22 March 2010

Girls lunch. What to make...

So, I've invited the girls around for lunch in a couple of weeks and I'm a little stuck as to what to make. I think I'll start with the savoury pumpkin and feta parcels I made for Christmas and then some kind of simple, light yet filling and autumn friendly pasta for main. There needs to be fruit somewhere.

The other option is to go back through the Daring Bakers Challenges and try my hand at either savoury strudel or the danish braid. I can also go through my own books and come up with some sort of pie too.

Only issue will be the need to churn out a cake that same day for a birthday lunch on the sunday

 Oh and these are the other girls in the bridal party for next years wedding.

Any ideas on what to make??

Last resort, RISOTTO!

21 March 2010

What to do.

So it seems that I need a new housemate.

The current one has decided that she will be moving in with her boyfriend in early May. This means I say farewell to the blender, washing machine and fridge as well as most of the furniture in the house.

It will mean less of her clutter and I get to go shopping at Ikea for furniture.

I am rather angry about it as our lease is up in September and to me this is something you wait until the end of the lease to do.

More on this later when I'm not so angry. She was my best friend in the later years of high school and I am sad that things are ending this way. I doubt we will see each other much after this.

18 March 2010

More Risotto and my first hosting challenge!

If you were wondering why there was an abundance of risotto here over the last few months it was because my pal Jess and I hosted our first Daring Cooks challenge! We decided to challenge everyone to make risotto and stock from scratch. The recipes are below.
If you scan through the last few entries you can see some of my past results. I'll post the other photos when I find the disk......

It was great to see so many different takes on this challenge, both sweet and savoury. There was also lots of Arancini being made with leftovers too!

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

Chicken Stock
1 large chicken 2-3 pounds about 1 kg
chicken bones 2-3 pounds 1 kg
2 onions, roughly diced
1 medium leek - white part only, roughly diced
2 sticks celery, roughly diced
2 cloves garlic, halved
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. white peppercorns ( Any type of whole peppercorn will do)
2 bay leaves (fresh or dried, it doesn't matter.)
peel of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp. allspice
  1. Wash the chicken and bones and places in a 5 Litre pot, cover completely with water and bring to a boil
  2. Skim away any scum as it comes to the surface
  3. Add the vegetables and bring back to a boil
  4. Add the rest remaining ingredients and simmer very gently, uncovered for 1.5 hours
  5. Carefully lift out the chicken, set aside. The chicken meat can be removed from the chicken, shredded off and used for other things like soup!
  6. Simmer the stock gently for another hour. At , at the end you should have around 2 Liters
  7. Carefully ladle the liquid into a fine sieve, the less the bones and vegetables are disturbed in this process the clearer the stock will be. 
The stock is now ready for use. Freeze what you don't need for later use.
Risotto Base
olive oil 2 fluid oz 60 ml
1 small onion, quatered
rice 14 oz 400g
Any type of risotto rice will do. I use Arborio but the recipe itself says Vialone Nano. Another to look for is Carnaroli.
white wine 2 fl oz 60 ml
chicken or vegetable stock , simmering 2 pints 1 L
  1. Heat oil in a pan and add onion. Fry for a few minutes to flavour the oil then discard. (We diced ours and left it in as we like onion).
  2. Add the rice and stir for a few minutes to coat each grain of rice with oil and toast slightly.
  3. Add the wine and let it bubble away until evaporated.
  4. Add enough stock to cover the rice by a finger’s width (about an inch or two). Don't actually stick your finger in, it will be hot. Just eye it off.
  5. Cook on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time, until most of the stock has been absorbed.
  6. Repeat Step 5 making sure to leave aside approximately 100 ml. of stock for the final step. .
  7. Repeat, save 100ml for the final stage.
  8. Once you are at this point, the base is made. You now get to add your own variation.
Pumpkin Risotto (OPTIONAL recipe)
pumpkin, grated 7oz 200g Don't use butternut, the taste will be too watery
thyme, chopped 1 Tbsp
unsalted butter 3.5 oz 100g chilled and cut into small cubes
parmesan cheese, grated 2 oz 60g
  1. Melt half the butter in a saucepan. Add pumpkin and cook until tender. Set aside (optional - blend for a smoother texture)
  2. Make the base up until the end of step 8.
  3. Stir through the pumpkin mixture and thyme
  4. Add the final 100ml of stock and hte remaining butter and stir until both are completely absorbed. Stir through the parmesan, stick the lid on and let it sit for a few minutes.
Preserved Lemon Risotto (OPTIONAL recipe)
Serves 4 as a starter or light lunch
1 preserved lemon, peel only, finely diced. (The lemons from last months challenge should be perfect by now, otherwise you can buy them. Regular lemon zest will work as well.)
celery leaves, from the heart, finely chopped 1 Tbsp
unsalted butter 3.5 oz 100g chilled and cut into small cubes
parmesan cheese, grated 2 oz 60g
  1. Make the base until the end of step 8.
  2. Stir through the preserved lemon
  3. Add the final 100ml of stock and butter and stir until both are completely absorbed. Stir through the parmesan, stick the lid on and let it sit for a few minutes.
This one has a very strong taste, it is best served as a base with something else. We stirred through goats cheese. It was delicious.
For Stock recipes other than Chicken:
For preserved lemon recipes:
Videos of risotto-making:

01 March 2010

Being sick sucks.

On the upside, before I got sick I managed to turn out a fantastic cake for a friends 21st. Pictures will appear at some point.

Have I mentioned that being sick sucks?