November, 2010

Nov 10

Partridges and panic



It’s about now I look at my diary and get a marginal sense of fear – Christmas is less than four weeks away, I’ve been booked to cater for a load of parties, I’ve written two words on my Christmas gift list (no socks!) and I’ve got to get the ordering sorted for our Christmas lunch at home. Help!

While I was planning frantically what dishes the Leigh family will be tucking into on Christmas Day (and I’m the first to admit to being a traditionalist when it comes to our lunch) an email arrived from my great friend and champion of Spanish cooking, Jose Pizarro.

If you haven’t seen his book, Seasonal Spanish Food yet, it is definitely one to add to your Christmas wish-list. This laid back recipe is perfect for Christmas Eve, when his family traditionally eat it and uses one of the most delicious and accessible game birds – the partridge.

Click here for the recipe for Jose Pizarro’s partridge stew

Nov 10

The proof is in the pudding



I’m a big fan of rice pudding – it’s a humble, quiet pudding that probably haunts most from school days but that can be elevated to dinner party level with a few simple steps.

That’s not to say it isn’t still a worthy contender for post-Sunday lunch pud, but that with a few little touches here and there can suddenly become quite the designer dish.

Small confession and a break from the tradition of baking the pudding – I make mine stove top. It’s smooth, silky and somehow prettier without (for me) the dreaded skin, which I know is a favourite of some!

Caramelising the sugar adds a depth and richness to the finished pudding that mean really only a few spoonfuls is enough to fill you up, but you could omit this stage and add the seeds from a vanilla pod if you wanted or indeed a cracked cardamom pod for a bit of mellow spice.

A rice pud recipe for you then. I am a big caramel nut and try and find ways to stick it in all my puddings, give or take. There are few it doesn’t perk up. The prunes are optional but delicious.

Click here for my recipe for caramel rice pudding

Nov 10

The Camel Collective, part 2



If you remember a couple of weeks ago I mentioned a plan to eat the rather unusual camel meat and last Saturday was the day we tucked in.

A group of us – journos, chefs, food writers and bloggers alongside a couple of food photographers and some inquisitive children got together to try our hands at cooking and eating camel.

Kebabs with sumac, steaks with herb and garlic butter, empanadas, a Burmese cinnamon curry and even a tartare were cooked (or not, in the case of the tartare).

Bizarrely, the last dish, served traditionally raw with gherkins, capers, shallots and Tabasco was probably one of the standouts, as was the curry.

Camel is, as you’d imagine, a touch on the chewy side, not even yielding to the seven hours cooking Mimi put it through for the curry but an interesting culinary adventure none-the-less.

Photo courtesy

Nov 10

Purple and perfect



I’ve gone a bit mad for purple sprouting broccoli of late. Although not strictly in season until February, the English stuff is available now and frankly, I couldn’t wait.

I’ve been cooking and serving the green and purple stems in lots of different ways. For example -with an anchovy and cream dressing and soft boiled egg for a light lunch. Or blanched and stir-fried with bird’s eye chillies and Thai Isaarn sausage. (which left me fanning my mouth it was so fiery)

Or in a gorgeous, cheesy tart made with Beenleigh Blue and Keen’s cheddar. They also, by design, make the perfect mop for gravy.

So how do you cook this easy and versatile veg? Leave us a suggestion in the comments section.

Nov 10

Cocktails & coffee



I like a post-dinner cup of coffee, a little something to stave off the cold and perk me up for the journey home – but sometimes I’ll feel like something a bit naughtier too. Something that bridges the gap between pudding and coffee.

Now – at this point most would probably suggest an affogatto, that brilliant Italian pudding made simply by pouring a shot of scorching espresso over vanilla ice cream. That’s all well and good but I’m after something a bit more streamlined.

Although ice cream is good at any time of day (I’d eat it for breakfast if you offered), particularly with a not-too-sweet chocolate sauce my grandmother used to make for us, the real deal, where the fun really starts is with an espresso martini.

I had these recently in a cocktail bar and they’d tried to gild the lily – coffee liqueur, whipped cream – really pushed the boat out and completely missed the point. An espresso martini should be short, sweet and simple.

A hot espresso, a splash of sugar syrup, a hearty glug of vodka, shaken with ice and poured into a martini glass. And normally, if I’m around, knocked back in barely a few mouthfuls.
If you’re feeling cheeky, serve it as a surprise in espresso cups.

Click here for my recipe for espresso martini

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