Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Peppery Chickpea & Cannellini Beans

A fabulous vegetarian meal or side to any meat dish in minutes.

Peppery Chickpea & Cannellini Beans
Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side           

You will need
1-2 Tbls Olive oil
½ large sweet (or white) onion, finely chopped
1 Tbls garlic
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
½ Tbls white pepper
Salt to taste
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

How to make it
Heat the olive oil in a heavy based pan.
Fry the onion on a low heat until it becomes soft and translucent.
Turn up the heat and add the garlic, fry for a minute or two.
Tur off the heat and add the beans and chickpeas.
Season well with salt and pepper (add more pepper if you like it very peppery).
Toss through chopped parsley.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

-          Bump up this dish to a fabulously easy and healthy lunch by adding 
           a tin of tuna to the bean mixture.
-          Add a teaspoon of chilli powder or chilli flakes for some more kick.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Yuppiechef Simple Summer Cookathon

In December I took part in the Yuppiechef Cookathon. A great excuse for a mid-week dinner party, right? Personally I felt the menu was a little dislodged, that the dishes didn’t complement each other. I also really don’t think Wild Mushroom Risotto (which I absolutely adore!) is suited to a summer menu. But nevertheless, we had great fun and all my guests left satisfied with full tummies.

Here are some pics from the evening and links to the recipes.

PS It's really tricky taking pictures of your friends and dishes while trying to be social and getting to taste the food at the same time!

No dinner is complete without friends. 

Beautiful nut brittle. 

Melon salad with spicy seed brittle (I added some parma ham.)
Click here for the recipe.

Wild mushroom risotto 
(I made it with shitake stock and drizzled with truffle oil just before serving.)
Click here for the recipe.

Chocolate pudding with strawberry ripple ice cream
Serves 6 

You will need

For the chocolate pudding:
2 Tbsp melted butter, for greasing
125g butter
150g Valrhona chocolate (or use at least 70% cocoa solid equivalent)
200g castor sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs, beaten
100g flour
Cocoa powder, for dusting

For the strawberry ripple ice cream:
200g strawberries
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tub vanilla ice cream

You will need six ramekins.

How to make it

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Brush each ramekin with melted butter and dust with cocoa powder.
Remove your vanilla ice cream from the freezer so long to allow it to melt for about 20 minutes to half an hour.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate. Stir in the sugar and vanilla extract. Once melted, remove from the heat and leave to cool.
In the meantime, prepare your strawberry ripple sauce. Blend the strawberries with the castor sugar and vanilla until puréed. Place in the fridge to chill for a few minutes.
Your chocolate mixture should be cool enough now. Whisk the eggs into this cooled chocolate mixture. 
Once that’s sufficiently mixed begin folding in your flour.
When you’re done mixing your chocolate batter, divide the mixture between 4 ramekins or mugs and bake for 12 -15 minutes.
Return your attention to your melting vanilla ice cream. Pour it into a large bowl or bigger container. Stir through the chilled strawberry mixture to make a ripple and return to the freezer while your chocolate puddings bake up in the oven.
Just before they’re done, remove your strawberry ripple ice cream from the freezer for a few minutes to defrost for easy scooping.
Once your chocolate puddings are perfectly baked, serve with a big dollop of strawberry ripple ice cream.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Valentine's menu ideas

This menu is perfect for a summer Valentine's dinner.
It's light, easy and perfectly colour coordinated for the 'Day of Love' :)

Try one (or all) of the dishes to spoil that special someone on the 14th.  

This refreshing cooler can be served as a welcome drink, palate cleanser or even a dessert.

Strawberry Cooler
Makes about 6 servings  

You will need
500g frozen strawberries
¼ cup castor sugar
4 tots Vodka (optional)
Cold water

How to make it
Combine the strawberries, sugar and vodka in a liquidiser.
Pulse the mixture, adding small amounts of water until you reach your desired consistency.
(Make it runnier as a drink and more solid as a sorbet.)
Serve in martini glasses. 

A lovely combination of tart and creamy flavours, this makes a beautiful looking starter.

Beetroot & Goatscheese Stack
Serves 2               

You will need
4 baby beetroot, cooked
100g log plain Chevin cheese
Rocket leaves & micro herbs for garnish
Balsamic reduction

How to make it
Slice the Chevin into thin 5mm rounds.
Slice the beetroot into the same sized rounds.
To serve, layer some rocket leaves on a plate. Lay down the first piece of beetroot. Stack the cheese on top of the beetroot and repeat until you have a mini tower.
Garnish with micro herbs and serve with balsamic reduction.

Use gloves when working with beetroot, and slice the cheese with a clean knife to avoid staining everything purple. 

 There aren’t many things as satisfying as perfectly cooked steak, serve it with a few quirky ingredients and it becomes a fabulous romantic summer dinner.

Rare beef, Strawberry & Pink Peppercorns
Serves 2               

You will need
300g – 400g beef of your choice (we used sirloin)
Canola oil
Maldon salt
8 Fresh strawberries
Pink peppercorns
Micro herbs for garnish
Balsamic reduction

How to make it
Pre-heat a griddle pan. (Or you can cook it on the fire)
Rub the beef with a little bit of oil and season well with Maldon salt.
In a hot pan, cook the beef to your liking (we prefer rare).
Cover the meat with foil, and rest it for at least 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, thinly slice the strawberries.
Slice the beef into thin strips and arrange it on a plate of your choice.
Garnish with sliced strawberries, micro herbs and pink peppercorns.
Drizzle with balsamic reduction and serve immediately.

*Serve with warm crusty bread if you’d like.

This dessert is just gorgeous!

Mixed Berry & Mascarpone Pots
Makes about 4 portions  
* This recipe was inspired by My Baking Addiction

You will need
For the berry sauce
1 packet (400g) frozen mixed berries
¾ cup water
¾ cup castor sugar
1 Tbls fresh lemon juice
2 Tbls corn flour, dissolved in 2 Tbls cold water
½ tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
For the Mascarpone
1 tub (224g) Mascarpone cheese
¼ cup castor sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
¾ cup heavy cream
½ tsp vanilla extract
To compile
Vanilla cake/Madeira cake, cut into fingers
Fresh berries to garnish

How to make it
For the berry sauce
Combine the berries, water, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan.
Bring to the boil and reduce heat to a simmer.
Stir in the dissolved corn flour. (Careful not to squash the berries.)
Cook for about 5 minutes until the sauce thickens and covers the back of a metal spoon.
Remove from the heat and gently stir in the vanilla extract and the lemon zest.
Set aside to cool.
For the Mascarpone
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
Beat the mixture until peaks form.
To compile
Place a layer of vanilla cake into the bottom of a glass.
Cover with a layer of the berry sauce, and top with the mascarpone cheese mix.
Repeat until you have a few layers and the glass/pot is filled.
Garnish with fresh berries.

*You can make it a few hours before serving.

Have a fabulously delicious Valentine's Day!