Tuesday, 23 January 2007

men·u for hope : Truffle voucher win·ner

Congratulations to Brian and Bex who won the $100 voucher very kindly donated by Truffle!

The other winners can be found here at Chez Pim.

Can you believe $60,925.12 was raised! Wow!

Thanks to all those who donated prizes, well done to all the organisers and bloggers and congratulations to all the winners!

Sunday, 14 January 2007

cour·gette brus·chetta

In four easy steps :
  1. Thinly slice some courgettes in a little olive oil until very soft and caramelised.
  2. Toast some slices of sourdough until crisp and golden, then rub with a raw garlic clove.
  3. Pile the courgette on top of the toasts and drizzle with a little peppery and flavourful extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
  4. Eat in the sun with an icy, opaque, pastis.

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

ras el han·out lamb tor·tel·li·ni

I wanted to make something else with lamb and the golden ras el hanout, and for some reason a lamb shank, seasoned with this wonderful mixture, and slowly cooked was all I could think about. I do love lamb shanks, they have all the best characteristics of lamb : succulent, sweet, and above all, something that is missing from a lot of lamb, a good flavour.
A lamb shank stew has to be one of the best winter dishes, but just doesn't seem right in in lead up to summer (yes, it still hasn't arrived). However, with slow braising being the only way to cook a good shank, some other way of serving the meat had to evolve.
Why not turn the meat into a tortellini filling? Why not indeed! It worked so well, especially with the strained braising liquid becoming an instant sauce. Just add freshly grated parmesan and some chopped parsley!
Ras el Hanout Lamb Tortellini
serves 4

To cook the lamb
1 generous lamb shank
1 Tablespoon golden ras el hanout
1 small onion, chopped
Olive oil
1/4 cup amaretto
1/4 cup white wine
Water, or a light stock

Rub the lamb shank with the ras el hanout and leave in the fridge for 24 hours for the flavours to develop. Heat a heavy based pan, only just large enough to hold the shank, with a splash of olive oil and brown the shank on all sides. Remove the shank to a plate and saute the onions until just starting to turn golden. Deglaze the pan with the amaretto and the white wine. Return the shank to the pot and add enough water to almost cover the shank and simmer gently for 3 hours or until the meat is tender and falls from the bone with a touch. Leave to cool. Remove the meat and reserve, strain the cooking juices and chill, then remove the fat, discarding the solids.

To make the filling
Meat from a lamb shank, cooked as above, chopped
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 teaspoon golden ras el hanout
1 egg
1/4 cup fine breadcrumbs
Enough strained and degreased broth from cooking the lamb to moisten the filling

Mix all the ingredients together to make a smooth and soft filling, adjusting the amount of breadcrumbs and juice to make a good consistency.

To make the tortellini
Fresh pasta dough, made with 300g flour and 3 eggs

Roll out the pasta as thinly as possible, either with a pasta maker or with a rolling pin. Cut into 5 to 7 centimeter squares. Place a teaspoon of the filling in the centre of each, then form into tortellini by lightly moistening the edges, folding into a triangle and sealing the edges, pressing out the air. Wrap the triangle around your finger and pinch the corners together. Leave to dry for half an hour on a heavy tea towel.

To serve
Broth from cooking the lamb shank
Chopped parsley
Freshly grated parmesan

Bring a large pot of water to the boil with a generous amount of salt. Cook the tortellini, in batches if necessary, until al dente, about 2 minutes after they float. Heat the broth. Serve the tortellini in shallow bowls with some of the broth and sprinkled with parsley and parmesan.

Friday, 5 January 2007

buck·wheat po·len·ta bread

smoked beef or may·be pas·tra·mi

We got a smoke box for the barbeque for Christmas from my sister and brother-in-law. A great present. The first thing we did when we got home after Christmas was to go out and buy some wood chips and a piece of beef.

squashed fly bis·cuits

So, we used to call these squashed fly biscuits at school, others might know them as dead fly biscuits ; sound delicious don't they? But they are probably my favourite biscuit, properly known as Garibaldi biscuits. They are a flat, not too sweet, current filled slice, moreish, perhaps too much so for my own good. And the currents go all chewy, especially the ones that poke out the side . . . lovely!

There is something about dried fruit in things that just doesn't always seem right to me. A lot of things, like rice pudding and bread and butter pudding, seem to have raisins or their like added just for the sake of it - a gratuitous fruity embellishment - the ruin of something that was so much better plain.

Squashed fly biscuits are supposed to have currents, it is their reason for being, like a flat Eccles cake.

But then again I am not a mixer, if you know what I mean. I like to eat things separately from my plate, no squashing a bit of this and a bit of that onto my fork. If that was the intention of the meal then it would have been presented that way in the first place. Some might call me strange, I can live with that.

Bought squashed fly biscuits come in sheets of several biscuits that you are supposed to break in to separate items before eating . . . I tried to do this, and marked them out accordingly, but they kept merging into one as they cooked, oh well, there will be another time!

Squashed fly biscuits
makes a dozen

35g butter, melted and cooled
45g icing sugar
45g flour
1 egg white, lightly beaten with a fork
a small pinch of salt
100g currents

Sieve the flour and icing sugar and salt into a bowl, mix in the butter, then the egg white and finally the currents. Wrap in plastic and rest in the fridge for at least an hour. Roll out to a rectangle 5mm thick and then mark into 12 pieces. move the biscuits apart slightly then rest in the fridge for 30 minutes while the oven preheats to 180
°c. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden, but not too dark. Cool and eat, one by one of course!

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

New Zea·land blog·ging by post round-up

So what did you get for Christmas? I know a few things that some lucky New Zealanders got for early Christmas presents :

Barbara at Winos and Foodies received a box of goodies from me which I think she liked ; I tried to include some of my favourite things. I was interested to see how my mincemeat turned out, since Barbara made mince pies before I did!

Barbara put together a lovely parcel for Nigel at Curious Kai ; a thoughtful selection of food goodies including her homemade kiwifruit chutney.

Céline at Angel at My Table was very happy to receive a brilliant box from Nigel including some locally (for Nigel in the Hawkes Bay) grown strawberries and cherries - such a good idea to send those!

Céline passed the joy to Jules at the Wine Wanker with quite a selection including homemade grapefruit marmalade chocolate brownie.

Bron was the happy recipient of Jules's gift, a great assortment of treats, not least his homemade Vanilla bean infused Lemonade syrup ; the deliciousness of which I can confirm!

Arfi of Homemades found in her mailbox a parcel from Bron - just in time for morning tea! Bron had included homemade macaroons and her girls had helped with the parcel, making some finger puppets for Arfi's children - I think that is just lovely!

Tim from Take 3 Eggs was treated by Arfi to some Asian pantry supplies, not always easy to find in the smaller places around New Zealand, as well as a homemade Christmas cake, cookies and chutney!

Tim repaid the favour by sending Morven at Food, Art and Random Thoughts a parcel fairly bulging with home made goodies - including some blondies, which I have never tried, so hopefully Tim will reveal his recipe.

Paul at Eat NZ opened a parcel from Morven revealing, to his delight, a fantastic selection of goodies including some homemade feijoa relish and new breakfast trend - french marshmallow!

I was so very excited when on a Saturday morning Paul's box arrived. What a lot of wonderful goodies, including some homegrown beetroot and rosemary - a lovely idea to include something he had grown. I can happily admit not much lasted the weekend - but Christmas is not about restraint!

The inaugural New Zealand Blogging by Post was a fantastic success. We all managed to find local products, special items, and not least something homemade or homegrown - and to my mind - that is what it is all about!

I think the next round should be all about Easter - I hope you will join in!