Friday 30 April 2010

salsa de chipotle y tomato

This beautiful sauce is made from sweet roasted tomatoes and smoky chillies, and is recipe Number 2 on my seven day count down to Cinco de Mayo.

Chipotle chillies are simply jalepenos that have been smoked and they have a delicious, sweet flavour while still being very spicy.

I love this sauce with lamb cutlets, steak and chicken especially when cooked on a barbecue.

Salsa de Chipotle y Tomato (Roast Tomato & Chipotle Sauce)
Recipe from Mexican by Jane Milton. Serves 6.
500g tomatoes
5 dried chipotle chillies
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2/3 cup (165ml) red wine
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 tablespoon (60ml) honey
1 teaspoon American mustard
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Salt, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
2. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and place them in a roasting tin.
3. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until they are charred and softened.
4. Meanwhile, soak the chillies in a bowl of cold water for about 20 minutes or until soft. Remove the stalks, slit the chillies and scrape out the seeds with a small sharp knife. Chop the flesh roughly.
5. Remove the tomatoes from the oven, let them cool slightly, then remove the skins. If you prefer a smooth sauce remove the seeds too.
6. Put the tomatoes in a blender or food processor. Add the chopped chillies and garlic with the red wine. Process until smooth.
7. Next add the oregano, honey, mustard and black pepper. Process briefly to mix, then taste and season with salt.
8. Scrape the mixture into a small saucepan. Place over a moderate heat and stir until the mixture boils.
9. Lower the heat and simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it has reduced and thickened. Spoon into a bowl and serve hot or cold.
Note: instead of dried chillies, we used canned chipotle en adobo, which are chipotles already soaked and in a thick sauce of their own juices.

Thursday 29 April 2010

tamarind margarita

This margarita is the festive drink to kick off my seven days of Mexicana, all in the lead up to Cinco de Mayo!

The 5th of May, although not Mexico’s national holiday, is the day celebrated around the world as the symbol of Mexican heritage and pride. And this year it also happens to be the 30th birthday of my sister Shamu!!!

So, in honour of my Mexican friends, who have opened my eyes to true Mexican flavours, I have decided to post a week’s worth of Mexican recipes.

On Cinco de Mayo itself, I'll also post an extensive list of Mexican recipes from around the internet.

Real Mexican food is fresh, light and dances in your mouth. Although it may contain them, true Mexican cuisine isn’t bogged down by cheese and sour cream, nor destroyed with an overload of macho chilli. It’s all about balance to heighten the flavour experience.

One such example of sweet, sour and a little kick is the tamarind margarita. The sour pulp of the tamarind fruit is balanced with sugar syrup and bold tequila for the perfect, refreshing cocktail by the pool, seaside or just relaxing in your own backyard.

Tamarind Margarita
Recipe by Robot & Tia Bicky. Makes 2 – 4.
125ml (½ cup) tequila
2 tablespoons tamarind paste
60ml (¼ cup) sugar syrup
Juice of 2 limes
Blend ingredients with ice in a blender until slushy consistency. Serve immediately.

Tuesday 27 April 2010

breakfast miso soup

I discovered this healthy breakfast while on holidays in Australia's red heart, visiting Uluru (otherwise known as Ayers Rock).

There are so many tourists from all over the world that the resort offered a breakfast for all cultures. The Japanese station provided hot miso broth and I watched the Japanese girls whisk eggs and vegetables into it, then tried it myself and was very pleased with the results.

So once I came home I replicated it for Jonas, who also became a big fan.

You can have this for breakfast, or even have it as an afternoon or late night snack. It pretty good anytime of day.

Breakfast Miso Soup
Anna's very own recipe. Serves 2.
2 eggs
1 stock cube (mushroom, vegetable or beef are best)
1 cup shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon shallots, soft green part
1 tablespoon shallots, hard white part
10cm piece wakame
4 teaspoons miso paste
2 teaspoons peanut oil
Sesame oil, for drizzling
1. Soak wakame in warm water for 5 minutes. Cut into thin strips.
2. Heat peanut oil in saucepan. Fry white shallots and mushrooms until tender but not soft.
3. Add 2½ cups of water and crumble in stock cube.
4. While waiting for water to boil, crack each egg into 2 separate serving bowls. Pass a fork through the egg a few times to break the yolk and white into smaller streaks, but do not beat or whisk.
5. Add 2 teaspoons of miso paste to each bowl.
6. One bowl at a time, strain the boiling stock into the first bowl, quickly stirring the egg as it cooks in the hot water and dissolving the miso. Once the egg and miso has blended through, the soup will have milky colour.
7. Divide the wakame and mushrooms between the bowls and serve.

This week, my Weekend Herb Blogging theme ingredient is wakame.

Wakame (ワカメor undaria pinnatifida) is a sweet, edible seaweed that has been grown for food for hundreds of years in Japan and Korea. It’s leaves are cut into tiny pieces which expand significantly during cooking. It’s best in soups or salads with soya sauce and rice vinegar.

Wakame is said to help burn fatty tissue, purify blood, strengthen digestion and regulate menstruation, not to mention its usefulness as a topical beauty treatment and for aiding skin, hair and reproductive organs.

According to Wikipedia “wakame is a rich source of Eicosapentaenoic acid, an Omega-3 fatty acid. At over 400 mg/100 kcal or almost 1 mg/kJ, it has one of the higher nutrient:calorie ratios, and among the very highest for a vegetarian source. A typical 1-2 tablespoon serving of wakame is roughly 3.75-7.5 kcals and provides 15-30 mgs of Omega-3's. Wakame also has high levels of calcium, iodine, thiamine and niacin.”

Wakame has also been nominated one of the world's worst 100 invasive species and is particularly damaging in Auckland, New Zealand and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Check out the WHB round-up from our host, Janet from Tastespace.

Sunday 25 April 2010

harissa roasted lamb

One evening I came home from work to the mouth-watering aromas of this lovely lamb dinner. After I’d mentioned I was craving meat, Jonas prepared this wonderful roast smothered in spicy, tangy harissa. It’s divine served pink with a Moroccan cucumber salad and a side of yoghurt & herb chickpeas.

Harissa Roasted Lamb
Jonas' very own recipe. Serves 4.
1kg boneless shoulder roast
3 tablespoons harissa (see below)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Cover lamb roast in harissa. Refrigerate for a few hours to absorb flavours.
2. Preheat oven to 160’C.
3. Roast for around 40 – 60 minutes until an inserted knife produces clear juices.

Harissa (North African chilli paste)
Anna’s very own recipe. Makes 1 medium jar.
2 small capsicums, char-grilled, skin & seeds removed
5 large red chillies, seeds removed & chopped
5 large red chillies, chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, dry-roasted & then ground
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, dry-roasted & then ground
3 teaspoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1. Purée all ingredients in a blender.
2. Pour into a jar and top with a little olive oil to seal. Keep in fridge.

Monday 12 April 2010

middle eastern orange cake

I ate my first slice of this cake in 1996 and I couldn't believe my whole life had gone by without it.

The sticky-sweet-bitter orange flavour combined with the richness of almond meal is just too good to be true. I have fond memories of my mother and I devouring slice after slice at an ice cream parlour near her work.

It’s a commonly served cake in Sydney cafés and usually comes with a dollop of whipped cream, but I prefer it alongside thick, creamy, sour yoghurt to cut through the stickiness of the cake.

When I made this for my dad and stepmum (and Jonas!) for Easter Sunday lunch, I served it with King Island Dairy’s cinnamon and honey yoghurt, but sheep's milk yoghurt would also be excellent. You could also use frozen yoghurt or natural Greek-style yoghurt sweetened (only slightly) with honey.

This recipe, by Middle Eastern expert Claudia Roden (via Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion), is the pretty much the original version.

What has always put me off making it was that you had to boil the oranges for hours to prepare them. But, when the lovely Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella posted it on her blog, one very clever cookie (Julie from Cookbook Addict) pointed out that these days all you need is a microwave and 8 minutes!

How wonderful!

Now preparing this cake consists of zapping some oranges, cracking some eggs and whizzing everything in a blender. It’s absolutely delicious and so easy to make I’d bet $100 that a chimp could do it. (Any zoologists willing to test this theory out?)

Middle Eastern Orange Cake
Recipe by Claudia Roden (via Stephanie, with help from Julie). Serves 8-10.
2 large oranges, washed
6 eggs, beaten
250g ground almonds
250g sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Yoghurt or cream, to serve


1. Preheat oven to 190ºC/170ºc fan forced. Grease and line the base and sides of a springform tin with baking paper.

2. Pierce the orange skins with a fork, microwave in a closed container on high for about 8 minutes, turning them around after a few minutes.

3. Cut oranges open, remove pips and chop roughly or pull apart into smaller pieces with fingers.

4. Blend oranges and remaining ingredients thoroughly in a food processor.

5. Pour batter into prepared tin. Bake for 1 hour. If cake is still very wet, cook a little longer.

6. Cool in tin before gently removing. Dust with icing sugar and serve with yoghurt.

This cake is unusual, because it uses whole oranges, my theme ingredients for Weekend Herb Blogging.

Wikipedia has a fascinating paragraph on the origin of the English word orange, a long journey through land and time:
“The word orange is derived from Sanskrit नारङ्ग nāraṅgaḥ "orange tree." The Sanskrit word is in turn lent itself as the Dravidian root for 'fragrant'. In Tamil, a bitter orange is known as ணரன்டம் 'Narandam', a sweet orange is called நகருகம் 'nagarugam' and நாரி 'naari' means fragrance. In Telugu the orange is called నరిఙ 'naringa'. The Sanskrit word was borrowed into European languages through Persian نارنگ nārang, Armenian նարինջ nārinj, Arabic نارنج nāranj, Late Latin arangia, Spanish naranja, Portuguese laranja, Italian arancia and Old French orenge, in chronological order. The first appearance in English dates from the 14th century. The name of the colour is derived from the fruit, first appearing in this sense in 1542.”

This week's WHB host is Katie from Eat This! Check out her round-up.

And check out what else can be made with this same cake recipe: Orange Cakes w Figs, Quince & Rose

Sunday 4 April 2010

anna in chocolate wonderland

Happy Easter everyone!

In countries where Easter wins you some days off work, this is the time for gorging on chocolate and catching up with the family.

Well, I have stumbled upon a chocolate goldmine! Lindt asked me to join an exclusive group of food bloggers as part of the Lindt Lovers Program.

I do like Lindt chocolate.
OK, so I love it.

Intense Pear, Intense Orange and Intense Mint are my chocolate bars of choice and in most recipes I cook with Lindt 70%.

So when I was asked to be part of this group, I was thrilled and said that it won’t be hard to convince me to love Lindt chocolate!

To kick off the program, the Lindt Lover bloggers were gathered in Sydney for some chocolate tasting and a Gold Class viewing of Tim Burton’s new film, Alice in Wonderland.

It was a great chance to meet the other bloggers as well as Lindt’s Swiss-born Master Chocolatier, Thomas Schnetzler.

Thomas seems to have such a patient, gentle manner which is probably a good thing when you regularly need to temper chocolate. But he’s also very generous with his knowledge and enthusiasm for chocolate and desserts.

New on Lindt’s Australian menu (and the favourite for almost everyone) was the “Touch of Sea Salt”, a flat, shiny 100g block of dark chocolate flecked with crunchy crystals of mouth-watering salt. The combination between the bitter-sweet chocolate and salt is just amazing and should be illegal it’s so addictive.

One chocolate fiend was so enamoured she offered me three blocks of dark chocolate for my one salt block, but being equally won-over I declined the offer. Jonas was pleased with this decision when he popped a square of salty chocolate into his mouth and swooned.

The event was great. There was some hobnobbing, some chocolate tasting, sparkling wine drinking and then a cosy Gold Class cinema chair to watch the movie (which I loved – very dark and quirky). I was surprised when halfway through the film attendants delivered enough food to count as my dinner and dessert.

Then after the film the Lindt team gave us two Lindt gift bags with delicious chocolaty treats and Thomas had prepared an egg for every blogger with our names elegantly pipped in white chocolate.

I went home overloaded with kilos of gorgeous chocolate and a goofy, chocolate-smeared smile on my face.

Too good to be true!!! Can’t wait for the next Lindt Lover event . . . . and another block of that sea salt chocolate.

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