Monthly Archives: April 2013

Twist on a classic

This is a pescetarian twist on the comforting classic carbonara classic recipe. The traditional carbonara generally consists of eggs, cheese, bacon (or similar) and black pepper. I’m not sure what it is about the creamy richness of the sauce, smokiness from the fish combined with the zesty tang from the lemon, but this is my ultimate (savoury) comfort food.

When adding the lemon juice to your cream and egg mixture, add a little juice at a time and stir as you go to combine and prevent curdling (and don’t try and add cream to lemon juice or you really will end up with a mess).

I used hot smoked trout which has a texture similar to cooked fish, but with the delicious smokey flavour.  You could also use regular smoked trout or smoked salmon to similar effect. This is to substitute for the bacon flavour in the original carbonara recipe.

Regarding your herbs, feel free to experiment. I used lemon thyme and tarragon because that is what I happened to have growing and both go well with seafood. I added the spinach in a feeble attempt to inject some healthiness into the recipe.

I love the slurpiness of spaghetti, but feel free to use your favourite pasta.

What I was cooking this time last year: Thai Curried Pumpkin Soup

Creamy trout pasta

* This recipe was adapted from a Lemon Linguine recipe in “How to Eat” by Nigella Lawson. I have modified and adapted it over the years to come up with the below reincarnation.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 150mls cream
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped herbs (I used lemon thyme and tarragon)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 spring onions
  • 100g hot smoked trout
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach
  • salt and plenty of black pepper
  • Pasta for 2
  • parmesan cheese, to serve

Method

  • Put a large saucepan of salted water on to boil to cook your pasta.
  • Finely chop the spring onions and crush the garlic.
  • Heat the olive oil in another saucepan over a low heat and add the garlic and chopped spring onions.

Garlic and spring onions

  • In a measuring jug add the cream and egg yolks. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine.

Cream pepper herbs

  • Zest the lemon and add to the cream mixture.
  • Juice the lemon and add a little juice at a time, stirring to combine.
  • Add the cream mixture and herbs to the garlic and onions and stir to combine.
  • Put your pasta on to cook in the boiling salted water.
  • Flake the trout and add to the cream sauce, stir to combine.

Trout cream sauce

  • Add the baby spinach and stir to combine and wilt the spinach.

Baby spinach

  • Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the cream sauce.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Serve, garnished with parmesan cheese. Enjoy.

Creamy trout pasta

What is your favourite pasta dish? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Cheese, Lemon, Pasta, Recipes, Savoury, Seafood

Anzac inspiration

Anzac day is recognised on the 25th of April in Australia and New Zealand. Anzac stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, and marks one of the defining moments in the forming of Australia’s national identity. A recipe that is associated with this day of remembrance is the Anzac biscuit. Anzac biscuits are traditionally made from rolled oats, flour, desiccated coconut, sugar, butter, golden syrup and baking soda. It is claimed they gained popularity because the biscuits would last the time and distance it took for them to travel from kitchens in Australia and New Zealand to loved ones dispatched far from home.

I played with the traditional recipe and used condensed milk instead of sugar and golden syrup. If you want to stick to the traditional recipe, follow the details below but leave out the chocolate chips, and replace the condensed milk with 1 cup of sugar and 1 dessert spoon of golden syrup. Even though my recipe uses condensed milk the end result was not an overly sweet biscuit, the condensed milk having less sugar than the sugar and golden syrup that would have normally been used. I added chocolate chips, purely because I love chocolate chip biscuits. If you want chewy biscuits, leave the mixture in heaped spoonfuls on your baking tray. If you prefer a crispy biscuit, flatten out your spoonfuls of biscuit mixture.

Chocolate chip oat biscuits

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 100g butter
  • 1 x 395g tin condensed milk
  • 200g dark chocolate

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C, grease 4 baking trays with a generous coating of butter or oil (or use non-stick baking trays).
  • Measure out the oats, flour, coconut and baking soda into a bowl.

Oats flour

  • Chop the dark chocolate into the size you would like your chocolate chips to be (chunky or finely chopped – it’s up to you) and add to the bowl.

Chopped chocolate

  • Add the butter to a saucepan and gently heat until just melted.
  • Add the melted butter, egg and condensed milk to the dry ingredients in the bowl.

Biscuit mixture

  • Stir to combine.
  • Place tablespoonfuls of your biscuit mixture onto your baking trays (I spaced 6 biscuits per tray).

Biscuit mixture on trays

  • Bake your biscuits in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until golden brown (you may need to do this in batches depending on how much room there is in your oven).
  • Remove cooked biscuits from the oven and allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes on the baking trays. You can sample one or two biscuits now for quality control purposes.

Chocolate Chip Oat Biscuits

  • Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack and allow to totally cool. Your biscuits are ready to serve or store in an air-tight container. Enjoy.

What is your favourite biscuit? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Baking, Biscuits, Chocolate, Oats, Recipes, Sweet, Vegetarian

The superfood band wagon

There has been quite a bit of noise lately about kale being a superfood. Now, I am no expert, but in an effort to get back in touch with the healthy(ish) end of the cooking spectrum, and bracing myself for my next herbalist appointment (that will involve an iridology reading, which doesn’t lie and I’m conscious that I will have nowhere to hide), I decided I should experiment. When I heard via a friend that kale can be turned into a chip, I was sold. It was also helpful that now that the weather has turned a little cooler kale was not too tricky to track down at my local health food shop.

Be warned that cooking your kale chips will stink out your kitchen (think cabbage cooking). If you can go with it, get past the smell and focus on the end goal, you will be rewarded with some tasty chips. You can pimp your kale chips in the flavour stakes any way you like. I did two batches. One batch I sprinkled with a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and these chips were hot! The other batch used the zest of a lemon (because I like all things citrus) and after consulting with my spice collection, a teaspoon of Herbie’s Spices Fish Cake spice mix (which is made up of coriander seed, sumac, fennel, mace, ginger, lemon myrtle, dill, parsley and pepperberry). Get creative and feel free to experiment with your favourite flavours. Or stick to classic salt and pepper.

I used rice bran oil because it has no cholesterol, has a neutral flavour and has a high smoke point so it is good for cooking. The Not Quite Nigella blog had a great tip for your leftover kale stalks, you could use the leftover stalks in a similar way to asparagus.

You could munch on your kale chips as they are, or accompanied by your favourite dip (as a bit of random trivia chips are called crisps in the UK). The cooled chips will also keep in an airtight container for a couple of days (if you can hang onto them for that long).

Kale Chips

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of rice bran oil
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Herbie’s Spices Fish Cake Spice Mix
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Method

  • Pre-heat your oven to 160°C.
  • Wash and dry your kale.

Kale

  • Chop your kale into slightly larger than bite size pieces (there will be a shrinkage factor), avoiding the stems.

Chopped Kale

  • Transfer your kale pieces to a large bowl, add oil and salt and pepper.

Kale salt and pepper

  • Toss to combine.
  • Divide the coated kale pieces between two baking trays.
  • To one tray, sprinkle over the lemon zest and Herbie’s Spices Fish Cake spice mix.

Kale lemon zest

  • To the other tray, sprinkle over the cayenne pepper.

Kale cayenne

  • Put your trays into the oven.
  • After 15 minutes, toss your kale pieces to ensure they cook evenly.
  • Return to the oven for another 15 minutes or so until crispy and chip like.

Kale baked chips

  • Once your chips are crisp, remove from the tray and drain on paper towel to absorb any excess oil until cool.
  • Your chips are ready to serve. Enjoy.

Kale chips

What is your favourite chip flavour? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Baking, Recipes, Savoury, Spices, Vegetarian

Macadamia madness

For my mum’s birthday cake, she put in an order for something with lemon curd. Lemon curd is also known as lemon butter. I had been wanting to experiment with macadamias in a cake for a while and thought a macadamia cake would compliment a tangy lemon butter beautifully.

Macadamias are a nut that are native to Australia and a few other countries in South East Asia. In Australia we are able to readily buy the nuts, either roasted and salted, raw or chocolate covered, and also buy macadamia nut oil, which is good for baking. I used both the raw macadamia nuts and macadamia oil in my cake. Because of the high oil content in the nuts, I processed them with the flour so that I did not end up with a macadamia nut butter type concoction.

This is my twist on recipes that use ground almond meal. I used 2 x 20cm or 8″ round cake tins to bake my cake. I used the lemon curd as a filling with cream for the middle and poured instead of icing over the top. My cake ended up looking quite rustic, because I was too impatient to let the lemon curd set fully and poured it over the cake while it was still quite runny.

To test if something is at “coats the back of a wooden spoon” stage,  take your wooden spoon you have been using to stir out of your liquid, and draw a line across the back of the spoon with your finger. If the line you have drawn stays there, and liquid isn’t bleeding down and distorting the line, it is ready.

Macadamia Cake with Lemon Curd Icing

Ingredients

  • 300mls double or extra thick cream
  • Lemon jelly or jube lollies to decorate

Macadamia Cake

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3/4 cup macadamia oil plus extra to grease your cake tins
  • zest from 1 or 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 200g raw macadamias

Lemon Curd

  • 100g butter, chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Method

  • To make the cake, preheat the oven to 180°C, grease 2 x 20cm or 8″ cake tins with a generous coating of macadamia oil and cut out 2 circles of grease-proof baking paper to line the bottom of the tins.

Macadamia oil lemon baking

  • In a food processor, blitz the macadamias and flour until the macadamias are finely chopped and resemble almond meal.

Macadamia meal flour

  • Add the baking powder, sugar, lemon zest and blitz to combine.
  • Add the eggs, lemon juice and macadamia oil and blitz to combine.
  • Divide the cake mixture between the 2 cake tins and smooth the tops.

Macadamia cake batter

  • Bake the for approximately 25 minutes. When the cake bounces back when touched and is cooked, remove from the oven.
  • Leave the cake to cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the tin.
  • Turn the cake out of the tin onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Your cake is ready to serve, enjoy it while it is still warm or once it has cooled.
  • To make your lemon curd, add your curd ingredients to a heat proof bowl.

Lemon Curd Butter ingredients

  • Half fill a saucepan with hot water and place on the stove top over a medium to low heat, to great a gentle simmer.
  • Set the bowl over a saucepan of hot water to create a bain marie.
  • Stir the curd over the saucepan of hot water until it thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon.

Lemon Curd Butter wooden spoon

  • Remove the curd from the heat and the bain marie. Refrigerate the curd until you are ready to assemble your cake.
  • To assemble your cake, place one cake on your serving plate.
  • Coat the first cake with lemon curd and cream.
  • Set the second cake on top of the cream and lemon curd, and coat the top of the cake with extra lemon curd to ice.
  • Decorate with your lemon lollies if using.

Macadamia cake with lemon curd icing

  • Your cake is ready to serve. Refrigerate until you are ready for the birthday candles and singing.

What is your favourite birthday cake? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Baking, Cake, Cocktail, Lemon, Macadamia, Recipes, Sweet, Vegetarian