Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Grass fed beefburgers

We have found a great supplier of grass fed beef here in the Black Forest. Die Sonnenblume in Bad Wildbad, is a small Bio grocery store that sells organic goods and produce. The owners also have a herd of Limousin cows which are slaughtered and butchered on a regular basis. You can order as little or as much as you like. We regularly order ground beef, fillet steak, rump steak and Rostbraten. They even do bones to make stock or just as a treat for your doggy! We placed an order recently and this is what we got.


I took two 500g packets of ground beef and made some tasty burgers. Then cooked them on the grill and served them in lettuce wraps with a side of sweet potato fries. There are many different ways to make burgers and I found this recipe in a copy of Cooks Illustrated, modified it a little and it's now a favourite in our house.
These are big burgers but I like to have a bit of extra meat to make up for the lack of bun. Beware though, It's very filling!

2 pounds of good quality ground beef
1 onion grated with a microplane grater(using a fine grater makes it like onion mush but it really works to add flavor without big lumps of onion, of course you can also use a cheese grater if you haven't got a microplane)
salt and pepper Be generous!
3 slices of bacon, cut into really small pieces
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1oz finely grated cheese (optional)

Mix all the ingredients together and shape into 4 patties, of course if you don't have such a hearty appetite you can make 8 smaller ones! Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Cook on the barbecue grill for approx 10 minutes on each side until done. Serve on large lettuce leaves with bacon jam, tomatoes, onions and cheese. Who needs a bun? these are great by themselves!

Roasted vegetables with slow cooker lamb

I didn't have much time to spend on dinner today as I had a pile of laundry and an appointment to get my hair cut. Dishes like these, with a little prior planning, are the perfect way to go about your business and not have to worry about cooking something great tasting when 5pm rolls around. I made this early, cooked it in the morning and then reheated it with a foil cover at 175C/350F for about 15 minutes at dinner time.

Roasted vegetables, serves 4
2 zucchini sliced thickly
3 carrots sliced at an angle, about 1" thick
1 sweet potato, cut into 1" chunks
1 eggplant cut into 1" chunks
2 leeks, washed and cut at an angle, into 1" chunks
3 cloves garlic peeled, and cut in half
fresh herbs, I used sage, thyme and oregano
olive oil and salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to  200C/400F
Chop all of the vegetables and arrange in a large roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Add the garlic cloves and turn the vegetables over with your hands so they are all coated in the oil. Tear the fresh herbs and scatter over the top. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes and the edges of some of the vegetables have become dark and caramelized. Cover the pan in foil, lower the heat to 175C/350F and cook for a further 15-20 minutes.
This is the finished product, I also browned a leg of lamb in a very hot oven for 20 minutes and then transferred it to the crockpot along with a punnet of cherry tomatoes and 1 cup vegetable stock. I set the crockpot on low and 8 hours later there was a deliciously tender lamb roast ready to go with the vegetables. I added a little feta to the roasted vegetables but this is entirely optional. The juices in the crockpot were put into a saucepan and reduced over high heat to make a yummy gravy without the use of flour or cornstarch as a thickener.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Sundried tomato and almond crusted Fish

Here is yet another adaptation of a Jamie Oliver recipe. I changed a few things, omitted a few ingredients that I felt were unnecessary. Generally I like his way of cooking. Lots of fresh ingredients that are in season, a few herbs and you've got a great tasting meal. Jamie uses breadcrumbs for his crust but I substituted those with ground almonds, the nuttiness goes really well with the spicy layer underneath. This is best served with a huge salad, pile on the veggies and add some interesting salad leaves like arugula or oakleaf, and top with a simple French dressing.You can use any white fish for this, I've used cod and also had great results with Flounder and Pollock, you can even push it and use salmon pieces although I feel it's best with white fish.

6 good sized, white fish fillets, make sure all the pin bones are removed.
1 teaspoon fennel seeds

For the tomato filling
2 cloves garlic
Small handful of sun-dried tomatoes You can use ones that come in a jar packed in oil.
small bunch of basil
1/2-1 fresh chili (you get to choose the heat)
handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese (You can omit this if you don't do cheese)
1 lemon
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary
couple of sprigs thyme
olive oil
salt and black pepper

Crispy Topping
200g whole almonds
2 garlic cloves peeled.

Preheat oven to 175C/350F.
Generously drizzle some olive oil on a roasting tray and sprinkle the fennel seeds over it. Toss the fish fillets in the oil and rub in some of the fennel seeds and place skin side down. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside for a moment, while you make the filling and topping.

In a food processor or blender put the 2 cloves of garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, chili and Parmesan cheese. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, the grated zest of the lemon and the juice of 1/2 of the same lemon.

Whizz it around until it makes a paste, scraping the sides of the processor or blender as necessary.
Spoon and spread this paste quite thickly over all of the fish fillets.

 Into the same blender or processor (don't bother washing it) pour in the 200g whole almonds, a splash of olive oil and the 2 peeled garlic cloves. Process until they resemble breadcrumbs.

Scatter over the tomato pasted fish fillets and press down lightly. Sprinkle the rosemary and thyme leaves over the top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until the topping is browned and the fish is cooked through. The cooking times are approximate depending on the the thickness of the  fish. If you have thick fish fillets lower the oven heat slightly and cook a little longer. Serve with a crispy salad.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Spanish style chicken

I used a chicken that I jointed myself, although any mix of chicken pieces will work well, bone in pieces give it extra flavor.

Serves 4
1 large chicken (jointed, or an assortment of chicken pieces)
olive oil
1 red, green and yellow bell pepper
250g fresh plum or cherry tomatoes, halved.
125g Chorizo sausage sliced and roughly chopped.
2 tablespoons chopped sage (I prefer to use fresh but if using dried cut it down to 1 tablespoon)
2 teaspoons chopped thyme (again use 1 teaspoon if using dried)
2 chopped garlic cloves
1 lemon (zested and then cut into two halves)
salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F
Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown on both sides in some olive oil in a non stick pan, until golden brown (approx 4-5 minutes) Take them out of the pan and set them onto a plate.
Roughly chop the peppers until they are approximately cut into 1" cubes.

Add a little more olive to the frying pan and cook the chopped chorizo for 2- minutes,
add the chopped peppers, the chopped garlic, the sage and thyme and cook for a further two minutes.
Put the pepper and chorizo mix into the bottom of a roasting pan and put the chicken pieces on top. Add the zest from the lemon and the juice from about half of the lemon. Nestle the lemon pieces into the chicken.

Bake for 60 minutes, turning the chicken once during cooking. 
 Serve with a nice crispy salad.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Almond honey cake

This cake is a favorite in our house, it isn't the prettiest cake and is prone to sinking in the middle if you overbeat the egg whites, but with the delicious combination of honey, toasted nuts and a honey glaze, it tastes amazing, and that's all that counts right? It does not contain flour so is great for those following a gluten free diet. This is a recipe I originally found in an old copy of Eating Well Magazine

Ingredients (Serves 8-10)
1 1/2 cups whole almonds. These need to be toasted, then ground in a food processor (you can also buy pre-ground almonds and in this case you will need 1 3/4 cups of ground almonds) I roast the almonds in the microwave for about 4 minutes, watch out they scorch quickly if you don't pay attention!
4 large, room temperature, eggs, separated ( you will need both yolks and whites for this recipe)
1/2 cup honey (you could also use pure maple syrup for a deeper flavor)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda


2 teaspoons honey
flaked almonds (optional)

Preheat oven to 175°C / 350°F. Coat the insides of a 9-inch springform pan with coconut oil. Line the bottom with parchment paper and oil the paper.

Grind the toasted almonds in a food processor or blender until they are finely ground. 

With an electric mixer (or stand mixer with paddle attachment) Beat the 4 egg yolks with the honey, vanilla, baking soda and salt on medium speed until fully combined.

Add the ground almonds and mix on low speed until combined.

 In a clean large bowl beat the 4 egg whites with the electric mixer (Or use the whisk attachment on a stand mixer.) Beat for 1-2 minutes until the whites are very foamy and have doubled in size but are not stiff enough to hold peaks. Always make sure the bowl and beaters are spotlessly clean, if there are traces of fat from the egg yolks on the beaters the whites will not whip)

Using a spatula, fold the egg whites into the nut mixture using a figure of eight motion, until just combined, it will be very light and airy.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake immediately. Do not be tempted to open the oven and peek until it has been in the oven for at least 20 minutes, otherwise it will sink. After 20 minutes if the cake seems to be browning too quickly, reduce the heat very slightly and cover loosely with some aluminum foil. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick  or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. (Approx 28-30 minutes) When cooked, the cake may feel slightly 'spongy' in the middle but if the toothpick/skewer is clean the cake is done.

 Let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then run a knife around the edge of the pan and gently remove the side ring. Let cool completely (The cake will probably shrink a little) Warm two tablespoons of honey in a small pan and then brush over the surface of the cake

To serve, sprinkle with sliced almonds or some fresh berries.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Roasted chicken cooked in coconut milk

This is loosely based on a Fillipino recipe I found, called Ginataang Manok. Basically this is a chicken dish flavoured with ginger and coconut milk. You can make this with chicken pieces or whole chickens. I used two whole chickens but I did not double up the coconut sauce, there was more than enough to serve 8 people. The original recipe also did not call for red chilies or lemongrass but I feel they give it a nice kick and an interesting flavor. This recipe would also work with a little adaptation in a slow cooker.

1 whole roasting chicken or 4 chicken quarters or an assortment of chicken pieces of your choice.
2 zucchini sliced
1 green bell pepper seeded and roughly chopped
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
salt and pepper

Coconut sauce
1/4 cup sliced fresh ginger (this is a piece about the length of your index finger)
large bunch fresh coriander / cilantro, chopped.
1 large red chili finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1(14 ounce) can coconut milk
1 piece lemongrass, hit it with something heavy to flatten it and to release the flavors.

Preheat oven to 225C/450F, season the chicken or chicken pieces with salt and pepper and put them in a heavy pan or Dutch oven, cook for approximately 30 minutes until the chickens are lightly browned.

Remove the chicken from the oven and reduce the temperature to180C/350F .
Drain off some of the chicken fat into a frying pan on a medium heat, and add the ginger slices, chopped garlic, cilantro and chili. Cook gently for about 5 minutes to release the aromas of the herbs and spices.

Add the can of coconut milk and stir gently until combined.

Scatter the zucchini, bell peppers and spinach over the chicken and pour over the coconut sauce.

 Add the lemongrass on the top. Cover with a lid or some foil and cook for 90 minutes until the chicken is tender. Serve with cauliflower rice.