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Thursday, 27 December 2012

Capsicum Chilli Relish

Well Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.
As usual the Christmas meal was fabulous. We only had fifteen this year way less than normal but still managed to have far too much food. We always start with a smoke roasted salmon with caper berries, wasabi  mayonaise and some pickled red onions. I make the pita chips to go with it. Also this year I did an old favourite, the egg caviar which went down a treat  All of this was devoured with some French bubbly as we watched a flurry of Christmas paper and ribbon fly around the tree, as presents were unwrapped. Lots of fun and frivolity.
This year Bob cooked the turkey Gordon Ramsey style and I have to say it was sensational. Not to mention the carving. He began by  removing the drumsticks then the whole breast from the bird on each side along the bone and then cutting it quite easily down into slices. Presentation stunning! I am sure this method can be found on the internet.
We had a Saskia Beer black pig for the ham, always delicious. Lots of salads and crunchy spuds to accompany it. Christmas pud, beautiful berries, ice cream and brandy custard.... yum, chocolates, more champagne, more wine, more chocolates and as usual, some dancing !!
After we have finished the fabulous excesses of Christmas and are perhaps on holiday, you may like to make this very moreish relish, to go with the left over ham. Capsicums are plentiful now.
You need some left over sterile jars as well, to put the finished product into.I usually make this before Christmas and give it as a hostess gift for drinks parties.

12 red capsicums
6 onions
12  red chillies ( if you aren't a fan of too hot cut down on the amount )
12 garlic cloves
750 ml vinegar
8 cups white sugar
salt to taste

Place the capsicums,onions, chillies and garlic into the food processor and pulse till chopped, fairly small.
Place a large heavy based saucepan on top of the stove and fill with the vinegar and chopped capsicum,onion, garlic and chillies. Cook this for 1 hour on a slow simmer.
Add the sugar and stir until mixed in. Cook for a further 1 1/2 hours, but you must stir it every 10 minutes or so as the mixture gets quite thick, it will stick to the bottom of the pan. When you are stirring, be careful as it tends to spit at you and could cause a nasty burn.

Cool slightly and spoon into the sterile jars. It will make about 6-8 jars depending on the size you use.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Rum Balls

What would our Christmas Fare be without the rum ball. My grandmother used to make these little delights as did my aunts, my mother is still making them and now we all do too. There are many recipes for the rum ball and I have tried a few but this is my favourite and its so easy.

250 grams butter
500 grams icing sugar
1 cup  chopped nuts
1 cup chopped sultanas
4 tablespoons dessicated coconut
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons rum
chocolate sprinkles you may use coconut

Soften butter to room temperature. Sift icing sugar and the cocoa into butter. Add the nuts, coconut, and sultanas.
Mix the lot together to combine and add the rum mixing it in well. At this point you may like to add a little more icing sugar or coconut if you feel the mixture is a little runny.
Place it in the fridge for 15 minutes or so as it becomes easier to handle if cool.
Cover a plate with the chocolate sprinkles.Take heaped teaspoonfuls of the mixture and quickly roll in your hands into a ball. Roll the balls in the sprinkles to coat and place in mini paper cupcake containers.You may have to have a break, putting them back into the fridge to get cold again, whilst you enjoy a glass of Christmas bubbles, preferably French !
This amount will make approximately 48 and is easily halved.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Talking Turkey

Its only 8 more sleeps until Xmas Day with lots of eating, cooking and drinking ahead!
Just thought I would share with you some notes on the turkey. I am also going to give you a few stuffing recipes for the bird all quite different. In Australia we don't cook turkey a lot, except for festive occasions.  Everyone asks about the cooking of the turkey perhaps a little scared of ruining the main meal.They are generally bigger than a chicken and  have a tendency to dry out quite easily.
Whether your preference is a whole bird, a buffe, which is the breast on the bone with no wings, or a boned breast all of the following seasonings are suitable. The seasoning also helps to keep the bird moist.

Notes on the Turkey
If you are serving a lot of people you are better off buying two smaller birds than one giant one, therefore, less risk of a dry bird
Any frozen bird destined to be stuffed, needs to be completely thawed. The bird cannot be stuffed the night before and the seasoning must be at room temperature and the turkey stuffed just prior to cooking.
The turkey should be rinsed out and wiped with a paper towel and can be smeared with lemon and a few fresh sprigs of thyme. The bird must be smeared with butter and salt and pepper and loosely covered with foil. Some people also cover it in butter soaked muslin, if you happen to have some on hand.
For a 4.5 kg turkey cook in 220 C oven for 15 minutes, then turn down the heat to 180 C and cook for a further 2 1/2 hours. For the last 20 minutes take off the foil.
To test prick the thickest part of the thigh, just as the juices become clear remove immediately. rest the turkey for 15 minutes before carving.
All of the below seasoning can be added to.

Three Onion Seasoning   A little more traditional
5-6.5 kg bird
7 cups bread in large chunks
8 small leeks cut into 1/2 inch pieces, cut length ways then cross ways
3 medium  red onions cut into 1 inch pieces
12 large shallots
3 large celery stalks
3 tablespoons minced garlic 10 small cloves or 5 large
3 tablespoons chopped thyme leaves
2 tablespoons chopped sage
1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
Rylstone olive oil
1 cup chicken stock

In a shallow baking pan, spread the bread and bake in a moderate oven stirring occasionally until golden, 10-15 minutes.Transfer to a large bowl.
Wash the leeks, and in a large pan cook the leeks, onion, shallots, celery, garlic and herbs with some salt and pepper in the butter and olive oil. Add the onion mixture to the bread and toss to combine. Stuff the turkey but leave some aside.
The seasoning can be made the day ahead to this stage and stored in the fridge covered. Approx 1 1/2 hours before the turkey is cooked drizzle the remaining seasoning with the stock and cook covered for about half hour, uncover and brown for 20 minutes.
This will give you a moist and a crunchy dry seasoning.

Couscous Seasoning ( for a fruity seasoning )
1.5 kg bird
65 grams couscous
80 ml chicken stock
35 grams chopped dates
35 grams chopped  dried apricots
35 grams toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons apricot nectar
2 tablespoons chopped coriander

Heat the stock and pour over the couscous and leave to stand for 10 minutes.Add the remaining ingredients.

Apple and Prune Seasoning ( more substantial and my favourite )
3.5-5 kg bird
500 grams cooking apples
30 grams butter
12 spring onions
500 grams pork mince
12 pitted prunes, chopped
3 rashers bacon chopped
port for soaking the prunes
1/4 cup parsley
a couple of chopped sage leaves
2 cups soft white breadcrumbs
2 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper
Warm the port in the microwave and soak the chopped prunes for about an hour. Peel and core the apples and chop into small pieces. If you choose to cook the apples you will have a moister stuffing. I leave them uncooked. Saute the onions in the butter and add the bacon, stir until cooked. In a large basin mix the pork, bacon, apples, breadcrumbs, herbs, salt, pepper and eggs. Add the prunes and the port to the mixture. Keep in the fridge until ready to use but take out approximately an hour before stuffing the bird.
If you have any of this seasoning left, roll into a sausage shape in foil and cook in the same pan as the turkey for the last hour. This can then be sliced as a sausage and place around the carved turkey on your platter.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Veal Parmigiana

A beautiful simple Italian dish. If you have your tomato passata already made, half the work is done. The veal can be crumbed and cooked well ahead of time with the tomato passata and cheese added right before you are ready to put into the oven. The time in the oven is really only heating time, so it doesn't need much more than 20 minutes, depending on the oven of course. One piece of veal per person, easy for catering purposes, maybe a couple of extra ones for hungry boys !

6 pieces of veal schnitzel
1 large egg
fresh breadcrumbs or Krummies 
Rylstone olive oil
grated cheese mix
I use a blend of mozzarella cheddar and parmesan, if you buy a blended cheese please add extra very good parmesan.

Tomato Sauce/ Passata
Rylstone olive oil
1 large onion finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 kilo fresh Tomatoes, or 3 tins tomatoes
Chopped basil, parsley and chives 

Fry the onion and garlic gently in some Rylstone olive oil, until soft. Add the tomatoes and chopped herbs and simmer for about 15 minutes. If you would like to increase the quantity add some tomato puree like Sugocasa or Pomi.

Break the egg into a bowl and beat. Place a good amount of breadcrumbs onto a flat plate and mix in some salt and pepper if you wish. It is also good to add a couple of tablespoons of grated parmesan to the breadcrumb mix. Dip the veal pieces one at a time into the beaten egg and coat in the breadcrumbs. Press the crumbs into the meat and make sure each piece of the meat is covered well with the crumbs.You may need to use another egg if you are using more pieces of veal.
Heat the oil in a large fry pan and place a couple of the pieces of veal into the hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pan. Cook until browned on each side and remove. Drain on absorbent paper.
Preheat the oven to 175C.
Place the cooked veal into a greased large ceramic baker, so they aren't overlapping each other. You may have to use two dishes. Cover with a good quantity of the Tomato Sauce and the cheese mixture.
Place in the oven for approx 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and the dish is thoroughly heated.
Serve with a green salad or steamed vegetables.