Sunday, March 28, 2010

beautiful sunday

This is not a post for a recipe. So if you are expecting one, I do not mind if you stop reading now. But I would be delighted if you stay and read a while. Who knows you might get some idea out of this. Hopefully.

I just want to share our menu (yes a menu!) for our Sunday lunch.

We had our good friends,the dynamic duo of J & K, over for lunch today. J who is such a computer geek (and I say that affectionately) is coming over to help us sort out our computers i.e., install programs on the new laptop and reformat an old one. My husband reckons that since he is coming to help us out the least we could do is serve something special for lunch. So he asked around and finally came up with the idea of having a Mediterranean bbq. A vegetarian Mediterranean bbq. Because it would be nice to have a barbeque on a warm, sunny day. Except that it rained. But anyways...

For entree we had ciabbata with butter, baked tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil and fresh oregano and fried haloumi drizzled with sweet chili and lime sauce. It was yummy, the haloumi most especially. We had champagne to start too.

For the main dish we had fried polenta with tomato salsa, grilled eggplant with fresh thyme and olive oil, grilled capsicum with basil and olive oil and mixed lettuce salad with feta. We were supposed to put avocado in the salad but the avocado we got was not very good so we had to chuck that idea out.

The salad is just your basic salad with balsamic vinegar dressing and a splash of this dressing we bought at the Willunga markets once called Seduction. Yes, we bought that dressing because of the name.

The polenta turned out to be really good. And I have to say both my husband and I have not cooked it before. Did not know it is such physical activity. All the stirring you have to do! I must admit the husband did most of it. Well, actually most of the cooking today. The tomato salsa is my husband's own recipe because he is such a smart cookie.

I just love the colours on this plate. For this we had 3 kinds of wines, we had a 2006 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, a 2006 Shiraz from Coonawarra and a 2006 Cabernet Shiraz from Clare Valley. Coonawarra and Clare Valley, by the way, are two of the wine regions here in South Australia.

For dessert we had biscotti, turkish delight and cappucino and Italian espresso. And a bit of dessert wine, a Botrytis Semillon.

I have to mention too that all the fresh herbs used are all from little kitchen garden. I just love our herb garden!

We were so full that we had to burn the calories by walking around our suburb and checking out our neighbours' houses. Some of our neigbours houses are so fancy!

We were supposed to have some crackers with babaganoush and hummus and/or double brie cheese but we did not get around to doing it.

I must also say that although it seemed that we drank a lot of wine, we did not get drunk because our lunch which started at a around half past one in the afternoon ended at about half past 5 so the alcohol was spread out over a few hours. Our bodies had time to metabolize the alcohol. Ooopps, do I sound defensive? Sorry did not mean to.

All in all it was a great Sunday. Spending time with good friends with good food, good wine and great conversations, is one of the best way to spend a lazy, rainy Sunday. I am truly blessed to have such good friends and a good husband who can cook.

Hope you had a great weekend too!

Here's our menu again:

Mediterranean Lunch

Ciabatta with butter
Baked tomatoes with olive oil and oregano
Grilled haloumi drizzled with olive oil and lime

Taltarni Champagne Vintage 2008

Main course
Fried polenta with tomato salsa
BBQ (grilled) eggplant with thyme and olive oil
BBQ (grilled) capsicum with basil with olive oil
Salad – salad mix with feta cheese

Wine: Vasse Felix Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Coonawarra Shiraz 2006
Clare Cabernet Grenache 2006

Turkish delight
Cappucino/Italian espresso

Wine: Woodstock Botrytis Semillon 2006

Cheese –double brie
Dips – babaganoush and hommus

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

honeys joys

In my last post, I said in one of my comments that I made arancini last Sunday and forgot to take photos! Oooppss. Slacker!

So I have no choice but to post another sweet thing. But this is really very good, easy to make and I have not met a kid (big or small) who did not like it. This might not be good for diabetics though.

This again is a recipe from the package.

My husband came home one day and told me that he passed by some elderly ladies selling home-made goodies - jams, cookies, cakes, candies (or lollies, as they say here in Australia), etc - as fund raising for their club. They had all these heavenly, fancy food and all my husband wanted to buy are these honey joys (some call them honey crackles). He said that the grandmas were amused that he was so happy to find them selling it and that he did not fancy the other sweet things they had.

In a way, I could understand the grandmothers there. Honey joys are so easy to make you would not think somebody would think that it is the greatest thing (ever!). But on the other hand, I could not blame my husband, it is not that he likes this so much (and he does like it very much), he said it also reminds him of his childhood. His mom (aka the sweetest mother in law in the world) would often make it for her brood. I guess that is why we have an attachment for certain foods because it brings us back to a certain time or to a certain place. And if it is one of our happy place/memory/thing, wouldn't you want to go back there again and again?

Honey Joys

(Kellogg’s Cornflakes Recipe)

90 g margarine or butter

1/3 cup sugar

1 Tbsp honey

4 cups Corn Flakes

  1. Preheat oven to 150°C.
  2. Melt margarine, sugar and honey together in a saucepan until frothy.
  3. Add Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and mix well.
  4. Spoon into paper patty cases.
  5. Bake in a slow oven (150°C) for 10 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool.

Makes 20 (approximately).

Friday, March 19, 2010

pandan sago with palm sugar (gula melaka) sauce

3 posts in 3 months. Talk about being slack.

I am just about to change that. After 3 mains (2 of which are chicken dishes), I decided to post a dessert recipe. This is another family favorite.

As I have mentioned in my "About Me", I collect recipes from everywhere. And I mean everywhere. This recipe is adapted from the sago packaging box. The recipe they had used cinnamon instead of pandan leaves. But I'm Southeast Asian and I need to satisfy my pandan fix.

The family said this one is better than the ones we can buy from the Adelaide Central Markets. When they say that, believe me, that is saying a lot. But on one hand, it is easy to please the sweet tooth bunch when it comes to desserts.

Pandan Sago with Gula Melaka Sauce
(adopted from Anchor Sago recipe)

  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sago
  • 3 cups (750 ml) water
  • pandan leaves
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • a drop of green food coloring (optional)
  • 125 g palm sugar (gula melaka), chopped into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup water
  • additional coconut milk for drizzling

1. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan, add sago and pandan leaves and simmer until sago is translucent, stirring occasionally.

2. Remove from stove, cover and allow to stand for 10 minutes.

3. Pour cold water over sago, remove pandan leaves and stir in coconut milk and sugar. Add a drop of the food coloring if using.

4. Spoon into moulds and refrigerate until cold.

5. Place palm sugar and water in a saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Cool in the refrigerator.

6. To serve, turn sago out of moulds, drizzle with palm sugar sauce and coconut milk.

Serves about 4.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

baked eggplant

A couple of weeks ago I googled for vegetarian recipes. And there are millions of them! When I was a kid I thought all vegetarians eat are boring salads or, at best, stir-fries. Boy, was I wrong.

One recipe that caught my eye was this baked eggplant recipe from a Australian food magazine website. And I thought it would be a good thing to make for the family. And boy, was I wrong again.

I cooked it without reading the reviews. Either I was too trusting - they are a food magazine, after all- or I am not too smart.

Even if I followed the recipe strictly, no substitutions, timed to the last second, measured to the dot and all that, it turned out to be so dry. The family said the flavour was "nice" but it was just too dry.

Not one to admit defeat, I decided to make another baked eggplant. A much improved one that the family will rave about.

I did not even have to google the recipe this time. It turned out that one of my favourite cookbooks, the essential rice cookbook (murdoch books, 2005), has it! Why I did not look there in the first place is just beyond me now. I think I automatically just google everything.

This one turned out to be much, much better than my first attempt. Better flavour and texture. I am pretty proud to redeem myself. I added grated cheese on top even if it is not in the recipe to make it more kid-friendly. You do not have to.

Baked Eggplant
(the essential rice cookbook, Murdoch Books, 2005)

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Total cooking time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Serves 4

(Categorized by the authors as a simple recipe and generally quick to make – perfect for beginners)

  • 3/4 cup (185ml/6 fl oz) olive oil
  • 2 large eggplants (aubergines), cut in half lenghtways
  • 3 onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves. finely chopped
  • 400 g (13 oz) Roma (plum) tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or a 400 g (13 oz) tin of good-quality chopped tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • 1/4 cup (35g/1 1/4 oz) currants
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (185 g/6oz) long-grain rice, cooked and drained
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml/4 fl oz) tomato juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to moderate 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Heat half the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and cook eggplants all over for 8-10 minutes, or until the cut sides are golden. Remove from the pan and scoop out some of the flesh, leaving the skins intact and some of the flesh lining the skin. Finely chop the flesh and set aside.

2. Heat the remaining olive oil in the same pan and cook the onion over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until softened but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Now add the tomato, oregano, parsley, currants. Cinnamon, rice and the eggplant flesh and mix it in well. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3. Put the eggplant in an ovenproof dish and fill each with prepared tomato mixture. Mix the tomato juice, lemon juice, sugar and some salt in a bowl, and pour over the eggplant. Cover and bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and cook for another 10 minutes. Serve the eggplants on a platter with a light drizzle of oil and any of the remaining juice.

My variation:

If desired, sprinkle grated cheese on top. I just used tasty cheese. Parmesan and mozzarella would work well too.