Monday, April 26, 2010

Risotto - I made some

My lovely fiance William, best friend Jackie and I went out to Pakiri on sunday to help another friend Claire at a Child Cancer Foundation BBQ.  On the way back I was enticed by the many fruit and vege stalls on the roadside.  We stopped at one and I grabbed some squash, onions, courgette and some aborio rice (we were at the last one, closest to town, so there were a few fancy pants ingredients too).

At home I have a whole cook book about rice, and it has a section on risotto. I had a quick read of this and got the basic idea down.  Luckily we had some homemade chicken stock in the freezer so after defrosting it, it was time to start making dinner:

Caramelised squash and courgette risotto
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 sticks celery
1 small green capsicum
1/2 a small squash, cubed
2t golden syrup
1 courgette sliced maybe 1/2 cm think
1 litre of chicken stock - the best you can get. This is the flavour of the dish
1 c aborio rice
Some herbs - basil, thyme, sage, parsley

Get your stock to a simmer in a pot on the stove - you want it hot to add to the risotto as you stir.

Cube your squash and chop your courgette.  Steam the squash till al dente in a heavy pan.  Pour off the water and add some butter or oil to crisp it up, part the way through add the golden syrup.  Once this is done add courgette, turn the pan off with the lid on.

In another heavy pan heat some butter and oil and add your finely sliced onion, garlic, celery and capsicum.  Fry down till soft - don't brown.  Add your rice and cook for a couple of minutes, you want the rice to start turning translucent and be covered in your oniony, buttery mix.  Do not toast the rice.

Start adding your stock by the ladle full.  Stir till the liquid is gone, add another ladle, and keep stirring, wait till the stock is almost gone, and keep massaging the rice.  You want to get all that starch out so you get a delicious soft saucey risotto at the end.  The risotto should be simmering.  After about four - five ladles check the rice for doneness and start seasoning with salt and pepper.  

After awhile you should really see a thick sauce building up around the risotto.

When the rice is soft you're at your last ladle.  Add your squash mix, herbs and final stock. Once this stock is combined you're done.

At this stage you could add extra butter or parmesan cheese, but we didn't have any cheese, and I kinda felt that I didn't need the extra fat of the butter - the risotto was already wonderfully creamy.

I love.  Will be keeping aborio and stock on hand - as it's an excellent 'what's left in the fridge?' dinner idea.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ice Cream again - and getting there

 My very first blog post was about making ice-cream. As part of my on-going quest to make my own food, preservative free - as natural as possible. And that way I can eat more of the naughty things - right?

So I tried two recipes - one the traditional custard way.  It turned out like a flavoured iceberg.  possibly due to a churning schedule I couldn't keep to.  The next recipe was basically a frozen chocolate ganache, recipe here. Very delicious, but not a real ice cream and thigh bulgingly full of fat. So I tasked myself to buying an ice cream machine. Off to trusty Trademe I went and after a good amount of researching and umming and ahhing bought myself a machine.

I've used it twice so far, the first recipe from the premium ice cream section of the recipe book that came with the machine.  This was a custard based version, with silver top milk and cream.  It was good, very rich and chocolatey.  I've just made my second lot, this time banana and chocolate - and can I say it is phenomenal.  Made using a lighter recipe, this one doesn't leave a layer of fat in the mouth and tastes so fresh with the fruit.

Chocolate and Banana ice cream
1.5 cups milk (I used trim)
1.25 cups cream
1 banana
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar (castor is best)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
pinch salt

Warm 1/2 cup of milk and add the sugar to dissolve a bit - don't make the milk too hot, or you will have to wait for it to cool before adding to the mixture.
In a food processor, blender, hand mixer or whatever, blast all the ingredients. Pour into a jug and chill.
Churn in your ice cream maker to the manufacturers directions. Mine always comes out super soft, so needs extra freezing after.

Now thats gotta be a health tonic in comparison to the store bought stuff.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I deleted a post and I take it back

I had a post here - it was about losing my favourite healthy cookie recipe.  It was banana, oat, date goodness. And it was lost.  I couldn't find it on the net again. But, I did find a similar one.

I made the recipe I'd found.  When they came out of the oven I thought they tasted gross, and quite frankly looked like little poos. So I put them on a plate in the kitchen, and promptly deleted my post.  

The following day I picked one up and tried it.  Delicious.

Dunno what happened, perhaps I was too close to the ingredients so I couldnt taste them properly.  Whatever it was, I take it back and here is the recipe again, adapted for my own tastes.

Banana Oatmeal Cookies  
1 egg
1 cup oats 
1 cup white whole wheat flour 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/4 cup raisins and add nuts or anything you like to add texture
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
3T golden syrup/honey
3T peanut butter
1 banana, mashed 
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice 

Preheat the oven to 180.   
In a bowl, mix the oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add the raisins.In another bowl combine golden syrup, vanilla, mashed banana, egg and lemon juice.
Pour into the dry mixture and stir well but don't overmix. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto a baking tray. Flatten each cookie slightly with a fork. Bake for 5-10 minutes - watch them, so they don't over cook.

They look like little poos - don't they!  I'm going to dip in chocolate next time.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Love pie

My boyfriend made us pie.  In the shape of a heart.  It was delicious, and is a taster of all the winter treats to come.

Jamie Oliver - Steak and Guinness pie
olive oil
3 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
30g butter, plus extra for greasing
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped
4 field mushrooms, peeled and sliced
1kg brisket of beef or stewing beef, cut into 2cm cubes
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 x 440ml can of Guinness (no lager, please!)
2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
200g freshly grated Cheddar cheese
500g best-quality ready-made all-butter puff pastry (we used the sheet kind)
1 large free-range or organic egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas 5. In a large ovenproof pan, heat a glug of olive oil on a low heat. Add the onions and fry gently for about 10 minutes – try not to colour them too much. Turn the heat up, add the garlic, butter, carrots and celery and scatter in the mushrooms. Mix everything together before stirring in the beef, rosemary, a pinch of salt and a level teaspoon of pepper.

Fry fast for 3 or 4 minutes, then pour in the Guinness, stir in the flour and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid and place in the preheated oven for about 1½ hours. Remove the pan from the oven and give the stew a stir. Put it back into the oven and continue to cook it for another hour, or until the meat is very tender and the stew is rich, dark and thick. A perfect pie filling needs to be robust, so if it’s still quite liquidy, place the pan on the hob and reduce until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in half the cheese, then season carefully and leave to cool slightly.

Do your thing with the pastry fill with mixture then brush the top with beaten egg. Bake the pie directly on the bottom of the oven (hmmm we cooked low but not right on the bottom, otherwise your pastry will be become super hard) for 45 minutes, until the pastry is cooked, puffed and golden. Delicious served simply with peas.