Saturday, October 26, 2013

200 Odd Years And Still Pinching Bread......

I often wonder, if only my ancestors had not have stolen that loaf of bread would I be firm favourite for star baker in the Great Irish Bake Off, either that or have represented Ireland at Eurovision more often than Jedward.

The Irish version of the show is the latest dealer to supply me with my fix of signature bakes, showstoppers and technical challenges, I cant get enough!

It has become such an addiction I find myself yelling at the tv "put a tray on your pastry when cooking mille feuille" or "don't grease the tin, it won't rise!"

The technical challenge in episode 3 was a visually amazing party loaf covered in a kaleidoscope of different toppings.....I had to make it.

It is most likely due to bread stealing convict roots etched into my DNA that I then had to make the recipe my own. Is it theft or an homage?? 

In the original recipe (which is brilliant don't get me wrong) butter is rubbed through the flour, I have tweaked this by using light flavoured olive oil as part of the liquid. I like the soft texture that this adds and found it stays fresher for longer.

Perhaps I should pack my backs and try my luck in the mother land for season 2??

Fig, pistachio, and sesame loaf
  • 550g strong flour
  • 170g dried figs chopped
  • 80g pistachios (rolling pinned see photo)
  • 14g dried yeast
  • 25g sugar
  • 15g salt
  • 1 egg
  • 220ml tepid water
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 1 egg beaten
  • Black sesame seeds (about 1/4 cup)
  • Sesame seeds (about 1/4 cup)
  • Combine all dry and wet ingredients together and knead till elastic
  • Kneading by hand will take about 10-15 mins or 5 mins using a dough hook
  • Cover with plastic wrap in an oiled bowl and let prove for about 1 hour till double in size
  • Weigh the dough and divide by 19 (sorry maths I know, it should work out to around 62g each)
  • Divide the dough into even portions
  • Roll into balls, the best way is on the bench under a cupped hand (it is a great triceps workout, after the 19th you'll feel it)
  • Lightly oil a 25cm round spring form cake tin
  • In 3 separate bowls place the beaten egg, sesame seeds and black sesame seeds.
  • Dip the top of a ball into the egg mix and then into one of the seeds
  • Place into the cake tin, arranging in any design you like
  • Repeat with 18 remaining balls, giving them enough room to expand
  • Cover with a shopping bag and let prove for 1 hour
  • Bake in a 180°C oven for 25 minutes
  • Serve warm with butter or the next day it is a delicious breakfast with coffee.

Roll over the pistachios to slightly crush, they should still be pieces rather than ground nuts
If I had a $1 for every picture of dough I have.........
Weighing your balls will get the best end result

It's not very sustainable, but it stops the loaf drying excuse!

A plain version, no additions other than a light brush of oil before baking

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Preserved blood oranges

Following on from the joy that is preserved lemons I had try blood oranges just to see what they would be like.
Eureka! They work perfectly, all that salty goodness with a burst of fruit cup citrus power.
The test batch I used in a coriander pesto to accompany spicy chicken.
Preserved blood oranges are the perfect addition to a lamb and fig tagine, with butter under the skin of chicken, or as a citrus hit in soups.  
Preserved blood oranges
  • Blood oranges*
  • Rock salt
  • Boiled water
  • Quarter the blood oranges
  • Put into jars filling gaps with rock salt
  • Fill jars with boiled water
  • Replace lid and leave in a cool dark spot for about 4 weeks
  • The two jar pictured used 4 oranges and approx. 300g rock salt
  • They should last about 2-3 months 

*Redbelly Citrus supplied the blood oranges for this recipe.

That's larbly chicken

No party spread is complete without some type of chicken wing, unless it's a vegan get together where it would either be tofu or awkward.

These drummette feeds into my obsession with the flavours of Thai larb and ever increasing endurance for chilli. "They" say chillies are addictive and I'm don't have any data to suggest they are wrong, so gimme gimme more!

The chilli can be securely stowed in the pantry if it's not your thing and just leave it too the zesty flavours of the lime and fish sauce.

The coriander pesto also offers a bit of respite if you've gone chilli mad.

Larbly drumettes
  • 1kg chicken drumettes
  • 1 lime, zest and juice
  • 1 thumb ginger sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup oil (sunflower/ peanut)
  • 20g palm sugar approx.
  • Handful mint
  • Handful Vietnamese mint
  • 1 bunch coriander
  • 9-10 small red chillies (see note)
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 50g toasted almonds plus extra to garnish
  • 1/2 a preserved blood orange (or lemon)
  • 1/2 cup oil

  • To a food processor add zest & juice of lime, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, oil, palm sugar, both mints, chilli, pepper, roots, 1/4 of the stems of coriander. (length of stem not quantity)
  • Process to a paste, there will still be some texture from the ginger and coriander roots
  • Cover chicken with marinade.
  • Leave covered with plastic wrap for 8 hours or overnight in the fridge.
  • Spread chicken onto a foil lined oven tray (yay clean up sorted)
  • Bake at 180ºC for 30 minutes
  • Let rest for 10 minutes before serving
  • Serve chicken topped with extra crushed almonds and coriander

  • To make the pesto add the coriander leaves and stems (reserving a few to garnish), almonds, and preserved blood orange with 1/2 cup of oil to a food processer
  • Process till smooth
  • Have some serviettes and a beer at the ready!

Note: Use fresh or dried chillies, I happened to have some I had already dried.

Ignore the salt pictured it's not needed with the fish sauce, I think I was on automatic pilot when I put it in the photo....

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

More love of purple: pickled turnips

Another favourite work lunch is based around Israel's entry to Chow Down to Eurovision 2013 with the added special feature of pickled turnips.

It fits so perfectly into my tiffin with some flat bread in the second level like it is just meant to be.

I truly could eat this everyday but with out sharing too much information your body will let you know when you've had enough me!

Pickled Turnips
  • 8-10 turnips
  • 2 small beetroots
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 3 cups water
  • 3-4 tbsp. salt
  • I used 3 x 600ml glass preserving jars
  • Peel the turnips and cut into thick strips
  • Cut the beetroot into chunks (I didn't peel)
  • Peel garlic and leave whole
  • Combine vinegar, water and salt into a mixing bowl
  • Place about 4 pieces of beetroot and a garlic clove into each jar (the more beetroot the deeper the end colour will be)
  • Fill each jar with turnips
  • Cover with liquid, add the lid and store in the fridge
  • They will be ready in about 2 weeks
  • They should last over a month but I have no evidence of that as they never last that long uneaten
So pretty, this veg deserve so much more love
One must always colour coordinate the chopping board and knife to the dish being prepared........

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Tell me what you want, what you really really want........

Don't panic it will be ok!
AB and I will be hosting Christmas this year so of course planning has commenced.
In the next week or two I'll start soaking the fruit for the cake and make the pudding. I'll re think the entrée about 8 times to then come back to my first initial idea. There will also be a few menu item culls when I realise that it's just one meal and not a 3 day retreat.
This year there will be no 80cm macaron centrepiece......
So in the lead up to the festive season and New Year I thought I would highlight a few different areas:
  • Party food - get us out of the kitchen and onto the dance floor
  • De stress hosting Christmas dinner/lunch - It's just a baked dinner really
  • Homemade gifts - No macaroni art I promise
  • Road testing different traditions - It's not all about turkey
That's the plan anyway but I'd love to know what you'd like to see here.

Please use the comments below for suggestions, questions or to share any seasonal traditions you think I should road test.

Looking forward to sharing this great time of year with you all.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

In My Kitchen - October

In my kitchen.... an array of all my favourite mugs.
If I had to pick just one it would be the Christmas mug, I got it years ago for $4 at an op shop (in a sealed box) and every night AB brings me a cup of sleepy tea in it, you just gotta love that! 

In my kitchen.... a butterfly loves lotus art tea. A new local supermarket has just opened which is part Asian part European grocer, with a butcher, fish monger, deli and fruit & veg. Needless to say I am in shopping heaven and love making my way down the aisles to try everything new, the tea is just the start. 

In my kitchen.... a fresh batch of scones with strawberry and blood orange jam. After failed attempts years ago I have always avoided scones as I was convinced that an essential requirement of the process was being a grand parent. Turns out I was probably just too heavy handed. Today's batch was the CWA recipe, you don't mess with the experts.

In my kitchen.... some of the bounty of spring. Peas, rainbow chard, and purple sprouting broccoli which I usually pic a couple of days too late as it starts to go to seed. The wild winds have taken a toll on the broad beans but I still have some baby pods that should be ready in the coming weeks.

In my kitchen.... an artistic masterpiece called "You Are What You Eat" that sits on top of my pantry and oversees all my kitchen happenings. It was created for the exhibition Life's a Banquet, when I was working with a group of brilliant artists who have intellectual disabilities. Sadly no one wanted it when the exhibition was over so I just had to keep it as I couldn't bear to see it in land fill.  

I managed to find a picture from the exhibition and really who wouldn't love a massive aluminium foil skirt.

Thanks to Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hosting the monthly In My Kitchen, check out the other kitchens.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Double Helping of Mutual Respect

Bear with me on this slight diversion from my usual anecdotes but it seems almost impossible to post a pasta recipe without mentioning the boycott of Barilla products following the homophobic comments of CEO Guido Barilla.

I spent a lot of the weekend following the story on social media and deciding whether I would or should comment on the incident. Would I have anything constructive to add to the discussion or would it just fuel the flames that have kept the issue at a rolling boil. (I promise that is my only pasta pun)

For me this issue goes deeper than the usual cries for tolerance, that is not the standard we should strive for. Tolerance refers to something unpleasant that you just have to put up with, and I believe nobody should be just tolerated.

The goal is acceptance.

To achieve this goal of acceptance we must recognise the diversity and validity of all people and in doing so we must recognise everyone's opinion with neither side being the victor.

I respect Guido Barilla's right to hold the opinions that he does but that respect also gives me the right to strongly disagree. It doesn't mean that one opinion is right and the other wrong, just that two different opinions exist.

Yes, I found him publicly communicating this opinion baffling especially from someone holding such a position of success but if I just wrote about all the reasons why I think he is wrong how does that demonstrate an environment of acceptance.

With the changes to the laws in Russia, and the Gambian President's recent address to the United Nations, I understand that many people don't approve of homosexuality but I also don't believe their approval is needed.

Too many young lives have been lost because we have not reached the point of acceptance of each person regardless of their difference to ourselves.*

As the old saying goes, let's agree to disagree.

I am not participating in the boycott of Barilla products mainly because I never really purchased them previously.

Pesto in a jar seems totally unnatural and I may even go so far as to say an abomination but I believe everyone has the right to do and be as they see fit, they don't need my approval.

Pistachio and Preserved Lemon Pesto
  • Large bunch of basil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 85g toasted pistachios
  • 100g parmesan
  • 1/2 preserved lemon (see note)
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Good pinch of sea salt flakes
  • 500g penne or pasta of your choice
  • Cook pasta as directed on packet
  • Add garlic, pistachios, parmesan, lemon the bowl of a food processor
  • Add any larger but not woody stems of the basil
  • Add 1/2 the oil and process for about 20 seconds
  • Add the basil, salt and remaining oil
  • Process till your preferred consistency, chunky or smooth
  • Stir through hot pasta
  • Can be used on bruschetta or risotto, anywhere a nice hit of basil is welcomed
  • It can also be made in a mortar and pestle for a more traditional approach

My preserved lemon's very plain with no other added spices, just the lemons, rock salt and boiled water.
I use small jars now as I found making a huge jar by the time I used all the lemons the last ones weren't looking their best.
To make them, quarter the lemon and stuff it into a jar with enough rock salt to fill up the gaps. Fill the jar with just boiled water a little at a time so that the jar can handle the heat. Ensure the lemons are covered and store in a cool dark spot for about 4 weeks. Using lemon juice instead of water will speed up the process. So easy and much cheaper and nicer than the shop bought variety.

*"Lifeline provides all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to online, phone and face-to-face crisis support and suicide prevention services."