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    Saturday, October 22, 2016

    Popular Dessert - In Our House- Nutella French Toast - Bruleed Apples

    Two new desserts that I have made for the Kids in the last couple of weeks
    Bruleed Apples and French Toast Sandwiches
    So easy to turn the breakfast delight into a dessert
    Just make sandwiches with Nutella and a Berry Sauce
    Soak in a beautiful orange and Coconut custard with a hint of vanilla
    Fry in some oil and butter
    Top with Ice cream
    Just beautiful

    Poached Apples are always popular
    How about
    Cooking them in Apple Cider, with some Apple Cider Vinegar for a little sharpness
    Reduce the juice down
    Turn it into a Caramel Sauce
    Pour over the Apples
    Top with ice cream
    Maybe some nuts showered over

    4 cups unfiltered apple cider
    ¾ cup pure maple syrup
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    Pinch of kosher salt
    4 large firm baking apples, halved, cored with a melon baller
    ¼ cup heavy cream
    1 cup sugar

    Bring apple cider, maple syrup, butter, vinegar, and salt
    to a simmer in heavy pot over medium-low heat,
    stirring to melt butter.
    Add apples to pot in a single layer
    (you might need to cook in batches
    depending on the size of your pot)
    Then return liquid to a very gentle simmer.
    Cook, turning apples halfway through, until a skewer
    (or the tip of a small knife) slides easily through flesh
    but apples stay intact, 20–25 minutes; set aside. 
    Remove apples from pot with a slotted spoon and place,
    cut side up, on a rimmed baking sheet; set aside.
    Bring liquid in pot to a boil over medium-high heat.
    Cook, swirling occasionally,
    until reduced to a thick caramel with bubbles that
    slowly expand and then pop, 15–20 minutes. 

    Add cream and stir until sauce is smooth.
    Reduce heat to low and keep sauce warm in pot while you
    brûlée the caramel apples.
    Sprinkle cut sides of reserved apples with sugar and caramelize with kitchen torch
    (alternatively, you can brûlée them under a hot broiler, about 3 minutes).
    I did it in the oven
    Drizzle with warm caramel sauce
    The kids rolled a ball of ice cream
    and dessert was served

    For the French Toast, it's easy
    Make a sandwich of a good bread 
    Soak in custard
    Dessert is served Madam
    Oh this custard is so good, I reckon it would make a wonderful Creme Brulee
    The Custard
    400 ml tin Coconut Cream
    1 tablespoon honey
    1/2 ounce butter (15 grams) butter
    Zest of 1 orange
    1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
    4 eggs
    150 gms caster sugar

    16 slices of an artisan bread, Either make you own like I did or even buy a Brioche loaf

    2 tablespoons Nutella

    1 cup Frozen Mixed berries
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1 teaspoon arrowroot mixed with a little water

    Slowly heat the frozen berries in a pot with the sugar
    till they have thawed and bring to a simmer
    Mix arrowroot to a paste with a little water
    Add to berries
    Stir well and cool

    For frying

    Either use Coconut Oil or as in my case...Rice Bran oil with a knob of butter
    The Custard
    Put the coconut cream, honey, butter, orange zest and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan
    over medium-high heat.
    Bring to a boil, stirring, and remove from the heat.
    Put the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
    Pour the hot cream mixture a little at a time over the egg mixture and whisking
    quickly to combine.
    Place in a flat dish

    The Sandwich
    Using a bread knife, cut into equal size slice
    Cut the crust of and lay flat on a board
    On one slice spread some Nutella, don't take it to the edge
    On another slice spread the berry “jam”
    Soak the bread in the custard for at least 10 minutes or until it’s well soaked
    Meanwhile, add your fat of choice into a skillet over medium heat
    when it is sizzling Add the sandwiches
    Fry on each side until golden brown
    Leave on a rack to drain
    You can make this earlier in the day and reheat
    To Reheat
    Heat Oven 180C
    Place on a baking paper lined tray
    Heat for 10-15 minutes

    Serve once again with Dob of ice cream

    Also I froze the extra
    Good for dessert next week I think

    Friday, October 21, 2016

    Herbed Rice, Cherry Tomato and Feta Salad - Add Meatballs - Dinner Sorted

    This salad was so good, there were slim pickings, if one had wanted leftovers.
    The children all had multiple helpings.
    The idea for this salad came up from the Epicurious Web Site
    Rice tossed with a Herbed Oil, add Cherry Tomatoes and and some Goats Cheese
    Something to accompany this
    How about Meatballs
    Universally loved by kids

    Recently, I read an article in The NY Times cooking column about making food without recipes, which of course we all do...BUT
    The most important thing is to get the ratios right, if you want the best flavour.

    So the suggestion for Meatballs.
    500 gms mince
    1 handful breadcrumbs (1/4 cup)
    1 handful (1/4 cup) of something from the Allum family, Onion, Garlic or Shallots 
    And 1 egg per 500 gms mince
    Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Then add your own flavourings. In this case I added some of the herbed oil and some extra lemon zest, just because I love lemon zest.

    So lets cook
    Make the Herbed Oil first, this will keep for a couple days in the fridge in a airtight jar
    1 and 1/2 cups of Parsley leaves (packed)
    1 cup Mint leaves (packed)
    1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    Put the herbs, lemon zest and salt into the food processor
     Pulse till chopped
    Add oil and process till it makes a sauce
    As it said that this oil would only last 2 days, I have frozen it into icecubes
    I had made a loaf of bread the day before, as dessert was going to be a Luxury French Toast
    So in the same food processor bowl
    I made breadcrumbs
    Soaking up the excess oil and taking on that flavour
    So far, so good
    Now onto the Meatballs
    These can be made ahead as long as you don't overcook them.
    I made a gravy, which became the sauce

    Once again I like to make the mixture ahead, to meld those flavours
    So using the ratios above
    1kg of mince
    1/2 cup breadcrumbs
    1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 eggs
    2 tablespoons herbed oil
    1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

    You will also need 2 tablespoons of flour
    2 cups chicken stock and
    A good slosh of white wine 
    Mix well use your hands
    Cover and into the fridge till needed
    To cook
    Roll into balls and fry until just brown,
    Put aside

    Add enough flour to the pan to make a roux and cook for about 2-3 minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste
    Bring 2 cups of chicken stock with a good slosh of white wine to the boil
    cook for 3-4 minutes to reduce in order to make a nice gravy/sauce
    Add to the roux
    Bring back to the boil and stir so that there is no lumps
    Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary
    Add the meat balls back into the pan
    Mix gently so they are covered
     There was enough for 8 people so I put half the meatballs into the freezer
    The rest I placed into a oven proof dish
    Set aside and if you need to reheat later

    For reheating
    Oven at 180C
    Place the dish into the oven
    15 minutes to reheat
    Before serving dab with little bits of the herbed oil
    Perfect dinner

    For the salad
    2 cups Basmati Rice
    12 Cherry tomatoes halved season with sea sat and pepper
    75 gms Goats feta
    3/4 cup of the herbed oil

    Cook the rice
    I add the rice to a large pot of well salted boiling water
    Cook for about 8-9 minutes till just al dente
    Put into a serving bowl
    Add herbed oil
    Mix well and cool
    Add tomatoes 
    Mix again
    Crumble feta on top
    Serve at room temperature 
    Voila... Just like that

    Monday, October 17, 2016

    Asparagus and Tomato Salad - Spring on a Plate

    Two of my favourite vegetables and they pair so well. Dressed with a White Balsamic and Shallot Dressing, what could be better for lunch? Not a lot
    Don't worry about quantities, just use what you have
    Above I used 3 bunches Asparagus and 12 Cherry tomatoes
    and 3 tablespoons dressing

    First break the ends off the asparagus
    I actually lightly peeled the stalks but that is not necessary
    Blanch in boiling water well seasoned with salt and little sugar
    Bring back to boil and simmer until fork tender about 2 minutes

    Immediately drain and throw into a bowl of iced salted water, to stop them cooking and keep that beautiful green colour
    The water needs to be salted, so that you don't lose the flavour when cooling down 
    Move them around and when cool, drain again
    I cut each spear into 3 pieces, your choice again

    Meanwhile make your dressing, this will keep in a good airtight jar, in the pantry for ages
    I like using White Balsamic Vinegar in dressings, there is a lovely sweetness to it, which enhances the vegetables

    50 mls White balsamic Vinegar
    1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
    Sea salt and freshly Ground Black Pepper
    1 medium banana Shallot, peeled and finely chopped
    100 mls good Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    Place the vinegar, mustard salt and pepper in a jar with a lid
    Shake well to emulsify
    Then add the Olive oil and shake again
    Taste and add more seasoning if you need it
    Cut the Cherry Tomatoes in half and place in a bowl with 3-4 tablespoons of dressing
    Leave to marinate for a while

    Add the asparagus and toss
    Best made at least an hour before eating,
    Keep at room temperature
    Tastes better in my opinion
    All packaged up ready for me to take to my lunch date

    If you query the use of sugar, while cooking the vegetables, it's something my Mother always did
    Particularly with green vegetables
    Also, I heard on the radio...from a famous Chef Based in Parnell, the same advice
    So it must be right

    Tuesday, October 04, 2016

    Using Leftover Roast Chicken - Chicken Pasta BakeWaste Not Want Not

    I'm not trying to preach here but I do hate wasting food. Virtually everything I bought to make the dinner last weekend has been either eaten up or used. want to have a look...just click here 
    So I made a Roast Chicken with  Provencal Flavours, accompanied by a Julia Child recipe for Provencal Potatoes.
    I did rather over cater on the chicken, so there were left overs, In the aforementioned post, I have written what I did with the mix pictured below
    So I gave it some thought and decided that it would make a great sauce for a Pasta Bake

    Another thing I hate to waste is the trimming after you have seeded tomatoes
    just a glimpse on the left
    This was required for the Potato Dish
    Putt all the trimmings into a sieve and squash them, you get some lovely tomato water.
    Good for Bloody Marys by the way, or as in this case, I added it to the Chicken mix
    Bit of extra flavour. The other addition was the leftover rocket.
    Add a little green to your dish...not only pretty but also tasty
    So in big pot of boiling, well salted water, add Pasta, I used a mix of shells and Fusilli
    Meanwhile in another large pan heat the chicken mix
    When the pasta is cooked (till al dente) remove from the pan, tip into the Chicken, keep some of the Pasta water and add to the mix if it is too think.
    Into casserole dish the pop the rocket on top
    Mix it together, it does look so so good
    Then top with some breadcrumbs and grated cheese
    Dinner sorted, there was enough to put in the freezer for a later date
    Talk about economical

    Coconut and Chocolate Chip Cake

    This is such a good cake, highly recommended by 11 people, at my dinner table last week
    I actually misread the recipe and instead of 1 cup of coconut milk, I used the whole can, 400 mls instead of 250 mls. Turns out that was a good thing. It was a very moist cake
    Just perfect in fact. So I have changed that on the recipe. Also I added some orange juice to the drizzle, for that extra orange flavour.
    This recipe came from the Epicurious Website
    An excellent dessert

    1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon fine sea salt
    1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
    3/4 cup sugar

    115 gms (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
    2 teaspoons (packed) finely grated orange zest
    2 large eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 400 ml can unsweetened coconut milk
    170 gms bittersweet chocolate chips (do not exceed 61% cacao)
    1/2 cup coconut flakes

    Coconut Drizzle:
    3/4 cup powdered sugar
    2 tablespoons (or more) canned unsweetened coconut milk
    2 tablespoons orange juice
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


    Preheat oven to 170C
    Generously butter 23 cm/9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides;
    dust pan with flour, shaking out excess.
    I also like to line the bottom of he pan with baking paper
    Sift 1 3/4 cups flour, baking powder, and sea salt into medium bowl.
    Stir in unsweetened shredded coconut and set aside.
    Using electric mixer, beat sugar, butter, and orange peel in large bowl until light and fluffy.
    Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
    Beat in vanilla.
    Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with coconut milk in 2 additions,
    beating just until blended after each addition.
    Fold in half of bittersweet chocolate pieces.
    Spread batter evenly in prepared cake pan.

    Sprinkle remaining chocolate pieces over batter, then sprinkle with flaked coconut.
    Bake cake until golden and tester inserted into centre comes out clean,
    tenting with sheet of foil if coconut atop cake is browning too quickly, 60 to 70 minutes.
    Transfer cake to rack and cool in pan 45 minutes.

    Coconut Drizzle

    Whisk powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk,
    orange juice and vanilla in small bowl to blend well, adding more coconut milk by
    1/2 teaspoonfuls until mixture is thin enough to drizzle over cake.

    Carefully run small knife around sides of cake to loosen.
    Invert cake onto platter, then carefully invert again onto another platter,
    coconut side up.
    Using small spoon, drizzle powdered sugar mixture decoratively over cake.
    Cool cake completely on platter.

    Serve with Whipped Cream or Ice Cream

    Monday, October 03, 2016

    Food From Provence - Chicken , Potatoes, Tomatoes, Garlic - Perfect for a Family Dinner

    When we get together for Family Dinner its a great opportunity to find something different to cook.
    I took my inspiration this time from the NY Times Cook Column, which is emailed to me almost everyday.

    The aromas coming out of my kitchen, while the food was cooking. Divine. Garlic, onions, Herbes de Provence, Roast Chicken. Close your eyes and imagine this
    Such a lucky Family, I reckon
    Quite a lot of prep is required, but the up side is once it's all prepared just some last minute heating, plenty of time to sit and drink some wine with you guests

    So The Menu read
    Cauliflower and Cashew Soup
    French Provencal Chicken
    French Provencal Potatoes ( courtesy Julia Child) 
    Accompanied by
    Charred Broccoli and Rocket Salad
    and to Follow The Best Ever Coconut and Chocolate Chip Cake 

    For this post I will just address the Main Course.
    First Course and "Pudding" later

    The chicken dish required Skin on, Bone in, Chicken Thighs, but when you are cooling for a crowd
    That takes up a lot of space in the oven.
    So I decided to bone the thighs myself. Much neater
    Took a while but I am very pleased with my labour,
    Tidy little thighs with a bag of bones for roasting, to make stock
    So the bonus, some rendered chicken fat and some very tasty stock, for a later date
    French Provencal Chicken
    This amount will feed four people
    I was feeding 11, so hence the quantities you see in the photos
    Adapt as you see fit
    The recipe called for Vermouth but I don't normally have that on hand so I used a dry white wine

        •    8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
        •    2 teaspoons kosher salt
        •    1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
        •    ½ to ¾ cup all-purpose flour
        •    3 tablespoons olive oil
        •    2 tablespoons Herbes de Provence
        •    1 lemon, quartered
        •    8 to 10 cloves garlic, peeled
        •    4 to 6 medium-size shallots, peeled and halved
        •    ⅓ cup dry white wine
        •    4 sprigs of thyme, for serving

    Heat oven to 400 degrees.
    Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
    Put the flour in a shallow pan, and lightly dredge the
    chicken in it, shaking the pieces to remove excess flour.
    Swirl the oil in a hot large roasting pan, and place the
    floured chicken in it.
    Turn the chicken over to oil all sides
    Season the chicken with the Herbes de Provence.
    Arrange the lemon, garlic cloves and shallots around
    the chicken, then add the vermouth to the pan.
    Put the pan in the oven, and roast for 25 to 30 minutes,
    then baste it with the pan juices.
    Continue roasting for another 25 to 30 minutes,
    or until the chicken is very crisp and the meat
    cooked through.
    Transfer to a warm Platter and serve
    Now for the French Provencal Potatoes, 
    just like Potato Gratin, but using soft fragrant onions and tomatoes sauteed in olive oil for the liquid instead of milk and cream
    I didn't use the  anchovies, as our grandson is allergic to fish
    So I just smashed the garlic with the Herbes de Provence and olive oil
    Add this paste to the onion and tomato
    I have left the anchovies in the recipe as Next time, I will add them

        •    2 to 3 onions, thinly sliced (2 heaping cups)
        •    ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
        •     Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
        •    1 ½ pounds ripe tomatoes, seeded and cut into strips about 3/8-inch wide
        •    1 2-ounce can anchovies packed in olive oil, drained (reserve anchovies and oil separately)
        •    2 large cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
        •    2 teaspoons dried herbes de Provence
        •     About 2 pounds thin-skinned, waxy potatoes like Yukon Gold, sliced 1/8-inch thick 

              (6 to 7 cups)
        •    ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Gruyère

    Heat oven to 400 degrees and place a rack at the middle level.
    In a large saucepan, combine onions and 2 tablespoons olive oil
    and stir to coat over low heat.
    Sprinkle lightly with salt.
    At a gentle simmer, cook uncovered until onions
    are softened and lightly golden, 10 to 15 minutes,
    stirring often. Do not brown; lower the heat if necessary.
    When done, fold in tomatoes just until heated through.
    Set aside.

    In a small food processor or a mortar, add the anchovies
    anywhere from 6 to 12 fillets, depending on their
    size and your taste.
    Add garlic, herbs and a dozen grinds of pepper.
    Add 2 tablespoons olive oil (or use the oil from the
    anchovy can, if you like).
    Crush or pulse together into a chunky paste,
    thinning with oil as needed to make a loose, fluid mixture.
    Add to the onion tomato mixture

    In a medium-size baking dish, spread a quarter of the
    onion-tomato mixture.
    On top, arrange half the potato slices,
    Add half the remaining onion-tomato mixture.
    Build one more layer with remaining potato slices,
    then onion-tomato mixture.
    Sprinkle cheese on top and drizzle with olive oil.
    If the dish is very full, place on a baking sheet.
    Transfer to oven and bake, uncovered, until the potatoes
    are tender and have absorbed all of the juices in the
    bottom of the dish, 40 to 50 minutes.
    Test by tasting a bit of potato; it should be soft all the
    way through, with no raw taste.
    If the top is browning too fast, cover very loosely with
    a sheet of foil.
    If the top is not brown enough when the potatoes
    are cooked, broil briefly until deliciously glazed.
    Serve gratin hot or warm.
    Can be cooled and reheated later the same day,
    but do not refrigerate.
     So you do need something green with this meal 
    How about this Charred Broccoli and Rocket Salad 
    Just a slightly different touch to the Broccoli
    A quick char on a grill for that extra flavour

    Serve 6

    2 heads of broccoli, florets separated, stems peeled and reserved
    Kosher salt
    3 tablespoons olive oil

    1 oil-packed anchovy fillet
    1 garlic clove
    ⅔ cup mayonnaise
    ¼ cup buttermilk
    1 cup tarragon leaves
    ¼ cup chopped chives
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard

    Finishing touches

    3 cups mature arugula, tough stems removed, leaves torn

    Make the Dressing first  
    Purée anchovy, garlic, mayonnaise, buttermilk, chervil, tarragon, chives, lemon juice, and mustard in a blender until smooth; season dressing with salt.
    This can be made ahead and will keep for up to 2 days
    Cover and chill
    Cook broccoli in a large pot of boiling salted water until bright green and crisp-tender, 
    about 2 minutes. Drain; transfer to a bowl of ice water. Let cool, then drain. Pat broccoli dry; place in a large bowl.
    Prepare a grill for medium-high heat. Drizzle broccoli with oil and toss to coat; season with salt. Grill broccoli, turning occasionally, until charred in spots, 5–7 minutes.
    Return to bowl and let cool, tossing occasionally.
    Add Rocket to Broccoli and toss to combine.
    Drizzle salad with ¾ cup dressing and toss to coat; season with more salt if needed.
    Arrange salad on a platter
    The actual recipe, suggested sprinkling smoked cheddar over the top
    That didn't work with my Provencal flavours, but I knew it could work another time
    So keep this in mind for another occasion

    On the Waste Not, Want Not part of this post
    First the bits of potato, which didn't look attractive enough for the Gratin
    Don't waste please
    I cooked them in some boiling salted water, drained and mashed with some olive oil
    into the fridge
    There was some also leftover chicken
     So last night, I made a  roux with some of the chicken fat and used the stock underneath to make a very chickeny sauce
     Added the chicken cut into chunks and some frozen corn and more Herbes de Provence
    Add 2-3 tablespoons of the leftover Salad dressing, that tarragon flavour... perfect to add to the chicken
    Here you go
    I used some of this chicken mixture
    Topped with the mashed potato
    Voila, Dinner for one
    And the good news is there is a whole pile of chicken mixture to go into the freezer to be used at a later date.