Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Cook Club- Seasonal Spring

Spring is here and there's no better way to celebrate than to eat!

For those of you who don't know, 'Cook Club' is a culinary event invented by Emile and Petr and a selection of their friends that involves eating, drinking, learning and teaching. Cook club happens every 4-6 weeks and we take turns hosting the eating and drinking at our respective houses- each time, cooking to a theme.

Past themes:
Christmas in July
Cajun Kitchen
Drunken Dinner

Each person is responsible for one of the following courses

appetizers  (finger food)
entree (cooked, small, on a plate)
soup  (hot or cold)
salad (pulses included here)
vegetables (weather will dictate how..)
main (come with recipe to share with group)
dessert (yum)

Someone will also be responsible for choosing a wine for each course. (Yes there is plenty of drink to be had.)

I've tagged on to a few of the cook club events and have now put my hand up to document the happenings and keep an archive of the wonderful recipes.

Cook club has been happening since early last year, but i'm going to start fresh and blog our most recent eat-drink-meeting, SEASONAL SPRING THEME.

Menu 19/10/13

Alcohol to match
(Matched by Nicola)
 Asparagus and blue cheese, wrapped in filo pastry.
Blood orange and mint infused gin fizz (Recipe for blood orange cordial can be found HERE)
 Thai Fish cakes with dipping sauce
Riesling- Gewurz Traminer from Alsace.
 Spring pea, mint and herb soup with spiced pumpkin loaf and homemade butter
Pilsner Beer
Mik and Cal
(same as main)
Baked, baby snapper with spring onions, carrots, lemon rind with blanched asparagus and green beans with an olive oil, orange rind and chili reduction
Oaked Chardonnay
Pinot Grigio
Lemon tart with limoncello sauce

Italian dessert wine

Asparagus and blue cheese wrapped in filo pastry:
 This one is pretty self explanatory. Blanche the aspargus and pat dry. Prepare the filo pastry, layering about 4-5 sheets, buttering each piece. Lay out your aspargus on to the filo and add your favourite blue cheese or parmesan. Cut into smaller rectangles and roll each spear in to a cigar. Voila!

Thai Fish cakes with dipping sauce:
 Please contact me for recipe

Spring pea, mint and herb soup: 
 Makes enough for about 8 as entrée. Sauté 3 leeks with 2 cloves garlic till soft. Add 4 bay leaves and a handful fresh thyme. Cover with 1.5litres stock,simmer 1/2 hr. Add 1kg peas (frozen works) a big bunch of fresh parsley, mint, spinach  and cook only for 5 mins. Let cool for a while. Blitz soup & pass through sieve. Add Salt/ pepper to taste.Serve with some freshly cooked peas floating, fresh mint/thyme, cream etc (keep the pulp, recipe to come!)

Homemade butter:
 300ml double or thickened cream i used Meander Valley, Pure Double Cream and1-2 pinches of salt to taste.
 In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, place all of the double cream and a couple of pinches of salt. Cover with a tea towel and whip on low initially and then increase the speed to beating or creaming. 
Double cream seems to whip and thicken faster because it has more fat in it (50% minimum). Mine took less than 2 minutes to separate.
 At first it looks likes it has curdled. Keep whisking!
When the butter comes together place it in a sieve to drain off the excess buttermilk. Roll up into a sheet of greaseproof paper and shape into a sausage by rolling it back and forth. I also used a paper towel to pat off any excess buttermilk.

Spiced Pumpkin Loaf:
Recipe can be found HERE

Baby snapper parcels
Julienne carrots, zucchini, spring onions, Cut baby snapper fillets in half, Salt, Pepper, Lemon slices, Cubes of butter, Basil leaves, Mint leaves, thyme
Use 30cm piece of baking paper to make parcels. 
Place equal amounts of julienned veges in centre of baking paper. Don't be afraid to season ! Add fish on top. Add basil, mint and thyme. Place lemon slice over herbs and cube of butter on top of that. More salt and pepper..  Fold baking paper in half and pleat edges to seal into little parcel. Place in preheated oven (200) for 20 minutes.

Olive oil, chili and orange rind reduction. (for the beans)

Leeks, thyme, skinned Roma tomatoes, celery, mushrooms, red and yellow pepper, courgettes
All in a pot and cook for ages.
Lemon and lime tart with lemoncello
165g unsalted butter, chilled
65g margarine
225g plain flour
2 tbs icing sugar, plus extra to dust
6 eggs
       200g caster sugar
1 lemon, rind grated, juiced plus 2 extra lemons, juiced
1 lime, juiced
40ml (2 tbs) lemoncello*  
Lemoncello sauce
1/2 cup thin cream 
220g (1 cup) caster sugar
3 lemons, zested
1 lime, zested
80ml (1/3 cup) lemoncello*

Place 65g of butter, the margarine, flour and icing sugar in a processor. Process to combine. Add 1 of the eggs and process until a smooth ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Grease a 2.5 x 26cm round loose-bottomed tart pan. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line the pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line pastry with baking paper and fill with rice or pastry weights. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove paper and weights and bake for 5 minutes until dry and crisp. Cool.

Place remaining eggs, the sugar and lemon rind in a food processor. Process for 1 minute. Melt remaining butter and add to mixture. Process to combine. Add lemon and lime juice, lemoncello and cream. Process to combine (don't over process). Pour into tart shell and bake for 20-30 minutes until the filling is just set but still has a slight wobble.

To make sauce, place sugar and 1/2 cup water in a pan over low heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Add zest and lemoncello and boil for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Dust tart with icing sugar and serve drizzled with sauce.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Halloween Tricks and Treats

I'm not much of an advocate for Halloween celebrations, but on the weekend I was at a Halloween/birthday party and was very impressed with some of the edible gory bits and pieces.  I thought i would share and inspire those of you who are interested in Halloween.

Spider-web and brain cupcakes.

Almond, shortbread finger biscuits

Mandarin, mint pumpkins

Decorations also included a bloody, (cauliflower) brain and some carved apple faces! (similar to the one below)

Guacamouldy featured as a snack and main meals were GHOULasch  and macaBONEY pasta bake. 

But, i thought, the scariest thing of all....was that Tony Abbott came to the party....