Monthly Archives: September 2014

So Can You Cook? 26

The Season for Giving

I can’t believe it is nearly 12 months since my last Christmas column. Time to steam puddings and bake cakes…again. Well, on the good side I have managed to win the Christmas lunch debate with my mother-in-law. We are going to Canterbury Leagues for lunch. This battle has been going on for some years now, but after the whinging that went on last year I knew it was a good time to push the point. I think it is a relief to all of us. I think we are all sick of slogging ourselves to a melting-point-lather at a very hot time of the year getting food ready that everyone is only half inclined to eat if it is a really hot day.
We have a Christmas bash every year for friends in the jungle…oops, I mean backyard. It happens sometime between mid-November and early December, depending on everyone’s calendar. It is always looked forward to, and usually involves a lot of champagne cocktails – I have most of a bottle of Vanilla Vodka to get rid of at the moment, so know already what sort of cocktail it will be – a lot of wine, and bring-a-plate of food. Fortunately for us, all our friends are gourmands so the food will always be great and adventurous, despite the inevitable battle of who provides what for which course. It’s bad luck to the rest of them that I have desserts planned already, which they will be notified of shortly. Suck eggs, I say!
Part of the Christmas bash traditions is the exchange of gifts – another traumatic buying exercise, and usually ending up being CD’s. However, part of my traditions is the giving to each guest of what is laughingly referred to as a ‘charity bag’. Considering that most of them are too busy or too lazy to make any little luxury items for themselves, I try to do it for them. I find this kind of gift giving to be personally satisfying. There is something genuine about giving friends gifts that you have made yourself. I used to make the bags a mix of biscuits, sweets and preserves, however I have dropped the biscuits as from last year. They have to be made early due to my other commitments, and with the humidity and heat associated with Christmas, I have found that they go soft before they can be given out – as happens with biscuits with no preservatives. So, preserves it is…and a CD.
I have included a bit of a mix in this column of things you can either make to use for yourself, or use as gifts for your friends. They say it is better to give than receive…but they had better make sure I get something in return.
Happy Christmas to all my column readers. Keep yourself safe, don’t drink too much…meaning not to the point of passing out. Enjoy the conviviality of friendships and have a great New Year where all your wishes and hopes and dreams are fulfilled.
See you next year.

BASIC FRUIT MIXTURE:
You can make this mixture a month in advance, and store in a cool place like the fridge. Can be used in cakes, puddings or mince tarts. Or bottle and give as a gift.

6 cups (1kg) sultanas
2½ cups (375g) currants
2¼ cups (425g) raisins, chopped
1½ cups (250g) seeded dried dates, chopped
1½ cups (250g) seeded prunes, chopped
1¼ cups (250g) glace cherries, quartered
½ cup (125g) glace apricots, chopped (substitute dried if glace not available)
½ cup (115g) glace pineapple, chopped
½ cup (115g) glace ginger, chopped
¾ cup (120g) mixed peel
3 medium apples (400g) peeled, grated
2/3 cup (240g) fig jam
2 tablespoons finely grated orange rind
¼ cup (60ml) lemon juice
2 cups (440g) firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon mixed spice
1 1/3 cups Grand Marnier (or substitute for any citrus-flavoured liqueur, rum, sherry or brandy)

Combine ingredients in a large bowl; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Store mixture in cool, dark place for a month (or longer) before using. Stir mixture every two-three days.

CHRISTMAS PUDDING:
¼ quantity basic fruit mixture (above)
250g butter, melted, cooled
3 eggs, beaten lightly
4 cups stale breadcrumbs
¼ cup plain flour

Combine fruit mixture in large bowl with butter and eggs, then breadcrumbs and flour.
Fill large boiler three-quarters full of hot water, cover and bring to boil. Have ready 2.5 metres kitchen string and an extra ½ cup plain flour. Being cautious, place a 60cm unbleached square of calico (if new, soak in cold water for 1 minute, then boil for 20 minutes, then rinse in cold water) in the boiling water for 1 minute, squeeze excess water out, then working quickly spread the cloth out and run flour into centre of cloth where the skin of the pudding needs to be thickest.
Place pudding mixture in centre of cloth. Gather cloth evenly around pudding, then pat into a round shape. Tie cloth tightly with string as close to mixture as possible. Gather and tie of the corners into a handle to make the pudding easier to move.
Lower pudding into boiling water, and tie the ends of the string to the handles of the boiler to suspend the pudding. If your boiler doesn’t have handles, place an inverted saucer or a round metal trivet in the bottom of the boiler to keep pudding from sitting directly on bottom of pan. Cover with tight fitting lid; boil rapidly 4 hours. Check water and refill regularly.
Remove pudding from the pan when cooked and DO NOT PLACE ON BENCH TO COOL. Suspend on a wooden spoon placed between 2 chairs or stools, or over a large bucket. If must suspend freely. If pudding has been cooked correctly, patches of cloth should to dry almost immediately. Suspend for 10 minutes.
To store pudding, allow to cool to room temperature, then either wrap in Glad wrap or store in a freezer bag. Store in fridge for up to 2 months, or in freezer for 12 months.
To reheat, bring to room temperature, then steam for 2 hours.

MOIST CHRITMAS CAKE
½ quantity basic fruit mixture (above)
250g butter, melted, cooled
5 eggs, beaten lightly
2½ cups plain flour
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (or whatever you used to flavour the fruit mix)

Preheat oven to 150°C. Line base and sides 22 cm square cake pan with one thickness of brown paper and two thicknesses of baking paper, extending paper 5cm above sides.
Combine basic mixture in large bowl with butter and eggs; add sifted flour in two batches.
Spread mixture in pan. Drop pan from 20cm height 2-3 times to settle fruit. Level top with a spatula. Bake about 3 hours. Brush top with liqueur; cover hot cake in pan with foil; cool in pan.
Can be made three months ahead, and stored in an airtight container under refrigeration.

GOURMET ROCKY ROAD:
300g toasted marshmallow with coconut, chopped coarsely
400g Turkish Delight, chopped coarsely
¼ cup roasted almonds, chopped coarsely
½ cup roasted, shelled pistachios
450g white eating chocolate, melted

Grease two 8cm x 26cm bar tins, line base and sides with baking paper, extending paper 5cm above long sides of pan.
Combine marshmallow, Turkish delight and nuts in large bowl. Stir in chocolate; spread mixture into pans; push mixture down firmly to flatten. Refrigerate until set, then cut as desired.

CHERRIES IN VODKA
500g fresh cherries, pitted
¾ cup caster sugar
2 cups vodka, approx

Place clean jars on sides in large saucepan; cover completely with hot water. Boil, covered, 20 minutes. Remove jars from water, drain upright on board until dry.
Layer cherries and sugar in jars. Pour over enough vodka to cover cherries completely. Seal.
Stand in cool, dark place for at least six weeks before using; invert jars occasionally to help dissolve sugar.

Makes about 4 cups

CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES
½ cup pouring cream
300g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
cocoa powder for dusting

Place the cream in a saucepan over medium heat and bring almost to the boil. Add chocolate and stir for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Pour into a greased 15cm square cake tin lined with non-stick paper; refrigerate for 2 hours, or until firm.
To serve, cut into squares and dust with cocoa powder. Store in refrigerator for 10 days. Stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.

Makes 16

PLUM & PORT SAUCE:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium brown onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
8 medium tomatoes (1.5kg), peeled, chopped
6 medium (780g) blood plums, peeled, seeded, chopped
1 cup port
2 teaspoons juniper berries

Heat oil in large pan, add onions and garlic; cook, stirring, until onion is soft. Add remaining ingredients, stir over low heat, without boiling, until sugar is dissolved. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
Blend or process mixture in batches until finely chopped, strain, discard pulp. Pour hot sauce into hot sterilized jars. Seal immediately.

Makes approx 4 cups.

COCONUT CRUNCH COOKIES:
200g butter
1 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup desiccated coconut, toasted

Beat butter, sugar and vanilla essence in bowl with electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in flour and coconut. Cover, refrigerate 1 hour.
Divide dough in half. Place each half onto plastic wrap and shape into a 22cm long log. Then wrap tightly and refrigerate overnight.
Cut dough into 5mm thick slices. Place on baking paper-lined baking trays about 5cm apart. Bake in moderate oven about 8 minutes. Stand cookies on trays about 5 minutes before coolong on wire racks. Dust lightly with sifted icing sugar.

Makes about 60. Will keep for 1 week in an airtight container. Keep uncooked dough in fridge 1 week, or in freezer for 2 months.

GINGERBREAD BISCOTTI:
3 eggs
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup caster sugar
1¾ cups plain flour
¾ cup self-raising flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon bicarb soda
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Whisk eggs and sugars in a small mixing bowl with electric beaters until just changed in colour. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.
Stir in sifted dry ingredients; mix to a firm dough. Knead on floured surface until smooth. Divide dough into 2 portions. Using floured hands, roll each portion into a 30cm log, place on lightly greased oven trays. Bake in moderate oven 35 minutes or until firm. Cool on tray.
Cut logs diagonally into 1cm slices, using a serrated knife. Place slices, cut side up, on oven trays. Bake in moderately slow oven about 15 minutes or until dry and crisp, turning once during cooking; cool on trays.

Makes about 40

GRAPEFRUIT MARMALADE:
1kg grapefruit
2 medium lemons
10 cups water
10 cups sugar, approx

Cut unpeeled grapefruit in half, slice halves thinly, discard seeds. Combine fruit and water in large bowl; cover; stand overnight.
Transfer mixture to a large pan, bring to boil, simmer, covered, about 45 minutes or until rind is soft.
Measure fruit mixture, allow 1 cup sugar to each cup of fruit mixture. Return fruit mixture and sugar to pan, stir over heat until sugar is dissolved.
Boil, uncovered, without stirring, for about 15 minutes or until marmalade gels when tested on a cold saucer. Pour into hot, sterilized jars; seal immediately.
Makes about 10 cups

Tim Alderman
Copyright 2014

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So Can You Cook? 25

Rites of Passage
This is the 25th cooking column I have done for Talkabout, which means I have been doing this column for 4 years now. I’d like to thank everyone who has supported the magazine, and have enjoyed the various writings and contributions. I hope you have enjoyed reading my articles and columns as much as I have enjoyed writing them. My personal contributions to Talkabout now span a period of 10 years, including a long stint on the Publications Working Group. I have to say that reading back through all the articles and columns I have submitted over the years makes me aware of just how much my writing style has changed, and the pieces are in many ways indicative of how I have grown and matured through my experiences with HIV and AIDS. My articles range from the almost innocent in the early days; to the practical; up to the more cutting edge (some would say irascible) things that I write today, though my output article-wise isn’t as prolific as it used to be. I’m proud to say that a couple of articles have caused a huge furore – always an indication that you have hit a nerve – and a few have never been published because of their controversial nature. I’ve found the ageing process very satisfying, as I am no longer afraid to throw the punches, be it for the better or the worst. Despite anything, I am a passionate supporter of Talkabout. It is one of the few resources the HIV community has that allows those infected and affected by HIV to have a personal voice about life with HIV. The fact that Talkabout has now been going as long as it has shows just how valuable a resource it is. Writing can be a catharsis, a way of purifying and purging pent up frustrations and emotions. I feel some of the very personal stuff I have written over the last couple of years is some of my best. I still manage to surprise myself sometimes. To this end, Talkabout has truly proved its worth. Anyway, on to cooking. Got waylaid for a second there.

Few realize just how important a part food plays in our lives. It is present at every celebration and event in our lives, be it a baptism, a wedding, a birthday, an anniversary, a funeral, or the getting together to enjoy the conviviality of friendship. We celebrate with food at home, at the homes of friends and relatives, in cafes and restaurants, around the barbeque, on picnics and at parties. It is so integrated into our lives I doubt we even think about it. It covers all our rites of passage. It is cultural, indulgent, comforting, celebratory, and religious. I think we use food as much as we do as it is a way of sharing, something we can all share in common. Whether you are a carnivore, an omnivore, a vegetarian or a vegan you use your own style of food to celebrate the great things in your life, and sometimes the sad. It is an integral part of our existence. As a way of honouring the ritual of food, and to celebrate going into year number five with this column I would like to offer some truly indulgent treats to share with friends. Okay, they may be a bit work intensive, or perhaps a bit expensive but hey, isn’t that what it’s all about.
Enjoy; indulge; celebrate.

BRUNCH
Scrambled Eggs and Salmon on Croissants;
4 eggs
4 tablespoons pouring cream
40g unsalted butter
125 smoked salmon, sliced
2 teaspoons finely chopped dill
2 croissants or 2 brioche buns

Beat the eggs and cream together ina bowl. Season with saly and freshly ground black pepper.
Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan over low heat, then add the eggs. Using a wooden spoon push the mixture around until it starts to set, then add the salmon and dill. Continue to cook, gently folding the salmon and dill through the mixture until the eggs are mostly cooked and there is just a little liquid left in the pan.
Serve the croissants filled with the scrambled eggs.
Serves 2
LUNCH
Chargrilled Prawns with Lime Aioli;
1 large green chilli, seeded
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground cumin
grated zest and juice of 1 lime
juice of 1 orange
4 tablespoons olive oil
24 large raw prawns, peeled and deveined, tails intact

Lime Aioli
4 garlic gloves
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
½ teaspoon finely grated lime zest
2 teaspoons lime juice
170ml olive oil

Using a mortar and pestle (or short bursts of a food processor if you don’t have a mortar and pestle) grind the chilli, garlic, oregano, cumin, lime zest, lime juice, orange juice and olive oil together to make a marinade. Season with a little sea salt and ground white pepper. Toss the prawns in the marinade, then cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, soak 24 small bamboo skewers in cold water for 30 minutes to prevent scorching.
To make the lime aioli, pound the garlic and salt to a smooth paste using a mortar and pestle (or your food processor). Scrape the paste into a large bowl, then whisk in the egg yolk, lime zest and lime juice. Whisking continually (again, this can be done in a food processor with the motor running) slowly add the olive oil a little at a time, until you have a thick mayonnaise. Season to taste, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Heat a barbeque plate to high. Thread the prawns on the skewers. Cook the prawns for 1½ minutes or until they just turn pink and start to curl, then turn and cook for a further 1½ minutes , or until just opaque. Serve at once with the lime aioli, and Pumpkin & Hazelnut Salad.
Serves 4

Pumpkin & Hazelnut Salad;
1kg Kent or Jap pumpkin
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
100g hazelnuts
3 tablespoons tahini (now available in supermarkets)
125g plain yoghurt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
200g baby rocket
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 180°C. Peel pumpkin and cut into bite-sized chunks. Toss them in a bowl with the vegetable oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spread over baking tray and roast for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Meanwhile, roast the hazelnuts on another baking tray for 5 minutes or until the skins start splitting. Remove and allow to cool.
Mix the tahini, yoghurt, cumin, garlic and lemon juice to a smooth paste, then season to taste.
Rub the skins off the cooled hazelnuts and roughly chop the nuts. Put them in a bowl with the rocket and add the olive oil and vinegar. Toss together. Divide amongst plated, then top with pumpkin chunks and dollop with the tahini mixture.
Serves 4

DINNER
Parmesan Lamb Pies;
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, peeled and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
500g minced lamb
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
¼ cup grated carrot
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
400g tin chopped tomatoes
250ml red wine
3 eggs
200g Greek-style yoghurt
100g grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat, then add the onions and garlic. Cook until the onion begins to soften and turn a golden brown. Add the lamb and increase the heat. Brown the lamb and add the celery, carrot, cinnamon, tomatoes and wine. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the liquid has reduced. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Spoon the mixture into four individual ramekins or a medium baking dish.
Put the eggs, yoghurt and half the parmesan into a bowl and whisk to combine. Spoon the mixture over the pies and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Serve with Warm Vegetables with White Beans.
Serves 4

Warm Vegetables with White Beans;
½ cup olive oil
6 slices pancetta, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 large eggplant, finely diced
2 red capsicums, finely diced
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 orange, zest grated, juiced
400g can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed (always rinse canned vegetables)
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
basil leaves, to serve

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and add the pancetta, onion, garlic and rosemary. Cook until the onion begins to soften, then add the celery, eggplant and capsicums. When the eggplant begins to soften add the chopped tomatoes, orange zest and orange juice. Cover and continue to cook for 30 minutes.
Add the cannellini beans and cook for a further 1-2 minutes, then fold in the parsley and spoon onto a serving dish. Drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil, and scatter with basil leaves.
Serves 4

ANYTIME INDULGENCE
Chilli Chocolate Marquis with Poached Fruits
325g god quality cooking chocolate, broken up
75g unsalted butter, softened
1 hot red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
100g icing sugar
2 egg whites
200ml crème fraiche (dairy case near sour cream)
1 small mango, halved and stoned (or use frozen if out of season)
300g lychees, peeled and stoned (use canned if out of season)
15g caster sugar
6 tablespoons tequila or rum
100g blueberries

Line a medium loaf tin with cling wrap.
Melt the chocolate in a medium-sized bowl and leave to cool.
In a separate bowl, beat together the butter, chilli and 50g of the icing sugar until smooth. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until soft peaks form then beat in the remaining icing sugar.
Stir the chocolate into the chilli butter and then the crème fraiche. Immediately fold in a quarter of the whisked whites to lighten the mixture, then fold in the remainder. Turn the mixture into the tin, level the surface and chill for at least 4 hours until firm.
Slice the mango and halve the lychees. Heat the sugar in a small saucepan with 100ml water until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and boil for 3-5 minutes until the liqid turns syrupy.
Remove the syrup from the heat and stir in all the fruits.. Leave to cool then turn the fruit into a bowl and stir in the liqueur.
Invert the marquis on to a plate and peel away the cling wrap. Cut into thick slices, transfer to serving plates and top with the poached fruits.

White Chocolate & Lavender Madeira;
150g white chocolate, broken up
8 lavender sprigs
25g sugar
125g unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
125g self-raising flour
25g ground almonds
icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 180°C
Grease and line the base and long sides of a medium loaf tin with baking paper. Grease the paper. Melt the chocolate in a small bowl.
Pull the lavender flowers from the stalks and beat them in a bowl with the sugar and butter until smooth and creamy (discard the stalks). Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little of the flour to prevent curdling.
Stir in the melted chocolate. Sift the remaining flour over the bowl and gradually fold in with the ground almonds.
Turn the mixture into the tin and level the surface. Bake in preheated oven for 40 inutes until risen and firm to the touch.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool, and serve generously dusted with icing sugar.

Tim Alderman
Copyright 2014

So Can You Cook? 24

Citrus

There is probably nothing in the world I enjoy more than the ‘cat’s-bum’ cheek- sucking, mouth-pursing bite of a really good citrus tart. Citrus are flavours that cleanse and add a bit of zing to anything they are cooked or served with. We have our own lemon tree, which at this very moment is full of ripening fruit, and it’s not all that long until I start churning out lemon tarts, lemon delicious puddings, lemon self-saucing puddings and passing all the excess I can’t use onto friends and neighbours.
Unlike David, my partner, who can pick up a lemon and just bite into it without pulling a single face, I prefer mine to be involved in a dish of some description. It is not all that long ago that trying to buy a lime was like looking for ocean in the Red Centre. Now, apart from them being atrociously expensive out-of-season, you can buy bags of them for as little as $3.00. Limes are probably the most versatile of the citrus family, and not only make great cakes, puddings and biscuits but are an integral part of nearly all Asian cooking. Oranges and grapefruits make fantastic enlivening additions to salads, and whole-orange cakes are a thing to lust for. Grapefruit marmalade is one neighbours favourite – I don’t make it all that often, but I can bet he will take every jar I offer. There is also the world of little citrus like cumquats. These also make a deliciously tart marmalade, or can be poached and stored in spiced syrup for spooning over ice cream or serving with a cheese platter.
Because of uncontrollable obsession with desserts this column is going to deal in the sweets (tart?) side of using these delectable and versatile fruits. By the way, slices of lemons and limes are also great when barbequed, and served with fish or poultry. Don’t forget to buy yourself some Preserved Moroccan Lemons – or make them yourself – to serve with cous cous, rice or Middle-Eastern dishes. Some brands can be found on my web site under ‘Condiments’.

By the time this column is published, the new Alderman Providore web site will be launched. We have had the new site designed by Duncan from Chirp Internet, and he has given it a fresh make-over, cleaning up all the untidiness that annoyed me with the old site, and expanding it to be a more interesting and comprehensive browse for our customers. We have also brought the site ‘home’ to a local host, and have changed to our local domain name. This is one of our short-term goals now completed. Please come and have a browse at http://www.aldermanprovidore.com.au. There is no obligation to buy, but I do like to tempt people.

Summer Soup of Red Fruits in Citrus Sauce;
Serves 6

Juice of 2 grapefruit
Juice of 2 oranges
Juice of 2 lemons
2 passionfruit, halved, pulp and seeds scooped out and reserved
1 kiwi fruit, peeled and finely diced6 strawberries, finely diced
1kg of mixed red fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants – or use frozen if out-of-season. Just drain off the excess juice.

In a large bowl, mix together the citrus juices and stir in the passionfruit pulp and seeds, the diced kiwi fruit and diced strawberries.
Arrange the mixed red fruits in the centre of 6 serving plates. Spoon the citrus sauce and diced fruit mixture around the red fruits and serve the ‘soup’ at once.

Lemon & Almond Tart;
Serves 6

1 x large sheet sweet shortcrust pastry
2 eggs
150g icing sugar
4 lemons
100g butter, melted
75g ground almonds
icing sugar, to dust

Preheat oven to 220°C. Carefully work the pastry into a 20cm tart pan, and trim off the excess. Blind bake (cover with baking paper and some sort of weights eg ceramic beads or rice) for 10 minutes, remove paper and weights and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.
Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C
In a bowl, whisk the eggs and the icing sugar together until fluffy. Mix in the grated zest of 2 of the lemons, the butter, ground almonds and juice of all 4 lemons. DON’T WORRY IF THE MIXTURE LOOKS CURDLED. It won’t affect the finished product.
Pour the filling into the pastry case and bake for 25 minutes, or until the filling is set. Leave to cool and serve dusted with icing sugar.

Orange and Almond Cake;
Serves 6-8

2 large navel oranges
6 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon orange blossom water or orange liqueur
1 cup caster sugar
3 cups ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 more navel oranges, peeled, pith removed, thinly sliced, to garnish

Orange Syrup:
2 cups fresh orange juice, strained
¾ cup caster sugar
60ml sauternes (or any other dessert wine. If too expensive, use a sugar syrup of 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water boiuled until slightly thick.

Grease and lightly flour a 23cm springform cake tin. Put the whole oranges into a saucepan full of water. Boil for 2 hours, topping up water as needed. Remove the oranges, quarter them and process in a food processor until smooth. Cool thoroughly.
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Place the egg yolks, orange blossom water and caster sugar into a large bowl and beat until smooth, then stir in the orange puree and mix well. Whisk the egg whites in a clean dry bowl until firm peaks form. Add the ground almonds and baking powder to the orange mixture and stir well, then fold in the egg whites. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 1 hour, or until firm – cover with foil if it overbrowns. Cool in the tin, then transfer to a serving plate.

To make the syrup, put the orange juice, sugar and sauternes (or syrup) in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat ands simmer for 20 minutes or until reduced by half and slightly syrupy – skimming off any scum.

Cut the cake into wedges, garnish with orange slices and drizzle with the syrup. Delicious served with cream.

Lemon Stars;
Makes about 22

125g unsalted butter, cubed and softened
½ cup caster sugar
2 egg yolks (freeze whites to use in meringues or pavlova)
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1¼ cups plain flour
¾ cup coarse cornmeal (polenta)
icing sugar, to dust

Preheat oven to 160°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Mix in the egg yolks, lemon zest, flour and cornmeal until they form a ball of soft dough. Roll out on a floured surface to 1cm thick.
Cut out stars from the dough using a 3cm star-shaped cutter. Place on the tray and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar.

Orange, Pistachio and Semolina Slice;
Makes 18 pieces

2/3 cup shelled pistachio nuts
200g unsalted butter, chopped
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
2 eggs
½ cup self-raising flour
½ cup orange juice
1½ cups fine semolina
1 cup caster sugar, extra
icing sugar, to dust

Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 20cm x 30cm shallow baking tin and line with baking paper, leaving it hanging over the two long sides.
Bake the pistachios for 8-10 minutes or until they are lightly toasted. Cool, then chop.
Beat the butter and sugar with electric beaters until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, orange zest and eggs, and beat until combined.
Add the flour, orange juice, semolina and pistachio nuts and fold in with a spatula until just combined – do NOT overmix. Spread into the tin. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and firm when lightly touched. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then on a wire rack placed on a tray.
Mix the extra orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium heat, then simmer for 1 minute. Spoon over the slice. Cool and cut into squares or diamonds. Dust with icing sugar.

Key lime Pie;
Serves 6-8

375g block ready-made shortcrust pastry
4 eggs yolks
395g tin condensed milk
½ cup lime juice
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
Lime slices – to garnish
Icing sugar, to dust
Whipped cream, to serve

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 23cm loose-bottomed flan tin. Roll the dough out between 2 sheets baking paper until it is large enough to fit into the flan tin. Lift and fit the pastry into the tin, then trim edges.
Line the pastry shell with baking paper and ceramic balls or rice. Bake for 10 minutes, remove paper and beads and return the pastry to the oven for another 5 minutes or until the base is dry. Leave to cool.
Using electric beaters, beat the egg yolks, condensed milk, lime juice and zest in a large bowl for 2 minutes or until well combined. Pour into the pie shell and smooth the surface. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set. Allow the pie to cool, then refrigerate for 2 hours, or until well chilled. Garnish with lime slices, dust with icing sugar and serve with whipped cream.

Mandarin Ice;
Serves 4-6

10 mandarins
½ cup caster sugar

Squeeze the mandarins to make 2 cups juice, and strain.
Place the sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
Stir the mandarin syrup into the sugar syrup, then pour into a shallow metal tray. Freeze for two hours, or until frozen. Transfer to a food processor and blend until slushy. Return to the freezer and repeat the process three more times.

Tim Alderman
Copyright 2014

So Can You Cook? 23

Baked Classics
I often find myself back to nostalgia la la land in this column. Mind you, I don’t think that is an entirely bad thing. Most of us have very happy thoughts of our childhood, and the food we ate has a large part to play.. There are good things and bad things tied into nostalgia. In respect to food, some of the good things are comparing the then to now. The way we have embraced food styles from all over the world to start with, and how we have incorporated them into our fusion of traditional and modern is something we are all to be commended for. The huge choice of foods we have now is far more desirable than the limited range we had when I grew up. I have thankfully let go of the days of meat and three veg, and the boring monotony of chops on Monday night, cutlets on Tuesday night, sausages with gravy on Wednesday night etc as if by diversifying we would break some sacred ritual. So, there is a lot I don’t lament leaving in the past, except to use it as a simile of how NOT to do things.
But there are also some very important elements of food back then that we have lost, and that is very lamentable. Perhaps the greatest loss, particularly in our modern world where everyone is in such a rush to get things done as quickly as possible, is the lack of ‘neighbourhood’ in cooking, that silent, unacknowledged exchange of respect, love and communication that used to happen in the burbs of the 50s and 60s. I miss the Saturday cook-off more than anything else from that time. In Melrose Ave at Sylvania, every Saturday was baking day in every house on the street. You could smell cakes and pies baking as you walked down the footpath. Every mother excelled in particular products – in out house my mother made delicious jam and coconut tarts, and an apple and rhubarb pie that I can still taste; Mrs Gill next door to us did fantastic pumpkin scones and banana pikelets; Eadie Samways over the road did mouth-watering passionfruit sponges, and cup cakes. Mrs Johnson next door to her did apricot slice and truly delicious chocolate cakes…you get my meaning. But it wasn’t that they just cooked for themselves. The fruits of their labour were shared amongst the other households in the street. Doorbells would be ringing all day as tea towel covered plates of treats were shared amongst the other families in the street. And it wasn’t just the treats that were shared – those without the luxury of a Mixmaster would be lent one by a luckier neighbour, and recipes were swapped constantly. Baking helped to create community. As a kid growing up in this environment, I had an excellent time roaming from house to house sampling wares, licking beaters and bowls, hands sticky and eyes as big as dinner plates. It was a true assault on the senses.
That is perhaps the one thing I would like to see return. Now, if we can just teach people to love cooking instead of seeing it as a fast food chore…
This is a nostalgic look at baking.

SCONES:
2½ cups self-raising flour
1 tablespoon caster sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
30g butter
¾ cups milk
½ cup water (Approx)

Preheat oven to very hot (240°C) . Either grease an 18cm square pan or a baking sheet.
Sift flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Rub in butter with fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Make a well in the centre and add milk and almost all the water. Using a knife ‘cut’ the milk and water through the flour mix until you achieve a soft, sticky dough. Use your own judgement to decide if the rest of the water needs to be added or not..
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead quickly and lightly to a smooth dough. DON’T USE TOO MUCH FLOUR FOR THIS, otherwise you end up with an over-floured dough.
Using hands press the dough out to a 2cm thickness. Don’t be too fussy – scones should be rough. Dip a 4.5 cm cutter (or a glass or a cup rim) into flour and cut rounds from dough. Continue reworking dough until it is all used up. Pack rounds together in cake tin, or on baking sheet.
Brush with milk and bake in very hot oven for 15 minutes. Turn onto wire rack to cool, or break in half and butter while hot to get that yummy, runny butter all over your hands as you devour it. Naturally, they are also great with strawberry jam and whipped cream. For variety throw in a handful of sultanas, raisins or dates.

APPLE PIE:
1 cup plain flour
½ cup self-raising flour
¼ cup cornflour
¼ custard powder
2 tablespoons caster sugar
125g cold butter, chopped
1 egg, separated
¼ cup iced water, appox

FILLING:
7 (1.5 kg) large apples
½ cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

For filling – Peel apples, cut into quarters. Remove cores and cut in half lengthways. Place apples in a large saucepan with water; bring to the boil. Reduce heat; cover. Cook about 5 minutes or until apples are just tender. Transfer to a large bowl, gently stir in sugar, cinnamon and lemon rind. Cool to room temperature.
For pastry – Blend or process flours, custard powder, half the sugar and all the butter until combined. Add egg yolk and just enough water to get all ingredients to come together. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth, then press to a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll two-thirds of the pastry between sheets of baking paper until large enough to line a 23cm pie dish. Line dish. Trim edges. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to moderate (180°C)
Roll remaining pastry between sheets of baking paper until large enough to cover pie. Discard scraps.
Spoon filling into pastry case, brush edge with lightly beaten egg white. Cover filling with pastry sheet, press edges together then trim using knife. Pinch edges to make a frill. Brush top with remaining egg white and sprinkle with remaining sugar.
Bake pie in moderate oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

Raspberry Coconut Slice;
90g butter
½ cup caster sugar
1 egg
¼ cup self-raisinhg flour
2/3 cup plain flour
1 tablespoon custard powder
¼ cup raspberry jam (or to your own flavour)
Coconut Topping;
2 eggs, beaten lightly
¼ cup caster sugar
2 cups desiccated coconut

Preheat oven to moderate (180°C). Grease 19cm x 29cm slice tray; line the base and sides with baking paper, extending it over the edges of the pan by 2cm.
Beat butter, sugar and egg in a small bowl with an electric beater until it changes to a lighter colour; stir in sifted flours and custard powder. Spread mixture over base of prepared pan.
Bake in moderate oven for 15 minutes. Stand in pan for 10 minutes.
Spread slice base with jam, then sprinkle with coconut topping (for coconut topping combine all ingredients in a small bowl).
Return to moderate oven, bake for a further 25 minutes or until browned lightly. Cool in pan before cutting.

Best-Ever Sponge Cake; 

I used to think making sponges was a real chore, and they never seemed to be light as they should be – in fact, mine used to be like butter cakes. After experience – and a determination to get them right – I found that I was too heavy-handed with them. The trick is to get the eggs and sugar really aerated and foamy, then to quickly and lightly fold in the flour using either your hand (the traditional way) or a large metal spoon. Don’t fiddle with them, otherwise you loose the air that makes them so light.

4 eggs
¾ cup caster sugar
1 cup self-raising flour
1 tablespoon cornflour
10g butter, softened
1/3 cup hot water
1/3 cup lemon butter (or jam if you prefer)
¾ cup thickened cream, whipped
1 tablespoon icing sugar mixture

Preheat oven to moderate 180°C. Grease 2 x 20cm deep round cake pans.
Beat eggs in a large bowl with electric mixer until thick and foamy. Gradually add sugar about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until sugar is dissolved between additions. Total beating time should be about 10 minutes.
Sift flour and cornflour together three times onto a sheet of paper. Sift flour mixture over egg mixture, then using a raking movement with your hand lightly fold and pull the flour mixture through the egg mixture. Use your hand to scrape the sides of the bowl.
Pour combined butter and the water down side of bowl, using one hand fold through the egg mixture. Pour mixture evenly into prepared pans, using metal spatula spread mixture to edge of pans.
Bake sponges in moderate oven about 25 minutes. Immediately sponges are cooked turn onto cooling wires spread with baking paper. Turn top-side up to cool.
Place one sponge on serving plate, spread with filling and whipped cream. Top with remaining cake and sprinkle with icing sugar mixture.

Banana Cake with Passionfruit Icing;
125g butter, softened
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1½ cups self-raising flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 cup mashed banana (preferably 2 over-ripe ones)
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup milk
Passionfruit Icing:
1½ cups icing sugar mixture (actually a mix of icing sugar and cornflour)
1 teaspoon soft butter
2 tablespoons passionfruit pulp, approx

Preheat oven to moderate 180°C. Grease 15cm x 25cm loaf pan, lining base with baking paper.
Beat butter and sugar in a small mixing bowl with electric beater until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl, using a wooden spoon stir in sifted dry ingredients, banana, sour cream and milk. Spread mixture into prepared pan.
Bake cake in moderate oven for about 50 minutes. Stand cake in pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto wire rack to cool. Spread with passionfruit icing.
Passionfruit icing: Place icing sugar in a small heatproof bowl, stir in butter and enough pulp to make a firm paste. Stir over hot water until icing is of spreading consistency, taking care not to overheat. Use immediately.

Date & Walnut Loaf; Although it is traditional to make this tea roll in a round tin, these can be expensive to buy if you don’t have them in the cupboard. Use an ordinary loaf pan instead, or use well-cleaned fruit tins with a double thickness of foil for a lid. These rolls can be frozen for up to three months.

60g butter
1 cup boiling water
1 cup finely chopped, seeded dried dates
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups self-raising flour
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 egg, beaten lightly
Preheat oven to moderate 180°C. Grease 2 x 8cm x 19cm nut roll tins (from any good kitchenware store), line bases with baking paper. Place tins upright on baking tray.
Combine butter and water in medium saucepan; stir over low heat until butter melts.
Transfer mixture to a large bowl; stir in dates and soda, then sugar, flour, nuts and egg.
Spoon mixture into prepared tins, replace lids.
Bake rolls, tins standing upright, in moderate oven about 50 minutes.
Stand rolls for 5 minutes, remove both lids and shake tins gently to remove rolls onto wire rack to cool.
Serve with lashings of deliciously unhealthy butter.

Tim Alderman
Copyright 2014

Daily (Or When The Mood Takes me) Gripe: The Great Aussie Institution – The Barbecue

There was a time when, hearing the words ‘you are invited to a barbie’ would make me physically cringe. It’s got nothing to do with not being True Blue, nor is it about snobbery. What it conjured up in my mind was images of steak sacrificed at the altar of Weber, with all it’s juices cooked out and ending up as tough as old boots; chops – which have no meat on them at the best of times – grilled to this black lump on a bone, and sausages so charred and blackened that given a blind taste test, you would have said they were charcoal flavour. In fact, if asked what flavour any sort of supermarket sausages – where they ALWAYS came from – were, you would have had to say ‘tomato sauce’, as that was the only way they would ever have had any flavour.

This was not my idea of fun eating, and is really a terrible thing to do with good food. I’ve never quite got my head around the whole concept of an inedible meal, served up with a bland salad of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber (yawns!) and bread rolls that had been too long in the sun and buttered from this pool of yellow sludge– all captured on a flimsy cardboard plate balanced on your knee. No wonder the dog got a good feed! If you weren’t sneaking it to him to avoid eating it yourself, the same plate would quickly disintegrate as you tried to saw your way through the steak with plastic cutlery, giving the avaricious hound access to the whole meal – deliberate or not!

And what is it with these supposed “cooks” that as soon as they are standing in front of the six-burner-with-attached-wok-burner–and -rice cooker-and multitasking -processor-and-bull-castrating-device they suddenly consider themselves Heston Blumenthal – a not unlikely image considering the amount of smoke issuing from the cooking apparatus! Since when has sacrificing food been the domain of professional chefs! Yeah, right! Thank you…..NEVER! With tittie motif apron – an amusing item provided by said cooks children on Fathers Day – standing centre, waving and clacking tongs and a can of incendiary fuel to hand to get the flames high enough to singe eyebrows and sacrifice virgins! With a demonic gleam in his eye, he savagely throws meat offerings to Weber…and Weber is much pleased as it hisses and crackles in delight. The whole tableau is horrifying! For fuck sake…turn the flames down and COOK, not ruin the food!

Okay, I am a bit of a food snob, but I didn’t flog my arse off at TAFE, squeezing a 12-month course in commercial cooking into 6 months – usually starting at 7.00 in the morning – to see food ruined in the tradition of barbecuing. Thankfully, evidently enough people got sick of it to see it turned in to a new form of cuisine, raising the bar and making the great Aussie barbecue a tradition to be proud of, instead of shunned and delegated to the world of beer swilling and football.

When we went to buy our current barbecue I had an exact type snd size in mind. I am not – obviously – a great advocate of this style of cooking, so wanted just a small, single burner with a plate and grill section…in red! As I was perusing the perfect one for my needs, the mother-in-law…who was paying for it…kept dragging me around to all these unnecessarily large, grey models insisting that they were what I needed. I won that battle – a rare occurrence – and it has, so far, served me well.

For those who have not as yet discovered the world of gourmet barbequing, of aromatic rubs and spicy pastes, gourmet sausages and butcher-prepared treats…we are forever changing the face of the good old fashioned Aussie barbecue. And I give thanks

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So Can You Cook? 22

Burnt Offerings
There was a time when, hearing the words ‘you are invited to a barbie’ would make me physically cringe. It’s got nothing to do with not being True Blue, nor is it about snobbery. What it conjured up in my mind was images of steak sacrificed at the altar of barbeque, with all it’s juices cooked out and ending up as tough as old boots, chops – which have no meat on them at the best of times – grilled to this black lump on a bone, and sausages so charred and blackened that given a blind taste test, you would have said they were charcoal. In fact, if asked what flavour any sort of sausages were, you would have had to say ‘tomato sauce’, as that was the only way they would ever have had any flavour. This was not my idea of fun eating, and is really a terrible thing to do with good food. I’ve never quite got my head around the whole concept of an inedible meal, served up with a bland salad and bread rolls that had been too long in the sun – all captured on a flimsy cardboard plate balanced on your knee. No wonder the dog got a good feed. If you weren’t sneaking it to him to avoid eating it yourself, the same plate would disintegrate as you tried to saw your way through the steak with plastic cutlery, giving him access to the whole meal – deliberate or not. Okay, I am a bit of a food snob, but I didn’t flog my arse off at TAFE, squeezing a 12-month course in commercial cooking into 6 months, usually starting at 7.00 in the morning, to see food ruined in the tradition of barbequing. Thankfully, evidently enough people got sick of it to see it turned in to a new form of cuisine, raising the bar and making the great Aussie barbeque a tradition to be proud of instead of shunned and delegated to the world of beer swilling and football. The mother-in-law was kind enough to buy David & I a barbeque for the first Christmas after we moved into our house. I have to admit it’s a beauty with 4 burners heating both an open grill and a flat plate, and a wok burner. It perhaps doesn’t get as much use as it should – David gets home a bit late for barbequing in the dark – though it regularly gets hauled into position for guests to cook on at our regular soirees, always held in the jungle we call a yard.
This column is for those who have not as yet discovered the world of gourmet barbequing, of aromatic rubs and spicy pastes, forever changing the face of the good old fashioned Aussie barbeque.

FOR ALL RECIPES INVOLVING SKEWERS, IF THEY ARE BAMBOO SOAK FOR AT LEAST 30 MINUTES IN COLD WATER BEFORE SKEWERING FOOD AND COOKING. THIS HELPS TO STOP THEM BURNING.

All recipes serve 4

Pork Skewers in Green Ginger Wine & Soy Marinade:
800g pork filet, trimmed
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved ginger in syrup (from supermarket)
¼ cup Stones Green Ginger Wine (from liquor shop, usually pretty cheap)
2½ tablespoons kecap manis (Indonesian soy sauce)
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon oil
Coriander sprigs

Cut pork into 12cm x 2.5 cm (5” x 1”) strips and put into a non-metallic bowl with ginger, garlic, preserved ginger, green ginger wine, kecap manis and oils, turning to coat. Cover, refrigerate and leave to marinate for at least two hours, or overnight. Thread S-shaped pieces of pork onto 12 wooden skewers. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Preheat barbie to medium, and cook on chargrill plate for 2 minutes a side or until cooked through (ALWAYS cook pork thoroughly) and glazed. Garnish with coriander and serve.

Five-Spice Roast Chicken;
1.8 kg (Size 18) chicken
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 teaspoon five-spice
1 tablespoon peanut oil

Wash chicken and pat dry inside & out. Whisk soy sauce, garlic, ginger, honey, rice wine & five-spice together in a small bowl and brush all over the chicken, ensuring every bit of skin is well coated. Place the chicken on a wire rack over a baking tray and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat a covered barbie to medium indirect heat and put a drip tray under the rack. Brush the chicken liberally with peanut oil and place breast-side up in the middle of the barbeque over the drip tray. Cover the barbie and roast the chicken for 1 hour 10 minutes or until the juices run clear when you pierce it with a skewer between the thigh and body. Check every so often, and if appearing to over-brown cover it lightly with foil. Leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Wok fry some Asian greens and cook some jasmine rice to go with it.

Thai Beef Salad:
1/3 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons grated palm sugar or soft brown sugar
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander
1 stem lemongrass (white part only) finely chopped
2 small red chillies, finely sliced (remove seeds if you want milder)
2 x 200g beef eye fillet steaks
150g mixed salad leaves
½ red onion, sliced into fine wedges
½ cup coriander leaves
1/3 cup torn mint leaves
250g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 Lebanese cucumber, halved and thinly sliced

Mix together lime juice, fish sauce, palm sugar, garlic, chopped coriander, lemongrass and chilli until the sugar has dissolved.
Preheat barbie chargrill plate to medium-high direct heat and cook the steaks for 4 minutes each side or until medium. Let cool then slice thinly across the grain.
Put the salad leaves, onion, coriander, mint, tomatoes and cucumber in a large bowl, add the beef and dressing. Toss together and serve immediately.

Chargrilled Vegetables with Basil Aioli:
Basil Aioli
1 garlic clove
¼ cup torn basil leaves
1 egg yolk
½ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 x large red capsicums, deseeded and quartered
1 x eggplant cut into 5mm thick rounds
1 orange kumara (sweet potato) and cut into 5mm diagonal slices
3 x zucchini sliced lengthways into 5mm thick slices
2 x red onions cut into 5mm thick rounds
1/3 cup olive oil
1 x loaf pide (Turkish bread), split and cut into 4 equal pieces

To make aioli, put the garlic, basil and egg yolk into a food processor and blend until smooth. With the motor running, VERY slowly add the oil in a thin stream until the mixture thickens. Stir in the lemon juice and season to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Preheat barbie chargrill plate to medium direct heat. Put the capsicum, skin-side down, around the cooler edges of the grill and cook for 8-10 minutes or until the skin has softened and is blistering.
Brush eggplant, sweet potato, zucchini and onion slices on both sides with olive oil and season to taste. Cook in batches, in the middle of the chargrill, for 5-8 minutes or until they are cooked through but still firm. As vege pieces cook put them on a tray in a single layer to prevent them from steaming, then grill the Turkish bread on both sides until it is lightly marked and toasted.
Spread both sides of the bread with 1 tablespoon of the aioli and pile on some of the chargrilled vegetables. Top with remaining toast and serve immediately.

Camembert with Port-Soaked Raisins:
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons port
365g whole camembert cheese (Australian, naturally)
Canola oil spray
Almond bread, to serve

Put the raisins and port in a small saucepan over high heat until they just come to the boil, then allow the mixture to cool for about 30 minutes.
Cut a circular lid from the camembert, leaving a 2cm border. Carefully remove the lid and scoop out the soft cheese with a teaspoon, leaving the base intact. Put the raisins into the hole and top with the cheese, squashing it down to fit back into the cavity, then replace the lid.
Lightly spray a double layer of foil with canola spray and wrap the camembert to form a sealed parcel. Preheat barbeque flat plate to low (or use heat from barbie that has just been turned off) and cook the parcel for 8-10 minutes or until it is heated through and soft. Make sure the heat stays low, or the rind wil go brown and burn.
Serve with the almond bread.

Pineapple with Brown Sugar Glaze & Toasted Coconut:
1 pineapple
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon Galliano (miniatures can be purchased from liquor stores)
60g butter
2 tablespoons coconut flakes, toasted
Vanilla ice cream, to serve

Either peel pineapple and remove all eyes, or use a pineapple peeler and corer to remove pineapple flesh. Slice lengthways into quarters, and remove core (if not using peeler/corer). Cut into long 1cm wide wedges.
Put brown sugar, vanilla essence and 2 teaspoons water into a small saucepan and cook it over low-medium heat for 5 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved. Remove pan from heat, add Galliano. Then return to heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Whisk in the butter and continue to simmer the mixture over low heat for 15 minutes or until smooth and thick.
Preheat barbie chargrill plate to medium direct heat, brush the pineapple with the brown sugar glaze and grill for 2-3 minutes or until grill marks appear. Arrange wedges on a serving platter, top with the glaze and toasted coconut, and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Berry & Marshmallow Gratin:
600g mixed seasonal berries (use frozen if out of season, but drain well)
2 tablespoons raspberry liqueur (Framboise can often be bought in miniatures, or substitute with something of choice, or use processed raspberries, or use nothing)
150g pink and white marshmallows
Vanilla ice cream, to serve

Put berries and liqueur into a bowl, stir gently to coat, then transfer to a 1.5 litre oven-proof dish. Top the berries with the marshmallows, ensuring they are evenly distributed over the surface.
Preheat a covered barbie to medium high indirect heat and put the dish in the middle of the barbie. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until the berries are bubbling and the marshmallow has puffed up and is starting to melt.
Serve the gratin immediately with a big scoop of ice cream, but take care not to burn your mouth on the berries, which will be very hot.

Tim Alderman
Copyright 2014

So Can You Cook? 21

CELEBRATE – a guide for the festive season

Christmas again already! When I was in my teens and early twenties, I used to think that time took forever to progress. Now that I’m in my 50’s, I just wish it would slow down a bit.
I have to admit that I am trying to get out of preparing Christmas lunch this year. It always seems to be one of the hottest Christmas eves whenever you have to prepare food for the next day, and there is nothing like working in oppressive heat to put you off the thought of food. I don’t know how successful I’ll be – it’s in the hands of the mother-in-law – but I will be pushing for us to go somewhere where someone else has done all the work, and will do all the cleaning up.
This isn’t an option for many, for any number of reasons. So, I have attempted to try to help you out by creating a menu of minimum fuss dishes that will still represent Christmas in a sort-of-Aussie-traditional-way, and give you a minimum amount of work. I think we all like to impress when we are having family or friends for dinner, and especially when it is an important festive occasion.
Refreshing drinks – not necessarily alcoholic are great to have on hand, and for people to be able to scull down between glasses of champagne, wine or beer. Drinking alcohol in the heat can really debilitate the body, so it best to intersperse alcohol with other liquids during summer. Finger food can be easily put together, even if it is just a plate of dips, or a mezze or antipasta platter. Seafood is great for entrees, just don’t forget that the fish markets are closed on Christmas eve, so you will have to get your seafood the day before. Take an Esky with you to ensure that you keep it cool and retain its freshness. Get it straight into the fridge as soon as you get home. For lunch mains, buy a ham and maybe some smoked chicken. If you have the patience – and a cool kitchen – maybe cook a leg of lamb or a piece of pork to serve cold. Lots of salads are the order of the day – nobody really wants to be slaving over a stove on Christmas day. I make a Christmas cake – mainly because I have a great recipe that David’s grandmother loves – and make up some mince pies and shortbread, but that is as far as cooking goes these days. You can buy some really delicious Christmas puddings these days, other than Big Sister. Some brands to look out for are “Baylies of Strathalbyn”, “Newcastles Pudding Lady” and “Pudding Lane”. This way, you are not just getting a quality pudding, you are also supporting Australian producers. Then again, why not make an ice cream pudding and serve it up with a tropical fruit salad.
Finish off with some yummy shortbread and mince tarts, or a cheese platter.
Anyway my friends, once again I wish you all the very best for Christmas. Enjoy yourselves and don’t over-indulge. Muffin-tops aren’t a good look for summer. If you have any last minute requirements don’t forget that Alderman Providore is open 24/7, and has a select range of gifts, puddings, sauces and condiments to help you out with Christmas. Please visit us at http://www.alderman-providore.com. I can pretty well guarantee next day deliver in Sydney for orders received early in the day.
Happy Christmas and a happy and safe New Year.

Have a jug of iced, flavoured water on hand for those who want a break from alcohol. Fill a large jug with filtered water and ice. Add two stalks of lemongrass with cross-cut ends, and two or three kaffir lime leaves that have been slightly torn to release the lime flavours.

Grapefruit and Cranberry Punch:
2 cups pink grapefruit juice (From supermarket)
1 cup cranberry juice (from supermarket)
750ml (3 cups) lemonade
1 small pink grapefruit, finely sliced.
Place sliced grapefruit and ice in a large jug. Add pink grapefruit juice, cranberry juice and lemonade. Serve in tall glasses.

Mandarin Buck’s Fizz:
3 tablespoons fresh mandarin juice (in chilled juice section of supermarket)
Sparkling wine

Put some ice and mandarin juice in a glass and top up with sparkling wine.

STARTERS;

Chicken & Brie Baguette:
Brush slices of baguette with olive oil and bake in a 200°C oven until lightly toasted. Spread with some quince paste (or cranberry sauce), baby spinach, smoked chicken and brie.

Baked Pancette and Ricotta Cups:
6 slices pancetta, halved
120g fresh ricotta cheese
½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
30g goat’s cheese
¼ cup chopped chives
6 cherry tomatoes, halved

Preheat oven to 220°C. Press the pancetta into a greased 12-hole mini muffin tray to make 12 cases. Place the ricotta, parmesan, goat’s cheese and chives into a small bowl and mix well to combine. Spoon the mixture into the pancetta cases and top with the cherry tomatoes. Cook for 10 minutes or until the pancetta is crispy and the cheese is set.
Makes 12.

ENTRÉE;

Salmon and Dill Pots with Crispy Toasts:
100g smoked salmon slices, finely chopped
1 teaspoon horseradish cream (from supermarket asian section – usually called wasabi and in a tube)
2 teaspoons chopped dill
1 tablespoon sour cream
sea salt and cracked black pepper
chopped dill, extra to serve
1 baguette, thinly sliced and toasted

Place the salmon, horseradish, dill, sour cream, saly & pepper into a small bowl and mix well to combine. Place the salmon mixture into 4 small dishes and sprinkle with the extra dill. Serve with the toast.
Serves 4

Mint, Chilli & Garlic Fetta:
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
1/3 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 small red chilli, seeded and chopped
½ cup mint leaves, chopped
sea salt and cracked black pepper
250g fetta cheese, sliced
2 pieces flatbread, sliced into strips
olive oil, extra for brushing

place the lemon rind, oil, garlic, chilli, mint salt & pepper in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Place the fetta slices in a non-metallic bowl, pour over the lemon mixture and allow to marinate for 10 minutes.
Brush the flatbread strips with the extra oil and place on a baking tray under a pre-heated hot grill. Cook for 2-3 minutes until golden and crisp.
Arrange the fetta slices on a plate and serve with bread strips.
Serves 4

MAINS;

Char-Grilled Prawns with Garlic Butter:
24 green prawns, heads removed and butterflied (Halve lengthways and spread out)
24 skewers, soaked in water
olive oil for brushing
garlic butter
250g butter, softened
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained and chopped
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
sea salt and cracked black pepper

To make the garlic butter, place the butter, garlic, capers, lemon rind, parsley, salt and pepper in a small bowl and mix well to combine. Set aside.
Thread the prawns on the skewers, brush with oil and cook on a pre-heated grill for 2 minutes each side or until cooked through. Top with the garlic butter to serve.
Makes 24

Crab Salad with Lime & Chilli Dressing:
500g fresh crab meat
1 cup whole-egg mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 long red chilli, seeded and sliced
¼ cup chopped green shallots
¼ cup fresh lime juice
sea salt and cracked black pepper
1 x banana flower, leaves separated (available from Asian supermarkets) or use fancy lettuce leaves
lime wedges, to serve

place the crab, mayonnaise, chives, chilli, shallots, lime juice, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix well to combine. Spoon the crab into the banana flower leaves (or lettuce leaves)in small serving bowls and serve with lime wedges.

Potato and Pancetta Salad:
16 slices pancetta
2 kg desiree potatoes, sliced
½ cup mint leaves
mustard dressing
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
sea salt and cracked black pepper

To make the mustard dressing, place oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place the pancetta on a baking tray and cook for 4-5 minutes or until crispy. Set aside.
Place the potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling water. Bring to the boil and cook for 8-10 minutes or until tender. Drain and refresh under cold water. Layer the potato slices with the pancetta and mint leaves. Spoon over the mustard dressing and serve.
Serves 8

Green Bean Salad with Tarragon Dressing:
2 bunches asparagus, trimmed
200g green beans, trimmed
6 stalks celery, thinly sliced
tarragon dressing
1/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 shallot, finely chopped
sea saly and cracked black pepper

To make the tarragon dressing, place the oil, vinegar, tarragon, sugar, shallot, salt and pepper in a small bowl and mix well to combine. Set aside.
Cook the asparagus in a saucepan of boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes or until just tender. Remove and refresh under cold water. Add the beans to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water.
Arrange the asparagus, beans and celery on a serving platter and spoon over the tarragon dressing.
Serves 8

DESSERT;

Berry Ice-Cream Pudding:
2 litres store-bought vanilla ice-cream, softened
1½ cups frozen raspberries
1½ cups frozen blueberries

Place the ice-cream and berries in a large bowl and stir well to evenly distribute the berries. Place the bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes or until the ice-cream just starts to harden. Cut out a 60cm square of calico cloth. Place the calico in a bowl, spoon in the ice-cream and gather up the edges. Tie the calico with string to secure, and hang in the freezer over the bowl for 3 hours or until firm. Remove the pudding from the freezer, undo the calico and place on a plate. Cutthe pudding into slices and serve with the spiced custard.

Spiced Custard:
1 cup pouring cream
¼ cup brandy
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out
1 cinnamon stick
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons caster sugar

Heat the cream, brandy, vanilla and cinnamon in a small saucepan over medium heat until hot (NOT BOILING) and remove from the heat. Discard the vanilla bean and cinnamon stick.
Place the egg yols and sugar in a bowl and whisk until thick and pale. Slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Return to the saucepan and stir over low heat for 4 minutes or until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Set aside and allow to cool.
Serve with the berry ice-cream pudding.
Serves 8

AFTERS;
On a platter arrange a wedge of triple cream brie, a large wedge of cheddar (King Island for both, naturally), a wedge of blue cheese and as small bowl of Persian fetta. Add a bunch of dried muscatels, some dried apricots, some glace fruit, fresh grapes and containers of quince or fig paste and a fruit chutney. In a separate bowl have a mixture of grissini, water crackers and lavosh crisps.
Serve with shiraz champagne or a sweet dessert wine.

Tim Alderman
Copyright 2014

So Can You Cook ? 20

Great Cover-Ups

There is nothing worse than a naked salad. All the ingredients involved in its composition – lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, fruits, nuts, avocado and whatever meat you choose – may taste great as individual components, but when combined together need a melding substance, something to bring all the flavours together. This is what a dressing is for.
I’ve had some great dressing experiences in my day – like the delicious balsamic dressing on a Rocket, Walnut & Parmesan salad from ‘The Vanilla Room’ at Leichhardt to an absolute pits of a Caesar dressing from a café in Bondi. In fact, considering that my judgement on the quality of a café is gauged by how good a Caesar Salad they make, this café rates down the bottom of my list. Really…a Caesar salad consisting of julienned iceberg lettuce, carrots and other salad odds and ends really does show a lack of respect for one of the worlds greatest acknowledged salads. There aren’t words to express my horror when it was put in front of me. Still, I had my revenge. I never go back twice.
We should be fussy about salads, and fussy about the quality of the products presented to us in a salad. We have accessibility to some of the freshest and highest quality greens anywhere, and not to use them to our advantage, or to not present them at their best is a sin.
As I have mentioned before, we live on salads during summer. It is a constant problem to keep them fresh and interesting – they are something that can become boring very quickly if not enough variety is presented – but there is a wealth of great books out now that cover nothing but salads. ‘Woman’s Weekly’ have several out in what I call their ‘bible’ series – all those $12+ soft-covered books available in any newsagents. These books are absolute musts in my kitchen – great recipes that always work, little effort and great results. They also have several great salad books in their mini-book series, also from newsagents. ‘Gourmet Traveller’ also have a great book of salads out which covers everything from the basics to the most exotic from all countries.
Anyway, todays column is about dressing salads, and the following are great ways to dress salads and give them life and zing. Always try to match your dressing to your salad style – if doing an Italian salad, use and Italian dressing; if a Greek salad, use a Greek dressing. For Asian salads use your own combinations of soy, lime juice, peanut oil, fish sauce, chillies, mirin, rice wine vinegar etc. Just taste and add until you get it right.

BASIC VINAIGRETTE:
60ml (1/4 cup) fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, crushed
pinch raw sugar
salt & pepper to taste

Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, mustard, garlic and sugar in a small bowl until well combined. Season to taste
Makes 1/3 cup

TO CONVERT THE ABOVE TO A BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE:
Substitute the lemon juice for 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar.
Makes ¾ cup

CREAMY DRESSING:
125ml (1/2 cup) buttermilk
70g (1/4 cup) low-fat yoghurt
3 teaspoons freshly chopped chives
2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
salt & pepper to taste

Whisk together buttermilk, yoghurt chives and mustard in a bowl until well combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Cover and store in fridge until needed.
Makes 150ml

TO CONVERT ABOVE TO A CASAR DRESSING:
Omit the chives and wholegrain mustard. Place the buttermilk, yoghurt, 3 drained anchovy fillets (coarsely chopped), 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard and 1 small garlic clove on the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth and well combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Store in the fridge until required.
Makes 150 ml

SWEET SOY DRESSING
80ml (1/3 cup) mirin (Japanese rice wine – Asian section in supermarket)
2 tablesppons caster sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons olive oil

Combine the mirin and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool.
Add the soy sauce and oil to the mirin mixture and whisk until combined.
Makes 150ml

TO CONVERT THE ABOVE TO A CHILLI & CORIANDER SWEET SOY DRESSING:
Add 1 fresh red birdseye chilli, halved, deseeded, finely chopped to the mirin and sugar in step 1. Stir in 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander just before serving.
Makes 150ml

DILL DRESSING: Great with Salad Nicoise
1 tablesppon wholegrain mustard
125ml (1/2 cup) olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 clove crushed garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Combine ingredients in a screw-top jar; shake well.
Makes approx 200ml

FRENCH DRESSING;
60ml (1/4 cup) white vinegar
180ml (3/4 cup) olive oil
½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Combine ingredients in a screw-top jar; shake well
Makes about 1 cup

FRESH TOMATO SAUCE;
3 large egg (Roma) tomatoes, peeled, seeded,quartered
2 shallots, chopped coarsely
80ml (1/3 cup) red wine vinegar
80ml (1/3 cup) sweet chilli sauce
2 cloves garlic, quartered
1 teaspoon seeded mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley

Blend or process ingredients until almost smooth
Makes about 1¼ cups

ITALIAN DRESSING:
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
180ml (3/4 cup) olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano

Combine ingredients in screw-top jar; shake well.
Makes about 1 cup

BASIC MAYONNAISE: To really get the right consistency, mayonnaise should be whisked by hand. However, it’s a long hard job – trust me on this. Blenders and processors do an okay job.
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon DRY mustard
½ cup light olive oil
¼ cup EV olive oil

Whisk, blend or process egg yolks, juice, salt and mustard until smooth. Add combined oils gradually in thin stream while motor is running. Blend until thick.
Makes ¾ cup
OIL MUST BE ADDED VERY SLOWLY, OTHERWISE MAYONNAISE WILL SPLIT. Another good reason to do it by hand.
For Lime Mayonnaise: Substitute lime juice for lemon juice.
For Thousand Island Mayonnaise: Whisk 1/3 cup tomato paste; 1/3 cup tomato sauce; 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce; ½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce into ¾ cup basic mayonnaise.
For Curried Mayonnaise: Add 1 tablespoon curry powder to ¾ cup basic mayonnaise.
For Herb Mayonnaise: Add 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves to ¾ cup basic mayonnaise.
For Garlic Mayonnaise: Add 3 cloves quartered garlic to the egg yolk mix when processing.

Tim Alderman
Copyright 2014

BALSAMIC REDUCTION:
Place ¼ cup balsamic vinegar and 1 tablesppon brown sugar into a small saucepan. Bring to boil, then boil for 5 minutes or until reduced by half. Cool before using. 1 tablespoon honey can be substituted for brown sugar to give a honeyed flavour.

So Can You Cook? 19

Kids Parties

The concept of kids parties seems to have changed considerably since I was a kid, to the degree now where they are often about one kids party upping the ante on another kids. I know of instances where the amount of money spent on entertaining kids was ridiculous to the extreme, with jumping castles and clowns etc, on top of a lavish menu that I’m sure the kids couldn’t have given a damn about. Even the concept of gifts seems to have gone overboard, and I’m sure as hell glad that I’m not in the situation that some parent friends of ours are in, where every kid in the class has a party for their birthday, and all the class is expected to attend. I know my friends dread it, as it is not only expensive for them to be constantly forking out for gifts, but they have to waste a lot of their own time dropping-off and picking-up the kids from the parties. There are instances where this goes on for weekends in a row.
I still claim that kids are simple enough in their views, and creative enough with their imaginations to not have every thing supplied to them on an extravagant scale. I reckon chocolate crackles, fairy bread, cupcakes, lamingtons, jelly cups, mashed potato rolled in devon and mini pies and sausage rolls would be as popular now as they were when I was a kid. I’m equally sure that kids would love the challenges of playing dress up with a box of old cloths or the laughs of charades (I must admit that even I found hide-and-go-seek and pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey a bit boring, and much preferred to throw on one of my mothers old frocks and prance around. Must have been a sign of things to come).
Still, keeping things basic doesn’t necessarily mean plain and boring, and so I will try to give you some inspiration in the recipes below, that cover some of the old-fashioned favourites, with a few twists on them as well.
For my partners nephews birthday, I have for about the last 4-5 years been making his birthday cakes. They have ranged from small butter cake train carriages decorated with marshmallows, and licorice, and filled with popular sweets to Spider Man – quite a triumph even for me – to a big ‘7’ in the shape of a coconut tree complete with monkeys, to last years ‘8’ in the shape of a race track with chocolate race cars. All these have been simple to make – except Spider man – and the kids have loved them, so you don’t need to spend a fortune on a cake with the expectation that the kids will love it any more than one you have made yourself.
My mother made a large batch of Cornflake biscuits – still one of my favourites – for one of my birthdays, and found the plate still full at the end of the party. I remember how furious she was until she tried one herself – she had mixed up the canisters in the kitchen and used salt in them instead of sugar. One very apologetic mother.
I hope you enjoy these recipes, and use them to give your kids not just a good time, but create something very personal for them that will possibly be remembered long past the more commercial or McDonalds parties.

Freckle Sandwiches
Makes about 323 triangles

2 loaves thick-sliced white bread
125g unsalted butter, softened
Strawberry jam, to spread
Nutella, to spread
1 cup 100s & 1000s
1 cup chocolate sprinkles
Butter 1 loaf of bread. Spread half the slices with strawberry jam, then top each slice with remaining slices to make sandwiches.
Butter the remaining loaf, spread half the slices with Nutella, then top with remaining slices.
Remove the crusts (they have absolutely nothing to do with you having or not having curly hair) from all the sandwiches, then cut each into 4 triangles. Lay the sandwiches on two separate platters long-edge down to form two long pyramids.
Spread the remaining butter along one side of each pyramid. Sprinkle the long side of the strawberry sandwiches with the 100s and 1000s and the Nutella sandwiches with the chocolate sprinkles.

Sea Shark Jelly
Serves 8-10

3 packets lemon-flavoured jelly (or a flavour of your choice)
Sweets in the shape of fish or sharks, to garnish
375ml can evaporated milk

Lightly oil a 1-litre terrine or loaf pan.
Place the jelly crystals in a bowl or jug, add 2 cups (500ml) boiling water and stir to dissolve the crystals. Add 100ml cold water, then pour 300ml of this mixture into the base of the prepared tin. Sit the fish or sharks in the jelly and place in the freezer for 15 minutes or until the jelly has just set.
Whisk the evaporated milk into the remaining jelly, then pour the mixture over the completely set jelly layer.
Refrigerate overnight to set completely.
When ready to serve, run a knife around the edge of the tin to loosen, then invert onto a serving platter. Rub the base of the tin with a hot cloth for a few seconds, then give the whole tin a good shake to get the jelly out of the mould.

Treasure Chests
Makes 12

1 1/3 cups self-raising flour
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
250g caster sugar
200g unsalted butter
1 cup cola
100ml milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
gold chocolate coins, to fill

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 12-hole square muffin or friend pan (friend pans have oval-shaped moulds).
Sift the flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda together, then stir in the sugar.
Place the butter and cola in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until the butter has melted, then add to the dry ingredients with the milk, eggs and vanilla extract. Divide the mixture between the pan moulds and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
When ready to serve, carefully slice the top off each cake and set aside. Scoop out a little of the center, then fill each hole with some chocolate coins and replace the lids.

Butterfly Cakes
Makes 12

175g self-raising flour
110g unsalted butter
½ cup caster sugar
2 eggs
Grated rind 1 lemon
1 tablespoon milk
½ cup thick cream, whipped
½ cup lemon curd (lemon butter)
Icing sugar, to dust

Preheat oven to 190°C. Place flour, butter, caster sugar, eggs, rind and milk in a bowl and beat with an electric beater until smooth. Place 12 paper patty cases in a patty pan and divide mixture between them.
Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown, then cool. Cut a small slice off the top of each cake and cut slice in half.
Place a dollop of cream and lemon curd on top of each cake and sit the two halves in the curd like butterfly wings. Dust with icing sugar.
Even boys like these.

Pikelets
Makes about 25 small

1 cup self-raising flour
1 tablespoon caster sugar
¾ cup milk
1 egg
Melted butter to brush, plus extra knobs to serve

Sift flour and sugar together into a bowl with a pinch of salt. Whisk milk and egg together, then add to dry ingredients, whisking until smooth.
Heat a non-stick frypan over medium heat and brush with a little melted butter. Drop level tablespoons of the mixture into the pan and cook for half-a-minute or until bubbles appear on the surface. Turn over and cook other side for 1 minute until golden.
Allow to cool and serve with butter

Peanut Butter Biscuits
Makes about 20

1 cup smooth peanut butter
125g unsalted butter
4 tablespoons honey
½ cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup honey-roasted peanuts, chopped, plus extra peanuts to garnish

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Place peanut butter, butter, honey and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for about 2 minutes until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Beat in the sifted flour and soda, then add the chopped peanuts and stir through.
Flour your hands and roll the mixture into 2.5cm balls. Place on the baking tray, allowing room to spread, and flatten slightly. Place a whole peanut into the center of each biscuit and bake for 8 minutes until cooked and lightly golden. Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Chocolate-Chip Terrine
Serves 6

4 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
2 eggwhites
250g mascarpone cheese, softened
125ml cream, whipped lightly
200g Nestles Plaistowe cooking chcolate, chopped finely
125ml cream, extra, whipped lightly

Lightly grease a 23cm x 8cm log tin and line with baking paper
In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks, half the sugar and a pinch of salt until mixture is pale and thick.
In another bowl, whip eggwhites until soft peaks form, then gradually add remaining sugar and beat until thick and glossy.
Add mascarpone to egg yolk mixture and combine until smooth. Fold in cream and egg whites alternatively. Add 125g chopped chocolate and mix carefully.
Pour mixture into lined tin. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
For the chocolate sauce, combine 75g chocolate and extra cream in a small saucepan and bring to the boil to melt chocolate.
Serve terrine with sweet biscuits and chocolate sauce.

Fruit with Yoghurt Dip
Serves 8

! wedge seedless watermelon, sliced
½ rockmelon, seeded, cut into wedges
4 kiwi fruit, quartered
3 bananas, peeled and sliced
1 punnet strawberries
2 x 200g tubs flavoured yoghurt or fruche

Arrange fruit on a platter with yoghurt for dipping. Refrigerate until required.

Kids’ Nachos
Serves 8

300g packet cheese corn chips
1 cup grated tasty cheese
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
½ cup sour cream

Arrange corn chips in an overproof dish. Sprinkle with cheese and parsley.
Bake in a Hot 200°C oven for 10 minutes until cheese is melted and golden. Dollop sour cream over chips. Serve immediately.

Tim Alderman
Copyright 2014

So Can You Cook? 18

The Advent of a Dream

I am a notoriously impatient person. I have started a hundred projects over the years, and rarely seen any of them through to their completion. It is in my nature to be this way, to start something then get distracted by something else coming along.
It has, therefore, come as quite a shock to me that I have had the patience to wait three years for my business to come to fruition, and that I have designated a very long timeline to get it functioning. Must be slowing down in my dotage.
“Alderman Providore” was conceived just over three years ago, and had actually morphed out of my partners and mine original “Alderman Catering” business. As much as I love the catering side of food, I am in my early 50’s now and find catering way too hard. It takes three days to prepare for a function, which is three days on your feet shopping, doing mise en place, chopping, cooking and organizing. It is three days when you don’t sleep much, don’t eat properly, and pretty well run yourself into the ground. When it is all over, you just want to spend a couple of days sleeping. This is not to say that the end result isn’t worth the work – it nearly always is, but as you get older, it gets harder and harder. So, “Alderman Providore” grew as a natural progression from this. It is probably only logical that with almost 28 years of retail management experience, and a great knowledge of food that this sort of business would evolve. However, it hasn’t been an easy road.
The original concept was for a retail food Providore on the Far North Coast of NSW, around the Bangalow area. The business plan was 18 months in the creation, and a great, ambitious plan it was. This was not just to be a Providore, but over time was to eventually have a café attached, move into top-end homewares and appliances, and a local gallery showcasing homewares by local artists. It was a dream – a very expensive dream. My partner and I estimated that we would need a minimum of half a million dollars just to establish the base business, and that was not about to happen – especially with one person on DSP. NEIS would not even have made a crack in the amount we needed, and we would have had to have moved up the coast to live for me to be even able to apply for it, at least to use in that area.
So, Alderman Providore went into a hiatus, the dream unapproachable, but not forgotten. I started to conceive of the idea as an Internet proposition, a cyberspace storefront as distinct from a physical storefront. The business plan went into rewrite mode – a lot harder to do than I realized, as it meant an entirely new way of thinking, a real ‘moving outside the square’. It is also a work in progress at this time.
http://www.alderman-providore.com was launched about 2 months ago, and is most certainly a work in progress. I took up an offer of a one month free trial with http://www.prostores.com , took up a very risky – for someone on a pension – offer of a $2000 limit rise on my Mastercard, added on a $500 advance from Centrelink and…hey presto, the business was born. I had already sourced catalogues and wholesale pricelists from companies that we wanted to deal with, and within two weeks, our spare bedroom became a stock room.
So, what do we do? We source Australian made gourmet food products from right across the country. Australia is now a treasure trove of high quality, fantastically packaged gourmet foods and you only have to visit my site to get some idea of how vast the range is. Okay, we know that a lot of it is expensive, but we never intended it to be otherwise. It might be expensive, but the quality, diversity and imaginative nature of the foods more than qualifies it. I stock: mean relishes from South Australia; Australian native food products and dukkah and rubs from the same state. From Coogee comes a creative range of chutneys, jams, relishes and mustards; luscious nutcakes and biscuits from 120-year-old Benedictine monastery ovens in Western Australia; saffron from Tasmania; muesli and biscuits from Leura in NSW; chutneys and fig products from Albury; dukkah from Queensland; antipasta from Boort in Victoria; wonderful sauces and dressings from Daylesford; the list goes on and on. We have just been asked to be the Sydney agents for a range of “Australian Harvest” organic and bio-dynamic gourmet foods from the Yarra Valley, which we are going to be presenting to the public through magazines, our sites newsletter, and gourmet food parties. It is starting to get exciting. It is developing a life of its own, and it’s mine!
If you were to ask me if this is the hard way to get into business, I’d have to say… yes. It has been a steep learning curve. We currently use PayPal on the site to process EFT and credit card transactions, and though this is a secure, fast way for people to pass through the checkout, it has proven to be expensive, so we are applying for an EFTPOS machine through the bank – something we intended to do in the first place, and should have followed through on. We don’t accept credit at all, though it is offered by just about every company we deal with, or will deal with. This is a good way to get yourself into some serious trouble, as the temptation to over-commit yourself to buying stock that you possibly won’t be able to afford is too great. If we can’t afford to pay for it, we don’t buy it. It doesn’t mean I will never have it, it just means I won’t have it at this time. I’ve encountered a few arseholes along the way, people who either don’t know how to run their own businesses – though they are all experts on yours – or who think they are too good to have their products on a fledgling site. There is one very reputable gourmet food retailer who has disillusioned me completely. But, out of the 200-odd people I have contacted over the last few months, they represent only about 5 companies whose products I will never deal in, and I consider that a pretty good averages. A lot of the people I have had dealings with have started out this exact same way, and are very supportive, and this has been a very positive aspect.
Ask me in twelve months how I think it is all going, I may have a better idea then. That is certainly the timeline it is on to start going somewhere, and some of the long-term projects of the business plan will be kicking in around then.
In the meantime, please visit us at http://www.alderman-providore.com and join our newsletter (I believe it is very good, from feedback I get) or email us any suggestions or thoughts you may have. If you are on a pension and want to know all the ins and outs of establishing an internet business, please contact me at aldermanprovidore@aapt.net.au and I will more than gladly give you any help I can. BGF are running workshops on getting yourself back into education, or back into areas of the workforce that you may not have considered, and I can’t recommend them highly enough. Three years ago when Marie Crosbie worked for BGF in the back-to-work project they were running at the time, her and I nutted out the basic plans for Alderman Providore face to face for three months. I think she would be pleased to know that all the time and effort has born fruit.
Now, just to keep this column on track, and to continue this blatant promotion of my business I will offer you some recipes that can be made using products from the site (or substitute similar).

AGLIOLIO PASTA WITH FRESH TOMATO & PARMESAN
with ‘Valley Produce Company’ Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Serves 2
VPC Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 clove garlic, finely sliced
1 chili, finely sliced
1 roma tomato, diced
30g fresh peas
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon chopped basil
2 serves spaghetti pasta, cooked
fresh parmesan

This is the ultimate 5 minute pasta!! In a hot pan, add some VPC Extra Virgin Olive Oil and fry the garlic and chili until golden brown. Add the tomatoes, peas and salt & pepper and cook for about one minute. Add the pasta and basil and cook the flavour into the pasta. Top with freshly grated parmesan and serve immediately.

FIVE MUSHROOM SPAGHETTI
with ‘Valley Produce Company’ Lemon Infused Olive Oil
Serves 2
spaghetti for two
3 tablespoons VPC Lemon Infused Olive Oil
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
5 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
5 button mushrooms, chopped
8 oyster mushrooms, cut into quarters
1 large field mushroom, cut into quarters
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
fresh parmesan

Bring a pot of water to the boil and add some salt and a little olive oil. Start to cook your pasta. Place a fry pan over the stove and bring it to a high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of VPC Lemon Infused Olive Oil and fry the garlic until golden brown. Add the mushrooms all at once, season with salt & pepper and sauté. Drain the pasta and place in a pan with the parsley. Toss the pasta through the mushroom mix and serve immediately with fresh parmesan.

WILD ROCKET, BLUE CHEESE & PEAR SALAD
with ‘Valley Produce Company’ Amber Walnuts & Truffle Infused Honey
Serves 2
250g wild rocket lettuce
1 pear, shaved with a vegetable peeler
10 VPC Amber Walnuts
50g blue cheese, diced into small pieces
1 teaspoon VPC Truffle Infused Honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt & pepper

Mix all ingredients together and season to taste.
Serving Suggestion: Serve immediately with the Blue Cheese & VPC Truffle Honey Soufflé (below). The blue cheese & truffle honey can be replaced with 50g fetta cheese (soft & creamy).

TAMARIND CHICKPEA & HERB SALAD
With’ Goan Cuisine’ Tamarind Chutney
Ingredients​ ​

1 x can Chick Peas, cooked and drained.
150g TAMARIND CHUTNEY
250g potatoes, cooked & diced
½ cupcoriander, roughly chopped
Medium red onion
¼ cup mint, julienne
40ml olive oil
Juice of lemon, to taste
Salt, to taste

Method
Combine ingredients and allow flavours to infuse for a couple of hours before serving.

For a non-vegetarian application, add shredded roasted chicken or large fried prawns.

Makes 5 portions.

SAFFRON RICE
Using ‘Tas-Saff’ Tasmanian Saffron
50 – 100mg Tas-Saff saffron
One and a half cups of Australian long grain rice
20 grams butter
3 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cups boiling water using
1 chicken stock cube

Remove lid from Tas-Saff saffron vial and fill with boiling water.
Leave to infuse for 24 hours.

Use a heavy saucespan with a tight fitting lid.
Prepare saffron as per instructions below.
Heat butter and oil in a deep saucepan and cook onion until soft without colouring.
Add rice and cook for a further minute, stirring all the time to ensure the rice is well coated with butter and oil.
Stir in approx. 3/4 of a cup of stock then add your saffron infusion, stir and mix well.
Add the remainder of stock ensuring that all the saffron is rinsed out of the cup.
Stir well, then cover tightly and cook gently for 20 minutes.
Remove lid and stand for a few minutes to let steam escape.
Turn rice with a fork to fluff up and serve.
Serves 4 to 6 people.

DUKKAH ENCRUSTED CHICKEN OR FISH
With ‘Thistle Be Good’ Dukkah

Take a chicken breast and cut into strips 2 inches wide. Lightly spray with olive oil. Take one tablespoon of your favourite dukkah and mix with two tablespoons of breadcrumbs in a small freezer/plastic bag. Drop the strips of chicken into the bag and give the bag a good shake. Now remove beautifully coated chicken, place on a lightly greased baking tray and cook for 12 mins either side at 180 degrees or alternatively cook on the hotplate of the barbie.

‘SIMPLE’ SQUASHED POTATOES
with ‘Simply Tomatoes’ Green Tomatoes with Garlic & Oregano in Olive Oil

Ingredients:
6 Medium Potatoes
1 Tablespoon SIMPLY GREEN TOMATOES

Method:
Wash unpeeled potatoes and cook until soft. (Either boil in water or cook in the microwave).
When soft put potatoes between paper toweling and squash to flatten the potatoes slightly.
Place the potatoes on an oven tray* and cover the potatoes with the
SIMPLY GREEN TOMATOES and oil. Bake in a moderate oven until nicely browned.

(Optional – add a little rock salt, or flavoured salt before cooking).

*Browns quickly in an electric grill with a lid, approximately 5-10 minutes.

A very quick, easy and delicious way to serve potatoes. Something different!

AUTHORS NOTE: I do a very similar dish to this, though it is called ‘Car Crash Potatoes’ and is absolutely fabulous.

Tim Alderman
Copyright 2014