Spiced cannellini and couscous burgers

Its getting into summer and that means BBQ season. I wanted to try out these burgers to see if they would be a good alternative to the often 'icky' supermarket vegetarian burgers to take to BBQ's.

Burgers are also really good to have in the freezer for a healthy quick dinner, or to take cold for lunch.

I made a double batch of these and frooze the extras. We had them for dinner the other night and then I enjoyed one the next day while sitting in the sun at the Botanical Gardens.

Spiced cannellini and couscous burgers
Source: Delicious Mag

1/2 cup (100g couscous)
2 tbs olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 med chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped (or dried chilli flakes)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground coriander
400g can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
2 tbs roughly chopped coriander leaves (I used a mix of veitnamese mint and parsley)
grated zest of 1 lemon (I used 1/4 diced preserved lemon)
1 egg
flour for dusting

Place the couscous in a heatproof bowl, add 100mL boiling water, cover and stand for 5 minutes. Fluff up with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tbs oil in a large frypan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and chilli, then cook, stirring for 5 minutes until softened. Stir in cumin seeds and ground coriander and cook for a further minute until fragrant.

Place beans in a large bowl and use a potato masher to mash well into a coarse paste. Stir in the onion mixture, couscous, coriander leaves, lemon zest and egg and season well.

Firmly shape the mixture into 4 patties (easier if wet hands), coat each side in flour and chill for half an hour in fridge.

Heat remaining 1 tbs oil in frypan over medium heat. Add burgers and cook each side until done.

Serve with delicious crusty breadrolls, green salad and cheese, tomato etc.

Lunch 23rd October, 2010 08:20:34    #   2 comments  

Luxe pound cake

My brother came around for cake the other week. I have been busy with study so I said I would make him a basic cake. His response was to make a pound cake or something similar.

I decided to make the Luxe pound cake in my favourite cake book. Ironically called 'The Cake Book'. I always know that Tish Boyle's cakes turn out, and her cakes have attained almost god like status (in terms of cakes that is) in my house.

I have looked at the Luxe pound cake many a time but always thought it seemed too decandent for something so plain. It has 7 eggs! Enough said.

Apart from some problems getting the cake out of my bavarian bundt tin the cake was delicious. It had a really nice marizipan like crust on it. R didn't like the almond extract in it, but he doesn't like almonds so who cares.

Luxe pound cake
Source: The cake book - Tish Boyle

3 cups (342g) cake flour - I just used regular all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
227g unsalted butter, softened
3 cups (600g) caster sugar
7 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1 cup (240mL) heavy cream
icing sugar for sifting

Preheat the oven to 170 C. Grease the inside of a 10-inch Bundt pan

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Whisk to combine, and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until very creamy, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar in four additons, beat for 1 minute after each one, or until light, Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each additon and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. Beat in the vanilla and almond extract.

At low speed, beat in the flour mixture in three additons, alternating it with the cream in two additons; scrape down the sides of the bowl throughly after each additon. Beat for 30 to 45 seconds longer. Scrape the batter evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 65-75 minutes, or until it is golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean; the cake should pull away slightly from the sides of the pan, Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10-12 minutes.

Carefully invert the cake onto another rack ad let cool completely.

Sift icing sugar over the top of the cake just before serving.

Cake 16th October, 2010 10:16:39    #   2 comments  

Peanut butter banana bread, bread and butter pudding

It was my birthday the other day and my mum told me that it corresponded to the full moon in Scorpio. This apparently makes it a good time to make intentions or wishes, so I was instructed I had to blow out a candle and make a wish.

I was not planning on making myself a birthday cake. I always think that someone else is supposed to do that and if they don't you go without.

R was sick so he did not want to bake me anything.

We had gone out to dinner earlier and gotten home late. I did not feel like baking very much, but I also did not feel like buying a baked good from the supermarket.

I decided on making a quick peanut butter banana bread from a book that had recently been returned to me by a friend who had borrowed it for months (don't you hate when that happens?). I had made the cake before in my old, old oven and thought it was delicious so it was a good bet for my birthday cake.

However! In our new apartment we have a fan forced oven. This oven cooks everything very quickly. I don't think I adjusted the temperature as accurately as I should have and ended up having to cook the cake for 20 minutes longer than the specified time. This resulted in a thick inedible crust.

We ate the insides out of our pieces and went to bed.

I thought that the insides were tasty enough that I did not want to just throw out the cake (how wasteful!) so I decided to be frugal and turn it into a bread and butter pudding.

The cake had been sitting on the counter for a few days wrapped in a teatowel (yes that is how disheartened I felt with it - it did not even get a place on my cake stand), which allowed the crust to soften considerably.

It was really tasty turned into a bread and butter pudding. So much so that I think I might even try making the cake again. Hey, even if it overcooks again I can always make another pudding!

Peanut butter banana bread
Source: Peanut butter planet - Robin Robertson

1 cup milk or soy milk
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large ripe bananas, chopped
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts

Makes 1 loaf

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Lightly oil a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and set aside.

In a blender or food processor, combine the milk, sugar, peanut butter, vanilla and 1 banana and blend until smooth.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add the banana mixture and mix well. Fold in the peanuts and the remaining banana.

Fill the prepared pan with the batter and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool in the pan before slicing.

Bread-and-butter pudding
Source: The cook's companion - Stephanie Alexander

unsalted butter
half a loaf of bread (or 3/4 loaf cake sliced)
3 eggs
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
few drops of vanilla paste
granulated raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 160 C. Butter a 5-6 cm deep gratin or pie plate of 1 litre capacity.

Lightly toast bread and butter 1 side of each slice. Cut into trainagles and arrange in dish in overlapping rows.

Mix eggs, castor sugar, milk, cream and vailla and pour gently over and around bread.

Allow pudding to sit for 15 minutes to allow bread to soak up some custard and to avoid having a layer of custard at the bottom.

Sprinkle with raw sugar and bake for 35-40 minutes until firm.

Allow to settle for 10 minutes before serving.

Pudding 26th September, 2010 11:49:02    #   87 comments  

Roast pumpkin soup with savory scones

The last few days I have been feeling that I've been eating out too often. I like having home-cooked meals as they seem healthier to me.

This weekend I made rabbit and smokey bacon stew served with homemade pasta (using the pasta machine that I got for my birthday 6 months ago for the first time), lemon soaked ginger pound cake and roast pumpkin soup served with savory scones.

I love pumpkin soup and I am always out to try new pumpkin soup recipes. I saw a recipe for pumpkin soup in a cookbook I have owned for a while but have never cooked out of (sensing a trend here?). The soup is very minimalistic which appealed to me. The recipe is by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the River Cottage guy. I find his television show very inspirational and like its ethos of teaching people where food actually comes from.

The soup basically, well is, just pumpkin, garlic, stock and salt and pepper. I made sure I used super expensive fresh Australian garlic in order to get maximum garlic flavour. I also used a container of pre-made chicken stock (though home-made would be better). I think it reminds you how good just fresh pumpkin and garlic can taste!

I served the soup with savory scones. I saw the scone recipe in Delicious magazine which I have been reading the last few months. I have had success with other recipes I have tried from the magazine so I figured I might as well give the scone recipe a go. Scones seem very rustic and Australian. I thought they would go very well with the soup and make the lunch seem very cafe style. They did!

Roast Pumpkin Soup
Adapted: Soup Kitchen

1 medium pumpkin (butternut squash etc.)
2 bsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for garnish
6 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
salt and pepper to taste
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock

Serves 4 (depending on how big your pumpkin is)

Preheat the oven to 200 C.

Peel the pumpkin and cut into large chunks or wedges. Lay the pieces in a large roasting tin, and drizzle generously with olive oil. Scatter the garlic cloves whole with the skin on, over the tray, and season well with salt and freshly cracked pepper.

Put in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, turning once or twice if you like, so the pumpkin pieces are well roasted and nicely browned.

Blend the roast pumpkin and garlic in batches with the stock (will not all fit in the blender or food processor at once). Blend until completely smooth, returning the soup to a clean pan. Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings. Add enough stock to get a thick and creamy consistency.

Heat the soup through without re-boiling it. Finish with a trickle of olive oil (or a swirl of cream) in each bowl.

Ham and onion scones with cheddar
Source: Delicious Mag

3 cups (450g) self-raising flour
150g chilled unsalted butter, chopped
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
100g thinly sliced ham, very finely chopped
1 onion, grated (or finely diced)
4 tbs finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
150g cheddar, grated
120-150ml milk, plus extra to brush

Serves 8

Preheat the oven to 200 C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Sift flour into a large bowl. Use your fingertips to rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the chilli flakes, chopped ham, onion, parsley, cheddar and salt and pepper with a fork, then gradually add enough milk to make a soft dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and shape into a smooth 18cm round. Cut the dough into 8 wedges but don't separate. Place on the tray, then brush with extra milk.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Can be served with sliced cheddar, chutney and rocket. Or soup!

Soup 26th September, 2010 10:00:00    #   3 comments  

Silken Chicken Liver Paté

During February the MSO runs free concerts at the Sydney Myer music bowl. Even though I am not a huge expert when it comes to Classical music I find it rather soothing and nice to day dream too. Going to see an outdoor classical music concert is also a great excuse to take a picnic.

Last week R and I went with a friend of his. I was feeling very lazy that day so we just took supermarket food and had wraps (aswell as an awesome homemade carrot cake). So this week I wanted to go the whole hog and make everything I took from scratch.

A good picnic always needs something dip like. I decided to go with a homemade chicken liver paté that I had seen in Delicious magazine a few days earlier. When I think of livers I immediately screw up my face, but I like to try new things and I remember that people say paté is tasty so why not give it a go?

The paté was not the most pleasant thing to make but it was very pleasant to eat. The first few bites I was dubious of, but then I was won over. It was very smooth and sweet.

Aswell as the paté (the star of the picnic) I took along a roasted cauliflower, caramelized onion and herb tortilla, a lentil, celery and dried apple salad, some salad greens and blueberry, orange muffins with white chocolate. It all went down very well and we were very stuffed by the end of it!

Silken Chicken Liver Paté
Source: Delicious Mag

500g chicken livers, trimmed.
3/4 cup (185ml) milk
1/2 cup (125ml) extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 small garlic cloves, chopped
3 bacon rashers, rind removed, chopped
1 tbs thyme leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
2 tbs brandy
1 1/2 tbs balsamic or fig vinegar
200g chilled cultured unsalted butter, chopped, plus 60g melted, cooled.

Makes 4 pots

Place chicken livers in a bowl with milk, and refrigerate while preparing other ingredients.

Heat 1 tbs of oil in large frypan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and bacon and cook, stirring regulary for 12 minutes until onion caramelises. Mix in thyme, then add brandy and 1 tbs of water, stirring to deglaze the pan. Transfer to a bowl, wipe pan clean and return to high heat with remaining oil.

Drain livers, pat dry with paper towls, then cook for 2-3 minutes each side until browned and slightly crusty but still pink within. Add to bowl with onion mixture and season well.

Return pan to heat, splash with vinegar, give it a swirl to deglaze pan, then scrape the juices into the bowl - you should have a spoonful or so.

Puree mixture very finely in a blender or food processor with the chilled butter.

Using a spatula force the paté through a fine sieve into a bowl. Smooth paté into four 180ml ceramic pots. Pour a thin film of melted butter on top to seal, then sprinkle with thyme. Cover and keep in the fridge for up to 5 day.

Serve with crusty bread.

Starters 26th February, 2010 14:19:49    #   2 comments