Saturday, December 25, 2010

make your own Baileys

from "The $120 Food Challenge"

I intend to try this in the New Year

Homemade Irish Cream

1 cup (250ml) pouring cream (not the type that is thickened with gelatine); 1 tin sweetened condensed milk; 1 and 2/3 cups Irish Whiskey (Jameson’s is the most commonly available); 1 tsp espresso coffee*; 2 tbsp chocolate syrup (get the best quality you can – the real cheap stuff gives it a yucky taste); 1 tsp vanilla extract; 1 tsp almond extract


Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend at high speed for 30 seconds. Place in a tightly sealed and scrupulously clean bottle and refrigerate.

Shake well before serving. Liqueur will keep for 2 months if refrigerated.

*When using coffee, make a cup of the real stuff, not instant coffee. Make it in a plunger, and skim off a scant teaspoon of it to cool before adding it to the recipe.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

something fishy

What goes with fish?
The first, most obvious answer is lemon. Alternatively use lime, and if you’re using lime, it combines well with a little chilli or coconut milk (and you can always add coriander –fresh leaves or dried seeds – to that)

After that, we select liked and available flavours from The Flavour Bible – basil (mildly, I would think), creaminess (i.e. cream, sour cream or yogurt), parsley, chives (again, mildly) a little garlic, almonds (traditionally with a mild, creamy sauce), white wine (and possibly green grapes), dill (another traditional friend of fish), rice or noodle or potatoes. Chinese often use garlic, ginger, sesame oil ..

Basically with fish, which can be fried, baked (with lemon or lime and a topping like breadcrumbs or chips to stop it drying out), microwaved, even chopped up and added, for a short cooking time to nice rice or stir fries or pasta, the key is to keep flavours light and fresh. The aim is to give the flavour a little lift and lightness, not overwhelm it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Berries of the world

This is too funny. I bought a packet of mixed berries from the supermarket - three different berries each in a different compartment. Only when I got home did I discover they came from different places.

Blackberries from Guatamala
Strawberries from Egypt
Blueberries from Argentina

And here they all came to London! The mystery continues...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

nearly risotto

Risotto recipes are often very intimidating and labour-intensive. This is my ‘easy as ..’ version – not exactly the same but very good in its own right, capable of infinite flavour variations, and not complicated at all.


Rice, any kind (I usually use long grain because of its lower GI – it doesn’t have to be Arborio, though that will give a finish more like a restaurant risotto) I generally work on approximately ¼ cup raw rice per person for serving as a side dish.

Liquid (double the volume of the rice e.g. 2 cups liquid for 1 cup of rice, + a wee bit more if you want it extra moist) Liquid can be anything you like – stock, (or water with some stock powder) wine (generally only replace part, e.g. a ¼ of the stock with wine) tomato juice .. you can also add small quantities of other flavouring liquids to the stock – e.g. lemon juice, sauces – depending on what flavour risotto you are making

A little fat (1or 2 tabs). Traditional risottos use butter, but I prefer olive oil – always have it on hand, it’s healthier, and it doesn’t burn like melted butter can if you take your eyes off it for a moment

After this – any other ingredients you like meat or veggies (if they need significant cooking e.g. steak strips or chicken, precook or at least brown them before adding) herbs or spices and, if you like it creamier (like a real risotto) cheat by stirring through some cheese or yogurt in the last couple of moments.

If not adding any other salty ingredients (like stock powder, bacon etc) a little extra salt is also good to add at the beginning – but that’s personal taste


Heat your oil in a suitable sized saucepan. Add rice (also any spices if you are using them) and stir for a couple of minutes till all the rice would be oiled. Add your liquid (all at once – keep life simple) and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally so no rice gets stuck on the bottom. Add any other ingredients (e.g. dried herbs, veggies) that will take being cooked for a while. Turn it down to a low simmer, and put the lid on. Every few minutes lift the lid, give it a good stir and check the progress. It should take about 20 minutes for all the liquid to be absorbed. Stir in last minute ingredients (anything that doesn’t want to be cooked for very long – fresh herbs, avocadoes, cheese, yogurt etc) and serve.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Spiced carrot and bean sprout coleslaw

Just because i thought it sounded an interestingly different salad. It looks like it can be easily reduced to a smaller quantity, and you could leave out the cayenne pepper (very hot)


8 medium-sized carrots (about 1 kg); 2 cups fresh bean sprouts, rinsed well and drained; 2 tbsp coriander leaves; 2 tbsp fresh mint leaves; ½ cup sultanas

Dressing: ½ cup whole-egg mayonnaise 1 ½ tsp ground cumin; 1 ½ tsp ground coriander; ½ tsp ground turmeric; ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, ½ tsp sea salt or to taste


Peel the carrots and either cut them into very small julienne (with sides about 1mm thick), or grate them through the largest holes on your grater. You can also scrape a zester along the carrot which will produce thin ribbons, and this produces the best looking result, but this is the most time-consuming to do. Place the carrot into a large bowl.

Place the beans sprouts between layers of paper towel and pat dry. Add to the carrots, together with the sultanas, torn mint leaves and coriander leaves. Toss briefly to combine.

Mix the dressing ingredients together and add half only to the carrot mixture. Toss through gently, then add a little more if you need it. You only want to flavour the salad, not swamp it. Use it sparingly.

Pile the salad onto a serving platter or into a bowl and serve immediately.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The compatible tomato ..

.. really loves to combine with lots of flavours. Its basic everyday relationships are with most herbs (oregano and basil are particular favourites, but a little thyme can also make a lovely, fresh tasting sauce), olive oil, small amounts of various vinegars or lemon juice, wine (red or white), and most other vegetables. And garlic, of course. It goes well with cucumber and capsicum in gazpachos, and with zucchini and eggplant in ratatouille. It is great friends with cheese, whether in Italian cheeses and tomato sauce dishes, or a simple toasted sandwich. Ham, cheese and tomato is a classic combo that shouldn't just be left to sandwiches. Try them with pasta, or a risotto. Add paprika and sour cream to tinned tomatoes and you have goulash. Tomato, yogurt and herbs is a more delicate sauce -- great for chicken or veal. All tomato sauces must have salt (and preferably pepper, but I know you won't agree) and a tiny pinch of sugar.

My current friends in the fridge

I am currently entertaining:

- spanish aubergine (or eggplant)
- dutch spinach
- spanish tomatoes
- french apples
- belgian pears
- and bananas which have not got a country of origin, so may be England.

It never ceases to amaze me!