Grief control. Knitting, cakes and chicken tray bakes

Grief. It’s a strange thing. Different very time. Why did I think I’d feel the same after my dad died as I would after my mum did?

I guess it is (blessed) inexperience. But it has been so much harder.

Anyway. I’m out the other side of (most of) it now. And I have a very neglected blog.

I haven’t been sewing as much as normal. But I have been doing some cooking and knitting.

So. Let me tell you about it. Starting with the cakes first because my dad had a sweet tooth.

The cakes

Lemon and ricotta cake

Delicious on its own or with blackberry and strawberry compote and ice cream as a dessert.

  • 250g unsalted butter, diced and softened
  • 220g (1 cup) caster sugar
  • zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 250g ricotta
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 220g almond flour
  • 75g (1/2 cup) SR flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch salt
  1. Preheat oven to 160C (fan). Grease a 23 cm springform pan and line the base with paper
  2. Cream butter and sugar with zest until pale and creamy
  3. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well in between
  4. Beat in ricotta, a little at a time
  5. Whisk almond flour, flour, baking powder and salt separately
  6. Reduce speed, add vanilla, the dry ingredients and lemon juice to the mixture, and mix until combined
  7. Whisk egg whites separately until stiff peaks form and then carefully fold egg whites into cake mixture
  8. Spoon into tin, smooth surface and bake 50-60 minutes

This delicious moist cake recipe is from David Herbert’s column in the 25-26 July 2020 issue of the Weekend Australian magazine.

 

Persian love cake

This is a super easy gluten free cake that is deliciously moist and with fabulous spicing. Super pretty too, especially when you fortuitously have Persian fairy floss in your pantry and use it for decoration!

Adapted from Poh Bakes 100 Greats

  • 300 g (3 cups) almond flour
  • 185 g (1 cup) caster sugar
  • 220 g (1 cup) firmly packed soft brown sugar
  • 120 g (generous 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 250 g Greek-style yoghurt
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons rosewater
  • 4 tablespoons flaked almonds
  • 4 tablespoons pistachios, roughly chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (fan).
  2. Grease a 24 cm springform pan and line the base with paper.
  3. Combine the almond flour, caster sugar, brown sugar and melted butter in a food processor until you have an even, sandy consistency.
  4. Divide the mixture in two and tip half into the pan. Press the crumb mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan.
  5. Add the eggs, yogurt, salt, cardamom, and rosewater to the remaining crumb mixture and whisk until there are no lumps.
  6. Pour over the crumb base and sprinkle the flaked almonds and pistachios over the top.
  7. Bake for 50-60 minutes

Serve this cake with a dollop of Greek yoghurt – it helps balance out the sweetness

The pistachio and almond topping makes this cake very attractive. No need for pink fairy floss to make it pretty – it already is!

 

The chicken tray bakes

Moroccan chicken tray bake

This is another one of David Herbert’s recipes from the Weekend Australia Magazine – the 13-14 June 2020 issue.

  • 4 tablespoons harissa paste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 6-8 chicken pieces (David recommends skinless thighs – I’ve made this a couple of times, every time with something different – skin-on Marylands, skin-on thighs and skinless chicken chops – all good)
  • 2 red onions, quartered
  • 2-4 zucchini, cut into 2 cm slices
  • 8 capsicum pieces from a jar
  • 50g whole blanched almonds  (I used flaked)
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley (I just picked the leaves off)

Couscous

  • 175g (1 cup) instant couscous
  • zest  half lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • seeds from half a pomegranate
  • 2 tablespoons sultanas ( I used currants)
  1. Preheat oven to 180C (fan)
  2. Mix harissa and vinegar in a large bowl.
  3. Add chicken pieces, onion  and zucchini and gently mix to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer to a large roasting pan and cook uncovered for 25 minutes, turning halfway.
  5. Add capsicum and almonds and cook a further 10 minutes or until chicken is tender
  6. Meanwhile, make couscous:
    • Put couscous in heat proof bowl and add 350mL boiling water, stir, then cover and leave for 5-7 minutes.
    • Stir through Zest, garlic and herbs; drizzle with oil
    • Add pomegranate seeds and sultanas and toss well
    • Season with salt and pepper
  7. Scatter chicken with parsley and serve with couscous and lemon wedges (I made a space in the roasting pan, piled the couscous in, added lemon wedges and served it straight from the pan)

I highly recommend this – so simple and yet so delicious. It is almost my favourite chicken tray bake recipe.

Sheet pan chicken tikka

This queen of all tray bakes from Smitten Kitchen is still my favourite.

The version below is double the recipe (recipe serves 4) and so well and truly smothered in coriander and pickled red onion that you wouldn’t know there was chicken and potato and cauliflower underneath.

  • For the chicken
    • 4 cm piece of ginger, peeled and minced
    • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 1 fresh green chili seeded and minced
    • 1/2 cup yogurt
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder or cayenne
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon paprika
    • 1 teaspoon garam masala
    • 1 kg chicken thighs or drumsticks (skin-on, bone-in)
  • For the vegetables
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 4-6 potatoes, peeled if desired, cut into 2 cm chunks
    • 1 small cauliflower, cut into 2 cm-wide florets
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • To finish, if desired
    • A few thin slices of red onion
    • Lemon wedges
    • Salt
    • Dollops of yogurt
    • A few tablespoons roughly chopped coriander, parsley or mint
  1. Combine ginger, garlic, fresh chili, yogurt, salt, and spices  in bowl. Add chicken pieces and toss to coat evenly. Let marinate for 15 minutes or up to a day, covered, in the fridge.
  2. Preheat oven to 180C.
  3. Add potatoes, cauliflower, salt, cumin and olive oil to the roasting pan and toss together with your hands until evenly coated.
  4. Remove chicken from marinade and leave excess behind. Make spaces in the vegetables for chicken parts throughout the pan.
  5. Roast in oven for 20 minutes, then toss the potato and cauliflower to ensure they’re cooking evenly, and return the pan to the oven for 10 to 20 minutes more (i.e. 30 to 40 minutes total roasting time), until chicken and vegetables are cooked through.
  6. While it roasts, if you’d like to use lightly pickled onion rings on top ( it adds colour and a nice tangy fresh zip to the dish) separate the rings and toss them in a small bowl with a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Set aside until needed.
  7. When chicken and vegetables are cooked, top with dollops of yogurt, herbs and scattered the above onion rings all over.
  8. Serve right in the pan.

Truly delicious!

 

The knitting

This winter I finished off two long term WIPs.

A cable hat

This is from Moda Vera Mawson yarn and the pattern was on the ball band.

Memorable mostly for my daughter’s delight in the truly terrible photos of me modelling it (actually I have to admit that it was a lot of fun taking these photos).

But also memorable because I finished this off in the hospice at the bedside of my beloved father. Plus I used a cute label from KATM.

A lacy shrug

This one was started on holiday in Yorkshire – that’s Richmond castle in the background! It’s the wrap from pattern #5954 in Wendy Aran with Wool yarn, both purchased in a little shop in the middle of Leicester.

Happy holiday vibes to this one.

I don’t have any ‘good’ modeled shots of me wearing this (this is as good as it gets), but it was worn a lot WFH over winter. It is one of those great things to add for a little bit of extra warmth whilst sitting in a chilly home office.

The sewing

I know. Its time to get back to sewing…

Coming to the blog soon..

What I’ve been cooking this summer

This summer I’ve discovered a fabulous new salad, two great cakes and a new gluten free cookie recipe.

Carrot and edamame salad with soy ginger dressing

Salad:

  • 1  x 450g packet of frozen shelled edamame beans
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded or grated
  • 2 spring onions or half a red onion, finely sliced
  • a generous few handfuls of salad greens, some shredded
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted

Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the edamame for 2-3 minutes or until tender (they float to the surface). Drain well and run under cold water to stop them cooking further.

To make the dressing, put everything into  screw cap jar or small bowl and mix well to combine.

Combine all the salad ingredients in a large serving bowl. Mix well then drizzle over the dressing. There will probably be more dressing than needed, but it is delicious with whatever salad you are making the next day, or over cooked rice or noodles.

This is a slight adaptation of a recipe by Emma Galloway published in Cuisine in issue 197, Nov/Dec 2019.

Chocolate chip sour cream coffee cake

Cake

  • 120 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 300 grams caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 390 grams plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons bicarb soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt

Filling and Topping

  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 100 grams granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 175°C.

Butter a by 23 x 33 cm baking pan and line the bottom with baking paper. This makes a big cake! I used a roasting pan because none of my cake tins are that large.

In a large bowl, cream butter and 300 grams sugar. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla.

Whisk flour, bicarb soda, baking powder and salt together into a separate bowl.

Alternately mix in sour cream and then dry ingredients into butter mixture until both are used up and the batter is smooth and very thick.

In a medium bowl with clean beaters, beat eggs whites until stiff, then fold gently into batter.

In a small dish, combine the cinnamon and remaining 100 grams caster sugar for filling and topping.

Spread half the cake batter in the bottom of prepared pan and spread smooth. Sprinkle with half of cinnamon-sugar mixture and 1 cup of chocolate chips. Dollop remaining cake batter over filling in spoonfuls. Use a spatula to gently spread it over the filling and smooth the top. Sprinkle batter with remaining cinnamon-sugar and remaining chocolate chips.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, rotating halfway through, until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan.

This recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, published online at https://smittenkitchen.com/2006/11/chocolate-chip-sour-cream-cake/

Lemon blackberry yoghurt loaf

  • 1 1/2 cups (190 grams) + 1 tablespoon (10 grams) plain flour (if you’re skipping the fruit, you can also skip the last tablespoon of flour)
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (230 grams) plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (approximately 2 lemons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 255 grams) blackberries, frozen
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Grease a 22 by 11 by 7 cm loaf pan. Line the bottom with baking paper. Grease the sides of the pan.

Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

Mix the berries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, and fold them very gently into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in (a pastry brush works great for this, as does using a toothpick to make tiny holes that draw the syrup in better). Cool.

This recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, published online at https://smittenkitchen.com/2008/04/lemon-yogurt-anything-cake/

 

Salted Peanut Butter Cookies (gluten free)

Makes 26 to 28 cookies with a 1 2/3 tablespoon scoop. I used a 1 1/4 tablespoon quenelle scoop loaded up generously and made 25 cookies

  • 1 3/4 cups (335 grams) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups (450 grams) smooth peanut butter
  • Coarse-grained sea salt, to finish

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the light brown sugar and eggs until smooth. Whisk in vanilla extract, then the peanut butter until smoothie and completely incorporated. Yes, that’s all you need to do. So easy.

Scoop out mixture onto the prepared baking sheet.  I had an appointment to attend to I put the scooped out cookies on the baking tray into the freezer for over an hour before I baked them. This is recommended to get the tallest cookies and the striations across the top of the cookies, but I did it out of necessity and poor timing.

Sprinkle the cookies lightly with coarse-grained sea salt just before baking. Bake cookies for 14 to 15 minutes. When finished, cookies should be golden at edges.

They’ll need to set on the sheet for a minute or two before they can be lifted intact to a cooling sheet. Once they have cooled completely they are crisp outside and soft inside. Delicious!

This recipe is also from Smitten Kitchen, published online at https://smittenkitchen.com/2015/10/salted-peanut-butter-cookies/

He Cooks [pork pies]… She Sews [a BurdaStyle shirt 04/2013 #138]

For all the cooking He Who Cooks does and She who Sews eats, you’d think she’d return the favour and does some sewing for him, wouldn’t you? The odd pair of boxers and an apron now and then just doesn’t cut it.

This is another way of saying I finally made Chris a shirt.

I don’t think he really enjoyed being on the other side of the camera!

I used a cotton from Spotlight and BurdaStyle 04/2013 #138

138_0413_b_large

I compared the pattern to his RTW shirts to find his size and traced off a 98. Burda’s size charts would have put him several sizes bigger. I didn’t check the sleeve length against his RTW shirts. And you’ll find out below why that was a mistake.

I was very pleased with how the sleeve tower placket came out

I got him to try the shirt on before I added the cuffs. The sleeves seemed too long. Rashly I chopped off 8 cm, and lost lots of those lovely tower plackets. The sleeves are now a bit short. Perfect for me though. Just saying.  This pattern also has narrow cuffs and a slim collar. Also perfect for me. Not that I’ve been wearing it. Much.

What about those Pork Pies?

Chris’s were based on a recipe for Raised Pork Pies from Valerie Barrett published in  BBC’s Good Food, July 2013.

The filling

Pastry top being added

Crimped edge and a hole to add the aspic through after baking

Egg wash (and 21 because it was for a 21st birthday picnic for a talented pastry chef @lyndarella47)

Just out of the oven

And then calamity struck.

Those pies came out of the tins very reluctantly. In fact one didn’t come out at all, as a pie. The other sort of came out in one piece, albeit looking much more rustic than intended. Yes that is a bobbin case in the background.

All’s well that ends well though. Only one pie was really needed for the picnic and the filling from the other one was absolutely delicious in a salad!

 

 

 

 

Dude food and Jungle January tussles

He who Cooks doesn’t seem to have trouble with his ingredients having strong opinions.

Not enough minced meat for burgers? Some of those spicy sausages in the fridge will lose their skins for the cause.

My fabrics, however, can’t seem to behave.

This Silk Chiffon is horrified that a Cotton Twill from Ikea might even dare to think she can join Ann’s Jungle January.

“You’re not even a real zebra print” huffs Silk Chiffon. “And you’re not garment fabric, just cotton twill for curtains. How could you think you can possibly leap to the front of the queue?”

“And your pedigree is even worse” says Silk Chiffon in disdain. “You’re from Ikea, not a fashion designer like me”

Cotton Twill is starting to believe elegant Silk Chiffon.

Perhaps She who Cooks won’t let her to join the herd.

“I would be so good as a skirt” she whispers. “Think of all the stuff you already have that would coordinate with me. I know I’m not a real zebra print but…” Her voice starts to trail off as she hears Silk Chiffon starting to snort derisively.

Winter comfort food

Let’s start with dessert

Chocolate cake

I think you know what my priorities are. Yes. Chocolate is one of them. It’s a vegetable with lots of antioxidants. What’s that you say? Something about fat and sugar? Surely not!

This is the second time I’ve made this cake. First time was for craft night and exactly to David Herbert’s recipe. There were 8 lovely crafters and everyone had a slice. There was more than a quarter of the cake left.

Second time was in a smaller tin just for Sunday lunch (5 people). My cut down recipe was a little less than half of everything and is just right for a 16 cm tin. It also looks cute on He Who Cooks new mini cake stand. This time there was half a cake left. Its very rich!

Cake
70g butter, plus extra, melted, for brushing
90g dark chocolate, broken up
2 large eggs
90g granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder (I make this by combining two parts tartaric acid with one part sodium bicarbonate).
70g ground almonds
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
50g caramel chips

  • Preheat oven to 170°C (mine is fanforced, 180°C for regular ovens).
  • Line base of a 16cm-round springform tin with baking paper; and butter the sides ( squish a small piece of butter all the way round with your fingers).
  • Melt butter with chocolate carefully in the microwave (mid to low power, check every minute or so and stir, until smooth).
  • Crack eggs into a mixing bowl then add sugar, baking powder, almonds and vanilla. Mix to combine.
  • Pour in chocolate mixture and beat until creamy, then fold in chocolate chips.
  • Pour into tin, place on an oven sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes (don’t do what I did: set timer for 20 and then another 5 and another 5. The top should spring back when pressed. Mine almost did and I thought it should be cooked because the full size one was in this time so I took it out. Gooiness ensued. I did have fennel roasting in the oven at the same time. Perhaps that changed the timing?)
  • Remove from oven and leave to cool for 1 hour.

One way to disguise the sunk-in centre:

Topping
25g butter
50g dark chocolate, broken up

  • For topping, melt chocolate and butter and drizzle over top. Leave to set for 2 hours.

Roast lamb for main course

He Who Cooks put a crust of garlic, re-fried beans and taboulleh (parsley, onion and cracked wheat salad) on the lamb and roasted it on a rack above a bed of borlotti beans with stock, cherry tomatoes, diced celery and carrot. He also roasted root vegetables (heirloom carrots, butternut pumpkin and potatoes) in the same pan.

Pork Belly starter

  • Rub Chinese five spice liberally over the skin of the pork belly.
  • Use a slow cooker to braise the pork belly for about 4 hours in a 50/50 mix of cider and soy sauce (enough to come up the sides about 1 cm).
  • Drain the fat off and then reduce the cooking juices on the stove top with a splash of port until thickened slightly.
  • Crisp pork belly skin up in a hot oven.
  • Slice and serve with a drizzle of the reduced sauce and blanched greens (we used slivers of snow peas and the outer leaves of young brussels sprouts).

A fabulous Sunday lunch.

Now its time to go up to the sewing machine and make a casual winter coat (BurdaStyle 12-2011-114). In a boule style, to give plenty more room for more cake and other comfort food.

Burda uses faux fur, but I’m going to use this poly wool knit.

Looks like it’s going to be a great Sunday!

Nothing is not what He Cooks

He who Cooks has been asked a lot what he’s been cooking lately.

He says “nothing”.

This means only everyday cooking. Otherwise we would have starved, or eaten junk food, or .. even worse… She who Sews might have been cooking.

Seeing as I’m the lucky recipient of “nothing”, I thought I’d let you see what “nothing”, aka a simple weeknight meal, looks like.

Lovely Aussie lamb leg steak on a warm salad of grilled eggplant, grilled haloumi cheese, chickpeas, tinned four bean salad mix, diced tomato, Italian flat leaf parsley, dressed with garlic infused olive oil, salt and pepper. No recipe of course, just out of his head. Yum!

Oh lard won’t you bake me a Cornish pasty

Hello and welcome to our hundredth blog post! Now isn’t that a milestone!

My apologies to Janice Joplin for the title and I couldn’t help slipping in the pun, I thought seeing as I haven’t had a food related blog post here for ages and ages you would forgive me!

Now I hate winter…absolutely can’t stand it! ….I whine and moan all the way through it…. but I do like being able to cook ‘wintery’ food.

Nothing beats the smell of a baking pastry and blows the winter blues away. As you can guess from the title I used a little lard in the pastry. The recipe had half and half, butter and lard but I was never going to put that much in. I used more like an 20/80 mix.

I guess there are purists out there that have very set ideas about what vegetables should be in a pasty. I simply used a colourful mix. I was going to make the filling vegetarian but to  really be a Cornish pasty they must have meat in the filling.

I had some parsley in the freezer so I threw that in to make the filling look bright and cheerful.

You might make note that the vegetables I used made roughly twice as much filling as the pastry so doubling the pastry quantity for next time would be just right.

My crimping style would not win any prizes! (Traditionally Cornish pasties are supposed to have around 20 crimps) but hey, these are rustic homemade pasties right!

The recipe carried on about glazing the pastry with egg… I didn’t… I rarely do… perhaps it makes the pastry colour more evenly or gives the finished pasty a bit of gloss, but for me they are as good without all that fuss and bother.

So they didn’t look professional they weren’t glazed I didn’t measure any of the ingredients but they all disappeared very fast and were delicious…now that’s what I like!

Short crust Pastry

220 g plain flour
55 g butter
55 g lard
2 tablespoons water

Filling

1 medium-sized potato
1 medium onion
1 medium swede
1 medium carrot
4 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
300gms. minced meat
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

pre-heat the oven to 180°C

Put the butter and lard in food processor with the flour. Pulse the mixture until the mixture is evenly crumbly with maybe the odd few larger lumps. Don’t overdo this mixing.. Sprinkle one tablespoon of water over the mixture and pulse until the mix comes together. Place the mix in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile put the chopped swede, carrot, potato, parsley, and onion in a bowl mix the lot together with your hands so that the ingredients are roughly spread evenly throughout the mixture. Add the minced meat some salt (¼ teaspoon depending on your taste) and a few grinds of pepper.

Take the pastry from the refrigerator and roll it out with a rolling-pin to about 5mm (⅛ inch) thick. Press a saucer over the rolled pastry and cut round it to leave a circle of pastry. There should be enough pastry for 6 circles. You may need to do three circles then reform and re-roll the pastry. Place some of the filling on each circle, fold up and crimp the edges.

Cook the pasties in the pre-heated oven on a greased baking tray for 55 minutes.


Aussie Burgers

Making your own homemade hamburgers is not rocket science, but you get to squish the mixture through your fingers so it is almost as much fun as making a rocket.

I love the tongue poking out in this picture…a sure sign of intense concentration!… serious business this!

Scoop out tennis ball sized portions and roll them in your hands until smooth.

Pat the burgers at least 50 times each (not my instruction but the sous chef seemed to think it was necessary)

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 750g beef mince
  • 1 large brown onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh continental parsley
  • 70g (1 cup) breadcrumbs, made from day-old bread
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • Salt & ground black pepper, to taste

Method

  1. Buy mince that is not too fatty because the excess fat comes out during cooking, causing the patties to shrink and toughen and makes the BBQ hard to control, but don’t buy mince that is too lean ( is that possible?) because the patties will then be dry with little flavour.
  2. Breadcrumbs are not usually included in the traditional burger patty mixture, but their addition to this recipe helps to give the cooked patties a lighter, tenderer texture.
  3. The egg acts as a binding ingredient so that the patties can be easily shaped. It also helps them hold together when cooked.
  4. Throw everything except the mince into a food processor and chop until it is fine. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Mix with your hands until evenly combined.
  6. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions (you can use a 125mls / 1/2 cup measuring cup if you like). Shape each portion with your hands into a patty about: 10cm in diameter and 1.5cm thick.
  7. Place the patties onto a tray lined with- greaseproof paper. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to rest. Chilling the patties will help them hold together when cooked. This also allows the flavours in the patties to blend and develop.

Cooking at the Vanderbilts Estate

One of the surprise activities of the scientific meeting I attended was a cook-some-of-your-own dinner at Lioncrest, one of the restaurants on Biltmore Estate.

And what a lot of fun  we had!

The appetizer: Butter poached shrimp, dill spaetzle, bacon capers, wilted arugula. IMO, the highlight of the meal ( and not just because I was involved in its execution!).

Here’s part of the team I worked with to make the appetizer.

Here’s the expert with the small amount of butter needed for poaching. Heart attack anyone?

The spaetzle making kit was just a little bit bigger than what we had used recently in Adelaide with Russell to make dumpling for Hungarian goulash, but the same concept. [Why haven’t we done a blog about this?? anyway, some of the photos are here].It was sort of cool to find myself in a restaurant kitchen half way round the world doing the same sort of thing just a few weeks after having being introduced to making dumplings (spaetzle) this way in my own kitchen!

Another team made the salad (Bibb lettuce salad with local tomatoes, Roquefort cheese, spicy candied walnuts, fresh thyme vinaigrette, sourdough croutons)

Here’s one of the team getting instructions from the expert about how to crumble the Roquefort.

And some tomato corralling

The Entrée (main): Pan roasted beef flank steak stuffed with lobster and saffron risotto, served with rhubarb and red wine butter sauce.

Stuffing and rolling:

The final product before browning

And the dessert: Chocolate mousse torte (here with a Nomacorc couli rather than the normal squiggle!)

During production:

A fun evening with a smile right to the end!

Thanks to Edina, Katherine, Jamie and Andrew for sharing photos.

Beef Daube / Beef Bourguignon / Fancy Schmancy Stew

So what is Daube? and is Beef Bourguignon a Daube or are they both just stews with a fancy name?

My mum never cooked Bourguignon didn’t know what Daube was but she cooked many a stew. A stew you see is a simple combination of solid food ingredients that have been cooked in liquid and served in the resultant gravy, it can be meat or vegetables or a combination of both.

Now, to me stew is not a nice name, it conjures up images in my head of a combination of cheap fatty meat and vegetables that have been cooked in liquid a sort of thickened soup. My mum cooked it and we ate it because it was low-cost cooking and fed us hungry kids well. The trouble is good stews require long gentle cooking process to allow the gelatinous connective tissue in the meat to break down and become tender. This long process was fine in the days of a wood stove that burnt all day long but modern kitchens lack these. Using a pressure cooker was my mum’s answer to the problem the pressure cooker reduced cooking times typically by about 70 percent and simulated the effects of long braising. My trick is to cook the stew in a big Chasseur Enameled Cast-Iron pot in the oven and leave it in overnight; the warmth of the oven keeps it cooking gently for a long time after the stove has been turned off.

So back to the question what is a Daube? A Daube is a classic French dish made with cubed Beef braised in wine, vegetables, garlic, and ‘herbes de Provence’, so a Daube is a stew then, just like we had as kids right?… well no… as kids there was no, wine, garlic, or herbes de Provence, but yes a Daube is a stew… look back at the definition…but hang on you say, what about this Beef Bourguignon that he keeps rabbiting on about? Surely that is not a stew too? Sorry but,… yep it is! It is a stew prepared with Beef braised in red wine, traditionally pinot noir and Beef broth, generally flavoured with garlic, onions and a bouquet garni, with pearl onions and mushrooms.

The term stew really describes how the dish is cooked, it is described as wet cooking (as against roasting which is dry) so now you know!

Today’s version is not a classic Julie Child Beef Bourguignon from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I but certainly could be described as a Daube the added twist is a ‘crust’ of crunchy stars made from stale buttered bread ( it could also be done with pastry ).

Ingredients

  • 2 rashes of bacon
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 kg lean stewing Beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups red wine,
  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups brown Beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • A crumbled bay leaf
  • 500gms mushrooms, fresh and quartered
  • 100 gms button mushrooms.
  • 8 slices of day old bread

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Heat fat or oil in casserole until it is almost smoking. Add Beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides.

Brown the sliced vegetables.

Sweat the mushrooms

Return the Beef and vegetables to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the Beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes.

Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust).

Remove casserole and turn oven down to 160 degrees.

Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered.

Add the tomato paste, garlic, and herbs. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.

Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for several hours (turn oven off and go to bed.)

Before reheating, prepare button mushrooms.

Remove bacon rind (don’t discard yet) in a fry pan, fry rind and bacon for a few minutes add 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling

Add button mushrooms and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Remove from heat take out the rind and discard.

Add the mushrooms to the Daube.

Crunchy topping

Butter 8 slices of day old bread liberally.

Using a cookie cutter cut out shapes from each slice of bread.

Arrange the cut out portions over the top of the Daube

Heat in the oven until the Daube is bubbling and hot right through and the topping has browned nicely.

Serve with mash and greens.