Saturday, August 21, 2010

Soup Days

It’s been a soupy couple of days...

On Weds I made a herb and barley broth from Nigel, which was tastier than expected. Perhaps because it’s SO healthy there was a psychological benefit. A little too leek-ish for my personal taste, so I’ll drop that down ever so slightly next time.

Thurs night was Nigel’s Chicken broth with noodles, lemon and mint which was absolutely delicious, very like a pho (with the odd slice of fresh chilli) if only the noodles had been rice rather than egg. Easy to fix next time. The best thing was that this took 10 mins to prepare, so a good one to keep in my back pocket on nights
I’m working late and need something light.

Tonight was Nigel’s “A velvety soup for a cold day”, which basically was a potato and leek soup. Totally yum, and very very easy to make... Definitely going on the make again list for next Winter.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Onion soup without tears

This was absolutely delicious. Next time, I’ll chop the onions a little smaller after roasting, but that is the only thing I’d change. Served just with buttered white bread and a glass of wine. Sweet and delicious and ever so hearty. Dessert will be left over lemon pot.

Tomorrow night’s supper is in the oven now, herb and barley broth. It’s super healthy so hopefully it will taste great too.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Lamb shanks tonight...

Last night’s meal was left over leek, brie and pumpkin tart. Still yummy. Followed by roast duck breast with a red wine and cranberry sauce (was supposed to be redcurrant but no could find), served with lots of greens. A recipe in this month’s Delicious.

The duck itself wasn’t fantastic, not sure if I just didn’t render off the fat long enough or if they were just particularly fatty but the fattiness it rather spoiled it... The sauce and greens were good, though. That was followed by the last of the poached pear. Also still nommy.

Meanwhile, I had tonight’s meal bubbling away – Nigel’s lamb shanks in red wine sauce. That’s reheating now and the sauce is beautifully reduced and really rich looking. Hopefully it will taste good! Just going to serve it with broccolini, carrot and potato.

Tomorrow night’s meal is now in the oven – oven roasted onion soup. Can. Not. Wait... Dessert for tonight and tomorrow is also done – lemon pots. Whipped cream, natural yoghurt, lemon curd and amaretti cookies. Sounds good.

ETA: Lamb shanks were delicious, lovely flavour with a to die for sauce. Very, very good.

Lemon pots, I served this (intended for six) in to four bowls which was a little too much for me... Next time a smaller serve and I’d be quite happy. Added mini Corinthians which was nice.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Catching up

It’s been a busy period, both at work and in the kitchen.

Up first on the 3rd of August was Nigel's chicken patties with rosemary and pancetta. YUM! Also super easy to make, but took longer than I expected. Mostly because I didn’t read the recipe properly and tried to make them after working back an hour or so, but the corners I cut worked out so alls well that ends well. Definitely on my make again list.

Then on 8-Aug was spiced roast potatoes. These were tasty, but I left off the ground chilli at the end which was a mistake as it could have used some extra kick. Lovely crust on the potatoes, though. This was followed by hot chocolate puddings which were delicious, but I need some more practice getting the cooking time right so that it’s not too stodgy, not too gooey. Of the four I made (two nights in a row), two were over, one was under, one was perfect (the one that was under done was bigger than the one that was perfect) so next time I’ll have to watch the oven more carefully.

10-Aug was spiced pumpkin soup with bacon... but I left off the bacon much to Sam’s disgust. This had a fantastic kick to it and was warming and filling and totally gorgeous. A fantastic flavour so I can see that this will go in as an alternate to my vege soup next winter. Yummy!

On 11-Aug was pork chops in mustard sauce which was delicious. A lovely, lovely meal. Also great for me to try making pan sauces which is something I don’t really do, but rather rely on packet mixes. So some good practice.

And last night was a three course menu with my parents across, but only one recipe was from Nigel. First course was a pumpkin, leek and brie tart from this month’s (August 2010) Delicious magazine and it was a HIT! used store bought shortcrust pastry (with three courses I felt that making my own pastry was a step further than necessary), but it worked a treat. Everyone loved it. As it was a starter there is still plenty left for lunch today. Would be great served cold with a green salad in summer for lunch.

That was followed by Nigel’s slow roast lamb with chickpea mash. I was very cautious with the spices for my parents so the flavour wasn’t quite what it should have been which didn’t matter too much with the lamb (meltingly tender, very nice indeed) but did make a big difference with the chickpeas which were bland and stodgy and not very nice at all. I also didn’t add enough liquid so they were quite dry...

All of this was finished up with pears poached in red wine, with a few cinnamon sticks, some nutmeg and sugar. Simmered away for a couple of hours until they were soft and delicious served with vanilla icecream. Totally yum. This was also inspired by a recipe in Delicious, but rather than served cold with blue cheese and crackers I served them hot with icecream. Good meal.

Tonight: roast duck breast with cranberry and orange sauce (should be redcurrant but couldn’t get redcurrant jelly for love nor money).

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Weekend of good eats

Tonights supper was intended to be Nigel’s pot roasted pheasant with vermouth, but as I could find neither pheasant nor vermouth was instead roast duck with a grand marnier gravy. Yummy... Although I never fail to be amazed at how little meat there is on a 1.8kg bird!

Duck was oven roasted for almost 2 hours. Basted twice with a mix of grand marnier, white wine and brown sugar (mixed well and reduced slightly). While the duck was resting I made a gravy out of the pan juices (less as much of the fat as I could manage) and the rest of the grand marnier mix. It was supposed to also have orange juice, but I didn’t buy any. Not to worry though, plenty of citrus flavour from the grand marnier. Served with roast vegies. Yummy.

I also made tomorrow night’s supper this afternoon, namely a lentil, salami and sausage casserole. Rather looking forward to that as it smells FANTASTIC!
Now cooking in the oven is Nigel’s lime tart. My first attempt at pastry and I suspect that the full serve of butter made it too short as it was ooooozing butter while blind baking. Didn't look appetising, but once the lime filling was added and baked it tasted divine.

In the meantime, dinner last night was fantastic. We went to Soffrito in Newtown. Three courses, each delicious... Duck tortellini with fried sage and brown butter (delicious!), roast beef wrapped in mushroom and pancetta with garlic spinach, mashed potato and green beans (super), and finally an apple and quince tart. Food was amazing. Unfortunately it was rather squishy (chairs literally back to back between tables) and rather loud, so probably just as well we had an early booking and were gone by 8pm. Would be interesting to head along there one Mon to Thurs night to see if the atmosphere can equal the food. Followed by far too much Chandon at the Marly with Kathleen et al. Fun night, but not my type of pub.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Nigel's cheesy potatoes

Rather like a pan fried potato bake but not as creamy... Faster, though. All in all, a bit of a disappointment.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday night: Nigel's stew

The good: It was great having a ready made, hearty meal, that just needed a reheat in the oven.
The not so good: I used water rather than stock and, in re-reading the recipe I also forgot the bay leaves. Unfortunately, while it smelled fantastic this just tasted a little bland. Next time I’ll stick to my usual casserole sauce base, but will keep the balance; the chops in particular were a nice change for more expensive cuts of meat.

Origin: Nigel's Stew recipe from January in The Kitchen Diaries

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday: A busy afternoon

Sunday afternoon tea: Lemon Tarts
Like everyone else on Taste, my filling didn't set particularly well (even with the addition of gelatine, although I skipped the recommended cornsflour stage so that might account for it!) but these were a yummy treat for almost no effort. Only slightly tart -- might add a wee bit of zest next time -- but lovely and light. I had some nice fresh strawberries left over from last night so topped with those rather than frozen raspberries.

Dinner: Dal and pumpkin soup
Nigel Slater, The Kitchen Diaries pg 7
This is sitting, waiting for the boy to finish his shower, so final taste will tell but on checking for seasoning WOW this soup packed a punch! The colour of baby vomit but no one could accuse it of lacking flavour.

Also now simmering away in the oven is Lamb stew (Nigel, pg 10) which will hopefully prove a delicious - and easy! - supper tomorrow night.

Soundtrack: The AFL... All afternoon
Watching: Also the AFL. But not by choice.
Reading: French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guilland

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sunday lunch: Orange salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette

Based on Nigel Slater’s salad, pg 7 of The Kitchen Diaries
The leaves I used were a mix of baby spinach, baby rocket and watercress, plus thinly sliced fennel.
The vinaigrette was lovely, but – even though I tossed through some lovely sweet segments of Valencia orange – the salad was just too peppery for my liking. Next time, I’ll use stick to the sweeter leaves.

Saturday: Pumpkin Pasta

Usually this is slow cook day, but today it's also beauty day. The day when my brows and nails get some professional love and attention. Compounded today by the fact that I also got a haircut -- my first in two years. So there was a lot of hair on the floor when we were done :) Then I went shoe shopping (two very successful purchases, thank you very much!). So now I look like a million bucks and spent a small fortune for the privelege.

But it wouldn't be a good Saturday without something that requires a bit of time and effort, so today it was homemade fettucine with pumpkin.

300g OO flour
3 large eggs
A pinch of salt
And a fantastic arm workout
Cooked quickly in salty water at a rolling boil.
(From Jamie Oliver's website, halved for 2 rather than 4)

The pasta turned out great -- my best effort yet at homemade pasta. Mostly because I kept on kneading, and kneading, and then kneading some more. So it was lovely and silky before I set it to rest. There is a lesson in that... Some patience (and tired arms) makes for a better pasta. Box for ticky for next time.

Sauce (as it should be):
Half a butternut pumpkin, chopped in to 2-3cm cubes and roasted in a generous slug of olive oil
Spanish onion, roasted with the pumpkin
Toasted pinenuts
A couple of tablespoons of creme fraiche
1-2 tablespoons of pasta water
PLENTY of parmesan
(Inspired by a segment on Market Kitchen months ago... but who can say how much I've "made it my own" (aka bastardised it) since then?)

First substitution of the day: marscarpone for creme fraiche. I shopped at the small Woolworths up the road, rather than the big one a few kms away, so no creme fraiche for me today. This is a sub I've made before and it's not the end of the earth -- just makes for a richer, denser sauce. Not quite as tangy and fresh.

I roasted the pumpkin as always... but this time I forgot to dice up a spanish onion and roast that too. Ooops. Then I got distracted and left my pine nuts toasting a little too long... double ooops. Good thing that creamy marscarpone and roast pumpkin tastes great -- even with burnt pine nuts!

Verdict: All things considered the pasta was delicious, but the sauce wasn't my best effort.

Chocolate cake (just a pretty dull recipe, nothing special). To go with it: a chocolate ganache and some strawberries that look superb and will hopefully taste just as good. Also icecream... thanks to the boy's quick dash up to the shops to buy it, as I forgot. Ooops.

Soundtrack: Glee
Watching: TrueBlood
Reading: Magic Bleeds, Ilona Andrews