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Monday, August 22, 2011

Hearty Winter Tablenosh Dinner

My first tablenosh at the new house...I think it took me a little longer than I expected to get the place ready and I had to move a bit of furniture around, but somehow I managed to get 12 people in the kitchen for dinner, it was nice and cozy.  It was a good lively bunch different to other nights in that one booking was a group of six and another a group of four, so quite a few people who already knew each other.

I had fun testing a few of my recipes during the week and was feeling pretty good about most of the menu.  Of course there are always a few minor things that always remind me that I am still learning and just an experimental cook.  This time it was the roasted garlic and cauliflower soup.  I made the soup the night before and got it out on Saturday but could barely taste any garlic.  So, I roasted up some more garlic and added it to the pot, but still not much flavor so I added some garlic granules as well.  Then I had the bright idea that maybe I should heat it up and that would help boost the garlic flavor.  Well friends sure enough once the soup was warm all the flavor came and WHOA you could definitely taste the garlic.  Needless to say I had to then tone it down with some more stock and cream.  The final product was delicious it just took me a while to get there!

This menu had a bit of a citrus theme, I kicked off the night with a Mulled Citrus Wine.

And some starters:
 Prosciutto, Brie & Fig Bites and the the Roasted Garlic & Cauliflower Soup.

Then the Entree Salad 
A baby spinach, roasted beetroot and goats cheese salad with a honey-balsamic vinaigrette. 

The Main 
Creamy Chicken, Mushroom and Leek Pies with Roasted Sweet Potato Mash and Sauteed Asparagus.

 I was very excited about the pastry I used for the pies, although I think I could have been a bit more generous with it!  I used all Carême all butter pastry which is supposed to be amazing (

Next came the Citrus Dessert Trio (this was my personal favorite)

Petite Orange & Almond Cake
Orange Blossom Panna Cotta
Homemade Orange & Cardamom Icecream

After dinner and dessert the guests retired back to the lounge room to enjoy a few more glasses of wine and then I served tea and coffee.  This is where I offered to try making espresso drinks on the coffee maker my brother-in-law just gave us.  Let's just say next time I will only offer the usual (drip coffee & tea)...unless I have completed a barista course by then!

The night was made complete with Spiced Orange Truffles and Brown Brother Orange & Flora Muscat as the digestif.  Yum.  It was a great night for me indeed and I certainly hope the guests enjoyed meeting a few strangers and enjoying some in-home-cooking together.

The next tablenosh dinner is on the calendar for September 24th, if you are interested in a seat please email .

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Cooking wheat free!

I am on a new 'lifestyle' kick which includes no wheat, no sugar (refined) and no wheat!  It has been hard work but also meant I am finding lots of new ways to cook with good 'pure' foods and it is amazing how much better I feel for it (once I was over the sugar withdrawal!).

The hardest part is cutting out the sugar, I have certainly realized how much sugar we eat and how much we crave it.  So, I have been working my way through trying out different organic pure sweeteners.  My favorite thus far is making a date paste by pouring boiling water over dried dates and then using my stick mixer to puree and make a paste.  A couple of days ago I made a wheat-free carrot, zucchini & date loaf.  It turned out pretty well considering I made up the recipe!  But I have a feeling anything sweet would have tasted good, so we were happy.  It was even better toasted with a little butter for breakfast.  It could have used a little bit longer baking time, but otherwise was a moist wholesome treat (recipe below).

Don't worry the tablenosh dinners will not be affected by our new lifestyle!  I am working on a good hearty winter menu for this coming Saturday night's dinner including a signature 'dessert trio'.

Wheat-free Zucchini, Carrot and Date Loaf
1 Cup Barley Flour
1 Cup Spelt Flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup (2 carrots, grated)
1/2 cup grated zucchini
2 eggs
1/2 cup rice milk (or maybe a little more if needed)
1 cup date paste (make with one cup of dates and boiling water to soften)
1tsp vanilla
2 tablespoons butter

Mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl.  In another bowl cream the butter, date paste, vanilla, eggs and milk.  Slowly add the dry to the wet and then scoop into a greased loaf pan.  Bake on 180/350 for about 55-65 minutes or until done.

*Please note, I made this recipe up so you might to give or a take a little on some of the measurements.  If you want it a little sweeter add 1/4cup of maple syrup.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sweet Potato Soufflé Crumble Recipe

I have been meaning to post this since the Christmas in July dinner.  I found a recipe on that I sounded good, then I made a few changes and added a crumble topping.  I really like it because I did not use that much sugar and the lemon zest and coconut add a nice touch.  It was a real hit (even with the Aussies who would never normally have sweet potato this way), one of my friend's was literally scraping the dish clean!

You will need:
4-6 sweet potatoes (peeled and diced)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
zest and juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup cream
1/4 cup butter melted
2 eggs

1/2 crushed walnuts
1/2 dark brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter melted

1. I decided to dice the sweet potatoes and bake them first with a little sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice covered on low heat until they were soft (for a quicker method just boil them).  This worked well because so much more flavor gets released this way and it also meant they were not saturated with water and I did not really have to strain them.  After they are soft mash them up in a bowl, you can use beaters to do this.

2. Then add spices, lemon zest and juice, sugar, butter and cream.  Whip with the beaters until nice and smooth and then beat in the eggs.

3.  Scoop sweet potato puree into a baking dish and bake on 180C/350F for 30 minutes.  You can then add the topping and put it back in the oven or if you are preparing ahead of time just let this cool and refrigerate.  Bring it back to room temperature before you add the topping to continue baking.

4.  To make the topping.  Mix all the dry ingredients together and then pour the butter over and use a fork to combine, should be crumbly and moist, if not then add more butter (I made this up so am guessing on the measurements!)  You could make up whatever kind of topping you like for this, using pecans, almonds, oats, whatever works.

5.  Sprinkle over the souffle and bake for about 10-15 minutes on 180C/375F or until it looks a little toasted and crunchy.