Saturday, 27 September 2008

Spinach pesto - easy week night dinner

Once upon a time I lived in Amsterdam for a year to get to know my Dutch family and learn the language. I was a very poor young lady struggling to pay the rent every month while I did a traineeship in a gorgeous 5-star hotel in the city. This meal was cooked often in my tiny kitchen, as it would go a long way and didn't cost a lot to make. Its very tasty and easy and quick to prepare.

So, recently when I saw a luscious green bush of spinach on special at the store I remembered this dish and needed to eat it again. It was as good as I remembered. It must have been about 10 years since I last made it, but it was like yesterday and brought back lots of memories.

You can also prepare this with frozen spinach and it works fine. Just make sure you squeeze out all the excess water before you puree.

300g spaghetti
450g frozen spinach or a large bunch fresh spinach/silverbeet
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
large handful of parmesan, freshly grated
fresh nutmeg
salt and pepper

Defrost the spinach well and squeeze out the excess water. If using fresh spinach, wash thoroughly and remove the stalks. Pop the leaves in large pot, put the lid on and cook for a few minutes, stirring once or twice to cook the spinach.

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

Put all the ingredients into a food processor and whizz until smooth. You'll need a lot of freshly grated nutmeg and salt and pepper. Taste to check the seasoning. Depending on the water content of the spinach you may need to add a spoonful of pasta water to break up the pesto. Use your instincts.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and toss through the pesto and serve with a sprinkling of parmesan on top.

Sathya-rating ****

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies

These little babies are meant to be the best chocolate chip cookies in the world according to the New York Times. Big call if you ask me. I noticed them when several bloggers were making them and decided they would be a good way to introduce a new little 9 year old who stays at our house occasionally to the kitchen.

They look good don't they? They were very but personally, the recipe took far too long (24-36 hours in the fridge) + my oven couldn't fit the cookies in one go for them to be the best ever plus I also like nuts in my chocolate cookies. Anyway, have a go, I don't know anyone who can say no to a chocolate chip cookie - yum!

2 cups minus 2 Tbsp. (240g) plain flour
1 2/3 cups (240g) bread flour
1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. coarse salt,
2 ½ sticks (1 ¼ cups; 285g) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups (285g) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (8225g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¼ pounds (570g) bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks, preferably about 60% cacao content
Sea salt, such as Maldon

Combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk well; then set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until very light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low; then add dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. (Unless you have a plastic guard that sits around the rim of the bowl, this will make a big mess at first, with flour flying everywhere. I found that carefully holding a dish towel around the top of the bowl helped a lot.) Add the chocolate chips, and mix briefly to incorporate. Press plastic wrap against the dough, and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. The dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 180°C. Remove the bowl of dough from the refrigerator, and allow it to soften slightly. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.

Using a standard-size ice cream scoop – mine holds about 3 fluid ounces, or about 1/3 cup – scoop six mounds of dough onto the baking sheet, making sure to space them evenly. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt, and bake until golden brown but still soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies onto the rack to cool a bit more.

Repeat with remaining dough.

Yield: About 24 (5-inch) cookies.

Sathya-rating ***

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Something silly

I saw this on Peabodys blog and thought it was fun.

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.

2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.

3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam Chowder in Soudough Bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted Cream Tea
38. Vodka Jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine (fine Canadian food) - YUM!
60. Carob chips - gross
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cakd
68. Haggis (It’s not that bad people)
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang Souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom Yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. 3 Michelin Star Tasting Menu
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake