Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Nasi Goreng


One of the most popular and best-known Indonesian dishes, this is a marvellous way to use up leftover rice, chicken and meats such as pork. Recipe serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups basmati rice (dry weight), cooked and cooled
2 eggs
2 tablespoons water
7 tablespoons sunflower oil
8 ounces (250 g) pork fillet or fillet of beef
2-3 fresh red chilies, seeded and sliced
1/2 inch (1 cm) cube terasi (blachan)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 onion, sliced
4 ounces (125 g) cooked, peeled shrimp (prawns)
8 ounces (250 g) cooked chicken, chopped
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Deep-fried onions, to garnish

Method:

1. Separate the grains of the cold, cooked rice with a fork. Cover and set aside until needed.
2. Beat the eggs with the water and a little seasoning. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan, pour in about half the mixture and cook until set, without stirring. Roll up the omelet, slide it on to a plate, cut into strips and set aside. Make another omelet in the same way.
3. Cut the pork or beef fillet into neat strips. Finely shred one of the chilies and set aside. Put the terasi into a food processor, add the remaining chili, the garlic and the onion. Process to a paste.
4. Heat the remaining oil in a wok. Fry the paste, without browning, until it gives off a spicey aroma. Add the strips of pork or beef and toss the meat over the heat, to seal in the juices. Cook the meat in the wok for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
5. Add the shrimp, cook for 2 minutes, then add the chicken, rice and soy sauce, with salt and pepper to taste, stirring constantly. Serve in individual bowls, garnished with omelet strips, shredded chili and deep-fried onions.

Tip: Make the terasi paste using a pestle and mortar, if you prefer.

Indonesian Pineapple Rice

This way of presenting rice not only looks spectacular, it also tastes so good that it can easily be served solo. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup natural peanuts
1 large pineapple
3 tablespoons groundnut or sunflower oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 chicken breasts (about 8 ounces/250 g) cut into strips
Generous 1 cup Thai fragrant rice, rinsed
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 lemon grass stalk, bruised
2 thick slices of ham, cut into julienne strips
1 fresh red chili, seeded and very finely sliced
Salt

Method:

1. Dry-fry the peanuts in a non-stick frying pan until golden. When cool, grind one-sixth of them in a coffee or herb mill and chop the remainder.
2. Cut a lengthwise slice of pineapple, slicing through the leaves, then cut out the flesh to leave a neat shell. Chop 4 ounces (125 g) of the pineapple into cubes; saving the remainder for another dish.
3. Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add the chicken strips and stir-fry over a medium heat for a few minutes until evenly brown.
4. Add the rice to the pan. Toss with the chicken mixture for a few minutes then pour in the stock, with the lemon grass and a little salt. Bring to just below boiling point, then lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer gently for 10-12 minutes until both the rice and the chicken pieces are tender.
5. Stir the chopped peanuts, the pineapple cubes and the ham into the rice, then spoon the mixture into the pineapple shell. Sprinkle the ground peanuts and the sliced chili over the top and serve.

Rice Noodles with Pork


Rice noodles have little flavor themselves but they have a wonderful ability to take on the flavor of other ingredients. Recipe serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

1 pound (500 g) pork fillet
8 ounces (250 g) dried rice noodles
1 cup broccoli florets
1 red pepper, quartered and seeded
About 3 tablespoons groundnut oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
10 spring onions, trimmed and cut into 2 inch (5 cm) diagonal slices
1 lemon grass stalk, finely chopped
1-2 fresh red chilies, seeded and finely chopped
1 1/4 cups coconut milk
1 tablespoon tomato puree
3 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
For the marinade:
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
2 tablespoons groundnut oil
1 inch (2.5 cm) piece of fresh root ginger

Method:

1. Cut the pork into thin strips, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) long and 1/2 inch (1 cm) wide. Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl, add the pork, stir to coat and leave to marinate for about 1 hour.
2. Spread out the noodles in a shallow dish, pour over hot water to cover and soak for 20 minutes until soft. Drain. Blanch the broccoli in a small pan of boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain and refresh under cold water. Set aside.
3. Place the pepper pieces under a hot grill for a few minutes until the skin blackens and blisters. Put in a plastic bag for about 10 minutes and then, when cool enough to handle, peel away the skin and slice the flesh thinly.
4. Drain the pork, reserving the marinade. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan. Stir-fry the pork, in batches if necessary, for 3-4 minutes until the meat is tender. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
5. Add a little more oil to the pan if necessary and fry the garlic, springs onions, lemon grass and chilies over a low to medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the broccoli and pepper and stir-fry for a few minutes more.
6. Stir in the reserved marinade, coconut milk and tomato puree, with the kaffir lime leaves, if using. Simmer gently until the broccoli is nearly tender, then add the pork and noodles. Toss over the heat for 3-4 minutes until completely heated through.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Thai Crispy Noodles with Beef


Rice vermicelli are very fine, dry, white noodles bundled in large fragile loops and sold in packets. They are deep-fried before being added to this dish, and in the process they expand to at least four times their original size. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

About 1 pound (500 g) rump or sirloin steak
Teriyaki sauce, for sprinkling
6 ounces (175 g) rice vermicelli
Groundnut oil for deep-frying and stir-frying
8 spring onions, diagonally sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4-5 carrots, cut into julienne strips
1-2 fresh red chilies, seeded and finely sliced
2 small zucchini, diagonally sliced
1 teaspoon grated fresh root ginger
4 tablespoons white or yellow rice vinegar
6 tablespoons light soy sauce
About 2 cups spicey stock

Method:

1. Beat out the steak,if necessary, to about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. Place in a shallow dish, brush generously with the teriyaki sauce and set aside for 2-4 hours to marinate.
2. Separate the rice vermicelli into manageable loops and spread several layers of kitchen paper on a very large plate. Add the oil to a depth of about 2 inches (5 cm) in a large wok and heat until a strand of vermicelli cooks as soon as it is lowered into the oil.
3. Carefully add a loop of vermicelli to the oil. It should immediately expand and become opaque. Turn the noodles over so that the strands cook on both sides and then transfer the cooked noodles to the plate. Repeat the process until all the noodles are cooked. transfer the cooked noodles to a separate wok or deep serving bowl and keep them warm while you cook the steak and vegetables.
4. Strain the oil from the wok into a heatproof bowl and set it aside. Heat 1 tablespoon groundnut oil in the clean wok. When it sizzles, fry the steak for about 30 seconds on each side until browned. Transfer to a board and cut into thick slices. The meat should be well browned on the outside but still pink inside. Set aside.
5. Add a little extra oil to the wok and stir-fry the spring onions, garlic and carrots over a medium heat for 5-6 minutes until the carrots are slightly soft and have a glazed appearance. Add the chilies, zucchini and ginger and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes more.
6. Stir in the rice vinegar, soy sauce and stock. Cook for about 4 minutes until the sauce has slightly thickened. Add the steak and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.
7. Pour the steak, vegetables and all the mixture over the noodles and toss lightly and carefully to mix. Serve at once.

Tip: As soon as you add the meat mixture to the noodles, they will soften. If you wish to keep a few crispy noodles, stir some to the surface so they do not come into contact with the hot liquid.

Thai Fried Rice


This substantial dish is based on Thai fragrant rice, which is sometimes known as jasmine rice. Chicken, red pepper and sweetcorn add color and extra flavor. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

2 cups water
1/2 cup coconut milk powder
1 3/4 cups Thai fragrant rice, rinsed
2 tablespoons groundnut oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 inch (2.5 cm) piece of fresh root ginger, grated
8 ounce (250 g) skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch (1 cm) dice
1 red pepper, seeded and sliced
1 cup drained canned sweetcorn kernels
1 teaspoon hot curry powder
2 eggs, beaten
Salt
Spring onion shreds, to garnish

Method:

1. Pour the water into a saucepan and whisk in the coconut milk powder. Add the rice, bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover and cook for 12 minutes or until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Spread the rice on a baking sheet and leave until cold.
2. Heat the oil in a wok, add the garlic, onion and ginger and stir-fry over a medium heat for 2 minutes.
3. Push the vegetables to the sides of the wok, add the chicken to the center and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the rice and stir-fry over a high heat for about 3 minutes more.
4. Stir in the sliced red pepper, sweetcorn, chili oil and curry powder, with salt to taste. Toss over the heat for 1 minute. Stir in the beaten eggs and cook for 1 minute more. Garnish with spring onion shreds and serve.

Tip: It is important that the rice is completely cold before being fried and the oil is very hot, or the rice will absorb too much oil.

Festive Rice


This pretty Thai dish is traditionally shaped into a cone and surrounded by a variety of accompaniments before being served. Recipe serves 8.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups Thai fragrant rice
4 tablespoons oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 onions, finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 cups water
14 fl oz (400 ml) can coconut milk
1-2 lemon grass stalks, bruised
For the accompaniments:
Omelet strips
2 fresh red chilies, shredded
Cucumber chunks
Tomato wedges
Deep fried onions
Prawn crackers

Method:

1. Put the rice in a strainer and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Drain well.
2. Heat the oil in a frying pan which has a lid. Fry the garlic, onion and turmeric over a low heat for a few minutes, until the onions are softened but not browned. Add the rice and stir well so that each grain is coated in oil.
3. Pour in the water and coconut milk and add the lemon grass. Bring to the boil, stirring well. Cover the pan and cook gently for 12 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and lift the lid. Cover with a clean dish towel, replace the lid and leave to stand in a warm place for 15 minutes. Remove the lemon grass, mound the rice mixture in a cone on a serving platter and garnish with the accompaniments. Serve immediately.

Tip: Look out for fresh turmeric at Asian markets or food stores.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Thai Rice


This is a lovely, soft, fluffy rice dish, perfumed with fresh lemon grass and limes. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

2 limes
1 lemon grass stalk
Generous 1 cup brown long grain rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 inch (2.5 cm) piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
3 cups vegetable stock
4 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
Spring onion green, toasted coconut strips and lime wedges, to serve

Method:

1. Pare the limes using a canelle knife or a fine grater, taking care to avoid cutting the bitter pith. Set aside the rind. Finely chop the lower portion of the lemon grass stalk and set aside.
2. Rinse the rice in plenty of cold water until the water runs clear. Tip into a sieve and drain thoroughly.
3. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onion, ginger, spices, lemon grass and lemon rind and fry gently over a low heat for 2-3 minutes.
4. Add the drained rice and cook for 1 minute, then pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to very low and cover the pan. Cook gently for 30 minutes, then check the rice. If it is still crunchy, cover the pan and leave for 3-5 minutes more. Remove from the heat.
5. Stir in the fresh coriander, fluff up the grains, cover and leave for about 10 minutes. Garnish with spring onion green and toasted coconut strips, and serve with lime wedges.

Malacca Fried Rice

There are many versions of this dish throughout Asia, all based upon leftover cooked rice. Ingredients vary according to what is available, but shrimp (prawns) are a popular addition. Recipe serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

2 eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 shallots or 1 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh root ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed
8 ounces (250 g) raw shrimp (prawns), peeled and vein removed
1 teaspoon chili sauce (optional)
3 spring onions, green part only, roughly chopped
2 cups frozen peas
8 ounces (250 g) thickly sliced roast pork, diced
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
3 cups cooked white long grain rice, cooled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. In a bowl, beat the eggs well with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan, pour in the eggs and cook until set, without stirring. This will take less than a minute. Roll up the pancake, slide it on to a plate, cut into thin strips and set aside.
2. Heat the remaining vegetable oil in a preheated wok, add the shallots or onion, ginger, garlic and prawns and cook for 1-2 minutes, taking care that the garlic does not burn.
3. Add the chili sauce, if using, the spring onions, peas, pork and soy sauce. Stir to heat through, then add the rice. Fry over a medium heat for 6-8 minutes. Spoon into a dish, decorate with the pancake strips and serve immediately.

Tip: You don't have to wait until the day after you have served a Sunday roast to try this. Most delicatessens sell sliced roast pork.

Traditional Asian Rice Recipes

Rice is by far the most important cereal of South-east Asia, yet each country has its own favorite style of cooking rice, and each its own distinguishing rice-based recipes. Fried Rice from China, Nasi Goreng from Indonesia or Sushi from Japan are just some of the traditional Asian rice dishes now enjoyed all over the world.

Chicken and Basil Coconut Rice
Chicken and Mushroom Donburi
Chinese Fried Rice
Chinese Jewelled Rice
Coconut Cream Dessert
Crackling Rice Paper Fish Rolls
Exotic Fruit and Vegetable Salad
Festive Rice
Indonesian Coconut Rice
Indonesian Pineapple Rice
Lemon Grass and Coconut Rice with Green Chicken Curry
Malacca Fried Rice
Nasi Goreng
Rice Noodles with Pork
Rice Omelet
Stir-Fried Rice and Vegetables
Sushi
Thai Crispy Noodles with Beef
Thai Fried Rice
Thai Rice
Thai Rice Cake

Friday, December 26, 2008

Spicy Pumpkin Souffle


Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 ounce (30 g) butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose (plain) flour
Pinch each ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg
1/3 cup milk
2/3 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin
4 eggs, separated
1/3 cup brown sugar

Method:

1. Melt butter in saucepan, add flour and spices, cook 1 minute, stirring, gradually add milk, stir until mixture boils and thickens, mix in pumpkin.
2. Beat egg yolks and sugar together until thick and creamy, fold into pumpkin mixture. Beat whites until soft peaks form, fold lightly into pumpkin mixture; pour into well greased deep 7 inch (18 cm) souffle dish (or 4 individual dishes). Bake in moderately hot oven 30 to 40 minutes. Serve with cream.

Wholemeal Carrot and Pecan Flan


Recipe serves 6.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup wholemeal self-rising (raising) flour
1/2 cup all-purpose (plain) white flour
3 ounces (90 g) butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water, approximately
Filling:
2 cups finely grated carrot
2 tablespoons all-purpose (plain) flour
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup sultanas
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
3 ounces (90 g) butter, melted
1/3 cup golden syrup
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Method:

1. Sift flours into bowl, rub in butter, mix in sugar, add egg yolk and enough water to make a stiff dough. Press dough with fingers evenly over side and base of deep 8 inch (20 cm) flan tin, refrigerate 30 minutes.
2. Pour filling into crust, decorate with pecans. Bake in moderately hot oven 15 minutes, reduce heat to moderate, bake further 30 minutes, reduce heat to moderate, bake further 30 minutes, or until filling is set. Serve warm or cold with cream.
Filling: Toss carrot in the flour. Reserve 9 pecans for decorating top of flan, chop remaining pecans coarsely, add to carrots with sultanas, eggs, brown sugar, butter, syrup and lemon juice, mix well.

Low-Fat French Dressing

Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon grainy mustard
1 small egg white

Method:


1. Combine all ingredients until smooth and well combined.

Roast Smashed Potatoes


Recipe serves 6.

Ingredients:

3 pound (1.5 kg) small-sized round, waxy potatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Handful small thyme sprigs

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F (240 degrees C). Line a baking tray with baking paper.
2. Cook potatoes in salted boiling water until tender but not split. Drain and allow to cool a little. Place potatoes on paper, with a little room to spread. Smash potatoes with a potato masher, or place a tea towel over them and hit hard with the heel of your hand so they split and spread without breaking apart. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and scatter with thyme.
3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until potatoes are golden and crisp at the edges. Serve immediately.

Cherry Crunch Yogurt Teacake


Recipe makes 16 squares.

Ingredients:

For the Cake:
Cooking oil spray
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
6 1/2 ounce (200 g) low-fat Black Cherry yogurt
1/3 cup low-fat milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups self-rising (raising) flour
1/3 cup wheatgerm
1 lb 5.5 oz (670 g) jar Morello cherries, well drained and pitted
For the Topping:
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon butter or dairy spread, melted

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line a 8 inch (20 cm) square baking pan with baking paper, allowing paper to extend on two opposite sides to form handles. Lightly spray with cooking oil.
2. Place sugar, yogurt, milk, egg and oil in a bowl. Whisk to combine. Sift together flour and wheatgerm. Stir through yogurt mixture until just combined. Fold in cherries. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle with Topping.
3. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until a skewer inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pan. Remove to a wire rack.

To make Topping: Place all ingredients in a bowl. Mix until combined and evenly moist.

Risi e Bisi


A classic pea and ham risotto from the Veneto. Although this is traditionally served as a starter in Italy, it also makes an excellent supper dish with hot, crusty bread. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 cups simmering chicken stock
1 1/2 cups risotto rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
2 cups frozen baby peas, thawed
4 ounces (125 g) cooked ham, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Method:

1. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan until foaming. Add the onion and cook gently for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. Have the hot stock ready in an adjacent pan.
2. Add the rice to the onion mixture. Stir until the grains start to swell, then pour in the wine. Stir until it stops sizzling and most of it has been absorbed, then pour in a little hot stock, with salt and pepper to taste. Stir continuously, over a low heat, until all the stock has been absorbed.
3. Add the remaining stock, a little at a time, allowing the rice to absorb all the liquid before adding more, and stirring constantly. Add the peas after about 20 minutes. After 25-30 minutes, the rice should be al dente and the risotto moist and creamy.
4. Gently stir in the diced cooked ham and the remaining butter. Heat through until the butter has melted, then taste for seasoning. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl. Grate of shave a little Parmesan over the top and serve the rest separately.

Tip: Always use fresh Parmesan cheese, grated off a block. It has a far superior flavor to the ready-grated Parmesan.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Risotto with Prawns

This prawn risotto is given a soft pink color by the addition of a little tomato puree. Recipe serves 3-4.

Ingredients:

12 ounces (375 g) large raw prawns, in the shells
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
1-2 fresh parsley sprigs
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
5 tablespoons butter
2 spring onions (shallots), finely chopped
1 1/2 cups risotto rice
1 tablespoon tomato puree softened in 1/2 cup dry white wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. Put the prawns in a large saucepan and add the water, herbs, peppercorns and garlic. Bring to the boil over a medium heat. As soon as the prawns turn pink, lift them out, peel them and return the shells to the saucepan. Boil the stock with the shells for 10 minutes more, then strain. Return the stock to the clean pan, and simmer gently until needed.
2. Slice the prawns in half lengthwise, removing the dark vein along the back. Set four halves aside for the garnish, and roughly chop the rest.
3. Heat two-thirds of the butter in a flameproof casserole and fry the spring onions until golden. Add the rice, mixing well to coat it with butter. Pour in the tomato puree and wine and cook until it has been absorbed. Add the simmering stock, a large spoonful at a time, allowing it to be absorbed before adding more.
4. When all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is creamy, stir in the chopped prawns, the remaining butter and seasoning. Cover and let the risotto rest for 3-4 minutes. Spoon into a bowl, garnish with the reserved prawns and serve.

Fried Rice Balls Stuffed with Mozzarella


These deep-fried balls of risotto go by the name of Suppli al Telefono in their native Italy. Stuffed with Mozzarella cheese, they are very popular snacks, which is hardly surprising as they are quite delicious. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 quantity Risotto with Parmesan Cheese or Mushroom Risotto
3 eggs
Breadcrumbs and all-purpose (plain) flour, to coat
2/3 cup Mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes
Oil, for deep-frying
Dressed curly endive and cherry tomatoes, to serve

Method:

1. Put the risotto in a bowl and allow it to cool completely. Beat two of the eggs, and stir them into the cold risotto until well mixed.
2. Use your hands to form the rice mixture into balls the size of a large egg. If the mixture is too moist to hold its shape well, stir in a few tablespoons of breadcrumbs. Poke a hole into the center of each ball with your finger, then fill it with a few small cubes of Mozzarella, and close the hole over again with the rice mixture.
3. Heat the oil for deep-frying until a small piece of bread sizzles as soon as it is dropped in.
4. Spread some flour on a plate. Beat the remaining egg in a shallow bowl. Sprinkle another plate with breadcrumbs. Roll the balls in the flour, then in the egg, and finally in the breadcrumbs.
5. Fry them a few at a time in the hot oil until golden and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper while the remaining balls are being fried. Serve hot, with a simple salad of dressed curly endive leaves and cherry tomatoes.

Tip: These provide the perfect solution as to what to do with leftover risotto, as they are best made with a cold mixture, cooked the day before.

Mussel Risotto


Fresh root ginger and coriander add a distinctive flavor to this dish, while the green chilies give it a little heat. The chilies could be omitted for a milder dish. Recipe serves 3-4.

Ingredients:

2 pound (1 kg) fresh mussels
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1-2 fresh green chilies, seeded and finely sliced
1 inch (2.5 cm) piece of fresh root ginger, grated
1 1/2 cups risotto rice
3 3/4 cups simmering fish stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
2 tablespoons double (thickened) cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. Scrub the mussels, discarding any that do not close when sharply tapped. Place in a large saucepan. Add 1/2 cup of the wine and bring to the boil. Cover the pan and cook the mussels for 4-5 minutes until they have opened, shaking the pan occasionally. Drain, reserving the liquid and discarding any mussels that have not opened. Remove most of the mussels from their shells, reserving a few in their shells for decoration. Strain the mussel liquid.
2. Heat the oil and fry the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes until beginning to soften. Add the chilies. Continue to cook over a low heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, then stir in the ginger and fry gently for 1 minute more.
3. Add the rice and cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring, until the rice is coated in oil and becomes translucent.
4. Stir in the reserved cooking liquid from the mussels. When this has been absorbed, add the remaining wine and cook stirring, until this has also been absorbed. Now add the hot fish stock, a little at a time, making sure each addition has been absorbed before adding the next.
5. When the rice is about three-quarters cooked, stir in the mussels. Add the coriander and season with salt and pepper. Continue adding stock to the risotto until it is creamy and the rice is tender but slightly firm in the center.
6. Remove the risotto from the heat, stir in the cream, cover and leave to rest for a few minutes. Spoon into a warmed serving dish, decorate with the reserved mussels in their shells, and serve immediately.

Squid Risotto with Chili and Coriander


Squid needs to be cooked either very quickly or very slowly. Here the squid is marinated in lime and kiwi fruit - a popular method in New Zealand for tenderizing squid. Recipe serves 3-4.

Ingredients:

1 pound (500 g) squid
3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil
1/2 ounce (15 g) butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 fresh red chili, seeded and finely sliced
1 1/2 cups risotto rice
3/4 cup dry white wine
4 cups simmering fish stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Marinade:
2 ripe kiwi fruit, chopped and mashed
1 fresh red chili, seeded and finely sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Method:

1. If not already cleaned, prepare the squid by cutting off the tentacles at the base and pulling to remove the quill. Discard the quill and intestines, if necessary, and pull away the thin outer skin. Rinse the body and cut into thin strips; cut the tentacles into short pieces, discarding the beak and eyes.
2. Mash the kiwi fruit for the marinade in a bowl, then stir in the chili and lime juice. Add the squid, stirring to coat all the strips in the mixture. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, cover with clear film and set aside in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight.
3. Drain the squid. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the strips, in batches if necessary, for about 30-60 seconds over a high heat. It is important that the squid cooks very quickly. Transfer the cooked squid to a plate and set aside. Do not worry if some of the marinade clings to the squid, but if too much juice accumulates in the pan, pour this into a jug and add more olive oil when cooking the next batch, so that the squid fries rather than simmers. Reserve the accumulated juices in a jug.
4. Heat the remaining oil with the butter in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion and garlic for 5-6 minutes until soft. Add the sliced chili to the saucepan and fry for 1 minute more.
5. Add the rice. Cook for a few minutes, stirring, until the rice is coated with oil and is slightly translucent, then stir in the wine until it has been absorbed.
6. Gradually add the hot stock and the reserved cooking liquid from the squid, a large spoonful at a time, stirring the rice constantly and waiting until each quantity of stock has been absorbed before adding the next.
7. When the rice is about three-quarters cooked, stir in the squid and continue cooking the risotto until all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is tender, but retains a bit of "bite". Stir in the chopped coriander, cover with the lid or a dish towel, and leave to rest for a few minutes before serving.

Tip: Although fish stock underlines the flavor of the squid, a light chicken or vegetable stock would also work well in this recipe.

Best Italian Rice and Risotto Recipes

In Italy, especially in the north, rice is more than just a useful accompaniment to meat and fish. Risottos are one of the few rice dishes that are entirely native to Europe, and, like the rice eaten in the the east, the rice here is loved for its own merits. Other ingredients are added for flavor, but the true star of the risotto is the rice itself.

Apple and Lemon Risotto with Poached Plums
Brown Rice Risotto with Mushrooms and Parmesan
Champagne Risotto
Chicken Liver Risotto
Chocolate Risotto
Crab Risotto
Duck Risotto
Fried Rice Balls Stuffed with Mozzarella
Green Risotto
Jerusalem Artichoke Risotto
Leek and Ham Risotto
Leek Mushroom and Lemon Risotto
Lemon and Herb Risotto Cake
Monk Fish Risotto
Mushroom Risotto
Mussel Risotto
Pancetta and Broad Bean Risotto
Pesto Risotto
Porcini and Parmesan Risotto
Pumpkin and Apple Risotto
Pumpkin and Pistachio Risotto
Quick Risotto
Rabbit and Lemon Grass Risotto
Risi e Bisi
Risotto alla Milanese
Risotto Frittata
Risotto-Stuffed Eggplant with Spicy Tomato Sauce
Risotto with Asparagus
Risotto with Bacon, Baby Zucchini and Peppers
Risotto with Chicken
Risotto with Four Cheeses
Risotto with Four Vegetables
Risotto with Parmesan
Risotto with Prawns
Risotto with Ricotta and Basil
Risotto with Smoked Bacon and Tomato
Roasted Pepper Risotto
Rosemary Risotto with Borlotti Beans
Salmon Risotto with Cucumber and Tarragon
Scallop Risotto
Seafood Risotto
Shellfish Risotto with Mixed Mushrooms
Spinach and Rice Soup
Squid Risotto with Chili and Coriander
Stuffed Chicken Rolls
Timballo of Rice with Peas
Trout and Parma Ham Risotto Rolls
Truffle and Lobster Risotto
Two Cheese Risotto

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Low-Fat Orange and Ginger Dressing

Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons grated ginger
1 teaspoon honey

Method:

1. Mix all ingredients together until well combined.

Low-Fat Tomato and Garlic Dressing

Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar

Method:

1. Process all ingredients until smooth.

Summer Fruit Puree

This sauce is delicious served with fresh or poached seasonal fruit.

Ingredients:

1/4 rock melon, peeled and cubed
4 peaches, chopped
2 apricots, chopped
1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 cup water

Method:

1. In a small saucepan combine all ingredients and bring mixture to the boil.
2. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until fruit is softened. Cool and blend mixture until a thick puree is formed.

Microwave Method:

1. Combine all ingredients in a microwave-safe dish.
2. Cover and microwave on MEDIUM HIGH for 4 minutes or until fruit is softened.

Watercress Sauce

This sauce is delicious with meat, fish or poultry. Make it just before serving.

Ingredients:

2 bunches watercress
13 ounces (400 g) low-fat natural yogurt
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic
Ground black pepper

Method:

1. Steam watercress for 1 minute, or microwave on HIGH for 15 seconds.
2. Blend watercress with all other ingredients in a food processor or blender to produce a green speckled sauce. This sauce retains its bright green color for about one hour.

Hint: Substitute one bunch of English spinach if watercress is not available.

Strawberry Sauce

A versatile sauce ready to use in your favorite way. Makes a delicious natural topping for any fruit or ice cream dessert.

Ingredients:

8 ounces/250 g/1 punnet ripe strawberries
Icing sugar to taste
2 tablespoons Cointreau or Grand Marnier (optional)

Method:

1. Rinse and hull strawberries.
2. Pile strawberries, icing sugar and liqueur into a food processor or blender, process until smooth.
3. Remove seeds by simply straining sauce through a fine wire sieve.

Zucchini and Garlic Sauce

This sauce is a quick and easy topping for cooked pasta. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

11 ounces (350 g) zucchini
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Black pepper, ground

Method:

1. Slice the zucchini finely. Brush a pan with the oil and slowly cook the zucchini slices until soft. Add the garlic after a couple of minutes and stir the mixture to prevent sticking. Season with pepper to taste.
2. Serve with cooked pasta and Parmesan cheese.

Easy Tomato Sauce

This versatile sauce can be served as a base for pizza or as a topping for pasta, pancakes or spinach gnocchi. Recipe serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

6 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 cup white wine or water
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons no-added-salt tomato paste
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley

Method:

1. Place all ingredients in small saucepan or microwave-safe dish and cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes (microwave covered on HIGH for 5 minutes).
2. Serve hot as is, or puree for a smoother sauce.

Avocado Sauce

Serve with pasta, fish or chicken, or spoon over your favorite hot vegetables. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 avocado, very ripe
1 bunch spinach
1 tablespoon tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 cup low-fat milk
6 1/2 ounces (200 g) ricotta cheese
Black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Wash spinach well and remove all stalks. Place in saucepan or microwave-safe dish with a little water.
2. Cook covered on high heat, until wilted. Run spinach under cold water, squeeze out excess water.
3. In blender or food processor, puree all ingredients until smooth.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Meat a la Pizzaiola

Although beef fillet is a relatively expensive cut of meat, in this recipe you use only half a kilogram to feed four people. The meat cooks quickly, so there is little shrinkage and as fillet is lean, there is no waste. The recipe will work just as successfully if you use veal, pork, or chicken. Add a few drops of Tabasco sauce if you want to make the sauce more piquant. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 pound (500 g) lean beef fillet
1 teaspoon oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 spring onions (shallots), chopped
4 leaves fresh basil, roughly chopped, or 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste (optional)
Garnish: Spring onion (shallot)

Method:

1. Cut the meat into thin strips, about 1/2 x 2 inch (1 x 5 cm).
2. Brush oil over the base of a heavy frying pan and heat the pan over medium-high heat.
3. When hot, toss in the meat and stir-fry until well sealed and browned (approx. 2-3 minutes).
4. Set the meat aside on a warm plate and continue as follows. To the hot frying pan add the garlic and the mushrooms and stir-fry for a further few seconds until the mushrooms are lightly cooked.
5. Add the chopped tomatoes, spring onions (shallots), fresh basil, pepper and salt, and bring to a simmer. Now return the meat to the sauce and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the meat is cooked and the dish is hot.
6. Finally, spoon the meat and sauce onto a bed of rice or noodles, garnish with spring onion (shallot) and serve.

Cheese, Garlic and Herb Bread


Liven up everyday sandwiches with this tasty loaf, inspired by the flavors of Italy. Recipe makes 1 loaf.

Ingredients:

4 cups strong all-purpose (plain) flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sachets rapid-rise dried yeast
4 ounces (125 g) cottage cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
4 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4-6 sun-died tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Method:

1. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the yeast. Make a well in the center; gradually stir in 1/4 pint (150 ml) lukewarm water, or enough to form a dough. Add the cottage cheese, egg, basil, oil, garlic, tomatoes and Parmesan. Beat well, until dough leaves sides of the bowl clean.
2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
3. Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with clear plastic wrap and a tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Grease a baking tray.
5. Knead the dough gently on a floured surface for 2-3 minutes. Shape into an oval and transfer to the baking tray.
6. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

Cooks Tip: If the dough seems slightly sticky when kneading, add a little flour, then knead until a smooth dough forms.

Pickled Beef

You may never have considered making your own pickled beef, so this delicious recipe may be an eye-opener. The commercial product tends to be full of salt and saltpeter, which is not desirable. Recipe serves 8.

Ingredients:

2 pound (1 kg) piece of beef topside
12 whole cloves
1 cup wine vinegar (red or white)
1 cup red wine
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1 medium onion, chopped

Method:

1. Trim any fat from meat.
2. Stick cloves into meat, evenly distributed.
3. Place meat in a bowl large enough to hold it snugly.
4. Combine vinegar, wine, sugar, mustard, mustard seeds, garlic, peppercorns and onions and pour over meat.
5. Cover tightly and refrigerate for three days, turning once or twice each day.
6. Remove meat from bowl and place in a large saucepan.
7. Strain marinating liquid through a sieve into smaller saucepan. Bring to the boil and strain over meat.
8. Cover, bring to boil, immediately lower the heat and simmer gently until meat is cooked through (about 1 hour).
9. Serve hot with boiled or mashed potatoes and cooked red cabbage or cold with bread or with a salad.

Rice Omelet


Rice omelets make a great supper dish. In Japan, they are a favorite with children, who usually top them with a liberal helping of tomato ketchup. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 skinless, boneless chicken thigh, about 4 ounces/125 g, cubed
8 teaspoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 carrot, diced
2 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
2 cups cooked long grain white rice
2 tablespoons (30 ml) tomato ketchup
6 eggs, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons (60 ml) milk
1 teaspoon salt, plus extra to season
Freshly ground black pepper
Tomato ketchup, to serve

Method:

1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Melt 2 teaspoons butter in a frying pan. Fry the onion for 1 minute, then add the chicken and fry until the cubes are white and cooked. Add the carrot and mushrooms, stir-fry over a medium heat until soft, then add the parsley. Set this mixture aside. Wipe the frying pan with kitchen paper.
2. Melt a further 2 teaspoons butter in the frying pan, add the rice and stir well. Mix in the fried ingredients, ketchup and pepper. Stir well, adding salt to taste if necessary. Keep the mixture warm. Beat the eggs with the milk in a bowl. Stir in the measured salt and add pepper to taste.
3. Melt 1 teaspoon of the remaining butter in an omelet pan. Pour in a quarter of the egg mixture and stir it briefly with a fork, then allow it to set for 1 minute. Top with a quarter of the rice mixture.
4. Fold the omelet over the rice and slide it to the edge of the pan to shape it into a curve. Slide it on to a warmed plate, cover with kitchen paper and press neatly into a rectangular shape. Keep hot while cooking three more omelets from the remaining ingredients. Serve immediately, with tomato ketchup.

Skewered Lamb

Baked jacket potatoes and a large mixed salad makes this a memorable meal. Recipe serves 4 (3 skewers each).

Ingredients:

1 cup low-fat natural yogurt
3 tablespoons French mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
2 sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 pound (500 g) diced lean lamb

Method:

1. Mix yogurt with mustard and herbs, add lamb and stir well.
2. Stand for 10-12 hours.
3. Remove rosemary and bay leaves.
4. Thread meat onto skewers, grill or barbecue until cooked.

Tomato Focaccia


Italian flat bread flavored with sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and rosemary. Recipe serves 10-12.

Ingredients:

6 cups strong all-purpose (plain) flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 sachets rapid-rise dried yeast
2 ounces (60 g) Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 pint (150 ml) milk
1/2 cup olive oil
3.5 ounces (100 g) sun-dried tomatoes in oil ( about 1/2 cup) drained and chopped

Method:

1. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Mix in the yeast, Parmesan, rosemary and pepper. Heat together the milk and 1/2 pint (300 ml) water until lukewarm, then add half the olive oil. Pour into the flour mixture and stir to form a soft dough, adding more water if needed.
2. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead well for 5 minutes, or until smooth. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and knead into the dough for 2-3 minutes.
3. Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled, mixing bowl; cover with oiled, clear plastic wrap and a tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place for 30-40 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease two 13 x 9 inch (33 x 23 cm) Swiss roll tins with olive oil.
5. Remove dough from the bowl and knead lightly for a few seconds. Divide into equal halves, then roll out to fit the tins. Drizzle the remaining oil over the dough. Cover loosely with clear plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and leave to rise for about 30 minutes.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until risen and golden brown.

Cooks Tip: Instead of using fresh olive oil, take some from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes. The oil will have a delicious flavor absorbed from the tomatoes and herbs.

Pesto Risotto

If you buy the pesto - and there are some good varieties available nowadays - this is just about as easy as an Italian risotto gets. Recipe serves 3-4.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 1/2 cups risotto rice
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 3/4 pints/1 litre/4 cups simmering vegetable stock
3 tablespoons (45 ml) pesto
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra, to serve (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. Heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the spring onions and garlic for 4-5 minutes until the spring onions are soft but not browned.
2. Add the rice and cook over a medium heat, stirring all the time, until the grains of rice are coated in oil and the outer part of the grain is translucent and the inner part opaque.
3. Pour in the wine. Cook, stirring, until all of it has been absorbed, then start adding the hot stock, a large spoonful at a time, stirring constantly and waiting until each addition of stock has been absorbed before adding the next.
4. After about 20 minutes, when all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is creamy and tender, stir in the pesto and Parmesan. Taste and adjust seasoning and then cover and rest for 3-4 minutes. Spoon into a bowl and serve, with extra Parmesan, if you like.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Meatloaf with Spicy Barbecue Sauce

This lean ground beef meatloaf cooks in its own luscious dark, piquant sauce. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 pound (500 g) ground lean beef (mince)
3 slices of wholemeal bread, crumbed
1 onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 egg
1/2 cup skim or low-fat milk
Sauce:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup tomato ketchup (sauce)
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon instant coffee
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch)
1 tablespoon water

Method:

1. Combine ground beef, breadcrumbs, onion, curry powder, parsley and egg.
2. Stir until mixture is well combined.
3. Add milk and continue stirring until mixture is smooth.
4. Shape meat mixture into a loaf and place in baking dish.
5. Bake in preheated oven (350 degrees F/180 degrees C) for 30 minutes, or microwave, covered, on Medium for 20 minutes.
6. Remove from oven or microwave and drain off any fat.
7. In a saucepan, combine all ingredients, except the cornflour and 1 tablespoon of water, bringing slowly to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
8. Pour sauce over meat and return to oven or microwave.
9. Bake for a further 20-30 minutes, basting frequently with sauce.
10. Mix cornflour and water to a smooth paste. Remove meatloaf to a serving plate and slice.
11. Add cornflour mixture to the sauce in the baking dish and bring back to the boil, stirring constantly until thickened.
12. Pour thickened sauce over the meatloaf. Serve hot with vegetables or cold with salad.

Curry Powder

You can vary the ingredients and quantities according to taste. Curry Powder can be stored for a long time, but gradually loses its flavor. Recipe makes 3/4 cup.

Ingredients:

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 tablespoons powdered turmeric

Method:

1. Mix ingredients well.
2. Refrigerate in airtight container.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cheese Straws


These make a great party snack to have on hand with a pre-dinner drink. Recipe makes 28-32 straws.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 ounces (90 g) butter, chilled and diced
1 ounce (30 g) Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 ounces (60 g) mature Cheddar cheese, finely grated

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Sift flour, baking powder, salt and cayenne pepper into a bowl.
2. Rub in the butter with fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the grated cheeses with a round-bladed knife.
3. Gradually add about 1/4 cup cold water, stirring to mix to a firm dough.
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 10 x 10 inch (25 x 25 cm) square. For twisted straws, cut the dough lengthwise into 14 or 16 equal strips. Cut each strip in half and twist into 28 or 32 ropes. Alternatively, cut out shapes with fancy pastry cutters. Put on a non-stick baking tray.
5. Bake for 10 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Put on a wire rack to cool completely.

Tip: For a tasty crunch, sprinkle the straws with sesame, poppy or caraway seeds. When cutting the dough into strips, use a lightly floured, sharp knife.

Chicken and Basil Coconut Rice

For this dish, the rice is partially boiled before being simmered with coconut so that it fully absorbs the flavor of the chilies, basil and spices. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups Thai fragrant rice, rinsed
2-3 tablespoons groundnut oil
1 large onion, finely sliced into rings
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 fresh red chili, seeded and finely sliced
1 fresh green chili, seeded and finely sliced
Generous handful of basil leaves
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 12 ounces/350 g), finely sliced
1/4 inch (5 mm) piece of lemon grass, pounded or finely chopped
2 ounce (60 g) piece of creamed coconut dissolved in 2 1/2 cups boiling water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the rice to the pan and boil for about 6 minutes, until partially cooked. Drain.
2. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion rings for 5-10 minutes until golden and crisp. Lift out, drain on kitchen paper and set aside.
3. Fry the garlic and chilies in the oil remaining in the pan for 2-3 minutes, then add the basil leaves and fry briefly until they begin to wilt. Remove a few leaves and set them aside for the garnish, then add the chicken slices with the lemon grass and fry for 2-3 minutes until golden.
4. Add the rice. Stir-fry for a few minutes to coat the grains, then pour in the coconut liquid. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until the rice is tender, adding a little more water if necessary. Adjust the seasoning. Pile the rice into a warmed serving dish, scatter with the fried onion rings and basil leaves, and serve immediately.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mille-Feuilles


A stylish French pastry whose name literally means 'thousand leaves'. Recipe makes 12 pastries.

Ingredients:

3 sheets (10 x 10 inch/25 x 25 cm) frozen ready-rolled puff pastry, thawed
Filling and Icing:
1/4 pint (150 ml) fresh or thickened cream
3 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 drop almond essence
8 teaspoons liquid glucose or golden syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla flavoring essence
1 teaspoon hard white vegetable fat
2 1/2 ounces (75 g) dark cooking chocolate

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line 3 baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Place the pastry sheets on the baking trays. Cut each pastry sheet in half lengthwise, trim off the outer edges and cut each half across into 6 equal rectangles. Separate the rectangles and prick the pastry well with a fine fork.
2. Bake the pastry for 15-20 minutes, until well risen and golden. Swap the trays halfway through to ensure even baking. Transfer to wire cooling trays to cool completely.
3. For the filling, whip the cream with 1 teaspoon icing sugar until soft peaks form. Stir in the almond essence and chill until required.
4. Stack 3 pastry rectangles, spreading some cream between each layer. Continue until you have 12 pastries, dividing the cream evenly.
5. For the icing, put the remaining icing sugar, glucose, vanilla, white vegetable fat and 6 teaspoons water in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Heat until smooth; remove from heat. Spread the icing over the top of each layered pastry.
6. Break the chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Place over a pan of simmering water until melted. Put the chocolate in a small piping bag fitted with a writing pipe/nozzle. Pipe lines of chocolate over the icing. Make a feather pattern by dragging a fine skewer through the icing, alternating from left to right.

Tip: The Mille-Feuilles may be made with 8 ounces (250 g) homemade puff pastry if preferred. Cut the pastry into three and roll each piece into a 10 x 10 inch/25 x 25 cm rectangle; cut each rectangle into 12 equal rectangles and bake and finish as directed. Glucose is available at health food stores.

Chocolate-glazed Slices


Earn the title of master pastry chef with these fancy, chocolate-topped delicacies. Recipe makes 12 slices.

Ingredients:

3 sheets frozen ready-rolled butter puff pastry (10 x 10 inch/25 x 25 cm), thawed
Filling:
2 cups milk
3 teaspoons powdered gelatin
5 teaspoons cornflour
1/4 cup caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring essence
1/4 pint (150 ml) fresh or thickened cream
Topping:
6 ounces (185 g) dark cooking chocolate, broken into pieces
12 walnut halves
Fresh strawberries, to serve

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Sprinkle 3 large baking trays with cold water.
2. Lay the pastry sheets on a lightly floured work surface. Cut each square sheet down the center; trim the outer long edges, then cut each rectangle across into six equal pieces to give a total of 36 pieces. Place on the baking trays and prick well with a fine fork.
3. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked. Cool on a wire rack.
4. For the filling, put 1/3 cup milk into a small heatproof bowl; sprinkle the gelatin over and leave to soak. Dissolve in a hot-water bath; leave until lukewarm.
5. Blend the cornflour and sugar smoothly with 1/4 cup milk in a mixing bowl, then stir in the remaining milk.
6. Put the cornflour mixture in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and beat in the eggs. Return to a low heat and stir constantly until thick. Pour into the mixing bowl; cool until lukewarm.
7. Quickly stir in the gelatin mixture and vanilla. Then cover and chill until almost at setting point.
8. Meanwhile, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Fold into the filling mixture until smooth. Chill until thick enough to fill the pastries.
9. Arrange the pastry in stacks of three. Sandwich the pastry layers together with the filling, dividing evenly.
10. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Spread over the top of each pastry slice and top with a walnut half. Serve accompanied with strawberries.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies


Every one's favorite, these classic cookies will disappear as fast as you make them. Recipe makes about 24 cookies.

Ingredients:

4 ounces (125 g) unsalted butter
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 1/4 cups self-rising (raising) flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup dark chocolate bits or drops
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease two large baking trays.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. In a small bowl, beat together the egg and vanilla. Gradually beat the egg mixture into the creamed mixture.
3. Sift the flour and cinnamon together. Stir into the mixture. Add the chocolate bits or drops and the chopped walnuts; mix until evenly combined.
4. Using a teaspoon, place heaped spoonfuls of the mixture 2 inches (5 cm) apart on the two baking trays.
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool a few minutes until cookies start to firm, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool fully.

Tip: To double check that the cookies are ready, turn one over - the base should be golden brown too. Make and freeze several batches of these cookies. Quick to thaw, they are always there for a hungry family.

Coconut Cream Dessert


Use Thai fragrant rice for this dish. Desserts like these are served in countries all over the Far East, often with mangoes, pineapple or guavas. Although commercially ground rice can be used for this dish, grinding the rice yourself - in a food processor - gives a much better result. Recipe serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

Scant 1/2 cup Thai fragrant rice, soaked overnight in 3/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
2/3 cup single cream
1/4 cup caster sugar
Fresh raspberries and mint leaves, to decorate
For the Coulis:
3/4 cup blackcurrants, stalks removed
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1/2 cup of fresh or frozen raspberries

Method:

1. Put the rice and its soaking water into a food processor and process for a few minutes until the mixture is soupy.
2. Heat the coconut milk and cream in a non-stick saucepan. When the mixture is on the point of boiling, stir in the rice mixture.
3. Cook over a very gentle heat for 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then stir in the sugar and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes more, or until the mixture is thick and creamy.
4. Pour the rice mixture into a rectangular pan that has been lined with non-stick baking paper. Cool, then chill in the fridge until the pudding is firm.
5. To make the coulis, put the blackcurrants in a bowl and sprinkle with the sugar. Set aside for about 30 minutes. Tip into a wire sieve with the raspberries and press the fruit against the sides of the sieve so that the juices collect in a bowl underneath. Taste and add more sugar if necessary.
6. Carefully cut the coconut cream into diamonds. Spoon a little of the coulis on to each dessert plate, arrange the coconut cream diamonds on top and decorate with fresh raspberries and mint leaves.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Quick Pita Pizzas


These individual pizzas use wholemeal pita pocket breads for speed and simplicity. Recipe makes 4.

Ingredients:

4 oval Egyptian pita pocket breads or similar wholemeal pita pocket breads
1 cup Napolitana-style tomato pasta sauce
4 canned artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
4 anchovy fillets in oil, well-drained
2 teaspoons capers
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh marjoram sprigs or basil leaves to garnish

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Place the pita pocket breads on a baking tray and bake for 5 minutes.
2. Remove the tray from the oven, then spread the prepared tomato sauce evenly over the warm pita breads. Arrange 4 quarters of artichoke heart on each one. Top each with an anchovy fillet. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon capers and 3 teaspoons of grated cheese over each one.
3. Bake the mini pizzas for 5 minutes, or until completely heated through.
4. Serve immediately, garnished with marjoram or basil, if liked.

Tip: Leftover Napolitana-style pasta sauce should be stored, covered in its container, in the refrigerator. When stored correctly it will keep for a few days. For longer storage, transfer to a rigid plastic freezer container, cover and freeze for up to 3 months.

Fruity White Chocolate Bars


Fruity White Chocolate Bars can be made up to a week ahead and kept, covered, in the refrigerator; they can also be frozen for up to two months. Recipe makes about 16 bars.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup slivered almonds
1 1/4 cups Brazil nuts, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups desiccated coconut
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1 cup dried currants
1/4 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
8 ounces (250 g) Choc Melts, melted
1/2 cup apricot jam
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon icing sugar mixture

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8 x 12 inch (19 x 29 cm) rectangular slab or slice pan; cover base with baking paper.
2. Combine nuts, coconut, fruit and flour in large bowl. Stir in combined hot chocolate, sieved jam and honey. Spread evenly into prepared pan; bake in oven for 45 minutes. Allow to cool in pan before cutting into pieces.

Winter Fruit Crumble

You will need about 2 pound (1 kg) of fresh fruit, cored and diced or sliced, to measure 6 cups for this warming dessert crumble. Recipe serves 6.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup quick oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 ounces (50 g) cold butter, chopped
6 cups cored, diced or sliced apples, pears, rhubarb or a combination
1/2 cup dried fruit medley, or sultanas
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons caster sugar
Thick cream or ice cream, to serve

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Combine oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Rub in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
2. Place prepared fruit and fruit medley in a bowl. Add lemon juice and caster sugar; mix to combine. Pack into a lightly buttered 6-cup baking dish (or 6 x 1-cup individual ramekins). Sprinkle with crumb mixture and press lightly.
3. Bake 40-45 minutes (25-30 minutes for ramekins) until fruit is cooked and topping browned. Serve with ice cream or cream.

Vietnamese Prawn Toasts


Crispy sliced French bread with a delicious prawn topping and sensational sauce. Recipe makes 12.

Ingredients:

1 day-old French baguette
6 teaspoons peanut oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
4 spring onions
1 teaspoon grated ginger root
1 pound (500 g) green prawns, peeled and vein removed
4 teaspoons cornflour
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 cup sesame seeds
Fish Sauce and Lime Sauce:
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 small red chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped
6 teaspoons white sugar
6 teaspoons fresh lime juice
8 teaspoons Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). To make the sauce, mix the garlic, red chili pepper and sugar in a mortar with a pestle, to form a paste. Add the lime juice, fish sauce and 1/4 cup cold water and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pour into a small serving bowl.
2. Cut the bread diagonally into twelve slices. Place slices on a baking tray and brush lightly with the oil.
3. Combine the garlic, spring onions and ginger in a food processor and mix until finely chopped. Add the prawns, cornflour, sugar, salt and pepper. Mix until finely chopped but not pureed.
4. Spread the prawn mixture over the bread slices. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
5. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the prawns are cooked. Serve warm with the fish sauce and lime sauce, for dipping.

Tip: The seeds of the chili pepper add extra heat to recipes, so either include them or remove them according to the heat tolerance of your taste buds.

Tandoori Turkey Breasts

If turkey breasts are unobtainable, use chicken breasts. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon chili powder
1 small piece ginger root, very finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon each ground coriander and cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
Salt and pepper
10 ounces (310 g) natural yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 boneless turkey breasts
To Garnish:
Shredded lettuce
Onion rings
Mint sprigs
Lemon wedges

Method:

1. Put the chili powder, ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin and paprika in a large bowl, with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the yogurt and lemon juice.
2. Place the turkey breasts in a shallow dish and spoon over the yogurt mixture. Cover and leave in the refrigerator overnight.
3. Remove the turkey from the marinade. Cook under a preheated moderate grill for 10-12 minutes on each side, basting frequently with the marinade, until the turkey is cooked through.
4. Arrange the lettuce on a plate, place the turkey on top and garnish with onion rings, mint sprigs and lemon twists. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Chewy Peanut Butter Bars


Peanut Butter Bars can be made a week ahead and kept, covered, in the refrigerator. Recipe makes about 24 bars.

Ingredients:

2 ounces (60 g) butter, chopped
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons marmalade
1 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 cups Rice Bubbles
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup mixed dried fruit
1/4 cup finely chopped glace pineapple

Method:

1. Grease a 9 inch (23 cm) square slab pan.
2. Combine butter, honey, sugar, peanut butter and marmalade in large saucepan and stir over low heat, without boiling, until sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil; remove from heat. Stir in remaining ingredients and mix well.
3. Press mixture firmly into prepared pan and refrigerate until firm.

Jacket Potatoes


Cheap but delicious, jacket potatoes make an excellent accompaniment to grilled meat or, with a tasty filling, an ideal snack on their own. Recipes serve 4.

Ingredients:

4 large potatoes
Oil for brushing
Butter to serve

Method:

1. Brush the potatoes all over with oil and cook in a preheated moderately hot oven, 400 degrees F (200 degrees C), for about 1 hour or until soft.
2. Cut a large deep cross in one side, fill generously with butter and serve immediately, or use any of the following fillings.

Chives and Sour Cream Filling:

Ingredients:

2 egg yolks
2/3 cup sour cream
Dash of Tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons chopped chives
Salt and pepper
Spring onions to garnish

Method:

1. Remove the baked potatoes from the oven, cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the flesh and mash until smooth.
2. Beat in the filling ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture back into the potato shells.
3. Place on a baking tray and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes, until hot and golden brown.
4. Garnish with spring onions and serve immediately.

Bacon and Salami Filling:

Ingredients:

2 ounces (60 g) butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 rashers streaky bacon, rind removed and diced
Salt and pepper
1 ounce (30 g) salami, diced
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Mustard and cress to garnish

Method:

1. Remove the baked potatoes from the oven, cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the flesh and mash until smooth.
2. Melt the butter in a pan, add the onion and cook until golden brown. Add the bacon and cook for 2 minutes, then stir into the mashed potato. Season well with salt and pepper, stir in the salami and parsley and mix well.
3. Spoon the mixture back into the potato shells and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake as above.
4. Garnish with mustard and cress and serve immediately.

Souffle Cheese Filling:

Ingredients:

2 eggs, separated
1 cup grated matured Cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon English mustard
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
Rosemary or parsley sprigs to garnish

Method:

1. Remove the baked potatoes from the oven, cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the flesh and mash until smooth. Beat in the egg yolks, Cheddar cheese, mustard and salt and pepper to taste.
2. Whisk the egg whites until very stiff and fold into the mixture. Spoon into the potato shells, sprinkle with the Parmesan and bake as above.
3. Garnish with rosemary or parsley and serve immediately.