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Category Archives: Entrees

Kuzu Gnocchi with Pea Soup

Well, first of all – a huge thanks to Dani for mentioning my humble blog on her Facebook page.  And welcome to my new followers!  I hope that I can give you some pre-cooking tips for the divine recipes from “In The Mix”.

I would love to hear from you, especially if you have any particular recipes you want me to try soon – or if you have any feedback on other stuff you want me to include in my rambles – or that you don’t want me to mention.

So, my project today was Kuzu Gnocchi with Pea Soup.  (It was supposed to be yesterday’s project, but I had some trouble locating kuzu – even the local Japanese supermarket didn’t have it) Anyway, I tracked kuzu down at a Health Food shop locally – it’s the organic one and it was about $10 for 100 grams.  It’s a weird looking stuff – white and chunky crunchy bits – so much so I wasn’t sure if I should sift it before I added it to the gruyere mix.  I didn’t and it seems to have turned out ok… time will tell!

For those who have the book, Dani has modified the recipe slightly since the first publication, and the new version will be in her third reprint.  So I used the new version, which is on the In the Mix Facebook page.  It’s actually a pretty easy sauce to make, the challenge comes with creating the gnocchi (and as some of you would know, I am piping challenged).

This recipe is from Raymond Capaldi, who is the chef at Hare and Grace, Melbourne.

First of all, I hadn’t eaten Gruyere cheese for ages.  I’d forgotten how good it was, and I may just have cut of a little chunk or two for myself while I was making this.  You can also make this with mozzarella, if you are so inclined.  But Gruyere it was – and it was dead easy.  Cut the cheese into smallish cubes (I managed about 15 or so cubes for the 60 grams) as it will make the initial noise of the cheese hitting the thermomix bowl lessen.

If I had my time again, I’d have the kuzu pre-measured – so do that first before you start cooking anything – otherwise you’ll do what I did and end up with some kuzu sticking to the MC – unless you’re someone who inverts your MC all the time –  which was a bit of a pain.

I still haven’t got around to getting a decent piping bag, so I cheated and used the old zip lock bag, but this time I used a nozzle with it that I had from an icing set.  Worked like a dream, although the mixture can be pretty hot on your hands – even if you let it cool down a little.  When you’re piping the gnocchi, you need to do it in a bowl of iced water.  I’m lucky as I have an ice water dispenser in the fridge, but make sure you have this ready to go – and my suggestion would be to have the water in a large, shallow dish so you can get lots of gnocchi in the one dish, without having to crowd them together.  Mine are in two bowls – one with high sides, which made life difficult for the piping, and one large flat bottomed soup bowl, which actually worked quite well. I started off having some ice cubes in the water, but ended up taking them out as they caused more trouble than they were worth.  You could probably use a lamington tray if you were  going to use the gnocchi immediately, but if you’re planning of keeping them in the fridge in water for a few days then use something you can easily seal.  I have two bowls taking up lots of space in the fridge, as I was too scared to try and move them all into one different bowl…they just look a little too frail.  Might attempt it before I cook them tonight and see how I go.

The pea soup component is so easy – and taste delicious if the spoonfuls I’ve had while cooking it are anything to go by. It has lemon zest in it, which really adds a lovely tang to it.  I’m hoping that Master 3 might even dare to try some – he used to love peas and has gone completely off them of late.  And there’s nothing like the taste of fresh peas – makes you wonder why we ever bother with the frozen kind!

I also took Dani’s suggestion and made the parsley oil to go with this, which I’ll blog separately.  It looks, smells and tastes absolutely beautiful!

So, I’ve just eaten it – absolutely delicious.  The pea soup is lovely and thick and is a lovely shade of mid green.  I think in retrospect I should have piped the gnocchi a little larger, but the good news is that once they are chilled well in the ice water they are a little more amenable to moving! I made mine about 1.30 and cooked them at 7, and stored them in the fridge in water in between.  They firmed up quite nicely, but they are slippery little suckers, so be careful when you’re using the slotted spoon to get them out of the bowl of iced water.

Be sparing with the olive oil when you heat them through before you serve the gnocchi component – they melt pretty quickly – I guess they wouldn’t if they were larger – so use a large frying pan and spread them out so they don’t melt together.  Mine lost their shape a lot, but it also could have been that all the kuzu didn’t make it into the mixture, and I was a bit nervous about adding some extra in as I wasn’t familiar with using it.

I was a little lazy and served this in a large bowl rather than a plate, and if presentation is important to you, I’d definitely use a plate in future as I think it makes the dish look far more impressive.  We were being naughty and eating on the couch, so I didn’t want to risk the whole lot going west – so bowls it was.  Definitely use the parsley oil if you can – it looks and tastes beautiful.  If I had served it on a plate, I could have spread it artistically around the pea soup, but I just put in a few splodges and although it didn’t look pretty, it tasted great!

So – the family review was positive – we’ll definitely have these again! We had this as a dinner rather than an entree and it was quite enough for 2 adults with healthy appetites and a small serve left over for Master 3 tomorrow!

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2012 in Entrees, Main meals

 

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Crab and Prawn Polenta

What a great, quick, impressive dish!  It takes no time to put together, and would be lovely served with a small side salad.  It’s quite rich, so the amount you make would easily be a main course for 4 people – even more if you served a starter.

I had my parents over for dinner the other night – and I didn’t want anything too fussy to serve them.  I was on my own – with a toddler, which meant feeding, bathing, pyjama-ing, and putting to bed as well as getting a half decent meal on the table.  This recipe looked as easy as pie – and really, it is – so simple, so quick, and really, really delicious.

I was a bit lazy and bought the crab meat already shelled and picked.  In an ideal world, I would have liked to have cooked the crab myself, but I just didn’t have time that day. I’ve never cooked crabs or lobster, and I’m going to have to remedy that – soon!

Believe it or not, I had to search high and low for the quick cook polenta.  I couldn’t find it ANYWHERE!  I had some slow cooking polenta in the cupboard, but the quick cook stuff was somewhat elusive.  I ended up getting it at Leo’s Supermarket, even though Woolworths said they stocked it – I couldn’t find it anywhere, and I couldn’t find anyone to help me look for it.  What’s more, they put the slow cooking polenta and the quick cooking polenta in completely different areas of the supermarket, as I discovered when I actually found the quick cook stuff at Woolworths today on my weekly shopping venture.

Anyway, the crab and the prawns were easy to get.  The other challenge ingredient was chervil.  I’ve never cooked with chervil before and couldn’t find anywhere that stocked it – even dried :-(. So while I was at my third greengrocer, I googled it and found a site that recommended using 1 teaspoon of dried parsley flakes, plus one eighth of a teaspoon of rubbed, dried sage.  So that I did. I’m not sure exactly what chervil is supposed to taste like, but the parsley and sage tasted pretty good to us.

I used the Simon Johnson truffle oil, which was lovely.  I also use that for some of my mushroom risottos, one of the Thermomix staples!  It really lifts the dish from good to great.

The polenta is lovely and soupy and is very rich and satisfying.  I loved it, but couldn’t contemplate seconds.  What I did not use, I put into tupperware and had for my dinner the next night, reheated in a steam microwave with the lid on the tupperware.  

My tips for this recipe:

Even if the crab meat says it’s picked and cleaned, do have a look through and give it a bit of a rinse.  I discovered a few gritty bits in mine.

The recipe also calls for the prawns to be cut into 2 or 3 pieces.  Next time, I’d actually leave them whole (deheaded, tailed and de-veined) as the prawns I bought were on the small side.  If you are using King Prawns, you could cut them into two or three, but small prawns cut into two were too small for me, and I like seeing chunks of prawn rather than tiny little bits.

Always use great parmesan and grate it yourself!

Approximate cost of non pantry ingredients for this recipe was:

Ocean Blue Brand Crab Claw – 140g x 2 – total $15.98

Prawns: $5.00

Creme Fraiche: $5.48

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Entrees, Main meals

 

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Tomato Shots

Photo is coming – – – – I promise!!

The recipe for Tomato Shots is one of the first that got my attention in the book.

First of all, the photo looks amazing.  They are served in little glass bowls with a little tapenade visible, and a sprinkling of dust. Then you read the details and see that they are served with a brilliant tapenade and prosciutto dust.  Just the words prosciutto dust were enough to get me salivating!  I am a real savoury tooth, and anything in the bacon/speck/prosciutto family gets my vote straight off.

There are 3 main components to this dish:

  • Tomato sorbet
  • Tapenade
  • Prosciutto dust
You need to prepare for this recipe – but I bet there isn’t anything stopping you having a few zip lock bags of diced tomatoes in the freezer, especially if you buy in bulk – or – even better – grow your own.
I made the tomato shots and used them as an entree for dinner on Sunday night with the family, serving them in martini glasses.
They tasted lovely, but I think there was too much of a good thing – and believe it or not, it tasted really rich.  I think the best way to serve would be in small bit sized nibbles – so they’d be perfect for a special hors d’oeuvre or amuse bouche.  I’m going to make them again this week and take some photos this time of the way I plan to serve them up – — but you’ll have to wait and see for the picture!  I’ve just cut up the tomatoes this morning and popped them in the freezer, so that might be a project for tomorrow.
The Tapenade
The tapenade recipe is good. I like my tapenade a little chunky, and the recipe makes a chunky-ish tapenade.  It’s very quick and easy to make.  Next time I think I’ll reduce the amount of parsley a little, but that’s more my personal taste.
The tomatoes 

You need to make sure you have really flavoursome tomatoes for this recipe, as they really are the heart and soul of the dish.  Believe it or not, the tastiest tomatoes that I’ve found recently are from Costco.  They come in 1 kilo boxes and you can get the little grape variety or the cherry truss tomatoes.  I had been to Costco where I bought a box, and then I saw this recipe… kismet!

The recipe doesn’t call for peeling the tomatoes as you blitz them in the the Thermomix anyway, but next time I make these, I think I will peel at least half of them – only reason being is that as I use the smaller tomatoes, there is proportionally more skin.

I used lemon zest in my first attempt, and I think I’ll try the lime zest next time.  I’ll let you know what the outcome is!!

The Prosciutto Dust

Oh, how lovely!  All you need to do is effectively ‘dry’ the prosciutto in the oven and then blitz the hell out of it.  One pack of prosciutto from the deli (100g) made quite a lot when you consider you don’t need much per serve.  It keeps in the fridge in a sealed container quite well.

When I’m baking it next time, rather than rest it on the baking paper, I’m going to try and bake it on a cooling rack on a tray with the baking paper under the cooling rack.  I think it might help get rid of all the dampness a little better than just laying it on the baking paper.  Even so, the suggested method works well…it’s just that I love it even more when it’s really, really, crunchy (and who can resist taking just a little bit to try before you blitz it??)

I’m planning to use the left over dust as a garnish on poached eggs, the bulk standard Thermomix mushroom risotto, and  on toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in Bites and snacks, Entrees

 

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