This post covers some of the more interesting dishes I have cooked in the past two weeks.
Friday 17 June
I was planning on making a sweet potato and chickpea tagine for dinner this Friday night, but sitting at work the thought of this dish didn’t really appeal to me, either cooking it or eating it. So what did I feel like?
The one thing that kept popping into my head was a hamburger, a big juicy with-the-lot burger.
I have no idea where this craving came from, but once it was in my head, it wasn’t going to be dismissed.
I emailed J to see what he thought and he was happy with burgers as well, and asked whether I wanted to buy burgers from Urban Burger (a gourmet burger chain near us) or cook them. I was happy to cook them, and as I was going to the supermarket after work anyway, it was easy to throw a few more ingredients in the trolley.
I normally serve my burgers with a few basics; cheese, tomato, lettuce, and J will throw some tinned beetroot or gherkins on his.
This time however, I wanted one with the lot.
I made the burgers first. I use a Jamie Oliver recipe, which includes breadcrumbs, mustard, onions, Parmesan cheese, cumin and coriander. You are supposed to fry off the onions first, but occasionally, and this was one of those times, I completely forgot and put them in the mix raw. I don’t think it matters either way. I also used fresh coriander as there was no ground dried stuff in the spice cupboard.
I cooked the burgers in a frying pan for about 10 minutes on each side and then put them in the oven to finish them off.
While they were in the oven, I cooked onion rings, bacon and a fried egg each.
Once everything was cooked, it was time to assemble the burgers!
Below is what mine looked like, somehow the roll got turned upside down, but it still tasted
delicious. The final fillings were (in no particular order): burger, lettuce, cheese, tomato, fried onion, bacon and an egg. J had beetroot in his and he used spicy red sauce while I prefer good ‘ol tomato sauce.
Saturday 18 June
We had a friend come over for dinner on Saturday night. I cooked lasagne for main course and a chocolate semi-freddo with raspberry coulis for dessert. The lasagne is easy to make, just takes a little time. I always stress about the white sauce, but so far (touch wood) it has always been fine.
Our kitchen scales had a flat battery so I guessed the amount of cheese needed and clearly overestimated as the end result had a lot of cheese. I don’t know how people get their lasagne cut and served in lovely layered square portions, mine seems to go everywhere, but it tastes good and everyone cleaned their plates.
I made the semi-freddo the night before as it needs at least six hours to set. And if, in the morning, it hasn’t worked you have time to do it again or do something completely different. This is the third time I have made this dish. It is supposed to have vin santo in it but you can use rum instead. The recipe does not specify what kind of rum to use, but as we had, for some unknown reason, Bundaberg rum in the cupboard I used that.
I followed the recipe to a tee, cooking off the rum with the egg yolks and sugar. It set as it should but the alcohol was way too strong and the first attempt went in the bin. I had another go and left out the alcohol all together and also decided to not cook off the egg yolks and sugar. It worked perfectly and was a total success when I served it to my parents.
We got our lovely new fridge on Friday and when I tried the semi-freddo Saturday morning it was not set properly. I adjusted the temperature in the freezer and a few hours later it was all good. At the last minute I decided to make a raspberry coulis from the frozen raspberries I had brought, originally planning just to put a few on top.
I had never made coulis before and thankfully it is very easy, and it comes out a beautiful colour. This made the dish, it cut through the rich chocolate and made the dish amazing. Both J and our guest had a second helping and I may have had a few extra spoonfuls straight out of the tin.
Sunday 19 June
J had a mate coming around to check out some of the home improvements J had been working on and I said I would make them afternoon tea. I was thinking something sweet but J requested red onion and fetta tarts. I was a bit surprised at the savoury request but he wanted something you could have with a beer. These little suckers are easy to whip up and disappear just as quickly, they are very more-ish.
That was me done cooking for the weekend. J cooked a roast chook for dinner.
Friday 24 June
We had friends coming over Friday night and J cooked his wonderful pizzas for main course. I had originally planned to serve the same chocolate semi-freddo from last week but there didn’t seem to be any left…
J saw a recipe for a self-saucing passionfruit pudding in the Epicure (the food and wine section of Melbourne’s The Age newspaper) and requested that. I confess to never having brought a passionfruit before and was just hoping I could find them in the supermarket. I did but they looked different to what I expected, which was a more purply wrinkled fruit. These were more grey and had a smooth skin. After staring at the sign for a while and determining that these were indeed passionfruit I picked three and then realised there were more wrinkled ones at the bottom. I got some of those, suspecting these are riper ones?
The guy on the check-out did ask me if they were passionfruit when he was putting them through, I said “I hope so”! He was expecting something different as well, which reassured me a bit.
When I got home Friday night I got all the ingredients measured and ready and mixed them all together except for the egg whites which have to be whisked to a stiff peak. The passion fruit smelled amazing when I was scooping out the flesh.
After pizzas and a few wines I beat the egg whites, mixed them into the rest of the mixture and poured it into four ramekins. These were put into a water bath and baked for 25 minutes.
J and I disagreed over whether they should be served with whipped cream or ice-cream so I provided both, with the guys going for cream and the girls ice-cream. The puddings were delicious, really tangy but sweet as well. They are very easy to make and I will definitely make them again.
The pudding below has a few bits taken out of it, this is from where I was testing it to see if it was cooked or not.
Saturday 25 June
Apart from some eggs for breakfast, there was no cooking for either of us today. We had pies from the bakery for lunch and dinner was at good friends, who cooked a beautiful three course meal for us.
Sunday 26 June
Back in the kitchen today and first up was a dough for pita bread. I saw this on MC and thought it would be tasty. There was no recipe on the MC website but heaps of others around when I googled it. To be honest, these didn’t turn out how I wanted, they weren’t as soft as pita bread but they tasted good and worked with the dishes we ate them with.
I think I rolled the pieces too thick and I think you are only supposed to put them in the oven for a few minutes and then brown them on a grill. I left them in longer as I was working on the theory they should brown up like normal bread, I don’t think this is correct.
Many of my colleagues have been bringing in excess lemons from their trees. This is great for us, as we always seem to be using lemons. This weekend I decided to try something different and make lemon butter, or lemon curd, something I have never made before. Let’s start with the produce I was using.
I put a normal sized mandarin in this photo so you can get an idea of the size of the lemon
I refer to them as steroid lemons. I was worried about them having no flavour but there was no issue there. Lemon butter takes a little bit of time to make but is pretty easy. I got my recipe from taste.com.au. I did add a spoonful of cornflour at the end to thicken it up as suggested by the comments for the recipe.
I was wrapt with the taste, juts how I remember lemon butter tasting. The only complaint I have it seems a lot of work for the result, less than two cups. I will definitely make it again though (especially as I have promised a friend some next time I see her). I plan to take a jar to Tassie this weekend for my mum, she loves lemon butter so I will be interested to see what she thinks of it.
Next up was getting dinner on. It was only 1pm but as I was using the slow cooker I needed to get this on as soon as possible. I made a Moroccan chicken dish out of one of my slow cooker recipe books. This involved browning the chicken marylands in a frying pan before putting it into the slow cooker, and then blending up the onion, garlic and spices into a paste. The paste was then smeared all over the chicken, some olives were thrown in and the cooker put on low for five hours. I served this with some of the pita bread and it was fantastic, an excellent flavour, and probably my favourite dish from the slow cooker so far.
The last thing I made this weekend was a jalapeno bean dip. This recipe came from the good people at Old el Paso. Old el Paso is a Mexican food company and does all the bits and pieces you need to make tacos, burritos, enchiladas etc. They also do a range of salsas and both mine and J’s favourite was the spicy bean salsa. Now, we swapped supermarket chains when we moved house and I hadn’t been able to find this salsa in the new supermarket. There is a branch of the old chain near work so I would pop in there to stock up on the way home. Then one day it was not on that supermarket’s shelf either, though the price label and space was there, just no stock. Mmmmmmmm, maybe it has sold out this week? I checked for another week or so but still no joy. Being the concerned consumer that I am, I sent an email to Old el Paso querying where my favourite salsa had disappeared to. They responded very quickly (less than 24 hours later), which I was impressed with. Due to low consumer demand spicy bean salsa has been deleted from their range. My suspicions were confirmed. I found ‘deleted’ to be a strange word to use, but I got the message.
As a nice touch the person who emailed me attached the recipe so I could make my own spicy bean dip.
I finally got around to making it and am happy I did.
It was very easy, throw onion, capsicum, jalapeno peppers, refried beans, sour cream and lemon juice into the blender and process until smooth. I thought coriander would be an appropriate garnish so picked some from the garden and added it.
It is not a pretty colour but it is very tasty. We ate with the pita bread, but it also works with biscuits and carrot and celery sticks. It didn’t last very long!
It tastes nothing like the salsa we used to buy, but we both like it, and it has a good spicy kick.