Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Heart of Food Photography Course

I really love beautiful photos. 
I wish I could take them.

Before blogging I was interested in photography. Now that I have joined the realm of blogs I have an increasing desire to be able to capture the food I have created in a real and appetising way. 

The Heart of Food Photography course was a good overview of photography.
 Simon inspired us to try and think outside the box and be creative with the way we capture a moment in time.

We also covered aspects of how to manually use our cameras and different angles we should try.
In this I need a lot of practice.

As part of this blog I really want to share with you the meals we share together as a family. 
I felt encouraged to continue to include that in my photos, and to try and improve on capturing these special times.

He also shared the importance of post editing of photos and how that can make an amazing difference. At the moment I don't have a program to allow me to but hopefully in the future I will. 

Some fantastic bloggers attended, Everybody Loves Ramen, Nic Cooks, Sweet Life by Mel, Wholesome Cook, Sugarpuffi, Berry Butter, it was great to meet you! 

And I shall not forget the food! 
Mumu Grill gave us some beautiful dishes, perfect for practicing on.
Dessert I found a little bit disappointing.

For this photo, using the colour accent feature on my camera, I selected only the red.
I really enjoyed the day, found it a great overview and although I need much practice in manual photography at least I know where to start. Thankyou Simon.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fig Jam Tart

Yesterday we had an unexpected visit from my parents which gave me the perfect excuse to bake. 
I bought some delicious fig jam at the farmers markets recently and have been wanting to put it to good use. This recipe is based on a bakewell tart, a delicious treat we discovered in England.

It was so delicious with the buttery, crumbly, crispy, slighty sweet base lined with a thin layer of fig jam and then topped with a soft and luscious almond filling. 
It was equally delicious served warm as it was at room temperature the next day (tasted for blogging purposes of course).

Fig Jam Tart

Pastry base (I use this recipe for most of my sweet tarts) - makes one 23cm diameter tart
90g softened butter
Almost 1 cup plain flour (I use an organic unbleached freshly milled flour - it is amazing)
2 tbsp sifted icing sugar
1 cold egg yolk

Preheat oven to 200C. 
Mix the butter, flour and icing sugar until you get a crumb-like mix. I usually use my hands but try to do it reasonably quickly so as not to warm it up. Then add the egg yolk which will bring the dough together, again I use my hands. If the mixture is too sticky add extra flour, if its too dry add a little cold water.  Once it has formed a dough you can wrap in cling wrap and place in fridge to rest for about 20 minutes, or even freeze it for another day (something I have done plenty of times).
 But for this tart I was short on time (as I often am) so I simply rolled out the pastry so that there is enough for your tin with a bit of overhang, and place in a greased round tart tin with removable base. At this point you can once again pop the tart in the fridge to rest for about 20 minutes as it helps reduce shrinkage. I skipped this step and just pricked the bottom lots with a fork and baked for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and prepare filling.

1/3 cup castor sugar
100g butter softened
1 tsp lemon rind
2 large eggs
1 cup fine almond meal
1/4 cup fig jam

Turn oven down to 180C.
 Whisk (or beat) the sugar, butter and lemon rind until its creamy and pale. Add one egg at a time whisking well.
Fold through the almond meal until all combined.
Spread the fig jam on the base of the partially cooked tart base. 
Top with the almond filling being sure to spread it evenly and to the edges. 
Bake at 180C for 40 minutes or until firm to touch. Be sure to keep an eye on it as all ovens are different and if it is like mine you will need to turn it halfway through.
Let rest for 10 minutes before serving. 
I kept mine on the bench overnight covered and it was still perfect in the morning.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Simple Chorizo and Seafood Soup

Again I am sharing a recipe that I have cooked from a book I received for my birthday.
 One of my gorgeous friends gave me Marion Graspy's cook book the day before my birthday when she accompanied me to The Heart of Food Photography Course at Mumu Grill. And now she has started her own food blog Berry Butter where she shares some of her sweet treats. Please go and check it out. 

We had an excellent day at the course trying to figure out our cameras and being inspired to take attempt to take beautiful food photos.

Marion's style in this the book is so creative and interesting. I really love it.

Firstly she gets you to make your own prawn stock by peeling raw prawns and simmering the heads and shells in water for 15 minutes being sure to skim off the top. So simple yet the results were excellent (and that was still the case when we very stupidly strained some of the stock down the sink! and had to add more water and start again).

The recipe really is simple, start by cooking chorizo with onion, garlic and ground fennel. 
Stir in tomato paste allowing to cook for about a minute then let it all bubble up with some white wine. Add the prawn stock, tinned tomatoes and a little sugar. 
Let this simmer for about 20 minutes before adding a chopped up snapper fillet for about 2 minutes and finally squid rings and the prawns for another 3 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley and your done.

We were so impressed by the flavours of this dish. It was amazing for such little effort, I will definitely be picking this book up again very soon to cook another recipe.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Roast Chicken and Parsnip Soup

Another fantastic gift I received for my birthday was a subscription to the magazine SBS Feast. There are certainly some recipes that are a feast for the eyes.

This is the first recipe I have made, a roast chicken and parsnip soup, by Matthew Evans, the gourmet farmer
This is definitely not a weeknight meal although you could always reheat some for a quick dinner.

The chicken and parsnips are firstly roasted. The meat is then taken off the chicken and the bones put in a big pot with leek trimmings, celery, parsley stalks, herbs and pepper. This is covered with water and simmered for a couple of hours.

The soup is then prepared by softening leeks before adding the chopped parsnips and stock. Once this has simmered away for about half an hour add the chicken and some parsley. 

It needed plenty of salt to bring out the flavours but otherwise was really quite tasty. Yes I am slowly being converted to a soup fan.

The recipe suggested you serve the soup with turkish bread so I made my own wholemeal version. It wasn't quite like the shops but it was still yummy.

I bought this butter at the farmers markets on the weekend.

I had to include a photo of the Chocolate Cinnamon Popcorn I made, it was so delicious - an adult popcorn (although my daughter loved it). You can find the recipe at Gourmand Recipes.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Duck and Mushroom Tortellini with Caramelised Pears

I celebrated a birthday last week and was given the cookbook Top Chefs Recipes Made Easy by Virginia and Lisa Hellier. It is full of some great sounding recipes but no pictures so its up to your interpretation. 

So tonight I cooked duck using a Guy Grossi recipe, you can find the recipe here at SBS (although slightly different to the one I used).

Firstly a whole duck is roasted.

Wholewheat pasta is made.

The filling is made by softening garlic and shallot in olive oil. Add mushrooms, duck, parsley and sage followed by tomato paste, marsala and chicken stock. Simmer and reduce right down.

I definitely need some practice at making tortellini.

The pears were caramelised by mixing the pear slices with brown sugar and cooking with white wine.

It was really delicious, the filling was extremely tasty and went perfectly with the caramelised pears.

I really wanted to use the breasts after roasting such an amazing duck. So I made a pumpkin puree and served the breast on top with a fig sauce made using shallot, fig jam, marsala, chicken stock and butter.

It was delicious, the sweet sauce was amazing with the duck and the pumpkin balanced out the sweetness.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Drunken Noodles

I noticed this recipe for Drunken Noodles by Peter Evans when I was checking out the Lifestyle Food web page recently. Since acquiring my new wok I am on the look out for more stir fry dishes.
I basically followed the recipe except using cooked dried rice noodles instead of delicious fresh ones. 
It was really quite simple once you had everything in place for the action. 
First in is garlic, red eschallots and banana chilli to hot peanut oil. Then sliced chicken followed by 2 eggs. Next the vegetables (capsicum, tomatoes, cabbage) and the sauce (oyster sauce, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar, lime juice, palm sugar). Right at the end put in some spring onion, coriander, basil and peanuts.
It was really delicious and light tasting with all the different elements adding to the dish.

Also you may have noticed my lack of posting lately. I have been cooking lots of new dishes and taking photos but have been trying to be less obsessed about blogging. I return to work next week (after a year of maternity leave) and know that I wont be dedicating my time to 'muppys' so much. I really love reading all your blogs and love that you visit mine. So I will be hopping over soon but not as often as I have in the past. Hope you all have a good day.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tandoori Chicken Pizza

We were originally inspired to make this pizza after eating it at the restaurant Pancakes on the Rocks (at Northmead). 

I was fortunate enough to receive a Baker's Delight voucher recently from The Food Mentalist and was keen to test out their new pizza bases. When I picked up the bases I was pleasantly surprised at how good they looked. I think they are great product and will definitely buy them again for those times when time doesn't permit to make my own pizza dough.

I made my own tandoori paste using this recipe and then mixed it with a generous amount of yoghurt to use as the base to my pizza.

The rich sauce is perfectly complimented by chicken, roasted sweet potato, roasted capsicum, red onion and mushrooms.

Serve with extra yoghurt and you have a delicious meal.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Slow Cooked Chipotle BBQ Pork

A while back an awesome recipe for smoky pulled pork was posted at Morsels and Musings. Yesterday I had planned to cook my pork in the slow cooker using this recipe but realised I was missing some lots of ingredients - menu planning translated to shopping list fail by me!
Not willing to change my plans I went with my instinct and used ingredients I thought would work. And gee am I glad, it was awesome.

In the morning I cut up my pork meat into chunks and added to the slow cooker along with onion, tomato sauce, tomato paste, worcestershire sauce, garlic, apple cider vinegar, red wine, carrot, celery, oregano, chipotle powder and bay leaves. I left this to cook on low all day. I took the pork out and poured the sauce into a saucepan with some brown sugar and reduced it right down. I then mixed this back through the pork I had pulled apart with a fork. 

We served it with guacamole (made by my lovely husband) and oven toasted multigrain tortillas. It was sensational. The chipotle added that element of smoke and heat perfectly matching the bbq flavours of the sauce. It was all toned down against the cooling guacamole and crispy tortillas.

Slow cooked Chipotle BBQ Pork

500g pork cut into 4cm chunks
1/2 onion sliced
2 cloves garlic sliced
1/2 cup tomato sauce (ketchup)
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup red wine
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 grated carrot
1 stick celery diced
1/2 tsp chipotle powder
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano 
2 bay leaves

1 tbsp brown sugar

Put all ingredients except brown sugar in slow cooker and mix well. Cook on low for about 6-8 hours. Remove pork and shred with a fork. Pour sauce into saucepan, add the brown sugar and reduce down until thick. Mix the sauce back through the pork and serve with guacamole and oven toasted tortillas.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sri-Lankan Fish Curry

A few years ago we were fortunate enough to live in England for a few months. One long weekend we stayed in Cornwall. We hired bikes and road along the water to visit the little town of Padstow. 

It was a lovely sunny day (well most of it, it did rain a couple of times!), and I remember sitting by the water enjoying Cornish tea, which is scones with jam and Cornish clotted cream. I am reminded of this as we bought our Cornish tea from Rick Stein's little Deli in Padstow. 

This is the first of Rick Steins recipes that I have ever cooked, and I only happened to stumble upon it whilst looking for a fish curry recipe.

The onion is softened in oil with garlic, curry leaves and pandan leaves.

Then in goes the freshly ground spice mix (cumin, coriander, fenugreek, fennel, cinnamon, cloves cardamon, pepper), some turmeric and chilli.

After a minute or so add the tomatoes, salt, tamarind and coconut milk allowing this to simmer away for about 15 minutes.

Finally add the salmon covering with the  curry sauce and cook for about 5 minutes. Cover the pan and allow this to sit for almost 30 minutes. I actually left it for 20 minutes and then turned the heat on for a couple of minutes before serving.

I also made some eggplant chutney using this recipe except I added a handful of sultanas with the eggplant and tomato. It was really delicious, made with a base of mustard seeds, curry leaves, chilli and turmeric.

I really loved this dish, the salmon was so juicy and flavoursome. The curry sauce was gentle and the eggplant chutney sweetened the dish up, complimenting it perfectly. I will definitely have to cook some more of Rick Stein's recipes.