Wednesday, June 11, 2008

June 11th, 2008

Okay we have finally had some lovely weather here so that means salads and BBQs. I have posted before about how to do the corn on the BBQ, so I won't do that again, although my friend Fiona at Cottage Small holder has come up with a yummy idea I want to try for my next BBQ. She posted on her blog about doing some stuffed vegetables and I don't see why you couldn't do them and then cover in foil and put on the BBQ. So going to give that a go next BBQ we have.
I have seen this ingredient here and there in different cooking magazines and food blogs so I had to try it. It is a grain that you cook very similar to cous cous and Bulghar wheat. Only this one has a neat curlyque.

First you need to rinse it well in cold water. Now this isn't very easy as the grains are really small.

I have adapted this recipe from Fine Cooking magazine.
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed well. Place into a sauce pan along with 3 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium low once it comes to the boil. and simmer until the water is absorbed about 10 to 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and then spread onto a shallow plate or baking sheet to cool.
When cool, fluff again and transfer to a large bowl.
To make the salad:
1 1/2 cups finely diced tomato, you can deseed if you like, but personally I prefer the seeds.
1 cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 cup finely diced cucumber
1/2 cup thinly sliced spring onions or chopped onion
Mix well with the Quinoa in the bowl.
To make the dressing:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, juice of 1 whole lemon or more to taste(I would include the zest next time too and maybe some lime zest and juice), 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon and 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix together and toss with the salad. Let the flavours mingle for 2 hours before serving or over night. Adjust seasoings to taste. I also added a bit of dried oregano.
This was nice and refreshing for a change to a lettuce salad. I will be trying different recipes using this grain again.

Here I served it with Pork medallions cooked in a creamy onion mustard sauce with Butterbean mash and steamed asparagus and some cherry tomatoes. Very filling! But very Yummy!!!
I also made a plum ginger cake but we were too stuffed to even have a piece of it.
But here is how I did the cake.
Plum Ginger Cake
Makes one 9 inch square cake.
Preheat ove to 160C. Prepare your cake pan, by greasing with butter and dusting with flour.
Take 100 g softened butter and mix with 100 g caster sugar. Beat in 2 eggs one at a time. Mix together 100 g self raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder. Sift the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. I also added about a teaspoon or so of chopped fresh peeled ginger. Mix well and then place in baking tin. Bake for 10 minutes and then top with this mixture....
4 small plums sliced, 1 tablespoon of flour, 3 tablespoons of brow sugar and about 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger. Mix together and then drop onto the part bake cake. Back into the oven for about 20 minutes or so until the cake tests done with a toothpick. I made a quick little icing to drizzle over the cooled cake. Melt about a teaspoon or so of butter in a jug mix well with some icing sugar and then thin with some milk to desired consistency. Drizzle over cake.
This is lovely served with vanilla ice cream.

Grilled Goats Cheese Stuffed Peppers

Take two long red peppers and slice a bit open so you can take out the seeds and membrane. Leave the stem on. Rub with olive oil and place some goats cheese slices inside. Drizzle with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar and place under the grill. Grill till cheese is bubbly and peppers are al dente. Sprinkle with some pine nuts and drizzle with some pesto. Serve with some grilled ciabatta and fresh salad leaves.

Like I said we have been having quick salad types of meals. Hope you enjoy!!!

Friday, June 06, 2008

June 6th 2008

Hi all...... Well I am still here.... and still blogging. They say that most blogs don't last more than a few months.. Well mine is now a few days over a year old!!! I have met alot of lovely new friends in this past year and we all have at least one thing in common, our passion for food. So hopefully this blog will be here again in another year's time with more recipes and more new friends.

The past few weeks have been not very adventurous in the cooking department. Although I did make flour tortillas from scratch....

My Mexican cookbook says to take 2 cups (250g) of sifted plain flour and with 1/2 teaspoon salt place in a mixing bowl. Rub in 60g margarine or butter(traditionally you would use lard)with your fingertips until it looks like coarse crumbs. Add enough water to mixture to for a soft dough. About 1/3 to 2/3 (80 to 160ml) warm water. Knead lightly on a floured surface until smooth. Divide into 12 equal portions and shape into balls. Brush each ball with a little vegetable oil to coat and place in a bowl. Cover with a dry cloth and allow to stand for 15 minutes. (This is an important step in it allows the dough to relax.) Roll out dough portions on a lightly floured surface to form tortillas about 20 cm in diameter. (the size will depend on your frying pan)

Preheat a dry, heavy-based frypan over a medium heat. Cook tortillas for about 30 seconds each side or until speckled and cooked through. I think mine took a little longer. Stack cooked tortillas into a basket or bowl lined with a cloth to keep warm and flexible. I only did 8 tortillas so mine were a little larger in size which I wanted to use as Wraps for sandwiches later on.

But 4 of them made these lovely Burritos.

How I made my burritos was take some butter nut squash and pan fry along with some chopped onion. Mix into 1 tin of chili beans in a sauce pan and then fry up some chopped halloumi cheese. You can add some herbs and spices to taste. I used a bit of garlic chopped, oregano, chili powder and fresh ground cumin seeds.

The rice was easy to fix too.
Cook long grain rice in Chicken stock along with a tin of chopped tomatoes, chopped onion, some frozen sweet corn and frozen peas. Add a few spices and herbs and when rice has cooked serve with some grated cheddar cheese.

This was a really quick and yummy meal. The leftover tortillas make great wraps for any sort of sandwich filling you desire. We just had salad and sliced ham in ours.

I may experiment a bit more with the tortillas and make my own tomato and possibly spinach ones.

I did come across a new product at the grocery store a few weeks ago...

sorry for the lousy photo..... The camera decided not to play ball that day. Anyway it is Maldon Smoked Sea Salt....... Ohhhhhhh the smell is soooooooo lovely. The only problem I have had with it is if you cook with it, you loose the flavour of the smoke. I just love the smell..... like a campfire on a lovely autumnal evening. I have been having fun trying it on all sorts of dishes. But personally, I think if you are to use it I would use it sprinkled onto the food at the table. Brian and I don't salt our food at the table so seems a bit of a waste. Although it says it is a good seasoning for fish. Any way I can recommend just getting a box to have a good sniff occasionally.
Hmmmmm wonder what it would be like on a baked potato.....