Wednesday, 29 February 2012

balsamic strawberries & marshmallow tart

I created this recipe a couple of years ago when my friend Milton and I had a "pie off" to see who was the best pie chef and unfortunately for Milton this was a winning combination. I have since turned the pie recipe in to a tart as the marshmallows are better when they crisp up on the outside and it is always fun to talk about tarts because there is usually a bad joke involved.

5 strawberries, quartered
1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of butter
2 1/2 large marshmallows

1/4 sheet of shortcrust pastry
Baking beads or lentils or rice for blind baking

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Cut 2 pieces of baking paper so they are approximately the same size as your quarter sheet of shortcrust pastry. Take your quarter sheet of pastry and place it on one of the pieces of baking paper. Gently mould your pastry into a muffin tray, paper side down first. Once moulded in, take the other piece of baking paper and carefully place it on top of the pastry and then fill the cup shape with baking beads or lentils or rice. Place in to your preheated oven for around 15 minutes.

Whilst your pastry is blind baking, place the strawberries, vinegar, sugar and butter into a small pot and cook over a medium heat until the mixture has thickened and is kind of like runny jam.

Remove the pastry from the oven, let cool for a couple of minutes and then carefully lift out the top sheet of baking paper and the beads/lentils/rice and discard. Fill the pastry cup with your strawberry mix so that the cup is filled about 3/4 of the way. Place the marshmallows on top of the strawberry and put back in to the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes until the marshmallows are golden and puffy.

Remove the tray from the oven and again let cool for a few minutes. Carefully lift out the tart using the baking paper and place on a plate. You will be able to easily remove the paper from the outside. Serve and eat whilst still warm as the marshmallow is stringy and gooey and good.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

steak with mashed cannellini beans and asparagus

I am not on a crazy diet or anything but I try to keep my carbs low at night time because it really does make me feel sluggish the next morning, but gosh dang do I miss mashed potato! These mashed cannellini beans are a bloody great alternative especially when combined with the eschallot, garlic and lemon. It is kind of like eating a big mound of hommus and who doesn't like hommus?

In terms of cooking steaks, I find a number of my friends are quite intimidated by the whole process - there is no reason to be scared, it is super easy. Here is a great guide on which you may find useful.

1 steak (I used a yearling scotch fillet)
1/2 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed off
1/2 400g can of cannellini beans
1 small clove of garlic, crushed
1 small eschallot or 1/2 small onion, diced
Juice of 1/2 a small lemon
Olive oil
1 teaspoon of butter

Crack open your can of cannellini beans, drain in a sieve or colander and then rinse under cold water. I used my remaining half a can in my salad for my work lunch so that it didn't go to waste. Set the drained and rinsed beans aside.

Heat the olive oil in a pan and cook your steak according to the above guide, or however you like to normally cook your steak.

Whilst your steak is cooking, put on a pot of water to boil.
In another pot, melt your butter and then saute the eschallot and garlic until golden brown. Add your half can of cannellini beans and stir for around 1 or 2 minutes until the beans are sufficiently heated through, remove from heat. Tip in the lemon juice and then mash your bean mix in the pot with a fork and add a cook pinch of salt and pepper.

By now your steak should be cooked and your pot of water boiling. Remove the steak from the pan and set it aside on a plate to rest for around 5 minutes. This will help ensure that your steak is still tender as the meat constricts during cooking so you need to let the muscle relax.

Place your asparagus stalks in to the boiling water, they should only take about 1 minute to cook. Drain and plate up with your bean mash and steak.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

happy singles appreciation day to all the solo cooks

A lot of single people don't enjoy the dreaded date of February 14, Valentine's Day. The singles of the world tend to get frustrated seeing all the mooshy things that the couples of the world are doing. I for one, am not worried about Valentine's Day because I LOVE being single. Embrace it! Celebrate the fact that you aren't going to end up getting some stinking bottle of perfume that you hate the smell of and have to wear for the next couple of weeks so you don't offend anyone. Celebrate the fact that tonight you can go and hang out with all of your lovely lady/men friends and have a good laugh. Celebrate the fact that you get to sleep diagonal across your bed. Celebrate the fact that you don't have anyone leaving their dirty clothes on the floor. Celebrate the fact that you can do whatever you want and there is no one to stop you.

I don't have a recipe of my own to post tonight as I am going to go and have a nice G&T with some of my favourite single ladies but I do have a recipe to share with you from Monique at Fat and Happy - Broken-Hearted Chocolate Black Pepper Cookies. These look scrumptious and I will definitely be giving them a try real soon.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

pumpkin & goats cheese ravioli with spinach sauce

This one goes out to all my vegetarian friends.

I understand and appreciate why vegetarians steer clear of chomping down on a chop but I really like chops and all other forms of meat (except for duck, eating ducks should be illegal). I believe that if you are a meat eater you should educate yourself on the processes used to deliver the meat in the nice little packages you find lining the supermarket fridges. When possible I purchase free range/organic/sustainable meat to try and ensure that the animal has had a better life and the impact on the environment is decreased.

Anyways, who needs to be a meat eater when you can chow down on these delicious little packages!

1 1/2 cups of pumpkin, cut into 1cm cubes

1 tablespoon of olive oil
40 grams of goats cheese
1 packet of wonton or gow gee wrappers (freeze any that you do not use)
1/4 cup of liquid vegetable stock
4 cubes of frozen spinach, approximately 85 grams
1/4 cup of extra light cream
1 sprig of fresh thyme, stems removed

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Mix the cubed pumpkin and olive oil together on your baking tray and bake for around 30 minutes, or until nicely golden and soft (you can also roast your pumpkin the day before to save on time, just cover and refrigerate until needed). Let your pumpkin cool and mash together with the goats cheese.

Separate a few of the wonton wrappers. I used 7 wrappers but you may need more or less. 
Spoon 1 teaspoon of the pumpkin and goats cheese mixture on to the middle of the wonton wrappers until you have used all your mixture. Have a small dish of cold water ready and dip your finger into the water and then run your finger along the 2 top sides of your wonton wrapper. Bring the bottom corner up to the top corner and then carefully pinch the top edges together whilst also pushing out any air. You need to try and ensure all air is removed as when heated it can cause a blow out. You can leave in the shape of a triangle or you can bring the 2 side corners together and pinch them to hold in place. You now have your little raviolis, set them aside.

Melt the frozen spinach cubes in a pot with the vegetable stock until the cubes are completely defrosted. Add your cream, thyme leaves and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook on a medium heat for around 3 minutes, stirring so that it does not stick to the pan. Taste your sauce as you may need to add more seasoning. Remove from the heat.

Bring a pot of water to the boil, ensuring there is sufficient water so that your little parcels can move around freely. Once boiling carefully pop your ravioli into the water and cook for about 2 minutes. Do not overcook these or they will become soggy and tear. The ravioli should be just cooked and the filling warmed. Drain your ravioli.

Put your sauce back on the heat for about 1 minute and carefully stir through your ravioli so sufficiently coated, slide into a bowl and enjoy whilst still hot.