Friday 19 July 2013

Land down under - Brisbane Part the First

The first part of my stay has been in Brisbane, where I have eaten well and often.

Amongst other things this has included:
Delicious and ridiculously pretty fresh salad
Fragrant pho
Tangy fresh lemonade (drunk alongside the pho)
A stonking mezze plate (this was the portion for one person and I ate nearly all of it)
Very good pizza from a place called Firefly, which, as an ardent Browncoat I felt obliged to sample

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Ravioli with duck and walnut ragu

This is a version of the duck, walnut and pomegranate pasta I made for Cook the Books a few months ago, but leaving out the pomegranate molasses and pomegranate seeds makes it a dramatically different dish.

I slowly braised a couple of duck legs in stock with onions and a tin of chopped tomatoes. When it was totally tender, I shredded the meat from the bones with a couple of forks and stirred through a quantity of the lovely walnut and sage pesto. Then served it on porcini ravioli. Deeply savoury, with a slight acid lift from the tomatoes and the lemon zest. I actually think I preferred it this way - and it'd be lovely just on tagliatelle or something instead.

Sunday 14 July 2013

Rhubarb and ginger jam

I'm in Australia at the moment - but I have a few posts scheduled while I figure out the nitty gritty of getting pictures onto my laptop etc. So there may be some irregularity in posting for the next while but at the moment I don't know!

After I made the lovely crystallised ginger, I was wondering what else I could do with it. I realised that I hadn't had any rhubarb yet this year, so I decided to make rhubarb and ginger jam.
I used this recipe, but as I had only 750g rhubarb I didn't make a full quantity. And I used 700g sugar because I prefer a slightly less-sweet jam. I got a very firm set after 12 minutes cooking, and it has a really delicious, firey and tangy flavour.

Of course, having made 4 pots of jam I then needed to decide what to do with that. Other than eat it on toast, which of course I did.

One pot of jam I swapped for a lovely loaf of banana nut bread, through the delicious. magazine food swap group on Facebook. You haven't lived until you've sidled up to a stranger at Kings Cross station and said "You after some jam?".

I also made some jam thumbprint cookies. These were a bit of a gamble, because I thawed out some cookie dough from the freezer but couldn't actually remember what kind of cookies it was. One day I will start labelling food for the freezer more accurately, but today is not that day. When the cookies baked to an odd glossy sheen I realised that it must have been cream cheese snickerdoodle dough. The slight tang of the cream cheese went very nicely with the jam.

And I made a not-100%-successful Charlotte Russe. I dunked savoiardi biscuits in Pedro Ximenez sherry and used them to line the edges of a 6" springform tin. Then I made a buttermilk bavarois mixture, flavouring 2/3 of it with vanilla and rosewater and 1/3 with the rhubarb jam. I layered it and let it set and then topped it with more jam. The flavours were excellent, but I buggered up the proportions of gelatine in the bavarois so it was a little too firmly set and a bit rubbery. There also wasn't enough cream to biscuit, so it was a touch on the dry side.

Still - the concept was good and I have enough biscuits and enough jam to have another go.

Thursday 11 July 2013

Proscuitto and melon salad

This was one of those random, chuck-the-bits-together sort of dishes that ended up tasting much better than I thought it was going to. Not the most photogenic though, it has to be said.

I'd bought a beautiful, ripe melon and some proscuitto with the notion of making an old-school starter for our dinner one night. But then we ended up going straight to the main course. So I decided to turn it into a salad for lunch the following day. I crushed a clove of garlic and whisked it up with a little olive oil and a splash of balsamic. Then I crumbled in some feta, torn proscuitto and shredded mint leaves before adding the melon.

Recently I was rummaging in the drawer for a cherry-pitter - which it turns out I do not have - and was reminded that I own two melon-ballers. It was fate! I had to go a bit kitsch on the presentation. But if it wasn't just for us, I'd cut the melon into cubes like a normal person.

Monday 8 July 2013

Meat Free Monday: Burmese Egg Curry

We've been watching the new Rick Stein series on the BBC - Rick Stein's India. To be honest, it hasn't grabbed me in the same way that some of his previous series have. Despite several conversations where he asks people about the word "curry", and being firmly told that he isn't using it appropriately, he insists on referring to all Indian dishes he tries as curries. Irritating. He's also really quite patronising, repeatedly saying how happy and smiley all the poor people are and reciting bits of colonial literature that may be meaningful to him but aren't particularly pleasant to modern ears... Plus, and this is a gripe I have with a lot of food TV at the moment, the editors have no grasp of continuity. He'll use his spice grinder in the first segment and then 10 minutes later do a segment where he introduces the spice grinder and explains the importance of it.

However, the food he is cooking and eating still looks really appetising and is sending me off on another curry cooking binge. Or it would, if it wasn't too hot to do anything but barbecue.

In the first episode he showed an egg curry in a coconut sauce. Much to my surprise, Paul thought it looked delicious and asked why I had never made him an egg curry. The answer to that is that I never thought he'd like it, so egg curries, sambal eggs and that sort of thing have been solo treats when he's been working away.

Having his go-ahead gave me the opportunity to make Meemalee's Burmese egg curry - a very simple, extremely delicious tomato and tamarind curry. I left the sauce quite lumpy, out of laziness and Paul's preference for chunks, and served it with a little rice and a lot of salad. Definitely worth repeating.

Friday 5 July 2013

BSFIC: mojito sorbet

IceCreamChallenge Rumour has it that this weekend is going to be the hottest of the summer so far. Which, to be honest, isn't that difficult. We've had some very nice days (I managed to get sunburnt last weekend in just an hour in the beergarden - my poor skin has hardly seen sun in three years) but it hasn't exactly been a scorcher.

Not that a lack of sunshine has ever held me back from eating ice cream, but a nice warm day does make a frozen treat that bit more appealing!

This came about as a way of using up some lovely fresh mint - and very conveniently fits right into Kavey's current herbal BSFIC challenge. Of course, as it's me this doesn't need an ice cream machine
Cooling syrup
Frozen mojito (makes a dainty portion for 3)

3/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup water
15g mint
zest of 1 lime
juice of 3 limes
sprig mint, extra
2tbs white rum
1 egg white

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and dissolve the sugar completely over a low heat before bringing to the boil. As soon as it comes to the boil, remove from the heat and add the first quantity of mint. Cover and steep for 10 minutes.

Strain the mint from the syrup, then add the finely grated zest of a lime, the juice of three, the rum and another sprig of mint, cut into the finest possible chiffonade. Allow to cool completely, then pour into a plastic box and freeze for about 3 hours, stirring with a fork every hour.

At the end of that time it should be mostly frozen, but be a bit slushy.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg white to soft peaks, then tip in the slush and beat it all together until combined. Pour the mixture back into the plastic box and freeze for another 3 hours or until you want to eat it.

The egg white gives it a lovely velvety texture while the mint and lime make it really fresh and vibrant.


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