Sunday, February 27, 2011

Daring Bakers: Panna Cotta

You should have seen my face when I read about this month's Daring Bakers. I was fuming. If there's anything I hate in this world, it is panna cotta. Heck, I'd even eaten an awful panna cotta on a camp not three days before!

Luckily for my tastebuds, though, I stuck with it, because this was delicious. And if you look at the ingredients, why wouldn't it be? It's essentially cream and honey. The Florentine biscuits were a little too chewy for my taste, almost a sub-par Anzac biscuit (and I do love a good Anzac biscuit), but they all got eaten.

You can find the recipe for this month's Daring Bakers challenge here.

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Chickpea Salad Dressing

Have you checked out Shutterbean? I have me some ridiculous amounts of love for that blog, you don't even know, and it all started out with the link to some biscuits. I was like, cool, I'll bookmark that, you know, maybe even check out the archives a bit. BAM! Hours of life gone, loads of recipes bookmarked, lots of smiling reading through Tracy's posts.

As you have *probably* guessed from that intro, this is one of the aforementioned recipes.

I must admit, I'm not really one for salad dressings, but this one really bumped up the salad from a simple, chucked-together side dish to something a little fancier. Because I was literally scraping the jar of Dijon mustard to get the required amount, I poured the leftover dressing into the jar and shook it up so I didn't waste any Dijon. Resourceful, eh?

Original recipe from Appetite for Reduction, adapted by Shutterbean
Serves 8 as a side salad or 4 as a main meal
Total time commitment: 15 minutes

400g chickpeas
2 cups pearl cous cous, cooked
Other salad ingredients

1/4 cup cashew pieces
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard

1. Place cashew pieces in a food processor & blend until chopped. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth - as you can see from the photo, I didn't have that sort of patience!

2. Toss dressing with salad ingredients and serve.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Gluten Free Friday: Lentil & Vegetable Soup

Taking advantage of how overcast it was on Sunday, I made this soup from one of my vegetarian cookbooks in some sort of vague hope that if I was eating soup, surely the weather would have to stay cool. The photo is a testament to how cloudy it was - this was taken with all of the windows open and it still looks quite dark! I was going through my blog archives trying to find a particular post yesterday and cringed at some of the photos, but that still didn't motivate me to edit this to look better. What can you do, I'm still on holidays and living up my laziness before uni starts again.

Original recipe from Vegetarian Cookbook
Serves 8
Total time committment: 1 hour (most of which is waiting 10 or 20 minutes for things to cook)

3 leeks, finely sliced
3 carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
200g can cooked brown lentils (near enough is good enough)*
75g rice
1L vegetable stock
8 corn on the cobs

1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add leeks, carrots and celery. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes. Stir in rice.

2. Stir in the stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes over a medium-low heat. Add the corn on the cob and lentils and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until rice is tender.

3. Season to taste and serve.

*You can also use 115g dried lentils, as the original recipe suggests, and add them when you add the rice in step 1.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Moon Toasties

These are named after one of my favourite late-night eateries (their chips, you don't understand, they are divine), it's pretty much a direct rip-off of their cheese toasties but with added mushrooms for deliciousness. I was planning to make Spanakopita, but forgot to buy spinach and couldn't be bothered going out again after I'd already done my grocery shopping. This is a perfect lazy evening meal.

Serves 1
Total time commitment: 10 minutes

2 slices of bread
Handful of feta
3-4 mushrooms, chopped roughly
Cheese to taste
Wholegrain mustard

1. Preheat grill at 150C. Heat olive oil in a pan and cook mushrooms until tender. Meanwhile, toast bread.

2. Spread toast with wholegrain mustard (is that sentence even grammatically correct?) and top with crumbled feta, mushrooms and grated cheese.

3. Grill until cheese is melted. Eat. Wonder why you ever cook anything else.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Beer bread

Goodness, has it been over a week already? I'm sorry, Pumpkins (yes, that is your collective "readers" name, deal). I was on a family holiday and obviously hadn't scheduled any posts. I should get onto that for next time I'm away.

Since I started my kitchen cupboard overhaul, which will ideally end with me having most baking/cooking staples on hand always (like flours, cous cous, pasta, olive oil, baking powder, icing sugar, granulated sugar, caster sugar... that sort of lark. And vanilla essence. We can't forget that I never have vanilla essence), today has been the first time I've actually been able to announce "I'm going to go whip us up a snack" and had everything on hand. It was quite a momentous occasion, even if this is a fairly simple recipe :P And, to be fair, originally I'd wanted to make this, but I didn't have any bread flour or gluten to be able to make my own (thanks, Google, but we can't substitute today). So this was more of a second choice, but its so dreary and overcast - although a welcome break from the 35 degree days - that it went down nicely with a pot of tea.

Original recipe from The West Australian 'Fresh' liftout, many years ago.
Makes one decent-sized loaf of about 12 slices
Total time committment: 5 minutes prep, 45 minutes in oven

4 cups SR flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
375ml can beer 

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the beer. Mix well. 

2. Knead on a lightly floured surface and shape however you would like. 

3. Place onto a tray with baking paper and cook away. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Tortilla Lasagne

Mum made this for dinner a few weeks ago so I tried to recreate it to feed the Boy and my Producerpants buddy, because we were all fast at work writing short stories on my typewriter about a man named Gordon Crevats. Not for any particular reason, just that we like the clicky-clacky sound of the typewriter. There's also a play being written on the typewriter, every time someone comes over they have to add a line. 

This is Producerpants. We're producing the next pantomime together, and she is delightfully talented and hilarious. We're also a detective team. And we make a lot of bad puns brilliant puns.

I didn't like this version as much as Mum's, she cooked beef in tortilla sauce (if I knew exactly what it was, I would have used it :P) and layered that with vegetables. This was more improvised, and if I make it again (if? when) I'll try beef or vegetarian mince. Then hopefully it won't fall apart quite so much :P

Serves 6
Total time commitment: 30 minutes

6 tortillas
400g Pinto beans
120g corn kernels
6 button mushrooms, sliced
1 cup diced capsicum (I used red, green and yellow)
1/2 brown onion, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
Chilli flakes
Olive oil
100g salsa
Jalapenos to taste
Cheese to taste

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Cook onion and garlic in a little olive oil. When onion is translucent, add mushroom, capsicum and chilli flakes and cook until tender. 

2. Drain beans and corn (I presume you got these in a can) and combine in a large bowl with onion, mushroom, capsicum and salsa. Add jalapenos if you want!

3. Layer two tortillas in a baking dish to make the base of the lasagne. Top with half of the mixture, and repeat so you have three layers of tortilla and two of mixture. Top with cheese and pop in the oven for ten minutes or so. Voila!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Gluten-Free Friday: Sweet Potato, Sage and Ricotta Tart

I whipped this up for the Uber-Blonde and I to have for lunch the other day, which meant I got to use the food processor again! I don't know what all the fuss is about with cleaning them, I didn't find it that inconvenient. Although maybe it paled in comparison to how stuck the ricotta got to the baking dish, which is why I've suggested lining the tray with baking paper rather than greasing it with olive oil.

Just while I have you here - did you know the Uber-Blonde has dyed her hair? That makes her nickname rather redundant now, but she still looks very pretty.

This tart is really nice and quite light, which made it a good lunch in this darn heat. The only problem I had was how long it took to shave the sweet potato into thin slices, so I can only suggest that you start making this before you get hungry. And perhaps with a side salad. I get hungry easily.


Original recipe from Donna Hay's Modern Classics Book 1
Serves 6
Total time committment: 1 hour, probably less if you are better with a vege peeler than I am.

Olive oil
300g fresh ricotta
1/3 cup grated parmesan
2 eggs
2/3 cup spinach, washed and torn into halves (I do this rather than chopping them, because its easy)
Handful of sage leaves
1/2 a large or 1 small sweet potato, peeled
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 160C. Line a baking dish with greaseproof paper. Place ricotta, eggs and parmesan into a food processor and blend until combined. Add half the spinach and half the sage, and blend again. Spoon into prepared dish.

2. Shave the sweet potato with a vegetable peeler to get thin strips, and place on top of the ricotta mixture, along with the other half of the spinach. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil if you wish (I didn't, because I am forgetful), and bake that bad boy for roughly 20 minutes.

3. WAIT! Don't think you have a free 20 minutes! While that's cooking, melt some butter in a fry pan and fry the remaining sage leaves until they're crisp. When the tart is done, serve it with the crisp sage leaves.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Prosciutto, Sage and Pumpkin Spaghetti

Firstly, can I just say, why does GO! have an ad for Harry Potter that is some kind of rap using lines from the film? What is even happening there?

Ok. I'm glad we got that out of the way.

Because now, we can get on to one of the most delicious pastas I have cooked in a while. When I was visiting Grandma and Grandpa a while ago, I was lamenting that now I don't get the recipe liftout from the paper any more, so Grandpa started collecting them for me. Isn't that just the best? This is a Marg Johnson recipe I've taken from my collection. With added feta, just for kicks.

While I've got you here - is anyone else sick of Valentine's Day things already? I just DON'T CARE. Although I saw this on a craft blog and I think its appropriately cute and lacking in pink and hearts.

How to make custom fingerprint art on ManMade

The original recipe called for 2tbsp lemon juice to be added to the pasta when you're combining it, which I didn't do because I didn't have any. I don't think it would go that well with the feta - any opinions?


Original recipe by Marg Johnson
Serves 4
Total time commitment: 40 minutes. Most of this is waiting for the pumpkin to roast, so if you can pre-cook the pumpkin the time will be cut down to around 20 minutes.

Olive oil
1/2 large pumpkin or 1 small pumpkin, cut into chunks
Handful sage leaves
1 tbsp garlic
Chilli flakes
100g prosciutto
400g spaghetti

1. Place the cut pumpkin into a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, and top with garlic, sage leaves and chilli flakes. Doesn't that look like it's going to be delicious?

2. Cook at 200C until tender. You need to be able to stick a fork through the pumpkin. This should take about 25-30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to the boil and cook the spaghetti. When the pumpkin is just about done, place a tray with the prosciutto in a single layer in the oven. Cook it for about ten minutes until its crispy.

4. Time to combine everything! Place the pumpkin and pasta in a large bowl and toss to combine. Crumble prosciutto and feta on top and serve.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Chickpea burgers

I'm back! Hello! I apologise, I've had a lot going on lately. Mainly, saying goodbye to my superawesome grandad (epic sadface), but also happy things like watching Bored to Death and Misfits, rearranging the house, joining an indoor beach volleyball team and starting a new job as a music teacher!

Today, though, I finally got around to cooking something new to post. So that was nice. And I'm planning to keep that up! I've felt guilty about not posting anything, but I haven't exactly been living on blogworthy food, and if I have, I haven't been taking photos. So all in all, that wasn't going too well.

I busted out my new/old food processor for this! Grandad gave it to me a few months ago and this was the first time I've used it. Food processors are the BOMB. I want to use it all the time. Probably because Boy offered to do the dishes so I didn't have to deal with cleaning it, I will keep you updated on my new opinions once I've had to clean it myself :P

I made quite a few substitutions in this recipe (link below), just because I wanted to use things I had on-hand rather than go out and buy more stuff. They worked out really well, in my opinion!


Original recipe from Adrienneats
Makes 6 standard-sized burgers. 
Total time committment: 30-40 minutes.

Olive oil
1/2 small red onion, diced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp curry powder
3 tsp minced garlic
400g chickpeas
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup dry cous cous, cooked*

1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the diced onion, cumin and curry powder, and saute until translucent. Add garlic and cook for a few more minutes before removing from heat.

2. Place cooked mixture and a small drizzle of water - we're talking the equivalent of juice from one lime - in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

3. Add remaining ingredients and another drizzle of water, and blend until the mixture forms a thick paste.

4. Flour up your hands, because we're about to make some burger patties! Shape the mixture to your desired size and thickness, coating in a little extra flour to stop them from becoming sticky.

5. Either fry or bake the patties, depending on your preference. I baked mine for ten minutes at 180C, and they were crispy but still moist.

*Cous cous can be prepared really quickly while you're frying the onion - Put the 1/4 cup dry cous cous in a bowl, just cover with boiling water, and place a plate over the top of the bowl to keep the moisture in (? is that scientifically correct?) and make it delicious.