Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sample recipe from Mexican Cooking: Chiles rellenos (filled chilli peppers)

I love deep-fried filled jalapeño peppers, but have never been able to convince my less chilli-loving friends or family to even taste them, but this looks like a recipe I might be able to get them to try, since it involves milder peppers.

Words in brackets are mine, and I have changed some things around to make the recipe more logical.

To make 4 servings:

12 fresh Anaheim or Poblano peppers
450 g cheddar or Monterey jack cheese (other recipes I have seen state it must be grated, finely sliced or cut into straws)
100 g flour
6 eggs
Oil or deep-frying fat

To peel the peppers, roast them until the skin is black all over (over hot coals, under the grill, or dry-sautéed in a pan). Remove from the heat and put immediately into a plastic bag, close the bag and leave the peppers for 20 minutes. The condensation will loosen the skin. Peel the peppers, cut a slit in the side of each pepper and remove the pith and seeds (retain the stems). Take care not to make additional holes in the peppers. Stuff the peppers with cheese and coat with flour.

Start heating the oil/fat. It should be deeper than 3 cm (so that the peppers can be completely immersed in the oil. I would use a deep fryer).

Separate the eggs and whip the yolks and whites separately. The whites must be quite stiff. Gently fold the whites into the yolks.

Dip the peppers in the egg mixture to coat completely (except the stem, use that to hold onto the peppers while you dip them in the egg). Fry the peppers in the hot oil (2-3 at a time, until golden all over, drain briefly on absorbent paper and) keep warm in a hot oven until all the peppers are ready to serve.

Serve with refried beans and spicy rice.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sample recipe from Mexican Cooking: Pork and chicken in mole verde

Mole verde: (green sauce)
1 can (300 g) tomatillos
5 large, fresh chili peppers (Anaheim or poblano)
60 g chopped onions
6 corn tortillas, torn into small pieces
1-4 cloves garlic
100 g spinach, fresh or frozen (can be left out)
750 ml chicken bouillon

To peel the chillies, roast them until the skin is black all over (over hot coals, under the grill, or dry-sautéed in a pan). Remove from the heat and put immediately into a plastic bag, close the bag and leave the chillies for 20 minutes. The condensation will loosen the skin. Peel the chillies and remove seeds, stems and pith and chop them coarsely.

Drain the tomatillos. Put tomatillos and all the other ingredients, except the bouillon, in a blender and purée. Stir the purée into the bouillon, bring to the boil and simmer for about 1 hour. Adjust taste with spices and add more bouillon if the sauce is too thick. (It would be nice to know just exactly how thick the sauce should be, but the recipe doesn’t say).

Pork and chicken in mole verde:
4-6 servings.

1 1/2 kg lean pork
1 kg chicken thighs
Mole verde sauce

If using boneless pork, cut into cubes, about 5 cm square. The recipe recommends using rib roast, in which case divide into chunks of single ribs with meat.

Cook the meat (presumably this means in water, although the recipe doesn’t say), until it is really tender, from 1 to 2 hours. If using rib roast, the meat should be about to slide off the bones. Drain and brown quickly in hot oil (a purely cosmetic step, according to the author). Put the meat in a casserole dish and pour mole verde over it. Bake at about 100°C for 1 hour or more as needed. The meat should be heated through but the sauce must not burn.

There is no suggestion as to what to serve with this dish, but I think it would make a nutritionally balanced meal if served with rice and a fresh salad (perhaps with avocado to give it a Mexican spin).

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Cookbook of the week #13: Mexican Cooking (Mexikanske specialiteter)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

It’s time to go ethnic again. This little book was written by Roger Hicks and the Danish edition that I have was published by Könemann. It is a gorgeous little book, full of photographs, not only of the dishes, but also of the people and landscapes of Mexico. It includes a short chapter on the cuisine of Mexico, along with chapters on common ingredients, preparation methods and dining culture.

My experience of Mexican food is mostly with tex-mex fast food, a hybrid cuisine that is only partly Mexican, and I love Spanish cuisine, which contributed to Mexico’s culinary tradition, but I don’t have much experience with authentic Mexican cooking, so I can’t judge how genuine the recipes in the book are. All I can say is that many of them look very tempting.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Recipe of the week from Entertaining: Orange spare ribs

I had some ribs in my freezer and this looked like an interesting way to cook them, so I chose this as the recipe of the week.

1,5 kg (3 lbs) pork spare ribs

2 tbs clear honey
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
2 oranges
Salt and pepper

Cut the spare ribs into serving pieces (single ribs). Put honey, lemon juice, Worchestershire sauce and soy sauce in a small saucepan and add the grated zest of one orange and the juice from both oranges. Add salt and pepper to taste and heat gently, stirring occasionally. Leave to cool, then pour over the meat. Leave to marinate overnight.

Drain, reserving the marinade.

Place the ribs in a roasting pan and cook in a preheated oven at 180°C (350°F), for 60 minutes.

Meanwhile, fire up the grill. Grill the ribs, turning and basting frequently with the marinate, until crisp (about 15 minutes).

Makes 8 servings.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I marinated some ribs, just enough to feed one hungry person, using a full recipe of marinade. The marinade was thin and had a mild orange flavour. I marinated the ribs for about 20 hours, turning them a couple of times. Since the weather wasn’t suitable for grilling outdoors, I used the grill in the oven instead. I don’t know if the author used smaller ribs, or merely better trimmed ones, but it took 35 minutes to get the rib pieces cooked through, at about the same distance from the grill as they were supposed to be from the coals in the recipe.

The meat was juicy and pulled easily off the bones, but was not as melt-in-the-mouth soft as I like rib meat to be. I think maybe cooking the ribs in the marinate for 10-20 minutes before grilling would make the meat softer. The flavour of the meat had a mild flavour of oranges, and the edges of the pieces and the membranes were well braised and crisp and there was some caramelisation. It was a nice flavour but nothing special. Another time, I would like to use a thick basting sauce, one that would coat the meat better and create a more all-over caramelisation, and I would like a more intense orange flavour and slightly more sweetness. Perhaps I could use orange marmalade instead of juice?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sample recipe from Entertaining: Boston baked beans

I have eaten many kilos of baked beans throughout my life, but while I have made other kinds of bean dishes, I have never tried making baked beans. This is a variation of a classic American recipe.

500 g (1 lb) haricot beans (navy beans)
350 g (12 oz) streaky bacon, chopped
3 onions, chopped
2 tsp mustard powder
1 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs black treacle
1 142 g (5 oz) can tomato purée
Salt and pepper

Rinse the beans, cover with cold water and soak overnight. Drain, cover with fresh cold water and bring to the boil. Cook rapidly for 10 minutes, the drain. (This looks like an attempt to degas the beans).

Put beans, bacon and onion in a casserole dish and add water to cover. Stir in the remaining ingredients and season with 2 tsp salt, and pepper to taste.
Cover and cook on the oven at 150°C (300°F) for 5-6 hours, stirring occasionally and adding more water if necessary.

The books claims this makes 20 servings.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sample recipe from Entertaining: Veal blanquette

This is a classic French dish. Blanquette refers to its colour, which is white (or whiteish). The sauce is béchamel or white sauce, one of the French "mother sauces".

1 kg (2 lbs) pie veal (whatever than is), cut into 2,5 cm (1 inch) cubes
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1 tbs lemon juice
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
50 g (2 oz) butter
50 g (2 oz) plain flour
3 tbs single cream (cooking cream)

6 rashers streaky bacon
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Parsley sprigs

Put the veal into a saucepan with the vegetables, lemon juice and bay leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add enough water to cover and simmer, covered, for 90 minutes. Remove the meat and vegetables from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Discard the bay leaf. Strain the stock, reserving 600 ml (1 pint).
Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour. Gradually add the stock and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream. Adjust seasoning if needed and put in the meat and vegetables. Heat gently until warmed through.
Roll up the bacon rashers tightly and thread onto a skewer. Place under a preheated hot grill until crisp.
Transfer the veal to a warmed serving dish and garnish with the bacon rolls, lemon wedges and parsley.

Makes 6 servings.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sample recipe from Entertaining: Mushrooms à la Grècque

According to my culinary dictionary, the title of this recipe, “Mushrooms in the Greek style” refers to dishes of Greek origin (no surprise there), but also to dishes cooked in the Mediterranean style, using olive oil, lemon and spices. Whichever it is, it seems an interesting dish, especially if you love mushrooms as much as I do.

2 tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
500 g (1 lb) small, whole button mushrooms
150 ml (1/4 pint) dry white wine
2 tbs tomato purée
1 tsp sugar
1 bouquet garni
Salt and pepper
Chopped parsley for garnishing

Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion and garlic in it over low heat until translucent. Add the mushrooms and the remaining ingredients and adjust taste with salt and pepper. Cook uncovered for about 20 minutes. Cool, then remove the bouquet garni. Chill.
Serve cold with warm bread and garnish with parsley. (I think it would be great on toast).

Makes 6 servings.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sample recipe from Entertaining: Devils on horseback

I love to see original names for dishes, like Poor Knights of Windsor (sounds better than French toast, doesn’t it?), Bubble and Squeak, Pigs in Blankets, and so on, even if they sometimes turn out to be disappointments when I get to taste them. Therefore I was delighted to discover this recipe for stuffed prunes wrapped in bacon, although I don’t quite see how it got the name. While the combination may sound disgusting, in my experience a lot of things taste just fine when wrapped in bacon.

25 g butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp dried sage
50 g fresh breadcrumbs
250 g prunes, pitted
10 streaky bacon rashers, rindless

Melt the butter in a pan and fry the onion over low heat until soft. Mix in sage and breadcrumbs. Stuff the prunes with this mixture.

Stretch the bacon with the back of a knife (presumably to make it wrap itself more tightly around the prunes). Cut each rasher in half (presumably crosswise) and wrap each prune with half a rasher and secure with a wooden cocktail stick. Grill for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until the bacon is crisp.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Cookbook of the week #12: The Kitchen Library: Entertaining

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This small book, which appears to be part of a series, was published in 1982, but the edition I have is from 1989, so it appears to have gone through at least these two editions. The publisher is Octopus Books, UK. The author is Wendy Godfrey.

I have used one recipe in the book, that for satay sauce, but the first time I made it I changed it so much that I don’t think the author would recognise if she saw it. This is not to say that it’s a bad recipe, but I prefer satay sauce to be smooth while the recipe calls for chunky peanut butter, and I made some other tweaks to fit it to my tastebuds.

The aim with the book is to present recipes and ideas for entertaining guests at different kinds of gatherings: cocktail parties, dinner parties, barbecues, buffet lunches and suppers. Therefore there are all kinds of recipes in it: for hot and cold dishes, entrées/nibbles, small dishes, main courses, drinks, soups and desserts. I might end up cooking a three course meal, or I might make several small dishes to make up a meal, or perhaps just make one dish. We shall see.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Recipe of the week from The Spice Cookbook: Pear and Apple Betty

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This may not be a very original choice, but I am posting from my parents’ house where I'm spending the weekend. I needed to find a dish my mother could eat. She requested a dessert, but she’s on a low oxalate diet which means she’s not allowed, among other things, to eat citrus zest or anything with orange juice in it, and it seems most of the dessert recipes in the book contain some (this one does too, but in such a small amount that it will be okay to leave it out). It also needed to be something that was fairly quick and easy to assemble, so I chose this.

3 firm ripe fresh pears
3 tart fresh apples

1 cup lightly crumbed corn flakes
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp lemon zest (I will either leave it out or substitute with a dash of lemon juice)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs butter

Wash, pare and slice the fruit. Arrange 1/4 of the slices in a buttered 1 litre (1 quart) baking dish. Combine the remaining ingredients - except the butter - and sprinkle 1/4 of this over the fruit slices. Dot with 1/2 tbs butter. Repeat until you have 4 layers.

Bake at 175°C (350°F) for 60 to 90 minutes or until fruit is tender.

Serve with whipped cream, sour cream or hard sauce*.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

*Brandy hard sauce:
We will be having whipped cream with the Betty, but since hard sauce is suggested, I decided to include a recipe.

There are 3 recipes for hard sauce in the book – I have chosen to show the one I would serve to my mother, taking into account that she’s not supposed to eat citrus zest, which is an ingredient in the other two recipes.

2/3 cup (1 1/3 sticks) butter
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
2 tbs brandy
Ground nutmeg

Mix butter and nutmeg together and add alternating dashes of brandy and sugar, stirring well in between, until all the brandy and sugar has been added. Mix until fluffy and serve over plum puddings or warm fruit desserts. Garnish with additional nutmeg.


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Just looking at the three average apples and three large pears I bought made it clear that using all those fruit would be enough dessert for 8-10 persons, so I cut the recipe down by half. The apples were very tart, like lemons in fact, so that did away with the need for the lemon zest that I wasn’t going to use anyway.
Since the apples were so tart, I used one apple and two pears. If I had been able to get tart yellow apples, which are not as mouth-puckering as green ones, I would have used 1 1/2 of each.

Half the recipe of crumble mix didn’t look like enough, so I made a full recipe, which turned out to be just right. A full recipe of butter was clearly too little, so I used a bit more, perhaps 3-4 tbs.

One problem I had was that the pear slices were almost overcooked when the apple slices were still too hard, so it is necessary to make sure that the fruit are at about the same stage of ripeness.

Review and notes:
Apple Betty is a classic dessert, and for a good reason. It is delicious and a beginner cook would find it difficult to mess up. Making it with the addition of pears is a lovely variation on the classic recipe. The different flavours of the very tart apples and sweet pears I used gave the dessert an extra flavour dimension and ensured that it didn’t become oversweet like it could easily have been with just pears or the with mildly tart cooking apples that are so often used in apple desserts. The fruit flavour was rich and not overly sweet. It was good with whipped cream, would have been better with crème fraiche, and very good with vanilla sauce or vanilla ice cream. It is good warm, but better cold.

This turned out to be one of those dishes with recipes that are not only very easy to change with good results, but you actually only need to follow the recipe the first time you make them. I know that the next time I make this (and I will, having got the parental seal of approval) I will not follow a recipe, I will just throw the ingredients together, in the sure knowledge that it will turn out good.

Another time I will:
- cut the fruit into smaller pieces
- not mix the cornflakes into the sugar and other flavourings but sprinkle them separately, as they simply separate from the sugar and if you’re not careful, some layers will have more sugar and some more cornflakes
- use twice as much nutmeg, as I could barely taste it.

I would also like to see how it tastes with demerara or light brown sugar instead of white sugar.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sample recipe from The Spice Cookbook: Spiced pumpkin casserole

It was only a few years ago that the big orange pumpkins one associates with Halloween started becoming available in Icelandic supermarkets (mostly those of one chain) and only at this time of the year. If I ever do try cooking with pumpkin, I will have to have several recipes at hand, because these things are so big that one looks like it could feed a dozen people.

Servings: 6.

4 cups cooked, mashed, fresh pumpkin
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp orange zest
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

Combine all ingredients and turn into a buttered 1 litre (1 quart) casserole. Bake at 175°C (350°F) for 1 hour or until hot and the top is lightly flecked with brown. Serve as a side dish.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sample recipe from The Spice Cookbook: Malai korma

Have I mentioned I love Indian food? This looks like a fairly authentic recipe for a korma, a type of mild, creamy curry in the North-Indian Mughal style. Kormas can be made with all sorts of meat, and also with potatoes and/or vegetables.

This Wikipedia article has information on the cooking of kormas that I recommend reading before making this recipe.

1 kg (2 lbs.) lean leg of lamb

1 cup chopped onion
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 cup yogurt

Trim the meat and discard excess fat. Cut into cubes, about 2,5 cm (1 inch). Add onion, ginger, turmeric and yogurt, mix well and refrigerate overnight.

1 cup chopped onion
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 cup yogurt
3 tbs butter or margarine
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup blanched almonds
1/2 cup heavy cream, undiluted evaporated milk, or, if you want some South-Indian influence you can use coconut milk
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt

To cook, sauté chopped onion in 1 tbs of the butter until golden. Add the lamb and cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until meat is dry. Add the yogurt and bay leaves and cook another 10 minutes, uncovered, or until meat is dry. Add the water and again cook until the meat is dry. Put the almonds through a food processor, making sure not to mince them very finely - they should be in small pieces rather than powdered (recipe suggests using a food chopper with a medium blade). Add to lamb, followed by the remaining ingredients, and cook slowly for 10-12 minutes. Do not boil or the cream will curdle.

Serve with hot, plain cooked rice.


This would have been my choice for the recipe of the week, but I will be visiting my parents over the weekend and my father doesn't like this kind of food, so I am choosing something else. I do have every intention of testing and reviewing this recipe at some point in the future.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Herb and spice links

There is a lot of information to be found about herbs and spices. Here are some websites with useful, or at least interesting, information:

Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages features extensive botanical and etymological information about spices, including the chemicals that give spices their flavours, and the names of spices in different languages.

Wikipedia of course has a list with information about herbs and spices.

And here are some links to spice mix recipes from About.com.

Sample recipe from The Spice Cookbook: Baked fillet of haddock with sesame seed crumbs

This book, while it is full of tempting recipes, is unfortunately of the type that assumes that can and packet sizes are the same everywhere and at every time.

This is a fallacy. An envelope of dry yeast is not the same size in Europe as it is in the USA, and the USA envelope sizes may have changed since the book was published (can sizes may have done so too), yet the book is touted in the introduction as a future heirloom. Additionally, there are shortcuts in the book using ingredients that may not be available to everyone, such as onion flakes. This is an annoying, but not insurmountable, problem for a foreign cook using the book four decades after it was first published.

Rant over. Let’s turn back to the recipe. Sesame seed with fish sounds faintly oriental, except no glazing or exotic spices are involved, just baking under a layer of crumbs.

700 g (1 1/2 lbs.) fillet of haddock
A dash of salt
6 pats of butter or margarine
3 cups soft bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbs toasted sesame seeds*
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

*To toast sesame seeds, place them in a shallow baking pan and heat in a preheated oven at about 175°C (350°F) for 20 to 22 minutes, stirring 2-3 times to ensure even toasting.

Cut fish into 6 even-sized pieces and arrange in a buttered 23 cm (9 inch) square baking pan. Rub a dash of salt lightly over each piece and dot each with a pat of butter.

Combine the remaining ingredients and cover the fish lightly with the mixture. Bake at 175°C (350°F) for 25-30 minutes or until bread crumbs are browned. Serve hot.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sample recipe from The Spice Cookbook: Old-fashioned coriander cookies

I am used to coriander as a spice for soups, eggs, meat and vegetable dishes, but definitely not in baking, so this seems an interesting recipe.

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
5 tsp ground coriander seed
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk

Cream together shortening, salt, baking soda and coriander. Add the sugar gradually. Beat in the egg. Add flour and milk in small dozes, alternating each until everything is used up. Mix well.
drop dollops of dough from a teaspoon onto a greased cookie sheet, about 5 cm apart. Try to keep the blobs round and equally sized. Bake at 190°C (375°F) for 15 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Cool on a wire rack.
Store in an airtight container.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sample recipe from The Spice Cookbook: Saffron-lemon tea bread

There are so many mouthwatering recipes in this book that it is going to be hard to narrow my choices down.

I have used saffron to flavour rice, in paellas and most recently in mashed potatoes, but never in baking. This looks like an interesting recipe.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 tsp soda
1/8 tsp saffron, powdered
2 tsp lemon zest
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs (large)
3/4 cup water
2 tbs fresh lemon juice

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix shortening, baking soda, saffron and lemon zest. Add sugar, a little at a time, stirring well to mix. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mix water and lemon juice and add gradually to the batter, alternating with the flour mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Beat batter for 30 seconds after all the ingredients are in.

Pour batter into a well greased loaf pan, 23 by 13 by 7 cm (9 by 5 by 3 inches) and bake for 1 hour at 175°C (350° F). Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes, then remove the loaf from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

Serve with softened cream cheese or butter for spreading.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Cookbook of the week #11: The Spice Cookbook

Since I just finished reading Spice: The history of a temptation by Jack Turner, I decided to review one of the three spice cookbooks in my collection. I chose the one I find the most interesting. I came across it at the charity shop where I have acquired many of my books, and knew I had to have it. It was published in 1964 and the authors are Lillie Stuckey and Avanelle Day. The illustrations are by Jo Spier. The book appears to have become collectible, but I doubt my copy would fetch a high price, since the dust cover is missing and there are food stains on the cover. The image below is of the title page and will give you an idea of the wonderful and quirky artwork scattered throughout the book.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This is one of those big, ambitious cookbooks that make one wonder if it is meant for the kitchen or to be kept on a lectern somewhere to have recipes copied from for use. It doesn’t help that it is necessary to turn a page to finish reading some of the recipes, which is always a disadvantage with cookbooks since it causes stains and eventual tattering of pages with much-used recipes. The book is in a large format and weighs a whooping 1600 grams (over 3 lbs.). I certainly can’t see myself standing by the stove, stirring a sauce with one hand and holding the book in the other.

As we know, few recipes are totally free of some sort of added flavouring (imagine such a recipe, free even of salt – a terrible thought, isn’t it?), and many recipes feature at least one herb or spice, but this book seems to be an attempt to give examples of the typical use of spices and herbs in recipes from around the world. There are also short chapters outlining the history of the spice trade, profiling the spices and herbs featured in the book, one on how to cook with spices, a spice and herb chart outlining the sorts of food the spice/herb is good in, followed by over 1400 recipes for all sorts of foods from entrées to desserts. Since I am one of those people who get hungry from reading cookbooks, I really don’t think it would be good for my waist-line to read the book from cover to cover, so I intend to skim over it, stopping to read recipes that sound interesting, and choose a few at random to give as samples. I only wish I could show some more of the wonderful artwork that decorates the book, but I think it’s still copyrighted.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Recipe of the week from Small dishes…: Cheese soufflé with celery butter

Originally posted on October 9, 2007, as a sample recipe from the book.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Servings: 4
Time: 90 minutes.

2 tbs butter
4 tbs flour
300 ml milk
4 eggs
300 ml cheese, grated
Salt, sweet paprika
2 tsp cornflour

Celery butter:
75 g butter
50 ml chopped celery

To make soufflé:
Melt the butter. Stir in the flour and then add the milk, little by little, stirring in between to mix well. Cook gently for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Separate the eggs. Break the yolks and add them and the cheese to the flour mixture. Adjust flavour with salt and paprika. Let the cheese melt completely into the batter and stir in the cornflour. Whip the egg whites until stiff and fold carefully into the batter. Pour the batter into a greased oven-proof soufflé dish that takes bout 1,2 litres.

Bake the soufflé on the bottom rung of the oven for about 40 minutes.

It is best to serve the soufflé immediately, but it can stand for 5-10 minutes in the closed oven after the heat is turned off.

Serve with the celery butter.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

To prepare celery butter:
Prepare while the soufflé bakes. Butter should be at room temperature. Stir until it is smooth and add salt and celery. Refrigerate until it is needed.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Notes and review:
As usual I made only half a recipe. I couldn’t have made a full recipe anyway, as I have no soufflé dish or casserole dish big enough. I made no changes other than halving everything.

Although it doesn’t say in the recipe, I assumed the celery had to be finely chopped.

It doesn’t say what kind of cheese to use, so I ended up using a mixture of Mozzarella and Gouda that is sold pre-grated as “gratin cheese”, and added a bit of a more flavourful local cheese that I love on toast. I think a touch of Parmesan would be good too.

Soufflés are reputed to be temperamental food that will, at the least provocation (such as opening the oven at the wrong moment), subside into an unappetising blob, and it is true that a soufflé will fall shortly after being removed from the oven, so it needs to be served immediately.

The first time I made a soufflé, it was an apple-almond dessert soufflé, but this is a more robust kind that can be eaten as an appetizer or a small meal. I was interested in seeing how a soufflé would do in a convection oven, which is why I chose this as recipe of the week.

I had a bad moment when the dough was ready, when I realised I had forgotten to turn on the oven, but I was able to heat it quickly by turning on the grill for 5 minutes and put the dough into a slightly underheated oven. When it had not begun to rise after 15 minutes I got worried, but then decided not to let it bother me, and started reading a book. After 30 minutes of baking I took a peek, and the soufflé had risen beautifully (see first photo). I gave it another 5 minutes to develop a nice brown crust, and then took it out of the oven, photographed it quickly and then ate most of it.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The soufflé was light and fluffy and the taste mild. The texture was ever so slightly grainy. I don’t know if cheese soufflé is supposed to be that way, or if it was the types of cheese I used, but it didn’t matter. Another time I would use more flavourful cheese.

The celery butter added an interesting flavour to the soufflé, but as I mentioned above, I think another time I would purée it to give the butter more flavour kick.

Verdict: Quite good, but not something I’m interested in making again.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Sample recipe from Small dishes…: Sweetbreads

It is slaughter season in Iceland, but while I know I can get all the liver, hearts, kidneys and tripe I want, I don’t remember ever seeing sweetbreads in an Icelandic meat counter. I would like to try them, though, so even if I don’t choose this as the recipe of the week, I think I will see if I can have them specially ordered for me.

150 g sweetbreads (it doesn’t say from what animal, but veal is probably what the original authors had in mind)
1 tbs flour
Salt and pepper
1/2 to 1 tbs butter
50 g fresh mushrooms
1/4 can of asparagus
100 ml Hollandaise-sauce

Wash and trim the sweetbread(s). Slice and roll in a mixture of flour and salt/pepper. Set aside for a while to let the slices dry a bit.

Wash and trim the mushrooms. Melt part of the butter in a frying pan and fry the mushrooms at low temperature. Warm the asparagus according to instructions on the can (?). Make the sauce according to instructions on the packet (if I were to make this, I think I would like to try my hand at making the sauce from scratch).

Fry the sweetbread slices at medium temperature until well browned.

Arrange on a plate with the mushrooms, asparagus and some poached potatoes sprinkled with parsley and serve the sauce on the side.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Sample recipe from Small dishes…: Little nibbles

One thing I haven’t mentioned about these books is that wherever possible, there are two version of the recipes: a 4 serving recipe and a 1-2 serving recipe. Since this is party food, I am offering the larger recipes here, but for meal dishes I give the smaller recipe.

This is actually a combination of two recipes: the banana wraps, and everything else. I decided to “serve” them together because they are all nice, or at least interesting, nibbles wrapped in bacon, and the preparation is similar for them all.

Banana wraps:

Servings: 4.
Time: 15 minutes.

4 bananas
150 g bacon
1 tbs butter
Chilli powder

Cut each banana into 3-4 pieces. Roll a rasher of bacon around each piece and arrange the pieces in an oven-proof dish, tightly together. Sprinkle with chilli powder. Bake at 200°C for 5-10 minutes. Serve with cooked rice with raisins and iceberg leaves.

(I suggest treating the bananas exactly like the other little nibbles and serving them on cocktail sticks, but they would have to be firm enough to hold up to frying).

Mixed wraps:

8 cocktail sausages
20 mussels (mussels are also good)
8 sardines, canned, in oil
18 rashers of bacon.

Divide each bacon rasher in half crosswise and wrap a half rasher around each of the sausages, mussels and sardines and secure with cocktail sticks. Brown in a frying pan and serve with bread and tomatoes or cucumber (or plain as nibbles).

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sample recipe from Small dishes…: Leek quiche

I sometimes order quiche when I want a light meal in a café, but the closest I have come to making one is a baked omelet, which is similar but crustless.

Servings: 6.
Time: 90 minutes.

175 g margarine
350 ml flour
2 tbs cold water

Mix margarine, flour and water into a smooth dough. Refrigerate for 1 hour at least.

About 800 g (5-6) leeks
100 g grated cheese
100 g smoked bacon
1 egg
100 ml cream
Salt and pepper

Wash and trim the leeks and cut into approximately 3 cm long pieces. Cook in lightly salted water for 5-6 minutes. Drain well.

Roll out the dough and line an ungreased pie dish with it. Sprinkle with about half the grated cheese and top with the leeks. Chop the bacon and sprinkle it on top of the leeks.

Whisk together egg and cream and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the pie filling and bake at 200°C for about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Serve hot.

Does anyone else think that one egg seems like one or two eggs too little?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sample recipe from Small dishes…: Blini…

…or Russian pancakes as the book calls them.

Servings: 4.
Time: 105 minutes.

10-15 g dry yeast
150 ml milk
1 egg, separated
100 ml flour
100 ml buckwheat flour
2 dashes salt
1 tbs melted butter

Heat half the milk to about lukewarm and dissolve the yeast in it. Add the egg yolk and the remaining milk and mix well. Stir in the flour, buckwheat and salt and blend into a smooth batter. Let it stand for about 1 hour.

Add the butter to the dough and finally the stiff-whipped egg white. Make large pancakes from the dough. Serve them with sour cream and finely chopped onion, or butter, chopped hard-boiled eggs and chives.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Cookbook of the week #10:Small dishes for every palate

This is the second book in this series I review. Whereas the previous one focused on quick dishes, this one is all about small dishes: finger food, nibbles, appetizers and light snacks, although some of the dishes actually seem to be full meals.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Here are some recipes that seem interesting:

Cheese soufflé
Baked omelet with mushroom sauce
Spring rolls Mai Tang
Russian pancakes (blini)
Leek pie (quiche)
Bacon-rolled bananas
Reindeer stew with mushrooms

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Recipe of the week from Moroccan Cooking: Moroccan cigars

These cigar-like savoury pastry rolls are known as Bourek in Morocco. This is a popular restaurant dish.

Servings: 20
Time: 40 minutes prep time, 25-30 minutes cooking.

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
705 g lean minced beef or lamb
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
Ground pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
5 eggs
500 g filo pastry
180 g butter, melted

Sauté the onion in the olive oil until it is soft. Add the minced meat, stirring and breaking it well apart during the cooking. Add cinnamon, allspice, ginger and pepper and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meat is well cooked and lump free. Add parsley. Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl and pour over the meat. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until egg mixture takes on a creamy consistency. Adjust taste if necessary. Cool.

Preheat oven to 150°C.
Cut each sheet of filo into three equal-sized rectangles. Stack up and cover with a damp cloth until filling is ready. Brush the top rectangle with melted butter and place a teaspoon of filling along one of the short edges. Fold in the long edges and near end of pastry around the filling and roll up into a cigar shape. Repeat until all the pastry squares are filled.

Place the cigars side by side on a greased baking tray and brush with melted butter. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cigars are golden. Serve hot.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Notes and review:
As usual, I only made half a recipe. I forgot to buy parsley, so I had to leave it out. I don’t think it mattered much, perhaps a note of veggie freshness that was missing. Another time I would like to try cilantro. The meat I used was beef.

The filo sheets I got can’t have been the same size as those available in Australia (where the book was published) – they must have been bigger, because when divided in three, each rectangle of dough was enough for a tablespoon of filling, rather than the stated teaspoon. With a teaspoon of filling the rolls would have been cigarette slender and I would have run out of dough before half the filling was used up. I got 14 rolls out of 6 whole sheets of dough (270 grams) – it should have been more but the outermost sheet of filo was too torn up to use, and I only got 2 rolls out of the second sheet. When the dough was used up I still had enough filling left for at least six more rolls.

The preparation and cooking went well, apart from one minor burn due to working too close to a hot stove (my first kitchen injury since I started this recipe challenge). There is quite a bit of work involved in rolling up the “cigars”, but it’s worth it.

The filling is good on its own and I think with the addition of cream and Parmigiano-Reggiano it would make a very good pasta sauce. With added tomatoes it could be made into a fairly authentic meat sauce for moussaka.

The amount of spices given in the recipe gives the mince a mild flavour and can safely be increased. I recommend adjusting the flavour after the beaten eggs have been added. I also recommend adding some salt.

This is a great party dish, perfect finger food that's small enough for nibbling on. It can be prepared ahead and frozen once the rolls are all rolled, before the second cooking stage. I think it would be nice served with a sweet dip of some sort, perhaps sweet chilli sauce, sweet and sour sauce or even redcurrant jelly.

While I did like these meat-filled bourek, I kept thinking how delicious they would be filled with cheese, perhaps feta, fresh goat’s cheese or even Roquefort, and as a matter of fact they often are made with a cheese filling. Next time, I think I will try just that.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Friday, October 5, 2007

Recipe from Moroccan Cooking: Tagine of lamb with quinces

Servings: 6.
Time: 30 minutes prep + 1 hour cooking.

1 kg shoulder of lamb cut in 2 cm pieces
2 large onions, chopped in 1 cm cubes (keep them separate)
Ground pepper
1/2 tsp ground mildly hot paprika (or use sweet and mix in a little ground cayenne or chili pepper)
1 bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground saffron
1/2 tsp ground ginger
500 g quinces, cored, halved and peeled
60 g butter
1 cup pitted prunes, pre-soaked

Put lamb pieces and one chopped onion in a heavy-bottomed cooking pot. Season to taste with pepper and paprika and cover with water. Add cilantro, saffron and ginger and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 1 hour or until lamb is tender.

While lamb cooks, cut the quinces into pieces roughly the same size as the meat pieces. Melt butter in a frying pan and cook the quinces and the second onion together until lightly golden. When the lamb has been cooking for about 30 minutes, add the fried quinces and onion, along with the prunes. Finish cooking and serve warm, with rice.

The book suggests that dates may be used instead of prunes and pears instead of quinces.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

More Moroccan recipes

Here are links to some collections of Moroccan recipes. I only picked a few that looked good, but if you have a link to other good websites with Moroccan recipes, including blogs, please post it in a comment to this post.

The first collection is an extract from Bea Sandler’s The African Cookbook. There are only 6 recipes, but there is also a description of a Moroccan dinner and suggestions as to how to serve Moroccan food authentically. Check out the other extracts from the book as well.

Maroque Moroccan recipes. This is mainly an online shopping site with Moroccan goods, but there are a number of yummy recipes as well.

A large collection from various cookbooks: World Health Circle of International Cooking

Moroccan food at AllRecipes

One more:
Riddled with advertising. Probably has pop-up ads as well. Astray recipes

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Recipe from Moroccan Cooking: Orange salad

It isn’t clear from the book whether this is supposed to be a side dish, an entrée or a dessert, but I can imagine it being good as any of those. I can even imagine eating it, well chilled, for refreshment on a hot afternoon instead of ice cream.

I was unable to find the Moroccan name for this salad, but I did find information saying it is good served with lamb dishes.

Serves: 6.
Time: 15 minutes.

6 ripe oranges
8 dates, chopped
1/4 cup blanched almonds, slivered
Orange flower water
1 tbs mint leaves, chopped
Ground cinnamon

Peel oranges, removing all pith, and slice crossways. Put in a shallow dish with dates and almonds and flavour to taste with orange flower water. Sprinkle lightly with mint and cinnamon and serve.

Recipe from Moroccan Cooking: Fried Moroccan bread with cinnamon

…otherwise known as Cinnamon French Toast. But who am I to argue with the authors? If they want to call it Moroccan, they can. (BTW, French toast isn’t necessarily French, the dish being a logical invention in any culture where bread is baked, as a way of using up a stale loaf. Therefore it could have arisen independently in Morocco, but it is more likely that it was brought over by the French).

When I was a child and my mother was undecided as to what to serve for lunch or dinner, I would often suggest French toast – only we called it “Poor Knights” and ate it with rhubarb jam and sometimes whipped cream as well. I make it occasionally myself as a brunch dish (without jam or cream), but I have never tried the cinnamon variety.

Servings: 4-6.
Time: 15 minutes to prepare, 10 minutes to cook.

1/2 white baguette (French stick, French loaf)
1-2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence (it says “imitation vanilla” in the book – I don’t see why I can’t use the real thing if I have it)
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 tbs ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Cut baguette diagonally into 2 cm thick slices. In a bowl, beat the eggs until well mixed and then mix in milk and vanilla. In a shallow bowl (I suggest a soup dish), mix sugar and spices. Melt some butter in a frying pan. Dip slices of bread into egg/milk mixture and fry until crisp and golden on both sides. Place for a moment on absorbent paper to drain and while it is still hot, dip into the sugar/spice mixture. Keep adding butter to the pan as needed.

The book suggests coffee as a good accompaniment.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Recipe from Moroccan Cooking: Khobz (wholemeal flat bread)

Servings: 16.
Time: 60 minutes preparation, 12 minutes cooking.

2 ½ cups wholemeal flour
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp salt
7 g dry yeast
1 1/4 cup tepid water
1/2 tsp ground sweet paprika
1/3 cup corn meal
1 tbs oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbs sesame seeds

Combine 1/2 cup of flour, the sugar, salt yeast and water in a bowl. Stand covered in a warm place until foaming. Sift the remaining flour, the paprika and corn meal into the bowl and add the oil. Knead until smooth. Stand covered in a warm place for 20 minutes.

Divide into 16 parts, roll into balls and flatten into rounds. Place on a greased baking tray and brush with egg, sprinkle with sesame seeds. Stand, covered, until puffy. Bake for 12 minutes.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Recipe from Moroccan Cooking: Eggplant purée

One thing I am unhappy with about this book is that it gives the Moroccan names only for a couple of dishes. This I intend to rectify by discovering what those names are, if possible, and including them with the recipes.

This eggplant purée is called Zahluk or Zaalouk in Morocco, and is known all over North Africa and in Turkey and probably other countries of the Near East. More vegetables are used in some versions, such as zucchini and tomatoes.

To serve 4.
Time: 40 minutes preparation, 20 minutes cooking.

1 kg eggplants, peeled and cut into 2 cm cubes
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Ground pepper
1 tsp ground sweet paprika
3 pitta breads
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 tbs cumin seeds

To prepare eggplant:
Steam eggplant cubes in a colander or bamboo steamer over boiling water for 30 minutes. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add eggplant cubes, garlic, pepper and paprika. Lower the temperature a little. Fry and stir constantly for about 10 minutes, or until the eggplant is very soft. Serve hot with the toasted pitta bread.

To prepare the bread:
Split each pitta bread into two rounds. Brush with egg white, sprinkle with cumin seeds and bake at 180°C for 20 minutes, or until crisp. Break into pieces before serving.

Serve as a starter or as part of a meal of several small dishes.