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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Raan Indian Roast Lamb Marinated in Spiced Yoghurt

I have just had a couple of relaxing days in the Southern Highlands with seven girlfriends for our annual sewing sojourn! Yes, sewing, quilting mainly with a bit of knitting thrown in. Whilst I may not have been blogging, I certainly ate very well. All of these girls are great cooks and we dined on Hungarian Goulash, Jamie's Fragrant Chicken, Smoked Trout and Fennel Lasagna, Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon, Sauteed Mushrooms on Sourdough, Simone Logue's Little Pies and of course lots of chocolates and alcohol.
I only thought of this dish after the event, but it would have been a great one to do as it takes 48 hours of marinating and then cooks for 5 hours. Perfect whilst you do other things, like sewing !
Don't be put off by the list of ingredients or cooking time. It is actually very easy! If you like Indian food then this makes a nice change to a curry, and great for a number of people.

1 leg of lamb 2-3 kilos
1 piece fresh ginger peeled approx 100 grams 
8 garlic cloves peeled
thinly pared rind of a lemon
5 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon of cardamon seeds
6 whole cloves
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon minced chilli, from a jar or 1 fresh red chilli
1 cup almond meal
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/4 cups of plain yoghurt
1/2 tablespoon salt

Prick the lamb all over with a fork and make deep gashes in the meat and set aside, in a pan.
I use a Tupperware marinating covered container, but you could also use the baking dish in which you are going to roast the lamb, for the marinating part of the dish. Use foil, if the dish doesn't have a lid.
Put ginger, garlic, lemon rind and juice, cumin seeds, cardamon, cloves, turmeric, chilli and salt into a food processor and blend to a puree.
Scrape out and spread the lamb all over with the puree and set aside for an hour.
Mix the almond meal and brown sugar with the yoghurt.
Spread this mixture all over the spice mixture on the lamb and set aside in a covered pan in the refrigerator for 48 hours.
Remove the dish from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before cooking.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Place the pan in the oven for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 180 and roast for a further hour.
Then cover the dish, reduce the heat to 160C and roast for a further 4 hours, basting occasionally.
These temperatures may vary in different ovens, if your oven is very hot adjust accordingly.
You may also find the marinade is catching and burning on the bottom of the pan, remove any burnt bits and cover earlier if you find this is happening too early in the process.
Serve with basmati rice and a vegetable curry, with some yoghurt and Baxter's Mango Chutney as an accompaniment.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Roasted Vegetables Greek Style

These vegetables are very popular in the Want household and over the years have become a firm favourite.  My daughter always used to call them "the vegetables with the sticks in them " because of the fresh rosemary and thyme, and as the years have gone by that's exactly what we call it !
The dish is very comforting , the combination of flavours is incredibly tasty and intense. Serve it on its own  or with some feta sprinkled over the top if you want a smart vegetarian option! I usually serve it with a slow cooked lamb, a grilled steak or chicken or as a variation to the traditional  roast vegetables. It is particularly lovely in winter and autumn. They do take at least an hour depending on your oven, so allow time, and a dish large enough to take the two layers without it being too crowded, as it may take a little longer to cook.
I am a great fan of Paula Wolfert and this is where the inspiration for the dish came from.

1/2 kilo sweet potato peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 kilo potatoes, medium in size and cut into wedges
1/2 kilo zucchini rinsed, trimmed and cut into chunks
2-4 large spanish onions, cut into 6 wedges each
6 garlic cloves peeled and slightly crushed
1/2 kilo large fresh ripe tomatoes  sliced 
bunch of rosemary
bunch of thyme
olive oil such as Rylstone Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons sugar
salt and pepper

Set the oven rack to the middle shelf and preheat to 180C. Lightly oil a large baking dish.
Sprinkle the sliced tomato with the sugar.
Scatter half the potato, sweet potato, zucchini , spanish onions and garlic over the bottom of the dish.
Salt and pepper and add some of the herbs. Cover with a layer of the sugared tomatoes and drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil. Repeat with the remaining vegetables, finishing with the tomatoes and more olive oil.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, remove and stir to redistribute the vegetables, then bake for another 30-40 minutes.
Serve hot or luke warm, as is, or with feta. Black olives would make a nice addition if serving on its own

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Date Tart

Back to the versatile date again!  Rockpool restaurant served a dessert similar to this years ago. The custard is sublime and rich , but light enough to enjoy after a heavy winter meal. If you love cream brulee or custard type desserts, this is the one for you! When I am entertaining, I never serve a very big pudding at the end of a meal, as I really dislike leaving a meal and feeling like I am about to burst. There is an art to combining courses that compliment each other, in taste and size.
If you are a dessert lover, just keep it beautifully simple. This one looks very posh but is very easy!
Serve on its own or with some berries, or cream.

Careme vanilla bean sweet shortcrust pastry, or a any good sweet shortcrust 
12-14 Californian fresh dates halved with stones removed ( this may vary slightly due to date size )
7 egg yolks
80 grams caster sugar
700 mls cream
1 vanilla bean
22cm flan tin with removable base 

This step can be done in the morning if serving for dinner.
Careme pastry comes in a roll, so its quite easy to get the size to fit the flan tin.
Grease the tin well, especially up the fluted edges. Line the tin with pastry and press gently into sides of tin  letting it come a little higher up than the edge. This allows for shrinkage. You can cut and paste to fill in bits, this pastry is quite forgiving. Let rest for 30 minutes. Then you can trim back the edges. Blind bake on 180C for 20 minutes. Check the pastry after 10 minutes to see the shrinkage on the sides and if there is a problem pull out and adjust with any left over bits of pastry. You must have decent sides on the shell to take the custard.
If you haven't blind baked before, layer the pastry with a piece of baking paper and cover flat surface with uncooked rice to weight it down. This cooks the shell enough, to stop any seepage from the liquid during cooking.

Preheat oven to 180C.

Place the dates on the pastry in circles.
Cream together, the egg yolks and sugar until light and pale. Spilt the vanilla bean and scrape the contents into the mixture and mix in the cream. Pour the filling onto the date lined tart shell.
If the shell is already in place in the oven, you can fill as high as possible without having to move it.
Bake for 30 minutes until custard is just set. I serve it with frozen mixed berries, warmed in microwave.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Baked Ricotta with Pita Toasts

This easy fabulous dish is always a winner. We had a big family birthday dinner here last night for 12 and I served this with drinks beforehand. I made some pita toasts and grilled some eggplant and zucchini and threw some sun dried tomatoes on the plate as well. Very tasty but light enough not to spoil the main meal. The ricotta can be made a day ahead and keeps for a couple of days, well covered of course!
The pita toasts always get people talking! What are these ? How do you make them?  I will let you in on the secret, for those who don't already know! I have been making them forever and prefer them to most biscuits on a cheese or anti pasta platter. They are also great with soups and dips, or just by themselves. Years ago some food companies were making them and selling them in very appealing packaging...... but I have to say, not quite the same! They are so inexpensive as well, just be sure you are spending time in the kitchen when you set about baking them. The slightest distraction and you can   end up throwing trays of burnt toasts in the garbage ! These can also be made well ahead, as long as everyone doesn't eat them beforehand!!

Baked Ricotta

750 grams Ricotta cheese
3 egg yolks
150 grams grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cups freshly mixed chopped herbs like basil, parsley and chives are always good and easily found
You may also use fresh oregano, lemon thyme, or sage
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Rylstone olive oil to drizzle over the top

Place the ricotta in a bowl and mix in the egg yolks and parmesan, until combined. Add salt and pepper, to taste
Line an 8" round cake tin with glad bake , bottom and sides.
Place half the ricotta mixture in the cake tin and smooth over with the back of a spoon. Scatter the mixed herbs over the top and then layer the remaining ricotta over the herbs smoothing the surface. Sprinkle with the ground cumin and drizzle with the olive oil.
Boil some water.
Place the cake tin in a baking tray and fill with the boiled water to half way up the sides of the tin.
Bake in a 160C oven for 50 minutes.

Pita Toasts

1 packet large Lebanese pita bread with pockets
butter for spreading
the topping is entirely up to you experiment
dried tarragon or oregano, thyme
Herbies, Masterfood , McCormick's all do an amazing array of blended spices, like Family Friendly, All Purpose Seasoning, Moroccan, Lemon Pepper. I also use a Merquen seasoning which my good friend Louise brings me from Santiago. Slightly spicy it is on most tables in South America as a condiment as we would have salt and pepper! Basically there are no rules, experiment and see what you like. It must not be too much, to overpower the accompaniments you are serving it with.

Preheat oven to 175C.
Tear the pita pockets at the join so each pocket is now two pieces. Butter the pieces and sprinkle with your preferred seasoning, if you are using dried herbs spread them into the pita with the butter as they will fall off once baked. Sprinkle with salt and cut into small wedges, as you would a cake. I layer them, cut in half, then quarters, then eights. Don't worry if they are uneven in size or slightly ripped and torn. This all adds to their charm.
Place as many as can fit on oven trays and place multiple trays in the oven if you have a fan forced and cook for 6 minutes. Do not leave the kitchen and put a timer on! Store in well sealed plastic containers until ready to serve.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Tex Mex Lasagne

Tex Mex is a regional American cuisine which originated in the southern states of America. In Texas it is a localized version of Mexican cuisine, with some of the ingredients common in Mexican food, but many other ingredients and spices are often used.
We love this lasagne ! The recipe feeds 8-10 people, keeps well, transports well and is delicious.

2 medium onions
5 cloves garlic
1 red capsicum
4 double chicken breast  or equivilent weight in thighs boned and skinned ( Whilst there is more fat on the thighs hence more work in the chopping it is a moister part of the chicken )
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chilli powder
1 tablespoon  ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
300 mls chicken stock
440 can refried beans
2 jars of salsa medium or hot
4 cups grated cheese ( either Perfect Italiano pizza cheese which is a combination cheddar parmesan and mozzarella or a Kraft mexican blend or a Perfect Italiano 4 cheese blend . Of course you can grate your own but it must contain some cheddar. Colby is good as well. Monterey Jack is the cheese used in most Tex Mex food but unavailable here.
12 large tortillas readily available at supermarket
sour cream
jalapenos ( sold in jars in Mexican food section of supermarket

Finely chop the capsicum and onion and crush the garlic. Chop the chicken into 3/4 inch approx cubes. Heat the oil in a 12 inch fry pan and cook the onion, capsicum and garlic until the onion is soft. Add the chicken and spices and cook until the chicken is opaque, approx 2 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and stock and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally. Transfer the chicken with a slotted spoon from the pan and boil and thicken the sauce for another 5 minutes. Return chicken to pan.
Heat the beans in a saucepan with 1/4 cup of the salsa, stir to combine. It has to be of a spreadable consistancy. So you may add a little more stock if needed.
Preheat oven to 175C.  Oil a large ceramic baking dish approx 13 x 9.
Arrange 2 - 4 tortillas overlapping each other slightly, to cover the bottom of the dish and form the first layer.
Spread a layer of the bean mixture over the tortillas, then some chicken, then 1/3 of the cheese, and 1/3 of the salsa. Repeat the layering, tortillas, beans, chicken, cheese and salsa and finish with any remaining tortillas and sprinkle with more cheese.
Bake lasagne for 35 minutes in the middle of the oven, until bubbling. If the lasagne seems to be colouring to much on top cover with foil.
Sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with jalapenos, sour cream and chopped coriander.