Thursday, June 30, 2011

Indian Night

Our Feed Lot dinner parties are based on a different theme each month, and while it would still be easy to choose an old favourite dish to cook - we all seem to enjoy trying something we've never cooked before.

Early in June we held Indian Night - the perfect food for a cold Toowoomba night! 

First Cambo didn't disappoint with his themed outfit, then Scotty impressed us all with his Samosa cooking...

So here's our final menu:
Entree:  Spinach & Feta Samosas, Poppadoms
Main:    Chicken Korma, Rice
Dessert:  Gulab Jamun and Rosewater, Pistachio and Cardamon ice cream

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The great Soup Off

My lovely cousin Kate and her husband Rohan live in Melbourne, and while visiting earlier this year, an annual "Soup Off" was mentioned.  This was like waving a red rag at a bull... a Soup Off!!  Kate, tell me more!  What, when, where and how does this Soup-Off work?? 

Here is what she had to say...

Rohan and I were invited to a "Soup Off" from a work colleague, we didn't really know what to expect but were advised to bring along a soup.  The soup would be judged by all in attendance, and was a bit of a laugh. The best soup won a prize!

I had a few practise runs of soups and ended up making a spicy coconut and pumpkin soup with sesame salt. There were about 6 soups at that event, not one was the same. We had to give a score out of 10 for each soup.

We won the Soup Off that year, and decided to have a 'Curry Off' the following year with our group of friends that are all made keen on curry. 
I made a goat curry and Rohan made his magnificent Sri Lankan chicken curry. We had a big score board on the wall with the team names and name of each curry, some names were tongue in cheek and that has since become a bit of a tradition too, to give your soup a good name!!!
The curry off was a great hit, but it was a lot of food, so we decided to go back to the soup off for the following year. (Turns out Rohan won the Curry Off... amazing culinary talent in my family!)
The Rules?
No dessert soups is really the only main rule.

You have to prepare your soup at home and bring in the pot to just re-heat. Any condiments you wish to serve with your soup must be semi prepared also. You have full use of the kitchen when it is your turn to serve your soup, and the oven if required for condiments.

How many soups?
There are 7 couples/individuals that have been with us from the start. The previous year's winner, and therefore host, can invite some friends.  Last year (2010) the soup off was at our place as we won the comp from the year before (2009). I invited some friends to come along as they had heard me talking about making soups for the Soup-Off.  In 2010 we had 12 couples (so therefore 12 soups).

Soup off is held yearly, generally in late July/early August. Being Victorian we have to work around the AFL games it is a big event. 

So... any recipe sharing?
After the soup off is held we can share our recipes, before the soup off there is a bit of a 'lock down' of no talking about soups!!! It has grown into a bit of a serious competition now. We generally see each other weekly at football games or the boys have a chat, but there is never talk about is top secret!

What makes a winning soup?
I made a zucchini, broccoli and blue cheese soup last year and it had some crumbled blue cheese on the top - I got a caining from some people that don't like blue cheese!! So needless to say I did not do terribly well with lasts years soup!!!
We have never had the same soup at a soup off event. Last year there was only 1 soup with meat in it, the rest were all vegetable type soups.
I do try and do a different type of soup each year, and some people just try a pot luck kind of soup and hope for the best.
Some of the soups have been:-
  • Peanut soup (a combination of peas and nuts!) not nice!!
  • Spinach soup with a touch of cumin
  • Moroccan lamb soup
  • Beetroot and apple soup
  • Prawn wanton soup
  • Roasted tomato and capsicum soup with parmesan biscuit
  • Cock-a-leekie- soup (chicken and leek)

  Winning soups?
  • Spicy Coconut and Pumpkin soup with sesame salt
  • Pea and Ham soup
  • Tomato and Red lentil soup
  • Chicken, corn and veg soup

The Prize?
The winner receives a white chefs hat and the right to hold the event the following year. They then wear the hat for the rest of the evening!!! Peter, who won last year, still likes to wear it as he was so surprised that he won!!! He will hold the soup off for 2011.

Thanks to cousin Kate for sharing the details of her "Soup Off" - hopefully we can get some recipes out of her, and a post-even report of the 2011 Soup Off - watch this space!

An annual themed dinner is such an awesome idea, especially for people who are not quite ready for regular dinner-parties.  If you have an annual cook-off of some sort, let me know, we'd love to hear from you!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Guinness Pie

Main featured on Irish Night
Serves 7 hungry Feedlotters  

1.5kg good quality blade or chuck steak, trimmed of fat, cut into 3cm cubes
1 bottle (750ml ) red wine (merlot is ideal)
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs unsalted butter
3 tbs (1/4 cup) plain flour
1 onion, chopped
150g pancetta, rind removed, cut into strips
1 cup Guinness
1 whole head of garlic, unpeeled
12 eschalots, peeled
300g button mushrooms

Bouquet Garni 1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme 2 sprigs parsley
1 piece orange peel

To make the bouquet garni, gather the herbs in a bundle, enclose the woody stems with orange peel and tie together with kitchen string.
Place the diced beef and bouquet garni in a large non-metallic bowl and pour the red wine over the top.  cover with plastic wrap and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.
Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.
Heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil and half the butter in a large ovenproof casserole dish over medium heat, add the onion and carrot and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until softened.  Add the pancetta and cook for a further 2 minutes, then set aside.
Drain beef, reserving marinade, and pat dry on kitchen paper.  heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frypan over high heat and brown beef in batches.  Transfer beef to casserole with the onion mixture, sprinkle with flour and stir.
Deglaze frypan with marinade allow to bubble for 1-2 minutes, then add to casserole with the bouquet garni, stock and garlic.  Bring to the boil, cover, then cook in oven for 1 1/2 hours.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining butter and oil in a large frypan.  Add the eschalots and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until light golden.  add the mushrooms and cook for a further 2 minutes to brown.
Remove casserole from oven , stir in eschalots and mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.  Return to the oven, covered, for a further hour.  Remove bouquet garni and garlic and place beef mixture in a greased pie dish with shortcrust pastry and then cover with puff pastry.
Decorate with shamrocks made from puff pastry and bake at 170 degrees cel until golden brown.

Peach, Haloumi and Prosciutto Salad with Lime and Lychee Dressing

Favourite dish of The Cameron's... Entree for Favourites Night

24 peach slices, canned and drained
100 - 200g mesculum lettuce leaves
200g - 400g haloumi (can use uncooked fetta)
1tbs olive oil
3tbs fresh lime juice
Half a can of lychees, drained and cut into small cubes
1tbsp fresh dill chopped finely
1tsp fresh mint chopped finely
1tsp green peppercorns
4 large slices of prosciutto, grilled until crisp, cooled and crumbed

Lightly spray peach slices with oil and cook on hot griddle pan until lightly browned with pan marks. Leave to cool before adding to lettuce and cheese.
Slice haloumi into long thin slices and lightly coat in flour and spray them with a little oil and cook on the griddle pan until cooked.
Wash the lettuce and add the cooled peach slices.
Whisk oil with lime juice and stir in mint, dill, lychee pieces and peppercorns to taste.
Add cheese to the lettuce and peaches and pour over dressing and toss gently.
Sprinkle crumbed prosciutto over and serve.

Irish Soda Bread

As featured in Irish Night
To be served with Farmhouse Sausage & Vegetable Casserole

4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a loaf tin.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and margarine. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this mixture. 
Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 30 to 50 minutes.
You may continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes.