Kitchen

Pomegranate Girls

Wha Wha! Is Hindi for FANTASTIC! I love to use this word. So happy to be sharing recipes with you from my Website. Its a first. Its all a first really so here we go. Testers of recipes are very welcome as I don’t have a staff of back up testers but welcome your feedback so I can adjust.

Remember, my theory of cooking is taste, adjust, build flavour, taste, adjust again till its spot on and you go yummmm.  Make your own dish, to your taste with the ideas, the method and your own common sense. Go Cook. If you strike trouble, call or email for advise. I am a frustrated agony aunt.

Lentils and anything for Pomegranate Girls

How to cook Green Lentils de Puys.

These superb green and grey speckled lentils originally found in an archaeological dig in Auvergne, France are now locally grown. This sounds like a good thing except that the Australian government banned the importation of the French ones due to “potential for disease infestation” or some trade envy to protect local farmers. Anyway, politics aside, these are my lentil of preference. They are a very forgiving to cook as they hold their shape perfectly and can be slightly overcooked it you forget them. They are too firm for a good soup but I can now reproduce that glorious amuse bouche from the South of France. Sun, petanque and Rose, eaten with freshly cooked lentils drizzled in the good oil, dressed with salt, pepper, lemon juice and a sprinkle of parsley. C’est tout!

These lentils taste so good that’s all you need to do with them. Believe me. Conversions have been known to happen after eating these.

1 handful or 60g per person raw is a good serve. Prepare extra as they keep well in the fridge.

½ onion cut in 2 for 4 serves

2-4 whole garlic cloves for 4 serves

twist of black pepper

small sprig rosemary or pinch of dried oregano or thyme

3-4 times the volume of cold water. Depends on how fresh they are.

Rinse them in running water and as there is no need to soak, cover with 3-4 times of water.

Add all the lovely aromatic flavourings except the salt and oil.

DO NOT SALT now. Always salt beans and lentils at the end of cooking time as it slows down the cooking time.

I have found they hold their shape even better when absorption method is used. Don’t use a spoon to stir, give them a series of tossing motions so they are re-arranged so all cook evenly.

Bring water to the boil quickly, lower heat, cover with a lid and cook till tender. 25 to 30 minutes are all they take. I have known them to take longer if they are stale but persevere. They shouldn’t be mushy.

The trick is to salt and oil the dish right at the end so the lentils absorb the salt and oil. Leave a little free water (or add a tablespoon to moisten it up some more) in which to do this and evaporate it off, leaving them dry and ready for a myriad of uses. Toss again so all absorbs the goodnesses.

Try these:

Sprinkled with dukkah or za’atar

Crumbled with feta, goats curd and dressed with walnuts and the good oil.

Drizzled with tahini thinned with water and seasoned

Fried onions stirred through with oil and a sweetish vinegar.

As a side dish with any meat, chicken or fish. Salmon and lentils are a classic.

Part of a meze, tapa or antipasto selection

Yoghurt or any sort is great with lentils.

Add a piece smoked bacon to the cooking pot for a hearty, winter feel.

Crispy-ish oven roasted onions makes another kind of oniony deliciousness that’s not so time consuming.

Peel and finely slice 4 onions. They reduce a lot, it is time consuming to make and it keeps well, so make extra.

Add a thin film of oil to a heavy frypan and cook the onions over a high heat, stirring to stop from burning. The water comes out of the onions so they are sweating and going translucent. After the water is evaporated, the onions start to stick and go brown in places. This is perfect but to stop burning, turn the heat down a little. Toss and let them stick again a few times and tip onto roasting tray or place whole frypan into the oven. The more surface area there is the quicker they will cook.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast on 170C oven for 20 minutes, scramble them around a bit and again another 20 minutes.

You can stop at any time but you will see this twisty, dark brown, not burnt train-wreck looking dish.

Sprinkle finally with a little balsamic and cook on a 150C heat for 5 minutes.

Scrap the mess into a bowl and serve warm with anything that loves onions.

Made for French lentils and salads.

Labna or Yoghurt “Cheese”.

Yoghurt is so versatile as it can be made sweet or savoury very easily. To give yourself optimum chances to use it, buy plain yoghurt so you can sweeten it yourself or have it on hand to make a quick cucumber and mint raita for a baked potato or lentil soup. The Greek yoghurt is so thick and delicious it can be used immediately but to make a moulded dessert or to really let the flavours infuse into the yoghurt, I suggest you “hang” it first.

This recipe is so simple I have given some guideline measures because it is best to rely on your taste buds as some yoghurts are very sour and will need way more sugar and spice.

Into a mixing bowl add a tub of Greek Yoghurt:

  • 8 Tbsp to start of castor sugar- to taste. Depending on the sourness of the yoghurt. The Greek one is very mild so needs less then the tart Peters Natural.
  •  ½ -1 ½  tsp ground cardamom to start as it depends on how sweet your yoghurt is
  •  1 Tbsp of orange blossum or rosewater if you like the taste of perfume.

Play with the flavours until they taste right for you- sweet, pungent. Add some fresh dates that have been de-piped and cut into slivers.

Stir and finally fold through a pinch of saffron. This gives lovely splodges of colour and then proceed with the Yoghurt Cheese recipe below

 

Plain yoghurt cheese or with flavourings:

  • Take a new Chux wipe, rinse in hot water, wring out well and place in a small sieve or colander.
  • Empty yoghurt into the cloth, fold over the edges and leave for most of a day or overnight, draining over a bowl in the fridge. You can also tie it into a ball with string and then tie it onto a wooden spoon and suspend it over a bowl. The longer it drains, the more water is removed and the thicker it becomes.
  • To unmould from the colander. Unfold the top wrapping, place a plate over the top and invert. It will flop onto the plate. Try to keep the shape as you are turning it out and top with chopped, toasted nuts. If this is too hard, just spoon into individual glasses.

Other ideas for yoghurt:

Add to this cucumber and mint or some mango pickle or hot chutney, Vanilla and honey or any other sweet combination you can think of. Fresh fruits chopped small and stirred into the yoghurt are a triumph for a quick dessert.

 

 

 

Autumn Farmers Market- May at Veg Out

HI ALL, It’s a now wet, started sunny, first Saturday of the month morning. Been to Veg Out farmers market and brought up weeds of the day. The nettle, anchovy, potatoes,slow fried so juicy, and free range egg tortilla is in the very low oven. Tomorrow there will be the first bunch of cime di rape (long greens with little yellow flowers and sometimes the beginning of a little kind of broccoli flowerette.) That will be with some chicken stock, Mt Zero chickpeas and cime di rape, lemon, garlic soupy thing. May be even a stracchiatelle style egg threads. This is truly delicious as on the day I am posting this I have eaten this for lunch. The big squeeze of lemon really makes this dish fly.

Its been a busy cooking week and would love to tempt you with some Lucinda food.

Brian’s birthday dinner Friday May 4th was the King Island slow roasted whole scotch fillet with Bearnaise and Demi-glace, Mr Price’s Flash mash with celeriac, turnips, swede, potato, parsnip and whole shallot not really mash but super flash, just like him –Mr. Price at Mr. Price’s Food Store North Melbourne). A pomegranate, cauli, fennel, walnut salad with it’s pomegranate molasses dressing.

For starters we had these baby fingerling white zucchini- almost infanticide, char-grilled; garlic braised long yellow pepper; broad beans squashed with sage burnt butter. Oh I really did forget the Jerusalem Artichokes so they were served as a palate cleanser before the dessert cos the birthday boy had never eaten them. Skins on, roasted, olive oil and salt only.

This is my kind of food. Had no idea what was on the menu except the Beef so it was all the fresh ingredients at Toscanos that inspired me.

Ahhh, the beef. That had been cryvaced for a serious long wet-age and left to air-dry in the fridge for 36 hours. The nearly 1 hour low as low roast (100C) rendered it rare for the 6 rare steak eaters but others would have dropped their bleeding meat sensibilities when faced with this joy of joys. Sorry Dad, so sorry there was none left over for you.

Pav followed and don’t forget the Lipator chaser. Much laughter and silliness like only beautiful food can bring on. That’s enough for today as a warm slice of the tortilla with a witlof salad is beckoning for late lunch.
Please excuse the self-editing. It may be a Stratchiatelle style blog.

Mutton dressed up like-mutton

I wanted to broach the topic of carving in a Knife Skills class  so I ordered a leg of lamb. Seems simple, but here lies the magic of mistakes as a huge leg of not spring lamb arrived on the counter. It weighed 4.5 kg and was long and large. After my first quizzical response, words like “2 tooth” and “hogget” came to mind, but then I registered, “It’s a leg of mutton!” A first for me, never seen, never cooked but here it was, my time, in my kitchen, under my control.

Luckily for me I had only written a generic recipe with the technical information;

“weight + temp per 500g= cooking time + 20 minutes at 180C ergo 120mins.  That’s a long time but I was just going to go for it. “Those who doubt, are out.” I did drop the temperature on the Combi oven as it is very powerful but if I did it again I would drop the heat even more and extend the time.

Now I could confidently set the timer on the oven and walk away to show some knife skills.

120 minutes later, having completely forgotten the lambasaurus, it was out of the oven. The shank had pulled away, the natural juices dark and viscous, the perfume, heady, sticky, rich. I only had time to throw a piece of foil loosely over the top and walk away.

By the time we came back to the carving of our mutton we had time to discuss it. The farmer student vouched that it was mutton, as he rubbed his hands together and confidently took control of the carving knife, “I haven’t had a leg of mutton since I was a kid” as we watched his barely concealed relish. The others didn’t really know what all the fuss was about but they did after we had carved it.

The flesh inside was still pink, but not the pink of a baby spring lamb or what passes for it. It was a ruddy pink of a farmers’ weathered cheeks. The shank sinew marched halfway up the leg so you could actually see the muscles had been walked on for several years. The farmer and I could hardly keep our fingers off the best morsels so we has to find it in us to share out tastes. Tacky, rich, dark succulent flesh, not dry like game but fatty, sweet but still obviously sheep. And then there was the jus.

The onions had dissolved and the sweetness called out for red wine that we had poured generously into the pan to reduce, and so stretch this vital and precious  fluid to nourish all of our now greedy appetites. Even the big Shiraz couldn’t mask the flavour, it just made it more opulent.

 

Mutton = 2-5 years