Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Vegemite!!!

Apparently we are about to experience a whole new Vegemite! This is the first I've heard of it, but then I have had my head under a rock lately (metaphorically speaking of course). We're supposedly in for a smoother, creamier taste in a different jar that will be available from this Sunday. I will definitely lose sleep over this one...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Roast pork with fennel & figs

Bizarre sounding combination? Perhaps, but it works. And it's totally simple.

Get whatever cut of pork you like. I was after something on the bone but couldn't find one I liked, so I used a boneless rolled roast. Cut some slits in the skin. For crispy pork skin, rub it down with lemon juice first. Don't use the bottled stuff. Actually grab yourself a lemon and juice it. Then rub the lot down with salt, making sure you get some salt into any cuts in the pork skin. 

Place the pork in a roasting pan, throw in some dried figs, quartered fresh fennel and unpeeled garlic cloves. The quantities aren't all that important so long as you make sure you've got enough for everyone. Drizzle the fennel and figs with some olive oil and season with some salt & pepper. You can also drizzle some lemon juice on them. Don't oil up the pork or it won't go crispy. Cook covered, and then uncover and let the pork skin crisp up. You might need to take your veg out so it doesn't burn. Turn the heat up and watch it crackle.

This is really good served with roast veg and gravy, or just pan juices. Don't be put off if you've never used fennel either. It has such a delicate flavour that goes well with the sweetness of the figs and the saltiness of the pork. You probably couldn't transfer the combination to beef or lamb, but it could work with a nice fish, like barramundi. 

Oh, and excuse the slackness over the last couple of weeks. I've joined the ranks of people with a dose of winter flu, so toast has played a pretty major role on the menu. Not really blog-worthy though...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

When good pannacotta goes bad

Our great mate Nathan (aka Dr Dootlittle) has long told stories of how easy pannacotta is to make. He wheels the stuff out at every possible opportunity he gets. (I mean, we all love the stuff, but nobody likes a showoff!!!) Convinced that it was easy and that it would taste brilliant and photograph beautifully, I tried. Sadly, I failed. In fact, I failed miserably. 

My pannacotta came out more like a moulded mound of mashed potato. It's like ice cream that isn't icy. Or cream that has somehow managed to solidify during mid-whip. There is no wobble. In fact, if it's possible to make a stodgy pannacotta, I managed it. Perhaps that's an achievement in itself?

So there it sits, in my fridge, untouched by Tim who usually wouldn't be put off by something like a dessert that doesn't wobble like it's meant to. In fact, he won't even photograph the stuff. He did very helpfully suggest that we pop it into the freezer and pass it off as ice cream. He meant well.

And with bruised ego, I leave this post here and will resort to Lindt for dessert this week.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Winter weekend warmer

I know I've been a bit slack with the blogging lately. It's been for the usual reasons - someone did not create enough hours in the day!!!  

In the last two weeks, Fleur and Dave's wedding has come and gone, I've managed to finish a major project at work, and we're finally on the path to getting the new kitchen. There's actually been a lot of good cooking and eating along the way, but just no time to share and even less sleep. In fact, I think I'm now over-tired because it's 1 am and I can't sleep. Why not blog?

This is one of my new favourites - chunky chorizo pasta sauce. It's warm, it's chunky, it's comforting and it's really easy to do. And it's gluten free. It's all good. Don't be put off by the long list of ingredients. Once you've washed & chopped, it takes very little time to throw it all together. It keeps well in the fridge for a few days and goes well with rice, although I really enjoyed this on toast as well. 

More from me soon, but for now, here's a recipe.

2x raw Spanish chorizo (about 250g), sliced
3 cups skinned & diced eggplant (about 1 medium sized eggplant)
400g can pureed tomatoes
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 1/4 cup diced zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini)
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp hot chilli powder (optional)
salt to taste
1 packet of linguine pasta

Pour about a third of the olive oil into a pan and over a medium heat, fry the chorizo slices until brown. Sprinkle the paprika in during this process. Put the chorizo aside in a bowl when cooked. 

Pour the rest of the olive oil into the pan and soften the onion. Add the garlic and eggplant and fry until the eggplant starts to soften and brown. This won’t take long. Add the zucchini and diced fresh tomatoes and fry for another couple of minutes, moving around the pan with a wooden spoon. 

Add the remaining ingredients, except for the salt and chilli, and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Don’t overcook or the vegetables will go mushy. Stir the cooked chorizo through. 

At this point, have a taste and add some salt if needed and the chilli powder if you’re using it. Serve sauce on pasta with parmesan if you like it, although you really don't need it. There's so much flavour going on in this one without it.

OK. Probably time to try sleeping again. 

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Say it with pie

Tim travelled most of this week which meant lots of plane food, conference centre food and possibly one decent dinner. I knew after days on the road (or in the air) he'd like to walk up the driveway,  interest piqued by the smell of dinner wafting out into the night, before stepping into a warm house to be greeted by wife and dog. 

I also knew that he'd be after something simple, comforting and substantial, so I presented him with a proper meat pie. You know the type I mean? The kind with actual meat in them, thoughtfully marinated in red wine & herbs, gently cooked with choice vegetables and finally married to puff pastry in a brilliant combination which makes the meat pie a national food icon (sadly). Well this is what he got, and judging by the empty pie dish left in the sink afterwards, I think he enjoyed it. 

Go the leftover pastry!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Chocolate tart

The memories of my weekend of excesses has not died away just yet. I've been caught looking wistfully through my window at work, thinking of three pleasant days spent going to markets, eating, and chilling out with friends we hardly ever see. Chocolate plays a big part in these memories.

The chocolate tart I made really takes the cake. (Does that even make sense???) I got the recipe for the filling from  'The Naked Chef' by Jamie Oliver. He calls it Simple Chocolate Tart. It is simple. Simple but effective if you're after that slightly stunned silence as people take the first bite and don't know quite what alternate universe they've fallen into where creamy chocolate rules the world and nobody worries about desserts being fattening. The awed expressions of your guests alone should make this one worthwhile. Not to mention the satisfaction of melting mouthful after mouthful until you feel like you shouldn't eat any more but can't help yourself because it's just so damned good...


1 tart shell, baked blind (or just go buy one)
315 ml double cream
2 level teaspoons caster sugar
smallest pinch of salt
115g butter, softened
455g best quality cooking chocolate
110ml milk
cocoa powder for dusting

Place the double cream, sugar and pinch of salt in a pan and bring to the boil. As soon as it has boiled, remove from the heat and add the butter and chocolate. Stir until it has completely melted. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, stirring in the cold milk until smooth and shiny. Sometimes this mixture looks like it has split. Allow to cool down a bit more and whisk in a little extra cold milk until smooth. Scrape all the mixture into the cooked and cooled pastry shell with a spatula. Shake the tart to even it out and allow to cool for around 1-2 hours until it is at room temperature. Dust with cocoa powder. The filling should be smooth and cut like butter. 

And it did... 

Now I made the pastry shell but not using Jamie's recipe. The filling is what makes this amazing. Definitely a sometimes food, and totally worth it.