Sunday, September 22, 2013

Dilemma - Cauliflower Gnocchi with Burnt Butter & Orange Sauce with Hazelnuts, Lamb and Snow Peas

So after replacing our broken dishwasher a few months back, our fridge has decided to slowly stop working as well. I'm not sure why my whitegoods are all abandoning me! But the fridge has brought up a few issues that have been swirling around in my head. Firstly - do I transplant my time-machine of old invitations and post cards and take-out menus and magnets and a calendar from 2011 onto the new fridge, or start with a clean slate? The next issue relates to some frozen cauliflower.

See, we have two fridges - one outside 'drinks fridge' and the everyday fridge that's in the kitchen where it should be. This is so common in Perth where for the majority of the year you want your drinks cold. And plentiful. The power companies tell you that the old outside fridge is just a power-drain and not a good idea - and yet we can't give them up! I know that come December, that extra fridge space isn't 'extra', it's just space. Every inch of both fridges are full of watermelon and rockmelon and every colourful vegetable you can imagine and then you can try fit in some drinks. Maybe. I was telling an overseas friend that we had two fridges and she was blown away. It just seems so unnecessary in places that don't regularly get above 35C, I guess! On the opposite end of the spectrum, I visited Germany at Christmas time as a teenager and I was so delighted to see my host family chill their wine by placing it in a planter box outside the kitchen window. So novel and different to the way we live in Perth!

So our outside fridge is an old hand-me-down fridge and it has just the one setting - COLD! So now that our kitchen fridge has one setting too - OFF, everything has been moved outside temporarily. And it's frozen the cauliflower. I had two of them, because of a sale at the Nanna Shop, both froze solid. Well, what to do with frozen cauli? I love the crunchiness of fresh cauliflower. I love make cauliflower "rice" salads. I love using them with dip. I'm not a huge fan of soggy, fully cooked cauli. But I am not going to throw out two otherwise perfect cauliflowers. So I made soup with one. And cauliflower gnocchi with the other. The soup was a standard cream of cauliflower soup. Nice and simple. The gnocchi however. Oh. My. Goodness. Nutty and delicious. It's fiddly, but give it a go! So good!

To make the gnocchi, first you have to make cauliflower mash, then the gnocchi. Like you would a traditional potato gnocchi. I've split it up into different stages to make it easier to describe. The first night, I served it with this lamb and orange butter sauce, the next night with a simple Arrabiata sauce. Both were good! And I still have enough leftover gnocchi in the freezer for two more meals.

Cauliflower Mash
1 head, chopped into smaller florets
4 garlic cloves, diced
water to cover
big pinch salt

Put all ingredients in a big pot. Bring to the boil, then simmer until the cauliflower is tender. Approximately 30 minutes. Mash mixture, then put into a fine mesh sieve to remove all of the extra water. Allow to cool completely whilst draining.

Gnocchi with Spelt and Hazelnut
Cauliflower mash (1 think I ended up with 3-4 cups)
1 egg
1 tbsp salt
4 + cups wholemeal spelt flour
1/2 cup hazelnut meal

Combine mash, salt and egg in a bowl and mix well. Add the hazelnut meal and 1/2 cup spelt flour. Mix well, then add more flour 1/2 cup and a time until it comes together into a big ball of dough. I think all up I needed about 4 1/2 cups of flour for the amount of mash I had.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth.

Put a large pot of water with a big pinch of salt on to boil.

Cut the dough into pieces and roll out into a rope, and cut into pieces. I made mine around 1cm wide, 3cm long. Roll over a fork to shape the gnocchi. Repeat for all of the dough. I recruited my husband to help with this process.

About 20 pieces at a time, carefully drop them into boiling water. When they float to the surface, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl. Whatever you aren't using that night, freeze.


Burnt Butter and Orange Sauce with Hazelnuts, Lamb and Snow Peas
100g unsalted butter
big handful of hazelnuts (approx. 2/3 cup)
zest and juice of two oranges
20 or so snow peas, cut into 2cm pieces.
2/3 cup shredded roast lamb
Enough gnocchi for 2 people
lots of fresh cracked pepper to serve

In a frypan on medium-high heat, toast the hazelnuts until fragrant and darker brown. Set aside to cool, and when you can, rub between your hand to remove the skins. Roughly chop.

Put the butter into the same frypan, allow to melt and then swirl around as it  turns brown and nutty smelling. Add the zest and juice, mix around to full incoporate into the butter and add the gnocchi. Stir to coat and keep stirring for a few minutes. Add the lamb, stir it through, allowing it to heat through. Add the snow peas and cook until they soften slightly and turn brighter green.

Just before serving, toss through the hazelnuts.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Kale "Salad" with tamarind dressing

I hesitate to call this a salad as really, it's just dressed leaves. But I don't know what else to call dressed leaves. I guess I only really hesitate now because of a conversation on the weekend in which salads of just leaves were accused of not really being salads. Which leads to a huge semantic discussion of what a salad "is", that I don't really care about. I am happy just to eat! I made this dressing and put it on the kale leaves in my fridge and some parsley from my pot plant and served it with sweet potato hash, Puerco pibil and an egg. It went perfectly together. I then made it with just the leaves and some toasted black sesame seeds with my red-sotto. Also a brilliant match. So salad or not, it makes a great side dish.

I guess the real "recipe" here is the dressing. You can make a much bigger, ingredient filled salad with this dressing. When the weather warmed up (for what felt like all of 2 days), I made  wonderful quinoa salads full of crunchy nuts and seeds and this dressing for a fun weekend lunch. Stay tuned for that.

I mainly used tamari in this dressing because tamari and tamarind are so similar in name. It amuses me. You can use soy sauce if that's what you've got. In my experience, soy sauce tends to be a tad saltier, so maybe start with less. And the tamarind syrup is sweet and sour at the same time, so you don't strictly need extra acidity, but a splash of lime as a kicker over the top would also be good. I have heard you can buy tamarind syrup, but I haven't seen any myself, so I included the simple version I made below. I made it initially in an attempt to replicate a different dish I ate in New York. It blew my mind! Stay tuned for that one, too! Tamarind is often available in the "Asian aisle" of supermarkets, or failing that, at Asian grocers.

Add the dressing a little at a time, it'll probably make more than it needs.


Tamarind Syrup
1 1/2 cups water
2/3 cup sugar
100g tamarind
1 jalapeno, roughly chopped

Bring everything to the boil in a small pot, simmer for 10 minutes or so until the tamarind paste "dissolves". Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove pits, tough bits of tamarind skin and the chilli. Leave aside to cool. Stir well before using.

Kale Tamarind Salad
serves 4 as a side
3-4 kale leaves, removed from the stem
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp tamarind syrup
2 tsp tamari
1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
toasted sesame seeds to serve

Pour the olive oile, tamarind syrup, tamari and pepper into a small jar with a lid and shake vigourously to blend. Pour over the kale leaves and use your fingers to massage in, to help soften and make all the leaves glossy. Toss through the parsley leaves. Garnish with sesame seeds.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Comfort Food - Pina Colada Pudding Cake

Do you like pina colada? I actually don't like the cocktail so much, they're usually a tad too sweet for my drink tastes - but I do love the pineapple and coconut combination. It's a classic! Remember my Greek Yoghurt Souffle with pineapple, mango and coconut fruit salad? It was amazing! Loving the combo, when I saw a recipe for pina colada pudding, I was intrigued. And then disappointed and overwhelmed by all of the sugar in it. So I decided to make my own version, using a basic self-saucing pudding recipe as my base. Then, instead of using regular flours, I decided to use coconut flour, for fairly obvious reasons and superfine polenta to give it a nice golden colour. Which then makes this pudding cake gluten free!

It should be saucy at the bottom, but the pictures I've got show mine didn't turn out super saucy. Namely because my dish wasn't large enough, and I spilt most of the boiling water on the floor while trying to put it in the oven. Not my finest culinary moment, and I knew it was a bad idea when I was doing it. With an audience. But the cake still came out nice and moist and the pineapple pieces added a nice juiciness. That's why I've called it a 'pudding cake' instead of a straight pudding.

It is a decidedly unglamourous cake in presentation - but great for putting out as a serve-yourself dessert for a large amount of people. It will serve 10-12 easily. And then if you're lucky, you'll have leftovers for breakfast the next day (or three) reheated in the microwave!

Pina Colada Pudding Cake

825g can pineapple pieces - juice drained and reserved
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tbsp dark rum
1 cup superfine polenta
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 small tins coconut milk
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp honey
2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 160C

In the bottom of a big casserole dish, empty the drained pineapple pieces, the dark rum and the dark brown sugar, stir to combine, then spread evenly over the bottom of the dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together the coconut flour, polenta, baking powder and bicarb soda. In a smaller bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the reserved pineapple juice, coconut milk, eggs, vanilla and honey. Whisk together the liquid mixture into the dry mixture, then spread this batter over the pineapple.

Sprinkle the sugar over the top of this mixture, add the remaining pineapple juice to the boiling water and carefully pour this over the top of the batter. Don't mix it in.

Pop it in the oven to bake for approximately 50 minutes, or until the cake is cooked all the way through, and the top is golden.

Serve warm with vanilla or coconut ice cream!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fathers' Day Part Two - Malteser Cake

Due to popular demand, this is the recipe for the Malteser Cake I made to go along with the Chocolate Beer Ice Cream for Fathers' Day. Maltesers are my dad's favourite chocolate, so when my brother spied this recipe online, he forwarded it to me - knowing it'd be perfect. I've only slightly adapted it. The big difference is that mine was a flatter, fudgier texture cake (almost like a brownie) so it's only two layers. And I used two types of brown sugars and added malt to the cake as well. I am also not the best decorator in the entire world. But it was ridiculously delicious! Enjoy!


Malteser Cake
sightly adapted from here

1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup milk
125g unsalted butter
3/4 cup SR flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tbsp malted milk powder

185 g butter, room temperature
3/4 cup malted milk powder
2 cups icing sugar
1-2 tbsp milk

300g dark chocolate
1/2 cup cream
30g butter
450g maltesers for decoration

Preheat oven to 160C. Grease a 20cm cake pan with butter and dust with cocoa

Place brown sugars, milk and butter in a glass bowl and melt in the microwave, stirring every minute until mixture is completely smooth. Allow to cool slightly.

Whisk flours and cocoa powder together in a large bowl, then whisk in the butter mixture until smooth. Then whisk in the egg.

Pour into cake pan, bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Set in the pan to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make ganache: place chocolate, cream and butter in a glass bowl over a pot of water (do not allow bottom of the bowl to touch the water) heat to a simmer and stir the mixture to melt together and create a smooth mix. Take off the heat, set bowl aside to cool for an hour or so until spreadable.

To make icing: beat the butter with an electric beater until soft and creamy. Beat in the icing sugar and malt powder, adding extra milk as needed to make a smooth mix. Add 2 tbsp of the ganache.

To assemble, cut the cake in two (when completely cool - don't be impatient like I usually am!!) then spread the icing mixture on the bottom layer, then carefully lay the top back on. Spread the ganache over the entire cake and decorate with Maltesers. If they pop off, dip in more ganache and stick back on.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fathers' Day - Chocolate Beer Ice Cream

One of the funniest memories I have of my dad was from when I was in high school. As part of the Home Economics course, students used to occasionally sell their cooking to the teachers and staff at the high school. It used to raise money for the department and school, so my mum who worked in the high school library would often bring home various things they'd cooked. Generally, the food was pretty good.

One time, they did a proper fundraising drive and took orders for various individual sized pies by the dozen. Mum bought a dozen chicken, a dozen beef and a dozen apple pies that went into the freezer and as needed, would get taken out and heated in the oven. I came home late one night and felt like a chicken pie for dinner and going through the freezer, couldn't find any. Mum told me not to be ridiculous, they'd left one there for me. She came over to have a look and lo-and-behold, there was no chicken left, only apple. You could tell by the pastry shape cut and stuck to the top pie crust. Mum was completely flummoxed. Where had it gone? Which was when dad piped up, "I think I'm eating it."
"What do you mean, you're eating it? I just gave you dessert!"
"Yeah, it's a chicken pie."
"No, it's apple pie and ice cream."
"No. It's a chicken pie. With ice cream. I did think it was weird when you gave it to me."
"So why didn't you say something?"
"I don't know, it's good, so I ate it."

Now whenever I see chicken pies on a menu, I think of dad and his unusual dessert and can't help but laugh. So in honour of Fathers' Day, I'm making him this beer ice cream. I think it'll go better with chicken pies than vanilla ice cream! It's malty and rich and all sorts of delicious! Happy Fathers' Day!!


Chocolate Beer Ice Cream
adapted from here
355mL chocolate stout
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cacao nibs, lightly crushed in a mortar & pestle
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 large egg yolks
2 cups thickened cream

Simmer 235mL of the chocolate stout in a frypan until it has reduced by half, set aside to cool slightly. Put the remaining beer, vanilla, cream and crushed cacao nibs in a bowl, stir to mix. Add the reduced beer and mix well.

Prepare an ice bath, and place a large bowl in it with a fine mesh sieve over this.

Whisk the sugar, salt and eggs in a large saucepan until smooth. Then whisk in the cream & beer mixture. Slowly heat the mixture to medium high, constantly stirring until the mixture thickens. About 10 minutes.

Pour the cooked mixture through the sieve into the bowl in the ice bath and stir constantly until the mixture cools. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours until cold.

Churn in ice cream maker as per manufacturer's instructions, then freeze again until firm. At least a few hours. I did mine overnight due to time restraints.