Sunday, August 31, 2008

Honey Murcott Mandarin Sorbet

Katie from Thyme for Cooking is hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and this week it's time for another in season offering (well, in this part of the world), the vibrant Honey Murcott Mandarin.

Honey Murcott Mandarin© by Haalo

Winter may well be giving us its final blast but with these large, citrus orbs on our shelves you know that the seasons are about to change. Honey Murcotts are the most sweetest variety of mandarin and also one of the juiciest. They are covered with an easy to peel skin - though they do come with a lot of seeds.

Honey Murcott Mandarin© by Haalo

While it is known as a mandarin here, it may well be also known as a tangerine. While mandarins and tangerines refer to the same citrus species (they are both c. reticulata), the name tangerine has been used to describe a certain type of mandarin, those with a darker skin.

In deciding what to make with these mandarins I had one objective in mind and that was to focus on their sweet, juicy nature. Though it may seem a bit odd considering the season, I felt that sorbet would be the best solution!

Honey Murcott Sorbet© by Haalo

Honey Murcott Mandarin Sorbet

500mls/2 cups Honey Murcott mandarin juice
1 cup water
1 cup caster sugar

Place the water and sugar into a saucepan and over a medium heat - stir until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 5 minutes to reduce slightly. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before using.

Peel the mandarins, remove the seeds - this isn't difficult as they are quite large. You can put them through a juicer or you can, as I did, put them in a blender and blend until smooth.

Pour this mixture through a fine sieve and discard the solids - you want 2 cups of juice left at the end of this process.

Add the cooled sugar syrup to the mandarin juice and stir. Begin by adding half a cup of syrup and then taste - how much you end up using will depend on just how sweet the fruit was to begin with. I added just under 1 cup of sugar syrup.

Stir well and allow to thoroughly chill before pouring it into the bowl of your ice cream maker - following the manufacturers instructions. This took about 25 minutes to churn.

Honey Murcott Sorbet© by Haalo

If you don't have an ice cream maker - you can follow these instructions.

Pour the churned mixture into a freezer proof container - smooth the surface and place in the freezer for a few hours to set completely.

Honey Murcott Sorbet© by Haalo

Not only is this refreshing, it has all those sweet mandarin flavours without being too cloying. I can well imagine that in summer this would be a lovely way to get that hit of Vitamin C - it's not that bad in winter either.

Honey Murcott Sorbet© by Haalo

Friday, August 29, 2008


Salt is probably something we really don't think too much about and when we do, it's usually because there's been some study or another "proving" that it's bad for us which will in turn, be gazumped by another "proving" that it's good for us.

But really we should be thinking about it - when used correctly it can bring out the true flavour of ingredients.

Salt shouldn't be consigned to be that white granular substance we buy in bulk - salt comes in many forms, each with their own unique characteristics. As a example of this, I thought I'd look at three interesting salts.

arious salts© by Haalo

At the top is a French classic

fleur de sel de guérande© by Haalo

Fleur de Sel de Guérande - hand collected in the salt marches of Guérande, this is naturally white and is not washed or crushed.

fleur de sel de guérande© by Haalo

It is best used as a finishing salt - sprinkled at the end of cooking, over salads or added at the table. If making salted caramel then this would be the salt of choice.

murray river salt flakes© by Haalo

The next salt is a local product - Murray River Salt Flakes

murray river salt flakes© by Haalo

Its distinctive colouring, a pale pink-peach, is due to carotene which is released by river algae. This product has an extra benefit in that it helps in the fight against the growing salinity of the Murray river basin. Just like Fleur de Sel, this is an excellent finishing salt. As the flakes are quick to dissolve they can also be used when baking and roasting.

natural black sea salt© by Haalo

The final salt comes from Cyprus - natural Volcanic Sea Salt Flakes

natural black sea salt© by Haalo

This salt sourced from the Mediterranean Sea is sun-dried in large pyramids and then mixed with activated charcoal. The crystals are quite delicate in nature and are also best used as a finishing salt.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cheese - Berrys Creek Tarwin Blue

Here's another cheese from the recent Specialist Cheesemakers Show - Berry's Creek Cheese are located in Poowong, here in Victoria and they specialise in farmhouse cheese made using the milk from their own herd of Jersey cows.

What struck us when tasting their range was the uniform creaminess of all the cheese - a direct result of using the richer flavour of Jersey milk.

Berrys Creek Tarwin Blue© by Haalo

Cheese Maker: Berry's Creek Cheese
Cheese Name: Tarwin Blue

Berrys Creek Tarwin Blue© by Haalo

There are three blue cheeses in the Berry Creek range and Tarwin Blue sits in the middle. It uses a combination of three moulds that gives it quite a depth of flavour with only a light veining present. The cheese itself is exceptionally creamy and almost sweet, the mound introducing that pleasant and almost Parmesan like, tang.

Berrys Creek Tarwin Blue© by Haalo

I think the combination of texture and light veining will probably make even the blue-phobic at least try it and more than likely, really enjoy it. For those that have already been seduced by the power of blue cheese, this is one blue you should keep an eye out for.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Braised Silverbeet Stalks

Srivalli from Cooking 4 All Seasons is the host of this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I have a vegetable that is known by many names - for Italians, Bietole, Americans call it Chard and we know it here as Silverbeet.

silverbeet© by Haalo

Silverbeet contains Vitamins A, B6, B12, C E and K, Folate, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Riblofavin and Thiamin as well as Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium and Zinc.

This plant is still a staple in my mother's garden - a must have ingredient for her ravioli. While the leaves are plundered for the filling, the stalks are certainly not forgotten. They are transforming into a tasty side dish - a simple braise of onions and tomatoes with a sprinkling of grated Parmigiano at the finish.

braised silverbeet stalks© by haalo

Braised Silverbeet Stalks

Silverbeet stalks
1 onion, finely sliced
440 gram can crushed tomatoes, use fresh if in season
salt and white pepper
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Prepare the stalks:
This recipe is enough for one or two standard bunches of silverbeet.

Remove the green leaf from the stalk - and then cut the stalk across at the point where the leave ends. This will give you a narrow v-shaped stalk where the leaf was and a rectangular section of stalk.

Trim the ends off the base section and then, if the stalks are extra thick, run your knife or a peeler down the curved edge of the stalk to remove any a fine stringy layer. It's a bit like prepared rhubarb but only necessary if the stalks are older or really thick.

You can then cut them into finger sized lengths or leave them at their full size. You can also cut them in half lengthways for extra wide stalks. The whole idea is to standardise the size so that they will cook evenly.

Cook the dish:
Heat a little oil and a knob of butter in a large skillet over a medium-low heat and when the butter has melted and beginning to sizzle, add the onion.

Cook gently until the onion softens and has started to colour. Add the crushed tomatoes and half a cans worth of water and allow the mixture to simmer and reduce for about 10 minutes.

Add in the stalks, stirring them through the mixture and add enough water to just cover them. Simmer, uncovered until the stalks soften and the liquid reduces. You should end up with a rich thick sauce that clings to the tender stalk

Taste and season with salt and finely ground white pepper as necessary.

Tumble it out onto a serving plate and sprinkle over with grated Parmigiano - serve extra Parmigiano to the side.

braised silverbeet stalks© by Haalo

Considering it is an ingredient that, more often than not, would end up in the bin or in the compost, this dish really turns nothing into something special.

More dishes using Silverbeet/Chard:

Baked Eggs with Silverbeet
Rainbow Chard and Ricotta Filo Roll
Rainbow Chard and Ricotta Stuffed Chicken
Silverbeet and Parmesan Soufflé

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Black Bean Spaghetti with Calamari

Kitchenetta of Got No Milk is the host of this edition of Presto Pasta Night and this week I have a pasta that isn't quite what it seems.

black bean pasta© by Haalo

At first glance, the colour might lead you to think that this is squid ink pasta but it really is a gluten-free black bean spaghetti. What is even more surprising is that it is make from just black beans and water! I have no idea how they actually manage to transform that into something that behaves exactly like a traditional pasta.

As a play on the fact that it looks like squid ink pasta I'll be serving it with calamari.

Black Bean Spagetti with Calamari© by Haalo

Black Bean Spaghetti with Calamari

Black bean Spaghetti
2 fresh calamari, cleaned
2 small red chillies, sliced finely
3 garlic cloves, minced
grated fresh ginger
large handful fresh coriander leaves, cut finely
olive oil

Make the Marinade:
Place the chillies, garlic, ginger and coriander into a bowl - stir in enough olive oil to make a spreadable paste.

Prepare the Calamari:
After cleaning the calamari, reserve the wings and tentacles.

Cut the tentacles into bite sized lengths.

Slice the Calamari tube along its length to create one flat piece and then on the inside, create a criss-cross pattern on the flesh making sure you don't cut all the way through. Cut a criss-cross pattern on the wing as well.

Place the calamari onto a bowl and spoon over the marinade - keep a tablespoon to one side Cover and allow to macerate for a couple of hours in the fridge.

marinated calamari© by Haalo

Assemble the dish:

Remove the calamari tubes from the marinate and cut into thick strips.

Place a little oil into a wok and place over a high heat - when the pan is hot, grind some salt over the calamari and then sear them quickly, uncut side first. When golden, flip over and quickly sear the cut side - you should find that the pieces will curl.

Toss in the wings and tentacle pieces and cook for another 30 seconds or until they have changed colour.

Remove the calamari from the pan.

Add the reserved marinade, allow it to warm and then toss through the cooked Black bean Spaghetti. Return the calamari to the wok - stir again and then place into serving bowls with a final flourish of extra coriander.

marinated calamari© by Haalo

I have to admit I was somewhat sceptical about this pasta but I am incredibly impressed with just how it turned out. I can only imagine that if you are gluten-intolerant this must be such a welcome ingredient in your repertoire.

Quick FYI - this is the link to the exact product used here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Truffled Potatoes with Shimeji Mushroom

I don't know what came first in this recipe...the potato or the truffle?

baby pink eye potatoes© by Haalo

The potatoes in question are these adorable baby pink eyes - pink eyes are best boiled, steamed or baked.

white truffle cream© by Haalo

The truffle comes in the form of this White Truffle Cream which unlike many "White Truffle Oils" actually contains real white truffle rather than the chemical 2,4-dithiapentane. It's a simple blend of porcini, olive oil, salt and white truffle.

white truffle cream© by Haalo

To test how good the truffle cream was, I got Paalo to close his eyes and then waved the open jar under his nose. I don't think I've ever seen him move so quickly or look more happy. Indeed I had to pry the jar from his hands since he just couldn't stop sniffing it!

I have mentioned it before but white truffles unlike their black relatives, shouldn't really be cooked and are best used shaved over a dish. For this recipe, a small spoonful is stirred through the finished dish where the heat does it job to release and infuse the ingredients with white truffle goodness.

truffled pink eye potatoes with shimeji mushrooms© by Haalo

Truffled Pink Eye Potatoes with Sautéed Shimeji Mushrooms

baby pink eye potatoes, scrubbed well, skin left on
shimeji mushrooms
Crema Tartuffon - White Truffle Cream

Choose potatoes that are all roughly the same size to even out cooking time. Steam until just tender. Cut them in half when ready to assemble the dish.

Heat a little oil and a knob of butter in a skillet over a medium heat and when the butter is melted and sizzling, add in the shimeji. Cook quickly until lightly golden. Remove the shimeji from the pan and add in the halved potatoes - cut side down. Flip when golden and return the shimeji to the pan. Toss for a minute to ensure even colouring before removing the ingredients to a bowl.

Take a small spoonful of Truffle Cream and stir through the hot potato/shimeji mixture. It will dissolve in the retained heat. Once mixed through, place in a dish and serve.

This is one side dish that I can pretty much guaranteed will disappear as soon as it's placed on the table!

I have included a link to the manufacturer's product page but if you are in Melbourne, you can find this at Oliveria (Chapel Street, Prahran)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cheese - Maleny Le Blochon

Our intention in attending Sunday's Melbourne Specialist Cheese Show was to seek out new cheese-makers and/or cheese and this next offering certainly qualifies.

Maleny Cheese is a family concern which sees a merging of Swiss cheese makers with third generation dairy farmers. Located in Maleny, Queensland they opened in 2004.

The cheese featured in this post, is a highly aromatic washed rind called Le Blochon.

maleny le blochon©  by Haalo

Cheese Maker: Maleny Cheese
Cheese Name: Le Blochon
Location: 1 Clifford St, Maleny, Queensland

The first thing you notice when you approach this cheese is undoubtably its aroma. That "farm fresh" scent fills the air and can't help but put a smile on your face. Once you handle the cheese you'll then notice just how soft and malleable it feels

maleny le blochon©  by Haalo

Once unwrapped you can enjoy its wrinkled tan skin. Much like the Reblouchon on which it is based, it is made using the milk from the second milking.

maleny le blochon©  by Haalo

This photo shows the appearance when cut not long after removing it from the fridge - there are signs of its lovely unctuous character but it does need to come up to temperature

maleny le blochon©  by Haalo

The skin is well defined and certainly edible - there's no bitterness or overpowering ammonia scent that can be found in other cheese.

maleny le blochon©  by Haalo

Taste wise, it's a sweet and somewhat nutty flavoured cheese, combined with a wonderful creamy mouth feel. For washed rind novices, I urge you to look past its aroma - you will be more than rewarded by this excellent cheese.

Monday, August 18, 2008

"Chef" Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. PWNED

I find it apt to begin with the words of Sir Walter Scott

Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!

I probably would not have taken this route if not for the following line in a supposed "apology" directed to Pim after "Chef" Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. was caught having stolen Pim's delightful photo of her homemade pop tarts.

To quote:
"Whenever I use a cartoon, recipe etc...I always give credit and I NEVER THOUGHT anything about this before."

Oh Really?

Perhaps "Chef" Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. has forgotten about this photo

panforte© by haalo

it's a panforte I made back in December 2006

that apparently is the spitting image of one "Chef" Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. "made" in December 2007


Time to recall "Chef" Jasper J. Mirabile Jr.'s "apology"

"I always give credit and I NEVER THOUGHT anything about this before."

Well, "Chef" Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. you do not give credit and you have indeed, done it before.

Not only is this an issue of copyright infringement, this is also an issue of fraud - he is passing off this photo not only as his own work but as an example of what his "original" recipe would look like.

In case there are apologists (or alter ego's) out there that want to claim that this is a one two-off perhaps you'd like to explain the following acts of photo misappropriation and fraud found in about 5 minutes:

"Chef" Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. claims that he was inspired to make this dish in New Orleans.

Actually, the photo has been ripped from the site: Eat with Me
You'll notice that the photo has been cropped and saturated to alter the colour - something that "Chef" Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. claimed to Pim that he doesn't do.

This is supposed to be a sweet tart "Chef" Jasper J. Mirabile Jr whipped up for his sold out class at The Culinary Center Of Overland Park.

It too was shamelessly stolen from the site: Last Night's Dinner
It's actually a photo of a goat cheese and tomato tart - certainly not a sweet tart.

"Chef" Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. claims he "made" this sweet tomato bread pudding at his Heirloom Tomato Seminar .

Sorry to disappoint, it's actually a very savoury tomato, spinach bread pudding from the site: Beans and Greens

One more for good measure and this surely should give you a laugh

The photo is claimed to be that of "My wife Lisa's Salsa recipe"

Perhaps there are questions on the identity of "Chef" Jasper J. Mirabile Jr.'s spouse - I know I wouldn't be admitting to it - the photo actually comes from the site: Stainless Steel Droppings

5 minutes browsing and 4 more cases where copyright has been infringed, images misappropriated and fraud committed.

So what can we do - I can only repeat the advice of Pim

"By the way, these thieves don't usually strike just once, so you might want to check his archives and see if he's stolen from you too."

Thank you to all the support shown by fellow bloggers and the general public on this issue - do check out Jen's and Columbus Foodies posting on the matter.

"Chef" Jasper. J. Mirabile Jr has indeed closed his blog off as an invite only blog - no wonder really, if you look at the comments in the space of 15 minutes two more incidents of plagerism were found. 

I notice that the sockpuppets are still active on Pim's post so this next one is for them

The following is a post "Chef" Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. WROTE for the August Issue of 435 South - The Magazine of the South Johnson County. It is all about his experience at a local blackberry farm.

All good and well, except the text has mostly been taken from this site: Picktnproducts

The quotes he attributes to Cy and Dee were in fact spoken by Tammy Algood, "food expert and spokesperson for the statewide Pick Tennessee Products campaign"

Geography isn't my best subject but I'm sure that Kansas and Tennessee are two different states.

Please remember this is an article he wrote for a magazine that was lifted from The Tennessee Department of Agriculture - to truly highlight how much was lifted - the yellow text indicates all the lifted content, the normal text is what "Chef" Jasper J. Mirabile Jr actually wrote.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Blood Orange Marmalade

Marija from Palachinka is hosting Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I have Blood Oranges.

blood oranges© by Haalo

While Blood Oranges do vary in the intensity of their colour, these were all marked with an intense deep red flesh.

blood oranges© by Haalo

This red colour is due to two pigments, Anthocyanin and Carotenoid, both of which are anti-oxidants. Nutritionally, you'll find they contain Vitamins A, B6 and C, Niacin, Riboflavin and Thiamin as well as Calcium, Copper, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Panthothenic Acid and Potassium.

For this weeks recipe I've decided to focus on showing off the colour and also provide something to brighten up a winter's breakfast. As toast is a favoured way to start the day, some Blood Orange Marmalade certainly won't go astray.

As these are sweetly flavoured, I've opted to cut the oranges into thick slices so give a more generous flavour hit in each bite.

blood orange marmalade© by Haalo

Blood Orange Marmalade

500 grams Blood Oranges
3 cups sugar, approximate

Slice the tops and bottoms off each orange and discard, then slice into quarters. Cut each quarter into thick slices.

Place the slices, any juice and all the seeds into a non-reactive saucepan and pour over enough water to cover the orange pieces.

Note: if you have the time you can place the sliced oranges and water into a bowl and let it sit overnight in the fridge. This will help to release the natural pectin into the water and lessen the time taken in the next stage to soften the peel.

Over a gentle heat, slowly simmer the oranges until the skin has softened. It's important that you make sure the skin is to your liking as once as you add the sugar, the skin will set and will not get any softer. You'll notice a type of scum rising to the surface as it boils, just skim this off and discard.

Once the skin has softened, measure out your remaining mixture - in this case I had a total of 4 cups left (this is the volume of the water and the orange pieces). This measurement decides how much sugar is needed.

As the fruit is sweet, I used 3 cups of sugar - the general rule of thumb when making marmalade is a 1:1 ratio.

Return the oranges and liquid to a clean non-reactive saucepan and place over a gentle heat, add the sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. You'll notice that the liquid becomes quite clear and the orange seeds will float to the surface. You can now remove the seeds as they come into view - they have done their part in adding pectin.

Turn the heat up until the mixture is simmering and cook until it reaches around 105°C/220°F on a candy thermometer.

Once ready, let it sit in the pan for a few minutes to allow the marmalade to begin setting - this will help ensure an even distribution of the orange pieces.

Pour into sterilised jars and seal.

Blood Orange Marmalade© by Haalo

A gorgeously thick marmalade swathed in a deep crimson jelly - it seriously demands that you indulge with a large spoonful.

Other Blood Orange recipes:
Blood Orange Cordial
Vin d'Orange

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Leek, Asparagus and Goat Feta Tarts

Johanna from The Passionate Cook is hosting this edition of "Waiter, There's something in my..." and the something is picnic food.

It's not quite picnic weather here - you'd need a waterproof blanket and several large umbrellas to even begin to attempt it but you can always get into the spirit of things.

When making picnic food you don't want anything too fussy or time consuming and as I've decided to make small savoury tarts, rather than going the home-made pastry route, Filo (or Phyllo) pastry makes a handy substitute.

The filling has been kept simple - a mix of leek, new season asparagus and this lovely local Goat Feta

meredith dairy goat feta© by Haalo

It's then topped with a basic creamy egg mixture and baked until golden.

leek,asparagus and goat feta tarts© by Haalo

Leek, Asparagus and Goat Feta Tarts

Filo pastry
melted butter
grated Parmesan

2 leeks, whites only, quartered, sliced
1 bunch asparagus, sliced diagonally
Meredith Dairy Goat Feta (or your favourite Feta)
2 eggs
½ cup cream
½ cup milk

Make the filling:
Heat a little oil and a knob of butter in a pan and when the butter has melted add the leek. Sauté gently until just softened before adding the asparagus. Stir them through and cook for a couple of minutes or until the asparagus has just started to change colour. Season with freshly ground white pepper and then let it cool before using.

leek and aspargus filling© by Haalo

Make the filo cases:
The filling will be sufficient to make 4 x 10cm/4 inch tarts.

Each tart case uses 6 layers of filo.

Butter the filo and lightly sprinkle it with a little finely grated parmesan. Place the next sheet over it and repeat the process until all 6 sheets are used - ending with a plain sheet. Place the assembled sheets into the tart tin and then mould it into shape.

It's not important to be too fussy when moulding as the rustic look is very appealing. Place these in the fridge until ready to use.

Assemble the tarts:

Divide the filling amongst the tart cases - crumble small pieces of feta over the tart. Don't be tempted to add to much as it is salty.

leek, asparagus and goat feta tarts© by Haalo

Place the eggs, cream and milk into a jug and whisk until combined.

Place the tarts onto a baking tray and then pour the egg mixture evenly amongst the cases.

Bake in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven for about 30 minutes or until puffed, golden and cooked through.

Let them sit 5 minutes before moving them to cool on a wire rack.

leek, asparagus and goat feta tarts© by Haalo

For easy transportation, as these are perfectly edible cold, place the tarts back in their tins - this should protect them from any damage and arrive at your picnic spot in pristine condition.

leek, asparagus and goat feta tarts© by Haalo,
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