Tag Archives: salad

So Can You Cook ? 15

Christmas Edition
I must confess to not understanding the whole ‘Christmas in July’ thing, or why people go ape over it, trundling themselves off to the coldest climes to celebrate something that has no relevance here whatsoever. This is Australia, and Christmas means heatwaves, bushfires and flies. If you are an American, or English, it kind of makes sense to want to have snow for Christmas, but if you’re an Aussie, and only ever associate Christmas with summer, it just doesn’t work. And apart from that, it is hard to imagine Christmas happening in the middle of the year – snow or no snow.
The whole Christmas thing in Australia has always been too tied up with English and European traditions, and catering to our climate at this time of the year never seems to be something anyone used to consider. I remember my mother slaving over hot stoves months before Christmas even started to get the cake and pudding done on time for it to mature before being reheated and eaten with hot custard in steamy 30-odd-degree heat. Everyone sweated in the hot house, just wanting it to end so that they could kick back with a cold beer. When I lived with my stepfamily back in the 70’s, I remember my poor sister-in-law catering a hot lunch for twenty people every Christmas day. Her reward was a stinking headache, and near dehydration. You have to query if this is the right way to celebrate Christmas day in Australia, especially with our tradition of breaking traditions, and our usual irreverence for anything considered over-the-top.
When I lived in Darlinghurst, I used to cater a orphans Christmas lunch on Christmas day, for anyone who had nowhere else to go. I used to do the full traditional thing for anywhere from 12-15 people, with glazed ham, pork, turkey and pudding. I used to get to bed at about 3am on Christmas Eve, to be back up again at 7am to finish all the prep work. After my last of these – many years ago now – and finding myself with a migraine, I decided it was time to change my approach to Christmas eating.
My partners mother was quick to realize the advantages of having a chef in the family. She swings a couple of hundred dollars my way, and I do the whole thing – but not the old way. I have started a tradition of fresh oysters in the half-shell, with various toppings arranged in small bowls, as an entrée. Everybody in his family – bar his Grandmother – loves them. We go to the fish markets about 10pm on Christmas Eve to get them – take this as a time hint. This is followed by cold ham, cold lamb and cold chicken with a range of salads, and finished off with an ice cream fruit pudding. On a hot day, this is a really refreshing meal, and no one has sweated themselves into oblivion to put it all together. I still do mince fruit tarts, a cake and shortbread but this is all easy to do, and involves little stress on my part. If you are still doing it all the traditional way, I suggest you consider a rethink, and start your own Christmas traditions.
I hope everyone else can enjoy a stress-free and refreshing Christmas day.
Happy Christmas to all readers.

Christmas Cake:

Gluten-Free Christmas Cake – for coeliacs
250g unsalted butter
1 cup soft brown sugar
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon coffee essence
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon orange marmalade
1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind
1 kg mixed dried fruit
300g glace fruit, chopped
100g slivered almonds
180g soya flour
90g baby rice cereal
90g maize cornflour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
¼ cup orange juice
½ cup sweet sherry
extra 2 tablespoons sweet sherry

Bake in 20cm square tin.
Cook for 3½ hours

Per slice (weight of cake; 2.1 kg)
Kilojoules 985/calories 235; protein 4g; fat 10g; carbohydrate 34g;dietary fibre 3g; sodium 55mg.

Sugar-Reduced Christmas Cake – for diabetics
180g mono-unsaturated margarine
½ cup soft brown sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons coffee essence
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon cherry jam
1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind
1 kg mixed dried fruit
100g currants
100g glace fruit, chopped
50g slivered almonds
1½ cups wholemeal plain flour
1 cup self-raising flour
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon mixed spice
¼ cup orange juice
½ cup brandy
125g pecans for decorating – optional

Bake in 23cm round tin
Cook for 3½ hours

Per slice (weight of cake 2kg)
Kilojoules 785/calories 185; protein 3g; fat 6g; carbohydrate 31g; dietary fibre 3g; sodium 100mg.
TO CONVERT THESE TO A TRADIONAL CAKE, substitute soya flour for 2 cups plain flour, and rice cereal and maize cornflour for ½ cup self-raising flour.

METHOD FOR BOTH CAKES:
Preheat oven to slow 150°C. Line the base and sides of your cake tin with greaseproof paper. Using an electric beater, beat butter or margarine and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and creamy. Add eggs gradually, beating well after each addition. Add essences, molasses, marmalade or jam and rind. Beat until well combined.
Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and add the fruit and/or almonds. Using a metal spoon, begin to fold in the sifted dry ingredients.
As you begin to fold in the dry ingredients, alternate with the combined juice and spirits (or juice only). Stir until just combined and the mixture is almost smooth. Spoon mixture into prepared tin. Sprinkle the top with a little cold water and smooth surface with wet hands.
Tap the cake tin gently on the bench top to settle the mixture. Decorate with fruit or nuts if desired. Wrap a double thickness of brown paper around the outside of the tin and secure with string or a paper clip. Bake for required time, or until a skewer comes out clean. If top is browning too quickly, or is starting to burn, cover the top of the cake with a layer of foil.
Store in an airtight tin outside of fridge for 4 weeks, or in fridge for several months.

Frozen Brandy Christmas Pudding:
1 x 475g jar fruit mince (from supermarket)
1 x 1lt tub Old English Toffee ice cream, softened
1 x 1lt tub vanilla ice cream, softened

Combine fruit mince and ice cream in a bowl. Spoon into 10 1-cup size plastic drinking cups. Wrap in plastic, and place in freezer for 6 hours. Dip into hot water, and upend onto plate. Serve with…
Summer Berries and Mango Slices;
2 x 250g punnets strawberries, washed, hulled, halved
1 x 150g punnet mulberries
1 x 120g punnet raspberries
60ml (1/4 cup) fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons icing sugar mixture
4 ripe mangoes

Combiner berries in a large bowl. Add lime juice and icing sugar mixture, stirring gently until just combined. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to macerate for 30 minutes.
Cut the cheeks from the mangoes close to the seed. Peel and thinly slice lengthways. Add to the berry mixture and gently stir to combine.

Traditional Shortbread:
2 cups plain flour
½ cup pure icing sugar
2 tablespoons rice flour
250g butter, cubed

Preheat oven to 160°C. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Sift plain flour, icing sugar and rice flour together into a bowl.
Using fingertips, rub in butter until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Press mixture together to form a dough.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead gently. Halve mixture. Roll or press out each half into rounds about 1cm thick. Place on prepared trays. Decorate edges by pinching. Mark out 8 equal portions on each petticoat. Prick with a fork, and if desired sprinkle with a little castor sugar. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden. Stand for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Panforte;

This delicious Italian Christmas treat can be difficult to make using many recipe. This recipes is not so difficult, and is tried and true. You need to work quickly, so have all ingredients ready to go.

1 cup roughly chopped dried figs – stalks removed
¾ cup roasted hazelnuts, skins removed (roll and rub them in a tea towel after baking)
¾ cup roasted almonds
½ cup roughly chopped dark chocolate
1 tablespoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground black pepper (optional)
finely grated rind 1 orange
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
icing sugar, to serve

Preheat oven to 150°C. Lightly spray and line base and sides of a square cake pan (20cm) with baking paper.
Combine figs, nuts, chocolate, spices and orange peel together in a bowl.
Combine sugar, honey and butter in a saucepan. Heat on medium, stirring until beginning to melt (DO NOT STIR AGAIN OR SUGAR WILL CRYSTALISE)
Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes, until a little of caramel dropped into cold water forms a soft ball when moulded between fingers.
Working quickly, pour caramel over nut mixture, mixing well. Pour into prepared cake pan. Smooth top with a spatula. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool. If mixture has not set, place in fridge.
Remove baking paper and dust surface liberally with icing sugar. Cut into small squares to serve.

Sugar Dusted Spice Biscuits
125g butter, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup golden syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1¾ cups plain flour
½ cup hazelnut meal (from supermarkets or health food stores)
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 180°C. Place the butter, brown sugar, golden syrup and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixture and beat until pale. Add the egg and beat well. Add the flour, hazelnut meal, spices and soda and beat until just combined.
Roll 2 teaspoons of the mixture into balls and place on baking trays lined with baking paper, allowing room for spreading. Bake in batches for 8 minutes or until light golden. Cool and dust with icing sugar.
Makes approx 50. Great for gift-giving if presented in a fancy jar.

Cheats Fruit Mince Tarts:
Yep, even I look for shortcuts in hot weather. Buy a packet of frozen sweet tart cases from the supermarket, some sheets of sweet shortcrust pastry, and a jar of good quality fruit mince. Blind bake the shells according to the packet directions. Spoon in the mince. Cut rounds or shapes from the pastry sheet and place on top. Brush with a little beaten egg, sprinkle with some castor sugar and bake in a 180°C oven until golden brown. Serve hot or cold.

Tim Alderman (C) 2015

  

So Can You Cook? 10

Ahh, Summer! I don’t know about you, but I love changing into salad mode, and staying there for as long as possible. When I was a youngster – like mid last century – there was only one type of lettuce – Iceberg; one type of tomato, and definitely no cherry varieties; capsicum was unheard of; cucumbers were the size of torpedoes; nobody, but nobody, ate avocado; beetroot and pineapple came in tins; and cheese came in a blue box marked “Kraft’ Cheddar.
Times have changed, and aren’t we thankful. Thanks to a climate that allows anything to be grown, and an influx of people from every corner of the globe we have the most exciting cuisine in the world. No longer is a salad just some julienned lettuce on a plate with three slices of tomato, a couple of slices of cucumber, some cold meat, diced cheddar cheese and a selection of pickled onions, gherkins and bread-and-butter cucumbers. Today we add a mix of leaves and herbs; choose from ordinary, Lebanese or Telegraph cucumbers; choose from a range of tomatoes including cherry, grape, roma, vine-ripened (a particular favourite of mine), oxblood; then add a mix of avocados, fresh asparagus, and freshly cooked baby beets; fruits such as oranges, peaches, nectarines, mangoes, strawberries, pear; nuts, sprouts and seeds; and cheeses of many persuasions. Want to dress it? Don’t reach for a bottle! Throw in some sea salt and cracked black pepper, then drizzle over some olive oil, and the juice from a lemon or lime. Or, give your tongue a thrill and make your own mayonnaise. Okay, it’s time consuming and you get a sore arm from all the whisking, but the taste and consistency is worth the effort. In our home, we eat salads about 4 nights a week during summer, so they are not allowed to get boring
In this column, we are venturing into the exciting world of lettuce and its relatives. We still have our every faithful Iceberg, but added to the list now are mignonette, butter, red or green coral, rocket, radicchio, lamb’s tongue, curly endive, watercress, cos and baby cos, red or green oak, romaine, chicory, witlof, and exciting mixes like Mesclun. We can also throw baby beetroot and baby spinach leaves into the mix. How we use them is open to wide interpretation, and below are just a few ideas. It’s summer, so we are using a few ‘cheats’ items to the dishes.

Vegetarian Pizza with Tomato, Rocket, Radicchio & Shavings of Parmesan
Store-bought pizza base
Store-bought pizza sauce
2-3 teaspoons oregano
1 tablespoon EV olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper
100g rocket, washed & chopped (or 1 pkt Baby Rocket from supermarket)
100g radicchio leaves, washed & chopped
30g parmesan, shaved (use a vegetable peeler)

Preheat oven to 230°C
Smear pizza base generously with tomato paste, then sprinkle over oregano, olive oil, sea salt and pepper.
Place on oven tray and bake for 8-10 minutes until a bit crispy. Remove from oven and sprinkle over rocket, radicchio, and finish with parmesan shavings. Serve immediately with crispy bread and a side-salad.
Serves 2 as a main, or 4 as an entree

Tim’s Caesar Salad
1 half-size bread stick
1/3 cup Olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 baby cos, or half a regular cos lettuce
8 slices mild or spicy pancetta, depending on taste
½ barbequed chicken
1 avocado
Shaved parmesan – to taste (you can purchase packets of ready-shaved parmesan from cheese section of supermarket)
¾ cup ‘Paul Newmans’ Classic Caesar Dressing
1 or 2 hard boiled eggs, shelled and quartered
2-4 anchovy fillets – optional. Personally, I hate them used other than as a seasoning

To make your own dressing – blend or process 1 egg, 1 clove garlic, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and 6 drained anchovy fillets. With the motor running, add ¾ cup olive oil in a slow, steady stream until dressing thickens.

Crush the garlic into the 1/3 cup olive oil. Slice the bread stick into 1cm thick slices. Brush with the garlic and oil, then place in a 200°C oven for 8-10 minutes until brown and crispy. Fry the pancetta in a dry fry pan until crispy, then drain and crumble. Wash and spin the cos and tear into largish pieces. Remove the chicken from the bones, and shred finely. Slice the avocado into medium slices.
Place lettuce, chicken, pancetta, avocado and croutons into a salad bowl and toss. Add dressing and combine. Top with parmesan and decorate with hard-boiled eggs. Add anchovies if using.
Serves 4

Green Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
150g baby cos lettuce
150g small butter lettuce
50g watercress
100g rocket
1 tablespoon finely chopped French shallots
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped basil
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
25ml lemon oil (if you can’t find it, soak some lemon rind in olive oil for 1-2 days, or omit)
75ml olive oil

Trim, wash and spin lettuce leaves. Pinch or trim stalks from watercress and rocket. Wash and spin.
To make dressing, whisk the shallots, mustard, sugar, basil, lemon zest, lemon juice and vinegar in a bowl until well blended. Slowly add the combined oils in a thin stream, whisking constantly until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper.
Combine lettuces, watercress and rocket in a bowl, drizzle over dressing and toss.
Serves 4

Pear & Walnut Salad with Lime Vinaigrette
1 small baguette, cut into 16 thin slices
oil, for brushing
1 garlic clove, cut in half
1 cup walnuts
200g ricotta cheese
400g mixed salad leaves
2 pears, cut into 2cm cubes, mixed with 2 tablespoons lime juice

¼ cup lime juice
3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar, or white wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush baguette slices with a little oil, then rub with cut garlic, place on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes until crisp and golden. Place the walnuts on a baking tray and roast for 5-8 minutes, until lightly browned. Shake the tray occasionally to roast evenly, then remove and cool.

To make a lime vinaigrette, whisk together ¼ cup lime juice with 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar (use white wine if unable to get raspberry), 3 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper.

Spread some of the ricotta cheese on each crouton, then cook under a hot grill for 2-3 minutes, or until hot.
Place the mixed salad greens, pears and walnuts in a bowl, add the vinaigrette and toss. Serve with ricotta cheese croutons.
Serves 4

Tim Alderman 2015

  

So Can You Cook? 8

In this spring column, I am taking you on a journey with two of my all-time favourite things – desserts and blood oranges. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am a dedicated dessertie (the dessert version of a foodie – of which I’m also one), and will forgo entrees and main courses in restaurants if it means I can have a kick arse dessert. It is the ultimate ending to a meal as far as I’m concerned. I have hundreds of recipes for them, and even though I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that I will never get through them all, not even in several lifetimes, I continue to collect and drool over them. When I have friends over for dinner, dessert is decided before the meal plan even begins. If this sounds a bit obsessive to you, you’re right. It is, and I have no feelings of guilt connected to this obsession. I excelled in them at TAFE, and if I were young enough to get an apprenticeship in the hospitality industry, it would be with patisserie. As for blood oranges, I wait anxiously for the first of them to appear at the beginning of spring. Their glorious colour, and sweet tartness make them perfect for salads and desserts. If you visit Europe, especially France, and order orange juice for breakfast, it is more than likely to be blood orange juice you get.
I am approaching the recipes in this column differently than usual. I am going to give you one basic dessert recipe – a blood orange jelly. This is incredibly simple to make, and will impress your guests a lot more than any packet jelly will. I am going to give you a range of accompaniments to go with it to make it a contemporary summer dessert. Don’t forget your presentation. I hope you have fun with it.
If any readers would like recipes for any occasion, help with cooking, information on
ingredients or assistance with planning function, please feel free to email me at tjalderman@ihug.com.au . I am only too pleased to help.

Blood Orange Jelly
500ml (2 cups) strained blood orange juice – about 5-6 blood oranges
250ml sugar syrup (½ cup sugar to ½ cup water, then boil 5 minutes)
2 tablespoons grated blood orange zest (Grate before squeezing)
4-5 leaves gelatine (these set better than powder gelatine, and are available from places like ‘Essential Ingredient’, ‘Jones the Grocer’ and Simon Johnson Providore’. If it is too difficult to obtain, use 1-1½ sachets of powdered gelatine)

Juice oranges and strain. Mix zest with warm sugar syrup, leave aside. Alternatively, boil zest with sugar syrup with a more intense orange flavour. Soak gelatine in one cup of the juice (or soak powder in 3-4 tablespoons cold water) for 5 minutes. Heat juice to dissolve gelatine, or mix powdered gelatine with one cup of juice and slowly heat till dissolved. Mix all liquids together, strain, then pour into 6 dariole moulds or other moulds you wish to use. If you lightly oil them with vegetable oil (this has no flavour), they will slip out easier when set. Chill for 4-5 hours to set, or overnight. If moulds are unoiled, or jellies do not slip out of moulds when inverted on a plate, dip the mould in hot water for 20-30 seconds to release jelly. If you need to slide them into position on a plate, rub a small amount of orange juice under the jelly, and slide it CAREFULLY into position. Otherwise, be creative and work around it.

Blood oranges are seasonal, so don’t feel restricted to just using them for jelly. If you have a food processor or juice extractor, try this recipe with apples, lemons, oranges, limes, pineapple, berries, mango or grapes. Just remember to strain the pulp out of the mix.

Accompaniments
TUILES: These are delicious, brittle wafers. Sift 50g plain flour, 65g caster sugar, 35g icing sugar into a bowl and make a well. Slowly add 125g eggwhites (2-3 whites. Weigh them), and incorporate with your hands, making sure there are no lumps. Add 65g melted butter, and chill mix for 1 hour. Place a sheet of baking paper on a tray, then lightly spray with cooking spray. Spread mix onto paper in round or square shapes. Allow 1 per person, and don’t be anal about shape. Bake in 150°C oven until a light golden brown all over. Peel off, cool slightly, then shape. Until they are cold, these are quite malleable. You can shape them into cups by draping over the outside of a cup or glass, fold into loose envelopes to insert chocolate wafers into, scrunch them, twist them, or do free-form designs.
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ROASTED STRAWBERRIES: How delicious are these! Preheat oven to 160°C. Arrange 2 punnets of washed and hulled strawberries in an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons vanilla essence and 2 tablespoons caster sugar. Place in oven for 8-10 minutes, until berries are soft and juicy. Cool in dish.

TOFFEE APPLES: Peel and core 4 Granny Smith apples, then cut each into eighths. In a bowl, combine 3 tablespoons caster sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons water, then dip apples wedges into it. Tip them into a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat and let them caramelise and brown. Turn each of the apple pieces as they start to caramelise, and take them out of pan when they are cooked on both sides.

ORANGE MASCARPONE: Beat 2 eggwhites until they are stiff, then set aside. Beat the two yolks with 2 tablespoons caster sugar and 1 tablespoon grated orange rind. When light and creamy, gently whisk in 250g mascarpone cheese (from dairy section in supermarket) and 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or a teaspoon of orange blossom water (from health food stores, specialty stores, or ‘Herbies’ at Rozelle). Fold the eggwhites through the mascarpone mix and chill for 1 hour.

POMEGRANATE & FIG SALAD: Finely slice 3 green figs and 1 guava and place in a bowl with segments from 1 orange (use a blood orange for effect). Slice a pomegranate in half and scoop out the seeds into the bowl. Squeeze remaining juice from pomegranate over fruit and serve.

CANDIED ORANGE WEDGES: You can eat the skin and all on these delicious morsels. These are for genuine sweet-tooths. They will keep in their syrup for about a month. Cut 3 blood oranges and 1 naval orange into eighths. Heat 4 cups caster sugar and 2 cups water over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase the heat, add the wedges, then simmer, stirring regularly, for 30 minutes or until transparent. Remove from heat, then stand the wedges in the strup for 4-6 hours, or overnight. If you wish, add a cinnamon quill and 2 star anise to the syrup when cooking.
Garnish with a chiffonnade (very fine julienne) of basil leaves.

RASPBERRY SAUCE: Place 300g fresh raspberries (use frozen if out of season or expensive), 50ml orange juice, 3 tablespoons icing sugar and 2 tablespoons orange liqueur (buy miniatures from a bottle shop – they are relatively inexpensive) into a blender and blitz until smooth. Put through a sieve and refrigerate. Spoon around the jelly and garnish with fresh raspberries and a sprig of mint.

SPUN SUGAR: This is for the more advanced, or more adventurous chefs. People will tell you this is difficult to do, but it just requires good timing and patience. Be prepared to waste or burn 2-3 sugar mixes before you get it right. This is the one thing where a sugar thermometer is a must. The effect of spun sugar is fantastic, and will make you look like a real pro. To do it properly, buy a cheap whisk from a $2 shop, and cut the curved bottoms out of the whisk blades to leave you with a bunch of metal sticks. This is easier to use than forks.
Bring 250g caster sugar and 225g water to a simmer in a heavy-based saucepan. If you want a kitsch effect, put some food colouring into it. Brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush during simmering, to prevent sugar crystals forming. DO NOT STIR THE SUGAR, as it will crystallise and become hard. Place your sugar thermometer in the syrup, and cook until it shows 155°C (known as the hard crack stage). IMMEDIATELY remove the saucepan from the heat and plunge the pan into cold water to halt the cooking. If you don’t do this, it will continue to cook after you remove it from the heat, and probably burn. Place pan on a board, and wait until it starts to form a thick toffee. Dip the whisk into the syrup and flick the whisk back and forth over a broom handle, rolling pin or an upturned, lightly vegetable oiled cup (to form a toffee cage). For the fork method, place 2 forks back to back, dip them in the syrup then lift and pull coated forks apart, then twist. Continue until you have enough. WORK QUICKLY. If you are using strands, gather them in your hand and mould them to shape. If using the cage, place it over the jelly.

Use all these in any combination to make your jelly a real success.

Tim Alderman 2015

  

So Can You Cook? 7

About 18-months ago, a group of our friends started what has come to be known as ‘The Brunch Club’. Every couple of months somebody in the group volunteers their yard – the hope is always for good weather – on a Saturday or Sunday. The rest of us put together a plate of something and turn up at around 11.00am for brunch. It is always a great time, and brunch often extends to the early evening. These brunches are that important time where everyone relaxes, and catches up on what everyone else has been doing. It is important for our group, because with some of them living a distance away, and others having the responsibility of children, we tend not to spend a lot of time together. Our friends always manage to surprise me with the creativity they display in their choice of food for these occasions. I include below some recipes that you may find useful should you choose to do the same thing with a group of your friends. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Don’t forget to gather together a varied selection of fruit, fresh, sweet and savoury dishes. Start with a champagne cocktail, then if everyone turn up with a couple of bottles of wine, a long day is guaranteed.

Carrot and Apple Cider Cocktail (an appetite stimulant)
2 medium carrots, chilled and chopped
¾ cup sparkling apple cider, chilled
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint
ice cubes

Process carrots through juice extractor then combine with other ingredients. Pour over ice.

Lebanese Pancakes stuffed with ricotta
20g fresh or 7g dried yeast
1 teaspoon caster sugar
125ml + extra 500ml lukewarm water
250g plain flour, sifted

FILLING: 300g ricotta mixed with 250g walnuts finely chopped and mixed with 2 tablespoons caster sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon or, alternatively, 1-2 teaspoons rosewater or orange blossom water, or 1 tablespoon honey.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Dissolve yeast with sugar in 125ml wwater and stand for 10 minutes until bubbles form. Add mixture to flour in a large bowl, then gradually add extra 500ml warm water. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for about 1 hour. The batter should bubble and rise. Heat a heavy-based frypan, and when hot smear with oil (vegetable is best, as it doesn’t flavour). Reduce heat to medium and add a small ladleful of batter to about 8cm (4”) diameter. Fill the uncooked side with a spoonful of the ricotta mixture, then fold into a semi-circle and press edges to seal. Brush with a little vegetable oil or ghee (from butter section of supermarket), then bake in oven until golden. Dip in attar syrup (500g caster sugar, 300g water & 2 tablespoons lemon juice boiled for 7-10 minutes until syrupy, then cool and add 2 tablespoons rosewater or orange blossom water). Serve with your favourite preserve and some slivered or flaked almonds, and dust with icing sugar.
Approx cost $5.00 for the batch. Makes 20-24

Carrot and Orange Salad with Craisins
Craisins are dried cranberries, which are available from the dried fruit section at the super market
4 medium carrots
4 oranges
3-4 tablespoons Craisins, soaked overnight in your favourite fruit juice
good pinch salt
pinch pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Peel thin slices of carrot using your vegetable peeler. Remove skin and pith from oranges and slice into rounds. Mix and refrigerate ingredients to develop flavours.
Arrange orange rounds into a neat mound on the plate, reserving 1-2 rounds. Arrange carrot strips on top, reserving 1-2. Place reserve orange slices, then reserved carrot slices, then sprinkle over Craisins and oil remaining in dish.
Serves 4-6
Approx cost $6

Stuffed and Pickled Baby Aubergines (make 4-5 days ahead)
350ml white balsamic vinegar (from supermarket)
125ml extra-virgin olive oil
4 whole cloves
1teaspoon salt
1 star anise
pinch cayenne pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
12-18 baby aubergines (eggplants), between 5-8cm long (3”-4”)

Trim stalks from aubergines and simmer in boiling water for 4 minutes. Drain overnight so water leeches out.
Make brine by mixing vinegar, oil, cloves, salt, cayenne, star anise and single garlic clove. Set aside. Make stuffing by mixing walnuts and 2 cloves garlic.
Split one side of each aubergine almost through to the skin on the other side. Press open and fill with walnut suffing. Layer in a plastic or glass container and pour over brine. Seal and refrigerate for 4-5 days.
To serve, remove from oil and drain. Serve as an appetiser or as part of a mezze platter.
Makes 12-18
Approx cost $5

Tim Alderman 2015

  

So Can You Cook? 6

When I was growing up through the 50’s & 60’s, one thing that was always ritualised was tea drinking. Despite not having the enormous varieties of teas available today, my mother was always very fussy about what brand of tea she used. The rituals involved how the tea was made, and how you went about drinking it. There was an everyday tea-set, and a tea-set that was only brought out when guests were expected. There was also very specific items cooked to go with it, and it was always served at a particular time of the morning and afternoon.
I was wandering through the new Myers at Bondi Junction recently, and in their homewares department, noticed that a whole section had been devoted to coffee – machines of all descriptions and prices, espresso, latte and cappuccino cups and mugs, and blends of coffee. It reminded me of the tea rituals of my youth, and I was pleased to think that in some way, these rituals had been passed down. Coffee is still a very expensive luxury, and indeed worthy of ritualising. I very stupidly stopped drinking it a number of years ago, thinking it bad for my health. It is something I am glad I had a rethink on, and now enjoy one or two cups a day, made using my machine, or my caffetteria. I include my chocolate truffle recipe in this issue, for those who enjoy the indulgence of chocolate (and port) with their coffee.

PROVENCALE VEGETABLE TART with MARINATED FETTA
For Tomato relish:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves crushed garlic
4-6 roma tomatoes, skinned and deseeded
pinch chilli flakes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme
salt & pepper
Heat oil in heavy pan and sauté onion and garlic till pale gold. Add chopped tomatoes, chilli, paste, bay, thyme and salt & pepper. Cook over low heat till thick, about 20 minutes. Remove bay and thyme. Cool.
For Vegetables:
2 medium zucchini, finely sliced
2 baby aubergine, finely sliced
1 red capsicum, deseeded and cut into strips
1 Spanish onion, cut into 8 wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper
Brush vegetables with oil, season, then grill or barbeque until just tender. To make sure onion retains its shape, DO NOT cut off base, or alternatively secure each wedge with a toothpick. Remove toothpick before adding to tarts.
For Tarts:
4 x 12cm discs of puff pastry, kept chilled (buy puff pastry from supermarket)
1 egg yolk
200g soft fetta eg Persian
4 sprigs fresh continental parsley (also called flat-leaf)
Make an incision 1cm in from edge of pastry disc. Prick inner circle with fork. Brush with egg yolk. Spread 1-2 tablespoon relish over the inner circle of each disc, ensuring the border is left free. Divide the vegetables amongst the cases, again leaving edge free. Bake at 220°C for 15 minutes, or until pastry is risen and golden. Remove from oven, place 2 tablespoons fetta on top of each tart and garnish with a sprig of parsley. Transfer to serving plates, and if you have it, drizzle with some herb or garlic oil. Serve with Citrus, Avocade and Potato Salad.
Serves 4
Approx cost $4.20 per serve

CITRUS, AVOCADO & POTATO SALAD
450g Kipfler potatoes (or substitute for whatever is available)
sea salt & cracked black pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
drizzle of olive oil
1 ruby or yellow grapefruit
1 ripe avocado
2 handfuls baby rocket, or salad blend, washed
Scrub and halve potatoes, sprinkle with salt and steam until tender. Remove from saucepan and toss in a bowl with garlic, pepper and oil. Set aside. Remove skin and white pith from grapefruit. Cut segments from between membranes with a sharp knife, and keep juice that you can squeeze from remains. Peel and quarter avocado, then cut into chunks. Either combine ingredients and pile onto plate, or layer potato, then rocket, and avocado and grapefruit. Mix remaining juice with an equal quantity of olive oil, season, then drizzle over salad.
Serves 4
Approx cost – $6.00

CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES
200ml pouring cream
350g bitter chocolate broken into small pieces
2 tablespoons brandy, other liqueur or essence (use 1-2 teaspoons if using essence)
150g dark chocolate for dipping
1 cup cocoa powder, sifted
Place cream in a heavy-based pot and bring slowly to the boil. Remove from heat, and stir in chocolate. Stir until smooth (the heat from the cream will melt the chocolate). Stir in brandy, liqueur or essence. Scrape into bowl and cool. Cover and refrigerate, until cold and set firm. Work VERY quickly to form into balls using either cool hands (keep rinsing them under cold water and drying), or a teasoon or melon baller. You should get 50-60 small balls. Don’t be anal about the shape. Refrigerate again until firm. Melt the dipping chocolate either over hot water, or at 50% in your microwave in 30-second bursts. Dip the balls quickly into melted chocolate (use a fork or long skewer to dip), then toss in cocoa to coat. Chill again, then serve with feshly brewed espresso, latte, long black or macchiato, or as part of a cheese platter with muscatels and candied orange peel.
To vary the truffles, dip some in white chocolate, chocolate sprinkles, coconut or crushed nuts. Strange as it may sound, these are also nice if rolled in finely chopped basil.
Makes 50-60
Approx cost – $9.00

Tim Alderman 2015

  

So Can You Cook? 38

Saturday is Takeaway!

nu⋅tri⋅tion  [noo-trish-uhn,
–noun
1.the act or process of nourishing or of being nourished.
2.the science or study of, or a course of study in, nutrition, esp. of humans.
3.the process by which organisms take in and utilize food material.
4.food; nutriment.
5.the pursuit of this science as an occupation or profession.
Origin:
1375–1425; late ME < LL nūtrītiōn- (s. of nūtrītiō) a feeding, equiv. to L nūtrīt(us) (ptp. of nūtrīre to feed, nourish ) + -iōn- -ion


Related forms:
nu⋅tri⋅tion⋅al, nu⋅tri⋅tion⋅ar⋅y, adjective
nu⋅tri⋅tion⋅al⋅ly, adverb

So, now that we know what nutrition is, we can cast all that aside, and make some decisions about it for ourselves. We are adults…right!

It doesn’t matter whether you watch the morning programs on tv, or the so-called current affairs programs at night, there is bound to be someone, at some stage, telling you what you should, or more often than not, should not eat. I don’t know about you, but I get a bit sick of it. Okay, I don’t eat the super diet that I supposedly should be consuming, but my diet, by and large,isn’t all that bad. I do cook my own meals 4-5 nights a week, and they do usually involve salads, meat, poultry, fish, fruit and vegetables, so they are what I consider to be reasonably balanced. I eat breakfast, I have a light lunch, and that on its own is pretty good going as far as I’m concerned. However, I refuse to be a food nazi, someone who views food as ‘just fuel for the body’, or an out and out vegetarian or vegan. I like meat, and no one with a sense of rightious superiority is going to tell me that I shouldn;t eat it. I don’t believe in diets (and aren’t there some idiotic diets out there!), nor do I believe in stupid trends like ‘detox’ diets. Anyone with half a brain knows that the kidneys and liver are there specifically to do that – detox. If they are working properly, they don’t need any help, though those making money out of the products probably don’t agree.

But what it really boils down, anda point that is often ignored, is to enjoy eating, making it a pleasure and something that can be used to help you wind down and relax. My lazy night of the week is Saturday night. I don’t cook – full-stop. It can be a pizza, or hamburgers, or fish & chips or even – heaven forbid – one of the three or four times a year when I will say “let’s do Hungry Jacks”. But we do it, and we enjoy it because we are not doing it all the time. And as for comfort foods, well they are just that, as are junk foods provided they aren’t the be all and end all of your diet. I enjoy my “Krispy Kremes”, and my potato chips and chocolate (Mmm), and during winter my hot chocolate with a couple of ‘Tim Tams’,
and nobody is going to make me feel guilty about it. I drink full-cream milk, eat full-fat cheese and have about 4-6 eggs a week (not to mention the bacon I often have it with). And it is the enjoyment aspect of it that I like to emphasise. I eat healthy meals on most occasions, and I can see absolutely nothing wrong with a treat or a comfort food being thrown in there when I feel like it. It is all about balance, and not feeling guilty about having a little extra something here or there.

So, the following recipes are for for the 4-5 nights a week when we do eat healthy, nutitious meals – what we do the rest of the time is nobodies business…so enjoy.

A couple of these are from my favourite Aussie chef Bill Grainger.

Toasted Grain & Nut Cereal:
125g unsalted butter
¾ cup honey
1½ teaspoons vanilla essence
500g rolled oats
1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup shredded coconut
¾ cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
1 cup rye flakes (try Health Food stores)
1 cup chopped, dried fruit such as sultanas, apricots or apples

Preheat oven to 170°C. Place butter, honey and essence in s small saucepan. Cook gently over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until honey and butter are combined. Place remaining ingredients, except fruit, in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Slowly stir in the butter mixture, making sure that each grain is evenly coated. Spread the cereal over a large baking tray and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the grains are crisp and very lightly browned.. Stir occasionally to stop mixture sticking to the baking dish.
Remove cereal from oven and allow to cool. Add dried fruit, and stir through evenly.
The muesli can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
MAKES 1.5 kg

Goat’s Cheese and Lentil Salad w/Roasted Beetroot
4 medium-sized beetroots
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
! Cup of Puy lentils
¼ cup diced Spanish onion
¼ cup seeded and diced tomato
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
To serve:
Mint leaves
8 asparagus spears, blanched and cooled
200g goat’s cheese
Extra-virgin olive oil, to drizzle

Preheat oven to 220°C. Place beetroot in a small baking dish and drizzle with the olive oil, salt & pepper. Cover with foil, place in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a knife. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Set aside.
Placelentils with 1½ cups water in a medium saucepan, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain.
Place warm lentils, Spanish onion, tomato, extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, salt 7 pepper in a bowl, stir and set aside.
Peel beetroots by rubbing gently with your hands (I recommend using gloves, and wear an apron) until they come off. Slice beetroot vertically into 1cm thick slices.
Stir mint & parsley through lentils.
To serve, Divide lentils amonst 4 plates, top with a few sprigs of mint and the asparagus. Slice goat’s cheese into generous slices and place on top. Add beetroot, and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.
SERVES 4

Spicy Chicken Salad with Lime:
4 Chicken breast fillets
Olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cucumber
1 cup coriander
1 cup mint leaves
1 teaspoon ground Szechuan peppercorns (spice section of supermarket)
1 tablespoon fish sauce (or to taste)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
To serve;
2 cups finely shredded iceberg lettuce
Lime wedges

Preheat oven to 200°C. Brush chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown chicken in a frying pan, then transfer to a baking dish. Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until the juice runs clear when pierced with a knife or skewer. Remove from the oven, and leave to rest for 20 minutes. Shred chicken into strips.
Slice the cucumber in half lengthways, and remove seeds using a teaspoon and discard. Slice thinly on the diagonal.
Place chicken, cucumber, coriander and mint in a large bowl. Sprinkle with Szechuan pepper, fish sauce, sesame oil, lime juice and spring onion and toss until well combined.
To serve, divide iceberg lettuce among 4 plates and pile chicken mixture on top. Serve with extra lime wedges.
SERVES 4

Fresh Tomato Pasta:
1kg vine-ripened tomatoes
1 tablespoon sea salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
300g spaghetti
1 cup lightly packed basil leaves, torn
To serve;
Parmigiano Reggiano

Score a cross in the base of each tomato. Place tomatoes in a large bowl and pour boiling water over them. Drain after 10 seconds, then peel the skin away from the cross. Halve the tomatoes, and squeeze to remove the seeds and excess juice (or use a teaspoon to scoop them out). Chop tomato flesh roughly, place in a sieve over a bowl and sprinkle with sea salt. Leave to drain for 30 minutes.
Place drained tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and zest, garlic chilli and pepper in a bowl and stir. Leave for 20 minutes for flavours to combine.
Cook the spaghetti in rapidly boiling salted water according to packet instructions, Drain well. Toss through the tomatoes with torn basil leaves and serve with freshly shaved Parmigiano Reggiano
SERVES 4.

Tim Alderman
Copyright 2014

  

So Can You Cook? 40

The End

This is my final column in the ‘So can you cook?’ series. I have been doing the column for six years now and feel it is time to draw it to a close before I start repeating what has already been done.
I have enjoyed my time with the column. I hope that in some way I have inspired people to be a bit more creative with cooking and that I have shown that you don’t need a long list of degrees to be able to produce good food. It is an art, yes! But it is also an art that is accessible to everyone and is versatile enough to be a bit complicated when you want to impress or simple enough for an everyday meal – from the charcoal sketch to the oils I guess you might say.
I also hope I have introduced some to new flavours and encouraged people to be a bit adventuresome in their approach to cuisine. The amount of produce now available in Australia is truly staggering, and it is now possible to recreate any recipe from any cuisine totally authentically.
We have certainly come a long way in the last 40 odd years! The embracing of our place in the Asian section of the Pacific has also opened up a whole world of food to us and I think that the way we have taken to Asian food from all such countries shows just how adaptable we are with absorbing the influences of other cultures. And we will no longer settle for watered down or ‘Australianised’ versions of the cuisines. We want the genuine article. Just try to get into Thai Pothong in Newtown on a Friday or Saturday night if you want to see a good example. And no suburb is now complete without a Thai and a Vietnamese restaurant.
This column has also given me a way to comment on things from a personal perspective, often not in a PC way, which I don’t apologise for. I’m afraid that you haven’t gotten rid of me with the ending of this column. I hope to continue to contribute via articles and hopefully still in my outspoken style.
I have been writing for Talkabout in one form or another for about 13 years now. I have always been a strong supporter of the magazine and whether I was or wasn’t writing for it I would still be one of its strongest advocates. I feel that the non-clinical, non-professional (or expert) and non-conformist voices in our community are entitled to an outlet and Talkabout has always provided that forum.
With the closing and sale of my business, and the cutting back of other commitments the most common thing I find I am being asked is “How are you going to fill in time?”. I will continue to research my family history, which has been ongoing for about 20 years now (and thankfully easier with the advent of the internet) and, after many years of nagging from friends and people who have heard my story through the PSB, I am finally going to put an autobiography together.
My life has been interesting (to say the least) and not without the usual dramas associated with surviving AIDS and having my roots in a dysfunctional family. I will probably take myself off to do a few more courses in writing and cooking, and I will have a bit more time to keep my home tidy and together, and get my garden back in order. One thing I can promise, I won’t be bored.
I would like to thank everyone who has read and supported my column over this time. I think that the best way to leave the column is with a bit of a bang by repeating some of my favourite recipes from the last six years. I’m desperately trying NOT to make them all chocolate…

Rich Chocolate Tart (from No 12)

Pastry
125g cold unsalted butter, chopped
1 tablespoon caster sugar
200g (1 1/3 cups) plain flour
2 tablespoons cocoa (Dutch, if you want a richer flavour)
2 egg yolks

Process butter, sugar, flour and cocoa in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add egg yolks and 1½ tablespoons iced water, and process until pastry just comes together. Form pastry into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface until 5mm thick and ease into a 3.5cm deep 24cm tart tin with removable base, trimming edge. Line pastry case with baking paper and fill with pastry weights, dried beans or rice. Place on a baking tray and bake at 180°C for 20 minutes, then remove paper and weights and bake another 5 minutes until pastry is dry. Cool.

Filling
300g dark couverture chocolate, chopped
100ml double cream
125g unsalted butter, chopped
4 eggs
100g caster sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup

Combine chocolate, cream and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir continuously until butter is melted and mixture is well combined, then remove bowl from heat and set aside. Using an electric mixer, whisk eggs, sugar and golden syrup until pale and creamy, then fold into chocolate mixture. Pour into tart shell, then bake at 150°C for 35–40 minutes or until just set. Cool tart to room temperature before serving with double cream (optional). Tart will keep, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 4 days – if it lasts that long.

Thai Beef Salad (from No 22)

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 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.

Banana Cake with Passionfruit Icing (from No 23)
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 over-ripe)
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup milk

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 and 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
1½ cups icing sugar mixture (a mix of icing sugar and cornflour)
1 teaspoon soft butter
2 tablespoons passionfruit pulp (approx)

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.

Chinese Beef and Asparagus with Oyster Sauce (from No 17)
500g lean beef fillet, thinly sliced across the grain
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
2½ tablespoons vegetable oil
200g fresh, thin asparagus cut into thirds on the diagonal
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons julienned fresh ginger (fine slice)
¼ cup chicken stock
2–3 tablespoons oyster sauce

Place beef in a glass or plastic bowl with soy sauce, sesame oil and two teaspoons of Chinese cooking wine. Cover and marinate for at least 15 minutes.
Heat a wok over high heat, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and swirl to coat the wok. Add asparagus and stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Remove from wok.
Add another tablespoon of oil and add the beef in two batches, stir frying for 20 minutes or until cooked. Remove from wok.
Add remaining oil to wok, add garlic and ginger and stir fry for 1 minute or until fragrant. Pour the stock, oyster sauce and remaining cooking wine into wok, bring to boil and boil rapidly for 1–2 minutes or until sauce is slightly reduced. Return beef and asparagus to the wok and stir fry for a further minute or until heated through and coated with the sauce.
Serve immediately with Jasmine rice.

Waldorf Salad with a Twist (from No 34)
4 Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 cup walnuts, chopped
2 cups watercress sprigs

Blue Cheese dressing
¼ cup whole-egg mayonnaise
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
Sea salt & cracked black pepper
100g soft blue cheese, chopped

To make the blue cheese dressing, place the mayonnaise, lemon juice, water, salt, pepper and blue cheese in the bowl of a small food processor and process until smooth.
Arrange the apple, celery, walnuts and watercress on serving plates and spoon over the dressing to serve.

Serves 4

Oysters with Lemon & Vodka Granita (from No 34)
½ cup caster sugar
2½ cups water
½ cup lemon juice
⅓ cup vodka
18 oysters
Lemon wedges, to serve

Place the sugar, water, lemon juice and vodka in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the granite mixture into a shallow 20cm x 30cm metal pan and place in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the granita from the freezer and use a fork to take the top off and freeze for a further hour. Repeat every hour for 3-4 hours or until set.
Grate the granita with a fork to produce snow, and fill tiny shot glasses.
Serve with the oysters and lemon wedges.

Serves 6

Tim Alderman

Copyright 2014