Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hot and Sour Soup

This is my most favourite meal in the world. I haven't made it for ages...and it is truly wonderful, such a lovely combination of flavours!

I was inspired to make it again when I picked up some shinoji mushrooms at the markets for $1.50- oyster mushrooms are great, but substitute with any kind of mushrooms you can get.

I usually make my own vege stock to start. Just your usual stock- but add in some coriander roots to give it a little bit of zing.

Hot and Sour Soup
Serves 2
Nam Prik Pow
4 tbsp oil
3 tbsp chopped garlic
3 tbsp shallots
3 large red chillis deseeded and chopped
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt

3 cups vege stock
1tsp nam prik pow
2.5 cm lemongrass, sliced
3 kaffir lime leaves roughly torn
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
60 g oyster mushrooms
2 – 3 small red chillies, slightly crushed
Coriander leaves to garnish

Nam Prik Pow – fry all ingredients except sugar and salt in the oil till golden brown. Pound all ingredients together in a mortar and pestle.
Bring stock to the boil and stir in Nam Prik Pow. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer, stirring well until the mushrooms are just cooked.
Pour into serving bowls and garnish with coriander.

Different Strokes

Yesterday I had decided to make one of my absolute favourite dishes ever - a beautiful curry using beetroot and eggplant. Rusty was less than excited. After announcing my plans and getting a less than thrilled response, I asked how he would rate this dish in terms of anticipation. 2/10. I was devestated. I guess its easy to accept that blokes don't want to watch chick flicks, or spend hours looking for shoes, but I still take it personally when my bloke doesn't get excited about the same food I do. After eating it, he gave it an 8/10 (I think if he was being honest that would have been maybe a 6 1/2 or 7)- so there was peace in the household. But for me, this dish is an absolute 10/10- I just love it!

I've been trying to think of other dishes that divide the genders- would love to hear your stories...

Beetroot and Eggplant Curry
2 red onions, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves
3-4 hot chillies (fresh or dried)
1 lemongrass stalk
1 dsp cumin seeds
1 dsp coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
4 tbsp sunflower oil
450 g beetroot, peeled and cubed
5 baby eggplants, quartered (or one normal eggplant)
200ml stock
300 ml coconut milk
Salt and pepper
125 g cashew nuts
Fresh coriander to garnish (optional)

Process the onions, garlic, chillies and lemon grass to a smooth paste either in a food processor or using a wand.
Dry roast the cumin, coriander and fennel for a few minutes and grind to a powder.
Heat the oil, when hot, add the onion paste and cook briskly for a few minutes, then add the spices, stirring continuously. When the spices and paste are nicely combined, add in the beetroot and eggplant and fry for a further couple of minutes- stirring constantly.
Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the veges are nice and soft.
Add the coconut milk and cook for another 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, dry roast the cashews to golden brown.
Serve with rice and garnished with coriander and cashews

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bake Club- Plum and Ricotta Crumble Cakes

Welcome to Bake Club. The first rule of Bake Club is you do not talk about Bake Club.

The second rule of Bake Club is YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT BAKE CLUB.
OK Bake Club isn't quite like that, but talk about pressure.

The real second rule of bake club is that you can't wimp out and just buy something- you have to bake it. Two people per week for about 20 people. And this week was my first week.

The standards are pretty high, but I was happy with my performance- got a good response.

It's a recipe I've done a few times from the April Gourmet Traveller.

Plum and Ricotta Crumble Cakes
Preheat the oven to 180°
Ingredients (makes 12)
90g butter
225g caster sugar
Finely grated rind of ½ orange
2 eggs
50 ml milk
100g plain flour
80g hazelnut meal
1tsp baking powder
350g ricotta
1 egg yolk
2 blood plums, thinly sliced
20g hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Beat 80g butter, 165 g sugar and orange rind in a mixer until pale and creamy (3-4 minutes).
Add eggs one at a time, beating well. Scrape down sides and add milk and beat to combine.
Stir in flour, hazelnut meal and baking powder. Spoon into 12 buttered cupcake moulds. Smooth tops and set aside.
Process ricotta, the egg yolk and 40g sugar in a food processor until smooth and divide among the moulds. Top with plum slices (or any other fruit).
Combine chopped nuts, remaining butter and sugar in a small bowl, rub together with your fingers, then scatter over plums.
Bake until risen and golden.