Archive for November, 2009

d o l m a d e s

November 25, 2009

 

I had a couple of friends over on the weekend so I planned a mediterranean ‘tapas’ evening. Handy because you can prepare most of it in advance so you can enjoy the company rather than spending the whole evening in the kitchen! On the menu I had spanish tortilla, tzatziki, chorizo & garlic prawns, crusty bread, cheeses, olives, and dolmades. And I thought i’d put the recipe for the dolmades up, as they were my first attempt, and they proved to be a popular nibble! I didn’t have a chance to take any proper photos, but I took a few briskly in a badly lit kitchen.

 

 

D O L M A D E S

1 packet vine leaves in brine

extra virgin olive oil

1 cup long grain rice

2 red onions, chopped fine

2 cloves garlic, chopped fine

1 lemon sliced

the juice of 1 lemon

3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted lightly

2 tbsp sultanas

handful of dill, chopped

handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped

maldon salt & black pepper

 

To prepare the V I N E  L E A V E S remove them from the packaging, and blanch them in boiling water for about 3 minutes. Drain, and run under cold water to prevent them from cooking further. Try not to tear them when doing this, you want the leaves in tact as much a possible, so the dolmades hold their shape and don’t lose their stuffing!

To make the S T U F F I N G heat a few tbsp of olive oil in a 20cm diameter heavy based pan (about 7-8cm deep). Gently fry the onions for about 7 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and stir through over low heat for 1 minute. Then add the rice, and turn through well, coating in the oil. We only want to partially cook the  rice during this stage. The rice will finish cooking once wrapped inside the vine leaves. So now gradually add about 1 cup of warm water to the pan and stir it into the rice mixture, allowing it to be absorbed fully, this should take no more than 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and remove the pan from the heat, transfer to a large mixing bowl and allow to cool for 5 or so minutes. Then add the pine-nuts, sultanas, parsley, dill, a dash of olive oil, and a bit more seasoning if needed.

To make the D O L M A D E S firstly prepare the pan. Using the same heavy based pan (but cleaned!), pour about 1-2 tbsp olive oil in the base. Then line the base with about 5 vine leaves, overlapping them so the base is completely covered. I try and use the torn/poorly shaped leaves for this bit, and save the good leaves for the dolmades! Now on a clean surface, lay out several vine leaves with the veiny side facing up, stem side closest to you, leaf tip furthest away. You then put about 1-2 heaped tsp of the filling into the centre of each leaf. Now imagine the leaf is a compass. To roll them up, fold the East and West sides over the filling, bring the base (South) of the leaf up over the filling, and roll away from you, tapering the section of the leaf that you are rolling towards so that each dolmade has a neat, tapered seam (when i make these again, i’ll take some more photos!). It’s important not to roll them TOO tightly. The rice will expand a bit when it cooks completely, so you don’t want them to burst! Put them into the pan as you go, fitting them in snugly, seam side down, until you’ve filled the base of the pan with them.

To C O O K the dolmades, place about 7 lemon slices over them in the pan, and then pour the juice of 1 lemon (about 2 Tbsp lemon juice) over them. Then pour enough water over them until it reaches about 2/3 of the way up the dolmades. I find this usually requires about 1 cup of water. Pour a dash of olive oil over them. Finally, place a circle of greaseproof paper over the dolmades, and then sit a small plate upside down, on-top of the paper. This will keep them snugly in place! Put the lid on, and place on the hob on a low heat, for about 35 minutes. Turn off the heat, and leave them in the pan with the lid on for another 30 minutes, to continue soaking up all the juices.

You can S E R V E  them warm, straight out of the pan… or alternatively leave them to cool or chill them in the fridge until you need to serve them. I prefer them cold with a bit of tzatziki to dip them in!

 

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s u s h i s u s h i

November 17, 2009

 

 

S U S H I


I made sushi on the weekend with Andrew. Now I won’t go into all the fancy schmancy details on how to make them, because there are a million other blogs that will explain this better than me! But my favourite combination that I concocted on saturday was an inside out roll filled with king prawns in a tempura batter, with strips of vegetables, a tiny bit of mayo (I want to try wasabi mayo with this next time), and finally, rolled in sesame seeds! The crunch of the tempura batter was delightful. YUM!

We were on a cheap budget, but wanted to make some sushi that didn’t consist of just carrot sticks… So instead of yummy but expensive sashimi grade tuna and salmon, we opted for some cheaper (but still very yummy!) fillings. Crab sticks, smoked salmon (it was on offer ok!), a couple of king prawns, chives, avocado, carrot, cucumber, japanese rolled omelette, sesame seeds, mayonnaise, and capsicum. Obviously not all in the same roll, divide them up into combinations that take your fancy!

Always serve with soy sauce, wasabi, pickled ginger, and a MASSIVE bowl of steamed edamame beans sprinkled with maldon sea salt to snack on.

c h o c o l a t e p e c a n p i e

November 4, 2009

I made this chocolate pecan pie for my birthday dinner on monday. It’s sort of an amalgamation of various different recipes because I wasn’t  happy with the ones i found!

 

 

T A R T C A S E

100g cold butter (i prefer salted!)

200g plain flour

60g caster sugar

2 egg yolks

 

C H O C O L A T E P E C A N P I E F I L L I N G

1  1/2 cups pecan nuts

125g dark belgian cooking chocolate

4 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup corn syrup (can substitute with golden or maple syrup)

1 tsp vanilla

pinch maldon sea salt

 

To make the T A R T C A S E , cut the cold butter into small dice. In a bowl rub the butter into the flour between the tips of your fingers to form what looks like fine breadcrumbs. If you have a food processor you can blitz it together in there instead, using short bursts. Add the sugar and turn through. In a separate small bowl, lightly beat the yolks with a fork. Add a tablespoon of cold water to the yolks, then stir this into the flour mixture. Bring it together with your fingers to form a dough. Knead it briefly to make  a smooth ball. Chill in the fridge for an hour or more. Roll it out to fit a 24cm tart tin (the kind with the base that pops out of it). Once it’s in the case and you’ve tidied the edges, put it back in the fridge for an extra 30 minutes of chill time. Blind bake the pastry (i line the pastry with greaseproof paper and fill it with rice) at 180°C for about 15 minutes, or until firm and lightly coloured. Leave to cool on a wire rack!

To make the C H O C O L A T E P E C A N P I E , spread the pecan nuts evenly across the base of the tart case. In a bowl, combine the sugars, syrup, vanilla, and salt. Break the chocolate up into small pieces, and place in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering hot water. Stir the chocolate until melted, then take off the heat and allow to cool a little (without letting it set!). Stir the chocolate into the sugar mixture well. When it is just warm to the touch (the eggs will cook and scramble if the chocolate is too hot), gradually beat in the eggs to form a smooth silky texture. Pour this over the pecans in the tart case. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 50-60 minutes, or until it is set.

Cut the pie into wedges, and serve with a ball of vanilla ice cream. Y U M .

g r r r r . . . a r g h ! c u p c a k e s

November 4, 2009

I spent a large part of last weekend fashioning faces for cupcakes. I LOVE decorating cupcakes. And everybody seems to enjoy devouring them, so they’re a regular on my baking agenda. Oh also, I normally double this recipe because I like to make heaps!

 

C U P C A K E S

125g softened butter (i prefer salted variety)

125g self raising flour

125g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tbsp milk

 

F R O S T I N G

100g soft butter

100g icing sugar, sifted

vanilla extract

food colouring of your choice!

lots of candy!!

 

 

To make the C U P C A K E S, you need to firstly beat the softened butter with the sugar in a bowl until pale and fluffy. I use a wooden spoon, but if you’re lucky enough to have an electric mixer, go with that! Gradually beat in the eggs, whisking as you go. Beat in the vanilla. Sift in half the flour, mixing well to incorporate. Then add the milk, and the remaining flour. Continue to fold this in until the mixture is smooth. In a muffin tray lined with paper cases, pour the mixture in to fill each case about 2/3 of the way up. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 12-15 minutes until golden. (n.b. If you’re unsure, stick a wooden kebab stick into the centre of one cake to check it’s done. If it comes out clean, they’re ready! If it’s all globby with bits of cake, keep ’em baking!) Cool on a wire rack. Makes 8-10 large-ish cupcakes.

To make the F R O S T I N G, beat the butter in a bowl until it’s as white and smooth as you can possibly get it. Again, this is a good time to be the proud owner of an electric mixer. Woe is me! Then sift in the icing sugar, a bit at a time, beating to incorporate it. Add a tsp of vanilla (or lemon juice, or other flavouring) at this point, and if you want to colour it, add a few drops of your colouring. Beat it in until you reach a smooth spreadable consistency. If it’s too runny, add more icing sugar; if it’s too stiff, add a splash of milk.

To D E C O R A T E the cupcakes, spread or pipe the icing on. I cut up bits of licorice all sorts, strawberry laces, and so on, to make parts of the faces. I also decorated with hundreds and thousands, and used specialty black icing to pipe the letters and make the cobwebs.