Sunday 31 March 2013

Honey and Rosemary Roast Plums

From The Easy Way Vegetarian, Love Food, 2012.

I commenced this by making the liquid mix in which to roast the plums. I took half an orange, zested the skin and juiced the fruit. I mixed the juice and zest with 5 tablespoons honey until smooth.

I now took 3 plums, halved them and took out the stones. The plum halves were placed in a baking dish and some sprigs of rosemary were laid alongside them. The roasting mix was poured over. The dish was covered with aluminium foil and placed in a 190ºC oven for half an hour.

Meanwhile ½ cup cream was whipped until reasonably firm. The same amount of Greek style yoghurt was folded into the cream and it went back in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

To serve, the plums were placed on dishes, the cream mix placed alongside and the sauce poured over. A little muesli was sprinkled over.

This was a reasonable dessert. I’m not a great fan of fruit cooked, preferring it raw, but I did not mind this. The plums were slightly sharp with the hint of rosemary coming through, the creamy tang from the yoghurt and, over all, the sweet honey sauce.

This is the first time I have used this book. It looks as though it should prove to be a good one. There is one recipe per double page spread with photographs on one side and instructions on the other. It is clearly set out and many of the recipes come with extra hints. Cooking times are included and, what should please many, there is nutritional information listed per serve.

Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔✔

Saturday 30 March 2013

Roasted Beetroot and Capsicum Salad

From Moroccan, The Australian Women’s Weekly, ACP Books, 2011.

I wrapped some beetroot in foil and placed them in a 220ºC oven with a red capsicum and a yellow capsicum. After half an hour they were ready. 

The beetroot, peeled and sliced into quarters, and the capsicum, peeled, seeded and sliced, went into a bowl. On top of these were sprinkled a little red onion finely chopped, some chopped parsley and about a tablespoon of chopped preserved lemon peel. 

The juice of half a lemon went over this and, with a little dribble of olive oil, it was ready to eat.

Sometimes it’s good to get away from the salads that have lots of greens. This salad worked well. The sweetness of the beetroot and the capsicums was contrasted against the sourness of the lemon and the crunch of the onion.

Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔✔

Friday 29 March 2013

Cavolo Nero with Red Capsicum, Olives and Smoked Cheese Polenta

From Wild Garlic, Gooseberries … and Me, Denis Cotter, Collins, 2010.

I am always concerned when cooking polenta that it should come out flavoursome and not like a tasteless porridge. This recipe gave an excellent polenta result.

In a saucepan I brought to the boil 500ml water with a stock cube and then whipped in 100g polenta slowly. This was stirred and stirred until it had thickened somewhat and begun to leave the edges of the saucepan. The heat was now turned down to low and the polenta continued to be cooked for another 20 minutes, stirring every so often.

Meanwhile I sliced cavolo nero leaves, discarding the hard stem. I cut a red capsicum into small pieces. I sliced three or four black olives. I chopped a garlic cube. I chopped a red chilli finely. The cavolo nero went into a frying pan with a little oil and was cooked for a few minutes. Then in went all of the other ingredients to cook for another few minutes. Now a little water was added to the pan and a lid placed on to let it simmer for about a quarter of an hour.

The polenta was now ready to about 20g butter was added with 30g grated smoked cheese and a tablespoon chopped sage. This was all stirred in. It did not seem to need any addition of salt but a few gratings of black pepper were added.

A helping of polenta was placed on a serving dish and the vegetables added alongside with the liquid. A little extra virgin olive oil was sprinkled on and it was ready to eat.

This was bursting with the flavour. The smoky polenta went wonderfully with the bitter greens and the sweet capsicum. The juices had flavoured up and went well with the polenta. 

Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

Thursday 28 March 2013

Spaghetti con Patate e Cavolo Nero (Spaghetti with Potato and Cavolo Nero

From a recipe by Lina Siciliano in Italian Food Safari, Maeve O’Meara with Guy Grossi, Hardie Grant Books, 2010.

Having been given the pasta attachment to our KitchenAid equipment I naturally had to use it. Rolling out the pasta was a breeze and I soon had the sheets ready to be cut into spaghetti. The cutter worked well but it, for me, made the spaghetti too thin. It was like very thin noodles. I’ll try the fettucini cutter next time.

Though the thinness of the spaghetti seemed wrong for the dish I was making I went ahead as the pasta was made. I cut two medium-sized potatoes into bite-sized pieces and placed them into a pot of salted boiling water. After 5 minutes I added about 8 cavolo negro leaves sliced and with the thick inner stalk cut out. The cooking now continued for another 10 minutes. Now the pasta was added and cooked for about a minute as it was very thin.

When the pasta was added to the saucepan I heated up some olive oil in a frying pan with two peeled garlic cloves to flavour the oil.

I saved a cup of water from the pasta pot and drained the ingredients. These were added to the pan with the oil and gently turned to coat all with the oil. Some of the water from the cup was added to give a little more moisture. The pasta was ready to serve.

This was a subtle dish. The flavours were delicate; there was nothing overpowering here, just the gentle tastes to savour.

Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

Monday 25 March 2013

Brazilian Black Bean and Pumpkin Stew

From The Slow Cook Book, Heather Whinney, Dorling Kindersley, 2011.

In readiness for this recipe I soaked 160ml black beans in some water overnight. In the morning I drained the beans and then put them in a saucepan with some water, brought them to the boil and then drained them again. They then went into the slow cooker to wait for the other ingredients.

While the beans were being brought to the boil I chopped an onion and placed it in a pan with a little hot oil to cook for about 3 minutes. Next 2 chopped garlic cloves went in for a minute and then half a butternut pumpkin cut into bite-sized pieces for another minute. These all now went in the slow cooker with a chopped red capsicum, a can of tomatoes, a small red chilli (chopped) and 300ml water with a vegetarian stock cube.
The cooker was turned on low and left to cook for 8 hours. About half way through the cooking time I checked the stew for seasoning and added a little salt and lots of black pepper.
At serving time a mango was diced and added with chopped coriander.
Served with rice this was a flavoursome meal. It had thickened and was rich with a mixture of savoury tastes occasionally enlivened with the sweet pieces of mango. It was so easy to make that it is a recipe that must be remembered for cold winter nights.
Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔