Thursday, August 30, 2018

Avocado Pesto Pasta - A better pesto

So simple, and so obvious, and yet we have only recently discovered this recipe.

The pesto is creamy in texture without adding cheese, just by substituting avocado.  The avocados we get in Sweden travel quite far and therefore this recipe is perfect here as the quality of the avocado does not need to be perfect.

This recipe is for between 4-6 people

1 pound of fresh (if possible) linguine
1 bunch of fresh basil (saving a few sprigs for garnish)
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 avocados, pitted and peeled (adjust this amount as you like)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
(you can also add fresh or sun-dried tomatoes which we did not do this time)

Cook your pasta per normal - drain and set aside

Make your pesto by combining basil, pine nuts, avocados, lemon juice, garlic, and oil into your food processor.  Process until smooth and season as you like

Toss your sauce and your pasta until well mixed, add your tomatoes if you like or just top with a bit of fresh basil.

Quick, and easy.

-This blog has been inactive if you have been paying attention because 'Zok' has been renovating a large part of our home and cooking has fallen out of favor- with the exception of baking breads.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Budapest Cake; A Birthday Cake request

Zok got a birthday cake request, for a cake called 'Budapest Cake'.  However, there were many, varying recipes on the internet.  Thankfully we found this video, because this is a type of cake you need to see prepared more than you need a written recipe. This cake is mostly meringue and can be a gluten free cake.  In the video they use flour, and ground nuts, Zok used almond flour only.

Here is the link: Budapest Cake

 I would advise watching the video through once, because assembling your ingredients.

Separate 6 eggs, creating 6 egg whites placed into a large bowl
Set aside a bowl with 1 cup of sugar (250 ml)

Zok also used a hand mixer instead of his (cherished) KitchenAid because he doesn't make meringue often and wanted more control of the mixture.  However, next time (as there was no difficulty) he will just use the KitchenAid.
 As the eggs became fluffy, creating peaks, he then added in sugar slowly this creates the stiffer, more solid peaks.

175 grams (3/4 cup) of almond flour
Then use a rubber spatula to slowly fold in your almond flour (or whichever ingredient  you choose)
 Zok did his addition in smaller parts (as opposed to the video)
Take your prepared cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and using your rubber spatula, spread your mixture evenly 
Preheat your oven to 170 C. or 335 F.

Put your cake into cook for 20 minutes or light brown in colour
Take out and let cool down completely- carefully flip the cookie sheet to remove off the baking sheet to cool, about 40 minutes- to an hour.

Whip 300 ml of whipping cream, adding in 2 tbl. icing sugar/powdered sugar
Zok added a bit of vanilla extract (as he thought that would go nicely with the almond flour).

When cool, you need to remove the parchment paper, the handy spray bottle with water trick is a good way to go.
Then spread your whipped cream, once again using your rubber spatula.

Next you need to add the fruit of your choice- Zok and I couldn't decide, luckily the birthday girl aka our budapest cake expert, said one must have this style of 
mandarin oranges, not fresh.
We saw other types of fruit in various recipes, but we all thought the mandarins' made the taste more interesting.
The cake has a surprising texture, very 'cake-like' even though there is no flour.

Zok placed the fruit in lines so that when he rolled the cake the mandarines were distributed well.

 Zok rolled the cake just as the video shows- just go a bit slowly 
Zok melted a normal milk chocolate candy bar via the hot water bath, and used piping, thin nozzle to lightly laced the top of the cake.
Lastly, a light dusting of powered sugar.



Monday, August 8, 2016

Tamale Chicken Filling in Roasted Ancho Chili Red Sauce

For our four meat eaters, Zok bought a 1.2 kilo chicken.
He had a lot of chicken left over, so he just put on the table and people ate most of it.

Take a pot large enough to immerse and cover chicken
Add a few cups of water and ingredients as if you were making soup stock:
Bay leaves, carrot, celery, fresh garlic, onion-
Add in your chicken, top up your liquid and bring to a boil
Then turn down to simmer, put on the lid 
Cook for 1 hour

Pull your chicken out carefully and place in a large bowl
Proceed to shred
Pull out the skin and bones to add back into your soup stock
You will need the soup stock to make your sauce for your shredded chicken-
So, check your stock for taste, as you simmer it for another 30 minutes or until flavorful - strain your stock and put aside 
Get a pan large enough (we use a large cast iron dutch oven) to cook the chicken and sauce-
Start with 1 can of crushed tomatoes (or if you are lucky enough then use your homemade canned tomatoes, or fresh)
Add tsp. cumin
Add 2 garlic cloves crushed
Add some dried hot chilies (to taste)
1 ancho chili chopped, seeds and all
2 cups of your stock
Add in your shredded chicken, stir well
Simmer for 3 hours
(This can be made the day before)

Home-made Tamales: Vegan, Vegetarian, and Chicken

We have been wanting to make tamales for a long time.  Masa, or corn flour of any type is a bit hard to find in both Australia and Sweden.  This is the same for the corn husks (although we can now get fresh corn in its own husk in Sweden as well as Australia).  We finally gave in and bought the items online.
This is however, how we ended up with blue corn flower (making for purple tinged tamales).

We had 4 people over (6 total) 1 vegan, 1 vegetarian, 1 gluten free, 3 omnivores.

3 cups of masa harina (corn flour)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. sweet paprika
2 tsp. baking POWDER

Mix together in a large bowl (Zok used the low setting on his kitchen aid)

Add in 1 cup of vegetable stock (you could use chicken stock but see above)
Add in and mix thoroughly 
What you want is about cake mix consistency- you can keep adding in water or stock (you want to be able to spread this on the corn husks with a rubber spatula)

 Take your corns husks, rinse them quickly, then put into a large bowl of warm water, keep them immersed for about an hour to make them pliable.

For the Vegan option
Fresh roasted corn (roasted on the BBQ, and shaved off in the same style as the roasted corn pasta recipe)
Shave off kernels into a bowl by using a sharp knife
Some sort of bean, your choice, we used small black beans
For the vegetarian option:
Roasted green peppers (roasted on the BBQ, you could broil them in the oven)
until blackened, let cool
Peel, de-seed and chop
Add in shredded mozzarella (or cheese of your choice)
For the meat eaters:
Shredded, marinated, chicken in a red adobe chili sauce (see next recipe)

To fold your tamales, put the filling of your choice in the center of your masa, then, fold each long end in to meet one another, hold the extra together, as one, roll them around to seal your ingrediants.
You should still have the tapered end left, fold that over
Do not wrap too tightly as they expand (the masa expands as it cooks)

So, have a pan handy or some place to put each tamales as you are finished filling and folding them.
Now you are ready to steam them.
Steaming can be done in a pressure cooker, this is probably the easiest way.
We had to use a steamer insert in a regular pan.  Be careful to not let the pan boil dry.  Have the stove high enough to keep a steady steam.
Cooking time is between 60-90 minutes.
The tamale is ready when you can see the masa pulling away from the husk covering.



Friday, July 29, 2016

Spiced Coconut Tofu (or prawns if you swing that way)

We are back in Stockholm and need to adjust our recipes, and eating habits to accommodate the type of available produce.
I am doing a series of tofu dishes trying to sort out how to best use the tofu that I can get in Stockholm.  We have decided that the tofu here does not soak up the sauces in the usual way, making the dishes a bit bland.
Cutting the tofu much smaller seems to help.
 As I have written before the produce is very different from Tasmanian produce, and worlds away from our garden produce.
This spiced coconut curry sauce masks the inferior produce, and goes well with many vegetables, bok-choi, cauliflower, carrot, broccoli, or whichever vegetables you have on hand.  This is also a good recipe if you have vegetables in the pantry/crisper not quite good enough for a fresh salad.

I used a small wok to cook the prawns which my vegetarian wife does not eat.
They are easily tossed in cooked, after I serve up her portion.

After your rice is cooked (I couldn't live without my rice cooker, the rice is done by the time my prep is finished) About 20 minutes total.

Here is the original recipe for 4 people.
Due to familiarity I do not actually measure - but I use the recipe as a guide towards portions/ratios 

1.25kg uncooked prawns (of your choice, here I used frozen, shelled, deveined- ready to cook)
200g Broccoli cut into florets
250g Cauliflower cut into florets
1 small brown onion (about 100g) sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
2 fresh long red chillies, sliced thinly
1 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. mustard seeds
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
140ml can coconut milk
Tofu (of your choice, cut to preferred size)

Prep - Cut your vegetables and put aside
Roast the mustard seeds until fragrant
grind the cooked mustard seeds, then add in all other dry spices, in a bowl big enough to then add in your coconut milk and vegetables (except onion and garlic) and toss all vegetables to coat with your spices/coconut milk

Start your wok, quickly stir-fry your tofu and prawns
Add in your garlic and onion- quickly stir-fry
Add in your vegetables and sauce
Stir-fry until vegetables are tender- and your sauce has rendered down a bit
Serve over rice

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A wee saga of 'The Lemon Tart' or 'Hail! The Lemon Tartlet'

For years now, Zok has been able to whip up a good tasting pie under any circumstances.
But there was a time where we went through many a failed pie- mostly owing to crust.
A few pies or close pie relatives have still caused him trouble, by example Lemon Meringue-which we filed away under "not to our taste".
However, we arrived home to many, many lemons and decided to try again with a lemon tart.  Personally- both of these pies are too eggy.  Although I find a small amount of the tartlet version to be very savory.  Adding meringue though, is just adding egg upon egg.  Zok's larger pie did not completely set, but the crust and the very top were tasty enough to try again with the same mixture.  He blamed the ceramic pie plate and switched to the above pictured, smaller, metal tins.
More importantly I believe, is that Zok has gotten so good at making crusts, breads and so he has that advantage- the crust is a huge part of this pie. 

Zok used a recipe for 24 x 8 cm - thinking this would be enough to experiment with, and of course the size of his own tins he ignored completely.  But if you, like me, like to follow an experts advice (here Richard Bertinet) including size and temperature just follow this:

First we have to talk about the pastry and blind baking:
Blink baking to my mind is just a fancy way of saying 'pre-baking' however Zok does swear by his ceramic baking beads to keep the form nice (you can also use rice) and to keep the crust from burning or even over cooking- so look here:
Sweet Pastry Crust

The Filling:
7 'unwaxed' lemons (There is no size indicated but I would use large lemons- or more than 7 if they were small, the ones shown here that we used were on the large size)
9 Eggs (I know! But this recipe is for 24; 8cm tartlets)
400 g of caster sugar (fine sugar)
200 g of double cream - which here is very thick, like a thick yogurt, with like a 42% butterfat- in America it can be hard to find, and often it is UHT or 'heat treated'...which does have a different taste, an option might be a gourmet store or health store that embraces a farmers market ethos. 

First- Zest four of the lemons and also juice them (you want the juice from all) and set the juice aside
Whisk the eggs, sugar, and lemon zest in a large bowl until smooth (basically until the sugar dissolves and when you pull up the whisk the mixture runs off smoothly)
then add in lemon juice
Lightly whip the cream and fold it into the mixture (double cream is so thick, you'd need to lightly whip it to make it pliable enough to then slowly add into the mixture aka fold)
Skim off any froth
Pour into your pastry  
Bake for 15 minutes, the filling should not wobble when you shake the tins (gently shake) and th ecenter feels just set when touched.  Don't wait until it feels very firm, as it will firm up as it cools.

Leave the pies in their tins for about 15 minutes, then lift out your tartlets and cool them on a rack for 2 hours before eating.  This is the hard bit, two hours is a good amount of time to let them cool and firm up properly so try not to be tempted.

Tip:  The filling and the crust both keep for a couple to a few days 
Also the filling can be served without the crust, you can cook it in ramekins and serve with some sort of cookie- which would be a way to go gluten free on this recipe.

Richard Bertinent recipe for mulit-purpose Sweet Pastry aka Part 1 of the wee Lemon Tartlet saga

Zok's tips
All ingredients should be measure out, set out, and ready to go before you start 

This is for 720 g. of pastry dough
(Zok says better to make too much, then to not have enough.)
This is again from the marvelous Richard Bertinent books, Zok still watches the accompanying video when he is learning a new technique.
He took this recipe from Richard Bertinets' book 'Pastry'  What I wrote below is dictated by Zok, but the Pastry book has lovely, step by step, illustrations

350 g flour
125 g butter (unsalted, real butter)
125 g sugar (caster or fine)
2 eggs plus one yolk (you can use the extra white as your egg wash so set that aside)
pinch of salt

Take your butter between 2 parchment papers (baking paper) and pound it with your rolling pin into a pancake shape and thickness
Mix all your dry ingredients in a large bowl
Add the flattened butter into the bowl, and coat it with flour
Using both hands, with a tearing motion, mix the butter into the flour until you have small crumbled pieces
Mix in the egg with your hands and Zok uses his bread scraper to clear the edges of the bowl back into the mixture
Now your mixture should be crumbly- (not sticky) 
Now using both hands gather in and fold over and over until it comes together
Take out of bowl
Put onto your work surface (like your marble stone)
So flattening, and pressing and folding a bit more, and now it should feel and look like normal pastry
Finally, flatten into a square shape
wrap into your grease-proof, parchment, baking paper of some sort
Rest in your refrigerator for at least one hour (overnight is better)

Then you are ready to roll it out
Shape into your tins
And do your blind baking (aka pre-bake)