My Little Kitchen

Culinary creations from one would-be cook and her messy little kitchen.

Paprika roast chicken with chorizo and white beans

For the past few weeks I’ve been rather busy catching up with family and friends so the kitchen has been somewhat neglected. But this morning I came across a recipe for Paprika roast chicken with chorizo and white beans on Gourmet Traveller and just knew I needed a night behind the stove.

Ingredients: 2 tbsp each coarsely chopped thyme and oregano · 1 tsp smoked paprika · finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon · 2 garlic cloves minced · 110 ml olive oil · 4 chicken Marylands · 1 Spanish onion, thinly sliced · 2 chorizo, thickly sliced · 250 gm cherry tomatoes · 300 ml chicken stock · 800 gm canned white beans, drained, rinsed · 2 tbs malt vinegar

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Method: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Mix the herbs, half of the garlic, lemon rind and juice, paprika and three quarters of the oil until it forms a rough paste. Coat the chicken in the paste and allow to marinate for 1 hour.

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Whilst the chicken is marinating, heat the remaining oil in a deep fry pan. Add the remaining garlic and onions, and fry on a low heat for 2-3 minutes until soft and transparent. Add the chorizo and tomato then saute for 5 minutes until cooked.

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Once the tomato is softened and the chorizo cooked, add the stock and beans and simmer on a low heat until the sauce thickens.

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Whilst the sauce is thickening, heat another saucepan on a high heat. Fry the marinated chicken for 5 minutes each side, then pop into the overn to cook through for 20 minutes.

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To serve, lay the beans on a large presentation plate. Top with the chicken marylands and fresh herbs.

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Daylesford Organics Farm

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Day 2 of our recent Cotswolds journey saw Matt and I leaving Castle Combe on route for Daylesford, just east of Cheltenham in the luscious English countryside.

We arrived just in time for lunch, which coincidently half the population in the Costwolds seemed to have also planned for, so our grumbly tummies waited whilst we enjoyed the sights .The farm itself consists of a 1500 acre agricultural estate of grazing fields, a creamery and market garden which houses over 300 varieties of organic fruit and vegetables.

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Unlucky for us, it began to rain about 15 minutes into our walking tour around the pastures, so we missed seeing many of the animals and orchards. Lucky for us, there were many indoor attractions we could still enjoy such as the on-sight cookery school, the garden shop and what I’d been waiting for, the farm shop.

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It’s easy to see why celebrities such as Liz Hurley and Kate Winslet do their shopping at Daylesford - the produce available is phenominal, some of the best I’ve seen in the United Kingdom. There is a huge range of cheese, sauces, meats, breads and fresh produce all made in the Gloucestershire region.

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Most excitingly, Daylesford Organics has launched their first cookbook “A love for food”. Seperated into season, which in my opinion is the smartest way to segment cook books, it has some delicious recipes such as Blackcurrent Vodka, Venison and Cranberry Pie and Pearl Barley, Asparagus and Pea Shoot Risotto. I had to really control myself, as it was a huge book and I’m pretty sure my suitcase is already going to be over for our hometrip. So this will have to be an amazon purchase when we return to Australia.

Finally after our stomachs couldn’t take it anymore, we ventured into the Daylesford Farm Cafe for lunch and it was well worth the wait. I had a selection of salads my favourite one being the lemon and courgette linguine which I am hoping to make in the coming weeks (I found the recipe on BBC good food website). Matt had something simple, welsh rarebit with a simple rocket side salad and homemade tomato chutney.The perfect way to end our trip to Daylesford Organics.

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Dreaming of Daylesford

This morning Matt and I booked our trip to the Cotswolds. I am so very excited. The Cotswolds are renowned for their beauty, but that isn’t the cause of my excitement, neither is the prospect of a holiday after what has been one of the most stressful weeks at work. No, the most exciting thing for me about the Cotswolds is being able visit the Daylesford Farm in Gloucestershire.

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Near our home in Pimlico is one of Daylesford’s Organic stores, which sell a predominately produce grown on their farm. It instantly became my favourite place to buy groceries because it houses such a great selection of home-grown produce. Obviously this means you can’t always get precisely what you want, but instead buy based on seasonality which is far better anyway (for the pocket and the taste-spuds). Another bonus is that it’s a lot more similar to how we shop in Australia. That is, everything isn’t pre-packaged/ re-wrapped/ pre-portioned (massive pet hate in the UK).

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But Daylesford isn’t just limited to fruit and veg, they also graze their own livestock, produce great dairy, fresh breads, chutneys, sauces, even a small selection of wines. Today I had a great haul, with some specific favourites listed below.

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Heirloom (or heritage) tomatoes. Such wonderful colours. I’ve seen these in blogs and cookbooks, but haven’t actually seen them available to buy before as I don’t think they are available in Australia. These will be the feature ingredient in a tart I am hoping to make tonight, along with some fresh basil from the garden box.

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Daylesford’s Blue Legbar eggs. Teamed with the Heirloom tomatoes and basil will complete my tart. These eggs are rarely available in commercial stores as the birds only lay for specific periods of time each year. The hens are somewhat new, with the species only breed 25 years ago. Apparently roughly 15% of hens will lay pink eggs, as opposed to blue.

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Golden Courgette. Again, these are usually only available in green so the fact that these gorgeous rays of vegetable sunshine caught my eye meant I had to have them (I am after all an impulsive fruit and veg shopper). Originally I thought to make a Zucchini Slice, but the colour is so wonderful I think instead I will make a pasta dish - after all I don’t want to hide that beautiful golden skin.

On our Cotswolds trip, Matt and I will have the opportunity to visit the Daylesford working farm and see how some of our favourites are grown and made. Now visiting a farm isn’t really a big novelty for me. As a country girl I grew up visiting friends farms (specifically dairy) quite often. But after living in London for the past 18 months, with the extend of my garden being limited to 2 window boxes, I can’t wait to get out in the fresh air. I may even treat myself to some wellies!  I just hope they still have some cute little goslings, and not the Ryan kind, the fluffy quackie kind.

Long time, no blogging

It has been a signifigant while since my last post (18ish months). And not to be making excuses, but a lot has been happening in this new London life. Most of you already know what we’ve been up to during this time, but for those of you who don’t I will attempt to quickly recap on our European lives and travels.

Matt and I both found jobs rather quickly, myself as a Digital Producer, Matt as a Biomedical Research Scientist, and thus we’ve been working very hard. For the past 18 months we’ve rented an apartment at Pimlico, very close to my workplace in Victoria, which allows me to walk to work as opposed to craming in with millions of others on the tube every morning. Although the area is quite busy, we’ve managed to find a relatively quite pocket (aside from the train noises) on Cambridge Street in a Victorian conversion.

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Being so close to one of London’s major national rail stations/ airports makes it easy for Matt and I to travel throughout Europe with ease - something which we’ve well and truly taken advantage of over the last 18 months.

Since arriving in London we’ve travelled within England to Brighton, Bath, Leeds, Oxford, Cambridge and the Lakes District (Windermere & Keswick). Up to Scotland, to Edinburgh, Inverness and Lock Ness. And to Ireland, from Dublin to Belfast, to Derry and Galway, through Killarney and Dingle finishing in Cork and Blarney.

Across into mainland Europe, we have visited Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Twice we have been to France, once to Paris to visit our friend Tyf where I tried escargot for the first time (and loved it) and Kir Savingon (which I also loved), and then to Courchevel in the Alps for a truly magical white Christmas. We visited Carolyn in Berlin and enjoyed way too many carbs at the traditional German establishments, and way too many cocktails at Solar, one of the coolest restaurants/ clubs I have ever been too. And finally Prague, where we endulged on food and orchestra due to the low exchange rates between CZ and UK.

Needless to say, there has not been a lot of time blogging. But, the time has come for me once again to resume my little kitchen.

So why you may ask have I choosen now. We’ll for a number of reasons.

Firstly I have been working very hard over the past 18 months and although it has payed off with a promotion to Senior earlier this year, I miss having something of my own besides work to focus my attention towards. Secondly I’m inspired by some of the wonderful blogs I’ve seen recently. Thirdly I really enjoy cooking and learning new recipes. And finally I really miss sharing these things with you.

I’ve got a few things in the pipeline, so looking forward to posting again soon (assuming I can figure out all my old photo and HTML tools).

BOOKS FOR COOKS

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Moving overseas meant a lot of sacrifices were made, one of which was giving up my cookbook collection in favour of packing clothes… a hard decision. Lucky for me, I have already found what is likely to become my new favourite shop – Books for Cooks in Notting Hill (for the culinary kind, not the Matthew kind). As the name suggests, it is a book shop dedicated entirely to the art of cooking (or as they put it, cookbook junkies). And luck for me (perhaps not so lucky for my bank account) it is located between Laura’s house and the Ladbroke Grove Tube Station, so I will inevitably have to walk past it each time I visit Laura (poor me).  What I like most about this store, is not just the huge selection of cookbooks on anything and everything, but the fact that they actually practise what they preach. At the back of the store is a demonstration kitchen where they hold different classes throughout the year - Marvellous! Some of these classes have already made it onto the bucket list such as Southern Indian Cooking with Ganapati and the BFC supper club. Although reasonably priced between £25-£80, I may need to wait for some work before enrolling. In the meantime, I treated myself to a small purchase… a book I have wanted now for a few months, Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights, by Sophie Dahl. What I love most about this book is that it is divided into breakfast, lunch and dinner meals for each Season. Obviously coming from Australia, my grasp on European seasons is lacked. This book will have me cooking like a pro with English in-season produce in no time, with glorious meals such as Pear & Ginger Muffins, Elderflower Jelly, Crab & Fennel Salad, and Baked Acorn Squash. Alas, It will be quite difficult to avoid the Heathrow injection now thanks to Miss Dahl.

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(Source: booksforcooks.com)

Cold? Hungry? Welcome to MYLKCN London Style

After 18 months, what better way to say a proper ‘g’day’ to our great friend Laura than by cooking up a tasty feast on a chilly winters night (and perhaps sharing around a few bottles of vino). These recipes will feed 4 hungry friends.

Veal Osso Bucco w Risotto Milanese

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Ingredients: 6 medium size onion shallots, finely chopped · 125g unsalted butter · 1 1/2 cups salt reduced beef stock · 800g Veal Osso Bucco · 2 1/2 cups dry white wine (and an extra one for drinking if you’re in the mood) · 2 tbs minced garlic · 1 tin of chopped tomatoes · 2 tbs concentrated tomato paste · 2 cups of Arborio rice · 2 cups of reduced salt chicken stock · saffron threads · 1 cup finely chopped parmesan · olive oil · plain flour (for dusting) ·1 cup of fresh chopped parsley · 1 tbs of fresh thyme leaves 

Method: To make the Veal Osso Bucco, pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees. Heat a large saucepan on med-high heat. Add a good drizzle of oil and 25g of butter. Whilst it is melting, pat dry the veal with a paper towel and dust in the plain flour until completely coated. Once the oil/ butter mixture is melted and warm (not too hot or it will burn) add the veal and seal for 2-3 minutes on each side (as per below).

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In another saucepan, again add a drizzle of oil and 25g of butter. Once hot, add the garlic and half of the chopped shallots. Sweat for 2-3 minutes, then add 1 1/2 cups of the wine and reduce for 5 minutes. In a large cook pot (i.e. one you can put into the oven, which has a lid) place the sealed veal, the wine/onion & garlic mixture, the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley and thyme. Season with s & p, cover and cook for 3 hours.

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At the end of 3 hours, remove the lid, reduce the temperature to 140 degrees and place back into the oven. While the sauce is reducing, you’ve got time to make the risotto. Place a large saucepan on the stove on a medium heat. Melt 100g butter and a small drizzle of olive oil in the saucepan. Add the remaining shallots and sweat for 2-3 minutes. Add the saffron and Arborio rice. Stir through the oil mixture until the grains are well coated. Increase to a med-high temperature and gradually add the remaining wine and chicken stock, approx 50ml at a time. You need time to do risotto so don’t attempt this if you’re trying to do other things at the same time, like set a table, greet guests, etc. You must remain by the stove, adding the liquid little by little. Don’t add more liquid until the previous amount has been absorbed or else your risotto will become gluggy. After approximately 20-25 minutes your liquid should all be added and absorbed. Reduce to a medium heat, stir in the remaining butter and parmesan. By now your veal will be ready. Remove it from the oven. Serve straight from the pan with a good spoonful of the risotto and some crusty white bread.

*You can also attempt to make this recipe with veal tail (I actually used both veal Osso Bucco and tail cuts for my dish photos).

Blackberry & Plum Crumble w Vanilla Bean Cream

After you’ve recovered from your mamoth feed of Osso Bucco, why not continue your evening with a delicious serve of warm crumble before venturing back out into the snow.

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Ingredients: 10 small yellow plums, de-seeded and quartered · 1 punnet of blackberries · 1 vanilla bean · 50ml water · 1 cup plain flour · 1/2 cup raw sugar · 30g butter

Method: Pre-heat your oven to 160 degrees. Place a shallow saucepan on the stove on a medium heat. Add the water, plums and blackberries. De-seed the vanilla bean, place the seeds into 1 tub of double cream and mix well. Place the remaining seed pod into the fruit mix.

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If you like your crumble sweet, add a few tbs of sugar to the fruit mix. Cook for 5ish minutes untill the water reduces and the fruit starts to take on a pinkish colour. Remove from the heat and pour into an oven dish.

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To make the crumble, rub the butter into the plain flour. Once all is combined and the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs, add the sugar. Stir well, and then pour over the fruit mix, patting the top well. Place into the oven for 25 minutes.

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When ready, dish out immediately with a big dollop of vanilla cream. This dish also works really well with ice cream, or you could replace the vanilla with another flavour such as rose or lavender.

Thanks must go to Carolyn for this dish, as she recently made Matt and I a plum crumble before we left using her trusty Edmunds book.

Portobello Market

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After what has been a whirl wind week of jet lag and job interviews, finally an opportunity for my first post from London, and what better topic to begin with than the world famous Portobello Market.

Yesterday Laura and I braved the -5 temperature here in London for the chance to walk amongst mountains of vintage fur, one off knick-knacks (including a really great vintage mincer I wish I had bought) and loads of fresh fruit and veg. After directing a pair of Japanese women to the markets (for which I had not yet visited at that stage) Laura met me at Ladbroke Grove station, a few minutes on the tube from where we are staying at Sheppard’s Bush. Together we trawled the markets for hours until at last coming home with bags full of food for Saturday night’s dinner. It had been a whole week since I have cooked a proper meal from scratch and the food here is very different. It is a city of convenience, with entire stores dedicated to quick fix meals. You can buy basically everything pre-prepared, measured out into serving sizes in individual plastic packets. At last I finally understand the premise of Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals… why slave away in the kitchen when dinner can be as easy as microwaving for 3 minutes on high?

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Anyway, enough ranting. It has been so cold here during the past week that I really wanted to cook something warm and rich. For that reason I choose to cook Veal Osso Bucco with Risotto Milanese. It’s quite easy to make, and always taste delicious. Unfortunately quite a lot of the ingredients I needed were not at the markets. I only managed to find herbs, Spanish garlic and crusty Italian bread - the rest bought from Waitrose, one of the more ‘cook-friendly’ supermarkets in London.

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What I did find at the markets, which I have never seen before in my life are yellow plums. Generally speaking I am quite wary of plums. I love the flavour when they are ripe, but far too often I bite into one only to find that it is awfully sour. Lucky for me the plums I bought yesterday were deliciously sweet.  As such I decided that a Blackberry and Plum Crumble with Vanilla Bean Cream would be an ideal night cap for our cook up.

Recipes to follow.

Surpise

Taste

As we well deserved break amongst job applications today, I allowed myself a few minutes to scroll through taste.com.au. Imagine my surprise when I realised that today I am one of the featured members (and even more surprising when I realised that my about information is totally outdated… eek). What fun! A shame that I have only uploaded a few (yet good) recipes.

I feel another new years resolution is now in order… share more recipes with taste kitchen. 

MYLKCN LIKES

Today is Australia Day. You would expect that as it is Matt and my last for 2 years that we would be kicking up our feet on a beach somewhere, listening to Triple J’s Hottest 100 and scoffing down some sangers and pav. But no, instead we have had a relatively quiet day packing our luggage and trying desperately to make an additional 3kg from my carryon luggage disappears (so far the plan involves me wearing 3 coats trench coats onto the plane and stuffing Margret Fulton’s Culinary Encyclopaedia down my shirt).  Aside from attempting the impossible, I spent a few hours trawling through the Dec/Jan issue of Delicious Magazine ripping our recipes to add to my Black Book of Inspiration. Two products that really caught my attention.  Now you’ll notice that my blog doesn’t contain advertising. For anyone who doesn’t know I’m a producer. I studied advertising for 4 years and have approx 5 years experience under my belt. I believe that sometimes one shouldn’t be bombarded with messages to buy, buy, buy, hence why you will probably never see advertising on my blog. Something’s just don’t need extra noise. In saying that I think these products are really smart and it gives me great pleasure to share them on my blog (even if I’m not getting paid for the plug).

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My Drap is the first product I came across. Basically it’s a role of disposable cotton napkins. They are affordable, come in a range of funky colours and best of all you can just throw them out at the end of your dinner party. Need I say more? Check them out at www.buymydrap.com

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This second product I’ve already posted via mylkcn Facebook page, Skybar Chill Drops. Pop one of these sexy little steel drops into a glass of your favourite vino and drink the summer sweat away. I really like these as they don’t dilute the wine like ice does. A really great present for wine lovers and something I’ll be sure to buy after we get settled in London (not sure how often we’ll need to use them though). Check them out at www.skybarhome.com.au

One last thing I thought worth sharing is a website Lynne put me onto called www.houzz.com. In short, it’s a platform where design professionals and homeowners alike can upload, share and collect photos. This website has some great ideas and I am sure it will get my into a lot of trouble once Matt and I decide that it’s time to buy our first home (ideas already collected below).

House of the Year eclectic dining room
eclectic dining room design by other metros interior designer Andrea Schumacher
Living Room contemporary living room
contemporary living room design by other metros interior designer Begrand Fast Design Inc.
Hillgrove Project traditional bedroom
traditional bedroom design by los angeles architect Tim Barber LTD Architecture & Interior Design
Hillgrove traditional porch
traditional porch design by los angeles architect Tim Barber LTD Architecture & Interior Design
Pleasant Valley contemporary kitchen
contemporary kitchen design by little rock interior designer Tobi Fairley
Library traditional family room
traditional family room design by san francisco general contractor Camber Construction
West Philadelphia Kitchen contemporary kitchen
contemporary kitchen design by philadelphia general contractor Hanson General Contracting, Inc.
CHRISTINA MARRACCINI  INC traditional kitchen
traditional kitchen design by new york interior designer CHRISTINA MARRACCINI
Mad for Galapagos Turquoise eclectic living room
eclectic living room design by other metros interior designer Anna Baskin Lattimore Design
Cambridge Residence eclectic hall
eclectic hall design by boston interior designer Amanda L. Reid

It’s Raining

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Today we’ve enjoyed a beautiful raining day in Brisbane. I love the rain, always have, and always will. And what better way to spend a drizzly day than in the kitchen. Aside from Romesco, I also cooked Bill Granger’s recipe for Saffron Arancini and created my own recipe for French Onion Soup with Cheesy Croutons (though it is a little bit of a work in progress still). 

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The saffron arancini recipe appealed to me for two reasons. Firstly I have never made it before and thus this recipe provided a substancial culinary challenge for today. The second reason is that this arancini recipe using baking rather than frying cooking methods, which is by far healthier. In saying that, I adapted the recipe to include half of the required amount of butter and found that it was still by far too oily.  The flavours of the saffron, teamed with the romesco worked really well, but if making this again I would use my own judgement to add the butter rather than following the recipe (as I generally do anyway).

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The other dish I made, French Onion Soup with Cheesy Croutons was created entirely on instinct as misplaced my phone (and as such taste.com app) shortly after turning the pan on. This is what I managed to create.

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French Onion Soup with Cheesy Croutons

Ingredients: 4 large brown onions, finely sliced · 50g unsalted butter · 1 1/2 cups reduced salt chicken stock · 1/2 tbs castor sugar · 1 tbs minced garlic · baguette, sliced into 1cm thick discs · Jarlsberg cheese · mozzarella cheese

Method: Place large saucepan on medium heat, add butter and melt (being careful not to burn or discolour). Add the onions and reduce the heat to low. Cook uncovered for 50 minutes. Once onions are completely softened, add sugar and cook on medium heat for another 20 minutes. The sugar should caramelise the onions. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Rub the baguette slices with minced garlic and cover with the Jarlsberg and mozzarella cheese. Place into the oven on a non-stick baking pan. By now the onions have changed to a deep brown in colour, add the garlic and stock. Cover and cook for a further 10 minutes. To serve, ladle soup into the bowls, top with cheesy croutons and a sprinkle of fresh herbs (if desired).

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Romesco

A few days ago Matt and my parents met for the first time in 6 years. And before you go jumping to any conclusions, no there is no announcement, other than we are leaving Australia for 2 years and I couldn’t stand the thought of our two families meeting over peculated coffee in the departures lounge of Brisbane International Airport. Anyhow, we did lunch at Gun Shop Cafe (one of my favourites).  My mother ordered Cod, which was served with an array of things, one of which was Romesco. I remembered hearing of Romesco beforehand, but couldn’t quite remember what went into it exactly… that is until I came across Bill Granger’s Romesco recipe earlier this morning.

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Romesco

Ingredients: 2 red capsicums · 2 tbs blanched almonds · 1 tbs olive oil · S&P

Method: Heat oven to 180 degrees. Quarter and se-seed each of the capsicum. Drizzle the olive oil onto a tray; rub in the capsicum (i.e. coat in the oil) and season with S&P. Place into the oven to roast for 1 hour. Don’t worry if they blacken a bit, it will only add to the flavour of the Romesco.

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Once roasted, remove from the oven and cool. Once cool, combine the roasted capsicum and almonds in a blender until they are combined. Be careful not to over whiz the mix, as you still want the sauce to retain some texture.

This recipe works really well as an accompaniment to fish and chicken, or could be used as a stir through sauce for pasta dishes. I made this one to accompany another recipe I found in the Bill Granger book for Saffron Arancini, the photos for which you will see in my next post.

Easy Peasy Empanadas

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It is no secret that Spanish (and thus Mexican) food is one of my favourite things to eat and as such I am sure you can appreciate that recently having Mexican two nights in a row was a real treat for me.

For both meals, I used the same dish two different ways. That dish was Shredded Chilli Beef, a really cheap and easy meal to make.  This recipe can be enjoyed on its own served with tortillas and salad, or makes a great filling for empanada’s (as per the image above). 

Shredded Chilli Beef

Ingredients: 600g gravy beef, 2 tbs reduced salt tomato paste, 3 Birdseye chillies, 1 tin reduced salt diced tomatoes, 3 bay leaves, 1 tbs minced garlic, 1 cup reduced salt beef stock, dusting flour, dash of olive oil.

Method: Pre-heat an oven to 180 degrees. Heat a non-stick fry pan on a high heat. Lightly dust each piece of meat with the flour. Pour approximately 1 tbs of oil into the pan, add the flour and cook until a light crust forms. Remove the meat from heat and place into a French oven or deep stockpot. Add the beef, chillies, garlic, bay leaves, diced tomato, stock and tomato paste to the pot. Cover and place in the oven for 3 hours, checking every hour or so. After 3 hours, remove the lid, reduce the oven to 100 degrees and cook for a further 20-30 minutes to reduce the liquid. Remove the pot from the oven. To shred the meat, use two forks - one to secure the meat and the other to shred, pulling meat away from the first fork. Once all the meat is shredded, mix through the remaining sauce and serve.

This dish is great because it’s really quick to make, uses inexpensive cuts of meat and can be frozen once cooked. The leftover filling can be frozen for a few weeks and used later on in burritos, tacos or empanadas. To make the empanada dough, you’ll need the following.

Empanada Dough

Ingredients: 3 cups of white flour, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 cup of cold water, 1 whole egg, 1 egg white, 1 tsp white vinegar, 3 tbs of shortening (I used butter).

Method: In a bowl, mix together the egg, egg white, water and vinegar until well combined. In a larger bowl, add the flour and salt. Add the shortening to the flour, massaging through your fingers to create breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre of the breadcrumb mix and add the liquid. Stir with a fork until combined. Place the dough onto a floured surface and knead well, adding additional flour if required. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour (minimum). After the dough has chilled, place back onto the floured surface and roll out till mixture is approximately 1.5-2mm thick. Using a large glass (diameter of at least 10cm) cut circles into the dough. Place a tbs of shredded beef into the middle of each dough circle. Lightly wet the outside of the dough ring with a wet finger, then close the dough and use a fork to press each of the empanada halves together. Pierce the middle of the empanada with a fork to allow air to escape when cooking. To cook, coat the empanadas in egg wash and place on a lined baking tray in the oven for 20 minutes on 220 degrees. Serve immediately.

Sexy Beans

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I was wandering through the Merthyr Village fruit shop today and these gorgeous berlotti beans caught my idea. I could not walk away without buying a few. Such a vibrant and beautiful fuchsia. Having never cooked with fresh beans Google-chef made an appearance in figuring out how to cook these. In the end it was all quite simple, 30 minutes in boiling water. They almost seem too cute to eat.

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Birth of the Macaron

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Today I had my very first Ladurée Macaron. Considering that mastering the macaron is my new year’s resolution for 2012, I have set the benchmark very high.

Until today, I was not aware that Ladurée invented the well known double decker macaron. The macaron shell originated in Italy and was brought to France during the 16th Century when Catherine de’ Medici wed King Henry II. In 1930, Louis-Ernest Ladurée became the creator of the double decker macaron after his cousin Pierre Desfontaines suggested that the individual macarons shells be joined using a creamy ganache filling. Since then, Ladurée has reined supreme master of the macaron.

In 1993 Ladurée was bought by the Groupe Holder, who also owns PAUL, another of my favourite European bakeries which Matt and I frequented quite often throughout our travels.

The macarons from my photos were sent to Matt’s father Patrick as a gift from an associate in New York (as Ladurée does not have an Australian Shop). The collection of flavours within this box include coffee, caramel, blackcurrant violet, chocolate, orange blossom, raspberry, coconut, pistachio, liquorish, rose, vanilla and selected seasonal flavours including lemon, red fruits, morello almond, chuao chocolate pure origin, praline, chestnut, green apple and minty strawberry.

As you can see, the packaging is just as amazing as the macarons. I cannot wait to visit the Ladurée shop in Paris when we next visit Tyf in the coming months.

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Beware Vegetarians

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Okay, so this first picture is pretty harmless… a few walnuts, some sage and continental parsley but it’s about to get a whole lot more meaty. Tonight I made Rolled Pork Roast w Apple & Sage Stuffing for Matt’s family to thank them for their help during our move. Although the recipe is not 100%, I will share the ingredients and method I used this evening in the hopes that one day I will perfect it completely.

Ingredients: Boneless Pork Roast (I used a massive 1.8kg tonight), 4 granny smith apples skinned, cored & shredded, a handful of walnuts roughly chopped, a handful of fresh sage and continental parsley roughly chopped, 2 cups day old breadcrumbs, 2 eggs, dash of olive oil, s & p.

Method: Preheat fan forced oven to 180C. Combine breadcrumbs, herbs and walnuts in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Before adding the apples, hold the flesh of the apples in a paper towel and squeeze over the sink. You need to extract as much moisture from the apples as possible so that the stuffing does not become too soggy. Once you have extracted as much of the juice as possible, add the apple to the breadcrumb mixture. Stir to combine. Add the eggs one at a time. The mixture should hold together when pressed together between your fingers, but shouldn’t be wet. If there is too much moisture in the mixture, add more breadcrumbs until you are satisfied with the result.  Season well with s & p. Cut the string from the pork (if applicable). Use a small, sharp knife to make an incision into the meat. You want to cut into the meat horizontally along the whole length of the roast, but you don’t want to cut all the way through. The roast must remain attached on one side. Use a tablespoon to insert the stuffing as per the image below (note: I didn’t use all of the stuffing in my roast, use as much or as little as you desire based on the size of your meat).

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Pat the stuffing well, close the roast by overlapping the skin and re-tie tightly with new string as per below.

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Using a sharp knife, score the skin in 1 cm strips being careful not to cut through the string. Pat the meat dry with paper towel to remove as much moisture as possible then rub the skin thoroughly with coarsely ground salt.

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Be sure to use lots of salt, as this will draw more moisture out of the skin and ensure that you end up with excellent crackling. Keep adding salt until you think it can’t take any more… and then add a bit more.

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Rub the bottom of the roast with olive oil to prevent sticking, and then place onto a dripping tray.  Put the roast into the oven. The size of the roast will influence how long to cook the meat for. This roast at 1.8kg took approximately 2.5 hours to cook and crackle correctly.  You always want to make sure that pork is cooked thoroughly; similarly you don’t want to overcook your pork as it may become dry. Once you are confident that your roast is cooked correctly, remove from the oven; cover the pan in aluminium foil and leave to set for 15 minutes. This will help to keep all of those lovely juices in the meat and prevent it from drying. While waiting, whip up a quick maple gravy - drain the pan juices and pop into a saucepan on a medium heat with some flour (or gravox mix) and a tbs of maple syrup. Bring to the boil then reduce to a mild simmer for 2-3 minutes.

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When serving, try to plate the pork to include the skin so that each recipient is getting a complete piece of roast - meat, stuffing and crackling.  My Rolled Pork Roast w Apple & Sage Stuffing (above) was accompanied by quick maple gravy, garlic & thyme potatoes cooked in duck fat, roasted Spanish onions & a selection of steamed vegetables.