A tale of two best friends on opposite sides of the world and their quest to cook everything from
Stephanie Alexander's 'The Cook's Companion'

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lois's Almond and Orange Biscuits

Ok, so now it seems that I am responding to requests. Kirsten, this one's for you. This was what I took to her place last weekend, and she sent me a text asking for the ingredients, so it was about time I blogged it! I was having a baking frenzy at the weekend, so the oven was already going, and these were ready in an instant. They were great to eat when warm, and once the syrup had soaked into them, they were even better. I think they can still be eaten without the syrup, as hubby confirmed, but I honestly didn't try them without, so I cannot be the judge of it.

I found that the almond meal makes the mix a bit dense, and hard to roll out, but if I wet my hands a bit, it was really easy to roll into shape. I was probably too precious in getting a nice shape to them, but in the end they get coated with the icing sugar so it hides any imperfections. I think these would also work with other citrus flavours, especially lemon. I think I may have to try that one next!

Lois's Almond and Orange Biscuits (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion, pg 617

375g finely ground almonds (I used almond meal)
1 tablespoon plain flour (I used gluten free)
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 egg
icing sugar for coating

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sunday Roast

Roast Chicken

No, this isn't a post about Nicole Kidman's daughter, but about the ubiquitous roast. Since moving to London, hubby has craved roasts, and they are hard to escape. Every pub does it's version of a Sunday Roast for lunch. Our local does a fantastic Roast Lamb, but it's a little on the pricey side, so I thought it would be best to make our own. Hubby decided on chicken, and while our free-range, organic chicken wasn't cheap, it fed us for 2 nights and was still less than the cost of one pub roast.

Roast Chicken (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie's Roast Chicken - The All-time Favourite, pg 298
Serves 4

1.8kg chicken
1 lemon, halved
4 cloves garlic
a few sprigs of rosemary
small knob of butter
salt and pepper
vegetables to suit*, cut to size
olive oil
2 tbsp plain flour
1/2C white wine
1/2C chicken stock

Monday, April 26, 2010

Nut Meringue Cake With Passionfruit Curd

Stephanie's Nut Meringue Cake. I made this because with a bit of clever thinking, it was easily gluten-free. My sister-in-law has a gluten-free diet, and it's nice to share foods that she can also enjoy. I just ensure that I buy gluten-free cornflour now, which is a slightly different colour to the one I used to use, but definitely has the same properties and function. I think it's the White Wings one that I use now. I had some passionfruit curd in the freezer - there is a story that goes with this too. My darling husband decided to have an early breakfast while I was showering yesterday. He came upstairs, stating proudly "Oh that passionfruit curd was yum!" It was 4 in the morning on Anzac Day. All I could say was "How much did you eat? That was supposed to be my filling for the cake" (Plus expletives) and "Since when do you eat stuff in the fridge without checking first?" It was probably the first time he did it, and I think it will never happen again. Poor bloke. Fortunately, I made the first layer a little thinner, and then I made do with what I had. It worked out ok.

Nut Meringue Cake (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion, pg 619

Anzac Biscuits

Yesterday was Anzac Day, and as one of my missions is to empty the contents of my pantry before the move, I decided to make Anzac Biscuits. I managed to finish the coconut, and almost finish the sugar in this recipe. This also was not from The Cook's Companion, but a taste.com.au recipe. I have steered away from this site of late, considering my cookbook collection is bursting at the seams, so I have tried to get back into reading them for inspiration.

Hubby and I went to the Dawn Service at the Shrine of Rememberance, so I thought we would need some sustenance at 5am. We took a Thermos of tea and a few of these bikkies with us. Kept us going until we needed breakfast at a more human hour.

I also gave some of these to my folks, and Dad, who does not have a sweet tooth, apparently gave them the thumbs up. Some also made it to the family birthday party on Anzac evening, and were happily demolished. I was tempted to drizzle some chocolate over the top of them, but honestly couldn't be bothered. Perhaps next time.

Anzac Biscuits (Printable Recipe)
adapted from taste

1 1/4 cups plain flour (recipe says sifted, meh, I don't)
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons golden syrup or treacle
150g unsalted butter, chopped (I only had the salted variety, whoops!)
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 and 1/2 tablespoons water

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Stephanie's Satay Lamb

This dish solved two problems for me. 1) I needed inspiration for Lamb Monday and 2) I needed to get a dish on here, so here it is. I used lamb, of course, but any meat would do - chicken, beef, or even prawns. It was my first go at making a satay sauce from scratch, and a word to the wise, don't take your eye off the wok, as the nuts will start to burn immediately!

This was not too hard to make, and I prepared the marinade and meat the day before. Hubby skewered the meat on for me while I was preparing the rest of the dinner. He also managed to cook the meat for me, so he was a great help.

The recipe suggests it makes enough marinade and sauce for 500g meat. I did closer to 1kg of lamb, and it was still plenty. Stephanie advises to cut the meat into 2cm or smaller cubes, as a satay should be cooked quickly. The substitution for this recipe could be 250g crunchy peanut butter instead of the fresh peanuts. Also, don't forget to soak bamboo skewers for at least half an hour before threading the meat on and cooking it. That way you can ensure the skewer does not burn before the meat is done.

Satay Marinade and Sauce (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie's Satay Marinade and Sauce, pg 610

2 teaspoons red curry paste
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 stalks lemongrass (tender part only)
2 tablespoons palm of brown sugar

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fruity Oatmeal Slice

Fruit and Oat Slice

This recipe is not from Stephanie, but one I made up to use up some things in the cupboard. The slice is great for afternoon tea and the fruit and nuts can be changed to suit your taste or whatever you have hanging around. The honey adds a lovely floral note to the slice and a bit of depth to the flavour. 75g of self raising flour can be substituted for the plain flour and baking powder if you wish.

Fruity Oatmeal Slice (Printable Recipe)

125g butter, chopped
1/3 cup (70g) firmly packed brown sugar
2 tbsp honey (I used orange blossom)
1/2 cup (75g) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups (135g) rolled oats
1 cup (130g) sultanas
1 cup (140g) raw almonds

Friday, April 16, 2010

Broccoli or Brocolli?

Broccoli Pasta

I can never remember how to spell the stupid thing, but regardless, broccoli (that is the correct spelling) is actually great with pasta. I quite like broccoli and eat it a fair bit, but I'm always looking for a new way to serve it. This pasta is great as I usually have all the ingredients lying about and it is also Lenten, which is handy when Easter is almost here.

Broccoli Pasta (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie's Broccoli as a Sauce for Pasta, pg 201
Serves 2

1 large head of broccoli, cut into small florets
olive oil (or anchovy oil)
200g pasta spirals
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I use ones lurking in the freezer)
2 cloves garlic
6 anchovy fillets, chopped
ground black pepper
handful of pitted olives (optional)
chilli flakes (optional)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Olive Focaccia

Ok, so this recipe is a variation of Stephanie's Olive Bread, pg 192. I have decided it is my goal to try and use most of the food in my pantry before we move house (which could be as soon as five weeks away). The more we consume means the less we have to move. It also means I can start with fresh products when we move into the new place. The disadvantage of this method means that my first grocery shop will probably cost hundreds of dollars. Oh well, you can't have it both ways.

My whole body was sore from grape picking the day before, so hubby came in handy with this one. Ordinarily, I would knead the dough with the dough hook of my stand mixer, but unfortunately that was at Mum's in "storage", so I had to improvise. Sometimes hubby does come in handy ;) and this was definitely one of those occasions. I set him up on my marble tile that I use for rolling out my dough (thanks, Mum) and he was at it. I used less olives than the recipe suggested in the dough, as we studded them across the top of the focaccia instead, which looked kind of cute. The oven we have in the apartment is very good at retaining heat, and maintaining temperature, so I have always found it good for baking. I will definitely miss the oven once we move out, although it is is probably a little smaller than my ideal oven. We shall see what we end up with in the new house.

Olive Focaccia (Printable Recipe)
600g unbleached strong flour
150g stoned black olives, halved
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon instant dried yeast
2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
1/3 cup olive oil
300ml warm water
sea salt

Lime Ice-Cream

What do you do when you get given some fresh limes? I usually stick them in a Corona, or make some cupcakes. This time I decided to try my hand at making ice-cream. I am currently taking care of Abby's ice-cream maker while she is living overseas, and so far I can happily say that I am definitely a fan! Last week I made Stephanie's Vanilla Ice-Cream as my first attempt. I thought that one came out a little too yolk-y and yellow for my liking, but it was only my first go, so maybe I just need to get the hang of it. I also think that it may have been the egg yolks I used. The eggs were from a work colleague, and compared to the standard free range eggs from the supermarket, the yolks were huge!

On Sunday, we had our Honeymoon friends come over for lunch. It was pretty cold all day, so we just sat around inside catching up, eating and drinking tea. Kat kindly brought over a banana cake, and when I tasted it, I realised it had a familiar flavour. The recipe was of course, Stephanie's Simple Banana Cake (p120), and it was so funny, as Kat was so proud to rattle off "it's on page 120" the same time I said it. I've used that as my staple banana cake for years, and the recipe has always been requested by people who have tried it. This just demonstrates how popular Stephanie Alexander recipes are with everyone.

So, I digress...lime ice-cream. Creamy whilst tangy, this ice-cream passed the taste test, but I don't think hubby loved it. "It was alllllllriiiight" (read as: "I'm happy with Streets ice-cream any day, but thanks for going to the effort of making it").

It's not a complex recipe, but I was definitely in daydream land when I made it, as I accidentally mixed the sugar with the egg yolks and forgot to melt it into the lime juice. Whoops. I safely scooped out about 3/4 of the sugar, and successfully dissolved it, and the finished product didn't end up tasting grainy at all.

Lime Ice-Cream (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie's Lemon or lime Ice-Cream, pg 557

1/2 cup lime juice*
6 egg yolks
finely grated zest of 2 limes*
250g caster sugar
3 cups cream, lightly whipped

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Glazed Carrots

Glazed Carrots

These were served with the Slow Cooked Lamb at our final Lamb Monday.

Glazed Carrots (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion, pg 222
Serves 6

2 bunches baby carrots
handful of parsley

The Last Lamb Monday

Slow Cooked Lamb

This was actually cooked quite some time ago and in another country. Hubby and I have now settled in to our flat in London and are getting the hang of everything, including the terrible weather! Yes it is as miserable as everyone says it is.

I suppose the true reason for creating this blog will now really come into play. It should be quite interesting to see as we will be in opposite hemispheres so the produce will be different and in line with this, so will the seasons, so one of us will be cooking warming comfort food, while the other may be making salads and refreshing sorbets.

This slow cooked lamb was actually the feast of our final group Lamb Monday. It was quite sad to have to say goodbye to the tradition, as it was still going strong and showing no signs of stopping. None of us were seeming to run out of ideas and it was nice to catch up with great friends every week.
This recipe is based on Stephanie's 7 hour leg of lamb, but I thought I'd test it out in the slow cooker, rather than the oven. The resulting lamb was quite nice, but not as juicy and tender as I was expecting. I'm not sure if this is a result of the piece of lamb, or the slow cooker, a kitchen appliance I still haven't made my mind up about yet.

Slow Cooked Leg of Lamb (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie's Seven-hour Leg of Lamb with Anchovy and Garlic, pg 532
Serves 6