Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Vegetarian Feast

Pretty much since Camila and I met we've been talking about the idea of having a massive cook-up. Over summer we tried out a few recipes together and talked about it some more, putting little wisps of ideas out there to each other. Last weekend it finally happened and BOY did we cook. We both started cooking the day before, pre-baking breads, tart shells, cakes and whipping up things like curry pastes and dips. We wrote lists of dishes and compared them and decided to pretty much make everything. On the day we got together and cooked for about 7 hours straight.

Camila is a vegetarian but I am not. I don't cook a huge amount of meat and find vegetarian cooking to be more of a creative challenge so we decided to go the whole vege-feast idea and stick to a no-meat theme. We had 17 people all up and everyone was full to bursting point.

It was a wonderful day of cooking for Camila and I, and we had plenty of time to chat and catch up, and finally, when all was cooked, to drink a whole lot of wine...

In the end, we served:
(and I may leave things out by accident...Camila please edit this if you see something missing!)

green curry with zucchini and eggplant

tagine (chickpea, pumpkin and olive)

white bean and garlic mash

five spice crispy fried okra

potato parmesan gratin

chilli cauliflower

pepita pesto lentils

haloumi barley salad

beetroot feta salad

asparagas tart

crunchy hazelnut green beans

garlic mayonnaise with crudites

sweet potato dumplings and dipping sauce

sweet potato bread

beetroot bread

chilli cheese cornbread

white bean and capsicum dip


sumac pita crisps

cheese biscuits

almond biscotti

hazelnut cake with chocolate ganache

strawberry and lemon cream tart

apple crumble with whipped cream

All home made from scratch! Lots of pre-planning and preparation were required. What follows are some photos of the food (not comprehensive, some things are missing!) and the people enjoying it. We've decided to make it a yearly event (it was too tiring to do more often that that!).

(The queue for dessert)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Olive Tart

This recipe originally came from a book aptly titled ‘Tarts’ by Gourmet Traveller. I have used the same recipe for the base, however I have changed the filling recipe quite a bit. The original recipe calls for chicory, which was unavailable at my local IGA supermarket, so I substituted for silverbeet. I’ve also swapped out the eggs and crème fraiche for plain old flour and water, as I was cooking this for my mother who is vegan. As well as this, I used far less silverbeet and onion than the recipe called for, which seemed to be the perfect amount. Despite all the modifications it turned out to be a wonderful and easy to make dinner.

Olive Tart
2 cups plain flour
2/3 cup olive oil
1 bunch of silverbeet
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
fresh thyme
110g riviera olives (I used kalamata it worked just as well), halved and pitted

Place flour and 1tsp sea salt in a bowl, add 100ml of the olive oil combined with 150ml lukewarm water and stir until mixture forms a sticky dough. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes or until smooth and no longer sticky, then wrap in plastic wrap and leave for 30 minutes.

- Coarsely chop the silverbeet (we’re looking for around 4 cups, loosely packed.)
- Heat remaining olive oil in a frying pan, add onion and a pinch of sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat for 20 minutes or until very soft. Add silverbeet, garlic and about 1tsp of thyme leaves and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
-To this bowl add some water and flour. Stir through the silverbeet mixture. You don’t need much. Then season to taste with sea salt and ground black pepper.

- Put some baking paper onto a pizza/regular oven tray. Press the dough out to a 30cm round. Fold the edge of the pastry in about 1cm to form a raised border.
- Pour the silverbeet mixture onto the tart base. Cover with olives and some thyme sprigs.
- Bake at 230°C for around 25 minutes.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Sweet Potato Bread (again)

The quest for the perfect sweet potato bread goes on. This time I used the ratio, 5:3, for bread dough - 375grams of flour and 225 ml of water. But instead of going the soda bread option, I went for yeast, and did all that proving and kneading and waiting. It's cooling right now... Can't wait to slice it open and see how it went!

Delicious dinner with barley salad

I am living in my own unit now and have enjoyed having my friends around to have a look, and giving them a bit of a feed whislt they are here! The meal above is one I made for my friend Robbie last week. It was delicious. Marinated oyster sauce chicken (if you know me, you will know that I call this 'special chicken' - for a reason. It's special), barley and feta salad, and some giant roasted mushrooms and roasted asparagas. Yum!

I will go into the details of each part of the meal separately. This kind of food is very mix-and-match.

Barley salad

1 cup barley grain
200 grams danish feta (or other feta, but i love the creamy danish one, which is usually the cheapest too)
olive oil
lemon juice
cumin seed
slivered almonds

Boil the barley in a pot of water until soft. Drain. In a mixing bowl, combine a big glug of olive oil, a few big squeezings of lemon juice, some ground cumin, and a handful of chopped parsley. Add cooked barley and mix well. Chop feta into small cubes and mix in. In a frypan, dry fry the almonds until they turn brown. Stir into salad. A wonderful side dish, can be bulked out further with the addition of some steamed sweet potato and zucchini. Serves 4 as a side dish.

Roasted mushrooms and asparagas

Bunch of asparagas
One giant mushroom per person
small amount grated cheese

Roast the mushrooms in a hot oven (around 200) until they start to water. Add asparagas to baking tray. Bake for a further 10 minutes. Take out of oven, top mushrooms with a little bit of pesto and cheese. Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes or so.

Special Chicken

4 chicken thigh pieces
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoons sesame oil
plateful of flour
oil for frying

Chop chicken into bite sized pieces. Put in a bowl with oyster sauce and sesame oil and mix well. Leave aside for 30 mins or so. This time can be skipped in a hurry, but it is good for developing the flavour. Dredge each chicken piece in flour and then shallow fry until brown and cooked through. This dish is incredibly moreish! (So, hint, make a bit more than you think you'll need). Serves 2-3-4 depending on greed and restraint.