluttering then fried with garlic and onion. Chopped potatoes are cooked until soft with coriander, chilli powder and turmeric then spinach is added and wilted. Served with rotis, this is a quick and healthy vegetarian option. Photo courtesy of Priya.

Black Bean & Chipotle Cakes are the smoky creations of Christiane in the USA (28 Cooks). Chipotle chillies in adobo sauce perfectly compliment the black beans which are mashed with onions, garlic, breadcrumbs and egg. The cakes are topped with a cilantro yoghurt sauce including fresh scallions and could easily be made in small sizes as hors d'œuvres or in burger form for a main course. Photo courtesy of Christiane.

Green Vegetable Tart is a testimony of pastry adoration from Béa in the USA (La Tartine Gourmande). She lovingly smothers her own puff pastry with ricotta and parmesan then tops this with a mixture of egg white, shaved zucchini, peas, leek, basil and parsley. Drizzled with flecks of olive oil, this is roasted in the oven until golden. Photo courtesy of Béa.

Black Eyed Pea Pilaki is a stew-like dish from Isil in Turkey (Veggie Way). She boils generous amounts of dried black eyed peas until soft. Meanwhile she brews a delicious sauce of sliced pepper, carrots, onion, tomato paste and pepper. This is stirred together with the cooked peas and served steaming hot or cold with lemon. Photo courtesy of Isil.

Zucchini & Fennel Frittata is an ideal picnic lunch for Meeta in Germany (What's For Lunch Honey?) On this occasion she created a spongy frittata using zucchini, fennel, onion, cloves and chervil. Topped off with eggs, cream and parmesan it’s a perfect way to gain energy during a bike ride along the River Ilm. Photo courtesy of Meeta.

Add your own recipe!
If you want to link in your own vegetarian main recipe and share the love around, just leave the link in the comments section. You didn’t have to invent the recipe yourself, just make it and post it on your site. The whole idea of Recipe Carousel is that good recipes are shared with people who love to cook.
Note: Usual comments are more than welcome but all html links must be recipe related (yours or others).

Check out other Recipe Carousel themes: nuts, milkshakes, rice, festive food, legumes/pulses, eggs, pancakes, breakfast, raw food, berries, dips, cocktails, pasta, yoghurt, crispy snacks, vegetable desserts, fruit in savoury food, made from scratch, strawberries, jam, bread, seafood mains, ice cream, soup, chocolate and drinks.


Sunday, 14 January 2007

tartufi estivi

Today my focus is on the black summer truffle or the Tuber aestivum vitt. It has a healthy presence in northern Italy, central Europe, the UK, Turkey and North Africa. It has a tough, gritty skin but this helps to preserve it longer than other truffles.

It has a lighter, more delicate flavour than a winter truffle so it’s important not to cook them but rather heat them through or serve them fresh and thinly shaved.

Black Summer Truffle Penne

Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 4.
300g penne
100ml pouring cream
6g black truffle, thinly sliced (or 1 tablespoon black truffle paste)
Garlic clove, whole
Grated Grana Padano cheese
Salt and pepper

1. Melt the butter with the garlic clove in a large pan.
2. Remove garlic clove then add cream and truffle.
3. Add salt and pepper then leave to simmer for approx. 5 minutes.
4. Cook pasta al dente, according to packet instructions.
5. Add pasta to pan and mix well, coating in sauce. Serve sprinkled with grated Grana Padano.

Wikipedia has a very interesting article about truffles and claims that truffles entered the European diet around the second half of the 1700s.

Contrary to popular belief they can indeed be cultivated. In fact in the 1800s, trufficulture was a busy industry in France where people knew that truffles were symbiotic with host trees, such as oaks.

Horticulturalists planted groves of acorns from truffle affected oaks and created truffle ‘farms’. Some 17 acres were planted in 1847 and ten years later significant amounts of truffles were harvested. By 1890 there were 750 km² (185,000 acres) of truffle trees.

Unfortunately WWI decimated the groves, the land and the population of truffle farmers with cultivation skills. It seems that once upon a time truffles were available to most people but after WWII they were became delicacies for only the rich.

There are now truffle-growing areas in Spain, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, the USA and the UK, although naturally farmers don’t want to flood the market and see a reduction in price.

It always made me giggle to think that pigs are used to sniff out truffles. Dogs are used too, but since dogs often have these kinds of jobs it doesn’t seem that strange. For some reason I giggle at the thought of a pig on a leash rummaging through the forest looking for tubers.

I shouldn’t laugh too much because apparently dogs need training to recognise the scent whereas sows don’t at all – truffles smell very much like the sex pheromone of boars!!! In fact some people even credit the pig with introducing truffles to humans.

My particular jar of truffles hailed from Umbria in Italy. Yum!

Now be sure to visit Coffee & Cornbread for this week's Weekend Herb Blogging recap hosted by Sue.


Wednesday, 10 January 2007

roquefort popovers

This is a recipe that I cooked when it was winter and cold in Sydney. These days this recipe isn’t much use for those of us in the sweltering southern hemisphere, but – for all my friends up north – this is a fantastic accompaniment to brunch, afternoon tea or a delicious soup.

Blue cheese reminds me of two people in my life: my sister Amy, who starting eating blue cheese at age seven, and my sister-in-law-to-be, Helena, who always seemed to be inventing new ways to eat blue cheese.

Of course there are many kinds of blue cheese, but both Amy and Helena are addicted, regardless of the origin or production style. Blue, blue, blue all the way!

These particular popovers are like delicious savoury muffins and the herbs and cheese in the recipe add an extra special bite.

But be warned, popovers certainly aren’t diet food!

Roquefort Popovers

Recipe from the William-Sonoma website. Makes 24.

1 cup plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped
1¼ cups milk, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
85g (3 oz) Roquefort, crumbled

1. Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 230’C (450’F). Generously brush one 24-cup or two 12-cup mini-muffin pans with vegetable oil.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, white pepper, chives and parsley.
3. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the milk, eggs and butter.
4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and whisk together until just combined (don’t worry if a few lumps remain).
5. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups to within about ¼ inch of the rim (about 1½ tablespoons each).
6. Place a scant 1 teaspoon crumbled cheese in the centre of each filled cup.
7. Bake for 10 minutes. Do not open the oven door during this time. Reduce the oven temperature to 180’C (350’F) and continue to bake until the popovers are brown and crusty and fully puffed, 8 to 10 minutes more.
8. Remove from the oven and immediately transfer the popovers to a napkin-lined bowl or warmed platter. Serve immediately.


Monday, 8 January 2007

recipe carousel #28 - nuts

Oh nuts!

Today’s Recipe Carousel is all about nuts.

No, not those kind of nuts. Get your mind out of the gutter!

I’m talking about those delicious kernels used in almost every culture’s cuisine (except perhaps Inuit). Due to their high oil content, nuts are an important energy source for humans and animals. In gastronomy, any kernel with a shell that’s eaten can be considered a nut, but in botany almonds, cashews, macadamias, peanuts, pinenuts and pistachios are not considered nuts.

So, after that perplexing intro, here are seven nutty recipes for your week.

Peanut Nougatine Millefeuille w Chilled Peanut Infusion is another legendary creation from dessert goddess J in Singapore (Kuidaore). Based on a Michel Bras recipe, J crumbles homemade peanut pâte sable with caramelised sugar then reheats this crispy nougatine until pliable. The thin wafers are then layered with bittersweet chocolate crème pâtissière and served with a creamy Peanut Infusion, made by toasting peanuts then grinding them and adding to simmering sweetened cream and milk. This is chilled then strained before serving. Photo courtesy of J.

Chilli Roasted Cashews are comfort food to Chandrika in the USA (AkshayaPatra). The smell of roasting cashew nuts invokes memories of Sundays when her mother would cook these delicious nuts for the whole family and everyone would need to get in quick before Chandrika’s little sister ate them all. In Chandrika’s recipe she uses pepper, ghee and chilli for this spicy snack. Photo courtesy of Chandrika.

White Chocolate & Chestnut Cheesecake is the most popular dessert in Zinnur’s huge repertoire (Our Patisserie). Zinnur makes her own chestnut purée which creates a lighter colour and smoother texture and uses crushed wafers as the base. The filling is a “joyful marriage” of white chocolate, sweetened chestnut purée, ricotta, cream, and orange juice. The cake is topped with rosettes of whipped cream and candied chestnuts. Photo courtesy of Zinnur.

Quinces w Rosemary & Pinenut Topping is another inventive yet easy-to-make recipe from Ilva in Italy (Lucullian Delights). Using gorgeous seasonal produce, Ilva makes this individualised version of fruit crumble. Acacia honey is infused with fresh rosemary and pinenuts then smothered over poached quinces. This is baked in the oven surrounded by a stewing sauce of puréed quince, rum and lime juice. Photo courtesy of Ilva.

Fried Eggplant w Walnut & Mint Sauce took 15 minutes for Sher in the USA to whip up (What Did You Eat?). Her walnut sauce is easy to make and the flavours develop over time so it can be made a few days before needed it. Sher simply processed walnuts, garlic and bread crumbs with mint, spices, scallions, yoghurt and lemon juice. Since walnuts contain omega-3 oil the sauce has added health benefits and was poured over slices of fried eggplant. Photo courtesy of Sher.

Mint Quinoa w Cashews & Cranberries is a “terrific combination of textures and flavours” from Genie in the USA (The Inadvertent Gardener). Quinoa (a pseudograin harvested for 6,000 years in the Andean region of South America for its edible seeds) is cooked with stock then mixed with dried cranberries, pieces of toasted cashew nuts and minced mint leaves. Genie was very pleased with this dish and promised that it would make it to her table again. Photo courtesy of Genie.

Spiced Nut Teacake became an addiction for Haalo in Australia (Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once). Her delicious combination of pistachios, almonds and pinenuts are flavoured with sugar and cardamom, cinnamon and allspice for a crispy topping. The teacake itself is very light, but the delicious spice nuts seduced Haalo into making double batches of her “spicy, sweet, nutty nirvana”. Photo courtesy of Haalo.

Add your own recipe!
If you want to link in your own nut recipe and share the love around, just leave the link in the comments section. You didn’t have to invent the recipe yourself, just make it and post it on your site. The whole idea of Recipe Carousel is that good recipes are shared with people who love to cook.
Note: Usual comments are more than welcome but all html links must be recipe related (yours or others).

Check out other Recipe Carousel themes: milkshakes, rice, festive food, legumes/pulses, eggs, pancakes, breakfast, raw food, berries, dips, cocktails, pasta, yoghurt, crispy snacks, vegetable desserts, fruit in savoury food, made from scratch, strawberries, jam, bread, seafood mains, ice cream, soup, chocolate and drinks.

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