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Archive for July, 2007

Raspberry Rosewater Popsicles

Popsicles are a great way of cooling down, and you can use what ever you have in the fridge or fruit basket. Basically, you make a smoothie, throw a popsicle stick in it and freeze. Voila! Try peach and blueberry or strawberry and banana. yumaroo!

Raspberry, Banana and Rosewater Popsicles

1 cup raspberry pulp
1 large banana
½ cup fat free plain yoghurt
⅓ cup pear juice (or try apple)
¼ cup rosewater

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into individual containers (I used large shot glasses), pop a popsicle stick into it and freeze.

To remove from glass, run the outside of the container under a warm tap for about 15 seconds and pull out the popsicle.

Raspberry Rosewater Popsicles 2

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Lavender Petals

It’s been hot in TO this weekend. A dry heat, for a change, making us think a bit of Summer in Johannesburg. I’ve been longing for a swim in a pool and a bowl of ice-cream afterwards. So I made a couple cold desserts to keep our temperatures under control. Now, I must be honest with you. This jelly nearly didn’t make the cut for the blog because, it turns out, Mr P doesn’t have much love in him for jelly. How I can have been married to him so long and not already know this I’m not quite sure. Suffice to say he’s a secretive man and I’m still glad to be learning new things about him all the time. I, on the other hand, love a big bowl of bright jelly and Ultramel custard. I guess it reminds me of being seven years old again. Nothing wrong with that. In any event, I got the ‘have you made me eat bugs?’ face from my number one critic on the first spoon of jelly in his mouth. My first reaction is always, ‘oh no, catastrophe’ but it turns out it’s the texture more than anything else he doesn’t like.

Well, mostly. The other thing you need to know about this jelly is that it’s perfumed with Lavender, which, like rose flavoured Turkish Lokum, is only for a very select few of us. I love rose flavoured goods. I remember my Mom buying a jar of rose petal jam on holiday one year and the two of us devoured it eagerly over the few weeks on toast and crackers and teaspoons. The boys of the family wouldn’t so much as sniff it. So yes, this is maybe a slightly more Risky dessert to make if you’re unsure of your feedee’s tastes. I decided to put it in anyway, because, well, I can. And I loved the sweet blueberries combined with the perfume of the lavender.

*note: I used gelatin leaves instead of powder for the first time and it is so much easier this way.

*note 2: you can use fresh lavender flowers from your garden if you have them. Just be sure to wash them thoroughly before.

Lavender and Blueberry Jelly

Blueberry and Lavender Jellies

makes 6 individual cups

for the blueberry jelly:
1 cup wild blueberries
2 Tbsp + 1 cup water
⅓cup castor sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 sheet gelatin

for the Lavender Jelly:
1 Tbsp edible, dried lavender petals
2 cups boiling water
⅓ cup castor sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
2 sheets gelatin

– put berries and 2 Tbsp water into a small saucepan and bring to boil. Cook until berries soften and juices run. Add 1 cup water, sugar and lemon juice.

– bring back to a medium rolling boil and cook until liquid has reduced by about half. Remove from heat.

– soak 1 gelatin leaf in cold water for a couple minutes, until soft. Squeeze off excess water and add to berry mixture, stirring well.

– divide between 6 cups and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour

-meanwhile, put lavender and water in a small saucepan and heat gently. Leave to infuse for about 10 minutes. Strain. Retain water in the saucepan. (at this point I used the spoon from the blueberry jelly to stir the Lavender in order to give it a bit of extra colour)

– heat lavender water (do not boil), add sugar and lemon juice and stir to dissolve. Soak 2 gelatin sheets in cold water for a couple of minutes and add to hot Lavender water, stirring well.

– let lavender cool to room temperature.

– remove blueberry jelly from fridge and add equal amounts of lavender jelly to each cup. Return to fridge to set, about 1 hour.

Lavender and Blueberry Jelly 2

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Black Forest Clafouti

Cherry Clafouti seems to be the most classic of Clafoutis, and while I’m most usually a classic girl at heart, now and then I like to laugh in the face of danger, flirt with the wild side and generally throw caution to the thermal currents of a hot oven. Mr P was sitting on the couch yesterday afternoon and had a sudden craving for chocolate when the thought came over me. What could possibly be yummier than fresh, sweet black cherries and the smooth, slightly bitter velvetiness of dark chocolate mixing in one sensual mouthful? Thankfully, we always keep some good chocolate in the house, Just In Case.

It being about the right time for afternoon tea, I snatched the bar of chocolate right from his hands, dashed into the kitchen and whipped up a dish of Clafoutis with Bing cherries and Cote d’Or dark 70% chocolate. The recipe for the batter I borrowed from Ceres & Bacchus but used 3 cups of dark Bing cherries, with the pits still in, and about 80g of Cote d’Or Noir de Noir 70%, chopped. Serve with fresh, whipped cream and a cup of Ceylon for the ultimate tea time treat.

Black Forest Clafouti 2

Noir de Noir Cote d’Or

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Chicken with Tarragon and Walnuts

For some reason, I never really discovered tarragon before.  My Mom had a bunch of different herbs growing the in kitchen garden: sage and chives and mint and thyme and rosemary, but never tarragon.  And yet, after doing some reading, it turns out to be a quintessential herb, an old and trusted favourite in many a European and particularly French recipe.  I thought I should give it a go.  After all, there’s French blood in me, isn’t there?

*Note: I had a problem with my oven while cooking the meal, the darn thing decided to go on strike, and so ended up having to have the thing on Grill with a loose sheaf of foil over the meat to protect it from burning.  So I can’t really say for sure just how long you aught to cook this dish, though my gut feeling is for 20 mins at 400˚F and  another 20 – 30 at 350˚F.  Just check it persistantly to make sure you’re not over cooking drying out the flesh.

 

Chicken with Tarragon and Walnuts 2

Chicken with Tarragon and Walnut Crust
with Baby Beet and Herb Salad

for the Chicken:
2 large chicken breasts on the bone, with skin
½ cup loosely packed tarragon leaves
¼ cup thyme leaves
5 cloves garlic
1 shallot
½ cup shelled walnut halves
Fleur de sel
Olive oil
Peel of half a lemon, ½ cut into strips and ½ zested
2 Potatoes
butter (about 1 Tbsp)

for the salad:
3 or 4 baby beets, peeled and finely grated
1 Shallot, thinly sliced
⅓ cup fresh basil, chopped
⅓ cup fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp chopped Chives
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbsp Walnut oil
Salt and Black Pepper to taste

– If you have the time, prepare the chicken a few hours beforehand so the flavours develop well.
run the tarragon, thyme, garlic, shallot and walnuts in a processor until fine.  Add a pinch of Fleur de sel and mix.

– rinse the chicken and pat dry with some paper towel.  With the skin side up, loosen the skin from the flesh: if you break a small hole in the membrane between the two you should  be able to lift the skin to form a pocket.

– take small amounts of the herb and nut mix at a time and push it under the skin, using about half the mixture.  Put a small dollop of butter and a strip of lemon peel under the skin as well and refrigerate, covered, for as long as you can.

– when ready to cook, remove chicken from fridge, rub with olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper.

– slice the potatoes thinly and arrange on the bottom of a buttered ovenproof dish.  Sprinkle with lemon zest.

– Place chicken, skin side up, on top of the potatoes.  Pack the rest of the herb and nut mix on top.  Bake, see note above*

– For the salad, mix all ingredients and let sit at room temperature for a while, while the chicken cooks.

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Apricots

Clafouti, clafouti, everywhere!

It’s funny how, when you have a great idea and start doing a bit of research you find that idea all over the place already. It’s like there’s a creative current in the air that reaches us all at the same time, or more or less so. I had a small stash of fresh apricots, which I sneakily bought and slyly horded for 2 whole days before deciding what to do with them. ‘Clafouti!’, I thought to myself, grinning wickedly from the inside out. What a divine idea. So I started looking around for that perfect clafouti recipe, and yes, I found a bunch of us had had the same idea. But then, I thought, who wouldn’t want to be making the most of the new seasons gifts? In fact, here and here and here. And here. Which turned out far better, in it’s shallow quiche pan than mine in a casserole, but I can garuantee, they both tasted equally of Summer sunshine and green grass between your toes. Wonderful with a generous dollop of Devonshire cream.

Apricot Clafouti

Apricot Clafouti with MalibuApricots ready for Clafouti batter

6 apricots, halved and stoned
3 eggs
½ cup sugar
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp Malibu (or brandy) – optional

– pre heat your oven to 400˚F

– beat eggs and butter, add sugar and beat

– add flour in one go and mix until smooth

– add milk bit by bit, mixing in between each addition

– mix in vanilla and Malibu

– arrange apricot halves in a buttered casserole (or pie dish!) skin side down

– pour batter over fruit and bake for 30 – 40 mins untill just firm

apricot-composition-2.jpg

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Bell Peppers, multicoloured

Peppers!

Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew. Did you ever, as a child, put an entire hard boiled egg in your mouth at a picnic, and then sit there (knowing your Mother could see you) and realise you couldn’t spit it out, abut couldn’t chew and swallow it all either? Oh the dilemma.

I was irresistibly lured to a table at Saturday’s market covered in punnets of brightly coloured sweet bell peppers. Poor Mr P already had the glazed over eyes of a pet chihuahua being dressed up in frills again, when I spotted them down the isle and uttered a wee whoop of excitement. So, to inspire a second wind of Excitement and Vigour for all things shopping, I sold the idea of buying yet more produce to have to lug home by mentioning some magic words: Stuffed Peppers, and, Minced Beef. Oh, that brought the twinkle back long enough to persuade him to help find the prettiest and shiniest peppers by far.

But now I was committed, through the Kharmic backlash of my own desire for all things shiny, to actually make the damn things. I decided against the mince in the end, simply because we’d had quite the culinary weekend and I felt like something more, well, simple really. Of course, having not made stuffed peppers in many a year, I’d forgotten just how long they take to make, the results of which were that we only ended up eating our dinner at ten last night! Well, at least it was good. And shiny.

Note on the recipe: I used 3 anchovy fillets in the recipe, but in retrospect it could have used an extra 3.

Bell Peppers Stuffed With Wild Rice, Tomatoe, Chard, Anchovy and Olives

Sweet Bell Peppers stuffed with Wild Rice and a Mediteranian Medley

Wild rice to make 1 cup when cooked (I used ⅓ cup grain)

4 medium sized bell peppers

2 Tbsp Olive oil
2 Shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 large tomatoes, chopped
Small bunch Swiss chard, 5 or 6 stems, chopped
10 Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
3 anchovy fillets, chopped
handful finely chopped Italian parsley
about ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil
80 ml grated parmigiana or Parmesan
salt and ground black pepper to taste

about 1 cup chicken stock

– start by putting the rice on to cook and pre heating the oven to 380˚F (wild rice can take longer to cook, mine took 45mins) when done, remove from heat and set aside.

– carefully slice the tops off the peppers, keeping them intact. remove all the seeds and inner squishy stuff. Wash inside and out and put aside.

– heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat, add shallots and garlic. Saute until translucent.

– add tomato paste, cook stirring for a few seconds then add tomatoes and swiss chard. Allow to cook until soft, about 7 or so minutes. Remove from heat

– In a large mixing bowl, mix rice, tomato sauce and the rest of the ingredients (excluding the stock), leaving about 2 Tbsp of the cheese aside.

– season to taste.

– arrange peppers bottom down in a greased, oven proof dish. Fill with rice mixture, sprinkle with remaining cheese and place tops on top.

– pour stock into the dish and bake for about 1 hour in the oven, basting with the stock every 20 mins to keep the veg moist on top.

Bell peppers

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Anchovy, creamcheese and tomato on rye with basil

Too much food! There’s just too much food here!

I think I need a little something to nibble on while I think of what to do with it all…
How about a little open sandwich of country rye with cream cheese, tomato, fresh basil and anchovies? Sounds like a meal!

The Summer is fabulous in Toronto. I come from a land of sunshine and swimming pools and perpetual, year round barbeques, but somehow, nothing quite beats the Summers of Ontario. Perhaps it’s the long, crazy-cold Winter lending an air of grateful appreciation to the sweet green grass and the welcome relief of a shady chestnut tree , perhaps it’s the humidity we don’t get on the highveld leaving one feeling like you’re somewhere exotic on holiday, but the Summer here brings out the sultry in the street lamps. Perhaps it’s as simple a thing as the sudden and prolific availability of all things fruity and fresh after months of root vegetables and soggy, cold shipped tomatoes from Chili.

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