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Archive for April, 2011|Monthly archive page

“You put the lime in the coconut…”

In Recipes on April 19, 2011 at 12:52 am

Limes were important to sailors in colonial times as a preventative for scurvy.  Lemons, though four times higher in Vitamin C than limes, were not always easy to find in the far flung colonies of the Caribbean and the Pacific.  West Indian limes grew prolifically on the Caribbean islands and it was easy for the sailors to take on a cargo of these while dropping off another cargo of supplies (or slaves to work on the sugar plantations).  In the Pacific Tahitian limes or their juice were also loaded onto ships to prevent scurvy.

In the last thirty years, due to the emergence of Asian cooking styles like Thai and Vietnamese, limes have also become an everyday ingredient in Australia.  Curries with Kaffir lime leaves, fish dishes ‘cooked’ in lime juice, satay sauce finished with a squeeze of lime juice.  Even indigenous finger limes are beginning to appear in fruit shops.

The lime tree that grows in a sheltered spot beneath the eaves of my parents’ house has done remarkably well.  Better than the poor lemon tree that gave up the fight some time ago.  The last time I was there my parents had more limes than they could use so I took home a bag.  I’m not used to having limes in such profusion and I had to look for new ways to use them.  Here’s one recipe I found credited to Donna Lee.

Lime Curd Tart

Tangy lime curd tart


Ingredients 

Pastry:

2 cups plain flour

1/4 cup icing sugar

pinch salt

180 g cold unsalted butter

2 tbs iced water

Filling:

275 ml pure cream

275 g caster sugar

200 ml lime juice

zest of 4 limes

8 free range eggs

Method

Grease a 22cm flan tin with a removable base

For the pastry:

Sift dry ingredients together.  Add chopped butter and rub until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Add 2 tbs iced water to form a dough.  Flatten into a disk about 1 inch thick, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate 20 mins.

For the filling:

Whisk all ingredients together.  Cover and place in the refrigerator.

Roll out dough and use it to line your flan tin.  Make sure there are no holes.  Blind bake 20 mins at 180 c.  Cool.

Strain filling into the flan crust.  Reduce oven to 150 c and place carefully in the oven.  Cook 40 mins. or until filling has set.  Refrigerate 1 hour before serving.

Everyone will like this!

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Quick and easy kofte

In Recipes on April 12, 2011 at 4:10 am

Turkish Kofte  or Lebanese Kafta are just a little flavoured meat patty, generally cooked over a grill.  There are further variations of these across the Middle East, North Africa, the Mediterranean, India and Pakistan.  You could even argue that we have had our own version here in Australia in the much maligned ‘rissole’.  Maybe not.  The version I make changes all the time, one constant being that I generally use lamb mince.  Though I do find they work pretty well with beef, pork or even turkey mince.

Kofte

Ingredients

1 kg lamb mince

1 large onion (finely diced or minced)

2 tbs each of chopped fresh mint, parsley and coriander

2 tsp cumin powder

2 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp sumac

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp all spice

sea salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Method

Place all ingredients in a large bowl.  Use your clean hands to mix well.  Refrigerate for 1/2 an hour.  Mould into small oval shaped patties.  Refrigerate 1 hour.  Brush with olive oil and place on or under a hot grill.  Cook, basting with olive oil and turning regularly until they are nicely brown.  Serve with lettuce, tomatoes, yoghurt or tahini sauce and flatbread.  Serves 6.

 

Thrifty times

In Recipes on April 1, 2011 at 4:16 am

The cost of living is going up.  Utility bills, petrol prices, rents and mortgages, groceries – the only thing that never seems to go up is wages.  Even so called middle class households are doing it tough.  As a consequence the greed and rampant consumerism that characterized the eighties, nineties and early ‘noughties’ is out of vogue and thrift is most definitely in.  Come to think of it, for those of us who have always tried to live a sustainable life, it was never really out.  Wastage and over consumption have never been ‘green’.

Food is a big part of the household budget so it an obvious area where you can save money and cut down on wastage at the same time.  In every house’s budget there is always room for improvement.  One way of saving money at the supermarket is to ‘mix it up’.  I shop regularly at Coles, Woolworths, Aldi along with various Asian, Middle Eastern, Indian, Mediterranean, Vietnamese etc. markets and supermarkets.  This is why I eschew  ‘rewards’ cards as these cards are trying to lock you into shopping at one place.  Ultimately you will pay more and, with less competition in the marketplace, so will everyone else.  Unless I am making a specific dish for a special occasion, I try not to go shopping with a fixed idea in my mind of what I am going to make.  While there I’ll make my purchasing decisions based on what is on special and what is in season.

Then there are the cheaper ingredients.  Just because you are trying to save money you don’t have to eat bad food.  Buy good quality mince and get it on special when you can; buy a whole free range chicken instead of just the breast fillets and use the whole bird, saving the carcass and wings to make stock; buy the cheaper cuts of meat and use long, slow cooking and the addition of herbs and spices to transform them; buy the more expensive cuts of meat in smaller quantities – make a stir fry that uses vegetables and/or noodles with only a small amount of meat.  Eat vegetarian food a few times a week.  Vegetables, as long as they are in season (and barring natural disasters) are usually pretty cheap.  Supplement these with Italian tinned tomatoes, tinned and dried pulses and frozen peas.  Cheese, eggs and tofu are also good, cheap ingredients to bulk out vegetarian food.  Finally, make sure you have a well stocked spice cupboard and a few herbs in pots.  Of course, if you have the space (many people don’t) a vegetable garden is good but it is surprising how much flavour you can add to food with just a few well chosen spices and some fresh herbs.

The recipe here provides a good, tasty meal at a bargain price.

Italian Meatballs

Italian Meatballs

Ingredients

For the meatballs:

5o0 g pork and veal mince (beef mince and turkey mince are also good)

1/4 cup breadcrumbs

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp tomato paste

1 tbs finely chopped fresh oregano

1 tbs finely chopped basil leaves

1 tbs finely shredded spring onions

freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste (remember the Parmesan is quite salty)

seasoned flour

1 tbs each of olive oil and sunflower oil and a small knob of butter

For the sauce:

450 g tin diced Italian tomatoes

1 onion (finely chopped)

1-2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)

1/cup chicken stock

pinch of all spice and salt and pepper to taste

chopped fresh herbs

Method

Place all the meatball ingredients together in a large bowl.  Mix well, I find clean hands the best way to do this.  Shape into small balls and roll in the flour.  Refrigerate 1 hour.  Heat oil and butter in a heavy based pan.  Fry meatballs until golden brown, shaking the pan occasionally to make sure they brown on all sides and don’t catch on the bottom of the pan.  When brown remove from pan and set aside.

Drain a little oil from pan (if necessary) and add chopped onion and garlic.  Cook gently for 1-2 mins.  Add diced tomatoes, all spice and chicken stock.  Season to taste.  Reduce on high for ten minutes.  Return meatballs to pan and reduce to a simmer for a further 20 mins. turning the meatballs occasionally to make sure they get a good dousing in the sauce.  Finish with fresh herbs and freshly grated Parmesan.  Serve with spaghetti or polenta.  Serves 4.

Stay tuned for Pea and Ham soup.