Saturday, April 27, 2013

251/984 - Sorrel soup

I picked up a bunch of sorrel at the Fairfield Farmers' Market last weekend and gave Henry the choice of sorrel soup or a potato and sorrel omelette, mainly because I wanted to make both and couldn't decide between the two! He chose the soup and I am so pleased he did. What a soup!

Sorrel has the most incredibly fresh, lemony flavour and this soup was creamy, but also with plenty of tang provided by the sorrel and also the garlic. My sorrel leaves were on the larger side and so I used the leaves but removed the spines completely, which made our chickens very happy indeed. 
The croutons were supposed to be made from sour dough, but I had just finished making an incredibly yummy seed bread and so I used that for my croutons instead. They tasted amazing, but then again anything fried in oil is likely to taste pretty good! 

The beaten eggs yolks, which are added at the final stage, made this soup incredibly fluffy and creamy. My only criticism of this recipe is that it does not make enough! I could have eaten bowl after bowl of this dish and was shattered as I handed over the last bowl to my husband. The next time I make this I will be sure to double, or maybe even triple, the recipe.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

250/984 - Buttermilk pancakes

One of the things I loved about upgrading to the new rainbow version of the book was the extra couple of pancake recipes! 

Pancakes are a wonderful weekend breakfast option. My kids always go a little bit crazy when I make them, throwing around topping ideas before the first pancake has bubbled in the pan. 

While the boys tucked into pancakes with lemon and sugar, maple syrup and fruit, I decided to try something a bit different and had my two with strawberries, maple syrup and Schulz organic quark. The combination was sensational. And the pancakes were pretty good too.

249/984 - Lois's roasted red pepper dip

This was a gorgeous dip, and the last of the Stephanie recipes made for the little shindig we hosted a few weeks ago. 

Dips are one of the many things can be made in less time than it would take to drive to the shops to pick some up. And let's face it, a homemade dip not only tastes better than a store bought version, but it has the added bonus of being made up of fresh ingredients, and no preservatives in sight!

Over the years I have learned that making more than one dip for a party is a waste. No matter how many times you see guests digging in, dips just never seem to get used up. I have always thought they were the magic puddings of party food. So this time I made just the one dip, and couldn't believe I still ended up with half a bowl to use up once the guests had cleared out.

More leftovers that were fabulous on toast.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

248/984 - Merna's sausage rolls

More party food!

These pork sausage rolls were fabulous and I will definitely be making them again. I quadrupled the mixture and ended up with more than eighty bite sized morsels that were absolutely devoured by our party guests. 

After many years of making sausage rolls that have burst open in the cooking process, I have finally worked out that the best way to make them is to press the seam together tightly and then to fold it under, pressing it flat to the bottom of the sausage roll. This batch was perfect and there was no bursting to be found! Happy days.

I decided to serve these little babies with both sauce and kasoundi, not at all sure if any guests would be game to venture away from the trusted and safe tomato sauce option. I was thrilled that my guests were more adventurous than expected, and the kasoundi went down a treat. It was an amazing combination and highly recommended!

An absolutely gorgeous treat for adults and children alike. 

Love my new little label holders!

247/984 - Spiced nuts

We hosted a party recently and I decided it would be fun to cater it myself. It was fun, but a lot of work, particularly whilst balancing the cooking with with the rest of my busy, busy life.

These spiced nuts were one of my chosen recipes, and while I liked the finished product, I think I went a bit wrong, both with the number of egg whites I used and also the amount of spices added.

I found the final product to be a bit eggy and I put this down to the enormous eggs my lovely chickens lay, realising I should have reduced the number I added to the recipe accordingly. Also I also think I might have been a bit too conservative when adding the spices, and probably could have added more paprika for an extra kick.

A nice finger food for my guests, but sadly I don't think I did the recipe justice this time.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

245&246/984 - Oeufs à la neige (& egg custard)

It's a lovely compliment when you serve up a dish and have guests tell you that it is too pretty to eat! 

I was worried about making this gorgeous sounding recipe. Poaching meringues sounded much more worrisome than it actually was and custard always has the potential to split. My worrying was needless, and I am pleased to report that this dish was very easy to put together. 

I decided to poach my meringues in my largest pan, which is a whopping 29cm wide and around 10cm deep. Due to the incredible width of my pan I was able to poach all of my meringues at once, which was a good thing given that I was doing it as my guests were just about due to walk through the door. 

I had thought that the meringues would be watery, but after taking a rest on a clean tea towel they were perfectly dry, and oh so light and airy! 

I didn't have time to make a fruit sauce (actually I forgot about it completely..) and so cheated and used a gorgeous berry sauce given to us by Trev's amazing grandparents who put together a gourmet hamper for us every Christmas. 

A beautiful way to finish an amazing evening.
Ornamental chillies - another
gorgeous gift from
one of my guests

Friday, April 19, 2013

244/984 - Saltimbocca alla Romana

Oh Stephanie, what have you done?

Little did I know when I selected this as the third entrée* of the night that it would become the talking point of the dinner party! This dish was so incredibly fabulous, one of my guests posted on my Facebook page the next day, "I went to bed thinking of that veal, dreamt about it and am still talking about it today!". This comment sparked a renewed discussion about how much we had all loved this dish. Stephanie, my ever expanding waistline does not thank you for this recipe! 

An hour before the guests were due to arrive I thought I should take a look at the recipe to see what needed to be done. I would have been in all sorts of trouble if there was marinating, or any other time consuming activity involved! Lucky for me the recipe was very straightforward, although I confess my guests did arrive to the sight of me gently pounding the veal with a mallet through a ziplock bag. Classy.

To be honest I had some trouble finding veal backstraps, and so I bought a couple of veal racks and stripped the bone off them. Judging by the reaction of my guests I would say this was a successful move!

What really topped off this dish was the burnt butter sauce. Has anybody ever invented a sauce so delectably good? 

All 'round a cracking good dish. 

*I had some trouble selecting a main course and so I decided to serve three entrées instead.

More flowers from my
gorgeous guests

Thursday, April 18, 2013

242&243/984 - Moules Marinières & Jean's mussels

It's one of those amusing things I do - half read a recipe before a dinner party and then get a surprise that there are more steps than I expected on the night.

It was a couple of hours before my lovely guests were due to arrive that I read the part in the Jean's mussels recipe that said, "Steam mussels instructed in the Moules Marinières recipe". Lucky for me I have a herb garden and so I had all of the herbs and bits required, but I really, really must start reading these recipes in advance!

I was able to cook my vegetables in butter and water (yum) and put them to one side well before the festivities began. I also put the few things required for the steaming step in a bowl together ready to go. For the first time ever I cooked the mussels in a wok, but unfortunately my lid is a bit wonky and ill fitting so I don't think I will be doing that again in a hurry. The mussels cooked, but I found that some took longer than usual to open which is not ideal. I found myself away from the table checking on them for longer than I would have liked, but on the upside I had a glass of champagne in my hand so things could have been much worse. 

Trev's gorgeous grandfather gave me a bucket of amazingly fresh and sweet tasting walnuts, which is one of the reasons I decided to make this dish. The walnuts were fried with garlic (never, ever would I have thought to do that!) and then blitzed and mixed with parsley. The walnuts were absolutely wonderful on top of the creamy mussels and I think I may have added an extra spoonful or two to my bowl once I realised how good they were. 

I will be using the remainder of the yummy walnut mix on steamed fish, sprinkled over salads and maybe even on steamed vegetables. Or maybe I will simply eat it by the spoonful...

Pineapple sage - a gift from
one of my guests

Sunday, April 14, 2013

241/984 - Soupe au pistou

A couple of months ago I proclaimed 2013 to be the year of the dinner party. This announcement was accompanied by my very first (and very brave!) invitation for a person I had never met to come to my home and participate in a dinner party. 

I had a very fast response, and in no time we had a table of eight (including my family of four) booked in for an April event. Sadly one of my very special guests had to be rushed to hospital only a matter of days before the special night, and so missed the dinner altogether. She is OK and will be coming to the next event, but everybody was very disappointed that she missed out on such a wonderful evening. 

So last night was the night, and it was fantastic! To have people around the table who were not known to one another created an energising buzz that saw our lovely evening spread over almost seven hours! 

The first course was in the form of an amuse-bouche and did not deserve it's own blog post because a) it took around two seconds to eat, and b) was a recipe I had made before. We fell in love with Stephanie's Italian black olive paste the last time I made it and so this time I tripled the recipe! Apologies to my colleagues who will be sitting near stinky garlic lady for the next couple of weeks. 

The next thing to be served to my lovely, chatty guests was this soupe au pistou. It is a wonderfully healthy vegetable soup, which has a spoonful of garlic and basil pistou and a handful of gruyère added for flavour. My guests had only nice things to say about this course, with Deb calling it "clean eating" and Sue loving the taste of garlic, rather than salt shining through. Hayley thought the soup was "delightful and so light, with the pistou adding freshness". Things got busy after course number one and so this is the extent of the quotes I managed to gather from the meal!

Dinner party number four for 2013 was off to a rocking start.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

240/984 - Wrinkled salty potatoes

Angelica Organic Farm operated a pop-up shop outside Matt Wilkinson's produce store, Hams & Bacon, yesterday. Sadly I had to go to work and my husband was home ill, so I called on my gorgeous mum to pop over to East Brunswick and pick up some goodies on my behalf. 

Mum (and Tim and Deri-Anne) came through for me. I came home to find a bunch of the most beautiful looking vegetables waiting for me, and I couldn't wait to find some recipes that would do them justice. 

I started with a beautiful raw carrot salad for breakfast this morning, which I loved so much I made a second batch to go with dinner. I found the recipe in the margin on p.225 and, inspired by the lovely outcome, have now decided to start tracking my cooking of the margin recipes also. I will not be blogging about them, or even counting them for that matter, (there must be hundreds!) but will share the pictures and page numbers of the ones I do make on my facebook page. 

Keen to sample more of my fresh veggies, I trawled the potato chapter looking for inspiration. The idea of cooking wrinkled salty potatoes to go with dinner tonight appealed to my taste buds and also to my sense of humour. Not the most tempting of recipe names! 

The potatoes were simply boiled in heavily salted water and then dried. The finished product was perfect potatoes with a pretty frosting of salt on their skins. Of course I made a lovely mess cooking these and ended up with salt everywhere. I am a very messy cook and so nobody should be put off by the state of my saucepan/stove covered in salt. If making these, just watch that you don't have the heat up too high or make sure once the water is boiling the lid is left open slightly to let out some steam. Or both. 

I had meant to serve these little beauties with pesto, which I imagine would have been a lovely addition, but completely forgot about it and so we ate them as they came. To be honest, the potatoes were so lovely I was not disappointed I had forgotten the pesto! The insides were soft and creamy and the amount of salt was perfect and not at all overpowering.   

Another night without leftovers. A great compliment but always disappointing the following day!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

239/984 - Berry frozen yoghurt

The last of the courses for my two gorgeous friends was berry frozen yoghurt. I was going to make a mixed berry combination but sadly the blackberries and raspberries were on sale and had disappeared before I got to them, so a blueberry dessert it was.

There was a mix-up with our dinner party starting time and my guests arrived 30 minutes early...eek! Thankfully I was decent, which is not always the case 30 minutes before people arrive, but I hadn't even started to make the dessert. I sat them down at the kitchen table and made this frozen yoghurt while we chatted and they looked on. Now I know what it feels like to have my own cooking show! 

I must say it is a very weird feeling to be watched while I cook. My friends were very well behaved and didn't heckle me at all while I worked. The frozen yoghurt was ridiculously easy to make and it was done in a matter of minutes. I was very surprised to be adding maple syrup to the mix, but it added the perfect amount of sweetness to what would have been quite a tart dessert otherwise. I loved the pretty pink colour of the finished product and think I must remember this one if I need a pink touch for a future dessert. 

Dinner party number two for 2013 done and dusted!