Sunday, August 19, 2012

Purple non people eater

I have a love of, well obsession but not to intervention level with all things purple. Most of my wardrobe is purple, the sofa, pens, soap, even my bin liners. My bedspread is purple which my dad gave me as a souvenir from his trip to Cambodia, I had asked for a purple table cloth. He swears the lady told him it was a table cloth, personally the double layer and the zipper were the give away that it wasn't quite right.
The garden has also not missed out on the touch of purple, beans, cabbage, beetroot, carrots, radicchio, there better be some health benefit in that much colour, maybe just not the same one.
One a good day I like to start with a vegetable juice, which should forgive any of the sins later in the day. One word of warning when you drink beetroot juice, remember you have so that when you go to the bathroom you don't suddenly think you are dying!

Beetroot is the king of all edible purple, when I was a child (ok maybe 22) I thought beetroot came from a can, that was how it grew. Nowadays I know a lot more about the joys of beetroot, roasted, chips, grated, mashed, actually I'm not sure about mashed, but now there's a project.

Beetroot relish
This is the perfect mate for a hamburger, a better marriage has not existed. I also love it on a ham sandwich.

  • 4 large fresh beetroots grated (I use the food processor, save the week of purple fingers)
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1/3 cup of white vinegar, you can use which ever you like, white wine or balsamic.
  • 1/3 cup of  water
  • optional knob of butter for gloss

  • Combine all in a medium saucepan and cook on medium till beetroot is soft and reduced about 30mins.
  • You can add more water if needed to get it started but the beetroot will also give off some liquid.
  • You can also vary the amount of vinegar as it can be a bit of a slap in the face, but i kinda like that.

Beyond easy beetroot dip X 2

Dip 1
  • 2 fresh beetroots grated (zest size)
  • 1 tub of natural yogurt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt to taste
combine, couldn't be easier......or could it??

Dip 2
  • 3 small fresh beetroots (tops removed)
  • 150g ricotta
  • 1 garlic clove grated (optional)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt to taste
  • Splash of olive oil to garnish
Put all the ingredients in the bowl of the food processor and blend till the texture you prefer, chunky or smooth. If your food processor can handle the pressure you don't even need to cut the beetroot. I'm sorry but I couldn't possibly make it simpler than that, short of coming and doing it for you.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A good helping

There are so many foodie movies, Julie and Julia, Big Night, Chocolat, this list goes on. Sometimes you can find a little surprise plate when you least expect it.
Recently I saw The Help, and not only did it leave me knowing that "I is good, I is kind, I is important" but also all I could think about was how tasty Minny's fried chicken and okra looked. I had to have it!
After I had satisfied that desire I found the need evolved into making some of Minny's pies, I did omit her special ingredient. If you haven't seen it i won't spoil it, you must see it, you will never think of pie the same way again.

Fried Chicken and Okra
This recipe is very flexible you can use any cut of chicken and mix the spices the way you like them. Normally I use garam marsala as my "KFC" type fried chicken but when I was making this I had run out, I know I was shocked too!
Into about a cup and half (don't measure it just guess) I added a Pandora's box of spices. No measuring just a bit of this and a touch of that, go wild!
These are what ended up in the flour:
  • Chinese 5 spice
  • Ground coriander
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ras le hanout
  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • All spice
  • Ground Cumin
  • Chilli
  • Sesame seeds

The chicken pieces I marinated in soy sauce while I made the flour.

Heat a deep saucepan of which ever oil you prefer to fry in, I had canola.

Drain the chicken and then coat in the flour.
In the hot oil fry till just crispy and then finish cooking in a 180° oven for about 20mins or until chicken is cooked. This will help keep the chicken juicy without it drying out from the fast cooking in the oil.

For the Okra.
Simply cut the stalk end of the okra and and coat it in the flour.
Fry in the hot oil for about 3 mins till crispy on the outside and soft in the middle.

This recipe isn't really even a recipe more of just a method but it tastes soooooooo good. I'm sure it's not a patch on the real southern fried chicken but sometimes you do what ever you have too to satisfy a fried chicken need!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Looks aren't everything, but they help!

One thing I am loving about this cooking adventure are the happy snaps. Instagram is the best invention since sliced sourdough!
A picture tells 1000 words so next time I need to write a report I think I'll try and Instagram it, 5 snaps 5000 words, transaction complete.
I have had a bit of time on my hands the last weeks so I have been preparing for the remote chance of the onset of famine.
So far 2 cheeses made, a Parmesan and a farmhouse pepper cheddar. The Parmesan is nine months from being ready so just enough time to paint the nursery and think of some names.
Home made pomegranate molasses, limoncello, blueberry friands.
Gave life to a sour dough starter, still haven't come up with a name, suggestions greatly welcomed
Cleaned the pantry and paid the garden a little bit of attention.
Whiped up a croquembouche and some adorable puppy dog cupcakes (stolen idea from a twitter pic, i love the inspirations from the internet)
And even managed to fit in Yum Cha two sundays in a row, life is good!
The broken fence has been replaced so it could be weeks (hopefully not months) away from getting some little chickens, bring on the pavlova and quiche....or it's off with their heads!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Oh it's a cake

It can be a big step to go from buying supermarket cakes to making your own packet mix, to the ultimate of doing it from scratch. This is a simple guide that you can not muck up. The blueberry pound cake is a favourite of a friend of mine, who with some inspiration will become a star baker (maybe). I have dreams this might be a To Sir with Love moment but instead of taking her from crayons to perfume, I'll take her from filling the cannoli to making them as well.

Blueberry Pound Cake
based on the basic pound cake at
  • 250g butter
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 4 eggs
  • 250g (1 2/3 cups plan flour)
  • 3 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 cup blueberries (thawed if using frozen)
  • icing sugar to dust or cream cheese icing.
  • Preheat oven to 170 °C
  • Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla essence together until light and fluffy. (Use electric beaters or bench top machine)
  • Add eggs one at a time to combine into mixture, (this is an important stage that it doesn't curdle, but in the end it will still be cake, just serve with ice cream)
  • Sift flour and baking powder into mix and fold in. (be gentle)
  • Into greased bundt or cake tin put half the mixture, it will be thick and doughy.
  • sprinkle the blueberries over batter.
  • cover with remaining batter.
  • Put cake tin on an oven tray and bake for 50 mins.
  • Test cake is ready by poking a skewer into the cake and checking it comes out clean.
  • Wait 5 mins and then turn cake onto cake cooler or serving plate.
  • Dust with icing sugar to serve or cream cheese icing (that will be lesson 2)