Archive | June, 2012

Steak and Balsamic Pepper Salad

30 Jun

So summer has been pretty much non existent in the UK this year.  We’ve had about two weeks of sunshine in total.  Now while I don’t really mind too much as I had more than my fair share of sunshine when living in Taiwan, I have really missed making summery food.  I’ve had visions of making home ice-cream and barbequing in back yard, but the rainy, miserable days have left me  more inclined to  hearty soups and stews.    So when today promised blue skies and gentle breezes, I knew I had to seize the chance and make my favourite summer salad.

It’s a simple creation, hardly worth the recipe,  and doesn’t really take much work at all which makes it perfect on those days where you would rather be outside enjoying the sunshine than tied to the kitchen.  It does however really pack a punch when it comes to flavour.  So much so that even those who don’t really enjoy salad, will ask for seconds.

To start take:

  • 300 (ish) gms of steak
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 bag of your favourite salad leaves (I’m partial to baby spinach)
  • 1 small Camembert (cut into squares)
  • 80 ml of olive oil
  • 60 mls of balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 220°C.  Then slice the red peppers length ways into slices about half a centimeter wide.

Place the peppers in an oven proof bowl and pour 60ml of the olive oil over them.  Place in the oven and cook for about 20-25 minutes.  Check on the peppers two or three times during the cooking and give them a shake or a stir to prevent the top layer from drying out.

Remove the peppers from the oven and while still hot pour the balsamic vinegar on them.  The hot peppers will absorb the vineger making them meltingly sweet. Allow the peppers to cool in the oil and the vinegar.

Cook the steak.  It really doesn’t matter how you do it.   I brushed the steaks with the remainder of the olive oil and used a cast iron grill pan and fried them for two minutes a side.  I was hoping for a medium rare steak, but as the steaks were a touch on the small side, they were closer to medium well after they had rested. Allow them to cool and slice as thinly as you can.

Just before serving, sash the salad leaves and mix in the peppers.  The balsamic vinegar/olive oil mix that they are lying in is going to make the dressing.  Add the slices of steak and then the cheese.  It really is a meal in itself.

 

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Pita Bread with Houmous

27 Jun

Bread scares me!  It really does.  It’s one of those food stuffs where the whole is truly greater than the sum of the parts.   To get to the whole however,  you have to put the parts though a series of steps that have become quasi-religious with superstitions and myths.  There are just so many factors to take into account and so many places where it can go wrong; The kneading, over proving, under proving, too much salt, the temperature of the water, the temperature of the oven, GAH!  It’s enough to make you rush out to your local bakery.

But this is one fear I want to conquer. I want to fill my house with the smell of baking bread.  I want great golden crusts to take centre place at my dinner table and I want to smile smugly when people asked me where I buy my bread.  Most of all though I want to eat that first hot, butter-melted slice of bread.   I’m going to start small with this pita bread recipe and its ubiquitous companion houmous , but watch this space. I WILL conquer bread!

For the Pita Bread:

  • 225 gm of white bread flour
  • 7 gms of instant yeast
  • 1 Tbs of olive oil
  • 1/2 a tsp of salt
  • 160 ml of luke warm water

For the Houmous:

  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 Tbs of Tahini
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 1 Tbs of lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs of olive oil
  • Cumin to taste (about 1 tsp)

Add the flour, olive oil, salt and yeast to a large bowl and mix well.  Slowly add the water a bit at a time and stir until it comes together in a sticky dough.  Place the dough onto a well floured surface and kneed the dough for ten minutes.  Time this!  It isn’t something you want to skimp on.

After ten minutes of kneading, the dough should be considerably smoother and it should spring back if lightly poked.  Place it in a clean bowl, cover with clingfilm or a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for an hour.

After an hour, the dough should have doubled in size.  Punch it back down and then divide the dough into six to eight balls.  Cover the balls and leave them to rest for five minutes and then, on a floured surface, roll them out into flat circles.  The circles should be no more than five mm high. Cover the circles with a tea towel or cling film and leave to prove for a further thirty minutes.  At this stage, heat the oven to 230°C and place a baking tray in the oven to heat up.

This would be the perfect time to make the houmous.  I must apologise for not having any pictures on the houmous, but there really isn’t much to photograph.  Drain the chickpeas, but keep the liquid back in reserve.  Add all the ingredients for the houmous into a food processor or blender and turn it on.  Once it has combined, slowly add the reserved chickpea liquid a bit at a time until you get the desired texture.   Taste the oh-so-awesome,  creamy goodness and add more cumin or salt to taste.

After thirty minutes, place the dough rounds on the hot baking tray and put the tray back in the oven.  Bake the pitas for six minutes if you like a light soft crust and for ten if it’s a crispier brown crust you want.

The dough will poof up and make gorgeous pillowey pockets of dough.  Serve with houmous, or slice open the top and fill with your favourite filling for a great sandwich.

Mini Cheesecakes with Lemon Curd

24 Jun

So a while ago I celebrated my birthday and wanted to take some nibbles to work for my colleagues. Now work nibbles are a tricky thing.  You need something that will transport easily, that won’t be too fussy to eat and something that doesn’t require plates or cutlery.   All of the above screams CUPCAKES, but cupcakes are so done, aren’t they? Besides I wanted cheesecake.  I love cheesecake.  If  cheesecake isn’t available by the bucket load in the afterlife, I’m not going. Besides it’s my party and I’ll eat cheesecake if I want to.

So I hauled out my favourite baked cheesecake recipe and miniaturised it.

For the Cheesecake:

  • 4 Tbs (60gm butter) melted
  • 175 gm digestive biscuits
  • 500 gm creme fraiche
  • 500 gm ricotta
  • 175 gm caster sugar
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1tsp lemon essence
  • 3 eggs
  • 12 raspberries and 12 Blueberries

For the Lemon Curd:

  • 3 eggs
  • 4 Tbs (60gm butter)cut into about 10 cubes and chilled
  • The juice and zest of 2-3 lemons
  • 150 gm sugar

Preheat the oven to 160 °C .  Then crush the digestive biscuits in a food processor (or however you wish) into a fine crumb and mix with the melted butter to make a crust for the cheesecakes.

Line two 12 hole  muffin tins with cupcake cases and divide the crumb mix evenly between the cases and press it down using the back of a teaspoon until it is compacted. Place the muffin tins in the fridge and allow  to rest.

Put the ricotta, creme fraiche, caster sugar, lemon zest of one lemon, lemon essence and honey in a large bowl and beat until smooth with a hand mixer or with a spoon.  Then add the eggs one at a time and beat until each egg is very well incorporated before adding the next egg.

Take the muffin tins out of the fridge and fill the cases by spooning the cheese mixture on top of the biscuit crust. Put tins into the oven for 30-35  minutes until the cheese cakes resemble the ones below.  At the half way mark, rotate the tins to ensure even results.

Don’t worry about the cracked, sunken tops.  That’s what’s going to hold the lemon curd for us.   To make the lemon curd, put a heat resistant bowl in a pot of water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl and bring to a medium heat.  Add the sugar, lemon zest and juice and the eggs to the bowl and whisk.

Whisk constantly at a slow, steady pace.  After a while, about ten minutes, the mixture will thicken noticeably.  The mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Remove the bowl from the pan and stir in the butter, one piece at a time.  Wait until each piece has melted before stirring in the next one.

Now allow both the cheesecakes and the lemon curd to cool and then spoon a teaspoon or so of curd into the hollow of each cheesecake, smooth and top with a berry or whatever else takes your fancy.  Easy to eat, easy transport and DELICIOUS.

oh.four.one.

the port elizabeth blogger

The Banting Cook

Banting recipes – low carb, sugar free and gluten free. Banting recipes I have tried - those that have failed and those that have been a success! I am not a dietician, I'm just a gal who loves to cook banting food, and keep it as good as possible! Obviously all recommendations throughout this and other posts are not intended as an alternative, treatment, or prevention of diseases, medical treatments or advice. The reader takes full responsibility for counting nutritional information such as carbs, while trying any and all recipes :-)

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