Tuesday 30 April 2013

Mushroom Soup

From Gourmet Cooking without Meat, Paul Southey, Marshall Cavendish, 1980.

I wanted a mushroom soup to go with a mains course but didn’t want a soup that was milk or cream based. After a little searching I found this recipe that looked all right.

I cut up an onion and gently fried it in butter until it was soft. Then I added about 300g chopped mushrooms. These were stirred a little and let cook until the juices ran and they had darkened somewhat. A pint of water was added with a vegetable stock cube and the heat was turned up.

Meanwhile I took about 30g butter and mashed it with a fork into a tablespoon plain flour. I added a teaspoon Dijon mustard to this and continued mashing until it had become paste-like. When the water in the saucepan reached boiling point it was turned down to a simmer and the butter/mustard paste was added and stirred until it dissolved. About 50ml red wine went in and the mixture was let cook for another 20 minutes.
At this stage the soup had finished cooking so a teaspoon Vegemite was stirred in and the seasoning was checked. A little parsley was chopped and added.

It was good to have a mushroom soup that was not pureed and had no dairy in it. It was full of flavour and nicely textured with the finely chopped mushrooms.

Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔

Monday 29 April 2013

Layered Stracchi with Roasted Vegetables

From Vegetarian Cookbook, Paul Gayler, Dorllng Kindersley, 2000.

Still fascinated by my new pasta roller I looked for another recipe to try it out a little more. This one looked as though it might be interesting. It appeared to be a form of deconstructed lasagne.

I made the pasta, rolled it thinly and cut it into rectangles 10cm by 7.5cm and put it aside while the vegetables and the pesto were made.

I first put two peeled garlic cloves with olive oil into a moderate oven for 15 minutes while I put on some water to boil and dip in three plum tomatoes in order to make them easy to peel. I now placed them in the oven with the garlic and left them for another 15 minutes. These went into the blender with a few basil leaves, some grated parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and salt and pepper. I also added a chilli though the recipe did not call for one. Blended together, this made a flavoursome pesto with a little bit of heat.

Now I cut the vegetables into slices: an eggplant; a zucchini; a red, a green and a yellow capsicum; and two tomatoes. These were all brushed with oil and placed on a grill, bit by bit until they were all done. As they were cooked they were placed in the oven to keep them warm.

A pot of salted water was put on to boil and the pasta was placed in to cook. When done the dish was put together. A dollop of pesto went onto the plate followed by some vegetables, a little more pesto, then a piece of pasta, then vegetables, pesto, pasta, and again vegetables, pesto, pasta—it was done.

Should I make this again I think I would change the balance of vegetables with the pasta. I think it was a bit too heavy on the vegetables leaving the pasta almost like a decoration rather than a major element. It was, however, good to eat. The vegetables had a strong smoky flavour from the grilling and this Mediterranean mix always goes well together. The pesto had a little bit of a punch from the chilli and supplemented the vegetables well.

Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔

Sunday 28 April 2013

Aromatic Lentil Curry

From Impressions of Food, SPC, 1985.

Before making this dish I felt it was important to have all the ingredients ready to go. So I measured out a tablespoon curry powder, a teaspoon each of chilli powder, coriander powder and cumin powder. I chopped two garlic cloves and grated a little fresh ginger. These were the ingredients for the first step.

I then prepared the vegetables. I chopped an onion, a parsnip, a carrot, two celery sticks and half a turnip. I separated some cauliflower florets. I peeled, cored and chopped an apple. I measured out a cup of brown lentils. I took the lid off a can of tomatoes.

Now I added two tablespoons olive oil to a large saucepan and when it was hot added the spices, the garlic and the ginger. I stirred these for a little while until the aroma rose strongly. The vegetables went in next and were stirred for a couple of minutes. Now the rest went in together with 2 cups water and some salt and freshly ground black pepper.

They cooked for about 30 minutes and were served with mango chutney and yoghurt and grated cucumber. Just before serving I squeezed in the juice of half a lime and sprinkled a pinch of sugar into the curry.

While not an out-of-the-ordinary dish this was a reasonable meal. The curry flavour came through strongly but not too strongly to prevent the vegetables being tasted. There was sufficient left for another meal so tonight I’ll make some flat bread to have with it.

Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔

Thursday 25 April 2013

Mashed Potatoes and Turnips with Sautéed Onions and Greens

From Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen, Deborah Madison, Broadway Books, 2005.

Anything with mashed potatoes is worth trying. I put two potatoes and two turnips, peeled and cut into pieces, into a pot of salted water and brought it to the boil. A spring of thyme was added, then it was simmered until they were done. They were then mashed.

As the potatoes were cooking a large onion was cut into slices and sauteed slowly in oil and butter until it had softened and browned.

At the same time a pot of salted water was brought to the boil and a few pieces of broccolini and some Chinese broccoli were cut into serving type slices and added to the boiling water. They were cooked for a few minutes and then removed.

When the potato/turnip mash was ready the greens were heated in the pan with the onions. The mash was placed on plates and the onions and greens put over the top.

This is a simple dish but wonderful to eat. There was the comfort of the mash—a tasty mix of potato and turnip—with the sweetness of the onions and the slight bitterness of the greens. A really good way to serve accompanying vegetables, though I had it with a soup.

Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Lemon Yoghurt Cake

From a la grecque: our Greek table, Pam Talimanidis, Hardie Grant Books, 2009.

I don’t usually do much cake baking but this lemon yoghurt cake appealed.

I turned on the oven to heat to 180ºC and then took out the electric mixer. In it went 125g softened butter and 220g caster sugar. These were beaten until they had combined and become pale. I then added two eggs and beat them in one at a time. Once this was done I added 250ml yoghurt, 3 tablespoons lemon juice and the zest of a lemon. Once these were combined well 430g self-raising flour and ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda went in. This made quite a firm mixture. I placed it in a lined spring-form tin to bake in the oven for 45 minutes.

When the cake was almost ready I made the syrup. In a saucepan I brought to the boil 125g sugar, 125ml water, the zest of a lemon cut into fine strips and the juice of half a lemon. I let the mixture simmer for 5 minutes and it was ready. The cake came from the oven and the hot syrup was poured over.

This was a very dry cake, even with the syrup. In fact the next day I had to make up another batch of syrup to pour over. This improved it somewhat. I was disappointed with the cake as the flavour, despite the lemon juice and zest, was lacking and it was very dry. It was improved a little with the extra syrup but that was not enough to really save it.

Taste: ✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔