Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ode to Bill

Ashley gave me my first Bill Granger cookbook. Before the rest of Kate's cookbooks arrived from her Sydney move, she had decided Bill's Open Kitchen would keep her company in the meantime. The meals she and Bill introduced me to were all so simple, clean and refreshing. From the Grilled Chicken with Chickpea Salad where sumac was introduced to me, the Mushrooms on Toast, open faced chicken sandwich, to the vietnamese chicken salad. So I ultimately blame Kate for my secret/not-so-secret obsession with mr. bill. FYI, his new cookbook, Bill Granger Every Day, just came out if you can get your hands on it in the U.S. of A. Kate, if you see it, thumb through it for me and tell me how delicious he was...hahahha...just kidding (not really kidding).

This is a great recipe I found when trying to use a can of lump crabmeat I splurged on one evening...and love at first bite. Blue Star lump crabmeat is by far my favorite canned crabmeat brand. But I couldn't find any this time. So I'm trying Phillips Lump crabmeat brand this time. A super fast food meal as long as you have the ingredients in house.

From Bills Sydney Food
Serves 2.

150g crab meat
Juice and zest of 2 limes
Juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped spring (green) onions
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
200g spaghettini
*I 1/2-ed the amount of citrus and zest because it was too much for me.

Place crab, lime and lemon juices, lime zest, garlic, parsley, spring onions, chilli, sea salt and pepper in a bowl and stir in olive oil to combine. Taste to adjust the seasoning.

Cook spaghettini in rapidly boiling salted water in a large saucepan, accoring to manufacturer's instructions. Drain well.

Toss pasta into crab mixture and serve in individual bowls.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas-kah Cookiefest

This time last year, I was in Brussels decorating a load of christmas cookies with Kate while our little munchkins napped for us that afternoon. Here's a pic of our little sweatshop last year.
Even with Nat King Cole singing in the background, it was definitely a lonelier activity this year. Just finished decorating my Hanukkah & Christmas cookies for the season. Thought I'd share them with you all since I'm too lazy these days to package them and ship them off. It's the thought that counts?? Happy Hanukkah! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Hope to see all of you sometime in the new year...that's including you, Kate!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Jer: Braised Stuffed Calamari

I've been home to cook a meal three nights since mid-November and we're leaving again early tomorrow morning on a three week voyage to Asia to spend the holidays with Pete's sister and her familly. Although I've been itching to cook (especially since its the season to be in one's kitchen) I just haven't been home long enough to do anything more than some quick pasta dishes and canned soup. What's a girl to do!

So when my good friend Julie who had me and another dear friend over for a holiday dinner last weekend I wanted to hug her when she said "Let's make the braised stuffed calamari you need to make for your cooking group!" Hooray. A fun holiday evening with friends and a chance to try this dish that I've wanted to test out in the kitchen for more than a month.

We kept the tomatoes chunky and served it like a stew. We liked the flavors and the texture very much and thought it was both different and extremely hearty on a cold winter's night. Next time I'll ask for the ink sacs as I think it would be very interesting with some of the ink pressed into the braising liquid - both from a flavor standpoint as well as from a color standpoint.

When Julie and I (and another dear friend) were in Paris a few weeks ago we had this amazing dinner at a new Basque-French restaurant in the 7th called L'Ami Jean where we had a wonderful pairing of a grilled calamari with a creamy mushroom polenta. That meal was sublime (and interestingly enough was mentioned in this month's Food & Wine) - inventive and not a tourist in sight! In fact, this nice french couple leaned over during our meal and asked us how we had heard about the restaurant as although he thinks its the best restaurant in town its so new that many Parisians don't even know about it! So in honor of that incredible meal we decided to pair the braised calamari with polenta topped with wild roasted mushrooms.

And we started this wonderful holiday feast with what must be my current favorite salad - butter lettuce with bright radishes and very strong blue cheese tossed in a simple oil and vinegar emulsion. I love both the contrast of the colors which I find very holiday-esque as well as the flavors (the ease of preparing is also a big plus!)

Happy holidays Elaine, Cath, Kate and Ashley - I'm looking forward to a 2007 filled with more adventures with you in the kitchen!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

What to do with all these Clementines

I just bought a box of clementines and didn't know what to do with them all. Cath religiously makes this Nigella Clementine cake. So she is the one that inspired me to make this recipe. Kate also made me this gorgeous orange cake that seems similar to this one. I baked them up in mini springform pans. I just drizzled some royal icing on top but I bet some dark chocolate drizzle would be so tasty! Perfect if you are looking for a citrusy holiday snack or gift even.

Nigella's Clementine Cake
4-5 clementines (about 1 pound or 375g total weight)
6 eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (225g)
2 and one-third cups ground almonds (250g)
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder

Put the clementines in a pot with some cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 2 hours. Drain and, when cool, cut each clementine in half and remove the pips. Dump the clementines - skins, pith, fruit and all - and give a quick blitz. Then tip in all the remaining ingredients and pulse to a pulp. Preheat the oven to 375F(190C). Butter and line an 8 inch springform pan.

Pour the cake mixture into the prepared pan and bake for an hour, when a skewer will come out clean; you'll probably have to cover with foil or greaseproof after about 40 minutes to stop the top burning. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, on a rack, but in the pan. When the cake's cold, you can take it out of the tin. It's better a day after it's made.

Nigella has also made this with an equal weight of oranges, and with lemons and increases the sugar to one and one-quarter cups(250g) and adds a glaze made of confectioner's sugar mixed to a paste with lemon juice and a little water.

Can't wait to see what everyone makes or eats this holiday season!