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.

Chewy Fruit Bars


Chewy Fruit Bars can be made up to a week ahead and stored in an airtight container. Recipe makes about 18 bars.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 ounces (90 g) butter
1 1/4 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
1 egg yolk
Topping:
2 eggs
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup self-rising (raising) flour
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup sultanas
1 1/2 cups roasted unsalted peanuts
1 cup desiccated coconut

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease an 8 x 12 inch (20 x 30 cm) shallow slab or slice pan; line base and two long sides with baking paper, extending paper 1 inch (2.5 cm) above edge of pan.
2. Combine sugar and butter in medium-sized saucepan; stir over medium heat until butter is melted. Stir in sifted flour and egg yolk. Press mixture over base of prepared pan. Bake in oven about 10 minutes or until browned lightly; cool.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the topping: Beat eggs and sugar in small bowl with electric mixer until changed to a lighter color and thickened slightly; fold in sifted flour. Transfer mixture to large bowl; stir in remaining ingredients.
4. Spread topping over cold base; bake in oven about 30 minutes or until browned lightly. Allow to cool in pan before cutting into pieces.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Shortbread Assortment

The family will love this selection - it's fun to prepare and quick to bake. Recipe makes about 30 cookies.

Ingredients:

4 ounces (125 g) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
1/3 cup cornflour
1/4 teaspoon vanilla flavoring essence
Egg white, to glaze
Toppings and Flavorings:
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Crushed sugar cubes or dessicated coconut
Raspberry jam
Mixed nuts, chopped
4 teaspoons dark chocolate chips

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease 2 or 3 baking trays.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Sift the flour and cornflour over; stir in the vanilla. Knead gently. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and cut into 4 equal pieces.
3. Knead the cinnamon into one piece of dough. Divide in half and roll into two 12 inch (30 cm) ropes. Cut each into 1 inch (2.5 cm) lengths. Form into horseshoe shapes and mark with a fork.
4. Roll out a second piece of the dough very thinly. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Roll the trimmings into logs. Brush with egg white. Sprinkle with the sugar or coconut.
5. Roll out the third piece of dough. Stamp out four 3 inch (7.5 cm) rounds and four 2 inch (5 cm) rounds. Using the end of a piping tube, stamp out the center of the smaller rounds.
6. Brush the large rounds with egg white. Put the smaller rounds on top and spoon the jam into the center. Brush with the egg white and sprinkle with the chopped nuts.
7. Knead the chocolate chips into the remaining dough. Roll into 6 balls and flatten.
8. Put the shortbread on the prepared baking trays and bake, in batches if necessary, for 8-12 minutes, or until pale golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tip: To make chocolate shortbread, follow the recipe above but substitute 1/4 cup of cocoa for the same weight of flour.

Melt-in-the-mouth Chocolate Squares


Bite into these iced delights and you will find a hidden chocolate center. Recipe makes 25 squares.

Ingredients:

3 1/2 ounces (100 g) dark cooking chocolate
3 ounces (90 g) unsalted butter
3 large eggs, separated
8 teaspoons all-purpose (plain) flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
3/4 cup icing sugar, sifted
Icing:
4 ounces (125 g) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring essence
4-8 teaspoons milk
2/3 cup dessicated coconut
2 1/2 ounces (75 g) dark chocolate, chilled

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease and line a 8 inch (20 cm) square cake tin.
2. Break the chocolate into pieces. Put into a heatproof bowl. Put bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and stir until the chocolate melts.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Beat until smooth, then leave to cool slightly. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, then beat in the flour, almonds and icing sugar.
4. Whisk the egg whites in a clean, polished mixing bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold into the chocolate mixture. Spoon into the prepared tin.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a warm skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to completely cool.
6. Meanwhile, make the icing. Beat the butter and icing sugar with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and enough milk to give a spreading consistency.
7. Spread coconut onto a baking tray and grill until golden, watching carefully and shaking the tray for even browning. Transfer to a plate to cool. Grate chocolate finely and mix with the cooled coconut.
8. Cut the cake into 25 squares. Spread icing thinly over each square and coat in the coconut and chocolate mixture.

Sausage Rolls


Sausage rolls are a popular savory for parties, picnics and packed lunches. Recipe makes 12 rolls.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 sheets frozen ready-rolled shortcrust pastry, thawed
Beaten egg, to glaze
Filling:
12 ounces (375 g) ground lean pork (mince)
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons tomato ketchup (sauce)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of pepper

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Lightly grease or spray a large baking tray with oil.
2. For the filling, in a mixing bowl, combine the ground pork, spring onions, sage, tomato ketchup, salt and pepper. Mix well, using a fork.
3. Place the pastry on a cold, lightly floured surface. Cut the whole pastry sheet in half down the middle. You will now have three 4 inch (10 cm) wide strips of pastry.
4. Divide the ground meat mixture into 3 equal parts and roll each into a 8 inch (20 cm) length. Put one length down the center of each pastry strip. Brush one long edge of each pastry strip with beaten egg. Fold the brushed edge over the pork meat and press the edges together to seal.
5. Brush the top of each pastry roll with beaten egg. Cut each length into 4 rolls. Score the tops with a sharp knife. Place the rolls onto the prepared baking tray.
6. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and bake for a further 15-20 minutes, or until golden.

Tip: Try substituting the spring onions with 1/4 green apple, peeled and diced.

Hazelnut Rings


Shortbread bases are topped with an almond mixture, hazelnuts and melted chocolate. Recipe makes 12 rings.

Ingredients:

2 ounces (60 g) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
1 egg yolk
Topping:
4 ounces (125 g) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup icing sugar
1 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup ground almonds
2 ounces (60 g) whole hazelnuts, roasted and skins rubbed off
2 1/2 ounces (75 g) dark cooking chocolate, melted

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Lightly grease 2 baking trays.
2. For the bases, put the butter, sugar, flour and egg yolk into a mixing bowl; beat well to a smooth dough. Cover with clear plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
3. For the topping, put the butter in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Sift the icing sugar over and beat until pale and creamy.
4. Sift the flour and baking powder over; add the ground almonds and mix well until evenly combined.
5. Put the chilled dough on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out and cut out twelve 3 inch (7.5 cm) rounds. Cut out the centers, using a 1 1/4 inch (3 cm) round cutter, to form rings. Re-roll the trimmings if necessary. Put the rings on the baking trays and bake for 5 minutes.
6. Put the almond mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large star pipe/nozzle. Remove the biscuits from the oven. Pipe the topping onto each ring and top with the hazelnuts.
7. Return biscuits to the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes, or until pale golden and cooked. Drizzle he rings evenly with the melted chocolate.

Tip: Take care when melting chocolate. Heat it slowly and do not let it get too hot or it will thicken and be too difficult to work with. Drizzle the melted chocolate from a teaspoon over the rings.

Fresh Fruit Galette


Shortcrust and puff pastries combine in a pretty casing for summer fruits and cream. Recipe serves 7.

Ingredients:

1 sheet frozen ready-rolled shortcrust pastry, thawed
2 sheets frozen ready-rolled butter puff pastry, thawed
Beaten egg, to glaze
Filling:
1 pint (600 ml) carton fresh cream
1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
4 teaspoons orange flavored liqueur or 1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring essence
4 ounces (125 g) very small strawberries
4 ounces (125 g) fresh figs, quartered
4 ounces (125 g) redcurrants
4 ounces (125 g) blackberries or boysenberries
4 ounces (125 g) raspberries
4 ounces (125 g) blueberries
1 large kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced

Method:

1. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Place the short crust pastry sheet on a lightly floured, cold, dry surface. Using a 3 inch (8 cm) pastry cutter and a sharp knife, cut the circle into a flower shape with 7 petals. Transfer the pastry shape to the baking tray. Prick all over with a fork.
2. Place one sheet of puff pastry on the floured surface; brush lightly with cold water and place the second sheet of puff pastry on top. Roll over lightly with a rolling pin to seal the two sheets together. Using the pastry cutter and sharp knife, cut into a similar flower shape, as in Step 1. Cut out the inside of the petals, leaving a 1/4 inch (6 mm) border of pastry around each one. Remove the cut-out pastry.
3. Brush the shortcrust pastry 'flower' with egg. Carefully lay the puff pastry on top and brush with egg. Chill for about 30 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (220 degrees C). Bake the pastry 'flower' for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
5. For the filling, beat together the cream, icing sugar and liqueur or vanilla essence with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
6. Put the pastry base onto a serving plate. Spoon the whipped cream mixture into the cut-out petals. Arrange a different type of fruit over the cream in each petal and serve within 2 hours.

Seafood Cannelloni

This is a recipe for special occasions. For a family meal, you may like to omit scallops and shrimp and replace them with 1 pound (500 g) of minced white fish. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 cups water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon ground basil
Salt to taste (optional)
7 ounces (200 g) white fish, cut into small chunks
5 ounces (150 g) shelled shrimp, coarsely chopped
3 ounces (100 g) scallops, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons dry white wine
Ground black pepper to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten
12 lightly cooked cannelloni shells (to make handling easier)
1/2 cup grated low-fat block cheese

Method:

1. Heat oil in frying pan and saute 1 clove garlic and 1 onion until tender.
2. Add tomato paste, water, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 teaspoon basil and salt.
3. Combine remaining garlic, onion, thyme and basil with fish, shrimp, scallops, breadcrumbs, parsley, wine, pepper and egg.
4. Spoon fish mixture into cannelloni shells, and arrange in a shallow casserole.
5. Pour tomato mixture over cannelloni shells and sprinkle with cheese.
6. Bake at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) for 30 minutes until sauce is hot and bubbling.

Passion Fruit Sponge Cake


The passion fruit sponge is a traditional afternoon tea delight. This recipe has a tangy passion fruit butter filling.

Ingredients:

5 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup self-rising (raising) flour
1/4 cup cornflour
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon butter
4 tablespoons boiling water
1 cup whipped cream
Passion fruit icing
Passion fruit butter

Method:

1. Grease 2 x 8 inch (20 cm) sponge sandwich tins. Cut a circle of baking paper and line base, grease over paper and dust tins with cornflour.
2. Beat egg whites in a clean dry basin until stiff peaks form. Gradually add sugar while you continue to beat.
3. Add egg yolks one at a time while beating.
4. Sift flour, cornflour and salt together, combine butter and boiling water and keep ready.
5. Quickly and lightly sprinkle flour over egg mixture and commence to fold in with a large metal spoon. Pour butter and water around side of the bowl and continue to fold quickly and lightly.
6. Pour evenly into the two prepared tins.
7. Bake in a preheated moderate oven (375 degrees F/190 degrees C) for 20 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly touched and mixture begins to shrink from the sides.
8. Turn out onto a wire rack, remove baking paper and cool.
9. Spread one cake with passion fruit butter and whipped cream. Spread passion fruit icing on top of second cake, then sandwich together.

Curried Vegetable Pasties


Spicy curried vegetables in a sour cream pastry will liven up your lunchtime. Recipe makes 8 pasties.

Ingredients:

4 cups self-rising (raising) flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (125 g) butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 pint (150 ml) sour cream
Filling:
4 teaspoons peanut oil
1 ounce (30 g) butter
1 large potato (about 8 ounces/250 g), peeled and diced
1 large carrot (about 5 ounces/ 155 g) peeled and diced
1 cup finely chopped leek
4 ounces (125 g) mushrooms, diced
4 teaspoons curry powder or paste
Salt
Beaten egg, to glaze

Method:

1. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub in with fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
2. In another bowl, mix the eggs and sour cream. Stir into the flour mixture until it forms a soft dough. Compress the dough together, then form into a disc shape on a lightly floured surface. Wrap in greaseproof paper and chill for 1 hour.
3. For the filling, heat the oil and butter in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the potato and carrot, cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the leek and mushrooms and cook a further 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the curry powder and stir constantly for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add salt to taste. Leave to cool.
4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease 2 large baking trays. Roll pastry out on a lightly floured surface and cut out eight 6 inch (15 cm) rounds. Turn the rounds over, brush off excess flour. Spoon the filling evenly onto one side of each round. Brush edges with a little beaten egg. Fold the pastry over the filling and seal the edges with a fork.
5. Put the pasties onto the prepared baking trays. Brush with remaining beaten egg. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve hot.

Tip: Try using wholemeal self-rising (raising) flour for a wholesome variation. Or, add 4 ounces (125 g) diced cooked lamb or chicken to the curried vegetables.

Chinese Stir-fry Pork

The secret of a successful stir-fry is to have all the ingredients prepared before you begin cooking, and then to cook them swiftly so that they reach the table still crisp and alive with color. Recipe serves 4-5.

Ingredients:

1 pound (500 g) pork fillet
1 tablespoon polyunsaturated oil
1/2 teaspoon ginger grated
1 clove garlic, crushed
Pinch Chinese five spice powder
1 cup small broccoli florets
1 cup small cauliflower florets
1/2 green pepper (capsicum), diced
2 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks (julienne)
3 spring onions, chopped
16-20 snow peas
10-12 button mushrooms, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced diagonally
1 apple, cut into slices
1/4 cucumber, cut into slices
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup (sauce)
1 1/2 tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch)
1 cup chicken stock

Method:

1. Prepare pork fillet by slicing thinly at an angle.
2. Heat oil in a pan until very hot. Add pork, ginger, garlic and five spice. Stir fry for 3-5 minutes.
3. Add broccoli, cauliflower, pepper and carrots. Stir-fry 1-2 minutes, making sure that nothing is allowed to overcook and become limp.
4. Now add the rest of the vegetables and continue stir-frying over high heat for another 1-2 minutes.
5. In a bowl, combine soy sauce, honey, tomato sauce, cornflour (cornstarch) and chicken stock. Add mixture to the chicken and vegetables, bring to the boil, cover, turn down the heat and simmer 2-3 minutes only.
6. Serve on a bed of boiled brown rice.

Chocolate-nut Treats


Dark chocolate surrounds a creamy mocha fudge and hazelnut center. Recipe makes about 30 chocolates.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/4 pint (150 ml) cold black coffee
2 1/2 fl oz (75 ml) fresh cream
10 ounces (300 g) dark cooking chocolate
2 ounces (60 g) unsalted butter
8 teaspoons coffee-flavored liqueur
1/4 teaspoon vanilla flavoring essence
2 1/2 ounces (75 g) hazelnuts, finely chopped

Method:

1. Line 2 baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
2. Put the sugar, coffee and cream into a heavy-based saucepan. Place over a low heat, stirring gently with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to medium and heat, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 230 degrees F (115 degrees C) on a sugar thermometer. Remove from the heat.
3. Meanwhile, chop 3 1/2 ounces (100 g) dark cooking chocolate finely in a food processor. Add the chopped chocolate, half the butter, liqueur and vanilla to the sugar mixture. Stir together until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool completely and thicken.
4. Using clean cold hands, roll the mixture into 1 inch (2.5 cm) balls. Roll in the chopped hazelnuts.
5. Break the remaining chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl. Place over a pan of barely simmering water and leave to melt.
6. Using 2 forks, dip the balls into the melted chocolate until coated. Put on the prepared baking tray and leave to set.

Tip: Store the chocolates in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Eat within 3 days.

Pork Tango

This is a favorite recipe. The brandy loses its alcohol during heating but rounds out the lovely fruit sauce. Leave it out if you prefer. You can substitute half a cup of crushed pineapple for the apricots, but remember to reduce the water to half a cup. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup dried apricots
1 tablespoon dried currants
1 pound (500 g) pork scotch fillet, trimmed of fat
1 beaten egg
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or minced (optional)
2 tablespoons mango chutney
1 tablespoon brandy
1/4 cup canned evaporated skim milk

Method:

1. Pour boiling water over apricots and currants in a bowl, and stand for half an hour.
2. Roll pork first in egg and then in a mixture of sesame seeds, breadcrumbs and garlic until well coated.
3. Place in roasting pan and bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 45 minutes.
4. While meat is cooking, heat apricots in a saucepan with the currants and the water in which they were soaked.
5. Simmer gently until water is almost absorbed.
6. Add chutney and brandy and stir until the sauce returns to the simmer.
7. Pour evaporated skim milk in a heat-resistant bowl and gradually stir in the hot apricot mixture (this method will prevent the milk curdling).
8. Return to saucepan and reheat without boiling.
9. To test if the meat is cooked, pierce with a skewer. Juice should be clear.
10. Cut meat into eight slices, arrange two slices on each serving plate and spoon sauce over, distributing apricot halves equally.

Chicken Vol-au-vents


These elegantly shaped puff pastry cases have a delicious chicken filling. Recipe makes 8 vol-au-vents.

Ingredients:

4 sheets frozen ready-rolled butter puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten
Filling:
2 large single chicken breast fillets
1 ounce (30 g) sun-dried tomatoes in oil, well-drained and sliced
1 cup sliced spring onions
3 1/2 ounces (100 g) button mushrooms, quartered
1/4 pint (150 ml) light sour cream
8 teaspoons low-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and pepper

Method:

1. Place 2 sheets of pastry on a lightly floured surface; brush lightly with chilled water. Layer the remaining pastry sheets over the top and, with a rolling pin, roll lightly to seal together. Trim edges with a large sharp knife. Cut the 2 layered sheets of pastry into quarters to give eight squares. Transfer the squares to 2 baking trays.
2. Using a sharp knife, make two L-shaped cuts at opposite corners of each square, 3/4 inch (1.5 cm) from the edge. Brush edges with chilled water. Fold one cut corner over to the opposite cut side. Repeat with the other cut corners. Press corners down gently to seal and form the walls of the pastry case. Chill for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). For the filling, slice the chicken into thin strips. Heat 1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add chicken and fry quickly until cooked.
4. Stir in the tomatoes, spring onions, mushrooms and sour cream. Cook until the liquid reduces and thickens.
5. Remove from the heat. Stir in the mayonnaise and chopped parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover the filling to keep warm.
6. Brush the top edge of the pastry cases with beaten egg. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is well risen and golden brown. Spoon the warm filling into the cases and serve immediately.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Scallop Risotto


Try to buy fresh scallops for this Italian dish, which taste much better than frozen ones. Fresh scallops come with the coral attached, which adds flavor, texture and color. Recipe serves 3-4.

Ingredients:

About 12 scallops, with their corals
2 ounces (60 g) butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons Pernod
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups risotto rice
4 cups simmering fish stock
Generous pinch of saffron strands, dissolved in 1 tablespoon warm milk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 tablespoons double (thickened) cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. Separate the scallops from their corals. Cut the white flesh in half or into 3/4 inch (2 cm) slices.
2. Melt half the butter with 1 teaspoon oil. Fry the white parts of the scallops for 2-3 minutes. Pour over the Pernod, heat for a few seconds, then ignite and allow to flame for a few seconds. When the flames have died down, remove the pan from the heat.
3. Heat the remaining butter and olive oil in a pan and fry the spring onions for about 3-4 minutes, until soft but not browned. Add the rice and cook for a few minutes, stirring, until the rice is coated with oil and is beginning to turn translucent around the edges.
4. Gradually add the hot stock, a cupful at a time, stirring constantly and waiting for each cupful of stock to be absorbed before adding the next.
5. When the rice is very nearly cooked, add the scallops and all the juices from the pan, together with the corals, the saffron milk, parsley and seasoning. Stir well to mix. Continue cooking, adding the remaining stock and stirring occasionally, until the risotto is thick and creamy.
6. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the double cream and cover. Leave the risotto to rest for about 3 minutes to complete the cooking, then pile it into a warmed bowl and serve.

Mediterranean-Style Baked Fish with Vegetables

This is a sublime combination of baked fish, herb-flavored roasted vegetables and basil-flavored tomatoes. Zucchini or eggplant could be added instead of the potatoes or peppers, and chopped anchovies could be used instead of black olives. The tomatoes can be omitted and the fish brushed with olive oil to bake. Recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 pound (625 g) waxy new potatoes
1 large red onion
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
2 garlic cloves
1 dessertspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces (60 g) pitted black olives
2 thick-cut pieces fish (tuna, salmon, swordfish, cod)
1/2 x 13 ounce (410 g) tin chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Basil leaves to garnish

Method:

1. Set the oven temperature to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2. Cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces, the onion into 6 pieces and the peppers into quarters. Press the garlic cloves and toss these, the thyme and the vegetables in the olive oil.
3. Place the vegetables on a baking tray and cook, uncovered, for approximately 30 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften and turn golden.
4. Place the vegetables in a shallow ovenproof baking dish and mix in the black olives. Place the fish pieces on top of the vegetables.
5. Mix the basil and chopped tomatoes and pour over the fish.
6. Bake for another 15 minutes or until the fish is just cooked. Serve immediately, garnished with a few basil leaves and the some green salad if desired.

Choc-nut Snaps


Sliced cookie dough is used to make these tasty peanut and cocoa bites. Recipe makes 38-40 cookies.

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
5 ounces (150 g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup shelled peanuts, finely chopped

Method:

1. Sift the flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl.
2. Put the butter and sugar into a second mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Gradually beat in the beaten egg until well combined.
3. Stir in the flour mixture and chopped peanuts until evenly combined and the mixture forms a dough.
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough, with clean cold hands, to form a 8 x 2 inch (20 x 5 cm) large sausage shape. Wrap the dough in clear plastic wrap and chill overnight.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Thoroughly grease 4 baking trays or line with non-stick baking paper. Slice the dough into 38-40 equal rounds and put them on the baking trays. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
6. Leave the cookies to firm on the baking trays for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tip: If you want to bake the cookies in batches, divide the dough into 2 or 4 portions in Step 4. Slice and bake each portion separately and keep the remainder chilled.

Crackling Rice Paper Fish Rolls

The rice in this dish is in the rice paper wrappers, which manage to hold their shape during cooking, yet almost magically dissolve in your mouth when it comes to eating. Recipe makes 12.

Ingredients:

12 Vietnamese rice paper sheets, each about 8 x 4inches/20 x 10 cm
3 tablespoons all-purpose (plain) flour mixed to a paste with 3 tablespoons water
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
Fresh herbs, to garnish
For the filling:
24 young asparagus spears, trimmed
8 ounces (250 g) raw shrimp (prawns), peeled and vein removed
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
6 spring onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove crushed
3/4 inch (2 cm) piece of fresh root ginger, grated
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 teaspoon finely grated lime or lemon rind
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. Make the filling. Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil and cook the asparagus for 3-4 minutes until tender. Drain, refresh under cold water and drain again. Cut the shrimp into 3/4 inch (2 cm) pieces.
2. Heat half of the oil in a small frying pan or wok and stir-fry the spring onions and garlic over a low heat for 2-3 minutes until soft. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a bowl and set aside.
3. Heat the remaining oil in the pan and stir-fry the shrimp over a brisk heat for just a few seconds until they start to go pink. Add to the spring onion mixture with the ginger, coriander, five-spice powder, lime or lemon rind and a little pepper. Stir to mix.
4. To make each roll, brush a sheet of rice paper liberally with water and lay it on a clean surface. Place two asparagus spears and a spoonful of the shrimp mixture just off the center. Fold in the sides and roll up to make a fat cigar. Seal the ends with a little of the flour paste.
5. Heat the oil in a wok or deep-fryer and fry the rolls in batches until pale golden in color. Drain well, garnish with herbs and serve.

Simple Custard Tart


Serve a slice of this rich, creamy tart for dessert or afternoon tea. Recipe serves 6-8.

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
4 ounces (125 g) unsalted butter, chilled and diced
8 teaspoons caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
Extra 1/2 ounce (15 g) unsalted butter, melted
Filling:
3 large eggs
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 pint (300 ml) milk
1/4 pint (150 ml) fresh cream
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring essence
Pinch of ground nutmeg

Method:

1. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub in with fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
2. Stir in the sugar, egg and 3-4 teaspoons cold water with a round-bladed knife, until the mixture forms a soft dough. Knead the dough very lightly to compress and form into a disc shape. Wrap the dough in greaseproof paper and chill for 20 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) and heat a baking tray in the oven. Grease a 9 inch (23 cm) pie dish with melted butter.
4. For the filling, whisk the eggs and sugar together in a bowl, using a balloon whisk. Gently heat the milk, cream, vanilla and nutmeg, then whisk into the egg mixture.
5. Roll out the pastry and line the pie dish. Trim and flute the edge. Brush the pastry all over with the melted butter. Pour the custard filling into the pastry case. Put on the hot baking tray and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Bake for a further 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the tart comes out clean. Serve warm or cold.

Passion Fruit Icing

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1 passion fruit, juice and pulp only

Method:

1. Cream all of the ingredients together and spread over cake with warm knife.

Sun-dried Tomato Tartlets


A delicious blend of flavors makes these tarts perfect for al fresco entertaining. Recipe makes 8.

Ingredients:

4 sheets frozen ready-rolled short crust pastry, thawed
Filling:
2 large eggs
1/2 pint (300 ml) carton fresh cream
1 cup spring onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, well-drained and sliced
4 ounce (125 g) packet goat's cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
8 grinds black pepper

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2. For the filling, combine eggs and cream in a mixing bowl and beat well with a balloon whisk. Add the spring onions, sun-dried tomatoes, goat's cheese, basil and pepper to the mixture. Stir until ingredients are evenly combined.
3. Place the pastry sheets on a cold, lightly floured surface. Cut each sheet in half diagonally, to make 8 pieces of pastry.
4. Line eight 4 inch (10 cm) fluted tartlet tins with the pastry; trim edges. Prick the bottom of each pastry case, then line with greaseproof paper and a layer of baking beans.
5. Place tartlet tins on a large baking tray and bake 'blind' for 10 minutes. Remove paper and beans. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
6. Spoon filling carefully into the pastry cases, dividing equally. Bake for a further 20 minutes, or until filling is set and puffed. Serve hot.

Tip: To thoroughly drain sun-dried tomatoes in oil, firstly drain in a sieve, then transfer onto kitchen paper towels which will absorb the excess oil.

Satay Glaze

Brush over kabobs for an added flavor boost. Or use as a sauce for stir-fry beef or lamb with onions. Stir in glaze just before serving.

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 tablespoon satay sauce
3 tablespoons water

Method:

1. Place sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sherry, satay sauce and water in a bowl and mix to combine.
2. Brush meat, poultry or fish with glaze and grill, barbecue, pan cook or bake.

Chinese Jewelled Rice


Another fried rice medley, this time with crab meat and water chestnuts, providing contrasting textures and flavors. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cup white long grain rice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
4 dried black Chinese mushrooms, soaked for 10 minutes in warm water to cover
4 ounces (125 g) cooked ham, diced
6 ounces (185 g) drained canned white crab meat
1/2 cup drained canned water chestnuts
1 cup peas, thawed if frozen
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Salt

Method:

1. Rinse the rice, then cook for about 10-12 minutes in a saucepan of lightly salted boiling water. Drain, refresh under cold water, drain again and allow to cool. Heat half the oil in a wok. When very hot, stir-fry the rice for 3 minutes. Transfer the cooked rice to a bowl and set aside.
2. Heat the remaining oil in the wok and cook the onion until softened but not colored. Drain the mushrooms, cut off and discard the stems, then chop the caps.
3. Add the chopped mushrooms to the wok, with all the remaining ingredients except the rice. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, then add the rice and stir-fry for about 3 minutes more. Serve at once.

Tip: When adding the oil to the hot wok, drizzle it in a "necklace" just below the rim. As it runs down, it will coat the inner surface as it heats.

Key Lime Pie


A traditional American favorite - a great dessert to finish off a seafood meal. Recipe serves 8.

Ingredients:

Syrup:
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons grated lime zest
Crumb Crust:
2 cups plain sweet cookie (biscuit) crumbs
7 ounces (200 g) butter, melted
2 teaspoons grated lime zest.
Filling:
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 cup cream
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Method:

1. Prepare the syrup: Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and heat to a simmer. Stir in the lime zest and simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Prepare the crust: Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix well and press over base of 9 1/2 inch (24 cm) greased spring form tin.
3. Bake at 350 degrees F/180 degrees C for 8 minutes.
4. Prepare the filling: Heat 1/3 cup of the reserved lime syrup in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and sprinkle gelatin over the syrup and let soften for 1 minute.
5. Stir in the lime juice, 1/4 cup of sugar and the 2 egg yolks. Stir over low heat until the mixture is thick and frothy, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
6. Beat egg whites and 2 tablespoons of the sugar until stiff. In another bowl whip the cream, vanilla and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar until thick.
7. Fold the whipped cream into the egg whites, drizzling the reserved lime mixture at the same time. When the mixture is smooth, spoon into the prepared crust. Chill until firm, 2-3 hours.

Passion Fruit Butter

A great filler for sponge cake, or use as a spread on bread.

Ingredients:

4 passion fruit
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 ounces (60 g) butter

Method:

1. Cut passion fruit, scoop out pulp and place in a basin. Add sugar, stir well and stand for 15 minutes.
2. Place eggs and butter in top of a double boiler. Add passion fruit mixture and stir well. Place over boiling water and stir until mixture thickens. Cool slightly then bottle in sterilized jar. Seal when cold. Mixture will thicken on cooling. Spread over sponge and add whipped cream.

Crab Risotto


This fresh-flavored Italian risotto makes a wonderful main course or appetizer. You will need two crabs for this dish. Recipe serves 3-4.

Ingredients:

2 large cooked crabs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ounce (30 g) butter
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups risotto rice
5 tablespoons Marsala or brandy
1 2/3 pints (1 litre) simmering fish stock
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
4 tablespoons double (thickened) cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. First, remove the crab meat from each of the shells in turn. Hold the crab firmly in one hand and hit the back underside firmly with the heel of your hand. This should loosen the shell from the body. Using your thumbs, push against the body and pull away from the shell. From the inside of the shell, remove and discard the intestines.
2. Discard the gray gills. Break off the claws and legs from the body, then use a small hammer or pliers to break them open. Using a fork, remove the meat from the claws and legs. Place the meat on a plate.
3. Using a fork or a skewer, pick out the white meat from the body cavities and place on the plate with the meat from the claws and legs, reserving some white meat to garnish. Scoop out the brown meat from inside the shell and set aside with the white meat on the plate.
4. Heat the oil and butter in a pan and gently fry the spring onions until soft but not browned. Add the rice. Cook for a few minutes, stirring, until the rice is slightly translucent, then add the Marsala or brandy, bring to the boil, and cook, stirring, until the liquid has evaporated.
5. Add a cupful of hot stock and cook, stirring, until all the stock has been absorbed. Continue cooking in this way until about two-thirds of the stock has been added, then carefully stir in all the crab meat and the herbs.
6. Continue to cook the risotto, adding the remaining stock. When the rice is almost cooked but still has a slight "bite", remove it from the heat, stir in the cream and adjust the seasoning. Cover and leave to stand for 3 minutes to finish cooking. Serve garnished with the reserved white crab meat.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Summer Strawberry Tart


Glistening berries sit on creamy custard amid almond paste to make a delectable tart. Recipe serves 8.

Ingredients:

1 sheet frozen ready-rolled butter puff pastry, thawed
Border:
2 cups ground almonds
3 ounces (90 g) caster sugar
3 ounces (90 g) icing sugar, sifted
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring essence
Filling:
4 teaspoons custard powder
1/4 pint (150 ml) milk
1/4 pint (150 ml) fresh or thickened cream, whipped
4 teaspoons caster sugar
8 ounces (250 g) small strawberries, hulled
1/2 cup raspberry jam, warmed and sieved

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Place the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll out to 12 inches (30 cm) long. Trim to a 12 x 8 inch (30 x 20 cm) rectangle. Place on the baking tray; prick all over with a fine fork. Chill for 10 minutes.
2. Bake the pastry for 10-15 minutes, until golden. Stand on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes.
3. For the border, place the ground almonds and sugars in a mixing bowl. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well to form a paste. Spoon the paste into a large piping bag fitted with a star pipe/nozzle.
4. Pipe the paste neatly around the outer edge of the cool pastry. Pipe 5 diagonal lines evenly between the sides. Bake for 5-10 minutes, or until golden brown.
5. For the filling, mix the custard powder and milk in a saucepan until smooth. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly, until thick. Pour into a bowl, cover and leave to cool completely.
6. Fold the whipped cream and caster sugar into the custard. Place the pastry base on a serving plate; spread the custard in between the almond borders. Arrange the strawberries over the custard. Brush the warm raspberry jam over the strawberries.

Tip: You may prepare the almond paste up to a week in advance. Cover and refrigerate until needed. If the strawberries are large, slice them before arranging on the tart.

Pear and Parsnip Puree

This unusual puree is delicious served with a roasted rack of lamb. Recipe serves 6-8.

Ingredients:

3 medium parsnips, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 1/2 ounces (100 g) unsalted butter
2 ripe pears, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Method:

1. Place parsnips in a medium sized saucepan and add water to cover. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until tender (about 20 minutes). Drain.
2. Melt the butter in a small fry pan over medium heat. Add the pears and saute for 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and cook for 10 minutes stirring frequently.
3. Process the parsnips and the pears in a food processor until smooth. Add the sour cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste and process to blend. Warm gently just before serving.

Chicken and Mushroom Donburi


"Donburi" means a one-dish meal that is eaten from a bowl, and takes its name from the eponymous Japanese porcelain food bowl. As in most Japanese dishes, the rice here is completely plain but its nevertheless an integral part of the dish. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons groundnut oil
2 ounces (60 g) butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch (2.5 cm) piece of fresh root ginger, grated
5 spring onions, diagonally sliced
1 green fresh chili, seeded and finely sliced
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
5 ounces (150 g) tofu, cut into small cubes
4 ounces (125 g) shiitake mushrooms, stalks discarded and cups sliced
1 tablespoon Japanese rice wine
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 2/3 cups chicken stock
Generous 1-1 1/2 cups Japanese rice or Thai fragrant rice

Method:

1. Cook the rice by the absorption method or by following the instructions on the packet.
2. While the rice is cooking, heat the oil and half the butter in a large frying pan. Stir-fry the garlic, ginger, spring onions and chili for 1-2 minutes until slightly softened. Add the strips of chicken and fry, in batches if necessary, until all the pieces are evenly browned.
3. Transfer the chicken mixture to a plate and add the tofu to the pan. Stir- fry for a few minutes, then add the mushrooms. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes over a medium heat until the mushrooms are tender.
4. Stir in the rice wine, soy sauce and sugar and cook briskly for 1-2 minutes, stirring all the time. Return the chicken to the pan, toss over the heat for about 2 minutes, then pour in the stock. Stir well and cook over a gentle heat for 5-6 minutes until bubbling.
5. Spoon the rice into individual serving bowls and pile the chicken mixture on top, making sure that each portion gets a generous amount of chicken sauce.

Tip: Once the rice is cooked, leave it covered until ready to serve. It will stay warm for about 30 minutes. Fork through lightly just before serving.

Pineapple Salsa

This salsa is wonderful served with fish. It is also good with grilled chicken and roasted duck.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups chopped fresh pineapple
1/2 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon freshly chopped ginger
Ground black pepper, to taste

Method:

1. Stir all the ingredients together, cover and chill until ready to serve.
2. Will keep, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for 2 days.