Eight Bells

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Spiced Meatballs and Israeli Couscous Salad

If you asked me to make a list of my top ten favourite meals this dish would definitely be on there somewhere. The flavours in this meal are so deliciously different from the food that we normally eat in New Zealand, I am almost magically transported back to the Middle East. A little bonus with this recipe is that I finally get to crack open one of my jars of pickled chillis that I made in January. This recipe is taken straight from Issue 121 March 2007 of 'Cuisine' magazine. The Cuisine recipe calls for the egg plant and meatballs to be fried in oil whereas we grilled the meatballs and oven roasted the eggplant for a tastier and healthier finished dish. You may prefer to try this recipe in summer when eggplants are not $8 each! Serves four.

250g of lamb mince
2-3 teaspoons of harissa
3 tablespoons of coarsley chopped fresh coriander leaves
2 tablespoons of coarsley chopped fresh Italian flat leafed parsley
A pinch of ground cinnamon
A pinch of ground cardamom
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons of fresh breadcrumbs

Mix all the ingredients except for one teaspoon of the harissa. Fry a little piece of the mixture and taste, adjust by adding a little salt, pepper or harissa if needed, the flavour should be quite strong with a bit of a kick to it. Roll the mince into approximately 16-20 meatballs and refrigerate until needed (you can do this a day ahead of time to give the flavours a chance to develop but it is not necessary). Grill the meatballs until golden brown, turning once.

Israeli Couscous Salad
1 large eggplant cut into 3 cm pieces
1 cup of Israeli couscous, boiled in salted water until al dente, drained and cooled
1/4 of a cup of extra virgin olive oil (I think this is a little too much oil, we used 2 tablespoons at most)
4 tablespoons of lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups of baby spinach leaves
1/2 a cup each of coarsley chopped mint, coriander and flat leafed parsley.
1/2 a cup of labneh (we used plain unsweetened Greek yoghurt)
Pickled chillis (optional)

Toss the pieces of eggplant in a little oil and oven roast at 180C for around 20 minutes, they should be turning golden brown but still soft when you take them out.
Toss together the couscous, eggplant, olive oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper, baby spinach leaves and most of the herbs (keep a little of the herbs aside to garnish the dish once you have plated up).
Fold the meatballs through the salad, sprinkle on the remaining herbs and serve with a decent dollop of labneh (yoghurt). Place a couple of pickled chillis on the side of the plate for a little extra ooomph. Heaven.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Easiest Chocolate Cake Ever

It doesn't look like much in the photograph thanks to my less than professional icing job but this is one of the nicest chocolate cakes I have tasted. Preparation time is only about ten minutes and the recipe is pretty much foolproof. This recipe is taken from Alison Holst's 'Good Food'.

1 1/2 cups of plain flour
1/2 a cup of cocoa
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 cup of sugar
125g of butter, melted
1 cup of plain unsweetened Greek yoghurt
2 eggs (at room temperature, not from the fridge)
3/4 of a cup of black coffee, cooled (2 teaspoons of coffee)

Sieve the flour, cocoa and baking soda into a bowl, add the sugar and mix well. Mix the yoghurt, melted butter, cooled coffee and eggs together in a second bowl and mix well.
Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and combine well, do not beat.
Pour the mixture into a greased and lined 20cm square cake tin with sides at least 6cm high. Cook at 180C for around 50-55 minutes until the centre springs back when pressed lightly and a wooden skewer comes out clean.
Cool and ice.

1 1/2 cups of icing sugar
1/4 of a cup of cocoa
25g of melted butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
Boiling water

Sieve the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl and then mix in the melted butter and vanilla essence. If necessary add a little boiling water and mix in until the icing is the correct consistency.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Creamy Cauliflower And Potato Soup With Blue Cheese Toasts

Ok back to the food now. This is a lovely winter soup and a great way to use up the blue cheese in the fridge that was two weeks past its use by date (hey it's already mouldy, what's a little more?!). This recipe will serve 6-8 and takes about two hours.

1 cauliflower head, chopped up
1/2 a celery, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely diced
4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
50g of butter
8 cups of chicken stock
1 cup of cream
1 cup of milk
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons of dried sage
1 cup of fresh parsley, chopped

Blue Cheese

Melt the butter in a large pot (think about the quantities above, the pot has to be big enough to take all the ingredients). Add onions and celery and cook gently till the onions are transparent.
Add cauliflower and stock and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer until the cauliflower breaks up after about 30-40 minutes.
Add diced potatoes and top up the stock if required. Cook a further 20 minutes and then add salt, pepper, sage, milk and cream. Cook a further 20 minutes remembering to stir often to prevent sticking and burning. Let the soup cool down slightly and then whizz with a stick blender. Taste and adjust the seasoning to suit then add the fresh parsley and serve.

Thinly slice your bread, we used olive sour dough. Lightly toast and top with slices of creamy blue cheese. Grill till golden brown and serve with the soup. The word of the day de jour is scrumptious.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Arcade Machine

Ok so you can't eat it but you can sure as hell have a lot of fun with it. As some of you are aware I have been working on this for some time and it's finally 'finished'. In reality they are never really finished, I could keep tweaking and adding things for months/years but it now looks and plays like a real arcade machine.
The cabinet is built from scratch and based on the Mortal Kombat series of arcade machines. The PC inside runs a programme called MAME (multiple arcade machine emulator) and a programme called Mamewah which is a frontend. It plays almost all the arcade games that you remember and a lot that you don't: Pacman, Joust, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter etc and it's endless hours of fun.
If you want to find out more about how to do this yourself check out this website BYOAC. You will find all the info and links etc that you need and answers to any questions you may/will have. If you have any questions you would like to ask me just post a comment or email me (the email address is in the blog title).
Thanks for checking in, more food soon!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Herb Crusted Beef Eye Fillet With Green Peppercorn Sauce

If you're not a vegetarian then you regularly make other animals die so that you can have dinner. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with this and personally I am perfectly happy to do this but I need to know that the majority of the meat I eat has been cared for reasonably well and not spent a miserable life couped up in a concrete bunker being fed antibiotics and pieces of its dead relatives.
If you're going to eat animals then try to buy free range and organic, it's becoming quite easy to do so and as availabilty increases and prices drop it is only going to get easier. We are very fortunate that our local butcher (Fifth Ave, Hamilton) is widely recognised as one of the best places in Hamilton to source good organic and free range meat. The recipe below will serve at least four with meat leftover for sandwiches.

700g piece of free range, organic beef eye fillet
3 tablespoons of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of salt
1/2 a cup of chopped fresh parsley
1 bunch of chives, chopped
1/2 a cup of mixed fresh herbs: thyme, basil, oregano etc, chopped.
Oil (we use rice bran oil for its high smoke point and low flavour)
300 ml of reduced fat cream
1 tablespoon of green peppercorns

Mix salt, pepper and herbs on a large chopping board.
Oil the meat all over and then roll the meat in the herb/pepper mixture making sure that is is well coated. Preheat your oven to 180C and cook the beef for around 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the meat. You are aiming to cook the beef rare and stand it for around 10 mins before slicing and serving. By the time the beef has stood and been served it will be medium-rare.
While the beef is cooking pour the cream in to a saucepan, heat gently and simmer while stirring. After 10 minutes add the peppercorns and salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook gently while the sauce thickens and the colour changes from white to a light yellow (about 20-25 minutes).
Serve with green beans and chips. Yum.

Par boil large potatoes for 5 minutes, cool and cut. Place in a large metal oven tray and spray with oil (rice bran oil again). Cook at 180C for around 30 minutes turning half way through. The chips should be above the beef in the oven.

Turkish Lamb Pie

Yes I know, it's some kind of minor miracle, you have checked the blog and incredibly there is a new post! Thank you to those who regularly check in and apologies that updates are few and far between, I will do better. No I'm sure I've never promised that before, what are you trying to say?

Here is another great winter meal in the form of the second best method of presenting food, the pie, the best method of course being the sandwich.
We have had the crockpot out a lot more this winter and it's been something of a revelation. It has been really great getting home from work with almost all the dinner preparation already done. This pie recipe is taken from Robyn Martin's 'Best recipes for crockpots and slow cookers'. This pie will serve 4-6 people.

Turkish Lamb Pie
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
500g piece of lamb forequarter, cut in to 2cm cubes
1/4 of a cup of flour
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of ground allspice
1 teaspoon of dried marjoram
1/2 a cup of beef stock
1/2 a cup of dried apricots
1/2 of a cup of currants
Flaky puff pastry
1 egg yolk

Place the flour, pepper, cumin and allspice in a plastic bag. Add the lamb and shake to coat the meat. Place in your crock pot (not the plastic bag!) with the marjoram, onion, garlic, stock, apricots and currants. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, stirring half way through the cooking if possible.
Taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary. If you are making this in to a pie (it can be eaten just as a casserole) remove from the crock pot and leave until just warm.
Place the pie filling in to your pie dish and make a lid with the pastry. Decorate the pie with cut out shapes (we used farm animal cut outs) mix the egg yolk and a tablespoon of water and brush the pastry with this egg wash. Bake at 200C for 20-30 mins until the pastry is cooked and golden.
Serve with steamed vegetables.