A long time ago, before I went on holidays, and before the rush to be ready for holidays, say farewell to people, and pack… I cooked from Barbara Fairchild’s The bon appétit fast easy fresh cookbook (I’m not sure what should be capitalised or not). The food was delicious, but the recipes were very US in origin, calling for ingredients that are very difficult to find in Australia and using American Imperial measurements (which are different to other Imperial measurements just because). I picked this up in a bargain bin at Readings, tempted by the 1100 recipes, but I clearly didn’t spend enough time reading through the recipes because if I realised how few of them I could cook, I probably wouldn’t have bought it. Overall I’m going to give this 3 out of 5 stars, the missing stars are due to the focus of the book. (If you live in Melbourne and want this book for free, let me know in the comments and I’ll organise an exchange).
Current red lentil and Swiss chard stew with garbanzo beans
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 5 teaspoons curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 14-ounce cans vegetable broth (1.5 liters of vegetable stock)
- 1 large bunch or 2 small bunches Swiss chard (silverbeet), tough stalks trimmed, coarsely chopped (about 12 cups)
- 1 pound red lentils (about 2 1/4 cups)
- 1 15 – 16-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
- Plain yoghurt
- Heat oil in a heavy, large saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Add onion; saute until golden, about 13 minutes. Mix in curry powder and cayenne. Add broth and chard.
- Increase heat; bring to the boil. Add lentils and garbanzo beans; reduce heat to medium.
- Cover; simmer until lentils are tender, stirring twice, about 10 minutes.
- Ladle stew into bowls. Top with yoghurt.
Notes on this recipe:
- I actually hate silverbeet. I am a fan of it’s cousin spinach, but silverbeet and I have a chequered history and we parted ways a long time ago. You will now be wondering why I cooked this recipe, and it was because I love my sister who actually enjoys eating silverbeet (and has been known to grow it). So with this animosity, I was actually surprised to find that this dish was tasty. I wouldn’t eat it every day, but if someone put it in front of me, I’d certainly happily chow down on it and then ask what was for dessert.
- Oh and “curry powder”. We need to do better than that. I have Mudgeeraba Chicken Curry Blend which I use whenever a recipe calls for “curry powder”. Makes life very tasty indeed.
Roasted-garlic beef stew
- 16 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 5 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 pound beef tenderloins, cut into 1-inch pieces (eye fillet)
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour, divided (plain flour)
- 2 large parsnips, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 large potato, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 rutabaga, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (turnip or swede)
- 1 14-ouce can beef broth
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Place garlic in small baking dish. Top with 1 tablespoon butter. Bake until butter melts and garlic is tender and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Cool garlic 5 minutes. Peel garlic and set aside.
- Melt 3 tablespoons butter in heavy, large pot over high heat. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper; dust with 1 tablespoon flour. Add beef to pot. Saute until no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Transfer beef to bowl. Add vegetables, broth, wine, herbs, and roasted garlic to pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes.
- Return beef and any juices to pot. Mix remaining 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon flour in small bowl. Whisk flour paste into stew. Simmer uncovered until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Notes on this recipe:
- As much as I love my household, my budget doesn’t stretch to 500g (or a kilo in this case as I was doubling the recipe) of eye fillet for a “stew”. I used casserole steak and skipped the removing the meat stage and let it cook with everything to tenderise. In fact I think we ended up cooking everything for about 45 minutes because of juggling timing with other dishes.
- We also forgot the last step so our stew was a bit watery.
- With the amount of garlic in this recipe I had hoped I’d be able to taste it. I was using home grown garlic, so the bulbs are smaller, but still the taste of the garlic disappeared amongst the wine, herbs and vegetables.
Orzo pilaf with mushrooms, leeks and sun-dried tomatoes
- nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 1 1/2 low salt chicken broth
- 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
- 1 1/3 cups orzo (risoni)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 12 ounces portobello muchrooms, stemmed, diced
- 3 cups sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only)
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Spray 8x8x2 inch glass baking dish with nonstick spray. Bring broth and tomatoes just to boil in small saucepan. Remove from heat; let stand for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook orzo in medium saucepan of boiled salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain.
- Heat oil in large, nonstick skilled over medium heat. Add mushrooms, leeks and garlic. Cover skillet and cook until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in tomato-broth mixture, cooked orzo, basil, and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to prepared dish; cover with foil.
- Bake pilaf until heated through, about 40 minutes. Serve hot.
Notes on this recipe:
- It’s tasty, and I don’t like mushrooms much (really not at all).
- You can use pretty much any mushroom in this recipe depending on your preference.
- When you’re making this, you want to be doing all the first three steps at once, otherwise you have a lot of waiting around on your hands.
Polenta with green chiles and cheese
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 7-ounce can whole green chiles, drained, divided (chillies)
- 1 cup frozen corn kernals, thawed, divided
- 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided (coriander)
- 2 cups (packed) coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese (about 8 ounces), divided (tasty cheese is probably the closest you’re going to get to that in Australia)
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, divided
- Butter 8x8x2 inch glass baking dish. Combine first 5 ingredients in heavy, medium saucepan. Bring to simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly. Cook until polenta is tender and thickens, stirring often about 12 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in Parmesan.
- Pour half of polenta into prepared dish. Cover with half of chiles and half of corn. Sprinkle with half of cilantro and 2 cup Monterey Jack cheese. Drizzle with 1/4 cup creat. Spoon remaining polenta evenly over. Top with remaining chiles, corn, cilantro, and cheese. Pour remaining 1/4 cup cream over.
- Preheat oven to 400F (190C). Bake polenta uncovered until heated through, puffed and golden brown, about 25 minutes (30 minutes if chilled).
Notes on this recipe:
- There is a comment in the recipe that you can assemble the polenta bake 1 day ahead which is why the preheating the oven is in the final step. Maybe preparing cornbread type things ahead of time is popular in the US, I don’t know. If you’re not going to sit it in the fridge for a day (and I wouldn’t with fresh cream on top), preheat the oven at the first step.
- Why do USians spell chilli with only one l?
- Tinned chillies are very difficult to come by in Australia. I fortunately had some because we’d gone shopping AGES ago at a Mexican grocer in Tullamarine. They’re also really expensive in Australia. You could probably substitute mild fresh chillies sliced finely, or pickled chillies if you do that yourself or know someone who does.
- Oh, this is tasty, I suppose it would be tastier with the right chillies and the right cheese. It will spring apart into two layers of polenta when you are attempting to serve it.