Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Parfait

Serves 8

150g sugar
100ml cold water
6 egg yolks
100g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp dark rum
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
150g dried cherries or muscatels
450ml cream, whipped

for the cherries
1kg fresh cherries
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp water
2 tbsp Kirsch or dark rum
a few perfect mint leaves

Dissolve sugar with cold water in small saucepan over gentle heat (make sure every grain of sugar is dissolved or crystals will form in your parfait), then bring to simmer.
Boil until temperature reaches 108ºC. (If you don't have a sugar thermometer, watch surface of liquid carefully & when lots of small bubbles seem to join up, the sugar syrup will be dense enough & ready to use.)
Have egg yolks ready in bowl & whisk with electric beater until fluffy.
Gradually add hot sugar syrup in slow but steady stream while continuously beating.
Whisk for 7-10 min until mixture has cooled & is very pale cram colour & doubled in volume.
Fold chopped chocolate into eggs with rum, cinnamon, cloves & dried cherries/muscatels, then fold in whipped cream.
Spoon mixture into 1.5L pudding basin or freezer tray.
Cover with plastice wrap & place in freezer immediately, leaving at least overnight to set, & serve within 4-5 days.
Remove stones from fresh cherries using cherry pitter.
Place cherries in medium saucepan with sugar & water & bring to gentle simmer.
Let cherries simmer for about 5 min then take off heat, add Kirsch/rum & refrigerate until needed.
To serve, place 1-2 wedges or scoops of parfait on dessert plates, spoon a few cherries & little syrup over each & serve at once.
Yum, yum, yum!

Zurracopte (Dried Fruit Compote)

This is a typical Basque Christmas dessert. The dried fruit can be substituted to include dried figs, dates, or whatever you like. The fresh fruit can be substitued with fresh figs, quince, dates, sour Chinese prunes... again whatever takes your fancy.

Serves 6

1 cup dried apricots
1/3 cup raisins
1 cup prunes
1 1/2 cups Rioja red wine (this is a Spanish wine region; if you can't find Riojo wine, substitute with Tempranillo red wine)
4 small tart apples
4 small pears
1 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 lemon
1/2 cinnamon stick

Cover apricots, raising & prunes with wine & allow to soak for at least 1 hour.
Peel & core apples & pears & cut into wedges.
Place in large saucepan with water & cook over high heat for 5 min.
Add sugar, lemon & cinnamon & boil for 1-2 min more.
Add dried fruits & wine & simmer until soft (around 10 min).
Allow to cool & remove lemon before serving.
Serve warm or cold with a little chantilly (lightly sweetened whipped cream) on side.

Ginger Spiced Cocktails

Makes 1 jug (for around 8 people)

juice & zest of 3 lemons
5cm piece fresh ginger, crushed
3 tbsp sugar
handful fresh mint leaves + extra for garnish
1 cup crushed ice
150ml vodka
4x375ml bottles Bundaberg ginger beer

In mortar, crush together lemon juice & zest, ginger, sugar & mint leaves.
Place in jug with ice & mix well.
Add vodka then top with ginger beer.
Serve immediately garnished with extra mint leaves.
Very refreshing!

Monday, October 09, 2006

What I'm baking right now:

Spicy Cranberry Muffins

Makes 18

1 packet Craisins (sweetened dried cranberries)
4 cups plain flour
1 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup natural, unsweetened yoghurt

Preheat oven to 180ºC.
Spray 18 muffin tins with small amount oil, or use muffin patties or non-stick muffin trays.
In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder & spices.
Gently stir in Craisins.
In another bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, oil & yoghurt.
Add to dry ingredients, mixing until just combined (don't over-mix).
Bake for 30-35 min until muffins are risen & golden.
Leave muffins to cool slightly in tin at least 10 min before removing.

And what I made on Sat night, a Chinese feast:

Mandarin Pancakes

These take a lot of work to make, but the result is definitely worth it! These pancakes are served with roast duck, shredded pork or chicken.

Serves 4-5

2 cups plain flour
3/4 cup boiling water
1 tbsp extra boiling water
1 tbsp sesame oil

Measure unsifted flour into bowl.
Bring water to boil & pour at once onto flour, stirring with chopsticks or handle of wooden spoon for a few minutes.
As soon as it is coold enough to handle, knead for 10 min until mixture is soft, smooth dough.
Form into ball, wrap closely in plastic & let it stand for at least 30 minutes.
Roll dough into cylindrical shape & cut into 10 slices of equal width.
Cover with plastic wrap to prevent drying out.
Take one slice at a time & cut into 2 equal pieces.
Form each one into a smooth ball, then roll out on a lightly floured board to circles about 8cm in diameter.
Brush one circle lightly with sesame oil, taking it right to the edges.
Put second circle on top of first one & roll again, both circles together this time, until the pancakes are 15-18cm in diameter. (They must be very thin.)
Cover each pair of pancakes with plastic as they are made.
When all are rolled out, heat heavy frying pan or griddle & cook one pair of pancakes at a time on ungreased surface.
Cook over low heat until pancake develops small bubbles.
Turn frequently so that it cooks on both sides; a few golden spots will appear.
Remove from pan & gently pull 2 circles apart; the sesame oil makes this quite easy.
Pancakes should be soft & pliable, not brittle.
To re-heat (if not serving straight away), arrange pancakes in steamer lined with clean towel, cover & put over simmering water for 1-2 minutes.
To serve, fold each pancake into quarters & serve with roast duck, finely sliced green onions & hoi sin or plum sauce. Yummm!

Shredded Crispy Beef, Szechuan Style

Serves 4

4 cups frying oil (peanut or vegetable)
600g shredded beef, or streak cut into shreds
1/2 cup grated celery
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup green onions, chopped into 2cm pieces
1 tbsp chopped ginger root
1 tbsp chopped garlic
2 tbsp hot bean paste or sauce
1 tsp cooking wine
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil

Heat frying oil in a large wok or deep frypan.
Deep fry steak over high heat for 1 min.
Remove & drain for about 1 min.
Reheat oil & refry steak for about 5 min until very dry.
Add carrot, celery & green onion & stir-fry for 5 seconds.
Remove & drain.
Remove oil, reheat pan, then add ginger, garlic, wine, hot bean paste, vinegar, salt & sugar.
Mix very well, then add steak with vegetables.
Mix well, then add sesame oil.
Put on serving plate & serve with steamed rice.

Fried Mountain Trout with Ginger

Serves 4

4 single serving size trout, about 200g each (I use 2x rainbow trout)
salt & five-spice powder mixed together
4 tbsp cornflour
3 green onions, cut into bite-sized pieces
8 tbsp peanut oil
1 tbsp fine shredded fresh ginger
2 tbsp Chinese red vinegar or wine vinegar
2 tbsp Chinese wine or sherry
4 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

Clean cavity of trout with damp paper towel dipped in salt.
Make shallow diagonal cuts on either side of fish & rub in salt mixture.
Roll fish in cornflour to coat, then dust off excess.
Combine sauce ingredients.
Heat wok, add peanut oil & when very hot, fry ginger & green onions for a few seconds until onions are soft but not brown.
Remove on frying spoon & set aside on plate.
Slip fish into oil & fry until golden brown underneath, then turn them over, lower heat & fry until other side is brown & fish are cooked through.
Remove to serving dish.
Pour off oil, add sauce mixture to wok with ginger & green onion.
Cook for 1 min on high heat or until sauce boils.
Spoon sauce over trout & serve garnished with coriander.

Braised Cauliflower, Chinese Style

Serves 4

half a small cauliflower
125g snow peas or sugar snap peas
2 tbsp peanut oil
1/2 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 cup hot water or stock
1 tbsp oyster or soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cornflour

Divide cauliflower into small florets.
String peas if necessary.
Heat oil in wok & fry garlic & ginger, stirring, until fragrant.
Add vegetables & stir-fry for 2 min, then pour in water mixed with sauce & add salt.
Cover & cook until barely tender, then thicken sauce with cornflour mixed with little cold water.
Serve with rice.

Monday, October 02, 2006

These two are especially for Jane and Cam:

Chicken Pesto Pasta

Serves 4

oil for frying
1 onion, roughly chopped
500g pasta of your choice
2 chicken breasts, chopped into 2cm cubes
1 jar of pesto sauce (I use Leggo's)
50ml cream (approx)

Boil salted water for pasta in a large saucepan.
Heat oil in a large frypan over medium-high heat.
Add onions & fry till soft.
Put pasta in & cook to your liking while continuing with the sauce.
Add chicken & fry until brown or sealed.
Stir through pesto.
Add cream & simmer on low heat while pasta finishes cooking.
Stir sauce through pasta & serve immediately.

Mustard Chicken Pasta

Serves 4

oil for frying
1 onion, roughly chopped
500g pasta of your choice
2 chicken breasts, chopped into 2cm cubes
300g button mushrooms (or 1 can champignons, drained)
300ml cream
85g (1/2 jar) wholegrain mustard

Boil salted water for pasta in a large saucepan.
Heat oil in a large frypan over medium-high heat.
Add onions & fry till soft.
Put pasta in & cook to your liking while continuing with the sauce.
Add chicken & fry until brown or sealed.
Add mushrooms & fry until soft or brown (to your liking).
Add cream & mustard & simmer on low heat while pasta finishes cooking.
Stir sauce through pasta & serve immediately.

And this is something I picked up in PNG. I don't know if it will work with the ingredients in Oz, but we can only try!

Bully Beef Surprise

oil for frying
1 onion, roughly chopped or sliced
1 cup boiling water
1 packet (bully) beef flavoured 2-minute Noodles (including the flavour sachet!)
1 can corned (bully) beef

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
Add onions & fry until soft.
Add boiling water & noodles, boiling for 2 minutes until noodles are soft.
Add flavour sachet & stir.
Add beef, breaking into smaller pieces as you stir it through.
Serve by itself as a salty snack or unhealthy meal, or as a side dish.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Baked Chicken & Pumpkin Risotto

Serves 4

2 cups arborio rice
2 cups chicken stock
60g butter
700g pumpkin, peeled & diced
olive oil
3 chicken breast fillets
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
sea salt & cracked black pepper
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 190°C.
Place rice, stock, butter & pumpkin in large ovenproof dish & cover tightly with lid or aluminium foil.
Bake for 30 minutes (it took me at least 45 in my gas, non-fan-forced oven) or until rice is soft.
While risotto is baking, add little oil to frying pan over medium heat & cook chicken for 4 minutes each side or until cooked through.
Allow to cool slightly, then chop.
Remove risotto from oven & stir chicken, parmesan, salt, pepper & parley through it continuously for 5 minutes, or until risotto is creamy.
Serve immediately.