An Angel in the Kitchen is a real food and family recipe blog.
A place to be able to find our recipes again & remember how we made stuff!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Date Square

When I lived in Wellington in my student days some 30 odd years ago I used to buy this date square from a wonderful organic food place. It's still a goodie & universally loved. And it's very simple!

The date filling:
2 cups of dates
1 cup of sultanas (or just dates is fine)
Pour over 1/2 cup of boiling water & the juice of a lemon, mix together, cover & sit for several hours or over night until all the juice has been absorbed & the fruit is plump & moist.
You can also grate an apple in to the mix if you like or use any other combination of dried fruit.
300g butter........ cream together with the sugar & vanilla
1 cup brown or raw sugar
1 tsp natural vanilla essence
Then add:
3 cups rolled oats
2 cups wholemeal, spelt or mixed zentrofan type flour
Use as much of the flour as seems good at the time..you don't want it too dry or it will be crumbly.
You may need to work it all together with your hands.
Press half of the buttery mixture in to a deep slice tin, spread the date mixture evenly over the top & then crumble the remaining mix over that.
Press down firmly.

Bake at 180 degrees for 25-30 mins.
Cool in the tin.

Catherine

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ras el Hanout

Ras el Hanout: a blend of spices that has flavoured the dishes of Morocco for generations, widely regarded as the best of spice concoctions & frequently created freehand. The mix can be found at specialist shops. Vetro in Ahuriri appears to be our only stockist in Hawke's Bay or you can make your own with a small collection of spices & a mortar & pestle. Keriann of Sweet Mary told me about this lovely dish & I am so glad that she did! This was my go at making the mix.


 Here is a good basic recipe from Rowan Bishop for Ras el Hanout using powdered spices
1tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
2 tsps tumeric
2 tsps cinnamon
2 tsps ginger
1 tsp coriander
1tsp cumin
2 tbsps paprika
1 tsp ground fennel seeds
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
Mix altogether well & store in an airtight jar in a cool place.

I like to make a very simple Ras el Hanout using potatoes and my wonderful old ranzware casserole dish.
Place 1 chopped onion in a casserole dish, cook gently to soften in a little olive oil.
Add 3 or 4 diced potatoes (agria are good)
2 tbsps of Ras el Hanout spice mix.
1 tsp good salt & 1 tsp of raw sugar...sounds strange but the little bit of sugar brings out all the flavours.
1/2 or 1 can of diced tomatoes or 6/8 diced fresh ones.
1 can of water.
Simmer gently with the lid on for an hour & a half or until the sauce has thickened & the potatoes are tender. Add more water if necessary.



 this one had olives added to it towards the end of cooking & the little less tomato.
In the winter months the combination of potato & celeriac is really good. I have also been adding garlic flower heads as in the picture..lovely mild flavour, just crumble in.
 This can of tomatoes had sliced olives in it. You can also make Ras el Hanout with chicken which is very good too.

Choko is great with this dish. Serve with a delicious crusty bread.
Choko are very useful & cheap through the winter here & are often grown by Chinese market gardeners. they taste like kamo kamo &/or firm courgette. 
They are also known as cheyote, vegetable pear or a christophene etc in other parts of the world. I must just add that apparently in Aussie slang "He couldn't train a choko to grow up a dunny wall" is used to refer to a dimwitted, incompetent or incapable person! 
I also found the assurance that a choko vine would grow in your old shoe if you put a piece of fruit in there, probably while your foot was still in it! So they are easy to grow. If you have an old car, shed or ugly fence lurking around that you fancy hiding try choko!
Katie X

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Potacchio Sauce

 This has become my most favourite sauce of all time. Almost not even worth the write down it's so simple. You could even be forgiven for thinking that it is just any old pasta sauce but you would be quite wrong! This sauce is magical!
The secret ingredients: lemon zest & rosemary.
True lemons like lisbon or villa franca give the best lemony result by far in any dish, so if you can get them or grow them do.

Gently heat the zest of a lemon
 with a tbsp of finely chopped rosemary in a tbsp of good olive oil.
Add a can of tomatoes. (chopped is good or any of the variations we have here)
good salt,
lots of freshly ground black pepper & a tsp of raw sugar.
Simmer together for about 20 mins until thickened & fragrant.




You can add garlic if you like & some tomato paste gives a richer redder result, either way this sauce is divine & so useful. Try it & you'll see.
If you're really keen make the pasta too. Click here for Matt's how to.
Or here:

Katie

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fabulous Baked Apple Crumbles

Why didn't I ever think of these??...such a clever little idea that I recently came across in a New Zealand House & Garden Magazine. A cross between a traditional baked apple & the ubiquitous apple crumble & better than both!
Choose great apples to start with. As many as the number of people that are going to be eating them!
I used some of these tree ripened Granny Smiths.
Cut the top off each apple & use a melon baller to scoop out the inside until you have a fine apple bowl. Throw away the core part. I wrapped each apple in a damp paper towel & cooked them for 1.5 minute in the microwave but you could cook them for 20 mins in the oven if you prefer.
While they are busy. Prepare the filling by putting the apple balls in to a pot..no need to cut them any further, include the flesh from the top of the apple too.
add a tbsp of raw sugar
a tsp good cinnamon
and 1/2 raisins
 ( I love the big sticky ones for something like this, but you could use any of your favourite dried fruit)
Add a very small amount of water (if any) and cook until the apple is tender.
Thicken with a tsp cornflour mixed in to a little cold water.

Spoon this mixture in to the apple shells.
 To make the crumble topping:
Combine 1/2 c rolled oats, 1/2 c wholemeal flour, 1/4 to 1/2 c of raw or brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, then rub in 50 gms of softened butter.
 Top the apples with the crumble & bake for about 20 mins in a medium oven.
 Done this way the fruity, spicy flavours go right through the apple..so delicious!


The original recipe mixed the apple with blackberries...that would be another excellent alternative.
Catherine

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Brilliant Vege Dips

I came across these fabulous dips in a Dish magazine recently & rushed home to try them, with a few adjustments to suit (or perhaps because I couldn't quite remember everything)
They are really, really simple & tasty & might even sneak the odd vegetable past a child!
The green dip is utterly delicious & tastes of fresh sweet peas. It is even better the next day after the flavours develop further so make lots!
The second dip is a spicy roasted carrot & chickpea blend.
I found some early tender broad beans but I'm sure that frozen ones would do just fine.
 Cook 1 cup broad beans until just tender, around 5 minutes in a small amount of water.
Run under the cold tap to cool, drain well & then slip off the outer skins.
 Cook 1 cup baby frozen peas in a small amount of water until just tender & still bright green. Run under cold water to cool. Drain well.
 Mix together broad beans, peas, 1/2 to 1 avocado, 1 tsp good salt, ground black pepper, big squeeze of lemon juice & a drizzle of good olive oil.
 Pulse in a food processor or with a whizz stick until well combined but not super smooth.
 That's it! Eat with crunchy veges like carrots, cucumber & peppers or crostini etc. The colour is magnificent & stays that way : )

 Roasted Carrot & Chickpea Dip.
2 large carrots. I like to give the carrots a wash, prick them all over with a knife, wrap them in damp paper towels & pop them in the microwave for 4 mins each (large carrots). Unwrap, cool a little & cut in to chunks. Tip in to a frypan with a good slug of olive oil.
Add 1 tsp of ground cummin & coriander, salt & some freshly ground black pepper. Garlic if you like it. Fry until the carrots are all yummy & roasted looking. Add a drained can of chickpeas or cooked ones if you prefer. Mix altogether & fry a little longer. Tip in to a food processor & add some more olive oil & lemon juice. Pulse to combine to a chunky texture or use a whizz stick. Adjust seasoning.
These two dips can be used as a platter meal..sorry ate them before I thought to arrange them with other veges ; ) They are equally fabulous the next day & would make great picnic food too.
Carrots are so different cooked this way as a vegetable..try them sometime..even without the spices..yum!


Catherine

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

PASTA

Pasta is a delicious and inexpensive food, and making your own is a simple and enjoyable process that with a vast array of accompanying sauces will provide an ever changing variety to your menu and your diet. Beginning with just three ingredients - flour, eggs, and oil to make a simple dough, it can be an easy meal for one, a hands on evening of fun for the whole family, and will thoroughly impress guests of any age. 

Having made our own pasta for some years now, I have devised a fairly reliable ratio of about 90 grams of flour to one good organic free-range egg and one teaspoon of olive oil - per person. You'll also need extra flour for dusting both when kneading your dough and when rolling out your pasta. Using good quality eggs makes the best pasta and also gives it a lovely rich colour. As I'm most often cooking for just two I would make a dough of 4 eggs, roughly 360 grams of fine 'tipo 00' pasta flour, and about 4 teaspoons of oil. This way I have enough for two meals as the dough keeps very well in the fridge for three or four days and is then ready to roll out into which ever shape you want next time around.


Simply begin by sifting your flour into a bowl and make a well in the middle. Crack your eggs into the center along with your olive oil.


Using a fork gradually whisk the wet into the dry until it forms a rough dough. Turn this out onto a floured bench and get stuck into it with your hands and fists, kneading well for about five minutes and dusting with extra flour until it's no longer sticky but beautifully soft and elastic.


Now wrap your dough in a plastic bag and place into the fridge for at least an hour. Refrigerating the dough allows it to rest and reduces the amount it will retract when it comes to rolling.


Normally while the dough is resting is when I'll prepare the ingredients and concoct the sauce that will adorn our resulting pasta. Once your sauce is cooking take the dough from the fridge and cut into two pieces, possibly three if you've made a larger batch, and return any unneeded dough to the fridge. Again dust your bench with flour and using a rolling pin begin rolling your dough out into a large oval-ish rectangular shape. Shift your sheet of pasta around as you roll to keep it an even thickness, occasionally turning it over and keep it reasonably well floured. 


Once your sheet is roughly an even 2mm thick all over your ready to cut your pasta. There are many shapes you can experiment with from a thin spaghetti to using whole sheets for a lasagna, or little pockets filled with flavours such as a ravioli or tortellini. But I don't think you can beat a decent fettuccine or better still a wide ribbon pappardelle. If you have a pasta machine this can aid the whole rolling and cutting process, but I quite enjoy doing the process by hand and it's no more time consuming. 
To cut any size ribbon by hand take your lightly flour dusted sheet and loosely roll it up. Decide on the thickness you want and cut with a sharp knife, being careful not to squash.


Unroll each piece and place into a tidy pile of strips. Your now ready to cook. 


Unlike dry pasta that takes about 10 or 12 minutes to cook, into a pot of boiling water as salty as the Mediterranean ocean this fresh pasta will only take two to three minutes. So once your water is boiling and your sauce is ready to serve, bring whoever is eating to the kitchen, as pasta doesn't wait for people, people wait for pasta! 


Gently place your pasta into the boiling water and quickly place the lid back on to bring it back to a flowing boil. Once your pasta is Al dente, which won't take long so keep a keen eye on it, toss through your sauce, serve with a drizzle of good olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. 


Bon Appetito. 



Katie's Kindred Cook, Matt.
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