food for thought

by michelle

flourless apple almond cake

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Here’s a simple variant on that popular orange and almond cake. Just as moist as the original this one uses apple sauce instead of puréed oranges.

Preheat your oven to 160ºC (325ºF). Oil and line a 23cm (9″) cake tin. In a bowl combine a jar of apple sauce, ½ a cup of sugar, 6 eggs, 340g (12 oz) of almond meal, the grated zest of one lemon and 1 teaspoon of baking powder. Mix well, pour into prepared tin and bake until the cake is set (approximately 1 hour). Allow to cool in the tin before removing to a plate. Serve with cream or sour cream if desired.

Written by michelle picker

May 15, 2017 at 5:40 am

Posted in recipe

barley, lentils and mushrooms with fried onions

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Once again Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe imparts amazing flavours to a vegetarian meal.

barley-lentils-and-mushrooms

In a small bowl cover 20g (¾ oz) of dried porcini with 1¾ cups of boiling water and leave to stand for an hour. After an hour, remove the mushrooms and strain the liquid through a very fine sieve to remove any grit, then return the mushrooms to their liquid. Place 120g (4¼ oz) of barley (pre-soaked) and 170g (6 oz) of brown lentils in a large saucepan. Add 4 times the volume of cold water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a rolling simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain, transfer to a bowl and leave to cool down. Cut an onion into thin slices lengthways and toss in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of flour. Heat oil in a medium saucepan (enough to cover the onion slices in batches) to high heat and fry the onion in batches for three to four minutes, until golden-brown. Remove them to a plate lined with paper towel and set aside to cool. Slice a second onion into wider wedges. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat and fry the onion wedges for five minutes until charred and soft. Stir in 1½ teaspoons of ground cumin, 1 teaspoons of ground allspice and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Next add 4 sliced large mushrooms, the finely sliced rind of 1 lemon and ½ a teaspoon each of sugar and salt. Fry until the mushrooms start to soften then add the porcini and all their soaking liquid. Boil rapidly for five minutes, reducing the liquid to approximately ½ a cup. Reduce the heat and add the lentils and barley plus 1 tablespoon of dried mint, 1 teaspoon of dried dill leaves, ¾ of a teaspoon of salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Cook for a minute more then remove from the heat and add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Serve garnished with the fried onion and chopped parsley with sour cream on the side.

sous vide salmon

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Another (very successful) sous vide experiment. Incredibly moist, tender and flaky!

sous-vide-salmon-2

You can achieve many different results cooking by this method. There’s an excellent article on what to expect when cooking salmon by this method at Serious Eats. I cooked mine at 49ºC (120ºF). The fillets had nothing but salt on them when I sealed them into a plastic bag. After 45 minutes in their water bath all they needed was a quick sear to brown the skin and give it some texture. Served with some mash and a fresh green salad – simple and delicious.

Written by michelle picker

April 29, 2017 at 6:02 am

banana daiquiri

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The Daiquiri cocktail may have acquired it’s name from the beach or iron mine of the same name in Santiago de Cuba. The basic recipe for a Daiquiri is similar to the ‘grog’ that British sailors drank from the 1740s onwards. By 1795 the Royal Navy grog ration contained rum, water, ¾ of an ounce of lemon or lime juice, and 2 ounces of sugar. This was also a common drink across the Caribbean. In the US it gained popularity during the 1940s when whiskey and vodka were in short supply and the Pan-American program made Latin America and rum-based drinks fashionable.

The addition of half a banana makes this much sweeter than the original daiquiri and suitable to serve as a dessert. In a blender add 60 ml (2 fl oz) of white rum (mine was 3-year-old Havana Club), ½ a banana, 15 ml (½ fl oz) of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of simple syrup, and some crushed ice. If, like me, you keep over-ripe bananas in your freezer, then you might not need to add the ice. Blend and pour. Top with a grating of fresh nutmeg.

Written by michelle picker

April 23, 2017 at 5:53 am

minced chicken salad

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Loosely based on Thai Larb, this minced chicken salad makes a tasty summer meal.

lao-style-chicken-salad

To cook the chicken you will need some Thai chilli paste in soya oil. Add 3 tablespoons of the paste and some of the oil to a saucepan and heat over medium heat. Add 450g (1 lb) of minced chicken thigh meat and cook, mixing well and breaking the mince into small pieces. If necessary add a little water. When the chicken is cooked set it aside to cool. In a bowl make a salad of finely shredded celery, finely sliced red onion, julienned carrot, plenty of chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) and mint, bean thread noodles (cooked for 2 minutes and shocked under cold running water), chopped cucumber, chopped tomatoes, finely chopped fresh red chilli and chopped roasted peanuts. When the chicken has cooled add it to the salad and season with fish sauce and fresh lime juice to taste.

Written by michelle picker

April 17, 2017 at 5:51 am

green curry mussels

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These green-lipped mussels were delicious cooked in a Thai green curry and served over fat egg noodles.

green-curry-mussels

For the green curry, a home-made paste is the best but when I’m in a hurry I use store bought curry paste. Fry the paste in a little coconut fat until fragrant then add 1 large diced eggplant (aubergine) and a little water. Cover and cook until the eggplant is softening then add some baby corn and cook until tender. Add a can of coconut milk and some frozen peas and bring to a simmer without covering as this might curdle the coconut milk. In another pot cook your noodles. Balance the seasoning of the curry with Thai fish sauce and sugar to taste then add the cleaned and de-bearded mussels. I added a few prawns (shrimps) as well. When the mussels are cooked, place the drained noodles onto a platter and pour the curry over the noodles. Garnish with plenty of fresh coriander (cilantro).

Written by michelle picker

April 11, 2017 at 6:00 am

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