Thursday, June 28, 2007

Goulash & Cabbage & Dumplings

Welcome to "Sarah reminices about her 2006 trip to Europe". This time last year, I was jetting across Europe (well, "eating my way through"), enjoying the sunshine, and shopping up a storm. Now, I'm done with uni, I'm working 4 days a week and generally feeling cold. How things change!



Last night's dinner was inspired by Prague. We have here red cabbage, potato dumplings and lamb goulash. The red cabbage is Nigella's fabulous recipe for red cabbage in the Viennese fashion, which I have made many times before.

I found the recipe for goulash in a very unglamarous book I picked up cheap at Borders a little while back, Russian, Polish and German Cookery. You know the type, big, cheap, full of step-by-step photographs. It simply involves browning a kilo of lamb cubes (from Rendinas Organic and Bio-dynamic butcher, no less), adding onions, green peppers and paprika, then tinned tomatoes and water. Then it needs to simmer for a couple of hours until all is tender. At the end, you add a mixture of flour and water to thicken it, and ta-dah!

I was a little nervous about making dumplings - I'd eaten them in varying quality in Prague, and had never attempted them myself. The recipe I found was from a very old-fashioned looking book, The Czechoslovak Cookbook. It's small, has a purple cover with hundreds of recipes and no pictures. About as easy to read as a Kafka book. So, to make the dumplings, you start by boiling whole, unpeeled potatoes. Then you let them cool, grate them and add flour, salt and eggs. After some gentle kneading, it becomes a firm dough.


Next, you roll them into logs, and boil the soon-to-be dumplings in water for 15-25 minutes.


The recipe serves 4-6 people, but the 4 of us only ate about half of them, as they were quite filling, and we were not brought up on them. (You should see how much rice I can eat!) I was happy that my parents liked them, because I had been afraid that they would find the dumplings bizarre and dense.
Dumplings
Red Cabbage

A very attractive picture of the goulash. Despite the plain and dowdy cookbook, the goulash worked a treat, and the accompaniments all worked well.

Lamb Goulash with Tomatoes and Peppers

Ingredients

2 tbsp vegetable oil or lard
900g lean lamb, trimmed and cut into cubes
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 green peppers, seeded and diced
2 tbsp paprika
2 x 397g cans chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tsp chopped fresh marjoram
2 tbsp plain flour
4 tbsp cold water
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat up the oil in a frying pan. Dry fry or fry the lamb for 5-8 minutes, or until browned on all sides. Season well.
Add the onion and garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes before adding the green peppers and paprika.
Pour in the tomatoes and enough water, if needed, to cover the meat in the pan. Stir in the herbs. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer very gently for 1.5 hours, or until the lamb is tender.
Blend the flour with the cold water and pour into the stew. Bring back to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the sauce has thickened. Adjust the seasoning.

Serves 4-6


Potato Dumplings (with cold potatoes)
Bramborvé Knedlíky ze Studených Brambor

Ingredients
2 pounds potatoes
salt to taste
3 1/4 c instantized flour (this means "finely milled flour - I used "00")
2 eggs
boiling salted water

Boil potatoes, let stand until the next day. Peel and grate. Add salt, flour and eggs. Knead into firm dough. Do not let dough stand too long because it will get thin. Form into 4 rolls about 2.5 inches in diameter. Boil in water for 15-20 minutes. Make sure dumplings do not stick to the bottom of the pan. Remove from water and slice.

Serves 4-6

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

That's not how you make pudding!


Well, apparently it is. Let me explain.

Last week, I was speaking to a good friend on the phone, who asked me if I could make her a chocolate pudding. I immediately got very excited, and was, in my mind, tossing up between Bill Granger's molten chocolate puddings, Nigella's chocohotopots, her chocolate molten babycakes, her gooey chocolate puddings, her sticky chocolate pudding... and any of the other zillion hot chocolate pudding recipes that seem to grace every magazine cover at this time of year. Crusty on the oustide, melting within, deep and darkly chocolatey. Served with a scoop of slowly melting vanilla ice-cream. Wonderful.

Now, imagine my surprise when she told me that what she actually wanted was some sort of strange, cold, gloopy construction - an American pudding. My response was, "I'm not making that crap! We could just by a yogo or a milo snack at the supermarket!" Of course, I was then plagued with guilt, and following our conversation decided to google a recipe for these strange chocolate puddings. Sometimes I allow friendship to overcome personal culinary prejudice, you see. Sometimes.

I ended up using Mindy Merrel's recipe for Sunday night chocolate pudding on the American Profile website, which had the virtues of being simple to make and containing easy-to-find ingredients. (Recipe below). All you gotta do is a bit of whisking, some stirring, some pouring, and you're done! You can eat it warm, or leave it in the fridge, closely covered with glad-wrap. Both are good.


I served the pudding with fresh strawberries, but a crisp biscuit would also be a nice accompaniment. Surprisingly, the puddings tasted quite good. This was probably because I used Lindt dark chocolate with 70% cocoa solids... it was the only dark chocolate I had on hand. (I'm not pretentious, I just like good food. Repeat to self 10 times). However, I must say the end product seemed cheaper than the combined ingredients. But I suppose that was the point of the exercise. Oh well. In a similar contrast, I served the puddings in my new lovely French Pullivuyt serving dishes. I'm the Alain Ducasse of the Eastern suburbs! Haha!



Sunday Night Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients
5 tablespoons cornflour

3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
3 cups full-cream milk
4 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Whipped cream, if desired
Toasted almonds, pecans, or walnuts, if desired

Method
Combine cornflour, sugar, and salt with 1/2 cup milk in a small bowl; whisk to blend well. Heat remaining 2 1/2 cups milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat; stir in chocolate and let sit 5 minutes or until chocolate is melted. Whisk until smooth. Whisk in cornstarch mixture. Return to heat and cook over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken and boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer about 8 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Pour into a medium bowl or six to eight 6-ounce custard cups. Cover with plastic wrap so that the plastic touches the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of nuts, if desired.

Serves 6 to 8.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Mid-Winter Family Dinner for 5


I made this meal for my family last weekend, putting together a menu from a few recipes which I had had my eye on. (Recipes published below). Because these recipes are not from my usual sources, I don't feel iffy about typing them up here. As a conscientious (hah!) university student, I'm very aware of the issue of plagiarism, and avoid publishing recipes from sources which I often use.


Sarah's Mid-Winter Family Dinner for 5

Chicken cooked with buter, white wine and porcini mushrooms (Epicure, May 8, 2007)
Sandra's super-duper creamy mushrooms
Pommes dauphinoise (Nigel Slater)
Boiled carrots
Sliced honeydew melon and mandarin segments

If you were feeling energetic, I think an astringently-dressed green salad or some green beans would go well. After preparing all of the above, I was not energetic enough to add greens.

The chicken (pictured above), is interesting in that it is completely cooked on the stove, and not in the oven. You brown the chicken in a casserole, add aromatic vegetables and cook until soft. Then you add garlic, herbs, wines, and soaked porcini mushrooms with their soaking liquid. Then it needs to sit on the stove for about an hour, making sure the pan never boils dry. As I used two chickens, it took a bit longer to cook, but it wasn't a huge deal. The chicken, being part grilled, part steamed in wine, became very flavourful, moist and tender.


Here we have Nigel Slater's famous pommes dauphinoise. I love the way it becomes so brown and burnished. Judging by the standards of my new hero, Jeffrey Steingarten, and his entertaining article, "Scraping By", in It Must've Been Something I Ate I think I screwed them up a bit. Apparently the ratio of liquid to potato should be so exact that by the time the potatoes are cooked, all the liquid is completely absorbed. As you can see in my photos, there was quite a bit of creamy liquid left over once the potatoes were cooked, but it tasted good anyway. Potatoes + cream will pretty much always be delicious.

Mmm... crisp-ay!
Too much liquid. *Sigh*... I will just have to keep on practising gratins. And eating them. It's a tough life.

These mushrooms were made by my friend Sandra, who joined us for dinner and is a bit of a mushroom fiend. They're a mixture of Swiss brown and regular button mushrooms. A Tip for budget-conscious students - if you want fancy mushrooms but can't afford them, head to the markets just at closing time. The traders generally choose to sell their goods a lot cheaper at this time, rather than throwing them out.



We really enjoyed the dinner, and it was a nice wintry meal which didn't go OTT on the stodge. Recipes follow. Enjoy!


Chicken cooked with buter, white wine and porcini mushrooms (Epicure, May 8, 2007)

"A nice way to cook chicken on the bone with aromatics and its own sauce"


Ingredients

1.4kg chicken
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and peper
1 small leek
1 stick celery
1 carrot
30g butter
1 clove of garlic, cut in half
some sage leaves and/or a few sprigs of thyme
about 1 cup white wine
2 tbs dried porcini mushrooms soaked in 1/3 c water

Method
Heat a heavy casserole pot in which the chicken and vegetables will fit snugly.
Brown the chicken in the oil, seasoning with salt and pepper.
Cut the leek, celery and carrot into small pieces and add to the pot with the butter. Cook, stirring until the vegetables are lightly golden brown.
Add the garlic and herbs, some salt and pepper and a good splash of white wine.
Add the porcini mushrooms with their liquid.
Turn down the heat so the wine is bubbling steadily but not boiling. Cover with a lid slightly askew. There should always be 2.5cm of liquid, which will need top-ups of wine every 10 or 15 minutes.
Turn the chicken occasionally. Cook for about an hour or until the leg comes away easily from the bird.


Pommes Dauphinoise (Nigel Slater - adapted from Real Cooking and Appetite)

Ingredients
potatoes - waxy-fleshed if possible, about 1kg
garlic - 2 large, juicy cloves
butter - just enough to cover the baking dish thickly
double cream - enough to cover the potatoes (about 600ml - although half cream, half milk will work too)

Method
You will need a moderate to slow oven, so set the heat at 160C. Peel the potatoes and slice them thinly. This, by the way, is one of those dishes where you really must peel: strings of brown, 'healthy' skin are totally at odds with the gratin's hedonistic overtones. The slices should be no thicker than a pound coin. If the garlic is really juicy, cut the cloves in half and rub them round and round an earthenware or enamelled cast iron dish, pressing down hard to release the juices. Otherwise it might be beter to slice it thinly and tuck the slicse between the potatoes.
Smear the dish generously with butter. Please don't be tight - you are only cheating yourself. Lay the potato slices in the dish, orderly or positively hugger-mugger, it matters not, seasoning with salt and black pepper as you go along. Pour the cream over the potatoes - it should just come to the top of the slices. Bake for an hour to an hour and a half, until the potatoes are virtually melting into the cream.


Sandra's super-duper creamy mushrooms

This is more of a suggestion than a recipe; don't worry about exact quantities, just use your eyes and your common sense.

Sautée finely chopped garlic and onion in butter until soft and translucent. Add your mushrooms (chopped, sliced, whole, whatever) with salt, pepper, some curry powder and chilli powder. Cook until the mushrooms have collapsed and the juices have started evaporating. Add a large spoonful of cream to finish them off. Completely fabulous.




Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"Sarah, can you whip up a cake?"


Yes, yes I can.

Five short days after his birthday, my dear father felt like something sweet and asked (as you may have guessed from the title of this post), if I could whip up a cake.

I still had that bowl of (still) runny chocolate glaze which I didn't use for Dad's birthday cake, and I wanted to use it up. The glaze contained 75g castor sugar, 75g water, 300ml double cream and 300g expensive dark chocolate, and I did NOT want it to go to waste! I think the glaze was supposed to set, but mine stayed liquid even after five days in the fridge. Oh well!

I thought I'd use the icing in place of a regular ganache, and searched through my books for a ganache-topped cake. The winner was Nigella's chocolate marsala cake (How to be a Domestic Goddess). It is a chocolate sponge cake, which has marsala sprinkled over it after coming out of the oven. It was very quick to make, apart from the cooling down-process (which I sped up by shoving it in the fridge), and very, very delicious!


It was deeply chocolatey, without being overpowering or bitter, and still light and fluffy. A definite winner of a recipe. Go Nigella!

We did have about three quarters of the cake leftover, which I took to work the next morning to share with my coworkers. I put it in the staff room when I arrived at 8:30am, and it was gone even before the morning tea break. Hee-hee!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Do you rike... mada-reines? (Green Tea Madeleines)


Before I launch into my explanation of these cute little green tea madeleine, I should explain the "Do you rike... mada-reines?" title of this post. In the 2002 East-meets-West action 'classic', The Transporter, sexy Hong Kong star Shu Qi makes a breakfast of madeleines for the buzz-cut and equally sexy Jason Statham, (go Jason Statham, go!). She gives them to him, and says, "Do you rike... mada-reines?". He eats some, the house gets blown up by bad guys, they run away, have sex, he discovers the meaning of true love, and then they save the world. Or maybe it's some refugees, I can't remember. Either way, 5 stars.

Back in the real world, I made my own East-meets-West madeleines on the weekend. After my yummy madeleine breakfast two weeks ago, I have been filled with the madeleine spirit. As I have previously mentioned, last week I went out and got a mini-madeleine tin and a flat whisk, to facilitate the madeleine-making process. I also trawled through my cookbooks and the internet for different madeleine recipes, which explains the picture below.


9:30am on Sunday morning, my equipment laid out, the flour twice-sifted, and the all important recipe up on my laptop.

I found a recipe for green tea madeleines on Chubby Hubby's blog, which is, in turn, from The Ethnic Paris Cookbook. As I absolutely adore all things green-tea flavoured, I thought I'd better give it a go. These madeleines are quite similar to Nigella's ones, but have green tea powder and bicarb added. So basically, what you do is whisk up eggs with honey and sugar until light and fluffy, then fold through some twice-sifted flour, bicarb, salt and green tea powder. Finally, you pour in some cooled melted butter and fold through gently. (Check out Chubby Hubby's fab blog for the exact recipe.) Check out my new flat whisk! I suppose buying yet another whisk was a bit excessive, but it was less than $10. And it's perfectly designed for folding flour and other ingredients through an aerated mixture without deflating it.

Folding butter into the mixture. Looks a bit feral, but don't let that put you off. Just keep folding. Once it's all folded in you cover it and leave it in the fridge.

According to the Ethnic Paris recipe it needs to sit for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. However, different recipes give conflicting instructions for the resting of the batter. Nigella says 1 hour in the fridge, 30 minutes at room temperature; the Roux brothers say 30 minutes; and Donna Hay gives no resting time at all. (This further proves my theory that her madeleine are just little cakes, and not madeleines at all. Muahaha.) The last time I made madeleines I didn't bother with the resting time and they turned out fine, taste-wise. This time, I left them for about an hour and a half before baking them. The mixture turned denser and more spongey, and expanded slightly, I think.

I then put spoonfuls of the mixture into the tins (the mini-tin was well buttered, the regular tin is a Baker's Secret non-stick and needed no greasing at all) and then baked them. A word of warning: because of the bicarb, these little babies rise quite a lot, with massively humped domes! (This meant that the larger madeleines took a bit longer to cook all the way through, and started to get a bit dark around the edges. Thankfully, they did not burn). Just fill the tins halfway, if that.

Let them cool for a millisecond before dusting with icing sugar and greedily devouring them. Then save the world. Or the refugees. Or just stay at home.




The little cakes were crunchy on the outside and soft and light in the centre. Mmm! The green-tea taste is quite subtle, but gets stronger after the first few bites. They made a delicious cross-cultural tea-time treat with a cup of green tea.


East meets West. With delicious results!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

3 meals for the price of 1















I love stew. It's freezing outside, and perfect "stay inside in your jammies with a hot bowl of stew" weather. Having said that, I don't think that you should nevessarily let the weather dictate your food. I recall eating choucroute garnie (i.e. a massive, steaming plate of meat and sauerkraut), many types of goulash, and all sorts of weather-inappropriate cuisine in the height of a European summer, and loved it. Perhaps I'm just crazy for this type of food.

The stew pictured above was my first attempt from Jamie Oliver's book, Cook with Jamie. At first I hesitated buying the book, fearing that it might be a little basic, (not to mention the cover picture, which almost completely put me off - I mean, why would you choose a picture of a knife near your back for a cover?), but I was wrong. There are many very tempting recipes in there, and solid advice on how to shop wisely, how to set up your kitchen and so on. I was especially attracted to all the stew recipes, many of which are scattered not only throughout the meat section, but also the pasta section. So stew lovers, keep your eyes peeled!

Ok, back to the stew. I made "the best stew" from the Pasta chapter. (Jamie actually makes it with potato and rocket pasta cushions, but I didn't. Too much effort!) It was a pretty simple stew - it just involves browning stewing meat in a pan, then adding vegetables and herbs and letting them soften, followed by flour, wine and tomatoes. As usual, I didn't have any suitable cooking wine, so poured in half a bottle of old and flat prosecco from Christmas. Surprisingly, it was still good. Then the stew just bubbles and simmers away for a few hours until the meat is all tender and melty, and all the flavours have mingled together. As you can see in the first photo, we had it with rice, some roasted pumpkin, and a bean salad. Very, very tasty.

Of course, there was leftover stew. And as much as I love reheated stew, the next night I thought I'd try something a bit different - Jamie's "leftover stew risotto"! It's in the risotto chapter of Cook with Jamie. It's an ordinary risotto, with your leftover stew stirred in with the rice at the start. It was even better than the original stew!















Funnily enough, there was leftover leftover stew risotto. I took a tip from Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries for lunch the next day, and made the remaining risotto into little balls, put a piece of cheese inside them and fried them up. They were a delicious accompaniment to Dr. Phil
















Now all I need is a recipe for leftover risotto cakes...

Friday, June 08, 2007

I'm Madeleine, I'm Madeleine...











A quick weekend breakfast in bed. I woke up on Sunday morning, just teetering on the edge of a hangover. Rather than curling up and giving in to the impending doom, I decided to quickly hop to it, and make breakfast. But what to make?


Pancakes? Passé.

Waffles? A long and sometimes unrewarding exercise - the first few waffles get stone cold before you're halfway through the batter.

Bacon? Too greasy. And more to the point, I didn't have any.


What I really wanted was something small and sweet, something warm and decadent, but not too naughty or filling. And then it hit me... madeleines! I had made them once before, from Nigella's How to Eat, and very much enjoyed them. I would have made them again after that, but I was only 46.08% of the way through my How to Eat project and still and had another 213 new recipes to get through. But now, with my project well and truly behind me, I was free to dust off my good old Baker's Secret non-stick madeleine tin and revisit the joy of madeleines.

I immediately turned to my trusty copy of How to Eat, only to discover that Nigella's madeleines need 1 and a half hours resting before you bake them! There was no way I could wait that long. I then looked up Donna Hay's recipe in Modern Classics II, which had no such waiting time. However, it also used baking powder and no honey in the recipe, which made me think they'd be more like little sponge cakes dressed up as madeleines, rather than des madeleines vraies.

I said, "fout la merde" (not-so-literal-translation: stuff that crap!), and followed my instincts. I went for Nigella's seemingly more authentic recipe, and throwing caution to the wind, only let them wait for half an hour. While they were having their little wait, I macerated some strawberries in vanilla sugar and some Maggie Beer vino cotto. Vino cotto is, by the way, a reduced, sweet and syrupy balsamic vinegar. Perfect for this type of thing. (My Baker's Secret madeleine tin, by the way, is really non stick. I didn't grease the tins at all, and after baking, one light tap was enough to dislodge all madeleines unharmed).

The result? A kitchen full of good smells, and 12 of the most delicious, light, buttery, ever-so-slightly crisp edged little cakes I've ever made. Delightful partnered with the sharply sweet strawberries. Lovely! If I had the time, I'd definitely take the required waiting time. But it is reasurring to know that they will turn out nicely even without it.











What a wonderful breakfast. I guarantee you it will not be another 18 months before I make madeleines again. As proof, later in the week I went out and bought a mini-madeleine tray (not non-stick), a pastry brush (to apply butter to said not-non-stick tray), and a flat whisk to fold the flour ever so gently into the aerated egg mixture. Stay tuned for more adventures in my (perhaps brief, but definitely passionate) love affair with madeleines...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Happy Birthday Dad!















You will kindly notice that my celebratory offering for my dad's 60th birthday was a rather humble-looking affair. This is for a few reasons. First, I'm too uncoordinated to even attempt sugarcraft. More importantly, my father doesn't really go in for things that are show-offy or complicated desserts. He prefers substance. (So it's a good thing he married my mother!)

With that in mind, I made a simple but rich cake. I scoured my many cookbooks for weeks before the big day and in the end, I chose...

a chocolate mousse layer cake.

Basically it was a chocolate sponge (Le Cordon Bleu Home Collection 'Chocolate') layered with chocolate mousse (Donna Hay) and covered with chocolate ganache. I was actually going to use the "chocolate coating" recipe from the Cordon Bleu book, which was a ganache with sugar syrup added, but it turned out way too liquid and wouldn't have set in time, so I whipped up the ganache very last minute. We decorated it with white chocolate numbers and leaves. To make the leaves, you get clean leaves from the garden, use a pastry brush to paint melted white chocolate on the leaves, wait for them to set, and carefully peel the leaves away. For the numbers, I just cut out a crude stencil from baking paper, lay it flat on a baking tray, and painted the white chocolate over. Easy!

I'm not in the habit of publishing recipes on my blog, but for this special occasion I think I will.


Chocolate Mousse

The chocolate mousse needs to be made at least a 3 hours in advance, but preferably overnight, to get the delightful light and moussy texture. Without sufficient refrigeration, it just ends up gloopy and crap.

200 g dark couverture chocolate, chopped (I used a wonderful 55% single-origin Cuban cocoa chocolate made by Lindt - perfect for a not-too-heavy mousse)
75 g butter, chopped (for goodness' sake use unsalted, or it will taste minging)
4 eggs, separated (they will be raw, so use free range, and make sure they're super-fresh!)
1 cup cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar

Place the chocolate and buter in a saucepan over low heat and stir until melted and smooth. Pour the mixture into a bowl and stir until melted and smooth. Pour the mixture into a bowl and add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating until well combined. Set aside.
Place the cream in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Set aside.
Place the egg whites in a bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Sift over the icing sugar and whisk unitl the mixture is thick and glossy.
Gently fold the cream through the chocolate mixture, then fold the egg whites through. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (Overnight is better).















This recipe ended up making a rather massive bowl, so I spooned some into these cute little Pillivuyt souffle dishes I recently acquired for mid-week snacking.
















Genoese Sponge

4 eggs
120 g (4 oz) castor sugar
80 g (2 3/4 oz) plain flour
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 200C. Line a large square tin (25cx25cm) with baking paper. Put the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and place over a pan of barely steaming water. Whisk with electric beaters for 5-7 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and creamy, and has doubled in volume. The mixture should never be hot, only warm. Remove the bowl from the pan and and whisk until cold. Sift the flour and cocoa together, and carefully fold into the egg mixture. Stop folding as soon as the flour and cocoa are just combined. Pour into the tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven until springy and shrinking from the paper. Turn out onto a wire rack. Put another rack on top, turn over, remove the top rack and leave to cool, then peel away the paper.



















Ganache

200 g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
200 ml cream

Heat cream in a saucepan until it reaches boiling point, but before it bubbles. Pour it over the chocolate, and stir until smooth.


To assemble

Slice the cold sponge into 3 pieces horizontally. Spoon a generous amount of chocolate mousse between each layer. The layers should go: cake, mousse, cake, mousse, cake. Spread the ganache over the top and sides of the cake, and decorate with awesome white chocolate leaves and numbers. Serve to your father and his friends with pride.





















I found the sponge a little dry, but that was probably because I'd used a different sized pan to the recipe, and misjudged the baking times. I didn't think of it at the time, but a sprinkle of liqueur between the layers would have been a nice touch. The cake got better after a day, after all the layers had melded together more seductively.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Giorgio Locatelli's Risotto ai Porcini















I recently acquired Giorgio Locatelli's large and fabulous book, Made in Italy, when I had a Borders voucher giving me 20% off all cookbooks. Score! You may or may not recall that it was Giorgio's risotto method that finally and completely ended my risotto-phobia and gave me the confidence to make it as a regular meal.

My first recipe from this book was a simple mushroom risotto; called in the book risotto ai porcini or cep risotto. Whatever the name is, it's simple and delicious. Just the usual deal, a risotto with both dried and fresh porcini mushrooms. Not having access to fresh porcini, I used swiss brown in conjunction with the dried.
















The book contains many, many beautiful recipes and descriptions of regional Italian cuisine and ingredients, which are even more engaging if you think of them being said in Giorgio's accent. (Watch the Lifestyle Food channel or YouTube if you haven't seen one of his programs before). I hope to be cooking a lot from this wonderful book!