food for thought

by michelle

orange passionfruit sorbet

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Our first crop of passionfruit inspired this fresh and fragrant sorbet. Serious Eats’ The Science of the Best Sorbet provided me with all the information I needed

orange-passionfruit-sorbet

When I buy sorbet I’m usually disappointed as the taste of the fruit is secondary to the sugar. In order to make my sorbet not too sweet and as it was mostly citrus juice (which doesn’t have much fibre or pectin), I opted for 100% glucose syrup (or corn syrup) as it is ⅓ as sweet as sugar and is highly viscous. The result was perfect! To make 1 litre you will need the juice (with pulp) of 6 oranges and the pulp of 6 passionfruit. If your glucose or corn syrup is thick, warm it with some of the orange juice to dissolve before mixing into the entire liquid. Churn in an ice cream machine and freeze for a few hours before serving.

Written by michelle picker

April 5, 2017 at 5:43 am

zucchini, peppers and chèvre

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Here’s an attractive and impressive way to bring a lovely combination of flavours together.

zucchini-peppers-and-chevre

Place 1 or 2 red peppers either directly over a gas flame or on a barbecue and cook until quite blackened and soft. Remove to an airtight container or plastic bag to cool. Meanwhile slice your zucchinis lengthways into very thin slices (preferably with a mandolin) and wash and chop some fresh mint. When the peppers have cooled, peel the skin off and slice into strips similar in size to the zucchini slices. Oil a round oven or pie dish and arrange the slices of zucchini and peppers starting from the outside and place a generous piece of chèvre into the centre. Drizzle everything with olive oil, sprinkle with the chopped mint and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Bake in a hot oven until the zucchini is cooked and browning on the edges.

Written by michelle picker

March 30, 2017 at 5:33 am

lamb tagine with prunes and raisins

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Adapted by David from an Emeril Lagasse recipe, this tagine has a wonderful balance and depth of flavour.

lamb-tagine-with-prunes

Using lamb on the bone imparts much more flavour to this dish but you can also use diced boneless lamb. Heat some olive oil in a saucepan or tagine and brown approximately 1 kg (2 lbs) of lamb over high heat in batches, removing the browned meat to a plate. Return all the lamb to the pot and add 1½ cups diced onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add 3 cloves of minced garlic and cook for another minute. Add 1 cup of chicken stock, a pinch of crushed saffron and a bunch of coriander (cilantro) and bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until the meat is tender. Meanwhile pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 cup of pitted prunes and ½ a cup of golden raisins. Let them soften for 20 minutes then strain them and set aside. When the lamb is nearly tender add the fruit, ½ a thinly sliced onion, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, ½ a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, and ¾ of a teaspoon of salt. Cook for a further 5-10 minutes. Garnish with coriander and serve with couscous and a fresh salad.

Written by michelle picker

March 24, 2017 at 6:17 am

burrata and honey panna cotta with candied walnuts

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A lovely delicate cheese and honey flavour pair well with crunchy candied walnuts

burrata-and-honey-panna-cotta

To make the panna cotta pour ¼ of a cup of milk into a small bowl and sprinkle over 7g (¼ oz) of powdered gelatine. Allow it to bloom for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan heat ½ a cup of cream with ½ a cup of honey until the honey is dissolved. Dissolve the gelatine into the cream and honey mixture, mixing until you have no lumps. Allow the mixture to cool. In a blender or food processor combine 200g (7 oz) of burrata cheese (a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream) with an extra ¾ of a cup of milk and ½ a cup of cream and process until smooth. If you prefer you can substitute crème fraîche, yoghurt or buttermilk for the burrata. Whisk the cooled gelatine mixture into the cheese mixture then strain through a fine sieve into a jug. Pour into 6 ramekins, moulds or glasses (depending on how you wish to serve them) and allow them to set in the fridge for at least 4 hours. If you are un-moulding, briefly dip the bottom into hot tap water. To make candied walnuts, heat a fry-pan and add 1 cup of walnut halves, ¼ of a cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of butter. Heat over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. When the sugar mixture starts melting, stir constantly until all the nuts are coated. Immediately transfer them onto baking paper, separating the nuts. Allow them to cool until crunchy.

Written by michelle picker

March 18, 2017 at 5:55 am

carrot salad

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This Turkish salad was a perfect way to enjoy our home-grown carrots.

carrot-salad

Shred or finely julienne approximately 5 cups of carrots. Heat some olive oil in a saucepan and add the carrots, stirring until they are just starting to wilt and change colour. In a bowl whip 1 cup of thick natural yoghurt with 2 crushed cloves of garlic and ½ a teaspoon of salt. Combine the yoghurt and carrots adding fresh herbs of your choice (I used mint and parsley) and mixing well. This salad makes a great side dish for any Turkish or Middle Eastern meal. We enjoyed it with left-over roast lamb (fried souvlaki-style with onions and Baharat spices), a green salad and Greek pita bread.

souvlaki-plate

Written by michelle picker

March 12, 2017 at 5:44 am

red-cooked duck legs

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Red cooking is a Chinese method of slow braising. Popular throughout most of northern, eastern, and southeastern China, the name is derived from the dark red-brown colour of the cooked items and their sauce. Here is a version using duck legs.

red-cooked-duck

First place your duck legs into a cold pan and turn the heat to medium. Allow the fat to render out of the duck and the skin to brown. Meanwhile soak 8-10 whole dried mushrooms in boiling water allowing them to soften. In a pressure cooker or saucepan with a lid, heat a little of the duck fat and fry 2 diced shallots, 3 diced cloves of garlic and a diced knob of ginger. Add 1 whole star anise and 1 teaspoon of Szechuan peppercorns. When the shallots are translucent add the duck legs, 2-3 whole carrots, 4 chopped spring onions, 2 red birds-eye chillies, ½ a cup of chicken stock, a splash of shaoxing wine, ½ a teaspoon of sesame oil, 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of Chinese thick caramel sauce and the soaked mushrooms. Cover and cook until the duck is tender and pulling away from the bone. In a pressure cooker 25-30 minutes will be enough otherwise you will need at least 1-1½ hours, making sure from time to time that there is enough liquid in the pot.  Serve with steamed rice and green vegetables.

I served mine with bok choy (pak choi).

bok-choy-with-oyster-sauce

Wash and separate the leaves of the bok choy or if they are very young you can cook them whole. Bring a pot of water to boil and add some salt. Drop the bok choy into the water and cook for a few minutes until tender. Drain well and toss in 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce, a drizzle of sesame oil and ground white pepper to taste.

Written by michelle picker

March 6, 2017 at 5:44 am

cumquat liqueur

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The cumquat (or kumquat) is an small orange-like fruit related to the citrus family. It has an edible rind and acid pulp and is often used to make excellent bitter marmalade. This recipe makes a clean-tasting and fragrant liqueur.

 

cumquat-liqueur-1
Simply wash and weigh your cumquats. Place them in a clean jar with an equal amount of white sugar. Cover with a good dry gin and leave to steep for 3 months. You will find the cumquats themselves quite strong in flavour but worth trying with some ice cream.

 

Written by michelle picker

February 28, 2017 at 5:55 am