Veal Chops Stuffed with Taleggio & Broccoli

Lidia's Veal Chops Stuffed with Taleggio & Broccoli

This recipe comes from Lidia Bastianich an Italian American chef who owns several restaurants in the States, has written countless cook books and made a number of television shows – she’s sort of the Barefoot Contessa of Italian food. I find her recipes to be very approachable and totally authentic, despite her many years living in the States Lidia’s recipes have stayed true to their Italian roots. I’ve made this dish on numerous occasions and I’m always blown away by it’s amazing flavour. Every mouthful packs a punch, from the tender veal to the cheesy goodness of the taleggio stuffing which seeps into the tomato sauce making it rich and creamy. This dish is deceptive in appearance, it may look like a simple veal chop braised in tomato sauce but once you start eating it you realise you’ve been duped and that this is veal chops and tomato sauce like you’ve never had before. I teamed the veal with soft polenta but you could also serve it with mashed potatoes or even pasta. If you can’t find good sized veal chops you can substitute with free range pork chops instead which are sometimes easier to find than veal chops.

Ingredients – Serves 4  Adapted from Lidia’s Italian American Kitchen

1 cup broccoli florets, cut into small in pieces, no larger than ½ inch
Salt
1 cup best quality Italian tomato passata
150g taleggio cheese, cut into small thin pieces
4 slices Italian Prosciutto, sliced thin
4 bone-in veal chops, each about 280g and 1-inch thick
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Plain flour
⅔ cup dry white wine
8 fresh sage leaves
freshly ground pepper
1⅓ cups chicken stock

Method

Cook the broccoli florets in a medium saucepan of boiling salted water until tender but still bright green, about 4 minutes. Drain the broccoli and rinse under cold water until cool. Drain thoroughly. Place the broccoli and the cheese into a small bowl and mix to combine. Taleggio cheese is quite soft so it will become sightly mashed up with the broccoli which is fine.

Lay a veal chop flat on a cutting board. Make a horizontal cut through the meat all the way to the bone. With the smooth side of a meat mallet gently pound each side until the veal is about half a centimetre thick. Place a slice of prosciutto over the butterflied veal chop, then place a quarter of the cheese and broccoli mixture over the prosciutto, smoothing it down to cover the veal. Fold the other side of the chop over the filling, press down the edges to seal slightly and fasten with a couple of toothpicks. Don’t worry too much about getting a perfect seal – some of the cheese will ooze out into the sauce regardless and this is what makes the tomato sauce so tasty. Press the stuffed chops gently to flatten them slightly. Repeat with the remaining chops. Season the stuffed chops with salt and pepper, then dredge them in flour to coat all sides lightly.

 
Stuffed Veal Chop

Heat the oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until the butter is light brown. Add the chops to the pan and cook until the underside is golden, about 4 minutes. Turn the chops, scatter the sage leaves around them and cook until the second side is golden, about 3 minutes. Pour in the wine and add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Bring to a boil and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato passata, bring to a boil, then pour in the stock. Bring to a boil, lower the heat so the sauce is simmering and cook, covered, until no trace of pink remains near the bone and the sauce is syrupy, about 12 minutes. Turn the chops and baste them with the sauce several times as they simmer.

Stuffed Veal Chops Braised Stuffed Veal Chops

The chops can also be cooked in the oven: Preheat oven to 180C. After adding stock to the pan, set the uncovered pan in a hot oven and bake, basting periodically for 15 minutes.

Transfer the chops to warm plates and spoon some of the sauce over each.

Veal Chops Stuffed with Taleggio & Broccoli

Khoresht Bogoli – Persian Lamb & Broad Bean Stew

Khoresht Bogoli - Persian Braised Lamb and Fava Bean StewThis is another one of my favourite khoresht. I adore broad beans and Persian food uses them in a number of different applications. In this slow braised stew the broad beans have been teamed with dill which is just one of those natural pairings and a match made in heaven. As far as Khoresht go this one is pretty easy to make in that there’s no tedious frying of vegetables, although the dill is gently sautéed for a few minutes before being added to the stew. My mother always sautés  her herbs when making khoresht which ensures the sauce has a lovely vibrant colour. The other tip for khoresht bogoli is to not cover the pot after the herbs and broad beans have been added. Covering the pan at that stage will give a murky colouring to the khoresht with the broad beans losing a lot of their vivid green colour. As with all khoresht, gentle, slow and long cooking is the key but your preparation time will be significantly reduced if you use frozen broad beans. If you’re lucky you may even be able to find podded frozen broad beans – some Middle Eastern stores carry them but frozen broad beans from the supermarket will need defrosting and de-podding, but it’s still much less time consuming than using fresh broad beans. If broad beans are in season and you wish to use them buy enough to give you 600g after they have been taken out of their main shell. You’ll then need to blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes and then de-pod them from their second skin. As with all khoresht the only accompaniment required is plain basmati rice.

Ingredients – Serves 6 generously and freezes well

4 medium sized onions, finely diced
Neutral tasting vegetable oil or ghee
½ teaspoon tumeric
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
700g diced lean leg of lamb – pieces should be roughly 2cm in size
1 cup finely chopped dill
600g frozen broad beans, defrosted and podded – see note above if you wish to use fresh broad beans
Juice of half a large lemon

Method

Heat a generous amount of oil or ghee in a heavy based saucepan over medium heat (make sure you use enough as there are a lot of onions and you don’t want the onions to stick to the pan or burn). Add the onions and a large pinch of salt and sauté until the onions are golden brown. Take your time with this stage and moderate your heat so as the onions cook slowly and achieve a nice caramelisation. Add the turmeric and cook for another couple of minutes. Increase the heat, add the meat and cook, stirring occasionally until the meat has changed colour. Add a heaped teaspoon of salt and a good few grinds of black pepper. Stir again and add enough boiling water to just cover the meat, with only the tips of the meat poking through the water. Bring to a simmer then cover the pan, lower the heat to a slow simmer and cook for about 1- 1½ hours or until the meat is tender.

Broad Beans/Fava Beans for Khoresht Meat & Onions for Khoresht Bogoli

Whilst the meat is cooking, place a few tablespoons of oil or ghee in a small skillet or fry pan and place over low heat. When the oil has heated add the dill and sauté gently for a few minutes until the dill has softened and the oil in the pan has turned a light green colour. Set aside. When the meat is tender add the broad beans, the dill – along with the oil in the pan, and the lemon juice. Stir gently to incorporate the dill and broad beans. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. I always find that at this stage I do need to add a little more salt. Bring the pan to a simmer and cook uncovered for about a further hour until the meat is fork tender.

Khoresht Bogoli Khoresht Bogoli

By the time the meat has reached this stage the sauce should have reduced sufficiently and the broad beans cooked through – nice and soft but not mushy. You want the  khoresht to be quite thick with not too much liquid so if you need to reduce your sauce more just cook it for a little longer. Make sure that during this time your heat is nice and low and that the khoresht is only just lightly simmering and stir it occasionally (very gently) to make sure it’s not sticking. If your stove is quite fierce use a simmer pad and conversely if during the cooking time you find that your sauce is too thick just add a little bit of boiling water. Serve hot over basmati rice.

Khoresht Bogoli - Persian Lamb & Fava Bean Stew

Caramelized Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

Caramelized Rhubarb Upside Down CakeWhen I was growing up it was compulsory to take home economics in the first two years of high school. I used to love those weekly lessons with Mrs King who was tasked with teaching us the basics of cookery. And by basics, I mean basics. Grilled tomatoes and lemon delicious pudding made from a packet were some of the recipes that come to mind. However on one occasion we were given a recipe and a demonstration of how to make a pineapple upside down cake. I thought it was a thing of beauty – especially the maraschino cherries proudly adorning the centre of each canned pineapple ring! It’s a retro throwback now but It was the first “serious” cake I ever made on my own and boy was I proud of it. Upside down cakes back then were all the rage but they went out of fashion for a while which was such a shame, luckily they’re making a comeback and this caramelized rhubarb version shows just how far the upside down cake has come. Making a caramel for the rhubarb slices to sit on not only makes it easy for the pieces to be strategically placed without moving around but the sweetness of the caramel contrasts beautifully with the slightly sour tang of the rhubarb. The cake portion is more or less a classic cake batter but the addition of sour cream ensures a lovely moist and dense crumb. If you’re a fan of rhubarb you’re going to love this cake and if you’re not then simply replace it with your favourite fruit – pears, apples, plums would all work well or stick to good old fashioned pineapple rings, maybe minus the cherries.

Ingredients

Caramel
¾ cup (150 g) sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
40g unsalted butter, cut into large dice
680 g fresh rhubarb, trimmed and cut into ¾-inch slices – about 1 large bunch

 Cake
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
130g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs

Crumb Topping
60g cold unsalted butter, diced
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Method

Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch-diameter, high round cake pan (don’t use a springform pan as the caramel might leak out during baking). Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper, cut to fit, and grease the paper.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Stop stirring; increase the heat to high, and cook, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystallization, until the mixture turns into a golden caramel. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately whisk in the butter, one piece at a time (be careful: the mixture will bubble up furiously). Carefully pour the hot caramel into the bottom of the prepared pan. Arrange a circle of rhubarb slices around the outer edge of the pan, on top of the caramel. Arrange the remaining slices in the centre, covering the caramel completely.

To make the crumb topping, place all the ingredients in a bowl and and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Set aside.

To make the cake batter, preheat to 180C. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream and vanilla extract and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium-high speed until creamy. Gradually add the sugar and beat at high speed until the mixture is lightened in texture and color. Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. At low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating it with the sour cream mixture in two additions. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix just until blended. Spoon the batter in large dollops over the rhubarb. Smooth the batter into an even layer.

Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the batter and bake for about an hour, until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set the pan on a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan. Using pot holders, very carefully invert the cake onto a cake plate or platter. Peel off the parchment paper, if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Caramelised Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

Milk Braised Pork Ragu with Fresh Fettuccine

Milk Braised Pork Ragu with Fresh FettucineAs I was typing the title to this post I realised I had published a similar recipe not so long ago. Both are pork dishes that are braised in a dairy based sauce and yet despite the essence of  two dishes being similar they actually taste quite different. This is a really divine pasta sauce – comforting and moorish in the way that all creamy pastas are but with the benefit of using milk to create a rich sauce instead of cream. The milk, onions and garlic that have been used to braise the pork are cleverly blended at the end of the recipe to create a thick and creamy sauce that is packed with flavour. If, like me, you struggle to find pasta recipes that veer away from the usual tomato based ragus then this recipe needs to go into your “to make” file. If you have the time and inclination making your own fettuccine would be well worth it for this ragu but a good quality store bought fresh pasta is just fine.

Ingredients – Serves 6  Adapted from Chow.com

2 kg  pork neck/pork scotch fillet or boneless pork shoulder (also known as pork butt) – if your piece of pork is too big to fit into your pan comfortably you can cut it in half
½ tablespoon salt, plus more as needed
½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
4½ cups whole milk
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 good size onion, cut into large dice
4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
600g fresh fettuccine
A few fried sage leaves to garnish – optional

Method

Remove the pork from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels and season with the measured salt and pepper; set aside. Place the milk, garlic, onion, thyme, and bay leaves in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, add the pork, cover with a tight fitting lid, and cook for 75 minutes. Turn the pork over and continue cooking for another 75 minutes. Uncover and cook until the pork is fork-tender and easily shreds, about 30 minutes more. Transfer the pork to a cutting board.

Milk Braised Pork

Increase the heat to medium high and cook the braising liquid, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pot to release any browned bits that have accumulated, until the liquid has reduced by half, about 25 minutes. (The sauce will look lumpy and curdled.) Meanwhile, prepare the meat and pasta. Using 2 forks, shred the pork into bite-sized pieces, discarding any large pieces of fat; set the meat aside. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water, and set aside. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf from the reduced braising liquid and transfer the liquid to a blender. Blend on high speed until smooth or alternatively, use an immersion blender.

Shredded Meat Braised Pork Milk Braised Pork Ragu

Return the sauce to the pot, add the shredded pork and stir to evenly combine, adding the reserved pasta cooking water as needed. When the sauce has heated through, taste and season with salt and pepper. Stir the cooked pasta through the sauce and serve immediately, garnished with the fried crispy sage leaves.

Milk Braised Pork Ragu with Fresh Fettuccine

Black & White Angel Food Cake – How To Use Up A Lot of Leftover Egg Whites

Black & White Angel Food Cake

Angel food cake originated in the United States and is basically a very light and airy sponge cake made mainly from beaten egg whites. It couldn’t be more aptly named as it certainly tastes like something angels would eat! I came across angel food cake when I was trying to find a recipe that would deplete my freezer of the many many egg whites I have stored there from making ice cream, custards and sauces. Pavlova would be the obvious choice but they only really use about 4 egg whites and that wouldn’t even make a dent in my supplies. But angel food cakes use a dozen egg whites, yes a whole dozen – perfect!

This particular recipe is from Ina Garten and incorporates grated dark chocolate, hence the black and white reference. It’s also topped with a chocolate ganache icing which is heavenly too. You don’t need to necessarily include the chocolate if you don’t want to – most angel food cakes are made plain with maybe some grated lemon or vanilla extract as the only flavourings. As an alternative topping to the ganache you can just spread over whipped cream or make a berry sauce. Angel food cakes are easy to make as long as you don’t have to whip the egg whites by hand. You also need to bake it in a tube tin. Tube tins are made specifically for this kind of cake and can be purchased from any good kitchenware shop. They are metal and not coated with any tefal or non stick coating, otherwise the egg whites won’t rise and in keeping with that same principle you should never grease the pan. This is a lovely light dessert and perfect after a heavy meal or on a hot day and if you have diet conscious guests they’ll be pleased to know that it contains no fat (other than the little in the chocolate, but as I said above, you can leave that out). You’ll definitely feel virtuous making this cake- you not only use up leftovers that would normally be thrown away but it’s healthy too!

Ingredients – Serves 8  Adapted from Ina Garten

2 cups sifted caster sugar
1⅓ cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising) – or you can use plain flour and replace 2 tablespoons with corn flour and sift them together well
1½ cups egg whites at room temperature (10 to 12 eggs)
½ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup coarsely grated dark chocolate

For the glaze:
250g dark chocolate
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon cream

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C – not fan forced. Combine ½ cup of the sugar with the flour and sift them together 4 times. Set aside.
Place the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed until the eggs form medium-firm peaks, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the remaining 1½ cups of sugar by sprinkling it over the beaten egg whites. Beat on high speed until thick and shiny. Add the vanilla and continue to whisk until very thick, about 1 more minute. Scrape the beaten egg whites into a large bowl. Sift quarter of the flour mixture over the egg whites and fold it very carefully into the batter with a rubber spatula. Continue adding the flour in 3 equal additions, sifting and folding until it’s all incorporated. Fold in the grated chocolate.

 Egg Whites for Angel Food Cake  Tube Tin for Angel Food Cake

Pour the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan, smooth the top, and bake it for 35 to 45 minutes, until it springs back to the touch. Remove the cake from the oven and invert the pan on a cooling rack. When cool, run a thin, flexible knife around the cake to remove it from the pan.

Black & White Angel Food Cake Black & White Angel Food Cake

For the chocolate glaze, place the chocolate and the heavy cream in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until the chocolate melts. drizzle the chocolate over the top of the cooled cake and allow it to drizzle down the sides.

Chocolate Angel Food Cake

Braised French Onion Chicken with Gruyère- An Amazing Winter’s Meal

Braised French Onion Chicken with Gruyere

This dish is built on the same principles as a traditional French Onion Soup but with the addition of chicken. It’s half soup and half stew – the inclusion of chicken and a thicker sauce making it substantial enough for a main meal. This has fast become one of my favourite warming winter meals. It’s utterly delicious and comforting with just enough effort in the cooking to make it satisfying to prepare but not so arduous that you think twice about whipping it up. As with French onion soup, the careful cooking and caramelising of the onions is really important and is what binds the whole dish together, giving it that amazing rich brown colour that all good French Onion soups have. The differences are of course the inclusion of boneless skinless thigh fillets (breast fillets just wouldn’t be as good here) and the fact that it lacks the usual bread and cheese topping. Instead, just grated Gruyère cheese (and lots of it please) is placed on top of the finished dish and then grilled until beautifully melted and golden. Crusty bread served alongside is a must and I also like teaming it with a warm green bean salad dressed with lots of chopped tarragon and a thick dijon mustard vinaigrette. This is a must make knock out of a dish.

Ingredients – Serves 4-6  Adapted from The Kitchn

3 tablespoons butter
1 kg onions, sliced into thin half-moons
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 small sprigs thyme, leaves only
1 sprig rosemary
2 cups best quality beef stock, divided
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1.5kg boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 cup finely grated Gruyère cheese

Method

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted completely and foams up, add the onions. Stir as you add the onions to coat them in the butter. Sprinkle lightly with salt and black pepper. Cook the onions for about 40 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally.

When the onions have developed an evenly light beige color throughout, add the garlic, thyme leaves, and whole rosemary sprig, and cook for a few minutes more, stirring frequently. Turn the heat up to high and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring frequently. You want dark, slightly burnt spots to appear on the onions, and for them to develop a rich mahogany color. When the onions get quite dark, add 1 cup of the beef stock. Add it slowly, stirring and scraping the pan vigorously to scrape up any burnt or stuck-on bits. When the liquid has been added, bring it back up to a simmer and simmer lightly for 5 minutes, or until it is somewhat reduced.

Take the onions off the heat and pour them into a oven-safe dish with a lid. (If you don’t have a Dutch oven or another oven-safe dish with a lid, you can use a baking dish. Just cover it tightly with a double layer of foil.). I prefer to use a shallow dish which gets a better result in the final step when you come to grill the cheese on top of the chicken.

Heat the oven to 160C. While the onions are cooking, brown the chicken. Heat a skillet or fry pan over medium-high heat. Pat the chicken thighs dry and season lightly with salt and black pepper. Add the olive oil to the skillet and when it’s hot, add the thighs and brown for about 3 minutes on each side, 6 minutes total. When they’ve developed a golden-brown crust, remove from the pan and set on top of the caramelized onions in the baking dish.

Add the remaining 1 cup stock to the pan. Stir vigorously, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Whisk in the balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until reduced by half. Pour this sauce over the chicken and onions, and put the lid on the baking dish. The chicken and onions will look quite saucy; there will be plenty of liquid in the baking dish.

(At this point you can refrigerate the dish for up to 48 hours. Let it sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before baking, or else add about 5 minutes to the bake time.)

Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and turn on the grill element. Take the lid off the baking dish, and sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top of the chicken. When the griller has heated up, return the dish to the oven and grill for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden on top. Serve hot with plenty of crusty bread on the side.

Braised French Onion Chicken with Gruyere

Fragrant Indian Lamb Curry

Ultimate Indian Lamb CurryThis curry was originally meant to be a lamb and okra curry as I had recently purchased some lovely okra from the local grocer. However, I misjudged how long the okra had been sitting in the fridge and they were well past their best. I was so disappointed – I not only hate waste but I was also really looking forward to some tender braised okra. I decided to go ahead with the curry and substitute broad beans instead which actually worked really well, but to be quite honest the lamb curry was so good that it didn’t need anything else to liven it up. So next time I’ll leave the “green” element for a side dish. I’m not sure what this curry would be called in “restaurant-speak” it’s closest equivalent would be a mild sort of Madras curry I think, in any case it’s delicious and uses a pretty standard curry base of onions, ginger and garlic. The spices whilst mild are very aromatic. As with most curries the most important element in the cooking process is to take your time caramelising the onions, spices and tomatoes which gives great depth of flavour and colour to the finished dish. All you need to accompany this is some basmati rice and a cooling yogurt raita.

Ingredients – Serves 4-6 and freezes well

Note:  The broad beans in the recipe are very optional. They do stretch the curry out a bit and lend a nice buttery texture but as I mentioned above, the lamb curry was so good that it didn’t really need the broad beans and I probably wouldn’t bother adding them next time.

Vegetable oil or ghee
3 onions, finely diced
Salt
1 cinnamon stick
6 cloves
4 cardamon pods
6 cloves of garlic, grated
2 inch piece of ginger, grated
2 green chillies, split in half lengthways
½ teaspoon ground fennel
½ teaspoon tumeric
½ teaspoon chilli powder
½ teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground fenugreek
2 heaped tablespoons tomato paste
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1kg diced leg or shoulder of lamb, with all the fat removed – dice should be about 11/2 inches
¼ cup yogurt
1 cup podded frozen broad beans, optional – see note above

Method

Place a large heave bottomed saucepan over medium high heat and add a generous amount of oil or ghee, at least a quarter of a cup. Add the onions along with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until golden brown. There are a lot of onions so add more oil to the pan if you feel it needs it. Add cinnamon, cardamon, cloves, chillies, grated ginger and garlic and fry for a further few minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Lower the heat and add the fennel, turmeric, chilli powder, smoked and plain paprika, coriander, cumin and fenugreek and cook again for a further few minutes. If at anytime the pan is running too dry and the spices are sticking add a splash of water. When the spices have cooked for a few minutes add the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes and desiccated coconut and cook until the tomatoes have broken down and the curry base has been nicely caramelised. If this is done on a medium to low heat it should take a good 15 minutes and again, if the pan looks to be running dry add a little water but the juice from the tomatoes should prevent that from happening.

Curry Base Curry Base for Indian Lamb Curry

Curry Base for Indian Lamb Curry Indian Lamb & Broad Bean Curry

Add the lamb and stir to coat it thoroughly with the spice and tomato mixture. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook until the lamb is fork tender – anywhere from 1 – 1½ hours depending on the cut of the lamb. Check the curry from time to time, giving it a stir and making sure it’s not sticking. If you are using the broad beans add them to the pot about 20 minutes before the lamb is ready, stirring them into the curry to distribute them evenly. By the time the lamb is tender the sauce should be sufficiently thickened, but if it’s not, raise the heat a little and cook uncovered until it has thickened to your liking. When the curry is ready turn off the heat and add the yogurt, gently stirring it through. Place the lid back on and leave the curry to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Fragrant Indian Lamb Curry

My Favourite Carrot Cake

My Favourite Carrot CakeIt’s only been in recent years that I’ve developed an appreciation for carrot cake. It was never something I would think of ordering when I was out and I only remember making it at home on a few occasions. But my niece has really turned me on to the beauty of a great carrot cake. It’s one of her favourites, so much so that she requests it for any special occasion – most recently her birthday. She’s a pretty harsh judge too and after the number she’s tasted, I’d say a bit of an afficiondo on carrot cakes. I think she would agree that a good carrot cake is all about the texture – it needs to be moist but not so much so that it doesn’t retain a good crumb. And you can never under estimate the importance of the icing which can make the difference between a good carrot cake and a great one.

I like a carrot cake which has walnuts and raisins added to the mix, which this one does, but all the elements should really blend into one another and no particular ingredient should stand out when you eat it. This particular version includes crushed pineapple as well which really adds to the moistness and because the pineapple is crushed you don’t encounter large chunks of it in the cake, which I personally don’t like. Whilst carrot cakes are pretty easy, in that everything can be mixed together in one bowl, there is a lot of measuring, grating and chopping involved so it can take a little bit of time to prepare, but it’s certainly not a difficult cake to make. An iced double layered cake like this one will easily feed 12 people but it keeps well and can be stored in the fridge for quite a number of days.

Ingredients

1 ¼ cups neutral tasting vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup caster sugar
4 eggs
2 cups plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups grated carrots — packed, about 3 large carrots
1 cup crushed tinned pineapple — well drained
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup raisins

Icing
340g Cream cheese — softened, it’s important for the cheese to be at room temperature so best to leave it out overnight
90g butter — softened, again best to leave it out overnight
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2¼ cups (290g) icing sugar, not icing mixture

Method

Grease and line the base of 2 x 9inch or 22-23cm cake tins. Pre-heat the oven to 180C (not fan-forced). In a large bowl, cream together the oil and sugars, I just do this with a large whisk. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until well blended. In another bowl, blend flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture a third at a time to the oil mixture, beating just enough to blend. Fold carrots, pineapple, nuts and raisins into the batter.

Pour the batter into the greased pans and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes then turn the cakes out on a wire rack and cool completely.

Ultimate Carrot Cake

To make the icing, beat the cream cheese and butter in an electric mixer on medium speed, until smooth. Add lemon juice and vanilla and beat until combined. Add sugar gradually, mixing on low until smooth.

Carrot Cake Icing

To ice the cake, place one layer on a cake platter, and with a metal spatula spread some of the icing over the top to form a thin filling. Place second layer over the first, rounded side up. Coat the top and sides of the cake evenly with remaining icing. Refrigerate for at least an hour to set icing.

Ultimate Carrot Cake

Roast Beetroot, Carrot & Red Onion Salad with Goat’s Curd

Roast Beetroot, Carrot & Red Onion Salad with Goats CurdI’m always on the look out for new side dishes. A lot of our meals are based around grilled/roasted meats and poultry so my repertoire of side dishes is pretty expansive but even so I never seem to have enough for a good rotation. With the evenings becoming cooler (only just – it’s almost the end of Autumn and we’re having the most amazing Indian summer) I’m leaning towards warm salads and this mix of roasted beetroot and heirloom carrots is really good. I like to roast the beetroot, carrots and onions all on the one sheet pan which saves on time and washing up, making this  nice and easy to prepare. If you have too much going on in the oven and can’t roast the vegetables at the last minute just roast them ahead of time and keep them at room temperature in an oven proof dish, then just before serving give them a quick blast in the oven for 5 minutes or even in the microwave. I sometimes serve this at room temperature rather than warm which eliminates any last minute fiddling. I served this as a side dish but it would be lovely as a first course as well.

Ingredients – Serves 4 as a side dish or first course

6 medium size beetroot, use different colours and varieties if you can find them
2 bunches of baby carrots, again use heirloom carrots in different colours if you can
3 small red onions
A few large handfuls of sturdy salad leaves such as rocket or baby kale
Olive oil
1 tablespoon caster sugar
½ cup balsamic vinegar
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
⅓ cup goats curd – you can substitute with soft goats cheese

 Method

Preheat oven to 200C. Wash and trim the beetroot and cut them in half or quarters if they are large. Peel and trim the baby carrots. Peel and slice the red onions into large wedges. Place all the vegetables on a large sheet pan in separate rows – this will stop the colour from the beetroots bleeding into the other vegetables. Season each vegetable well with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the caster sugar over the beetroot and carrots then drizzle all the vegetables with half of the balsamic vinegar and some olive oil. Using your hands lightly toss each row of vegetables ensuring they are well coated with oil, balsamic and seasoning.

Roast Beetroot, Carrots & Red Onions

Place the vegetables in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. At this stage the onions should be ready and if they are you can remove them. Continue roasting for another 15-20 minutes or until all the vegetables are golden and cooked through. The beetroot may take the longest time – just remove the vegetables as they become ready and set aside.

To make the dressing, place the remaining balsamic vinegar, half a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper into a small screw top jar and add an equal amount of olive oil. Shake vigorously until well combined. Place the salad leaves on a platter or shallow salad dish and toss lightly with some of the dressing. Lightly toss the roasted vegetables with the remaining dressing and combine them with the salad leaves. To finish dot the salad with small spoons of the goats curd, serve warm or at room temperature.

Roast Beetroot, Carrot & Red Onion Salad with Goats Curd

Veal & Eggplant Parmigiana

The Best Veal & Eggplant Parmigiana

I’m a huge fan of Parmigiana. Unfortunately it tends to be viewed as a bit of an old fashioned retro dish, something you would find on pub menus and in mom and pop style Italian restaurants, but done well it can be a spectacular meal. The term “parmigiana” basically refers to a dish where the ingredients are fried and stacked between layers of tomato sauce and cheese before being baked. The most common version is made with eggplant but it’s also popular with either chicken or veal. This is my favourite version as it combines both eggplant and veal. I found this recipe many years ago in an old Australian Women’s Weekly cookbook where it was referred to as veal and eggplant casserole – obviously the term parmigiana at that time would have left most Australians scratching their heads. The original recipe was a little basic so I’ve updated and tweaked it over the years but at the end of the day it’s simply a mixture of good home made tomato sauce (the quality of the sauce makes a big difference to the end product), veal scaloppine which have been crumbed and fried, fried eggplant slices and mozzarella. It’s a bit of a fiddly dish to put together with all the crumbing and frying but you can do it in stages and it helps if you have a batch of home made tomato sauce in the freezer. The effort though is very much worth it. Paying attention to the little details in this classic dish and using quality ingredients will reward you with a truly comforting and delicious meal.

Ingredients – Serves 4-6 

6 small thin pieces of veal scaloppine – each one should be about the size of your palm
½ cup of flour or enough to coat the veal
1 large egg, beaten with a little milk
1 cup bread crumbs, you may need a little more or less depending on the size of your veal pieces
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Salt & pepper
Olive oil – not extra virgin
2 medium size eggplants – you need about 12-14 slices
1 cup grated mozzarella
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan

For the Tomato Sauce – makes more than you need but freezes well
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely grated
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Extra virgin olive oil
½ cup red wine
2 x 400gm cans of Italian diced tomatoes
Salt
Pinch of chilli flakes

Method

To make the tomato sauce: Place a generous amount of oil in a heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions along with a pinch of salt. Cook until soft and translucent. Add the grated carrot and cook until wilted and starting to brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the red wine, bring to a simmer and cook until the wine has reduced by half. Add the tomatoes, rinsing each can with a small splash of water, season with salt and the chilli flakes. Bring to a simmer and cook partially covered on low heat for 30-45 minutes. By this time the tomatoes will have broken down and the sauce will be reduced, if you want the sauce thicker just cook it for a little longer with the lid off. Taste for seasoning and set aside.

To prepare the veal: Season the veal well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Place the flour, egg and breadcrumbs into shallow dishes and add the chopped parsley and garlic powder to the bread crumbs, mixing to combine. Crumb the veal by placing a slice in the flour, shaking off any excess. Then place into the egg mixture, again letting the excess drip off. Finally place into the breadcrumbs and press the crumbs well onto both sides of the veal. Repeat with the remaining veal slices. Place a large non stick skillet or frypan over medium-high heat and add enough olive oil to  coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot add as many veal slices as will fit in a single layer and cook until lightly golden on both sides. Repeat with the remaining veal slices, adding more oil to the pan as you go.

Fried Eggplant for Parmigiana Crumbed Veal for Parmigiana

To prepare the eggplant: Slice the eggplant into 1cm rounds. I prefer to leave the skin on. Place them in a colander and sprinkle well with salt. Leave to sit for 30 minutes after which time they will have released some liquid. Pat the eggplant pieces dry with kitchen paper, wiping off as much of the excess salt as possible. Place a large non stick skillet over medium high heat and add a generous amount of olive oil – enough to cover the base of the pan well. When the oil is hot add the eggplant slices and cook until golden brown. You’ll notice that the eggplant will soak up just about all the oil in the pan but resist adding more. When the slices have become nicely brown turn them over and by this stage a little of the oil that the eggplants first soaked in will start to release back into the pan, not much, but enough to let you finish browning the other side. If you really feel that your pan is too dry add oil in small stages, just a tablespoon at a time. Remove the eggplants as they finish browning and rest on a wad of kitchen towels. Add more oil to your pan and repeat the process until all the eggplant slices are browned. It’s important that when you fry the eggplant you really achieve a nice golden colour so take your time and adjust your heat as you go.

Assembling Veal & Eggplant Parmigiana Veal & Eggplant Parmigiana

To assemble the dish: Preheat the oven to 180C. Spread a few heaped spoons of the tomato sauce on the bottom of an oven proof dish that is not too deep. I used a round 25cm cast iron dish, but any shape will do. Place three of the veal pieces over the tomato sauce and top with a handful of the grated mozzarella. Place enough of the eggplant slices to roughly cover the dish. Repeat with another layer of tomato sauce, veal and eggplant, ending with tomato sauce. Finish the dish off by sprinkling the rest of the mozzarella over the tomato sauce and topping with the grated parmesan. Then using your hands press down firmly but gently, compressing they layers. Place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes or until bubbling and golden. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Ultimate Parmigiana - Veal & Eggplant