Saturday, October 31, 2009

Swiss Fondue

Now that the weather is getting cooler, there is nothing more sociable than a pot of Swiss Fondue.( for the Swiss, fondue is ALWAYS made of cheese) There is a game assoicated with the dish : If someone loses their piece of bread of the fork they have to pay a penalty! What that will be is up to you!
The trick to a successful fondue  is to ensure that the cheese  sauce stays smooth. Cheese has a propensity to get stringy or to "seize up" into clumps, the fat separating from the proteins. Do not over heat as cheese tends to ball up at higher temperatures and if possible use a fondue pot. Don't let the cheese cool down too much before serving, as it tends to get stringier and tougher as it cools. Don't over stir the cheese, doing so will encourage stringiness.. so many don'ts!!
When we lived in the Ticino, we would use Grappa instead of kirsh.


1/2 pound (Real) Swiss cheese such as Jarlsberg or Emmenthaler, shredded  (or try Vacherin Fribourgeois)
1/2 pound Gruyere cheese, shredded ( aged about 8 months is best)
2 tablespoons cornstarch *
1 garlic clove, peeled, halved crosswise
1 cup dry white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc
1/4 cup kirsh
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch nutmeg
*The cornstarch helps stabilize the sauce
Crusty bread, cubed, for dipping (can be a day old as it does not need to be super fresh - in fact a bit old is better!)When you cut the bread, try make sure that each piece had a bit of crust.


1 Place the shredded cheese and cornstarch in a plastic bag. Seal, shake to coat the cheese with cornstarch. Set aside.

2 Rub the inside of a 4-quart pot with the garlic, then discard. Over medium heat, add the wine and lemon juice and bring to a gentle simmer. Gradually stir the cheese into the wine. Stir constantly in a zig-zag pattern to prevent the cheese from seizing and balling up. Cook until the cheese is just melted and creamy. Do not let boil. Once smooth, stir in the kirsh and  nutmeg.
3 Transfer the cheese to a fondue serving pot, set over a flame to keep warm.
4. Spear the bread cubes with a fondue fork, dip in mixture till coated in cheese, and EAT!!!

Serves 4.

NB: As the cheese gets less and less, scrape the sides with your bread.When almost all the cheese is gone, lower the flame under the fondue pot.The last bit of cheese will be all toasty and yummy!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tomato and Basil Compote

Compote comes from the French verb compoter, which means to cook something gently until it breaks down and reduces into a babyfood-like purée. This recipe can be used as a sauce for meat, fish or even pasta dishes.It can also be used as a base for soups, curries and stews.

This is adapted from a recipe in the Telegraph (UK)

You will need a liquidiser, food processor or mouli légumes (food mill) to purée this sauce.
For each 2lb of tomatoes you will need 8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.

Roughly chop the tomatoes, put in a colander to let any excess watery juice drain away then put in a pan with 4 cloves of garlic, 4 sprigs of basil and the oil.

Add 1tbs of sugar and 1tsp of sea salt. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the compote is paler in colour (a sort of reddish orange).

Do not let the mixture burn or stick to the pan.

Allow to cool, then liquidise until smooth. Pour into jars, and store in the fridge – it will keep for at least 2 weeks – or freeze (not in a jar but in a suitable freezer container).

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Foodie Exchange

My foodie package from Baltimore arrived!!
Clam chowder, some rather interesting cookies, chips and crab cake mix!!


If you havent already, dont forget to join the foodie exchange!

Its a great way to make new friends and try new foods!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wiener Schnitzel

This is by far my favourite veal recipe. Veal is very easy to find in Europe - no that much in the USA it seems. You could substitute pork fillet - that would be the closest to veal. This is a really great dish!!

Wiener Schnitzel is originally made with veal. The meat is coated in breadcrumbs and fried in a pan. Schnitzel is found on all the menus in Germany and is a popular dish to be made at home.
You can also use this recipe to make a pork Schnitzel or a chicken Schnitzel if preferred.

A Wiener Schnitzel is only original when made from veal. When made with pork (Schweineschnitzel) is known as "Schnitzel Wiener Art".
Wiener Schnitzel is served with lemon slices that  you squeeze over the meat. Anchovies and capers can also be served.

4 veal fillets (approx each 200g) or use veal rib eye if fillet is unavailable
salt and pepper
1 cup flour
3 eggs
150g breadbrumbs preferably made from stale French or Italian bread
Butter or lard (clarified butter* is actually the best here)

Flatten the meat with a rolling pin or meat hammer. It is very important that the meat is almost paper thin.It's best to have the butcher pound the meat thinly for you, but if you want or need to do it yourself, position the 5-ounce piece of veal between 2 sheets of wax paper or parchment paper. Gently at first, then more forcefully, use a flat-bladed meat pounder to pound the veal into a fairly round shape 7 to 8 inches in diameter.
First coat the seasoned meat in flour, then dip into beaten egg. Lastly coat in breadcrumbs.
The schnitzels can be covered and left for 1 to 2 hours at a cool room temperature before cooking.
Heat oil in a pan and then fry the Schnitzel on both sides until brown and the meat is cooked through. Use enough butter or lard.During cooking, press the Schnitzel lightly with the back of a spoon. Cook for aprox. 2-4 mins on both sides.
Once cooked serve straight away.

*To clarify a pound of butter, heat it slowly over low heat in a medium saucepan. After it has melted, let it stand for 10 minutes, then use a spoon to skim off the foamy solids on the top. Pour off the clarified butter, leaving the watery residue in the pan (a fat-separator cup can be helpful for this). Pour the cooled butter into a plastic container, cover and refrigerate. The butter may be used a second time after frying a batch of schnitzel: Pass it through a fine-mesh strainer to eliminate any solids, then cover and refrigerate as above. Use within 1 month.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Almond and Limoncello cake

Almonds and Limoncello - what could be better! I got this recipe off a friend of mine in Taormina, Sicily - the translation should be fine but i didn't convert the metric - there's the converter on my site that you can use!
I used Sicilian Limoncello  - homage to Lucia!!!

350 gms finely ground almonds
200 gms sugar
200gms flour
Grated rind of a lemon
4 eggs
1/2 cup limoncello
2 tsp baking powder

Beat the eggs with the sugar till you get a white foam
Add the lemon rind and a pinch of salt
Add the ground almonds, the sifted flour and the baking powder
Put into a greased pan and bake for 40 mins at 170C
When done sift powdered sugar on top.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Plums, plums and more plums

There are many  types of plums which can be found in a  variety of colours and sizes. The most common plums are: the Damson or Damask Plum (oval shaped with yellow-green flesh, and dark blue to indigo skin, Mirabelle (small, oval shaped, smooth-textured flesh, and flecked dark yellow colour), Greengage (firm, green to yellow skin and flesh even when ripe), Golden or yellowgage plum (similar to the greengage, but yellow in colour) and the Satsuma plum (firm red flesh with a red skin).
Its almost the end of plum season so here are a few ideas to use up the fruit. This great list was sent to me by Sophie in the UK - thanks Soph! I liked the sauce idea best - but they are all great ways to use plums

Poached with vanilla

Put 225ml of water in a pan with 200g sugar and a vanilla pod, and bring to the boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add about 10 stoned and quartered plums and simmer for about five minutes until soft. Cool and serve with vanilla yoghurt.

A sauce for roast pork
Heat 1 tbs vegetable oil in a pan and sauté a chopped shallot with some chopped ginger. Add a sprinkling of cumin and ground coriander, 6 chopped plums, 2 tbsp of cider vinegar, 4 tbsp of sugar and a splash of soy sauce and simmer until thick.

Baked with Amaretto
Halve and stone 10 plums and lay cut side up in an ovenproof dish. Mix some crushed Amaretti biscuits with a little Amaretto liqueur. Spoon into the hollow of each plum and bake in the oven at 200C/gas 6 for about 15 minutes until tender.

A spicy relish for cheese
Chop 500g plums and 500g apples, and place in a pan with a chopped onion, a wedge of chopped ginger, a chopped chilli, 250ml cider vinegar, 225g sugar and 75g raisins. Simmer for about 40 minutes until thick, then pot in sterilised jars.

Quick Plum pie
Pile halved stoned plums into a pie dish and sprinkle with sugar. Cover with shortcrust pastry and press on to the rim of the dish. Make a hole in the centre. Brush with more milk, sprinkle with sugar and bake at 200C/gas 6 for about 40-45 minutes. 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pecan Pie

November is the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US, so I thought I'd check out some traditional recipes.
One that stuck out was for Pecan Pie. Never made that before. Most of the recipes asked for corn syrup which didn't sound very inviting so I thought I'd muddle up on my own and try come up with something.

I made a standard pie crust (not too keen on the store bought ones) using 1/2 butter and 1/2 vegetable shortening as that makes it lighter. I used the recipe for the mince pies pastry which you can find here.

Now for the filling - I received some great pecans from my foodie exchange with Oklahoma so that was taken care of. The trick is to toast them and this is an easy and fast way.
Use a large pan, non stick is good - DO NOT GREASE! Heat, toss the pecans till they are toasty and you're done!

Ingredients for filling
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tbs flour
1 tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla essence

Beat all the above like crazy then add 2 cups of crushed toasted pecans.
Pour into the prepared pie crust and cook at abour 350F for 30-40 mins or until done.

I blind baked the pastry crust for about 10 mins just to be sure it cooked from the underneath!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Biscuits, cookies???

I learnt British English - which, AMAZINGLY has a couple of differences to American English.
When I first came to Arizona, I was offered 'Biscuits and Gravy' for breakfast. My first thought was what the heck is that! Biscuits, to me, are the equivalent of Cookies for an American so you can understand my confusion.
Anyways, I finally figured out that biscuits are a type of scone (I think!) served with a gravy that is like a bechamel with bacon bits! Still not my cuppa tea but since they seem to be a traditional South West 'delicacy' I thought I'd add the recipe for BISCUITS. I'll omit the gravy - that was a bit too much for me to handle!

The secret to making a good, light southern style biscuit is in the flour which, I am told, has to be of the 'soft' kind. Haven't figured out what that really means but apparently there is a brand called White Lily. If you can't get that then substituting half the flour with cake flour would do. Again, I had to figure out what cake flour is and I got this info - cake flour is made from the endosperm of soft wheat. The endosperm is the softest part of the wheat kernel, making cake flour the finest flour available. As cake flour is milled, it is heavily bleached, not only to make it white but to break down the protein in the flour. Typically, cake flour is around seven percent protein, much lower than other flours; bread flour, for example, has twice that amount of protein.

OK, so far so good.
12 oz flour (see above)
4 tsp baking powder 
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1oz unsalted butter, chilled
1 cup buttermilk, chilled
2oz vegetable shortening, chilled
Heat the oven to 400F
Mix all the dry ingredients
Using fingertips, rub the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients until they look like bread crumbs
Make a well in the mixture and pour in the buttermilk
Stir till the dough starts forming a lump then knead well.
Turn onto a floured surface and knead the dough by pushing it away from you  with the heels of your hands. Fold in half, give a quarter turn and do that agan until smooth.
Flatten the dough till it is about 3/4 inch thick
Using a 3" cutter, cut as many rounds as the dough permits.
Press your thumb on the top to make a shallow impression
Bake about 15 mins or until golden brown on top - they should rise!!
Let cool for a few mins then eat!

Mince Pies

Mince pies have been eaten as part of a traditional British Christmas since as long ago as the 16th century. Then, they were made of meat along with spices and fruit and alcohol to preserve the meat.Now, mincepies are made with sweet mincemeat; a mixture of dried fruits, sugar, spices, suet  and brandy.
When mincemeat is made in the English kitchen, all the family takes turns in stirring and making a secret wish. The mixture is always stirred clockwise To stir in a counter-clockwise direction is to ask for trouble in the coming year!

You can buy mincemeat in speciality stores, but use my recipe - its more fun and the taste can't be beaten!
We now need the recipe for the pastry.

2/1/2 cups flour
pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, chilled and cut into pieces
6-7 tbs cold water (iced is better)

Sift the flour and salt
Rub the butter and shortening in using fingertips till you get a breadcrumb like consistency
Add the water bit by bit until the mixture begins to combine.
Shape into a ball and refrigerate for about 30 mins.

Use a low cupcake type tray and line with circles of the pastry, fill with the mince meat, cover with another circle and prick the tops. You can also brush with beaten egg
Cook at about 400F until nice and brown
While still warm, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Foodie Exchange Package

Its here! A box full of Oklahoma goodies!
I got Honey - yum!
BBQ Sauce - which  I can't wait to try
and Pecans!

It's a great idea - I am so anticipating the next package which will be from Montreal!
If you haven't yet joined, give it a shot - its a great way to try new foods from all over!

Google Groups
Foodie Exchange
Visit this group

Monday, October 19, 2009

How to REALLY drink Coffee - the Italian way!

The Italians have the art of drinking coffee honed to perfection - They have their rituals and expectations that are strictly adhered to so if you are in Italy, you should be aware of them!

For example, the use of  word espresso. This a technical term in Italian, not an everyday one. As espresso is the default setting and single the default dose, a single espresso is simply known as un caffè. If you want an 'espresso'  you can simply ask for a "caffe" and remember to drink in quickly. Espresso is not made to sip casually, it is made to be drunk in two or three sips at most.

Coffee is not  can be served by itself and is generally served after a meal, with the exception of breakfast. Any coffee after breakfast should not have milk in it (unless it is a macchiato)and cappuccino orders after 11 am are often laughed at.(corrections accepted, thanks Simona !)

Requesting a mint frappuccino in Italy is like asking for a single malt whisky and lemonade with a swizzle stick in a Glasgow pub. There are but one or two regional exceptions to this rule that have met with the blessing of the general coffee synod.
In Naples, you can order un caffè alla nocciola – a frothy espresso with hazelnut cream.
In Milan you can impress the locals by asking for un marocchino, a sort of upside-down cappuccino, served in a small glass which is first sprinkled with cocoa powder, then hit with a blob of frothed milk, then spiked with a shot of espresso.

Coffee is generally served in a way that allows you to down it in a couple of shots - there is no lingering and sipping slowly!

I got most of this information from Life in Italy and the Telegraph - check the site out to learn how to REALLY enjoy your coffee!

Popular coffees ordered in Italy:

Espresso : known a Caffe in Italy, served in a 3 oz or demitasse cup. Strong in taste with a rich bronze froth known as a crema on top.
Doppio : Simply a double espresso.
Ristretto: More concentrated than a regular espresso that is made with less water.
Lungo or Caffe Americano: An Espresso made with more water - opposite a Ristretto.
Macchiato: Espresso that is "marked" with a dollop of steamed milk on top.
Corretto: Espresso that is "corrected" with grappa, cognac or sambuca.
Cappuccino: Espresso with foamed milk and containing equal parts espresso, steamed milk and foamed milk.Usually drunk in the morning (never after a meal)
Cappuccino scuro: Cappuccino prepared with less milk and is a darker color.
Cappuccino chiaro: Cappuccino prepared with more milk (but less than a caffe latte) and is lighter in color.
Caffe' latte: Espresso made with more milk than a cappuccino but only a small amount of foam. In Italy it is usually a breakfast drink.
Latte macchiato: Steamed milk that is "marked" (sometimes ornately) with a shot of espresso coffee.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Liver and Onions

Many people shudder at the thought of liver - well if they have eaten over-cooked pig’s liver, that is grey, tough and strong tasting, that would probably explain it!

Calves’ liver, lightly cooked so it is still pink inside is the type of liver that you should try. I use chicken and duck liver for pate' but for a hearty dish of liver and onions you MUST use calves ' liver. You can omit the bacon, but for me, this gives it an extra something!

This was a dish I would often make on weekends, accompanied by garlic mash potatoes and as a result, my kids grew up enjoying all kids of foods - I may even add my brain fritter recipe some day…but I digress. The point I want to make is that if children are used to eating most foods, they will! At home, I cooked fresh vegetables, fish, meats, pasta,and if we ever went to a fast food restaurant that was considered an anomaly and an outing in itself! Luckily, my friends all shared my belief that growing kids need home made food and as a result, even when we would go to friends' homes, we would always get a home cooked meal. We would meet up on weekends and have BBQ's, try different foods, fondue night etc etc. In my case what was on the table was the only food you would get - till the next meal!
Thanks to Sonia for this great recipe!

extra-virgin olive oil
unsalted butter
2 rashers bacon, chopped
2 red onions
a leaf of sage
9oz/250g calves liver, thinly sliced
6-8tbsp red wine
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Heat 1tbsp olive oil with 1tbsp butter in a frying pan. slice the onions as finely as possible and add to the pan with a good pinch of salt, the bacon and the sage leaf. Cook on a medium low heat, stirring occasionally.
In another large frying pan, heat 1tbsp oil. Add the liver to the pan, sprinkle with salt and cook for 30 to 45 seconds on each side. Remove from the pan and keep warm.
Add the wine to the pan and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge any browned bits. Add a tablespoon of butter and the vinegar.

Serve the liver with the onions, and the wine sauce

Friday, October 16, 2009

Torta Caprese

Torta Caprese, a classic of Italian Pasticceria, born in Capri, one of the most famous Mediterranean Islands. The reason for the fame of Torta Caprese is, firstly, to be found in its sublime flavour and then in the relative easiness of its preparation. But its success has also been prompted by other factors; the enthusiasm from returning-home international tourists who tried Torta Caprese while visiting Capri, the attention of the media to whatever is done on the island and, last but not least, the number of restaurants opened around the world by Capri’s people who migrated during the past century.

The origins of Torta caprese, although recent, are not clear. There are different versions; none of them can be confirmed beyond reasonable doubts. However, they all have at least two points in common; firstly: it wasn’t born in any island home, so it has to be an invention of the local hospitality industry; secondly: regardless the fact that good cuisine is intrinsic to the life of any Caprese, this dessert was created for the island’s tourist market.
This recipe is from a great site i found: ITchefs and co. Check out the site for great pics, a video and info!
Torta Caprese – The step by step recipe

250 gr butter at room temperature
250 gr chocolate, 66% cacao
250 gr sugar
250 gr almonds, not too finely grinded
120 gr egg yolks
220 gr egg whites
Icing sugar for dusting
1 shot glass of rum
1 vanilla pod
orange peel, grated

Melt the chocolate and mix with the butter.
Whip the egg yolks and the sugar, then add to the first mixture.
Add the almonds, the vanilla, the orange peel, the rum and, finally, the egg whites, whipped to foaminess with the salt.
Place into mould, buttered and floured
And bake at 180° C for approximately 35 minutes. Dust with icing sugar.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Foodie Exchange

I haven't had much time for new recipes today as I was too busy searching out genuine Arizona foodstuff for the Foodie Exchange.
I am exchanging with Oklahoma and Montreal and can't wait to see what arrives.

If you haven't heard about foodie exchange, this is it in a nutshell:
A group for foodies from all over the world who wish to be matched up with other foodies to exchange local food related items in the form of a 'care package'. Items should be limited to about $10.00 (not including shipping) in cost and be safe to mail!

So if you'd be interested in trying new food, herbs, spices, or just connecting with a fellow foodie...join up!

Google Groups
Foodie Exchange
Visit this group

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Prawn Rarebit

Welsh rarebit is one of those dishes that I never get fed up of. It's an old-fashioned recipe that hardly anyone seems to know how to pronounce : it is pronounced “rabbit” !! The name probably originated in the 18th century as an insult to the Welsh. While rabbit was a poor man's meat in England, in Wales the poor man's “meat” was cheese.
Rarebit, is a savoury sauce made from melted cheese and various other ingredients and served hot over toasted bread.

This is a variation by Gary Rhodes.


4-6 x thick slices of French bread
melted butter, for brushing
1 tsp English mustard
a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce
150ml/5fl oz double or whipping cream
75g/3oz grated cheddar cheese
75g/3oz grated Gruyére cheese
175g/6oz cooked and peeled prawns

1. Pre-heat the grill. Brush both sides of each bread slice with butter and toast the top and bottom to a golden brown under the grill
2. In a large bowl stir the mustard and Worcestershire into the cream. Extra mustard can be added for a stronger flavour.
3. Gently fold in the two cheeses and the prawns, then spoon the mixture onto the toasts.
4. Place under the grill (not too close to the heating element) and toast to a golden brown.
5. Serve.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pumpkin and Pecan Tarts

I admit, I have become addicted to the Times on Line recipes. I must go though their pages at least 3 times a week!!!
Although I get quite a few recipes sent to me, i try to choose the most original and the Times on Line has an amazing selection of great recipes.

These Pumkin and Pecan Tarts are a cross between an American pumpkin pie and those fabulous Portuguese custard tarts, pasteis de nata.  They are super delicious and with haloween coming up, I am sure one can find a pumpkin or two to use!

500g all-butter puff pastry (recipe here)

100g butter
800g pumpkin or squash, cut into ½cm cubes
100g pecan halves, broken into bits, plus 12 extra halves

250g sugar
1 egg
100ml double cream
2 tsp plain flour
1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground clove
About 1/4 of a nutmeg, grated
Zest of 1 orange
Icing sugar

On a floured surface, roll out the pastry until it’s about 2mm thick. Cut 12 circles large enough to line the holes of a 12-hole nonstick muffin tin, leaving about 1cm standing out of the rim; my muffin tray has holes of about 7cm wide and 2cm deep, so the circles of dough are about 12cm across (you may not need all the pastry). Put in the fridge while you deal with the pumpkin.

Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6. In a large frying pan, melt the butter, then add the pumpkin cubes and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until the pumpkin is soft. Add the 100g of pecans and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the sugar and cook for a minute more, until the whole thing is brown and bubbling. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Beat together the egg, cream, flour, spices and orange zest until thoroughly mixed. Stir together with the pumpkin and pecan mixture, then carefully spoon into the chilled shells so they are about three-quarters full — you may not need all of the mixture. Put a pecan half on top of each and bake in the oven for 25 minutes. The tops will bubble and rise, but will sink back as they cool.

Allow to cool until just warm or room temperature, sprinkling the tops lightly with icing sugar before you eat — with whipped cream, ideally.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Beetroot Tart

I never claim that any recipes are my original creation (how can any recipe be??!!) I generally recieve them from friends but I found this great Tart  on line.

This is a sweet-savoury tart. It looks good with purple beetroot, but even better if you alternate with golden beetroot. Thanks to info from Sarah Raven on Times online (UK) 8 Makes 1 x 29cm tart

4 medium-sized beetroot (2 red, 2 golden, if possible)
2 large onions
Few sprigs of whole thyme
30g butter
splash of olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
2 eggs
150ml double cream
3 or 4 sprigs of thyme
A little grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper

For the pastry
200g plain flour
100g butter
Few sprigs of thyme, finely chopped
Flaky salt

For the horseradish cream
Grated horseradish
Double cream or crème fraîche
A little mustard powder
Lemon juice, to taste
Pinch of white pepper ,Salt

Sift the flour with the thyme and salt and work in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.( you can use a food processor and pulse the mixture) Add just enough cold water for it to bind together as a dough. Roll out and line a 29cm flan dish. Put in the fridge for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.
Prick the base of the pastry case with a fork. Bake blind for 20 min.

Boil the beetroot in salted water until soft. Cool and peel. Then grate (keeping the two colours separate if you have them), on the coarse blade of a grater.

Finely chop and then gently fry the onions in a pan with butter (with a splash of olive oil) until the onions are translucent. Add the grated beetroot and thyme (if you have two colours, divide the onions and continue to cook in two separate pans). Add the balsamic vinegar and sugar and cook gently for about 15 min to reduce and become syrupy.

Fill the pastry case with the beetroot mixture using different colours in segments. Mix the eggs, cream and nutmeg. Season and pour as much of this mixture as you can easily fit over the beetroot, scattering more thyme leaves over the top. Cook for 35 min until the top is brown.

While the tart is in the oven, make the horseradish cream.

Peel and grate the horseradish. If you want it very strong, grate it when you are ready to eat. It has highly volatile essential oils and so its strength will quickly fade — which is why you never want to cook it. It also discolours quickly, so mix it with the other ingredients immediately.

Add enough double cream (or crème fraîche) for a creamy consistency. Add a little mustard powder, white pepper and salt, and add lemon juice to taste. Serve with the tart.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Zucchini Carpaccio

Carpaccio generally means very thinly cut, raw meat or fish. In the past decade, it has, however, been used to define any thinly cut, raw edible! Maybe the Italian word gives food a certain cachet!!

This is a very simple recipe - and quick to make.

Serves 2
4 zucchini
2 tbs olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
Fresh chives, chopped
1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the zucchini lengthwise - best will be using a potato peeler. Place the slices in a dish, sprinkle the herbs, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. Leave for a couple of hours then eat!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Puff Pastry

Puff pastry can be a challenge but this recipe, sent to me from a friend back home in Malta, is always a success. It can be time consuming as the dough has to be worked, then refridgerated, then worked again for a couple of times
There are a few things to keep in mind:

First : everything you use must be cold! The dough must also be kept cold at all times. The best working surface for the dough is a slab of marble since marble tends to stay cool.
Second: Always store the dough covered with a damp cloth in your refrigerator, but before storing it, make sure you remove any loose flour.
Third :Always sprinkle the working surface, the rolling pin, and the dough with flour before you start working the dough.
Fourth: Never turn over the dough while you are working it. Instead, turn it flat on the board (or turn the board itself) clockwise before each rolling and always in the same direction. This is one of the hardest doughs to make and you may have to try it a few times before you get it right!

1 1/2 cups plain flour
6 oz butter, cold, and cut into cubes
6-7 tbs. cold water

Pinch of salt
Sift flour and salt together. Divide the butter into half-inch squares. Drop the butter squares into the flour making sure not to squash them. Mix lightly until all butter cubes are covered with flour (make sure that the cubes remain intact.) Add water and mix lightly with a knife again making sure that the cubes remain intact. If some flour is left loose, add a teaspoon of cold water at a time until all the flour is used. The resulting dough should be very soft.

Sprinkle the dough and the working surface with flour. Work the dough into an elongated shape using your finger tips. Sprinkle some flour on the rolling pin and roll the dough until it is about eight inches long and not more than five inches wide. Now follow the steps below:

1 - Fold the lower third toward the top. Now fold the upper third toward the bottom on top of the first fold. You should end up with a three-layered rectangle. With light pressure from the rolling pin, seal the three edges, making sure the butter is locked in

2 - Remove any extra flour. Loose flour can cause gray streaks and can prevent the puff pastry from rising properly when baked. Now turn the folded dough anti-clockwise so that the right side is at the top. Roll the dough lightly until it is nine inches long and six inches wide.

3 - Repeat steps one and two.

4 - Cover the dough with a damp cloth and store in the refrigerator for twenty minutes.

5 - Repeat steps one through four, four times.

The dough can now be rolled out to the desired thickness

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fennel Baked with Parmesan Cheese

Fennel is a “stem and stalk” vegetable that is part of the carrot family. Fennel has a white bulb on one end and tough, green stalks growing out of it. Usually the bulb is eaten and the fronds can be used for garnish.

Fennel is an aromatic vegetable like celery and carrots, but it has a distinct anise flavor.

An easy and most delicious dish. the addition of butter and parmesan(do not use any other cheese) complement the flavour of the fennel perfectly. Make sure that the cheese does not burn when in the oven!

4 heads fennel, trimmed, quartered
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Boil the fennel in salted water until it is tender. Do not over cook. The fennel should be just al dente!
Drain  well and arrange in a generously buttered gratin dish.
Add lots of freshly ground pepper.
Sprinkle on the cheese.
Put into the oven at 400 degrees, until the cheese is golden brown and the fennel is bubbling vigorously in buttery juices.

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All the recipes here have either been sent to me, adapted by me or found on the web. If I know the source I always give credit to the author/website. If you know of a source I may have missed please let me know.