Recipe #69 – middle eastern meatballs with coriander leaves

photo (18)This recipe was made specifically to use the coriander leaves that my wife is growing as part of her back deck herb garden. And what a great idea of hers it was too. These coriander meatballs (page 233 under coriander) were easy to make and delicious to eat. Cooked with a tomato sauce and pasta, they received an instant ‘definite make again’ rating. There is not much more to say about these lovely little balls of spiced meat, except that I will bow to public pressure and definitely make these again. 

 

Recipe # 68 – mum’s steak and kidney pie

photo (19)Steak and kidney pie (page 366, under kidneys) was always going to be a challenging dish. My wife made it known pretty early on that she loved steak and kidney pie so long as she didn’t have to eat any kidney (which apparently she sent to one of her many brother’s plates when she was growing up). And as for me, I have never really been able to eat a meat pie without slight thoughts of throwing up ever since the unfortunate Cornish Pasty incident of 1974. Challenging yes, but we were up for it. Absolutely. Up for it. Sort of. In any case, we also invited my brother in law who we know would love this, eat most of it and take away the inevitable left-overs – which he did.

Not to say that this dish was bad. I actually quite liked it in the end (that dodgy Cornish Pasty is becoming a distant memory apparently and I never really disliked kidneys when my mum made it). I am not saying that I would make it again tomorrow but I would make it again (although probably without the kidney’s mind you because of my wife’s particularly strong views on this category of offal). The steak in this dish was delicious and the pastry was crumbly and lardy (see previous post) and soaked up the gravy beautifully. I think that with modifications that saw the deletion of the kidney and the addition of, say, mushrooms (which, granted, sort of makes the whole idea of this recipe moot) that this recipe would receive a ‘definitely make it again’ rating – perhaps one rating down if the kidney was retained. 

Recipe #67 – lard pastry

5257412397_340df45770_b

 Lard pastry (essentials, page 26) was, well, essential to the creation of the steak and kidney pie that I had planned for my brother in law’s visit for Sunday lunch last weekend. Now if you do not know what lard is (and I wasn’t particularly sure), its the pig fat in both its rendered and un-rendered form (as outlined so beautifully  in Wikipedia!). Of course, I understand that some of you may want to render down you own pig fat so if you do, you should refer to I believe I can fry for detailed instructions and also who deserves credit for the photo used in this post (used under a creative commons license). 

For those of you who do not want to delve too deeply into the making of lard, you can just buy some from the supermarket and use it to make some nice flexible and biscuit like (read crumbly – at least when I made it) pastry – perfect for a nice steak and kidney pie. More of that in the next post!

Recipe # 66 – pavlova

 

 

photo 5 (6)This recipe came about because I managed to completely ruin a particularly nice piece of dark chocolate trying to make some chocolate mousse. Now I am not sure exactly what happened but my dessert making daughter assured me that the best course of action was to turf the aforementioned dark chocolate and start again. What does this all have to do with pavlova (page 293 under eggs). Well I am glad you asked. After melting expensive dark chocolate and mixing it with 4 egg yolks and 100 grams of butter that I managed to pick up as free samples from particularly happy people giving away butter to the wealthier end of town, I decided that I was not going to be subdued by mere chocolate and so I abandoned the whole idea of mousse and sought out a recipe that needed 4 egg whites. Pavlova it was!

Now I have made pavlova before and once it was actually perfect – but not this time (IMHO). Don’t get me wrong, this tasted pretty good and there was not a piece wasted but it didn’t have that gooey marshmallow interior that is sol beloved by fans of the pav! Not to worry, I am happy to make this again and try to perfect the act of the Pav! And I know that this is supported by the diners at dinner the other night who not only ate dessert but encouraged me to make it again (and again, and again). 

Based on this feedback, you will be surprised dear readers that this received the much coveted “definitely make again’ rating from the punters at Saturday’s dinner party.

 

Recipe #65 – glazed onions

 

 

photo 1 (31)

 

I have a confession to make. I think I over-cooked (lets just call it burnt) these onions so I am going to give myself another go at this recipe before being too harsh on the food. At least that is what I thought until the punters at the pork and prunes meal decided that this was the hit of the night and that it was worthy of a ‘definitely make again’ rating irrespective of my views on lets call it) the ‘over-caramelisation’ of the onions. 

They certainly tasted pretty good but there is a lesson to be learnt here people – don’t go and listen to some music wiht headphones on in the front room while these onions are cooking away. Or alternatively, go and buy yourself a decent simmer mat to make sure you can better control the heat like I did the next day. 

Recipe #64 – red cabbage salad

photo 3 (17)

 

Red cabbage salad (page 152 under cabbage and brussels sprouts) was made to accompany the pork with prunes dish (see recipe # 63). Again, this is a recipe where the taste is much better than the photo. But unlike the pork and prunes dish, this combo of red cabbage, anchovies (sorry Jo) and red wine vinegar was great. A very interesting combination of tastes and one that went extremely well with the pork – But then pork and cabbage are ‘best mates’ as Jamie Oliver would say (come on, you know he would!) but Stephanie points out the affinity between the two as well in her “pork goes with…” section. 

This recipe got a much bigger thumbs up than did the pork from the punters at dinner the other night, who, despite the comments about “its an interesting combination of flavours” gave this dish a solid “definitely make again’ rating. Next time, I will take a much better photo though – I mean, that is not even the colour of the bowl that this dish was in!.

Recipe #63 – pork with prunes

photo 2 (30)

I have to say that this is another dish that tasted better than it looked. A low bar to be sure but still, its true.

The name of this dish pretty much says it all – pork with prunes. That is lean pork fillet, pan fried and then finished in a cream, wine and redcurrant sauce with prunes thrown in at the end. Not a bad dish but not one that attracted the dizzy ratings of ‘definitely make again’ but it did receive a ‘would eat it again if you cooked it’ from the punters at dinner on Saturday night. There is not much more to say about this recipe really. It was reasonable easy to cook and reasonably easy to eat – I liked it but would I make it again? hmmmm

 

Recipe #62 – marieke’s saffron pears

photo 2 (29)This is one of two poached pear dishes in the pears chapter of the book (page 528) and if I had to choose, I would choose the poached pears on the previous page over this recipe when I next felt the need to eat a poached pear. Not that there is really anything wrong with this recipe. I think I just prefer the more basic approach to poaching in a simple sugar syrup. This is not to take anything away from this dish which, in its own way, was still completely delicious. 

Apart from tasting pretty good and looking spectacular, this dish allowed me to get rid of the some of the terrine that I made the other day, trading a chunk of it for some Iranian saffron from a friend of ours. So really everyone is a winner. 

Ratings for this recipe were a reasonably solid ‘would eat it again if you made it’ – not great but not bad either. A fair assessment of the dish I think. 

Recipe #61 – pea and ham soup

photo 3 (16)Pea and ham soup (page 533, under the peas chapter) is a great winter soup that has a bit of history in our household. Generally its made by my wife who makes it with a ham hock and mixed dried pulses. Stephanie’s version is much more focused on the split pea (without all those annoying other pulses trying to steal the show). I also used bacon bones (although the recipe says you could use either bacon bones or a ham hock. And finally, Stephanie’s version is puree’d (sans the bacon bones of course). All of these changes added up to a different and yet, surprisingly similar tasting pea and ham soup. 

This is another super easy recipe that is tasty and nutritious (at least I think its nutritious, I mean its got all those dried peas in and that’s got to be good for you right). Its certainly a soup to put on the regular winter soup roster I  think and so did almost everyone else at dinner last night. The good news is, is that there are plenty of left overs so between this recipe and the herb and pumpkin soup I made the other day, the brown baggers in the house are set for a set of soupy lunchers for the rest of the month. 

Ratings for this recipe – I am going to give it a ‘definite make it again’ – but probably not until next winter. 

 

Recipe #60 – sweet and sour sweet peppers

2014-08-13 22.16.58Believe me, this tasted better than it looks in this photo. Much better in fact, particularly combined with some of the terrine (see recipe #58) on top of some water crackers – give it a go, you’ll love it. I promise. 

The sweetness in this dish comes from some sugar as well as the peppers which, interestingly, you get to peel with a peeler rather than blistering over a flame and sliding the skin off after a bit of good ol’ fashioned sweating under some gladwrap. Now I know what you are thinking. How the hell do you peel capsicum. Well, as it happens, it is surprisingly easy. Certainly much easier than blistering several capsicum over a flame and waiting for them to sweat their skins off. I am not sure if it is critical to the dish to peel capsicums in this way. If anyone out there wants to compare and contrast, I recommend you giving it a go and let me know the results. 

Now back to the recipe. Apart from peeling the capsicum (or sweet peppers if you prefer) there is noting difficult about this recipe. You just bung everything into a saucepan and stir occasionally while all the flavours meld together until the capsicum is well cooked thirty minutes later. Easy to make and tasty to eat. This is a “definitely make again’ recipe.