Sunday, October 31, 2010


This is another recently discovered, yummy and very simple dish. Claudia Roden tells me that it is a medieval dish, also known as megadarra.

A quick google reveals that there are endless variations (and spellings) of the rice/lentils/caramalised onion theme. This version with burghul instead of rice appealed to me because it was so ridiculously simple. No spices, no herbs, no yoghurt sauce. I used red lentils because they were all we had and they completely broke down, as they are wont to do.

The next way I want to try this with brown lentils and brown rice, cooked seperately.


3 cups lentils
1 cup burghul
6 cups boiling water
1 tsp salt

Place lentils and burghul in a saucepan, add the boiling water and salt, cook covered without stirring on low heat for 25 minutes.

1 kilo brown onions sliced
1/2 cup olive oil

Place onions and olive oil in large saucepan or frypan with a lid over medium heat. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring often, until onion is as dark and caramalised as you like.

Serve the lentil mix topped with the onions. Mmmmm.

Dulce de leche two ways

1 tin of sweetened condensed milk, endless possibilities for tooth-rotting goodness. After my last attempt at macarons failed ...

... I was keen to have another go and loved the sound of dulce de leche macarons. I used the same recipe I have always used, from Tartelette but I paid closer attention to the whipping of the eggwhites and to keeping the temperature even in our crappy oven. To my relief the shells came out much better. The combination of the caramel and the chocolate was, well, sweet. Too sweet. I think macarons probably need some sort of contrast between the shell and the filling and that was lacking here. It might be better with some salt added to the caramel. But they sure look pretty.

The other half of the tin of caramel was destined for alfajores. I surfed around for a simple recipe, which I now can't find again, but I recall involved only flour, cornflour, salt, sugar, butter and water. The texture was good but they were too salty. I have to remember not to blindly follow the recipe when it comes to salt, as it is often too much. Overall though they were delicious and got the thumbs-up from a South American colleague.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ful Medammes

I have recently discovered ful medammes. Apparently the national dish of Egypt and traditionally eaten for breakfast, it is a simple but very satisfying bean dish. I have had several different canned versions, one of which is available at the grocery store up the road from us for $1.00 a can. They are good for a quick lunch, but I wanted to make my own from scratch.

I was happy to find cheap dried broad beans in the local supermarket. It was only after I had a kilo of them soaking that I discovered this from Clifford A Wright:

There are different kinds of fava beans and different cooking times, depending on their size, so you must make sure you use the right kind. The only fava bean used for making the prepared dish known as fūl is the smaller, rounder one called fūl hammām (bath fava) by the Egyptians.

Oops. But I decided to proceed anyway. The recipe was very simple but shelling the soaked beans took a long long time. I shelled through an episode of The Wire, then an episode of Librarians, then spent another 30 minutes shelling. In the end I just couldn't shell any more and I had a full crockpot so I gave up. I started with this recipe but I wanted to use the crockpot so I changed the proportions.

This recipe made a lot. Probably too much. Ask me in a week.

I admit that I had to work hard to make this dish look appetising, but it is really yummy.

Ful medames
(adapted from a recipe by Clifford A. Wright)

6 cups dried broad beans (I used regular large broad beans but seek out the smaller rounded kind if you can)
1 onion chopped
1 or 2 tomatoes chopped
1/2 cup dried red lentils
salt to taste

Soak the beans in plenty of cold water overnight

Drain the beans. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the beans, and boil them until they are soft enough to have their peels removed, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain, then remove the peel of each bean (preferably while watching something good on TV).

Place the peeled beans in a crockpot together with the onion, tomatoes, and lentils and cover with water. Cover and cook on low for 12 hours.

Season with salt to taste.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, sliced hard-boiled egg, finely chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Spelt Bread

I get a lot of recipes from the internet and sometimes have trouble remembering where I found a particular recipe or how I got there. Last week I asked google for spelt bread and somehow ended up on the Joyous Birth forum. Crikey. But this was strangely appropriate because my little nephew arrived last week and it was indeed joyous. And so was the bread. It was very easy to make and came out quite soft and lighter than any spelt bread I have bought. I enjoyed it most for toasted for breakfast - one piece with avocado and slow-roasted tomatoes, the another with labnah and apricot jam.

Spelt Bread
(adapted from a recipe by Metismorphia at the Joyous Birth forum)

3 cups spelt flour
1 cup warm water
2 tsp instant yeast
1 tbs honey
1 tsp salt
2 tbs oil

Oil or butter a large loaf tin.

Pour warm water into a large bowl, sprinkle yeast on top, then add honey, stir gently and leave aside for 10 minutes.

Mix in 1 cup flour, then the salt,, then another cup of flour, then the oil, then the last cup of flour. Leave to rise until warm place until doubled - around 2 hours.

Knead on a lightly floured surface, adding more flour if the dough is very sticky. Shape loaf and place into tin, lave to rise to just over top of tin - 30 mins to 1 hour. Perheat oven to 21oc.
Bake for 15 mins at 210C then reduce temp to 180 and bake for another 30 mins.
Remove from oven, allow to cool a little in the tin, then turn out onto rack and try to resist slicing until it is completely cool.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What do choc-peanut tartlets and broccoli soup have in common?

5 ingredients!

I recently discovered a really wonderful food blog - The Stone Soup. I found it when I was doing some research about living below the line and have been hungrily browsing the archive ever since.

I adore the peanut butter and chocolate combo. So much that my first ever macarons were choc-pnb flavoured - and almost got me DQ'd from the macaron bake-off at work because I forgot to label them as peanut-hazardous. But that is another story. My point is that when I saw these peanut butter tartlets they went straight to the top of my must-bake list. And boy, they did not disappoint. Sweet, salty, crunchy, nutty - I could eat ten. Actually I think I did eat ten.

The home-made peanut butter was easy to make and so tasty, even though I confess I didn't bother with peanuts in the shell. I used Butternut Snaps, which were easy to work with as promised, but just a little too sweet and buttery for my taste. Next time I would try a plainer digestive, or even a pastry case. I only had thickened cream so I used that and I think it messed with the texture - the ganache didn't quite set properly. But not enough to worry about. I had milk chocolate so I used that, but next time I would go dark.

I was also inspired by Stone Soup - and a giant $2 bunch of broccoli that I could not resist at Sentas Bros - to make a 5 ingredient broccoli soup. Olive oil, onion, broccoli, parmesan rind and buttermilk. It was so good that I polished all the leftovers off for lunch and forgot to take a picture. Use your imagination. And then use it some more to add a dollop of this sauce, which is amazing.

For the record, the rest of the broccoli and buttermilk is going to go into this. Yum.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Engagement cookies

If a wedding equals cake then I think an engagement party equals cookies. I wanted to make heart shaped cookies for an engagement party, but I wasn't excited about any recipe I could find for cut-out cookies.

But then when I signed up to become a Daring Baker I saw the last challenge and all the amazing, beautiful and clever cookies. Suddenly I was very excited about making sugar cookies with royal icing. I won't officially be a Daring Baker until next month, but I used the recipe and came out with some pretty cute looking cookies. If I had been signed up last month I would have made cookies in the shape of a magpie and a bike - because to me September and spring means getting swooped.

I am still getting the hang of this food photographer thing but having lots of fun learning. I'll leave you a picture of with my favorite cookies of all.

When I have a pig-shaped cookie cutter and knew I would be making pink icing, how could I resist?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mrs Beeton's Cookery in Colour

I confess that I have an unhealthy obsession with op-shopping. I can literally spend hours in an op-shop, hunting for my bargain fix. I get very excited when my work takes me to a new country town because it means a fresh hunting ground.

Anyone else who loves second hand cookbooks will know that for every great one you find, you have to sort through one hundred microwave cookbooks. If microwave cooking ever comes back into fashion the op-shops will be sitting on a gold mine. For me its part of the fun, crouched down (they always seem to be the bottom shelf) and flip, flip, flip, flip - ah-ha - a non-microwave book!

Lets be honest, I really don't need any more cookbooks. But when they only cost a dollar it is so hard to resist. And to even further justify my bad habit I thought I would start to share some of my treasures and the recipes they hold here.

So today it is Mrs Beeton's Cookery in Colour, purchsed for $1 from the Lifeline store in Tamworth.

Before I found this book I knew of Mrs Beeton from my dearest Scottish grandmother, who has an extremely dog-eared copy of Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, and still uses it to make things like bread sauce (yum).

Isabella Beeton died in 1865 and my book was published in 1971 so its probably safe to say she didn't have much of hand in it. But I was drawn by the groovy color photos and the wide range of recipes.

I recently made this Banana Bread with Choc Chips and Crystallised Ginger from Orangette. It was really good and since then I have been craving another baked good with crystallised ginger. So the first thing I wanted to make in this book was the Rich Dark Gingerbread. It was very easy to make and came out well. The texture was maybe drier than your average cake - but all the better for slathering with some butter.