Thursday, November 25, 2010

Marinted feta, zucchini, pea & mint tarts

Despite the lashings of rain punishing my bedroom windows, the air was too laden with moisture to sleep with even the slightest covering of thread. And although I do not like to slumber in only my unmentionables without a sheet to offer some modesty, I had to neatly push it aside, unlike my husband who preferred to violently kick his covers off and force them to the end of the bed in a tangled mess. We are certainly opposites when it comes to sleeping styles. I barely move once I find a comfortable position, normally curled up on my left, and stay put without emitting even a peep, my beloved, on the other hand, thrashes about wildly for a good half hour or so before passing out in the most visually uncomfortable looking positions whilst muttering all sorts of nonsensical jargon with the occasional arm going rogue and whacking the headboard, or sometimes even my face...but onto my point.

On sticky, humid nights I find I wake up worse for wear and that the days seems to weigh me down with their heavy air leaving me with a sheen of glistening sweat that never seems to evaporate. Once the evening shade is drawn and our tummies yearn for their last meal I can barely muster enough energy to think about what to make, let alone making it. It's nights like these you want something, quick, light and easy. So thank God for recipes like this one.

Marinted feta, zucchini, pea & mint tarts
(serves 2)

1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry, slightly thawed,
2 small zucchini, cut lengthways into thin ribbons using a vegetable peeler
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup (70g) frozen peas, thawed on paper towel
100g Marinated feta
1/4 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Line a tray with baking paper.

Place the puff pastry on the prepared tray and prick all over using a fork. Place in the freezer until ready to use. Place a baking sheet or a pizza stone in the oven to heat.

Add zucchini, onion and peas to a bowl, and season with black pepper.

Remove the pastry from the freezer and divide the zucchini mixture between pastry rectangles, leaving a 1cm border, then top with pieces of feta. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the baking paper with the tarts to the hot baking sheet. Bake the tarts for 15-18 minutes until the pastry base is crisp and sides are golden brown.

Scatter with mint and drizzle with a little olive oil. 

ease: 5/5.
prep time: 5mins. I did not include the eggwhite from the original recipe, it wasn't necessary.
cooking time: 13mins.
total: 18mins.

taste: 4/5 - the perfect light dinner on a Spring evening.

On nights when the air humidly clings to me like a toddler wanting attention, slaving away over a volcanic stove becomes something to dread. But what to do when your tummy is grumbling and you can't spend another night eating take out? This recipe is the solution. I spent all of five minutes tossing the veggies into a bowl (yes, I used frozen peas) before sprinkling them onto a sheet of puff pastry and then popping it into the oven. Before the commercial break came they were already gloriously puffed and the cheese just beginning to liquefy and singe. Despite the ridiculously short amount of prep and cooking time, these babies weren't short on taste. If I was to take a bite out of Spring I'm pretty sure this is what it would taste like. The vibrant mint, sweet peas and cool zucchini gave the dish a wonderful freshness and vitality and paired beautifully with the creamy, tangy goat's cheese (I always use this Meredith Dairy Marinated goat's cheese in case you were wondering, and no, I am in no way affiliated with them, I just love me some of their cheese :) and the crunchy savoury pastry. I have made these twice in the last two weeks alone when the weather has steamed up my kitchen more than the car Jack and Rose were getting busy in.

would I make it again: Yes - already have.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Grapefruit pudding cake

A warm thank-you to all those who wished me a Happy Birthday - my week ended with lovely gifts and an extra couple of inches on my waist from the numerous dinners :) This week I shall be running around to organise my husband's impending birthday which falls on the following Monday, he's so difficult to buy for, but I think most men are, whenever they need something they just get it themselves!

As much as I would love to spend a little more time writing something special, I have laundry to hang whilst the sun is still in the drying mood and a shopping list to write, which I rather enjoy doing as I am a list-aholic. But don't worry, I have Thursday free so keep your eye out for a regular post :).

ease: 4.5/5.
prep time: 12mins.
cooking time: 35mins.
total: 47mins.

taste: 3/5. Sorry yellow Grapefruit, my tongue does not like you.

This dessert hinges on whether you like the sharp bitter tang of a yellow grapefruit, if you do, then this delicate spongy, airy and luscious pudding fit for breakfast or a light dessert is for you, if not, then give this one a miss. For me, the slight eggy-ness of the custard-y top paired with the bitter grapefruit didn't tickle my sweet tooth or my savoury taste-buds. But now I know that yellow grapefruit just aren't my 'thang'.

recipe: Grapefruit pudding cake

Monday, November 15, 2010

Banana pancakes with golden syrup

Salutations readers.

Firstly, I must apologise for the minimal posting of late. You see, November is a very busy time for me as it contains not only mine, but also my husband's birthday. My birthday falls on the 11th, commonly known in Australia as Remembrance Day. This year I celebrated my birthday over four consecutive days (well nights really), shared with my husband, mother, father and in-laws - all that celebrating and eating out left me too tired to cook (as well as a few pounds heavier...)

This morning, however, I got back into my regular programming and whipped up some pancakes. Nothing special, just a fluffy pancake dotted with bananas that caramelise and soften, smothered in sticky, golden syrup. I've linked the recipe, but I shall save my usual ratings and descriptions for my next entry :)

Banana pancakes

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rosewater flan with burnt orange caramel

 But he that dares not grasp the thorn Shoud never crave the rose.
Anne Bronte 

Custard. You might think them humble in their modest simplicity. Completely un-pretentious; they are sweet, soft and a symbol of all things 'homely'. These are but few of the reasons I adore a bowl of custard, either plain or flavoured, spiked with brandy or poured over a steaming Christmas Pudding. But truth be told, when it comes to making it myself, custard is the thorn in my side. More often than not I end up with a curdled mess, despite my best efforts to coddle it and never let it get too hot, I always seem to leap over 'thickening' and straight into 'curdling'. But if you want the rose, you have to brave the thorn right? So no matter how many disasters, I always try again, because when I get it right, my reward is worth it.

Rosewater flan with burnt orange caramel
from the October 2009 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller
serves 4

500 ml (2 cups) milk
250 ml (1 cup) double cream
1 orange, rind removed with a peeler
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp rosewater
110 gm (½ cup) white sugar
125 ml (½ cup) freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat oven to 170C. Combine milk, cream and orange rind in a saucepan and stir over low heat until just beginning to boil.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs and yolks in a bowl to combine, add rosewater and half the sugar, then pour milk mixture over egg mixture and whisk to combine. Strain through a fine sieve into a jug and divide among four 250ml-capacity ovenproof dishes. Place dishes in a large roasting pan and fill pan with enough boiling water to come halfway up sides of dishes. Bake until custard is just set but still wobbles slightly in centre (30-35 minutes), remove from pan, cool completely.

Scatter remaining sugar evenly over base of a small saucepan and stir occasionally over medium heat until sugar dissolves (1-2 minutes), then cook until dark caramel (7-8 minutes). Remove from heat, add orange juice (be careful, mixture will spit), stir to combine, then set aside to cool.

Remove pith from orange with a sharp knife and thinly slice flesh crossways. Place an orange slice on top of each custard, spoon over caramel sauce and serve.

ease: 4/5.
prep time: 25mins.
cooking time: 30mins.
total: 55mins.

taste: 2.5/5. Lacklustre.

I was expecting a custard with a little flair and exoticness, unfortunately that's not what I got. The rosewater was merely an echo of an after-taste whilst the custard, whose texture was as smooth as polished marble, tasted like only like an egg-bomb. The caramel sauce did add a nice citrus-y bitterness though.

would I make it again: No.

recipe: Rosewater flan with burnt orange caramel