Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Maggie Beer's Moussaka - Cookbook Challenge Week 1 - Citrus

Like probably every other food blogger in the world, I love cook books. I own LOTS of cook books. If someone asks me what I want for my birthday or for Christmas, inevitably I always ask for a cook book. I sat down one day and added up how much my collection would be worth new. Let's just say that I probably should increase my contents insurance coverage! The problem with having all these amazing and expensive cook books is that, while they are all pretty to look at, some of them I have never cooked a single recipe out of them!
This is where the inspiring Rilsta from My Food Trail comes in. She has come up with the Cook book Challenge! 52 recipes in 52 weeks is the plan. Each week is a different theme. Last week's theme, which I am already late in posting is Citrus.
Ok, so you're wondering how Lamb Moussaka is going to be Citrus based? Well, firstly there's grated lemon zest in the actual filling. I know what you're thinking... that's not enough to call this a Citrus dish! Well, the reason I wanted to try this dish is because last month I got some amazing organic lemons, which I preserved in a jar with some cinammon, salt and cloves. They sat for a month and they were ready just in time for this week's recipe.
So, the other citrus in this recipe is actually preserved lemon. You only require a tablespoon, but it cuts through the richness of the lamb sauce and gives off a slightly 'lemonadey' aroma.
If you've never made your own Preserved Lemons before, definately give it a go. It's so easy, all it takes is patience.
This Moussaka recipe is the best I've ever had. Such depth of flavour and slightly different from the authentic one, which I like.
Remember how Donna Hay said on Masterchef that Brown food is hard to photograph and make look appetising? She was definately right!

This recipe is from Maggie Beer's book, Maggie's Kitchen. $59.95

Lamb Mince
3 medium eggplants
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
500g minced lamb
1/2 cup red wine
1 tbls tomato paste
1 cup tomato sugo
4 tbls freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tbls lemon thyme
Zest of one lemon grated
1/2 inch piece of fresh cinnamon, pounded
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil to roast eggplants

Cheese Sauce
50g unsalted butter
50g plain flour
1 1/4 cup full cream milk
1cup chicken stock
Pinch of grated nutmeg
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 tbls grated parmesan

1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 tbls chopped lemon thyme
1 tbls preserved lemon, skin only, finely chopped


Cut eggplant into thin 1cm slices. Brush slices with oil, season with salt and into the oven at 250C, or as hot as you can go, for 6 minutes until golden. I put mine on a griddle pan instead as I like the charcoal type flavour that you get from the bars.

Saute onion at moderate temperature for 5 minutes - add garlic and cook another 5 minutes. Put onion and garlic aside, salt and brown meat in batches at a high temperature - you don't want the mince to 'boil'. Put all meat back into the pan, add cinnamon then and onion and garlic, tomato paste, deglaze with wine at high temperature. Then add lemon zest, tomato sugo, the parsley, and lemon thyme and simmer for 20 minutes for flavours to combine.

To make the bechamel or cheese sauce, melt the butter in a pot and then sprinkle the flour over it, stirring well to combine. Continue to cook for a little while until the flour colours slightly and it loses that raw flavour. Remove from the heat and pour the milk first, then stock in slowly, at first, whisking continuously to avoid lumps. Return pot to the heat after every inclusion. Return to the stove and continue to cook until thickened - stirring often until thickly coats back of the spoon. Add the nutmeg and seasoning and lay a piece of plastic wrap or kitchen paper directly on top of the sauce so that it doesn't form a skin, set aside until needed.

To make the moussaka, spray an oven proof dish with non-stick cooking spray or a little evoo. Place a layer of eggplant on the bottom of the dish and then a layer of lamb mince over this. Continue to alternate between eggplant and lamb mince, finishing with a layer of eggplant. Pour the cheese sauce over the eggplant then mix the breadcrumbs with the grated Parmesan & preserved lemon & lemon thyme and generously sprinkle this over the top of the Bechamel. Bake in a pre-heated 200C oven for half an hour.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Chocolate and Raspberry Muffin Recipe - Bourke Street Bakery Book

Admittedly, most of the time I suck at baking. But when I suck at something, I'm always determined to better myself. That is where the Bourke Street Bakery book comes in. All the times I've been to Sydney, I'd never heard of BSB until the book was released and all of my Sydney based 'tweeps' were raving about the book. So, I made my way down to the books shop and checked out the book. Turns out it's the exact Baking cook book I've been looking for, for years!
The book is loaded with great recipes on how to make PROPER bread from scratch, with detailed instructions on how to make your own white and rye starters. This is artisan baking at it's best. So many times I've tried to make bread and it has never ever, not once, turned out well. I've never been happy with a single loaf. So, at the moment I'm day 4 (out of 4 weeks) of making my own bread starter. But that's another post for later.
Along with all the amazing breads in this book, there are also lots of great pastries and cakes to make. Since I had a kilo of delicious Yarra Valley Raspberries in my Freezer, I thought it would be great to try out this recipe. Who doesn't like Raspberries and Chocolate! The recipe is really easy and the only tip you need is to just be careful not to overmix the batter. Overmixing can make the finished product toughen up and become chewy. Not what you want.
These muffins turned out perfectly. So, it looks like I'm on the way to being a star baker!!

Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Muffins
Makes 12

• 400g (2 2/3 cups) plain flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 300g caster sugar
• 310g unsalted butter
• 480ml buttermilk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 3 eggs
• 225g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
• 225g raspberries, fresh or frozen
• 55g raw sugar
• Icing sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Lightly grease a 12-hole muffin tin and line with paper cases.
2. Sift the flour and baking paper into a bowl and add the sugar, mixing well to combine.
3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, then remove from the heat and stir in the buttermilk. Using a whisk stir in the eggs to combine. Pour over the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Use a large spoon to gently fold through the chocolate and raspberries.
4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin tins. Sprinkle the tops with raw sugar. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C (350°F) and bake for 20-25 minutes. It may be necessary to drop the temperature about 10 minutes before the end of baking time if the muffins are starting to brown on top.
5. To test if the muffins are done, push the top gently to feel that it is firm. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before eating. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Jam Shortbread Spirals

Whenever I visit the Yarra Valley, I pick up a jar of something made by Cunliffe & Waters. Whether it be a spicy relish, delicious real tomato sauce or one of their amazing jams. Their jam is my favourite by a mile. Better than I could ever hope to make. I especially love their Williamette Raspberry Jam, which is slightly tart, but perfectly sweet. I love this stuff on my Babka egg loaf in the mornings, I can eat the whole thing in one sitting! Ok, so Cunliffe and Waters haven't bribed me here - I just love their stuff. Just so you know, you don't have to travel all the way to the Yarra Valley to pick it up, there are a few other places you can pick up their wares.

These Jammy Shortbreads perfectly suit this raspberry jam. These are so easy to make, however the finished product looks like you put in so much more effort that what it actually takes to make these little beauties.

For mine, I chose to leave out the cinammon. You could of course choose whatever jam you like to put in here, you don't have to go with raspberry. Next time I make these I'd like to go with something like apricot, blueberry or maybe even the blood plum jam.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ cup caster (superfine) sugar
125g butter, softened
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup jam
2 tsps. ground cinnamon
icing sugar to dust.

Sift flour, baking powder and sugar into a bowl. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Mix in 1 to 2 tbsps. of cold water to form a dough. Add egg and combine to form a stiff but workable dough. Roll out the dough on a sheet of greaseproog paper to form a 20-30cm. rectangle. Spread jam evenly on the dough and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Roll up the dough swiss-roll style, peeling away the greaseproof paper as you go. Wrap the roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 mins, Preheat oven to 180c. Remove dough from the refrigerator and cut into slices ½-in. thick. Place shortbreads on a lined baking tray and bake for 15 to 20 mins. or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks and sprinkle with icing sugar.