Archive for November, 2008

A: Stuck a feather in his hat…

Posted in Biscuits/Cookies with tags , , , on November 30, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

…and called it macaroooooony!

There is only so much pavlova or meringue one can make with leftover eggwhite before becoming completely and utterly sickened at the mere thought of recipes that call for yolks only. I used to freeze my leftover whites, fully intentioned to use them at some point to make cakes, biscuits, etc. only to leave them forgotten in the freezer as the stockpile of whites pile up gradually over the year. So when we was faced with 2 egg whites left over from a carbonara last night, I prompted placed them in the fridge and vowed to use them this morning.

Nigella Lawson has a wonderfully simple recipe for chewy macaroons in Feast, which I have made countless times before. They do tend to be quite sweet as she recommends a 1:1 ratio of sugar to almond meal. I make it with much less sugar, which doesn’t seem to affect the texture much and results in a far more palatable biscuit for someone with only a moderate sweet tooth, looking for a side-of-the-saucer biscuit for afternoon tea. If anything, I love making these as I end up with lovely rose water-scented hands for the rest of the day, which I find to be strangely restorative and grounding all at once.

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Chewy Macaroons (adapted from Feast)

Ingredients:

140g caster sugar

200g ground almonds

2 egg whites

1/4 tsp ground cardamom seeds

approximately 24 blanched almonds (depending on how greedily you shape your macaroons, one almond per macaroon)

2-3 tablespoons rosewater

Method:

Combine all your ingredients except for the blanched almonds and rose water into your mixer and using the paddle attachment, mix until well-combined.

Coat your hands with rosewater, then shape mixture into walnut-sized balls, rolling each ball between your hands to scent it.

Place biscuits on a baking sheet, spaced 2-3 cm apart, squish an almond into each macaroon, flattening it slightly and bake at 200C for 12 minutes.

Macaroons are pale even when ready, and will firm slightly on cooling.

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From mixer to table in under 20 minutes, a perfect mid-week sweet!

A: Poo bread.

Posted in Cakes, Muffins with tags , on November 24, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

The ultimate solution to all the worlds problems, as far as my family is concerned, is food. Birthday? EAT! New job? EAT! Lost your job? EAT! New boyfriend? EAT! Spare 2 minutes in your day?  I think you get the idea. So it has only come natural to me to camp out in the kitchen while I attempt to deal with the recent passing of my Grandpa.

I have been wanting to try this particular recipe from Belinda Jeffrey (my personal baking hero) for a while, and on Friday, I did. I love her baking recipes because in the true fashion of country cooking, there is no end to the amount of substitutions you can make. I remember making her zucchini and kumara loaf, but with squash and pumpkin instead, yogurt instead of buttermilk and almond meal instead of flour, and it was perfect! I doubt it would have been equally successful with Delia or even Nigella (who I adore)!

So, even though the original recipe comes from Mix and Bake, I have bludgeoned it somewhat and made it my own. And when the list of ingredients unfolds, it shall become fairly clear why this loaf has been christened Poo Bread. 🙂

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Poo Bread (based on Prune, Date and Fig loaves, from Mix and Bake)

Per loaf, you will need:

45g all bran cereal

500g mixed dried fruit, roughly chopped (I used dried cherries, dates and  figs. Prunes, currents, sultanas, dried bananas, apricots should all work well.)

180ml strained tea, cooled (chai tea shines in this recipe, so would earl grey! Your standard black tea works just fine too.)

1/2 cup sugar (I used apple juice concentrate, as a close friend has just been put on a very rigid sugar-free-fat-free diet and I thought I’d experiment.)

1/4 cup golden syrup

1 1/4 C self-raising flour

1 small egg (Or half a large one. Or make 2 loaves and use 1 large egg.)

almonds, pecans, walnuts or whatever you please, to decorate the top of the loaf.

Method:

Combine cereal, fruit, tea, sugar and syrup in a bowl. Cover tightly and leave overnight.

The next day, stir in the egg and flour.

Transfer mixture into your loaf tin (buttered and lined with baking paper). Decorate the top of the loaf however you like.

Bake at 165C for 1 hour.

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Serve with lashings of butter. This is very rich! Man and I had 1 slice each and we were stuffed. Makes a great breakfast food, teatime food, late night munchie-type food, etc. etc.

A: R.I.P Grandpas.

Posted in Uncategorized on November 22, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

On Monday 17 November, man received the unfortunate news that his Grandpa has passed. He wasn’t sick and there wasn’t much warning. Just a fall, followed by a quiet passing in the night. Man flew back for the funeral on Wednesday night.

On Thursday 20 November, I received a text message from my Aunt that my Grandpa has also passed. He was pretty sick, and had been for a while. He too, passed quietly in the company of loved ones. Grandpa was cremated at 10a.m. this morning. I was unable to fly home quick enough for the ceremony but man was able to represent me, heading from his grandpa’s to mine.

My grandpa worked hard all his life. He worked primarily as a foot reflexologist and I remember being pertrified of his “foot poking stick” that used to sit in his bumbag just in case. I would beg mum not to let him know if I was sick as he’d turn up at the door with his poking stick in a bid to cure me of my cold. Mind you, it sure worked, but it hurt like hell! Grandpa would bring us fruit galore, convinced that we couldn’t possibly be eating enough bananas. I remember calling him from Australia, and all he wanted to know was the price of milk, meat, if I could get asian vegetables here and how long it took me to drive to work. He was also deeply concerned about whether or not I was able to cook curries and fried rice here. Well, last I checked it takes me 18 minutes to get to work, t-bone steaks are currently on special at $14.99/kg and pasturised milk is $1.69. Asian vegetables are readily available and grandpa was very pleased to hear that I am able to cook all manner of Asian treats in Australia.

When I was 8 he told me that I should sleep on my right side, as sleeping on my left put undue strain on my heart. I don’t know if it’s true, and there’s a very high probability that it’s not, but to this day I still sleep on my right, just in case. When I was 12, he said that I should eat potato crisps while studying and before I sat for my exams as they would help me focus. Again, as an adult I wonder how true this could be, yet as I sit at my computer writing students’ reports, a bowl of crisps rests firmly on my lap, just in case. I remember looking forward to his visits when I used to stay at my grandma’s, as they always meant food. Hot steamed buns, fried noodles, breakfast grandpa style!

He was a fiesty man who didn’t suffer fools lightly, gradually writing off all the doctors, dentists and other healthcare providers within a 50 mile radius of his home either a “rogue”, “crook”, or “robber”.

I’m going to miss my grandpa.

And just in case, I topped up my fruit bowl.

Yes grandpa, we have bananas in Australia. $4.99/kg.

A: Lemoncholy and the Infinite Madness.

Posted in Uncategorized on November 19, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

A month ago, my neighbours and I decided that we needed a lemon tree on our side of the apartment complex. Soon after, I went out and purchased one and in the ground it went. We were all feeling quite pleased and looking forward to harvesting our first lemons in the coming year.

Fast forward to today, after 4 weeks of love and care have been invested in the tree. I walked out to water it this evening and IT’S GONE!!! Someone has stolen my tree! Plucked it right out of the ground and taken away to who knows where!!! I AM SEETHING.

Fast forward a little more to after dinner on this same day, when my neighbour knocked on my door to inform me that someone had PICKED UP my 1970 VW Beetle and moved it out of its parking space!!! I looked out onto the street and there it was, blocking traffic in the rain.

Needless to say I’m feeling pretty damn lousy right about now. Writing about it doesn’t really seem to have the usual restorative, cathartic effect and I suspect I shall have to go to bed rather angry. Grrr.

R: Dragon eye

Posted in Uncategorized on November 18, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

I’ve been seeing Longans (Dragon’s eye) in the markets and supermarkets lately going stemless for about $5/kg. It’s a little exciting for me as its one of the fruits I love, but don’t quite get to enjoy in Australia.

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Longan also brings back memories: Dad used to fashion these tops out of the seeds and we’ld have challenges to see whose top spun the longest. He also used to belt out “Say you say me” by Lionel Ritchie who he prefers to refer to as “Longan Lychee”.

A: Friday night jam session.

Posted in Biscuits/Cookies with tags , , on November 16, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

I love thumbprint cookies. I love them because they’re so very simple, extremely pretty, while maintaining their kitsch retro status all at the same time. They’re also a great way to showcase homemade jam, for what is in my view a great example of hands-on, good old-fashioned baking.

As always, it’s Dorie to the rescue.

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Thumbprints For Us Big Guys (from Baking: From My Home to Yours)

Ingredients:

1 3/4 C finely ground hazelnuts

1 3/4 C all-purpose flour (whisked into the hazelnuts)

225g butter, at room temperature

1/2 C sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 cup jam of your choice (I used my own homemade strawberry jam)

Method:

Preheat over to 180C

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add the extracts and beat to blend.

Add flour-hazelnut mixture and mix until just incorporated into the dough.

Roll 1 tsp of dough at a time between your palms and place on a baking sheet (about 3-4 cm apart).

Poke a hole (careful it doesn’t go all the way through) in the center of each biscuit with your thumb, pinkie, end of a wooden spoon or whatever comes handy (although, what is more handy than a finger?)

Bake for 15-18 minutes until slightly coloured, looking slightly underdone.

Cool for 2 mins on the sheet before transferring onto a rack and sifting icing sugar all over biscuits.

Bring the jam to a boil and remove from the heat. Fill cookie-holes with as much jam as they will hold, then a little dollop more… just to be sure.

Dorie says these make about 60. I estimated about 50, but I use standard glutton measures when deciding how big my biscuits should be, so that shouldn’t really come as a surprise to me!

I halved the recipe when I made these on Friday night (made 24), brought half to the gym on Saturday morning for my boys, left the other half at home and by lunchtime Saturday every last biscuit was GONE!

A: Loving food; hating waste

Posted in Meat, Uncategorized with tags , , on November 12, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

In the spirit of R’s and my “waste nothing!” campaign (sparked by our recent wholesale-market obsession), coupled with the inspiring Love Food Hate Waste website, I was entirely in my element when recently faced with an unsavoury amount of leftovers.

It all started with a really simple potato sidedish. One of my favourite ways to eat potatoes- lemon juice and zest, good olive oil, fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Mix in with warm potatoes and voila!

Thyme and parsley from the garden plus free lemons from a colleague makes this a cheap eat!

Thyme and parsley from the garden plus free lemons from a colleague makes this a cheap eat!

We had these with a rack of lamb and roasted eggplant, with quite a bit of eggplant leftover.

SO, what now? Leftover cooked potatoes are incrediby versatile. I considered potato fishcakes, goose-fat roast potatoes, a last minute stew addition even, but decided on a classic cottage pie instead. Boring, yes but oh-so-comforting on an unseasonably cold spring night.

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Cottage pie

Ingredients:

1carrot, chopped

1 capsicum, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

500g minced beef

1 cup frozen peas

leftover eggplant

1 tin tomatoes

1/2 cup beef stock

Handful chopped parsley

Cold mashed potatoes, well seasoned (I like cheddar cheese in my topping with lots of herbs and butter)

Method:

Fry onions, capsicum, carrot and garlic till soft. Add beef and fry until beef browns. Add tomatoes and beef stock and simmer for 20 minutes uncovered. Add remaining vegetables and herbs and simmer for a further 10 minutes to heat through.

Transfer to a baking dish and top with mashed potato. Fork through the topping to create lots of little ridges that will crisp up in the oven.

Bake for 30 minutes at 200C.

We ended up with dinner for 2 plus 3 meals for the freezer!

We ended up with dinner for 2 plus 3 meals for the freezer!

With this one meal I managed to use up a bunch of vegetables that had been near-festering in my crisper for a while now.  Which leaves me currently feeling quietly pleased with my contribution (or lack of) to the food wastage crisis!