July 23, 2012

Cool graphics: Grill Master

How cool is this poster!!?  I won't lie, I'm a massive sucker for infographics.  I could look at them all day.  I even wrote a paper about infographics.  It was only a draft report, as uni is now on hold.

I for one get worried about cooking things like pork and chicken, cos I always second guess myself on cooking times.  I especially like the seafood cooking time recommendations.  If only it were in metric!

I'm definitely going to hang a copy of this in my kitchen.  The infographic is by Column Five Media, and you can get a large pdf version here.

July 22, 2012

Lemon and Ricotta Cake

My parents have the most amazing lemon trees.  When I was growing up we used to joke about how lame the two trees as the lemons were always thick skinned and dry on the inside.  They were also the strangest shape ever!  10 years later, the trees are huge, full of juice, and still the strangest shape.  I pulled one off the tree the other day that looked like a pear.  Yeah.

Whenever I bring a bag of lemons home from their house, I start thinking of what to make.  I’m not a big fan of cheesecakes so that’s out, but I do love a good lemon and ricotta cake.  I search around the net and found this recipe.   It was simple, my type of cake.  You could probably go all the way and take out the flour completely and use more almond meal.

I picked up another bag of lemons yesterday so am thinking of making a lemon syrup cake (like the one Julie made of Masterchef the other night…  drool).

Oh and one more note, you might wonder why I’m so quiet lately, well it’s cos of a couple of things.  First, it’s winter, and taking photos without proper lighting is a nightmare.  Secondly, my spare time is being taken up with design work for a small business.  Thirdly, my mind is completely distracted from my kitchen renovation plans!!  So freakin’ excited.  I will keep you updated on this, cos after all, it’s the place all these recipes come from.

Update:  Totally forgot, FOURTHLY, it was my birthday on Wednesday, so you know, lots of dinners, being distracted and allowing myself to be lazy.  In a second year of tradition, I made these birthday scones again.  The perfect work birthday morning tea!

175g butter, soft
½ cup caster sugar
½ cup honey
3 lemons, grated and zested
3 eggs, separated
1 cup (250g) smooth ricotta, drained
2/3 cup sr flour
1/3 cup almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
Icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180C.  Line a 20cm baking tin with baking paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar.  When pale and creamy, add the honey and lemon zest and beat until incorporated.  Add the egg yolks one at a time and continue beating.   Make sure there all the excess water is drained for the ricotta and stir through.  Add the lemon juice and stir though.  Sift the flour, almond meal and baking powder into the batter and fold through.  (You may have a lot of lemon juice depending on the size of the lemons.  At a bit at a time, and if the mixture needs a bit of loosening, add the rest of the lemon juice)

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until light and fluffy.  Add one heaped spoonful into the batter and fold gently.  Add the rest and fold until all incorporated.   Pout the batter into the baking tin and place in the oven for 45 minutes.  Place a skewer in the centre of the cake to test whether it’s cooked – it should come out clean.  This is a really moist cake so you might notice moisture on the skewer but this is ok.

Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack before serving.  Serve with cream.

July 1, 2012

Quinoa Salad with Grilled Chicken and Corn

Whenever winter comes we load ourselves up on meaty, carb-y goodness.  We crave soups and warm food, pasta, casseroles, pies and roasts.  Most of the time, we forget about salads.  That’s not so much a problem if we eat lots of vegetables with these roasts and soups.  For me, I still need to eat a salad here and there.  It might be a mental thing more than anything.  I need that cleansing feeling more than anything.

I made this salad a few times over summer and have been meaning to post it.  But being me, it was filed and forgotten.  I made it again last week, and although aspects of the salad constantly change based on what ingredients I have on hand, the concept stays the same – quinoa, chicken and corn. 

I’m trying to eat more quinoa these days as I know that my wheat intake is a little too high.  I am half Italian after all, so avoiding it is hard.  Being winter, it’s also hard to bring myself to eat salad when all I want it hot food.  But, I always feel good after eating this and never regret my decision.

A couple of extra notes.  I think in this salad (images) I used mixed sprouts instead of pine nuts.  Mixed sprouts are so good for you, but I can’t pass up toasted pine nuts when I have them at home.  Also, try and grill the corn if you can – it adds the most intense smoky flavour which I think makes the salad.  I used this dressing for the salad, but a simple olive oil and red vinaigrette works great too.

½ cup quinoa
1 cup water
½ vegetable stock cube
2 large corn cobs
2 chicken breasts
Small bag of mixed lettuce (rocket, spinach, gourmet lettuce)
1 handful pine nuts, toasted
100g feta
1 avocado, cubed
Salad dressing

Place ½ cup of washed quinoa and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan.  Add the ½ stock cube and bring to the boil.  When boiled, reduce to a simmer and allow the quinoa to cook and absorb all the water.  When done, drain the quinoa, gently run a little water over it and allow it to cool in a sieve.  Set aside.

Cut off any excess fat on the chicken, rub a little salt and olive oil on it and set aside.  Rub a little olive oil on the corncobs and place on a hot griddle (or fry pan).  Turn occasionally until the cobs have nice grill marks.  Place them in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside.  The plastic wrap allows them to continue cooking and soften the kernels.

Place the chicken on the same grill pan and cook on each side for 10 or so minutes.  When cooked, set aside to cool.

Remove the corn kernels from the cob by running s sharp knife down the side of the cob from top to bottom.  Turn the cob and repeat until all kernels are removed.

Slice the chicken up (or shred if you prefer).

Place the lettuce in a big bowl.  Scatter over the cooled quinoa, chicken, corn, toasted pine nuts and avocado.  Crumble over the feta, and pour over your salad dressing.  I recommend this one.

Serves 4 as a main.

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