Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cookbook challenge, week 28: crumpets

Week 28 had the theme of crumpets, so I thought it was a perfect time to try a recipe that I've had stashed away for ages. It's not technically from one of my cookbooks: I copied it from the Epicure section of the Age newspaper ages ago, and the recipe in the article was reprinted from a book called The Home Cook, by Barry Vera. The recipe is for crumpets, and the picture accompanying the article looked really enticing, so I definitely wanted to try making them sometime.

7.5g fresh yeast or 3.5g dried yeast
300mL warm water
225g plain flour
1 tsp salt
soft butter

Mix the yeast with a few tablespoons of warm water in a small bowl and stir until dissolved.
Leave for 5 minutes.
Sift the flour and salt into a larger bowl.
Stir about 2/3 of the remaining water into the flour, then add the yeast.
The mixture should be thick but pour quite easily - add more water if necessary (I added the full amount).
Cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in size (I sat it in the oven set to the lowest temperature with the door ajar).
Heat a non-stick frying pan to medium (I used a flat electric grill plate).
Grease crumpet rings/egg rings/pastry cutters with a little butter.
Place the rings on the pan and fill 1cm deep.
Cook for 5 mins or until small holes start to appear and the top starts to dry.
Remove the rings and flip the crumpets.
Cook until golden brown on both sides.
Serve with butter and honey.

I cooked half the amounts listed above, and it made 4 lovely little crumpets. I did two at a time - I used one heart-shaped cookie cutter plus an improvised ring made from folded aluminium foil, which worked surprisingly well! The second two crumpets were definitely fluffier and tastier than the first two, as I cooked them at a higher heat (the recipe specified a low heat) and also put less batter in the rings. I'll make these again sometime for sure.

The crumpets during the cooking process:




Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cataract Bistro, Launceston

The Cataract Bistro is in Launceston, at 133 Paterson Street. It's a new-ish building next to the Pinot Shop and attached to the T.R.C. Hotel. We were planning on heading to the T.R.C. but they had a very small menu and it was basically just a gaming venue that also sells bar food, so we decided to try the Cataract Bistro instead.

We started by sharing chargrilled olive bread with a roasted capsicum and basil dip ($7) which was very tasty, and my mum had the soup of the day, which was onion and potato soup with gruyere crouton and thyme oil ($8).

For mains we had:

Char-grilled chicken stack with sweet potato rosti, confit mushroom and creamy basil pesto sauce ($17).


Atlantic salmon tornadoes wrapped in leek and baked, served on a bed of
spinach cream with scallop ravioli ($29).


Deep Sea trevalla, pan fried with pickled ginger, lime and parsley, served on a bed of creamy mash with asparagus spears ($32)


Beer-battered flathead fillets served with chips, tossed green salad and a tartare-style mayonnaise ($29). This was my selection - I was feeling a bit under the weather with a cold and so this sort of comfort food was looking appealing. Despite being a huge serving, the fish was unfortunately not all that good - it was really, really greasy - I don't think it had been fried correctly. The chips were fine and the salad was fantastic - much more interesting than the normal sort of salad you get with this dish, with apples, beans, spring onion and other things tucked away between the leaves.


The Bistro isn't cheap, but you do get quality food for the price. The atmosphere of the restaurant is really nice, and service was excellent.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ramen in the Alley

The Alley Cat in North Hobart hosts a Japanese chef on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. They have 5 flavours available, plus several specials.

Tan tan ramen: Thick egg noodles covered in a spicy sesame flavoured pork and chicken based ramen soup topped with pork mince, egg, bean sprouts and spring onion ($16). Delicous! I am a sucker for anything sesame flavoured, and this dish is wonderfully satisfying on a cold Hobart night.


Champon ramen: Thick egg noddles stir fried with cabbage, carrot, fish cake and pork belly strips covered in a chicken and pork based ramen soup ($16). Also very tasty, although I added plenty of chilli powder to liven it up. It's a huge meal with all the noodles and cabbage.


We've also tried the Japanese pickles ($5), which were very tasty. Daikon plus two other unknown types of pickles (our waitress didn't know their English names). A great little starter while you are waiting for your ramen.


They also sell edame, gyoza, seaweed salad and rice balls, which I hope to try sometime soon!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Slow-cooker vegetable soup

This is just the thing to cook when home sick with a cold. It took about 10 minutes to prepare and is comforting and nutritious.

No recipe, I just threw the following ingredients in and left them to bubble away:
Chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
Red chilli
Butternut pumpkin
Sweet potato
Yellow zucchini
Soup mix (dried lentils and beans)
Cumin seeds
Ground cumin
Ground coriander
plus enough water to just cover the vegetables.

After about 4 hours on high I roughly mashed it with a potato masher, and served with a dollop of sour cream. Yum.

If you have more time and energy, it's much tastier to briefly cook the vegies in olive oil first, or even better is to roast them.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Cookbook challenge, week 26: Potato salad with green goddess dressing

The theme for week 26 was green, and I found this recipe in Nigella Lawson's How to Eat. The original recipe uses 'little gems', which I think are baby cos lettuce. I just made it as a simple potato salad served on cos leaves.

800g salad potatoes, cleaned and cut into 2cm square pieces
4 anchovy fillets, drained and finely chopped
2 tbs milk
2 tbs tarragon vinegar
6 tbs creme fraiche
8-10 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 spring onion, finely diced,
3 tbs chopped tarragon
4 tbs chopped parsley
18 cornichons, or sliced gherkins

Boil the potatoes until just cooked, then drain and cool slightly under cold water.
Grind the anchovies using a mortar and pestle.
In a bowl, whisk together the anchovies, milk, vinegar and creme until smooth.
Slowly add the olive oil, whisking constantly.
Stir in the spring onion, tarragon, parsley and diced cornichons.
Check for seasoning, add black pepper.
Mix into the cooked potatoes.
Line a bowl with cos leaves, and add the potatoes.

It's pretty tasty - the dressing is really nice. I think if I make it again I'll add some bacon or prosciutto as it would be even better with that meatiness.

potato salad

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kitchen garden: carrots

So, back at the start of December I planted carrot seeds, along with other things. The carrots really didn't seem to go very well, with only a handful of the seeds sprouting. A couple of weeks ago I finally gave up on them and pulled them out, and this is my amazing harvest:


Yep, not very successful!

Not much is happening in my garden at the moment, I don't really have a lot of time to dedicate to it lately, and it's not good growing weather either, of course. I am thinking about establishing some more herbs in indoor pots though.

I also want to track down a bay tree and a curry plant to grow in pots. Has anyone seen any for sale at any garden centres down south?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Slow-cooked chicken in white wine

As the weather has turned colder, the slow cooker is back in regular use again. It's wonderful coming home to a house filled with delicious smells and a meal ready to go.

I found some chicken marylands on special ($2.99/kg - bargain!) and decided to make a casserole loosely based on this recipe.

The ingredients fill my 5L slow cooker, as you can see from the picture below, so if you have a smaller one you will definitely need to scale things down (but still cook it for the same amount of time). You can also choose to use less liquid if you want, but I like to use the leftover sauce for pasta.

1 tbs olive oil
8 chicken maryland pieces, skin trimmed (about 2.5kg worth. You could also use any other cut of chicken on the bone)
100g bacon, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 tsp crushed garlic
1 tin crushed tomatoes
1 tsp mixed herbs
2 bay leaves
1 sprig (4-5cm) of fresh rosemary
2 cups white wine
2 cups chicken stock
2 heaped tsp capers, drained
black pepper

Heat a large frypan and add oil.
Brown off the chicken in batches, and place in a bowl when done.
Lightly fry the bacon, carrots and garlic, and transfer to the slow cooker.
Add the tomatoes, herbs, wine, stock, capers and mix ingredients together. Season with black pepper.
Add the chicken and any juices, and cover with the sauce.
Set the slow cooker on to low, and cook for 7 hours.
Very gently stir the mixture before serving.
Serve with couscous or another comforting carbohydrate of choice.

My pictures don't do this justice, it really is a wonderfully mellow and moreish home-style casserole.

Ready to serve:


Served with couscous and steamed broccoli drizzled with lemon juice.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Bhatura bread

Bhatura is an Indian fried bread, and a tasty alternative to the usual naan or roti.

2 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup yoghurt
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp sugar
oil for frying

Sift flour and baking powder, then add salt.
Mix yoghurt, milk and sugar, then add this to the flour.
Knead the dough softly until it is smooth.
Cover and keep in a warm place for an hour.
Divide into 12-20 portions (depending on how big you want the bread to be), rolls into balls and set aside for 10 minutes.
Flatten the balls with your hands, dip into some extra flour on each side, and roll out with a rolling ping to 3mm thick.
Heat 4-5cm oil in a wok or deep saucepan and fry the dough until light brown in colour.

There are quite a few bhatura cooking demomstrations on youtube, so browse the videos there to watch the frying technique in particular.

This easy recipe results in lovely fluffy bread that makes a perfect sponge for soaking up curry!

Generally they should puff up into a ball when fried with some TLC, but as I was cooking 3 at a time in a hurry they ended up with a slightly different texture. I may have also rolled them a bit too thin. Still just as tasty!


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cookbook challenge, week 24: White chocolate biscuits and chocolate caramel slice

The theme is chocolate - and what better week to do two recipes instead of one?

The first is white chocolate biscuits, from my Nanna's cookbook. This recipe is failproof, delicious and terribly unhealthy - as all good biscuit recipes should be (cookies are a sometimes food..!).

250g butter
1 cup brown sugar
4 tbs sweetened condensed milk
2 cups self raising flour
pinch of salt
250g chopped white chocolate (I supplemented this with some milk chocolate as well)

Preheat oven to 170ÂșC and grease and line two biscuit trays.
Cream butter and sugar, then add the condensed milk and beat well.
Add flour, chocolate and salt.
Roll into 2.5cm balls and place on trays.
Cook for 11-13 minutes or until pale brown.
Cool on a wire rack.
Makes 50 biscuits.


The chocolate caramel slice recipe comes from one of my oldest cookbooks, Family Circle's Cooking: A Commonsense Guide. It contains heaps of simple, classic recipes and I learned a lot from it when I started cooking. This is the first time I've made this recipe.

125g plain sweet biscuits, crushed
80g melted butter
2 tbs dessicated coconut
400g sweetened condensed milk (but I only used about 300g)
125g butter, extra
1/3 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup golden syrup
250g milk chocolate melts
1 tbs vegetable oil

Grease a shallow 30x20cm tin (note: I ended up transferring to a smaller tin as the base was spread too thinly in the original tin), line with foil, and grease the foil.
Process together the biscuit crumbs, melted butter and coconut, then press the mixture into the tray.
Combine the condensed milk, extra butter, sugar and golden syrup in a small saucepan.
Stir over a low heat for 15 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the caramel is thick and slightly browned.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Spread the caramel over the base and smooth the surface.
Melt the milk chocolate and oil (either carefully in the microwave or using a double boiler).
Spread the chocolate over the caramel.
Allow to partially set then mark the chocolate into 24 triangles.
Refrigerate until firm.
Store in an airtight container for up to two days.

As you can see by the picture below, this didn't really work out so well! I accidentally let the chocolate get too hard before trying to slice it, and that combined with the softness of the caramel and the base means that trying to cut it wasn't at all successful! But despite the messiness it was still rather tasty.