Thursday, May 29, 2008

Oprah's Turkey Burger

Last night I made Oprah's favourite turkey burger which she featured on her Summer Favourite Things show a couple of Friday's ago.

Huge disappointment. I followed the recipe, except for the fact that I forgot to buy celery. The burgers fell apart on the grill and made a big mess. I managed to salvage them enough to serve and they were only OK. I used a mango and lime chutney, which was very nice on it's own. Oprah's chef used a pear chutney, but I couldn't find any of that at my local Giant.

I'm glad I gave them a try, but I'll be sticking with my own Garlic Parmesan Turkey Burgers from now on.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Desperate Times... for desperate measures. The chipmunks are eating my basil!! I didn't have this problem last year at all, but they are going to town on it this year. Two weeks ago I planted 5 basil plants and 2 cilantro. The cilantro are still fully intact but 4 out of 5 basil plants had been eaten and dug up!!

So, I bought 4 new plants today and fashioned this very scary "thing" to keep the chipmunks at bay. There is no way I can go all summer without tons of fresh basil outside my kitchen door!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pan Fried Shrimp and Green Curry Cashew Dipping Sauce

Tonight for dinner we had some shrimp with this delicious green curry cashew dipping sauce, some rice and an Asian carrot salad that was just delicious. This dipping sauce was really yum, and the good news is you can prepare it a day in advance if you are pressed for time. This would also be lovely for an appetiser platter with shrimp. The recipe is from the Everyday Food book.

1 slice (1/4 inch thick) peeled fresh ginger
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons roasted unsalted cashews
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon curry powder
Coarse salt

In a food processor, pulse ginger until finely chopped. Add 3/4 cup cashews; process until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add yogurt, cilantro, sugar, and curry powder; season with salt. Process until incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down sides as needed. Transfer to a serving bowl; sprinkle with remaining cashews. Serve with shrimp, or toss with steamed vegetables. Refrigerate, covered, up to 3 days.

For the Asian Carrot salad I grated 4 carrots an then made a dressing of:

2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely choppe.
Salt and pepper
Mix it all together and toss with the carrot.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Rustic Apple Tart

I'm really on a roll this weekend. Along with the Lamingtons and the Sour Cream Choc Cake I also made a Rustic Apple Tart from the Everyday Food book.

It was really easy. The most time consuming part was peeling the apples.

Flour for work surface
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (thawed)
3 granny smith apples
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water for egg wash
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons apple jelly or apricot jam

Preheat the oven to 375F. On a lightly floured work surface roll out the pastry sheet (still folded to an 8 x 14 inch rectangle. Trim the edges with a sharp paring knife. Transfer to a baking sheet; place in the freezer. Peel, core and slice the apples 1/4 inch thick. Toss in a large bowl with the sugar.

Brush the pastry with the egg wash, avoiding the edges. Use a sharp paring knife to score a 3/4 inch border around the pastry(do not cut all the way through). Place the apples inside the border and dot with the butter. Bake until the pastry is golden and the apples are tender, 30 to 35 mins.

In the microwave or a small saucepan, heat the jelly with 1 tablespoon water until melted. Brush the apples with the glaze. Serve the tart warm or at room temperature, cutting into pieces with a serrated knife.

UPDATE: We ate it tonight with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I thought it turned out well - the apricot jam made it nice and sweet and sticky

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake....

....which also has sour cream chocolate icing. This is a cake from Nigella's Domestic Goddess, and I've made it a couple of times before with great success. It's actually two 8" rounds with the frosting in between as well as on the top and sides. I serve it with raspberries, which are quite magnificent at the moment.

Butter two 8-inch cake pans, and line with parchment or wax paper.


1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
3 tablespoons best cocoa
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream
2 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract


3oz milk chocolate
3oz bittersweet chocolate
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 cups confections’ sugar, sifted
½ teaspoon hot water

Pre heat the oven to 350F.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Then using and electric mixer, add the butter. In a wide-mouthed measuring cup, whisk together the cocoa, sour cream, eggs and vanilla, then slowly add this cocoa mixture to the ingredients in the bowl, beating until thoroughly mixed.

Pour the batter in the prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes; when they’re ready the cakes should be starting to shrink back form the edges of the tins. Leave for 10 minutes n their pans on racks, then turn out to cool.

To make the icing, melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave, or in a bowl over hot water. Let cool a little, then stir in the sour cream, vanilla, and syrup. Add the sifted confectioners’ sugar and a little hot water, blending until smooth. When you’ve got the texture right – thick enough to cover but supple enough to spread, adding more sugar or water as required – you can ice the cakes.

Cut four strips of baking parchment and make and outline of a square with them on a flat plate. Sit one layer on top of the paper pieces, spread with icing, sit the second layer on top and used the rest of the icing to cover the top and sides.

Mini Lamingtons

I've gone a bits nuts on the baking for Memorial Day weekend. Today I made Mini Lamingtons, and also a Sour Cream Chocolate Cake. I just love lamingtons, they are a taste of home for me. A very traditional Australian spongy cake, dipped in chocolate and then coconut. Messy to make, but worth it.

I found this recipe for the Mini Lamingtons in the cuisine section of the Sydney Morning Herald and I just converted it to imperial measurements and it worked really well.

1 stick soft butter, chopped
3/4 cup super fine sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups plain flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup milk
1 3/4 cups shredded coconut **

For the icing
2 tablespoons soft butter
3 1/4 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tablespoons Dutch cocoa
5 ounces boiling water

Preheat oven to 350F.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in combined sifted flour and baking powder alternating with milk and stir until smooth. Spoon mixture into a greased and lined square tin and bake for 25-30 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Stand in tin for 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool. Wrap in plastic wrap and store for 1 day.

For the icing

Combine all ingredients with 5 ounces boiling water and mix until smooth. This mixture will be very runny.

Cut cake into approximately 1" squares and dip each one into icing, then into coconut.

Place lamingtons on a wire rack for 1-2 hours or until dry.

Makes about 45.

** I used dessicated coconut for this recipe, only because my mother had just brought me some over from Australia, but shredded will work just as well.

Tip: I use two forks to handle the cake squares and dip them in the chocolate and then the coconut. Let the chocolate drip off a bit before you put it in the coconut.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Mushroom and Leek Tart

We had a very light summer dinner tonight, to celebrate the fact that the temperature actually hit 70 here in Virginia. I still have my heat on here for the mornings, where it has been a crisp 51 degrees!

I made the Leek Tart from June's Everyday Food. They had lots of really good recipes this month and I'm making a few more this weekend which I will post.

I modified the recipe a bit by adding mushrooms to the leeks and then I served it with some roasted chicken.

Here's is the recipe. I diced up the mushrooms and added them about 5 minutes after the leeks had started to cook. For the pastry, I bought the Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry. I just can't make pastry like that, and this is supposed to be an easy dinner!

It was delicious!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Food Glorious Food Part 3....

And we barely let a day go by without one of these....

The Mickey shaped icecream!!!! Yum. This is my mother enjoying one at Animal Kingdom.

Food Glorious Food Part 2....

Emeril's was great. I had a flash fried oyster salad to start with and then the Grilled Prime Rib Eye Country Style Mashed Potatoes, Emeril’s Homemade Worcestershire Sauce and Crispy Onions, and Marc had grouper topped with crab, which was on the daily specials. The service was really good. Emeril's also has the most outrageous wine list I have ever seen. It's about 20 pages long and some bottles on there are over $1,000. It was fun to look over and dream about! I had a glass of red from France, but unfortunately I can't remember what it was, and I wasn't taking notes!

Wolfgang Puck Cafe was a much simpler affair, with really good food. I had a big Margarita to drink and a wonderful individual pizza margherita.

I didn't really think the service was that good, but it was really busy, and also very loud, which has to be difficult for the servers.

Marc said he wanted a light meal, so ordered the Cobb Salad. Hahahahah. He was presented with this:

It was huge!! But the one of the best boiled eggs I've ever had!!

Food Glorious Food Part 1....

We had some fantastic culinary experiences in Orlando. We ate at Emeril's, Wolfgang Puck Cafe and at two restaurants in Disney.The Chefs De France in Epcot, and then a character dinner in Magic Kingdom.

I was really surprised how great the French restaurant was. I thought it was going to be OK, but I was thrilled that it was so nice. Everything was totally French, the decor, waiters and food. The executive chefs/partners are Paul Bocuse (and this restaurant is managed by his son!), Gaston Lenotre and Roger Verge

We all had something different. My parents had this wonderful looking dish:

It's Noix De Saint Jacques et gambas sautees Flan e'epinards, sauce a l'oseille or in other words Sauteed scallops and black tiger shrimp served with spinach flan and sorrel sauce. They said it was delicious.

I had the Jarret d'agneau, riz complet et carottes, which translated is Braised lamb shank, black perl rice medley and carrots. Divine. I love lamb.

Marc had "The Menu", which was Onion Soup, Roasted chicken with basil mashed potatoes and braised tomato topped off with Vanilla creme brulee. The only thing that was a bit disappointing was that the Creme Brulee was served stone cold and all the sugar on top had not been caramelised properly. That was probably a time issue though.

The kids menu was great with nice vegetables and fish and also chicken and pasta - although I'm sure that any kid that has been walking around Epcot all day will eat anything because they are really hungry!!

All in all I was thrilled with this restaurant, and would definitely eat there again given the opportunity!

Disney Was a Blast!

I'm back! We all had a fabulous time at Disney. The weather was great and the parks were not crowded at all. The longest wait we had on anything was 20 mins, most rides were 5 or 10 mins and the only rides we had to fast pass were Space Mountain and Peter Pan's Flight. My daughter got to meet 3 different princesses as well as Peter Pan and Wendy and Donald Duck. Mickey was MIA except for the parades. We did a character dinner and Minnie, Goofy and Pluto showed up, but still no Mickey!

I got to ride a Segway at Epcot, which was fun. We only got to do a small loop, but it was better than nothing and I've never been on one before. You basically make it go forward by putting a bit a weight on your toes. It's quite incredible!

I also enjoyed the availability of the frozen margaritas at Epcot, and you could walk around with them! I really loved the world showcase, and thought they did a great job of making each country as authentic as possible.

I'll talk about the food in the next post. Needless to say I ate a lot, but I felt I could get away with it because I walked around the parks for about 10 hours a day.