Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Corn Chowder

From The Conscious Cook, Tal Ronnen, William Morrow, 2009.

When I decided to make this corn chowder I got out the cashews to make cashew cream but, to my dismay, all of the nuts seemed to have small white worms in them. They went into the bin.  I had some ricotta in the refrigerator so decided that I would puree this and use it instead. I know it would not now be a vegan dish but I am not vegan so I felt it did not matter.

The first stage of the dish was to add chopped onions, carrots, celery and a red capsicum to the frying pan. I also added a chipotle chilli. This mix was sautéed for about 10 minutes. Stock was added together with diced potatoes and a couple of thyme sprigs. This was all simmered for about 20 minutes until the potatoes were tender.

I now took a tablespoon and flattened some of the potatoes against the side of the pan. This thickened the soup a little. Now the corn was added and the pureed ricotta. It was all seasoned and simmered for a little longer, about 15 minutes.

To serve, the chipotle chilli was taken out as well as the thyme sprigs. For garnish I added some chopped tomato and chopped parsley.

This was a most enjoyable chowder. The chipotle added a wonderful smoky flavour that enhanced the vegetables. It was a thick soup to warm the cockles on a freezing evening. The ricotta was a mistake as it still had a slight graininess to it; I would have been better to have used cream.

Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Lebanese Eggplant Stew

From The Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker, Lynn Alley, Ten Speed Press, 2010.

The eggplant stew seemed to be somewhat like a spicy ratatouille. 

In a mortar and pestle I pounded ½ teaspoon each of black peppercorns, allspice berries and red chilli flakes, and a small piece of cinnamon stick. This was a little more chilli flakes than was called for but I like my chilli.

An eggplant cut into cubes, a zucchini cut into pieces, a green capsicum sliced, 3 tomatoes cut into large pieces, and an onion cut into segments were added to the slow cooker. Three chopped garlic cloves were added together with the ground spices. It was then cooked on low for about 4 hours.

When it was time to serve the stew some olive oil was added together with salt to taste.

The spices, especially the allspice, had darkened the brightly coloured vegetables so that it took on an almost meaty hue. The juices from the vegetables had blended making a rich and spicy brew. While the stew was rather like a ratatouille in its making it turned out to be quite a different dish altogether.

Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Spaghetti with Artichokes and Olive Paste

From My Italian Heart: Recipes from an Italian kitchen, Guy Grossi, Lantern, 2005.

I was slightly unsure of this recipe when I began it but it turned out to be a taste delight.

 250 g of Kalamata olives were pureed with a little olive oil.

A can of artichokes was drained and cut into quarters.

A pot of salted water was put on to boil and spaghetti put in to cook. While this was cooking a chopped garlic clove was sautéed. The artichoke was added and seasoned lightly. Some chopped chilli and a pinch of dried oregano was added and stirred in. Then the cooked spaghetti was added with a small amount of the cooking water to keep it moist. The mixture was tossed with tongs and then in went the pureed olives and some grated Parmesan cheese. A little chopped parsley was added for some colour.

This was a spaghetti that was bursting with flavour. It is one I’ll certainly go back to.

Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Salad of Goat’s Cheese Fritters with Beetroot and Figs

From Salades, Damien Pignolet, Lantern, 2010.

Beetroot, goat’s cheese and figs—sounded like a perfect mix so I settled on making this dish.

The beetroot were to be baked but I chose instead to boil them until they were tender. They were then peeled and cut into quarters because I was unable to procure baby beetroot. The beetroot were placed into the refrigerator until ready to be put into the salad.

The goat’s cheese was cut into sections and rolled in seasoned flour, dipped into beaten egg and then rolled in panko breadcrumbs. These were also placed in the refrigerator until time to fry them.

A vinaigrette was made with a chopped shallot and a clove of garlic, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper and extra virgin olive oil.

The goat’s cheese fritters were then fried until they were crisp.

A mix of rocket and frisée was tossed in the vinaigrette. The beetroot was also, though separately to prevent it colouring the green leaves.

The leaves were placed on the plate, the beetroot around them. The figs were cut into quarters and placed around, tucking them into the salad. The goat’s cheese fritters were placed into position in the salad.

What a delightful salad. Not only did it look great but it also tasted great. I loved the crunch on the outside of the fritters as you bit into them and hit the creamy salty interior. And they went so well with the sweet beetroot and figs.

Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Three-cheese Omelette

From Hungry: Food from my Heart, Guy Mirabella, Plum, 2011.

I think this is the most delicious omelette that I can remember ever having eaten. It was heavenly.

Three eggs were beaten with a little cream and a touch of melted butter. I then heated some butter and olive oil in the pan. Grated Parmesan cheese was sprinkled across it, three pieces of Camembert were placed as also were several dollops of ricotta cheese. As the omelette cooked the edges of it were raised to allow the uncooked eggs to run underneath. When cooked it was folded and served.

This was a delight to eat. It was soft and basically self-sauced with the butter it was cooked in and bit by bit as it was eaten you met with the different cheeses, especially the Camembert lumps now melted and runny. An amazing dish to be made more often.

Taste: ✔✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔✔

Monday, 11 June 2012

Moroccan Style Broad Bean Salad with Yoghurt and Crunchy Bits

From Jamie’s Dinners, Jamie Oliver, Penguin Books, 2006.

The first thing I did to make the salad was to prepare the crunchy bits. This was done by frying a chopped red onion, a few cumin seeds and a large pinch of dried chilli until they were nicely softened. Breadcrumbs were then added and fried until they had crisped up. The mix was then seasoned and it was ready.

It was then time to prepare the broad beans. I do like broad beans and I usually enjoy the time spent on popping them out of their tough skins. They were dropped into boiling salted water for a couple of minutes, then taken out and, when cool enough, popped out of their skins. They beans were then salted to taste and tossed into a bowl where they were dressed with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. A little chopped mint was added.

To serve, the beans had a few more mint leaves added to them. They were tossed again and placed on the plate over a dollop of yoghurt. The crunchy bits were then spooned over.

The salad worked well. I especially enjoyed the crunchy bits; they were spicy with a little heat from the chilli combined with the sweetness of the red onion. And broad beans are always good.

I do wish Jamie Oliver would set out his work with a little more consideration for the person following the recipe. He generally includes little bits of other information within the recipe so that you have to read through all of this as you try to find the instruction bits. The extra information is often quite interesting but I would prefer to have it separated from the instructional side—perhaps over the name of the recipe as an introduction the way many other recipe writers do.

Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Lemon-Parmesan Asparagus Spears

From New Vegetarian, Robin Asbell, Chronicle Books, 2009.

Some grated Parmesan cheese was mixed with zest from a large lemon.

A sheet of filo pastry was buttered and then some of the cheese/zest mix was sprinkled on it. The sheet of filo was then folded in half and cut into 10 cm squares. On each square an asparagus spear was placed diagonally across it and then rolled. When all of the squares were filled the rolls were covered and placed in the refrigerator for an hour.

A mint aioli was made at this time. In the blender I placed a chopped garlic clove, an egg yolk, a little lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne and some salt. These were pureed and then gradually oil was added while the blender was still going. Some chopped mint was added and given another pulse to mix it in.

The asparagus rolls were now baked in a 200°C oven until golden.

This was a tasty pre-dinner snack that was soon gobbled up.

Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Carrot Pancakes with Hummus and a Feta Salad

From The Modern Vegetarian, Maria Elia, Kyle Cathie Ltd, 2009.

The first thing to do for this recipe was to make the carrot hummus. The carrots were boiled until tender. They were then blended with a can of chickpeas (drained), a garlic clove, salt and pepper, juice from half a lemon, 2 tablespoons of tahini and a little ground cumin. Some olive oil was added to assist in making a puree.

The hummus made it was time to make the carrot pancakes. These were simply made; it was only a matter of mixing all the ingredients (quite of list of them) to form a batter. The ingredients were carrots (150 g grated), a chopped onion, a couple of chopped green chillies, 2 teaspoons each of cumin seeds and ground coriander, one teaspoon of fennel seeds, chopped coriander, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 100 g chickpea flour (luckily I had enough in the pantry), 50 g semolina, salt, and sufficient water to make a thick batter. I used about 150 ml.

The mixture made enough for four large substantial pancakes which were simply fried in olive oil.

The salad was a mix of a little watercress, a peeled orange cut into segments, some micro sprouts, some mint leaves, some bean sprouts and flaked almonds (I used cashews). These were tossed with a dressing made of vinegar, olive oil and Dijon mustard with a garlic clove and a pinch of sugar. Feta cheese was then crumbled into this mix and a pinch of cinnamon sprinkled on top.

The dish was served by placing one pancake on a plate, spreading a pile of hummus over this and then topping it was the salad.

The elements all went well together. I found that the pancake was a little stodgy though flavoursome.  The hummus with its carrot base helped alleviate the heaviness of the pancake, as also did the splendid salad mix.

It is always a surprise to find that sometimes you have purchased a book and it has become overlooked and languished on the shelf. This seems to be the case with this book which is filled with recipes that are modern and have little unexpected twists to them. I must spend more time with it.

Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔

Friday, 8 June 2012

Risotto Primavera Parmigiano

From Elisa Celli’s Italian Light Cooking, Prentice Hall Press, 1987.

This turned out to be a simply made risotto with plenty of vegetables.

I firstly prepared some vegetables: a zucchini chopped, some florets of broccoli, some eggplant chopped, a few spinach leaves and some green peas. It made about a cup and a half all told. Then a brown onion and two garlic cloves were chopped. The vegetables were added to a pan with olive oil and a large pinch of chilli flakes.

These were stirred over heat for a few minutes before adding a pinch of Italian herbs and a cup of Arborio rice.

In the usual manner then warm stock was added bit by bit as the rice cooked but, differently from usual, chopped tomatoes were added alternately with the water.

When the rice was cooked (about 20 minutes later) chopped parsley was added with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese and seasonings.

This was an easy to make risotto with loads of flavour. Though not an out of the ordinary dish it was certainly a satisfying one and one that could be quickly put together using any vegetables that were handy.

Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

Monday, 4 June 2012

Six-Mushroom Salad with Mushroom Dressing

From Nobu’s Vegetarian Cookbook, Nobu Matsuhisa, Pie Books, 2011.

When I first looked at this recipe I wondered about the use of a mushroom dressing to be served on mushrooms. It seemed a little bit much of overdoing the mushroom element. However it worked really well.

A small mix of mushrooms (about 150g) was cut up and fried without oil until they had become soft and wilted. They were then put in a food blender with salt, pepper, about 100ml of rice vinegar and 120ml of oil. They were pureed to make the dressing.

The salad itself was made from about 150g of different mushrooms, six in all including enokis. These were cut into large pieces (except for the enokis) and fried at high heat until their volume had reduced somewhat. They were seasoned and, still hot, placed into the bowl where the enokis were. The mushroom dressing was added and they were all tossed together.

Chives, cut into pieces, were placed on top.

This was a really satisfying salad. The mushrooms are such a comfort food and to have a salad purely composed of them is really delicious. More a full meal than just a salad, next time I can see me having this with toasted slices of crusty bread and perhaps some roasted tomatoes.

Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

Corn and Ricotta Pagnotta

From Italian Food Safari, Maeve O’Meara with Guy Grossi, Hardie Grant Books, 2010. Recipe by Daniel Chirico.

I’m beginning to enjoy making breads. There’s a real pleasure in pounding away at dough and waiting for it to rise. I’m not always totally successful but I’m sure that I’ll get there eventually.

This particular bread had two flours: a 00 flour and maize flour. I used quantities of 500 g 00 flour and 250 g maize flour. These were mixed with 150 g of ricotta, a tablespoon of honey and salt. Half a tablespoon of yeast was mixed with 500 ml of just warm water and when it had dissolved it was poured into the flour mix. This was kneaded for about 10 minutes then left to rise.

After about 2 hours the dough was knocked down, shaped into a ball and placed in a bowl that had been lined with a flour-dusted tea towel. It was left to rise for another hour.

At this stage it was turned out on a semolina-lined baking tray and placed into the hot oven. After about half an hour it was ready.

My dough, I think, was a little softer than it should have been and flattened itself out somewhat on the tray. It was still a very edible bread and all was soon eaten up.

Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Spelt Soup

From Pure Vegetarian, Paul Gayler, Kyle Cathie Limited, 2008.

Finding whole grain spelt was quite a problem; finding spelt flour was no problem at all, but eventually I was able to come across a store that had the spelt grain so I was able to try out this recipe.

It called for the spelt to be soaked overnight. The next day an onion and a garlic clove were fried for a few minutes in butter before 300 g of sliced Jerusalem artichokes were added with a few sage leaves and a pinch of saffron. Vegetable stock was added and brought to the boil. At this stage in went the soaked spelt and it was cooked for about 20 minutes until the vegetables had become tender. The stick blender was then used to make it smooth. Some cream was added with salt and pepper to taste.

When it was served some reserved spelt was added together with grated pecorino cheese. A little extra virgin oil was drizzled over.

This was a thick creamy soup, very tasty. The Jerusalem artichokes have a distinctive pleasing flavour but, I guess, I’ll be using them with extreme care in future: they do cause digestive problems with some users and, apparently, I am one of those because severe stomach pains resulted after partaking of the soup.

Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔