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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Caprese Salad

We had that in Italy a few years ago and really liked it, so I make it once in a while when we get mozzarella on sale.

Ingredients (for 2 servings):

2 large tomatoes
~ 6 oz (120g) fresh mozzarella
2 teaspoons fresh chopped basil
olive oil


Cut tomatoes into 1/2 inch (1 cm) slices.
Cut mozzarella into 1/2 inch (1 cm) slices.
Layer tomato slices and cover each with a mozzarella slice
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle basil on top.

Or go with the even lazier version, cherry tomatoes and cilengini:

Monday, July 21, 2008

Panna Cotta allo Yogurt

Or panna cotta with yogurt, but you knew that! An insanely easy but elegant light summer dessert.

Ingredients (for two portions):

200 ml heavy cream*
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons sugar
7 g gelatin + 4 tablespoons cold water for dissolving it.
150 g yogurt

* Or substitute cream with half-and-half, or milk, or any combination of those.


Dissolve gelatin in cold water.
In a saucepan on medium heat mix cream, vanilla and sugar, stirring continuously until sugar melts.
Add gelatin and stir until it dissolves.
In a separate bowl stir the yogurt to get rid of any lumps.
Slowly pour the hot cream mix into the yogurt, whisking constantly.
Pour mix into two glass bowls or ramekins or whatever suitable bowls you have.
Refrigerate for about 4 hours or until firm.

To serve:

Flip onto chilled plate, and garnish with warm raspberry preserves, or cranberry sauce or fresh fruit or any combination of those.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fruit Tart

I love fruit tarts - they are fun to make, look pretty and have a perfect summery taste. This recipe is from the Joy of Baking website.


For the crust:
1 1/2 cups (210 g) all-purpose (plain) flour + a pinch of salt
1/2 cup (1 stick, 8 oz, 113 g) unsalted butter
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
1 egg

For the cream:
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
1/8 cup (20 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
3 tablespoons (20 g) cornstarch (or wheat-, potato-, whatever- starch)
Optional: 3/4 tablespoon (10 ml) liqueur

For the glaze: (optional, but recommended)
1 tablespoon apricot jam or preserves
1 teaspoon liqueur or water or a combination of the two

For the topping:
2 - 3 cups fresh fruit, such as berries, kiwi, bananas, plums, pineapple, melon, peaches, or whatever else you think belongs on a fruit tart.

You also need a tart pan or a springform pan, or another pan with detachable sides.


For the crust:

Sift or whisk together the flour and salt. Set aside.
Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
Add the egg, beating just until incorporated.
Dunk flour mixture all at once and mix just until it forms a ball of dough. Don't overwork or pastry will be hard when baked.
Flatten dough into disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes or until firm.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into an 11 - 12 inch (28 - 30 cm) circle that is about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick.

* So says the recipe. To avoid a floury mess, I like to cover both the rolling pin and the counter with plastic wrap, so the dough doesn't stick to either.

To make sure it is the right size, take your tart pan, flip it over, and place it on the rolled out pastry. The pastry should be about an inch larger than pan.
When the pastry is rolled to the desired size, lightly roll pastry around your rolling pin, dusting off any excess flour as you roll.
Unroll onto top of tart pan.
Gently lay in pan and lightly press pastry into bottom and up sides of pan.
Prick bottom of dough (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes).
Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes to chill the butter and to rest the gluten.

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C)
Line unbaked pastry shell with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
Fill pastry shell with rice or beans, making sure the weights are to the top of the pan and evenly distributed over the entire surface.
Or, you know, use *proper* ceramic pie weights if you have them :).
Bake crust on the center rack for 20 to 25 minutes until it is dry and lightly golden brown.
Remove weights (or rice, beans, whatever) and cool crust on wire rack before filling.

For the cream:

In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs together
Sift the flour and cornstarch together and then add to the egg mixture, mixing until you get a smooth paste. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan combine the milk and vanilla and bring to a boil
Remove from heat and add slowly to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling.
Place the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly.
When mixture boils, whisk it constantly for another 30 - 60 seconds until it becomes very thick and hard to stir.
Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the liqueur (if using).
Pour into a clean bowl and cool.

For the glaze:

Heat the apricot jam or preserves and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until melted. Remove from heat and strain through a fine strainer to remove any fruit lumps.
If using, add the liqueur at this point.
Let glaze cool until it is only slightly warm.


Brush a thin layer of the glaze over the bottom and sides of the cooled pastry shell to prevent the crust from getting soggy.
Let the glaze dry 20 - 30 minutes.
Spoon the cream into the tart.

Wash and slice the fruit you are using.
Arrange fruit (in concentric circles or randomly) on top of the cream, making sure no cream is showing.
Rewarm glaze and lightly brush on fruit.
Chill and serve.

Store covered in the fridge.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Slow Cooker Green Beans

A quick and easy recipe for the summer nights.


4 cups green beans
14.5 oz (410 g) canned diced tomatoes
1 lb (450 g) pork shoulder or another marbled cut, cut into cubes
2 bay leaves
a pinch (or more) of red pepper


Wash beans and remove tops and tails. Cut in half, or leave them whole.
Put beans in slow cooker.
Layer meat cubes on top, and pour can of tomatoes over everything.
Add bay leaves and red pepper.
Cook on high for 3 1/2 hours / on low for about 7 hours, or until the beans are cooked.
Serve with french bread. Or beer. Or both :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Choc Berry Butter Cake

My twelve-year-old sister and I made this yesterday. It's based on a simple butter cake recipe with various innovations along the way.


All tablespoons are 20mL metric tablespoons

8 ounces butter / margarine
8 ounces caster sugar (super fine sugar)
4 eggs
8 ounces self raising flour
2 heaped tablespoons cocoa
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
1 or 2 ~400g / 1 pound tins of mixed berries in syrup (my tin had strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries) - strained and the syrup reserved
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence


1. Preheat oven to 180 C and grease and flour an approx 20cm x 20cm (8" x 8") square cake tin.

2. Cream margarine and caster sugar.

3. Add eggs one at a time and mix together thoroughly

4. Sieve (sift) in flour and cocoa and stir in until completely incorporated.

5. Add sweetened, condensed milk, 2 tablespoons of the berry syrup, and the vanilla essence one at a time and stir until completely incorporated.

6. Gently fold in the mixed berries. I used one tin of berries but the mixture could easily have taken another tin's worth so use your own judgement depending on how berry-filled you like your cakes!

7. Spoon the mixture into the greased and floured cake tin and place in pre-heated oven. bake for about 50 minutes (I cooked mine for an hour and it was just slightly burned on one corner, so check regularly!).

8. Once baked, turn onto a wire cooling rack and leave to cool.

Icing (Frosting):

I made this with the aim of trying to replicate a crystally, slightly crunchy icing I'd tasted on a cake at a school morning tea, but it didn't work very well. This is a modified recipe replacing the white sugar I originally used with more coconut.


All tablespoons are 20mL metric tablespoons
All cups are 250mL metric cups

2/3 cup icing sugar (confectioner's sugar) - preferably the pure stuff not icing mixture
1/2 cup dessicated (shredded) coconut
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons of the syrup from the tinned berries
Red food colouring (can be ommitted if you don't mind the icing being a funny brownish colour)


1. In a bowl, combine sieved (sifted) icing sugar and coconut.

2. Add the melted margarine and stir thoroughly.

3. Add the sweetened condensed milk and the berry syrup and mix thoroughly until all ingredients are combined.

4. Add four drops of red food colouring to make a nice pastel pink - or more or less to your own tastes!

5. Using a flat implement, smooth onto the top and sides of the cake. You may need to refrigerate the mixture slightly to make it firm enough but don't leave it too long - this icing sets rock solid! Once the cake is iced, refrigerate overnight to set the icing.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Curried Rice and Vegetables

This is actually based on Ivayla's recipe, with a few alterations. It came about because X's family gave him a few pounds of chicken, so I found Ivayla's recipe. I made the curry half with veggies, half with chicken. We had left juice and left-over veggies, so I added two cups of rice to it. It turned into a fantastic side dish or light meal

- Two cups cooked rice
- Vegetables (whatever you have on hand. We used leeks, potatoes, onions and carrots, I think.
2 cups plain yogurt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teasoon turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1.5 tsp. curry
2 tablespoons oil

- Mix yogurt, spices and garlic in bowl.
- Add the oil to large skillet, letting it heat. Add in a few extra cloves of garlic and then the onion.
- Sautee until onion is soft and slightly golden. Add in the rest of the veggies and yogurt mixture.
- Simmer on low for 10-15 minutes, depending on the veggies.
- Add in cooked rice and continue to simmer for five minutes.
It's really good and fairly easy.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Skillet Lasagna

I tried to look if I posted this already and couldn't find it, so if it's a repost, I'll delete it.

1 lb. ground beef
1 jar tomato sauce
half an onion
no-boil lasagna noodles
LOTS of grated parmesan
shredded mozzarella

Brown the beef and drain, add in the (chopped) onion until soft. Break up the noodles and layer all over the top of the meat, then top with tomato sauce. Cover and simmer for about five minutes. Stir and continue cooking if the noodles haven't softened yet. Remove from heat, stir in as much parmesan as you can stand, and top with mozzarella. Return to heat briefly to melt, and serve.

While this sounds like any other skillet Italian recipe, you really must use broken lasagna noodles and lots of parmesan. The noodles act like scoops for the meat and sauce, and the parm makes a thick sauce with the meat that's just amazing.

Zippy Tuna Salad

I know everyone likes their tuna salad particular, but here's my version.

1 can tuna
1/2 tsp. horseradish
1/2 tsp. pickle juice (trust me)
2 1/2 tsp mayonnaise

Drain tuna well, sprinkle liberally with pepper. Moisten with pickle juice, then stir in the horseradish and mayonnaise to coat. You can adjust the sauce portions according to taste and consistency. This is best served cold on a bed of lettuce or on a sandwich rather than heated with cheese and an English muffin the traditional "tuna melt" style.