The never ending cookbook

Chickpea and Sweet Potato Cakes

Chickpea and sweet potato cakes

Sarah and I recently took Milly for a bite to eat at the Lido in Racecourse Road. I was absolutely starving so I ordered their tapas plate. (Ever hopeful!) Sarah followed suit and we both ended up with enormous platters of food which we couldn’t possibly hope to finish. The best were the chick pea and sweet potato (kumera) cakes that were absolutely delicious. Needless to say I bought sweet potatoes and chick peas to experiment the next day and while my experiments were cooking I began leafing through the current edition of Australian Gourmet Traveller. There, on page 54 was a recipe for Chickpea and Sweet Potato Cakes with Green Bean and Mint Salad. Coincidences I believe in, but that was just ridiculous!

Mine was nearly right.

800g orange sweet potato (kumera), cut into boiling size chunks
400g canned chickpeas, well drained
35g (¼ cup) plain flour
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1½ teaspoons ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive or grapeseed oil for frying

Cook the sweet potato in boiling salted water for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain well. Using a potato masher or ricer, mash until smooth. Add the chickpeas, flour and spices and mix together well. Mould dessertspoons of the potato mixture into rounds and place on a tray.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy based frying pan over medium heat and cook the cakes (flattening them a little with a spatula) for 3 minutes on either side or until golden. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Serve with natural Greek yoghurt or tzatziki or raita to dip.

Serves 4.

 Photo by: self.com

Christmas Glazed Duck Breasts in Orange Jus

Glazed Duck Breasts in Orange Jus

The duck breasts we have had for Christmas dinner for the last few years require quite a bit of organisation beforehand if Christmas day is to be hassle free. The breasts themselves are not difficult to cook, even if this method, (which I have borrowed from Tetsuya Wakuda) involves moving them from a frying pan to the oven to the griller. It is the sauce (or gravy, or jus) that presents the problem.

The breasts release a good deal of fat (which should be kept), but very little else that will help you to begin making a good sauce. They do release some juices when they are resting and these are, of course added to the sauce. It is a little late to begin, though, when the breasts are about to be served.

If you already have some homemade chicken gravy as a starting point, things become much easier. It really is worthwhile cooking a chicken during the week before Christmas for this express purpose. Have demi-glace on hand, bought or homemade, homemade chicken stock, a bottle of Grand Marnier and a made-up quantity of orange sauce base. The orange sauce base gives the sauce depth. Zested orange peel is an optional extra.

You can also make up the glaze beforehand.

If you have done all this and then find at the last minute that the shop from which you have ordered your duck breasts has itself forgotten to order duck breasts, (which has happened to me two years in a row), you can be forgiven for having a nervy turn! Last year, the only place that could help me at short notice was Black Pearl Caviar, really desperation stuff! The bonus was that the breasts (magrets) were from ducks with the most obscenely large breasts. They were expensive but absolutely delicious.

I think the moral of the story is to buy your breasts a couple of weeks before Christmas. Chances are they will be frozen anyway and they might as well sit in your freezer as in somebody else’s.

6 duck breasts (large if possible)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 – 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
Plain flour
Good chicken gravy, prepared beforehand
Good chicken stock (or duck stock if you have it)
Demi-glace
Orange sauce base (see below)
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
Zested rind of 1 orange
Glaze (See below)

Orange sauce base:
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons malt vinegar
3 tablespoons orange juice, strained

Caramelise the brown sugar and malt vinegar together in a saucepan, then carefully add the strained orange juice. Simmer, then cool.

Duck glaze:
150ml soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
50ml mirin

Combine soy sauce, brown sugar and mirin in a saucepan and stir until sugar has dissolved. Set aside.

Line griller tray with foil and preheat oven.

Trim the duck breasts and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Brown breasts, in batches, skin side down, in the grapeseed oil in a non-stick frying pan. When the skin is dark brown and crisp, turn to cook the flesh very briefly. Reserve the fat for another use.

Transfer the breasts to a baking dish and place in the oven to cook for another 5 – 6 minutes depending on the size of the breasts. Remove from oven, place on a warm plate, cover with foil and allow to rest.

Strain off all but a little fat from the baking dish, add a little plain flour if there is sufficient duck juice to warrant it. Add chicken stock and make a light gravy. If insufficient duck juice, omit this step.

Place duck gravy (if any), prepared chicken gravy and orange sauce base in a saucepan with a little chicken stock and bring to the boil. Add Grand Marnier and 1 tablespoon demi-glace, reduce heat and simmer gently. Check seasonings.

Remove duck breasts from foil, carefully pouring any accumulated juices into the sauce.

Place breasts, skin side down, on foil covered grill tray and paint each breast with glaze. Brown lightly. Remove from grill, re-paint with glaze and replace under grill. Repeat one more time, each time being careful to remove the duck before it burns.

Cover breasts again with foil. Check the sauce and add zested orange rind, if using.

Spoon jus onto serving plates and top with duck breasts, skin side up.

Serve with roasted potatoes and red cabbage.

Serves 6.

Crab in Black Bean Sauce

crab-in-black-bean-sauce

The ingredients in this crab recipe are quite similar to the ingredients in Steamed Crab Cantonese, but the cooking method is different – in this one the crabs are fried in a wok. You have all had this cooked with black bean sauce, but I have done it without too, when it is almost unrecognisable as the same recipe. You must have a lid for your wok for this recipe. (You should have one anyway.) The quantities given here are for one mud crab or approximately two sand crabs.

1 mud crab or 2 sand crabs, uncooked, but well cleaned
3 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 egg, lightly beaten

Sauce:
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon fermented black beans, well rinsed and chopped, or 1 tablespoon black bean sauce (both optional)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar or mirin
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
¾ cup stock or water
2 teaspoons cornflour dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
Shallots to serve
Freshly ground black pepper

Have all ingredients ready and at hand before you begin. Heat wok over high heat until hot, add oil, swirl; add ginger, garlic, then fermented black beans or black bean sauce if using either. Stir quickly for 30 seconds. Add crab pieces, splash in the rice vinegar or mirin and stir a few times as it steams up, turning the crab pieces to ensure they are well coated with the hot oil. Add soy sauce, stock or water and the pepper. Even out the crabs in the wok, cover and steam for 4 minutes for sand crabs, longer for mud crabs, the time depending on the size of the claws.

When you think the crabs are almost cooked, uncover and stir well. Lower the heat, give the cornflour and water a good stir and pour it into the sauce. Add sesame oil and stir until the sauce thickens.

Then pour the beaten egg over the crab in a circular motion, remove from heat and let the egg flow into the sauce.

Remove to serving platter and serve immediately with shallots.

Warm Thai Beef Salad

Warm Thai Beef Salad

Annie Douglass made this for Opening Day on ‘Nerang’ one year, beautifully presented on a huge serving dish, right down to the chilli flowers, one of which Dad actually ate! Or it can be simply tossed.

The salad ingredients vary enormously from the mundane to the exciting. Warm roast fillet of beef tastes wonderful at any time with a Thai dressing, but the dish should contain some more exciting ingredients than tomato, capsicum, onion and chilli. Snake beans, if in season, are perfect, chopped peanuts almost a must. Snow peas are good too. Think about adding some grated green papaw, some ruby red grapefruit segments with their membranes removed so that you get little droplets of red grapefruit through the salad. Coriander and mint are, of course obligatory. Without them you might as well leave out the beef. Above all it should taste fresh.

Essentials:
750g piece of eye fillet of beef, well trimmed
1 clove garlic, crushed
Peanut (preferably), or canola oil
1 cup fresh coriander leaves, shredded
½ cup fresh mint, shredded
½ – ¾ cup chopped peanuts
2 baby red chillies, seeded and very finely sliced
6 shallots, finely sliced

Dressing:
¾ cup fish sauce (nam pla)
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 dessertspoon oyster sauce
Sugar to taste

Salad Ingredients:
Choose from the following, trying to make the selection as interesting as possible:
Snake beans
Snow peas
Water chestnuts
Cherry tomatoes
Salad onion, sliced
Cucumber
Bean sprouts
Red capsicum, sliced
Garlic chives
Grated green papaw
Segmented ruby red grapefruit, membranes and seeds removed

Rub the beef with oil and garlic and roast in a pre-heated oven to rare or medium rare (about 20 minutes, depending on thickness). This should be done as close as possible to serving time so that the beef is still warm when served.

Blanch the snake beans in boiling water for 1 minute, drain and plunge into cold water to stop them cooking further. Strain and cut if desired. Top and tail the snow peas and remove strings. Blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds and plunge into cold water to stop them cooking further. Strain and combine with the snake beans. Slice the water chestnuts and the capsicum. Chop the garlic chives as coarsely as you like. Grate the green papaw if using, outer part of the fruit only. Peel the grapefruit, divide into segments and carefully remove seeds. Ease out the little ‘capsules’ of grapefruit, trying not to squash them as you do so.

Slice the beef as thinly as possible. Either arrange on plates or place in a bowl with other salad ingredients. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts, coriander, mint, chilli and shallots. Pour dressing over the whole salad.

Photo by: http://soojerky.blogspot.com.au

Whiting Cooked in Rice Flour with Lemon and Garlic

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This is our preferred way of cooking whiting on the boat for breakfast. It is simple and quick, but the flavour of the whiting comes through beautifully. The whiting must, of course, be very fresh. Be generous with the lemon juice. It caramelises a little in the pan and the whiting are tossed in it after they have cooked.

20 whiting fillets
Ground rice
Butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Juice of 1 large or 2 small lemons
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A handful of finely chopped parsley or thyme leaves
Lemon wedges, extra, to serve

Dredge the whiting in the ground rice. Heat the butter in a large heavy-based frying pan and add the garlic. Add the whiting fillets, in batches, and cook for about 1 – 2 minutes before turning and cooking the other side. The fillets should be almost breaking up. Keep warm whilst remaining fillets are cooked.

Remove the fish from the pan and add the lemon juice. Allow the lemon juice to caramelise a little, then return all the whiting fillets to the pan. Turn them so that all the fillets are coated with lemon.

Hard Sauce

hardsauce

Hard Sauce is a must with Christmas pudding even if everybody has eaten too much by then to appreciate it.

90g butter
¾ cup icing sugar
½ cup ground almonds
1 tablespoon brandy
2 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Cream butter until soft. Add sifted icing sugar and beat until light and creamy. Add ground almonds and beat until mixed. Beat in brandy, then fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Allow to set in a shallow dish. Chill will before serving.

Photo by: tasteofhome.com

Frozen Christmas Pudding

frozen-christmas-pudding

This recipe came originally from Peg Tiffin. Despite the fact that it is frozen, this pudding is very rich and will fill you up just as much as a hot one!

2 eggs
300ml milk
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 –2 teaspoons cocoa
1 teaspoon mixed spice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1½ -2 cups mixed raisins and sultanas
Brandy
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup chopped almonds
300ml cream, whipped
6 large spoonfuls vanilla ice cream, slightly melted

Soak fruit in a generous quantity of brandy overnight. Strain and retain liquid to add later to pudding.

Heat milk to just below boiling point. Beat egg yolks with brown sugar until light and thick. Gradually stir in scalded milk. Return this mixture to the saucepan and stir over a very low heat or in the top of a double boiler until the custard coats the back of a spoon.

Add cocoa and blend well. Allow to cool. Add spices, fruit and nuts to the custard mixture. Add the brandy in which the fruit soaked. Whip cream and fold into the mixture, then stir in the slightly melted ice cream.

Freeze.

Photo by: Donna Hay

Pumkin soup

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Queensland Blue* pumpkin, peeled and diced (quantities are difficult here)
3 – 4 large onions, chopped
Oil for cooking
Good quality chicken stock or vegetable stock
Nutmeg, grated
Cream, sour cream, or mascarpone
* If you want to be healthy and avoid cream, use home made almond milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the oil in a heavy based frying pan, add onion and sauté until tender.

Add pumpkin in batches, and cook a little, making sure not to burn the onion.

Transfer onion and pumpkin to a heavy casserole, add chicken stock, and simmer gently until the pumpkin is tender.

Puree the pumpkin and onion mixture in a food processor, or pass through the fine sieve of a mouli.

Just before serving, stir in cream, sour cream, mascarpone (or almond milk), being careful not to add too much. Add a little grated nutmeg, and season to taste.

*Queensland Blue pumpkins are hard to find these days as they have very tough skins. To substitute, use another blue skin variety.

Fish stock (fish fumet)

Fish and other seafood must be treated differently from meat or chicken when making stock. It cannot be simmered for hours as meat can, or the resulting stock will be bitter, and quite toxic. Fish fumet always contains white wine, but you can make it without and add the wine later, when you are using the stock in a soup or sauce.

For years we have used a scaled and cleaned whole bream or whiting frames as the starting point for fish fumet, but fish frames, particularly reef fish frames are usually available very cheaply from any good fishmonger. I have used red emperor, nanagai, coral trout and even Tasmanian salmon, although the salmon frames give a distinctly salmon taste.

50g butter or a little grapeseed oil
3 sticks celery
1 medium onion, chopped
Sprigs of parsley and thyme
½ bay leaf
½ bottle of dry white wine
Whiting frames and/or scaled and cleaned whole bream, or
1 or 2 white fleshed reef fish frames
Water to cover

In a large stockpot, melt the butter or heat the oil and add the herbs, onions, carrots and celery. Cook over a gentle heat without browning. Add the fish frames and /or the whole bream and allow the frames to saute briefly, turning them to ensure even cooking.

Add the white wine. Cover the pot and increase heat to high. When the wine has reduced to half its previous volume, put in enough cold water to cover the fish. Bring back to the boil, reduce heat, skim and simmer the stock for no more than 30 minutes.

Strain the stock through a coarse sieve, pressing the fish and vegetables with the back of a spoon to release as much flavour as possible. Return fish and vegetables to the pot, add a little boiling water and stir well, but do not cook any further. Strain this into the stock. Discard the frames and the vegetables and re-strain the stock through a fine sieve.

Refrigerate stock so that the fats rise to the surface, then skim. (Fish frames do contain fat.)

Fish stock will keep well in the freezer.

Roasted (brown) chicken stock

I have never had a problem with chicken carcasses being placed straight in the stock pot without prior roasting. However Philip Johnson included a recipe for roasted chicken stock in his e’cco 1 cookbook, giving it as an alternative to traditional chicken stock. Gordon Ramsey, the bad boy of English cooking is unequivocal. White chicken stock, he says, is anaemic and to give it more depth of flavour, the first thing to do is to brown the carcasses. (He actually calls it Brown Chicken Stock.) I am sticking with Philip’s  name, (because a sauce made from browned chicken carcasses will not, technically, be a brown sauce). This recipe is a combination of both of theirs, plus mine. They both include raw garlic in the stock and I believe that raw garlic gives a harsh, unpleasant flavour. If I were using garlic, I would use garlic confit.

2 kg chicken bones and carcasses
1 carrot, diced
1 – 2 onions, roughly chopped
a few cloves of garlic confit (optional)
1 leek, well washed and sliced
2 tablespoons tomato puree
4 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoons white peppercorns
a few parsley stems
1 cup of white wine

Preheat the oven to 200C. Place chicken carcasses in a roasting pan and roast until golden. Take care not to colour the chicken too much as this will make the stock bitter.

Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the bones to a large stock pot and add remaining ingredients, except the wine. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil, skimming off any impurities that rise to the surface.

Pour off and discard any fat from roasting pan, then place pan over moderate heat and deglaze by adding the wine and stirring well to loosen the sediment. Pour mixture into stock pot and continue to simmer gently for 1 ½ hours, skimming occasionally.

Strain stock, cool and refrigerate overnight. Next morning, carefully remove any fat from the surface.

Freeze until ready to use.