Archive for August, 2010

broadbean, pea, pecorino salad & tiltshift photography

the internet taught me how to do tiltshift photography. so from this day on everything will be tiltshifted. as evidenced in the above image, im still not quite sure what it is that i am doing, or meant to be doing, or, for that matter, what the result is. but, as far as i can see its pretty bright and thats pretty good. but enough about the technicalities of what i do. suffice to say, im a creative person and i see things from a slightly tiltshifted point of view. no ordinary photographer me. so onto beans and peas and all things green. im not big into community but it appears i have seamlessly and entirely unwittingly slipped into the david jones community. i chatted to a cheese maker about the weather and she told me, as we parted ways, to enjoy my weekend and my pecorino. i spoke at length with a large man about the joys of shelled peas and we both agreed, you just cant shell them fast enough. when i went to purchase my broadbeans i was given a recipe for felafel with broadbeans and was promised by a bright young thing that next time i was in the “neighbourhood” she would bring me some felafel mix made by her mother. and i left feeling somewhat of a more social, more human, and mainly more tired being. and thats what i am prepared to go though to make a salad the likes of this. tiltshifting this salad was only the icing on a very delicious cake.

ingredients

bunch of rocket, or spinach or whatevs

bunch of basil

250g fresh peas

500g broad beans (peeled – only takes an hour or two – boiling water for a minute. then under ice cold water for a minute. then the skins will peel slowly and tediously off, one after another after another)

1 avocado sliced

1 clove of garlic

salt, pepper

olive oil

finely shaved pecorino

first mix peas and broad beans together in a bowl. i actually cooked about a third of them (in a pan with some butter and finely chopped garlic) and mixed it in with the fresh stuff. it makes for textual interest. tear off some basil and put it in the bowl. throw in the sliced avocado. mix together with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.

arrange some rocket on a plate –

place peas, beans and avocado atop

shave some pecorino over the top. and voila

heres a tiltshifted one – yes… i went too far. i always do.

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strawberry, halloumi and basil salad

3 punnets of strawberries for 6 dollars. i had no choice. and besides a girl should always have a punnet or 3 of strawberries up her sleeve. but upon my arrival home i realised something would have to be done with them. they’re not so good. as two fat ladies once said they breed the flavour out of strawberries these days. apparently its the fault of the dutch…they breed flavour out of everything. and so to get them to delicious state, something had to be done. i saw jamie do this once with his strawberries and if nothing else, and for no other reason, the colours look pretty. strawberries apparently dont always need to be sweet. im not going to lie, sprinkling on the salt and pepper felt wrong and i had to close my eyes to eat one. but they were good. better than they were in their original form. and anything with halloumi will work – because as snow once said you cant really go wrong with fried cheese. so here it is. pretty as a picture.

ingredients

350g strawberries chopped (little bite-sized choppings)

balsamic vinegar

olive oil

salt and pepper

handful of basil

250g halloumi

mixed salad leaves. the pretty ones.

first mix the strawberries in a bowl with a splash of olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper. stir and let mascerate for a while while you do your other jobs.

cut up halloumi – into 6-8 thin slices. press a basil leaf onto each slice of halloumi.

put pan on heat with a few drops of olive oil and put halloumi in, with the basil facing down. cook for about a minute on either side. remove and put aside on a plate til you ready to go. keep away from any nearby halloumi loving mentalists.

finally toss the salad leaves into the bowl with strawberries and mix to combine. then assembly. halloumi onto plate like so:

leaves ontop

and strawberries to fin… with a final drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar because obviously.

apple and raspberry crumble

i cant come up with anything really coherent to say – about this crumble (which i felt to be disturbingly good and completely inspired) or anything else for that matter. i got broken by an unfortunate train of abuses, principally among them, physical exertion to the point of paralysis and because of, or perhaps as a result of that, intellectual stasis which has left me entirely unable to finish this sentence. so i will give to you this recipe which i made up – and i love love love it. and if my brain hadn’t melted i would tell you why. but as it is, i cannot and so i suggest you make it for yourself and see.

ingredients

2 apples

1 punnet of raspberries

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

tsp vanilla extract

60g melted butter

100g chocolate chopped (either white – if youre using raspberries because obviously. or dark – dark with raspberries would also be a delight)

preheat oven to 190 degrees. melt the butter in a saucepan and set aside.

mix together the flour, salt, sugar, baking soda and baking powder in a bowl. add some cinnamon if you choose. i chose no.

pour over the melted butter. the original recipe had 85g melted butter but it was too much and it started to get too wet. i then had to add more flour. so i say 60g and i think thats probably right. but just check its consistency. should be like wet sand. not a wet mixture though.

then add chopped up chocolate.

put raspberries and apples into ramekins and fill to nearly the top.

crumble over the crumble.

bake for 20-30 minutes.

tomato and twice cheese tart

well i never did done make a savoury tart. never wanted to. except that bits a lie. i did make one once before. and it was the same tart. different recipe. it was unpleasant from start to the very bitter, messy end. i followed a recipe about which i had serious doubts. it was a pastry that was neither chilled nor blind baked – and into this inevitable disastrous pastry i was told to place a lot of tomatoes. tomatoes. the most soggifying food stuff i ever known. the entire time i muttered under my breath that this is not going to work. that it simply coudnt work. i had no faith whatsoever that this pastry wouldnt be a soggy mess. being the indefatigable empiricist i am however, i continued on. and being the self-congratulatory pedant i am, i was proven right. this time, rather than wading through the miasmic marsh of food blogs – i decided to make it up myself. i used my usual shortcrust pasty but omitted the sugar. i added a lot of salt, pepper and some oregano. and it worked like a dream. thank you to the good people of the river cafe. i chilled it. i blind baked it. and then i even brushed the base with some egg and put it back into the oven for 1 minute to seal it…so burned i was by my previous experience. it was good and tasted like summer in the dead of winter. it made me happy and self-satisfied.

ingredients

1 quatity shortcrust pastry (leave out the sugar and add 2tsp oregano, good pinch or two of salt, and pepper)

10 tomatoes – whatever you can get. i like them on the vine. and i like ones i can truss to be good. sigh.

2-3 garlic cloves finely sliced

bunch of basil

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1tsp dried oregano

pinch salt and pepper

250g mozzarella and goats cheese respectively (or whatever cheese you want. haloumi could be very interesting)

i also threw in a handful of sundried tomatoes. im not scared of hepatitis and i like them.

slice tomatoes into rounds. put into a bowl. add sundried tomatoes if you are using them. add the garlic, salt, pepper, oregano. tear in some basil. i also put about a quarter of the cheese in too – to let it marinade for a while in the juices and i think i did a good thing. add olive oil and stir to combine. i let this sit while i did my pastry so it could get better and better and then better again.

then i pulled out my chilling pastry – which looked like it was going to be a bit of a disaster. i blind baked it. at the last minute i took it out of the oven, brushed it with some egg wash and put it back in the oven for a minute. its meant to seal it so things dont leak out and get soggy. didnt really work but i tried…and thats all anyone can ask of me.

then i put the first tomato on.

and then some. dotted with cheese.

into oven. 200 degrees. 20 minutes. pizza pie tart. tots delicious.

raspberry and caramelised white chocolate cakes

i recently happened upon a moralistic, self righteous blog about correctly crediting recipes. and i dont like that kind of sermonising…about anything really. to misappropriate the immortal words of pipi longstocking: “how can you sell a recipe? you cant wrap it up, you cant carry it away and you certainly cant put it in your car.” not quite the point but as margurite, the great spokeswoman for the great intellectual organisation Resistance put it (every single saturday morning on the steps of flinders street station), “a seed is not a tree”…and so it follows that an amalgamation of ingredients is not a recipe. its an idea. a spark. and for these caramelised white chocolate cakes my spark was stolen. and not credited. adapted. but even if it werent i wouldnt apologise for it. if this post seems a bit obnoxious and bolshy, it might be on account of the amount caramelised white chocolate i consumed this evening. i also used some raspberries. fresh ones. ten dollars a raspberry. highly unseasonal. highly unlocal. highly unfriendly. but mainly delicious. im not going to lie – caramelising white chocolate is no easy thing and its slow. but worth every minute.

ingredients (makes about 4-8 ramekins, the small ones. i halved the original recipe.)

85g almond meal or ground almond

55g plain flour

pinch of salt

170g caramelised white chocolate (warm)

22.5g butter

22.5g sugar

2 eggs

to caramelise the chocolate: heat the oven to 120C. break up the chocolate into small bits. put it in the oven to warm for ten minutes. remove and spread it with a spatula – it will melt as you spread it. its not easy to move around but no one ever said it was gonna be easy.

put back in the oven for another ten minutes. then remove and mix again.

repeat this until the chocolate starts to turn a golden brown colour. mine took about an hour – with mixing/spreading at ten minute intervals.

it might be lumpy or grainy but if you put it in a bowl and stir your brains out, it should smoothen up. yes. smoothen.

to make the cakes, preheat oven to 190 degrees. mix together the flour, almond meal and salt and set aside.

mix the melted butter into the warm caramelised chocolate mixture. then add the sugar and the eggs and whisk like madness.

fold the flour into the chocolate mix and stir to combine

pour into ramekins and fill just over 2/3 the way up. i filled about a quarter of the way up and then placed raspberries on top and then filled the rest up.

put into preheated oven for 12-15 minutes.

theres a fine line between moist and uncooked. but as an eater and supporter of raw everything – cookie dough, cake mix, muffin mix, pastry dough et al, its one i like to tread. and indeed i did. so much so i might suggest you leave them in for a bit longer. until golden and cooked on top and slightly less so in the centre. fin.

carrot & walnut cupcakes…by snow

*i apologise. there was a delicious casualty…middle down, second row across. very unprofessional.* so it happened, i finally made a cupcake. in my defense, i was in difficult and extenuating circumstance. i never could really get my head around maths as a youth. i was described by a maths teacher as “despondent” and mainly “disruptive”. there are however some mathematical equations that add up, like –

this:

+ this:

= this:

snow was kind enough to give me a recipe. i was of course hesitant, fearing a return to another cwa-esque baking experience. i was seriously concerned about the use of oil instead of butter. i was concerned about the cream cheese in the frosting. but, fraught with anxiety though i was, i put all my eggs (which i dont like anyway) into snows rock solid basket and decided to march inexorably on. the end result was, if nothing else, a carrot and walnut cupcake. with cream cheese icing. after all, this is america. they were met with the very best responses any girl could hope for: “oh…what did you do to them?”. proceeding to then ice them, they were, in the final analysis, met with a face scrunched up in displeasure. i mean, i do understand. no one wants to see cream cheese going into icing. and nor should they have to. thats the kind of baking that should take place behind closed doors and eaters should only wonder what it was that went into the icing that made it so rich and creamy, never to be exposed to cold reality of philadelphia cream cheese. alack, there are no doors or walls in this open-plan kichen/studio/office/playground, and so he saw and he watched as i sheepishly dumped a block of cream cheese into an exquisite, harmonious pastel yellow mixture of butter and icing sugar. and thats when the previously unforseen reality of these cupcakes became abundantly clear. but i liked them. i guess with 20 cupcakes sitting on the bench, it would maybe be better if i didnt like them. but their nuttiness, and carotene goodness made me happy and wholesome and i rarely experience the latter. so try them. and theyre easy. in snow time, 30 minutes. in moon time an hour and a half. in people time between 30-60 minutes, beginning to end.

here it is:

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup oil

beat together til sugar dissolves

add 3 eggs and as much vanilla as you feel you can get away with. mix til pale.

sift in:

1 1/3 cup flour

1 1/3tsp baking powder

1 1/3tsp baking soda

1 1/3tsp cinnamon

add wet to dry. then fold in 2 cups grated carrot and 1/2 cup walnuts or raisins or whatevs. put in oven at 180 degrees for 20 minutes. while thats going on, make the icing

225g butter

225g cream cheese

225g icing sugar

vanilla

zest of 1/2 a lemon

mix together and apply liberally to resultant cupcakes. unless your people dont like cream cheese. probably best not. even if they say ‘yum’. that means they are being polite.

braised greens

also known as “the green thing”. having been given unutterable amounts of homework, and having been under the misapprehension that there was no such thing in this degree (it most certainly wasnt what it looked like in the brochure), and having then been exposed to a lively debate between americans in paris about why the gravel in the gardens of the tuileries is dusty, i decided i needed to move away from the books and return to the kitchen. this recipe was something i found in gourmet traveller and it was one of those things which seemed to elicit expressions of interest from ordinarily disinterested parties. dinners proper hasnt been done for so long that there was a lot of debate, hesitation, fear, uncertainty, hurdles, obstacle, and even some unpleasantness along the way. but its easy and delicious and though it was suggested that the cos lettuce could be substituted with a more elegant green vegetable, i am quite sure that its perfect how it is. thats pretty much all i have to say about this but the problem is, when this post is up, its back to the books. so ill tell you a quick story – a new bakery opened up around the corner from me. its done everything right, it drew me into its buttery web with its french name, its promise of pastries baked twice a day, its baker rolling out his dough at the front counter for my viewing pleasure, its staff crouching in the back alley with a cigarette in one hand and a cup of tea (in a glass) in the other in the early hours of the cold winter morning, evoking images and dreams of all i hope to be. but, and theres no gentle way of putting this, they are shit. from the outside their pastries look exquisite, layers of golden brown flaky pastry wrapped around a still warm, and so melting stick of chocolate. almond croissants with the perfect crisp looking almondy top. but bite into it and its doughy. there, i said it. doughy and uncooked. their bread stinks. and they are a sham. but why? why why why? how is it that they have so much right and yet underneath the surface its so wrong? dont they care? dont they love their pastries? arent they artisan? dont they realise the world shattering disappointment they have caused. and because of their appearance, they have me returning regularly because surely the last croissant, and the one before and the one before that were aberrations. each time i leave with what should be a little brown paper bag of heaven in my cold, frail hands, the promise of perfection is cruelly and unusually shattered, replaced only by a doughy aftertaste and a profound sadness for all that could be and all that never was. i cry out (internally, not yet audibly), i wish i knew how to quit you, but there is no response. only silence. the silence of baker that just doenst care.

unhappiness aside…here is the recipe for something that made things feel somewhat better and to some extent was able to fill the void between dreams and reality.

ingredients

2tbsp olive oil

375ml stock (chicken, or vegetable…as you wish)

40g butter

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

2 cos lettuces quartered

400g peas (baby, and probably frozen)

250g sugar snap peas (snow peas will do if your supermarket is crap – but at least it doesnt claim to be anything other than what it is) halved lengthways

first, in a fry the garlic in the olive oil. the recipe also fried off a shallot but i didnt want the onion taste to interfere with what i was trying to do. once soft, not burnt, add in the butter and cook til foaming. then add the stock and cook for about 5 minutes until it has reduced by half. if you subscribe to the school of ‘peas and mint’, add a sprig of mint here and even some lemon rind. then add the lettuce and cook until it has just wilted (about 3-4 mintues). then add the peas and cook for another 2-3 minutes until they are just soft. season. remove from heat and eat while its hot.