Cookbook 11: a month in Marrakesh

This weekend’s book was Andy Harris’s book a month in Marrakesh, which was less successful from my end.  The starter we had was fantastic, the rest of the meal I was less than impressed with.  This was not the cook book’s fault, more that my taste and the flavours in the dishes I selected were poles apart.  It turns out I don’t like fennel (oops), and the spice mix in the chicken dish was reminiscent of the lamb dish I cooked from Cook Book 4, which I can no longer stomach.

I also had my parents visiting, which was disappointing, as I had hoped to cook them something very impressive.  My mother took the chicken dish as a personal challenge, and is determined to find a way to make it edible.  As long as she continues experimenting on her own time, that’s all good.  The other family at the table said the fennel dish, couscous and chicken together worked ok.  Continue reading

Cookbook 10: Meals in Minutes

As I was rather busy this weekend I thought I’d try The Australian Women’s Weekly cookbook, Meals in Minutes.  This cookbook belongs to Scott, and so by virtue of our relationship, ends up being mine and one that must be cooked from – well that’s my excuse.  The recipes are relatively straight forward, rely on store bought ingredients for some recipes (such as pesto in the Galletes), and they’re tasty.  I’ll put notes after the recipes, suffice to say and important thing when buying lamb shanks is to make sure they’re French dressed if the recipe asks for it.  It wasn’t a fatal mistake, but the recipe would have been a bit easier to make if we’d had prepared ones. Continue reading

Cookbook 9: Turkish Cooking

This cookbook is Turkish Cooking by Tess Mallos.  Full of some really amazing recipes and one I definitely want to pick up again.

A few tips before you start it is vitally important (I have discovered) that when purchasing dried beans for a recipe, that you make you sure purchase dried beans, and not (as I did) peas (which I really hate).  The white bean (pea) stew takes the longest of all these recipes, though sorting out the filo pasty is somewhat time consuming, it has nothing on processing the dried beans.

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Cookbook 8: Bread Machine

To help with the whole returning to routine after my trip overseas, I decided to bake bread – something which is slightly easier than a 2 – 3 course meal (or so I thought).  This week I cooked from bread machine: over 90 enticing step-by-step recipes, by Jennie Shapter. As bread takes a while, I made one each on the Saturday and Sunday, and sticking with the overall theme, one savoury and one sweet.

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From the memory bank – Risotto

Risotto is the go to, can’t be bothered thinking about what to make for dinner recipe for me.  It’s great for using up vegetables, and since I tend to use vegetable based stocks (generally Massell), it’s vegetarian until I add meat (which I cook separately), so I can easily cook this for my vegetarian friends and family.  My recipe for risotto is probably a long way away from “traditional”, but it’s tasty and easy.

Risotto is a dish that cooks rice by absorption of liquid.  Generally this will probably take about 40 minutes to an hour to prepare depending on how it takes to prepare the vegetables and meat (if using).

Feeds 4 people

Ingredients:

  • 1.25 litres of stock (beef, vegetable or chicken depending on the meat you are using)
  • ¼ cup of wine
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 25 grams of butter
  • 300 grams of meat sliced as appropriate (I usually use chicken, a cured sausage or fish)
  • 5 – 6 cups of vegetables (I use combinations of carrots, celery, tinned corn, tinned mushrooms, sundried tomato, leek, onion, shallots, spinach, pumpkin, fresh beans, fresh peas, snow peas, roasted capsicum, chilli, artichoke hearts, roasted eggplant, etc)
  • 1 ½ cups of Arborio (or medium grain) rice
  • ½ cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or less if preferred)
  • Oil (if required) for cooking the meat in

Method:

  1. Heat the stock and wine in a saucepan, cover and keep at a slow simmer.
  2. Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan.  Add the vegetables to the pan and cook until onion/leek/shallot is soft, or for 5 minutes depending on the vegetables used.
  3. Add the rice to the vegetable mixture and stir until well rice is coated.
  4. Add 4 – 5 soup ladles of the wine/stock mixture.  Stir until the liquid is completely absorbed.
  5. Continue adding more liquid, 1 to 2 ladles at a time, stirring the mixture constantly for 20 minutes (you may have some liquid left over at the end).
  6. Cook the meat separately while watching the rice to ensure that it does not dry out and start to stick to the pan (this is where I utilise a helper)
  7. Add the meat (if using) and parmesan cheese to the mixture and stir through.  Cover and let stand for two minutes before serving.

 

From the memory bank: Stroganoff

This is a different take on Stroganoff.  It’s quick and easy to make, with total cooking and preparation time of about 30 minutes (depending on whether or not you have to slice you own meat).  I usually cook this with either beef or kangaroo, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use pork, lamb, chicken or another meat of your choice.

Serve with rice, pasta or potatoes

Feeds 4 people

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams of meat
  • 200 grams of mushrooms
  • 1 onion
  • 200 millilitres of lite sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of oil

Method:

Slice meat into strips.  Slice onions and mushrooms finely – keep separate from the meat.

Heat oil in the wok/frying pan.  Add meat and stir until cooked over a medium to high heat.  Add the mushrooms and onion and stir until the onion is soft.  Add sour cream and tomato paste.  Stir over a low heat until the sour cream and tomato paste are heated through.  Serve and enjoy.

From the memory bank – Lebanese Mince

As I’m enjoying myself in Europe, I thought I’d share this recipe with you.  I’ve been making this regularly since 1992 when I first discovered it.  It’s quick, tasty and straightforward to cook.  It doesn’t have any vegetable content, so serve with a salad or some sautéed vegetables.

I regularly put in more than ½ a teaspoon of mixed spice and cinnamon.  If you put a bit more in, the dish doesn’t suffer.

Feeds 6 people

Implements:

  • Chopping board
  • Sharp Knife
  • Large frying pan
  • Saucepan
  • Wooden Spoon

Ingredients:

  • 375 grams of pasta (uncooked) (not string pasta)
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of butter or oil (add a bit more if required)
  • 500 grams of low-fat mince
  • ½ teaspoon of mixed spice
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 cup of tomato soup
  • ½ cup water

Method

Sauté the onions in the butter/oil, add the meat and cook until brown all over.  Add the mixed spices, cinnamon, vinegar, tomato paste, tomato soup and water.  Let simmer over a low heat while the pasta cooks as per the packet instructions.  When the pasta is cooked stir through the meat mixture and serve.

Cookbook 7: Italian Food Safari

I’m going to be in Europe for a couple of weeks as of next weekend, so this project will be on hold (I’ll try and avoid buying cookbooks, and taking them with me) while I’m there, but will recommence on the weekend of 25 August.

Anyway… this weekend was Italian Food Safari, which again taught me I need a bigger oven, a decent meat clever, and a bigger casserole dish.   The eggplant was the most popular dish of the evening, with everyone happily enjoying it (including those who don’t typically like eggplant).

Notes this time after the recipe. Please pay careful attention to the notes after the strudel.

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Cookbook 6: The Illustrated Food and Cooking of Lebanon Jordan and Syria

Last weekend was a birthday celebration weekend and so I asked the birthday boy what he’d like me to cook for him from all the cookbooks I own.  He chose the Armenian Jewelled Bulgur, and then I wandered through the rest of The Illustrated Food and Cooking of Lebanon Jordan and Syria by Ghillie Ba?an.

For these recipes you may need to find a Middle Eastern grocer, I visited Al Alamy on Waterfield Street, in Coburg in order to purchase some of the less common (for me) ingredients.  The dishes were simple and incredibly delicious.  Notes will be included at the end of each recipe (I didn’t always cook them as listed).

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Cookbook 5: chocolate

So this week, just to do something different, I picked up chocolate, by Australian Gourmet Traveller, for something different.  This time, as there were no meat dishes, I cooked 4 recipes, a biscuit, bread, pie, and pudding.  I remembered to take photos, and everything was incredibly good, though some were quite fiddly.  I’ll list the recipes in the order they appear in the book instead of the order I cooked them, as that was just a matter of convenience.  Comments this time throughout the recipe.

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