July 25, 2011

Mushroom Bruschetta

I’m not much of a breakfast eater, in fact, I rarely eat breakfast. I find when I wake up I don’t feel like food.  It’s not till I’m driving to work that the rumbles begin, then I regret my decision.  This happens pretty much every morning.

Growing up I didn’t eat much breakfast either, besides picklets.  Every now and then I would eat eggs, but I hated toast and cereal.  

I don’t think Italians eat much in the breakfast department.  When I was in Italy, I noticed they always have a coffee and a brioche - that’s more like morning tea!

Well now days every Saturday morning I seem to eat a relatively big breakfast, mainly because I’m feeding a boy who then heads off to a rugby game.  Well.  Last Saturday things got fancy.  I’ve been eating mushroom bruschetta at a few cafes lately, and I wanted to make it myself. 

I looked for a simple recipe and came across Bill Granger's Mushrooms on Toast from his book Bills' Food.  I tweaked it only slightly to my taste preferences, but the recipe was pretty much spot on.

Mmmm... it was good.  Really good.  Colin poached two eggs and put them on top of his bruschetta, while I left mine plain.  The egg yolk slowly dripping down on to the toast may have made me regret my decision.  Only just.

MUSHROOM BRUSCHETTA
Adapted from Bill Granger
50g butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves
500g mixed mushrooms
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon zest, grated
4 slices of sourdough / ciabatta bread, lightly toasted
100g smooth feta


If using porcini mushrooms, soak in cold water for 5 minutes.

In a saucepan over a medium heat, add half the butter, olive oil and garlic and stir.  Add the mushrooms and a few tablespoons of water and stir.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  If the mushrooms absorb all the water and the pan becomes dry, add a little more water.  You want to achieve a syrup-like consistency.  Cook for about 15 minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked.  Add the balsamic vinegar, most of the parsley and lemon zest and stir.  Add the remaining butter and stir.

Drizzle the toast with a little extra olive oil, then top with the mushrooms.  Crumble the feta on top and sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve.

Serves 4.

July 22, 2011

Perth Good Food and Wine Show

On the weekend, my mum, my brother Simone, his girlfriend Audrey, Colin and I went to the Perth Good Food and Wine Show.  We went around lunch time with the hopes that all the ‘free’ food would provide us with a ‘free’ lunch.  Well yeah there was food, and some samples, but not enough to warrant a meal.

What there was, was an abundance of wine!  As soon as we walked into the show, my mum went straight to the wine booths.  She likes wine.  Audrey wanted bread and cheese (she’s French), Simone, well I have no idea what he wanted, I think maybe beer.  Colin wanted food.  And me, well I wanted it all. 

Our main intention of going was to see Gary and George from Masterchef, and they didn’t disappoint.  They were hilarious!  They’re short stint was, well, short.  And they kept mentioning time which got a little annoying.  Bonus – Matt Moran appeared on stage.  Only for a minute.

So for the rest of the show, it was fun.  Something different.  

Nom nom nom..

The boys in show



July 18, 2011

Scones

Well it’s arrived – the year-long awaited celebration of my birth.  I’m kind of enjoying birthday’s as I’m getting older.  I’m still a little pessimistic about them, but now days I look forward to spending it with my loved ones, family and friends.  I don’t do big celebrations, I hate being in the spotlight.  I like dinner, and drinks, and talking about random stuff that doesn’t involve age.

Last night my lovely boy took me out for an amazing birthday dinner at Rockpool.  I love all things Neil Perry, and this place didn’t disappoint.  Before heading out, I made a bunch of scones to take into work.  Where I work, everybody brings in something for morning tea when it’s their birthday.  I had a craving for scones and so made a HEAP.  I asked a girl at work who’s a bit of a pro when it comes to baking and catering, for a good recipe.  What she came back with was the simplest recipe I have ever seen.  4 ingredients.  That’s it!  And they were awesome.

I made a test batch Saturday afternoon, to which I then sat down and scoffed a few with a cup of tea.  They were still good the next day too, which is a plus.  I think after two days they start drying out.

Well, anyway.  This little recipe is a gem I tell ya.  I have eaten so many scones over the past three days I need to take a break.  For maybe a week.


SCONES
2 cups of self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
150ml cream
150ml lemonade (or soda water if you prefer them less sweet)

Preheat the oven to 220°C.  Line a tray with baking paper.

Sift the flour and salt in a bowl, then make a well in the centre.  Pour in the cream and lemonade and stir until a dough is formed.  Be careful to not overwork the dough, you want to make sure it stays light and soft.

Put a dusting of flour on a clean surface, and roll out the dough until it is about an inch thick.  Use a cookie cutter or cup to press out round scones.  Place the scones on the tray, and bake for 10-12 minutes.  They should be pale with a light golden colour.

Serve with jam and cream.

Makes 9.

July 13, 2011

Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins

This Monday I will be another year older.   I am slowly leaving the ‘mid-20’s’ and heading towards 30.  Wow, just writing that is scary.  Me?  30?  It just doesn’t seem right.  I still feel like I’m 18, well maybe not in the energetic-sense, but the maturity-sense.   I think what I’m trying to get at is I still want to be immature and care free, and stay out to 3am like I use to, and not feel like death the next day.  Maybe.

Those days are gone.  Now it’s all about bills, and more bills, and oh wait, what do I see there – another bill.  I’m whinging.  I shouldn’t be.  I’m actually very lucky and am enjoying a great time in my life!  If it only weren’t for the tired part.

You’ll probably listen to me rant on about this again on Monday.  For now, I’ll break and tell you about these awesome little muffins I made lately.

These come from Donna Hay’s book Simple Essentials - Chocolate, and they are very quick and easy to make.  The best part about them is you can freeze them and pop them in the microwave and they taste even better!  These aren’t those fluffy, big style muffins, but muffins which have a nice crisp top and a delicate stump. 

Just like all muffins, these are best eaten straight away, but don’t despair, a quick zip in the microwave and they just as good again.

RASPBERRY AND WHITE CHOCOLATE MUFFINS
Recipe from Donna Hay
2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
¾ cup caster sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
⅓ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ cups raspberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup chopped white chocolate (or white chocolate buttons)
Extra sugar


Preheat the oven to 180°C.

In a large bowl, sift the flour and sugar and mix.  In another bowl, add the sour cream, eggs, lemon ring and oil, and mix until combined.  Stir the wet mix into the flour.  Fold through the raspberries and white chocolate, and spoon the mix evenly into a muffin tin, with or without paper cases.  If not using paper cases, grease the muffin tin well.  Sprinkle a little of the extra sugar on top on the muffins, and bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until cooked. 

Makes 8 large or 12 medium.








July 11, 2011

Tortellini in Brodo


If there is ever one dish that makes me look forward to winter, this is it.  Oh god how I love this soup.  I crave this soup.  It’s so easy as well, lazy in fact it's just another throw-in-the-pot kinda dish.

I've been eating this as long as I can remember.  Brodo is my comfort food, and adding tortellini just brings it to another level.  It makes it a whole meal.

I made this last night (as well as last Sunday night) – I tend to make it every fortnight throughout winter. You'll be surprised how tasty it is just using lamb necks and a few veges.  I sometimes throw in a lamb shank as well, and then put the meat back into the broth with the tortellini.  

I'll let you in on a little secret I didn't have any tin tomatoes this time!  Shock horror.  I thought this was a big deal, being the pasta sauce loving fiend I am.  Colin didn't see the drama though.  Instead I used a heaped tablespoon of tomato paste and a whole ripe tomato.  It delivered the same result.  I always write in my soup posts, especially broth ones, that it feeds 4.  I guess it could feed 6, but this soup is kind of addictive, so you always go back for more.  That might just be me though...

TORTELLINI IN BRODO
Original recipe
700g lamb necks
3 carrots
3 celery sticks
2 onions
½ tin tomatoes (200g)
Rock salt
500g tortellini


Wash and cut the ends off the carrot and celery, and peel the onion.  Add to a large heavy based pot, along with the lamb necks, ½ tin of tomatoes and some rock salt.

Fill the pot up with water so all the ingredients are covered, and bring to the boil.  When boiling, reduced to a simmer and continue cooking covered for 3 hours.   The longer you leave it, the more intense the flavour.

When the broth is full of flavour, turn the heat off and let it sit to slightly cool.  Remove the lamb neck and vegetables, and strain the broth through a fine sieve and / or muslin.  I like to use a muslin cloth as it gives you a lovely clear golden broth.

Bring the broth back up to the boil and add the tortellini.  Cook for 5 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.

Serve with grated parmesan.

Serves 4.

July 4, 2011

Lamb, Mint and Pea Pot Pies

This weekend was super lazy for me – I even had a moment where I sat on the couch and thought “hrmm, what should I do?”  The thing is, I have lots to do, heaps.  But I just couldn’t be bothered.  You know those moments where you kind of just, give up?  I had that.  I still did a bit of gardening in between the rain showers.  And I cleaned a little.  But for the most part I sat on my bum.  I was happy about that too.

Sunday was a little more productive.  I had a lovely lunch with the girls, then went home and made these awesome little pot pies.  It was the perfect weather for them too.  It’s freezing right now!  Seriously cold (well Perth cold).  These pies with a glass of red, followed by a hot chocolate with marshmallows made for a nice finish to the weekend.  Yeah I indulged.  Not only did I not do any physical work, but I ate a lot.  I need to do some exercise soon I think.

This recipe comes from Neil Perry’s book, Good Food.  This book is awesome!  I have made a few things from it, and everything always works.  It’s basic good food.  My mum has made these pies a few times and they have always been a success.  I didn’t change one thing about the recipe, although it gave me ideas for a range of different pot pies.  And the best thing is, I only used half the mixture and froze the rest so I can make them next week.

Oh, and I served these with some honey glazed baby carrots. 


Lamb, Mint and Pea POT Pie
Recipe from Neil Perry
1.25kg trimmed lamb shoulder, diced
Sea salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons plain flour (plus 1 tablespoon extra)
80ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
160ml red wine
160ml veal or chicken stock
225g frozen green peas, defrosted
1 handful mint leaves, chopped
1 -2 sheets frozen puff pastry, defrosted but still cold
1 egg yolk, lightly whisked


Preheat the oven to 150°C.

In a medium bowl, add the flour and seasonings and mix, and then add the lamb and toss to coat so all pieces are lightly dusted.

In a large heavy based oven-proof pot, add the olive oil and heat on high.  Add the lamb in batches (making sure to not crowd) and cook for 1 – 2 minutes until the lamb is sealed and has a nice brown colour.  Remove for the pot and set aside.

In the same pot, add the onions and a pinch of salt, and cook until the onions have softened.   Add the tomato paste and flour and cook for a further minute.  Add the red wine and stock and stir well.  When the liquids have come to the boil, return the lamb to pot and stir to coat in the liquid.

Cover the pot with foil and place in the oven for 1 hour.  Add the pea and mint and stir well.

Increase the oven temperature to 200°C.

Divide the lamb mixture into ramekins or pie dishes (about 300ml each).  Place the sheet of puff pastry over the pie dishes, making sure you have enough to hang over the edge of the pot.  Firmly press the pastry down around the edges , and brush with the egg yolk.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until puffed and golden.

Serves 4 (or 6 smaller ones).
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