Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Spring Salmon Salad & Update

Hello, hello
Sorry for the lacklustre posting of late. I am in the final throes (read fortnight from) of submitting the manuscript for book two, amidst renovating a house so life is a little hectic to say the least! I endeavour post October 1 to put up a decent post, a sneak peak into the next book and some recipes I've been working on. But for now, here is this week's post over on Daily Life - a robust and super simple Tandoori smoked salmon and brown rice salad. This is super moorish and given Spring has well and truly sprung on us, the perfect antidote to the warm days and nights, working well for lunch, dinner, even lunch the next day.

Tandoori smoked salmon and brown rice salad
I love salads. Adore them. Even more so as the summer season hits. What I hate is the lack of longevity. It is so hard to keep them looking vibrant and fresh. This probably is compounded by my complete inability to judge quantities. I make salads to feed small armies. Always. Then I’m left with torrid leftovers that I try to will into sandwiches, pilafs and other such “please take my leftovers and appease my guilt” sort of dishes.

This, however, is a salad that seems to fair quite well, a rolling with the punches sort of salad. The inclusion of brown rice and firm hot smoked fish with hardy greens such as cucumber and peas, means it is exactly the dish to take you from dinner to lunch the next day, sans sogginess. It’s the culinary equivalent of those mythical dresses the fashion magazines talk about – you know the ones that will take you from work to cocktail hour or a dinner date. I’m still waiting to find that kind of dress but I’m truly happy that at least I’ve found that kind of salad.

200g hot smoked salmon fillet, roughly flaked using a fork
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 medium sized Lebanese cucumber, cut into ribbons using a peeler
¾  cup fresh peas, blanched and refreshed
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
½ bunch dill, finely chopped
½ bunch coriander, coarsely torn
To finish
2 tsp tandoori paste
1/2 cup natural yoghurt
Lemon wedges to serve

Combine the salmon, brown rice, cucumber and peas in a large bowl. Toss gently to combine and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the lemon zest, juice and olive oil, stirring to coat. Reserve the herbs until you are ready to eat then roughly scatter across the top of the salad.
Combine the tandoori paste and yoghurt in a small bowl. Dollop blobs of yoghurt on top of the salad and serve with lemon wedges.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Cooking the Books Bill Granger Italian Food

Yes he has done it again. Bill Granger is the master of churning out cookbooks - yet each one looks like it took a lifetime of planning and thinking and his latest is no different. The sign of a man with good ideas I am sure. Meet Bill's Italian Food. It comes across as much more relaxed than previous titles - that could be something to do more with the styling and free form photography than content, but it is a pleasant diversion that makes me think/dream/wish for a warm Italian holiday.....sigh.

The recipes all have that Roman holiday vibe which depending on how dirty you are about being stuck at work/not in Italy on holiday can be a good or bad thing. The recipes are relaxed, low maintenance cooking and for me, I was particularly enamoured by the one pot low fuss factor combined with the lighter style, ready for summer flavours of this chicken with green olives, pine nuts and garlic. I've made it twice - such an easy mid-week go to option. I think the real key between good and great (other than organic chicken that has never met your freezer) is using those to die for good quality sicilian olives - they really do make the world of difference. Try it for yourself here.

Chicken, green olives, pine nuts  and garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 chicken marylands, thighs and
drumsticks separated
10 shallots, peeled
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 bay leaves
160ml (2⁄3 cup) dry white wine
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon soft brown sugar
310ml (11/4 cups) chicken stock
90g (1/2 cup) green olives
50g (1⁄3 cup) toasted pine nuts
handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium–high heat. Season the chicken with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and brown the pieces all over for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the shallots and cook for 2–3 minutes, turning them occasionally until they start taking on some colour. Add the garlic, bay leaves and wine. Let bubble for a few minutes and scrape the bottom of the pan to collect up the flavours. Pour in the vinegar, sugar, stock and olives. Bring to the boil then partially cover and simmer for 45 minutes,
or until the chicken is very tender. Scatter over the pine nuts and parsley before serving. SERVES 4

I'm not sure this section counts because he is a global force to be reckoned with. Bill Granger is synonymous with relaxed Australian dining and I like that he is self taught, I think this sensibility ensures he writes recipes very much with the home cook in mind. I've never had one of his recipes fail, ever, and spent many a Saturday morning enjoying his infamous eggs at Bills Cafe - although I am certain that is no measure of his credibility as a cookery writer but it does speak to his consistency in delivery of tasty, simple and moorish food.
When your name is Bill Granger you are found everywhere. I mean everywhere. Bookstores, online at the usual Amazon, Kmart, gift stores, the list continues. Really this section should be renamed to where could you not buy Bill.  I do feel so badly for our little bookstores so if you can, please buy from them - they deserve all the support we can give them. There is nothing more delightful than whiling away the hours in a gorgeous, intimate independently run bookstore, that smells of paper and ink, and I never, ever want this to be a thing of the past.
Because its dependable. And because sometimes you don't want to think when you cook. Are the recipes challenging? No. But they work. They are easy and if you are anything like me you started your foray into cookbook consumption with a Bill Granger cookbook and there is something about having his tombs lined along your shelves that is a little bit heartwarming.  
Anyone can cook from Bill. He has mastered the tasty and the simple in a way that very few, other than Nigella perhaps, can. His recipes always work. I am yet to cook something that has been an epic failure. So as a gift, he is truly dependable. Even for the less cooking enthused among us because despite the low fuss recipes, its a beautiful book to flick through and imagine yourself at the outdoor table in an Italian summer, sipping Prosecco and basically living the good life. Now who doesn't want a gift like that?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

And the winner is.....

A few weeks ago we ran a great competition where you could win seven baking pans from the kind and lovely folks at Profiline Push Pans. You can read more about it as part of the Kitchen Kit Road Tests

And the winner is...... well there were 2. A little hiccup in the selection process meant two were selected and the kind folk at Profiline Push Pans didn't want anyone to miss out. So

Natalie - winner one.

Heidi. Or more correctly Heidi's mum is winner two.

Heidi and Nat please message me at with your postal details so we can send out your prizes.

Thanks so much!

Blueberry and Macadamia Blondies

The mention of blueberries out of season will not please the xenophobic cooks among us but it is one of the fruits of the world from which I can never be parted. They make a delightful addition to this blondie recipe, and there is something about their ability to hold their own against the strength of chocolate and nuts that continues to strengthen my love for the humble bit of fruit.

This brownie/blondie concoction does best when cooked low and slow – the white chocolate turns into a honey/butterscotch shade of blonde, makes your kitchen smell like toasted shortbread and it creates a unique, creamy, sugary and slightly salty taste. If your brownie is starting to colour too quickly on top, make sure to cover it with foil then remove the foil for the last stages of cooking. This blondie, like a good more traditional brownie is meant to be flaky and crunchy on top with that dense middle caving in submission to the fruit, chocolate chips and nuts.

250g unsalted butter, softened
500g caster sugar
5 eggs
30g brown sugar
320g plain flour
185g couveture white chocolate, half melted, half chips
1 punnet (250g) blueberries
½ cup macadamia nuts, chopped (or more to taste)

Grease and line a 30 x 23 x 4cm baking tin with baking paper.
Preheat oven to 150C.
Cream the butter and caster sugar together until light and pale. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the brown sugar and melted white chocolate. Sift in the flour, stirring gently to combine. Gently stir through the chocolate chips, macadamia nuts and blueberries and pour into the prepared baking tin. Bake for 50 - 60 minutes or until just cooked through and brown on top. Allow to cool in tin. Remove and slice into portions.