Archive for July 2007

The daily onion

July 20, 2007

Sometimes despite all of my attempts to be original, I end up making two versions of the same thing within weeks of one another. This morning when I was uploading my food photos from the weekend I noticed that I already had a photo called ‘onion tart’ and that I had uploaded it a mere 2 weeks ago. ‘Impossible’, I thought, ‘I only made it on Sunday’. So I looked at the photo and lo and behold I had made something very similar about a fortnight ago. Early onset Alzheimers you ask? Possibly.

 So here they are- Onion tart (the original) from Clotilde’s new cookbook– Clotilde calls it ‘Onion and Cumin quiche’.

Onion quiche

And Onion tart: the sequel, from Bill’s Open Kitchen

Onion tart 2

Onion Tart: The Sequel

4 tblsp olive oil 

1 kg brown onions, finely sliced

2 tblsp balsamic vinegar

1 tblsp brown sugar

1 packet puff pastry

70g parmesan cheese

100 g Fetta cheese

1 sprig oregano

Heat the oil in a frying pan with a lid- and add the onions. Replace the lid and turn the heat down to medium. Fry for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally so that they cook evenly. They should be a golden colour, with brown bits (not black). Add the balsamic vinegar and the sugar and cook a further 10 minutes until caramelised.

Meanwhile roll the pastry out to a large square and score the edges with a knife- 1 cm inside the perimeter of the pastry square. Grate the parmesan cheese finely and sprinkle it along the pastry between the scored line and the edge. Add the onions to the middle of the pastry inside the parmesan edges. Put it in the oven for 15 minutes until brown.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with Fetta cheese and oregano leaves and serve immediately.

It is better to love and to have lost…

July 12, 2007

I have a confession to make… until Autumn this year, I had never eaten a chestnut. Not being a huge nut person (insert the obvious joke here), I assumed that I wouldn’t like them – it just goes to show how wrong you can be. From the first taste of this soup, I was hooked and since then I have eaten them in salads, cakes and just by themselves. I just can’t get enough and it makes me so sad to think that I have missed 25 chestnut seasons and never knew. To add insult to injury, this year the season was only about a quarter of the usual length because of the drought so I didn’t have the chance to make much with them. Mind you, what I did make was soup- and LOTS of it.

Despite the pain in the neck factor, I would urge you to buy whole chestnuts and peel them yourself. But don’t do this unless you have a lot of time (and a pair of gloves) on your hands. I have found that boiling them is easier than roasting them as a means of getting the skins off although this is just a personal preference- and really it is never easy to get the skins off so just do what you are comfortable with. Luckily this soup is worth all of that soaking, peeling and swearing, it has a lovely buttery, complex flavour and it’s texture is not at all grainy.  For the sake of my sanity (and my fingernails) it is probably best this madness only happens once a year. 

Chestnut Soup

Based on Stephanie Alexander’s soup from The Cooks’ Companion (if you are ever going to spend a hundred dollars on a book, let it be this one)

25 grams butter

1 large (or two small) onion, finely sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

500g Chestnuts

1 litre (4 cups) chicken stock (I make my own but a good bought stock is fine)

First peel the chestnuts- leave yourself at least half an hour to do this- to do this, you need to cut a small cross in the side of the outer skin of the chestnut (do NOT miss this step or you could have a small explosion in your kitchen) then you can either boil them in hot water for 15mins or roast them at 180 degrees for 30mins. Once you have done this, you need to peel both the outer and inner skins off leaving just the beige inner nut. Believe me, once you have done this, it is all downhill.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and fry the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent but not brown. Add the chestnuts and the stock and bring to the boil. Add some salt here if you like (particularly if your stock is homemade- mine tends to be a lot less salty than the ones you buy from the shop). Lower the heat to medium and put the lid on. Cook for 20 mins or until the chestnuts are soft, adjust the seasoning and then pour it into a blender and whiz until smooth, or you could use a stick blender in the pot if you have one.

You can serve this straight away or it will keep in the fridge for a day or two if you are making it ahead. I can vouch for it being a particularly good lunch on a cold day.

The Salad Days of Winter

July 5, 2007

Saladsalad

Strangely enough, lately I have been really craving salad. This is strange because, well, it’s the middle of winter. In the last few days as the temperature has dropped to the low ‘teens, I have been munching cold green leaves and enjoying it. My favourite salad of the minute is a bastardised version of a Jill Duplex salad that I found in a back issue of Delicious magazine (October 2006 I think). I usually make it to go with Salmon and Soba noodles (which is from Donna Hay magazine but can also be found here) as I find that the tastes marry very well together:

 Avocado and Watercress salad

There actually is no real recipe for this salad- it changes slightly every time I make it. So play with it- use what you have in the fridge, try different combinations.

Ingredients

1 Avocado, cubed

a handful of watercress, leaves picked

2-3 Radishes or the equivalent in Daikon Radish, sliced very thinly

3 or 4 handfuls of baby spinach or rocket (argula) or a mixture of both

Dressing:

2 tsp rice wine vinegar (or cider vinegar)

1 tblsp sesame oil

1 tblsp olive oil

1 tsp nigella (black cumin) seeds

Make the dressing by shaking all of the ingredients in a jar (or whisking them in a bowl) until combined.

Toss the salad ingredients together in a bowl with the dressing and eat.