Sunday, November 29, 2009

Gateway to India

Week 2
Theme: Indian
Cookbooks Used: Madhur Jaffry Indian Cookery &
Charmaine Solomon Complete Vegetarian

I love cooking and eating Indian food, so this week was an absolute pleasure. The only thing I don’t like about Indian food is that it is not always particularly photogenic- I find it so hard to photograph and make it look appetizing…so looking forward to seeing everyone else’s pics.
Anyway, again I made 3 dishes from the theme.
Pork Vindaloo - Goan Style Hot and Sour Pork (Madhur Jaffrey)
Sweet Corn and Potatoes with Mustard Seeds and Mint (Madhur Jaffrey)
Eggplant Pickle (Charmaine Solomon )

Sweet Corn and Potatoes with Mustard Seeds and Mint

Of the 3 recipes, this is my favourite. Made it on a Friday night after a couple of drinks at work- it was quick, easy and satisfyingly carb rich with delicious fresh flavours. And it is pretty healthy too. If you’re on a diet, apparently you can substitute water for the coconut milk.

Serves 2 as a main meal
3 tbsp vegetable oil
½ tsp black mustard seeds
¼ tsp cumin seeds
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
150g potatoes, peeled, diced and boiled
200g ripe tomatoes, cut into fine dice
4 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
3 tbs mint , finely chopped
1 fresh hot green chilli, finely chopped (I left the seeds in, but if you want it milder, take them out)
Fresh corn kernels measured to the 450 ml level in a measuring jug (you could use frozen to be even quicker)
85ml coconut milk
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp ground cumin seeds

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When hot, put in mustard seeds and cumin seeds, as soon as they start to pop, add garlic and potatoes. Stir and fry until potatoes are lightly browned.
Add the tomoatoes, fresh coriander and mint and green chilli. Stir and fry for another couple of minutes.

Put in the sweet corn and stir. Add the coconut milk, salt, cayenne and lemon juice. Stir and bring to a simmer.
Cover and turn heat to low and cook for 3-4 minutes- or until the corn is cooked.
Uncover, add some black pepper and the ground cumin.
Stir through, check for seasoning and serve.

Pork Vindaloo - Goan Style Hot and Sour Pork

Serves 6

2 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 dried hot red chillies
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp cardamom seeds
Cinnamon stick
1 ½ tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
5 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp brown sugar
10 tbsp vegetable oil
200g peeled and sliced onions
900g boneless pork, from the shoulder, cubed into 2.5cm cubes
2.5 cm piece of ginger, roughly chopped
Whole head of garlic with the cloves separated and peeled
1 tbsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric

Grind the cumin seeds, red chillies, peppercorns, cardamom seeds, cinnamon, black mustard and fenugreek seeds in a coffee grinder- put in a bowl. Add the vinegar, salt and sugar. Mix well and set aside.
Heat the oil in a wide, heavy pan and put on medium heat. Fry the onions till brown and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and put them into the container of an electric blender with 2 – 3 tbs water. Puree. Add the pureed onion to the ground spices (This is the vindaloo paste- it can be frozen at this point if you want to make it ahead of time).
Use a blender to puree the ginger and garlic- again adding a couple of tbs of water.
Heat the pan again to medium heat and brown the pork in batches. Remove all the pork. Add the ginger-garlic paste to the pan, fry off the paste for a minute or two, then add the coriander and turmeric. Stir.
Add the meat with any juice that has accumulated and the vindaloo paste as well as 250ml water.
Bring to the boil and the lower heat to gently simmer for an hour- stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

Serve with rice and raita (I used just plain greek yoghurt- as this dish is pretty hot, depending on the chillies you are using).

Eggplant Pickle

I made this to give friends and family, this made 2 nice medium size jars, with half a one left over that I’ll use myself. This would be delicious served with curries, but would also be nice to spice up a ham or cheese sandwich.
1 kg eggplants
12 dried red chillies
4 tsp chopped garlic
3 tsp chopped ginger
2 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 ½ tsp ground turmeric
1 ½ cups oil
3 tsp salt
½ cup brown sugar
¾ cup vinegar
2 tsp. garam masala

Wash eggplants and slice crossways. If eggplants are very large, you can also cube them.
Soak chillies in hot water for 5 minutes.
In a blender, combine chillies, garlic, ginger, mustard seeds and some of the chilli water and puree. Combine with the turmeric.

Heat the oil and fry the blended mixture for a few minutes, then add the eggplant. Cover and cook on low heat till the eggplant is soft, stirring now and then.
Add salt, vinegar, sugar, and simmer till thick, stirring to prevent burning. Stir in garam masala, remove from heat and bottle.

If you like these, here are another couple of recipes you might like:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Finally...Vue de Monde

Spoiler alert: this entry does not have a happy ending : (

Finally got my wish to eat at Vue de Monde- its been on the list for a while...and got to eat at the Chef's table- a wonderful vantage point to sit and watch the theater of the kitchen.

With one of our hosts running late, we were quite spoiled, with a number of Amuse Bouche- including the perfect 62 degree egg- it really was perfect. I adore tarragon and the little bit of tarragon cream was a delight and they served up the crispiest breadcrumbs (yes everyone has been laughing at me for raving about bread crumbs- it has that Emperor's New Clothes feel to it somehow).

The deconstructed sorbet was lovely food theatre and has had us talking for days about how passe or not this style of interactive food is...

(Rainbow trout, smoked salmon mousse). The trout was perfectly cooked, the salmon mousse perfectly cooked- the topping of lemon, baby basil and caviar creating variety and delight.

But sadly, this is where the story ends. Due to a commitment at 3 and the lateness of one of our group, I had to leave after entree, so no main or desert...wwaaaaghhhhhhh!

I must go again- the food really was divine, and for anyone who is interested, I think the weekday lunch special is absolutely worth the money (lunch time only, Tuesday to Friday with a selection of signature dishes to choose from. Two courses for $55 or three courses for $70, includes a matching glass of wine and side dishes for the table).

BTW For anyone doing the cooking challenge, its a week late, but these chocolate orange custards would have been perfect for citrus week!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Week 1
Theme: Citrus
Cookbook Used: Marie Clair Flavours

Author: Donna Hay

Well, the citrus cooking challenge turned into an absolute citrus-fest. I turned to one of my favourite cookbooks, Marie Claire Flavours. It seemed the obvious choice as it has a chapter titled lemon + lime. Problem was deciding on one recipe. I solved that problem by making three.

Roast lamb with preserved lemon (served with Sicilian Broad Beans)
Fresh salmon and lime cakes (served with fresh beans and lemony onions)
Spaghetti with lime and rocket

All three were delicious, and as with most of the Marie Claire Flavours recipes, all three are easy and quick to prepare.

My favourite were the salmon cakes, so let me start there. They combine the lovely flavour of kaffir lime leaves in the cakes themselves and tart and tangy lime juice in the dipping sauce.
Fresh salmon and lime cakes
Serves 4 (or in our case 2 for dinner with enough cakes left over to combine with a quick salad for lunch the next day)
500g salmon fillet, skin removed
1 egg white
3 tablespoons rice flour
2 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
1 tablespoon grated ginger
(recipe calls for 1 tsp wasabi paste- I left this out as Rusty and I both hate wasabi)
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Oil to shallow fry

Lime dipping sauce
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar

Remove any bones from the salmon and chop into 5mm dice. Combine with the egg white, rice flour, lime leaves, ginger, (wasabi), and parsley
Heat oil over medium heat. Place 2 tbsp of the mixture into the hot oil, flatten out and cook till golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper and keep warm while you cook the rest.
For the dipping sauce, combine the ingredients and stir till the sugar is dissolved.
I served this with fresh beans and lemony onions. Soaking red onions in lemon juice overnight changes their flavour and texture- making them mild and delicious. So combine 1 sliced red onion with lemon juice, pop in the fridge over night and use to spice up steamed vegetables or with simple salads. (Courtesy of Taking Tea in the Medina, by Julie le Clerc).

Spaghetti with Lime and Rocket
So simple and quick, this was the perfect worknight meal. Rusty was pretty skeptical about pasta and rocket (he thought it sounded as exciting as lettuce soup)- but succumbed to the great combination of flavours.
Serves 2
250g spaghetti
1 tbsp olive oil
Lime rind from 1 lime
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 red chilli, seeded and chopped
2 tbsp. capers, rinsed
6 slices of prosciutto, chopped
100g rocket, torn
3 tbs lime juice
80 g soft feta marinated in feta (I used Persian Feta from the supermarket)

Cook the spaghetti as per the pack instructions and drain.
While the spaghetti is cooking, heat the oil in a large saucepan. Lightly sauté the lime rind, garlic, chilli and capers- for around 1 minute or until aromatic
Add the prosciutto and cook for another couple of minutes- till the prosciutto is nice and crispy.
Add the spaghetti to the pan and toss to coat and heat through.
To serve, toss through the rocket and lime juice and pile into serving bowls. Top them with feta and some of the marinating oil and cracked pepper.

The lamb doesn’t really count, as I made this on the Sunday night before the challenge started (through winter we have a roast every Sunday night, and though its getting a bit warm, we just can’t break the habit). This was delicious (though I overcooked the lamb a bit!). Lamb was sourced from Vic markets (as was the salmon above) and was tender and tasty!

Roast Lamb with Preserved Lemon
1 leg of lamb – about 1½ kilo (recipe recommends tunnel boned- I didn’t get this, but inserted a slit down the bone with a big sharp knife for the stuffing)
1 tablespoon chopped preserved lemon
¼ cup fresh oregano
2 garlic cloves sliced
½ tablespoon cracked pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200°.
Trim the lamb of any excess fat
Combine the preserved lemon, oregano, garlic, pepper and oil in a bowl.
Stuff the cavity of the lamb with the filling.
If using a tunneled leg, tie together with kitchen twine and place on a rack in a baking dish.
Bake for 45 minutes for a quite rare roast, or longer until cooked to your liking.

Serve with mashed potatoes and minted peas.
Or with Sicilian broadbeans as I did. At the Vic markets last weekend, I saw broad beans for only $3.99 a kilo so I grabbed a kilo to make this- an old favourite I sourced off the internet ages ago.

Sicilian Broad Beans
1 tbsp oil
1 small onion, chopped
4 tbsp chicken or vegetable stock
350 g broad beans (about 1 kilo still in the bean)
350 g fresh peas
4 small artichoke hearts, cooked, quartered and marinated (I use the ones from the jar)
4 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to season
Pinch grated nutmeg
10 leaves fresh mint

Sauté onion till transparent
Add all other ingredients except the mint.
Simmer gently for 30 minutes
Stir in the mint and cook for 5 more minutes