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Saturday, 23 June 2012

Moroccan Meatballs

The humble meatball, loved all over the world, is also known in every language by a different name . The terms we are most  familiar with Kofta, Kefta, Albondigas are just as delicious made from beef, chicken, pork or lamb and also fish. The variation of spices and additives depend entirely on the cuisine of that country and how they serve their meals. The common thread is only that the main ingredient is minced meat or fish. They are easy, delicious, freeze well and always better the next day.
This little dish would probably be served as a tagine and part of a banquet, if we were in Morocco.
Serve with rice, couscous yoghurt and harissa.  Harissa, is a spicy chilli based condiment used all through Morocco and Tunisia. It is readily available these days in a tube, or can, and keeps very well for a long time. You can make your own and keep in the fridge with a cover of oil on top!
If you happen to be visiting New York go and visit one of the three Meatball Shops !

1 kilo lamb mince
1 finely chopped onion
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander
1/2 tablespoon cumin 
1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon of harissa or  minced chilli ( if you are serving children or not sure of peoples tolerance to chilli you may leave it out and serve with the harissa on the side... experiment with the taste
1/2 cup of fresh breadcrumbs
salt and pepper

Mix all of the above in a large bowl and set aside, for at least an hour for the flavours to develop.

Tomato Sauce

2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 bottle of sugacasa or tomato puree
1 chopped onion
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped coriander
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon harissa or garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin

 Place all of the sauce ingredients in a  large saucepan or casserole pot and simmer for 30 minutes on low heat. Stir occasionally to prevent catching on the bottom.

Shape the meat mixture into oval shaped balls, and place on a baking sheet covered tray in the oven for 10 minutes, on 175C. This will set the meatballs and release some of the fat from the lamb.Remove from oven and place in the hot tomato sauce and simmer gently for a further 15 minutes.
Serve with the rice or couscous, dollop some yoghurt on top, a teaspoon of harissa and garnish with chopped coriander .

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Rhubarb Cake

Every winter holidays, when the children were growing up, we would head to the ski slopes with four other families and extras to stay in a fabulous privately owned lodge. We always did our own cooking and with upwards of 20 people to cater for, it was always a little crazy, but so much fun in the kitchen.We even had a couple of birthday cakes to make each year!  This cake is a annual ski slope favourite introduced to us by my good friend Cathy, who is a very accomplished cook, who maybe got it from Jane, who maybe got it from.... who knows ? Ski holidays are adults only now and we don't cook so much, but my children were delighted when I made it last night and we had a trip down memory lane.
It is beautiful served warm with a vanilla custard or cream and ice-cream as a dessert.. Rhubarb is in season now, so it is the time to make it. You will love it and be surprised how easy it is, I am sure!

1 cup cream
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 bunch rhubarb chopped
raw sugar for finishing the top approx 2 tablespoons

Chop the leaves off  the rhubarb and discard as they are toxic.Trim the woody ends of the stalks and wash.Similar to celery stalks. Cut into small pieces approx 1/4 to 1/2 inch and set aside.
Line a round 22 cm cake tin with baking paper.
Mix the sugar, egg and cream together. Add the bicarb soda to the flour and sift into the mixture, before adding the rhubarb .I do all of this by hand, its very quick!
Sprinkle with the raw sugar.
Cook in a 180 C oven for 45-50 minutes.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Beef Braised in Coconut Milk

Oh the weather is so cold and miserable at the moment, it is winter after all. The season to stay in doors and cook steaming pots of tasty warming meals. For me these days are perfect for  a slow cooked dish , filling the house with beautiful cooking aromas. So many to choose from, but today I have chosen a dish that is a curry, a beef rendang  it is a relatively dry curry, Indonesian in origin.  Don't let the list of ingredients put you off. Once prepared, sit down and snuggle under a rug, read a book, watch a movie or do some sewing, bliss! Oh you do have to get up and give it a stir every so often !

1 Kilo Beef shoulder, blade or gravy beef

Spice Mix

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 large  french shallots peeled and finely sliced ( you can use onion if you wish )
8 large garlic cloves peeled and chopped
30 grams turmeric fresh if available otherwise a tablespoon of turmeric powder
35 grams of ginger peeled and chopped
35 grams of galangal (this looks a bit like ginger and is available at any good fruit and vegetable shops
35 grams of candlenut ( substitute Brazil nuts if unavailable ) roasted and chopped
3-4 fresh large red  chillies  halved sliced  and seeded ( the dish does require chillies you can use approx 100 gram less or more depending on your tastes)
3/4 teaspoons crushed black pepper

2 lemongrass stalks peeled and finely chopped
3 kaffir lime leaves bruised
3 curry leaves bruised
800 mls  of coconut milk or  2 large tins
800 mls of beef or chicken stock
Note you can use all coconut milk if you wish which is more the tradition but I do find it a little too rich so use half and half. If using all coconut milk it will evaporate faster than half milk and half stock, so you may want to reduce the amount of stock. You can also cook on the stove top for a little longer to reduce the liquid.

Chop the beef into 2-5 approx cm cubes and set aside.
Prepare the spice mix. You can use a mortar and pestle or a food processor, if you have one, otherwise just chop all the ingredients, don't have to be too fine, leaving lemongrass, lime leaves and curry leaves out.
Use a heavy braising or casserole pot, and fry off the spice mix until fragrant and darker in colour. Add half the coconut milk and slowly bring to a simmer. Add the chopped lemongrass, and bruised lime and curry leaves, then your beef cubes to the pot . Simmer gently for a couple of minutes before adding the stock and remaining coconut milk. Cover with lid and place in a slow oven 160 for approx 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender and most of the liquid absorbed.
If the meat is not tender enough but the liquid is absorbed you can continue to cook adding small amounts of coconut milk, on the stove top.
Serve in bowls with steamed rice, yoghurt, a beautiful chutney like Baxters Mango maybe some lime pickle and garnish with some shredded lime leaves or fresh chilli.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Restaurants and Rylstone Olive Oil

Last night, together with good friends from Brisbane we dined at Apollo in Potts Point. Chefs are Jonathon Barthelmess previously Manly Pavilion and Sam Christie of Longrain. and both have Greek heritage. Menu is a contemporary take on the Greek food we are used to. Plates are to be shared and every dish was absolutely delicious. Loved the  pasta braised oxtail in tomato with skordalia, also the pigs tail salad of walnuts, currants, pomegranate and farro mmmm. We did have a wild weed and cheese pie their version of a spanakopita and slow cooked lamb leaning towards the more traditional Greek. A really buzzy space, with exposed concrete beams, uncovered tables and beautiful arched windows surrounding the restaurant. To top off the evening a bit of star spotting, Nicole and Keith were dining at the next table. Apparently they had also dined there the night before, obviously they loved the restaurant as much as we did.
I have just taken another delivery of Rylstone Olive Oil. I love this oil so much I thought it high time I tell you about it. The olives are grown on the NSW central tablelands in an area very similar to Tuscany. High altitude, consistent rainfall and hot summers, they are grown with no herbicides or synthetic fertilisers at any stage of cultivation.
Rylstone has a long list of medals to its name.  The olives are pressed in the regions premier organic only  press at Rylstone, where owner and grower Jayne Bentivoglio sets a very high standard. Jayne is now instrumental in guiding the Australian Organic Olive Oil industry.
The oil comes in three varieties, as follows

Rylstone Australian Organic
Green apple aromas with a pleasant bitterness. Great for salad dressings

Rylstone Olive Press Cudgegong
Medium grass aromas with medium bitterness. Use with a dukkah and crusty bread for dipping

Rylstone Olive Press Crooked River
Herbal aromas with a stronger but balanced bitterness. Drizzle over toasted sourdough topped with tomato and a goats feta, or a seafood pasta or risotto.

Seriously I just use it on anything and everything! Give it a try. Website is or you can call Prue on 0413 614100 to order some of this delicious olive oil.