31 January 2011

would you lend me a couple of squid?

Since 'a few squid is all it takes' KB and I have been on a bit of a calamari kick.  Over a week away at the beach he prepared some squid as a starter, this time omitting any use of flour, and adding to the solitary salt and pepper some freshly chopped dill and coriander, and finely diced chilli.  It was absolutely amazing, the taste was fresh and with a pleasing hint of spice.  To be honest, I think he virtually ditched the salt altogether, so definitely go easy on that.  Enjoy some fruit of the sea, mes amis!! 

18 January 2011

harissa me life

I first came across harissa when living in France - there was a guy from Syria living in our building and he used to have a dollop on the side of his meal most nights.  Once I returned to kiwiland I didn't give it any thought until one day I happened upon a jar of it in Sabato, a fabulous deli shop in Auckland. 

Julie le Clerc's harissa is REALLY tasty, but it's even more fun (and just as tasty) to make your own.  Also there's the added benefit of tailoring the spiciness to your own personal taste (Julie's has quite a kick).  So, with the chillies - add as few or many as you wish.  I wouldn't recommended less than 3, or more than 6, but see how you go. 

Once you've made the harissa keep it in a sealed jar in the fridge - it keeps pretty well for a couple of weeks at least, quite possibly more (I wouldn't know, it never lasts that long!).  We've used it to flavour couscous, stuff chicken breasts (my fav), on crackers with a little cheese, mixed with tomato paste on pizza and as a rub on lamb chops on the BBQ.  So it's really a pretty versatile wee sauce.  Nom nom nom!

2 red capsicums
3-6 long chillies (green or red)
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
pinch salt flakes/rock salt
1/4 cup EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
juice and zest of 1 lemon
  1. Preheat grill to high.  Cut capsicums into quarters and blacken. 
  2. Once blackened and blistering place into plastic bag and sweat, until skins removes easily (and remove skin).
  3. Blend with other ingredients.  YUM!!

11 January 2011

Lasagne update

It's zucchini season again, so it's zuch lasagne time.  This year I've been making them with a cheese sauce, rather than using ricotta.  Not for any particular reason other than it's something I can make from ingredients in the cupboard and fridge, when there ain't no ricotta.  Also Harry knows how to make a cheese sauce and getting a six-year-old involved in the making of dinner is ALWAYS a good way to go.  So, without further ado, the cheese sauce, should you ever need to replace the ricotta from I ♥ ricotta, here it is...

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
good handful grated cheese (1/2 - 1 cup)
tbsp wholegrain mustard (optional)
  1. Melt butter in saucepan.  When melted add flour and briskly stir in - this makes what is called a roux.  Add half of the milk, stirring constantly, so the mixture binds and is free of lumps. 
  2. Add rest of milk, grind in some salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. 
  3. Add cheese and mustard, stir through.  Continue to stir as sauce thickens. 
  4. Turn off heat, sauce will continue to thicken. 

08 January 2011

Three Kings Cake

Christmas foods seem to fall into one of two categories.  The first - insanely complicated and time-consuming, resulting in copious hours in the kitchen which, given Christmas is in summer here in kiwiland, seems a bit ridiculous.  Secondly you have easy, BBQ-style, low-fuss high-taste.  Much smarter.  Rifling through the November-December edition of Cuisine I discovered that there was a potential third category - relatively time-consuming, but easy.  

There was a recipe for a three milk cake which was topped with a fluffy mound of marshmallow.  It needed to be made over a couple of days (to allow the cake and the marshmallow time in the fridge to do their thing), but it was simple to make and just looked sooooo cool.  Especcially at the end, with green pistachios and red cranberries sprinkled over the top!!  

The original recipe suggested trimming the marshmallow before serving, to make it nicely in line with the cake, but I didn't bother - why waste marshmallow?  Without further ado, meet the Christmas centrepiece of the future...

For the cake 
225 g flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
5 large eggs, separated
225 g caster sugar
1 tbsp vanilla essence (or 1 tsp extract)
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.  Butter 21cm x 12cm loaf tin and line base with baking paper. 
  2. Place egg whites in large bowl and whisk to form firm peaks (I used a handheld electric beater).  Gradually add sugar, still whisking. 
  3. Turn motor to lowest speed and whisk in egg yolks, vanilla and lemon juice.  Fold in flour, baking powder, salt and milk. 
  4. Spoon mixture into prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. 
  5. Turn baked cake onto a wire rack and allow to cool for 1o minutes.
For the three milks
200 ml condensed milk
150 ml cream
150 ml milk
  1. Combine ingredients in jug. 
  2. Cut any dark sides from cooled cake and place cake into dish slightly bigger than it is. 
  3. Poke holes in top of cake and pour half the milk mixture over, reserving remainder for serving. 
  4. Cool completely, cover and refridgerate overnight to soak up milks. 
For marshmallow topping
2 egg whites
125 g caster sugar
1 tsp tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp rosewater (I used normal water with a drop red colouring)
1 1/2 tsp powdered gelatine
125 ml boiling water
  1. Whisk egg whites to firm peaks then gradually whisk in sugar.  Finally mix in lemon juice and coloured water. 
  2. Add gelatine to boiling water, stirring until dissolved. 
  3. Slowly pour gelatine into egg mixture while whisking.  Continue whisking until mix is cool and firm (about 8 minutes). 
  4. Pile marshmallow on top of cake and return to fridge to chill for at least an hour, or up to a day. 
Remove cake from fridge about 30 minutes before serving andd tidy up the marshmallow with a hot knife, if you wish.  Sprinkle with pistachios and cranberries and put reserved milks into jug alongside.