Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sausage Rolls on Australia Day

First published Canberra Times 25 January 2012

A New Year promise to myself is to put a stop to my ever expanding cookbook collection that is enveloping my husbands book shelf space that contains his adored novels.  

This means ditching some of my less used, but much loved collection, which is actually akin to removing some of my teeth. Will it be the Women’s Weekly series? I still haven’t cooked the Devilled Brains with a Breadcrumb Top or the Fish Kedgeree. I still dream of working my way through each and every one of Margaret Fulton’s best works ever.

It’s another perfect rainy day, so with a Christmas leftover bar of Lindt for inspiration, and Verdi’s La Traviata punching out on ITunes, I painfully make two book stacks - keepers and throw-aways.

Where did I get my copy of The encyclopedia of World Cookery from? I flick to page nine, where it says readers can learn to use the cheap staple foods of other lands, exotic foods such as Italian pasta, and experiment with them. Wow, I might just go crazy, lose my head and try that dish! And there is my beautiful green leather bound copy of Cooking For Young Homemakers, edited by Ruth Berolzheimer in 1958, that’s cast meekly to the side. Some of its more endearing chapters read, Father Carves the Fowl, The Twosome at Dinner, and the Pie Baking Award at the County Fair. The smell of this book and the yellowed pages, some with smeared food stains, are the reasons why they are still with me after many years.  

Then there were the magazines! It seemed that during the 1980’s Australians had unlimited access to imported foreign journals. It must have been the golden age of magazine madness: piles of Paris-Match, Country Life and Madame Figaro obscured coffee tables, the floor, and the tops of toilet cisterns. You were thought to be very cosmopolitan if you subscribed. I have recipe clippings from these magazines stuck to old bits of paper falling out of the back of recipe books. These stay in the keeper pile.
So, sorry Claudia, Ruth and even Women’s Weekly, but I can’t bear to bail out and throw you to the recycling bin destined for a worm farm or far worse, made into cardboard boxes. I will just have to gain another bookshelf to make more space, adding to that stack of recipes that I must cook one day. This said, there is one book that does make its way with operatic catharsis, to the stack destined for a second hand book shop: the Original Tennessee Homecoming Cookbook of 1981, with the handwritten message in the fly leaf, Dear Anne, Hope that you enjoy this book. Happy Cooking! Love Marge and Judy. This is a book I can live without and have no further use for it, but maybe someone else can.

But it’s when I stumble across my edition of Claudia Roden’s Picnic Fare that I am reminded that we still cook many popular recipes from those eras and that not many of them are truly new. My popular sausage roll and spicy tomato sauce recipe that was always a hit when the kids had friends over, has only recently been updated to include some dukkah and spice.

So, with a last nibble of the Lindt, it’s time to prepare my sausage rolls to take to the Australia Day picnic in the park.

500g lamb mince
500g pork mince
2 eggs
1½ cups breadcrumbs
1/3 cup of Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tspn paprika
½ tspn ground nutmeg
1 tspn ground cumin
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 sheets of ready rolled puff pastry
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp milk for egg wash
salt and pepper
4 tbsp dukkah or sesame seeds

Tomato Sauce
2 punnets of cherry tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and ground black pepper
3 bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 200C. Combine the mince, 2 eggs, breadcrumbs, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, paprika, nutmeg, oregano and salt and pepper.

Place the pastry sheets on a floured surface and cut in half lengthways to give you six lengths of pastry. Divide the sausage meat mixture into six equal portions and place a portion down the centre of each piece of pastry.

Brush the pastry on each side of the meat with a little of the egg and milk wash to ensure the pastry seam sticks together when rolled.

Roll to enclose, placing the pastry seam down. This will prevent the seam splitting open during cooking.

Cut the sausage roll pastry lengths into quarters, and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush the top of each sausage roll with the egg wash and sprinkle with dukkah or sesame seeds. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until crispy and golden. This quantity makes about 20 rolls.

For the tomato sauce, while the sausage rolls are cooking place all the ingredients into a shallow tray and toss to combine. Place in the oven with the sausage rolls and cook for 25 minutes, shaking periodically to prevent sticking. When the tomatoes are soft and a little wrinkled, remove them from the oven.

Discard the bay leaves and place the contents of the pan into a small bowl. Using an electric processor, blend all the ingredients to a smooth paste. If you prefer you can then strain through a sieve to obtain a smoother sauce. Season to taste and serve with the sausage rolls. You can add a small amount of sugar or chilli to taste if needed, depending on the sweetness of the tomatoes.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Zucchini souffle

Photo by Steve Shanahan

First published Canberra Times 18 January 2012
From the best Paris restaurants to small country bistros, the soufflé has developed an unfair reputation for being unpredictable and frightens the most competent of cooks. 

There really is nothing complicated about making a soufflé, although there are three things you do need to know. It’s important to beat the egg whites until they hold semi-firm peaks but make sure they are still glossy; fold the whites into the soufflé base gently, so you don’t knock the air out that you have so carefully beaten in; have your guests seated at the table before you take the soufflé out of the oven, as the drama is over very quickly.

The best thing about a soufflé is it’s feather light texture and when combined with a green salad makes a delicate meal, great for this time of year.

15g butter, melted
1 ½ tbsp dried breadcrumbs
350g zucchini, chopped
125ml milk
30g butter
30g plain flour
75g Gruyere or Parmesan, finely grated
3 spring onions, finely chopped
4 eggs, separated

Serves 4
Preheat the oven to 180C. Brush a 1.5 litre soufflé dish or individual dishes with the melted butter and then tip the breadcrumbs into the dish. Rotate the dish to coat the side completely with breadcrumbs. Tip out the excess breadcrumbs.

Cook the zucchini in boiling water for 8 minutes until tender. Drain and then put the zucchini in a food processor with the milk and mix until smooth.

Melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan and stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes over low heat without allowing the roux to brown. Remove from the heat and add the zucchini puree, stirring until smooth. Return to the heat and bring to the boil. Simmer, stirring, for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat. Pour into a bowl, add the cheese and spring onion and season well. Mix until smooth, then beat in the egg yolks until smooth again.

Whisk the egg whites in a clean dry bowl until they hold firm peaks but are still glossy. With a large metal spoon, mix a quarter of the beaten egg white into the soufflé mixture and quickly but lightly fold it in, to loosen the mixture. Lightly fold in the remaining egg white, don’t worry if there are streaks of white not incorporated. Better this than to overbeat. Pour into the soufflé dish, and now the secret tip, run your thumb around the inside rim of the dish, about 2 cm into the soufflé mixture (try not to wipe off the butter and breadcrumbs). This ridge is the secret to helping the soufflé rise without sticking.

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the soufflé is well risen and wobbles slightly when tapped. Test with a skewer through a crack in the side of the soufflé – the skewer should come out clean or slightly moist. If the skewer is slightly moist, by the time the soufflé makes it to the table it will be cooked in the centre.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Turkey, chicken, lamb or pork salad

This recipe is a fantastic way of using up leftover protein from Christmas. You can throw whatever meat you fancy into it, and it just requires you to re cook it. So it's a twice cooked type of dish. This means that the meat will turn quite dry and sucks up the flavours more. It's how I really love meat, kind of crispy and crunchy. To remove the seeds from a half a pomegranate - find a freezer bag and hold the end of the pomegranate just inside the bag. Hit the end of the pomegranate with the handle of a knife sharpener or a mallet (just something heavy) and the seeds will fall out into the bottom of the freezer bag along with some of the juice. Just add both to the salad dressing. Doing this inside the bag contains the splash. I learnt the hard way - standing on a ladder to clean the splatter off the ceiling!!

The quantity serves 4.

2 handfuls of leftover meat
1/2 cup of cashew nuts
1/2 cup of cranberries
2 tspn five spice powder
1/2 cup of fresh chopped mint
1/2 cup of fresh chopped coriander
4 cups of mixed salad leaves
1 tbsp of honey
1 fresh chilli, finely chopped

juice of one mandarin
juice of one lime
seeds from 1/2 a pomegranate
half a red onion, chopped finely
olive oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
grated fresh ginger

Shred the meat and slice into thin strips and place into a dry pan over a medium heat. Add the cashews, cranberries and five spice. Give it a good stir and toast. Shake the pan every now and again to prevent burning.

Add the mint, coriander and salad leaves to a bowl. Make the dressing in a separate bowl and mix the fruit juices together. You can add the pomegranate juice in too. Stir in the onion. Add a good slug of olive oil and the sesame oil and soy sauce. Squeeze in the juice from the grated ginger between your fingers. throw away the fibre.

Stir the dressing and taste for seasoning. Drizzle over enough dressing to coat the salad leaves then toss with your hands.

Add the honey to the pan with the meat and stir through until coated. Turn up the heat and fry the meat on high to crisp it up. Toss half of your pan-fried meat through the salad leaves and transfer to a serving plate.

Spoon the remaining nuts, cranberries and crispy meat over the top of the salad and add another drizzle of dressing. Garnish with extra pomegranate seeds and fresh chilli.