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Sitting on the fence

>> Sunday, April 29, 2007

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I admit brownie isn’t my thing. I would rather go for dark chocolate than brownie if I need a rush of chocolate in my system. Actually the thought of making brownie never occurred to me until Myriam announced a lovely event called browniebabe of the month. I thought this would be a perfect chance to indulge in some extra chocolate so my first brownie was “born”.

Although I have never made brownie before, I know good brownie must start with the best possible ingredients. I love the local brand Koko Black so I continue to use their cocoa powder and 60% dark chocolate in baking. If you have a chance to visit Melbourne, do check out Koko Black’s hot chocolate. It is really lovely.

Now, time to choose a good recipe. It is a hard job since there are many brownie recipes available. I, however, decided to stick to the “on-the-fence brownie” recipe from Baker’s Companion. This recipe promises a brownie that is “fudgy” but still rises nicely as “cakey” brownie.

My brownie turns out well but it is not as fudgy as the illustrated photo. I guess I can’t really sit on the fence. I like cakey brownie and it automatically transfers to the end product since I baked it a bit longer than suggested. But I get what I want – a brownie that is packed with real chocolate. One thing I am really happy with is the nice top crust on the brownie. The trick is to heat and dissolve melted butter with sugar twice. Don't you love little tips like this in recipes? I do since it really helps to improve my baking experiences .

This brownie is packed with my favourite chocolate and I love it. Next time I may try to add some nuts to see how it goes.

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On-the-Fence Brownies

Recipe from the Baker’s Companion

Yield: 24 x 2-inch brownies

Ingredients

1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter

2 cup sugar

1 ¼ cup cocoa powder*

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbp vanilla extract

4 large eggs

1 ½ cup plain flour*

1 cup chocolate pieces (I used 60% solid variety)

Method

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch pan.

Melt butter over medium heat, take out and stir in sugar. Return the mixture to the heat briefly just until it is hot.

Stir in cocoa, salt, baking powder and cocoa.

Whisk in eggs, stirring until smooth. Add flour & chocolate pieces and stir until smooth. Spoon into prepared pan.

Bake for 28-30 mins for a super-moist brownie and longer for a cakey brownie.

(*) I used Koko Black (an Australian brand) cocoa powder. You can use any Dutch-process cocoa.
(*) This recipe is from King Athur's
publication so they recommend King Athur unbleached all-purpose flour, which is unavailable in Australia. I used Australian White Whing's plain flour and it works fine.

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Novice’s sourdough bread

>> Friday, April 27, 2007

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I know my first ever sourdough bread does have a funny shape. One part of the bread was puffed up during the baking process, most likely because my oven was too hot. But I am still very happy with the end result. After a week of nervously making my own leaven, finally I managed to make it! I am excited with crust and crumb! I wish the holes in my bread distributed a bit more evenly and my slashing skill was better… But hopefully with more practice I can achieve that one day.

This bread has everything I love about sourdough. If you like the Asian cottony soft white bread, this is not for you. This loaf is dense and rustic. With the combination of leaven, three different types of flours and a slow, very slow fermentation, the result is an earthy, nutty and sour flavor from the crust to the crumb… Dipping it in the best extra virgin olive oil you can lay your hand on and the taste is just brilliant. Nothing beats freshly baked bread, don’t you agree?

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Now let me calm down and tell you about my sourdough affair. It all started with one brilliant book, The Handmade Loaf, by Dan Lepard. Dan is a fantastic and enthusiastic baker, and this book is outstanding. The book is the work of passion (for bread making of course). If you are passionate about bread making, may I suggest you not to miss it? A word of warning though. Most of the breads require you to build and keep a leaven. But with Dan’s clear instructions and his own photographs of making leaven step-by-step, it is not an impossible job. Dan Lepard also runs a website and forum which he actively participates to answer questions from members. A lot of ideas and recipes are shared there, so do check it out if you love bread. (I am scheduling to make this soon :P)

Now, back to my bread which is essential Dan Lepard’s The Mill Loaf. I changed the schedule a bit by putting the dough (after mixing) into the fridge overnight. Not sure if it really helps with the texture and the taste, but I have heard from others that this action is good for sourdough. This bread requires slow fermentation, which takes the whole day.

Dan’s leaven recipe and other instructions can be found here (this is a firm leaven). And here is the recipe and my schedule for it… Note Dan’s method of not kneading the dough extensively at the start like conventional recipe.

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The Mill Loaf

Slightly adapted from Dan Lepard's recipe. I halved the recipe and make one loaf.

Ingredients

500g white leaven

550g water at 20C

600g white flour

300g wholemeal/whole-wheat flour

100g rye flour

2 ½ tsp fine sea salt

Method

The night before: mixing the leaven with water. Add flour and salt. Mix together. Leave for 10-15 mins. Knead for 10-15 sec. Shape into a bowl, cover and leave in the fridge overnight.

The next day

Take the dough out, leave on kitchen bench for 30 mins.

  1. Knead the dough for 10-15 sec on a lightly oil surface. Cover & leave for 10 mins.
  2. Knead the dough for 10-15 sec on a lightly oil surface. Cover & leave for 30 mins.
  3. Knead the dough for 10-15 sec on a lightly oil surface. Cover & leave for 60 mins.
  4. Knead the dough for 10-15 sec on a lightly oil surface. Cover & leave for 60 mins.

That’s all for the kneading! Now, divide the dough into two and shape into two balls. Cover and let the dough relax for 10 mins. Then, shape the dough into a baton (click link for a very informative post on shaping). Place the dough seam-side-up on a floured cloth. Fold and pull the cloth up the sides of the load. Cover with a cloth and leave at room temperature (20C) until almost doubled in height – about 4 hours. Mine took about 6 hours, but it was a very cold day.

Preheat oven to 220C/425F. Put the baking stone in at least 30 mins before baking. Dust it with semolina. Upturn the loaf and cut two slash across it. Spray the top of the loaf with water. Carefully transfer it onto the baking stone. Bake for 50-70 mins. Cool before slicing.

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Mini seashell pastry

>> Wednesday, April 25, 2007

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I first saw the scrumptious sfogliatella over at my friend Gattina’s blog. She did such an incredible job that I was totally speechless. The pastry looked beautiful and was described as having crunchy crust with creamy filling. Everything about it was irresistible and I knew I just had to try it one day.

And I finally made and tried it. It was a time-consuming job, but these pastries worth every single moment spent. The thin pastry layers were absolutely crunchy, and the filling was beautifully creamy and fragrant.

Sfogliatella was originated from 16th century in Naples. According to this website, although its English name is Lobster Tail, the literal translation should be “unfold that leaf”. But with my novice hands, these pastries shape turn out quite differently. Perhaps it is because I decided to make the mini version to avoid overeating? Or perhaps the picture I had in mind when shaping these was of seashell shape rather than lobster tail? Anyway, I have decided to call mine seashell, which is more suitable to the final products that I got…

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The recipe I followed is from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook, a new addition to my fast growing cookbook collection. I halved the recipe and made mini versions of the pastries so I could eat two or three at once without feeling too much guilt. My mini pastries were about 1/3 to 1/2 of the size shown in the book or on Gattina’s blog…

As Gattina described, you need to roll the dough very thin using a pasta machine. For the filling, fresh ricotta and other ingredients are required. I have googled this recipe, which was quite similar to Martha’s. Remember rolling the dough is so much easier with a pasta machine….

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Southern Glorious Herb

>> Saturday, April 21, 2007


Although I was born and mainly lived in Northern Vietnam, I did spend some short time in the South. The southern atmosphere is very different to what I used to in Hanoi. It is more crowded and energetic. I’ve never spent quite enough time there to truly understand and appreciate southern culture. But the short period is quite enough to develop a belonging sense and love for the area and its people.

I of course love southern Vietnamese food. Vietnamese cuisine is famous for its fresh herbs and you can find most of its glory in southern cuisine. We in the north have cold winter and generally harder climate conditions, but the south is full of sun, heat and humidity. Tropical fruits, vegetables and herbs are abundant all year round. And its cuisine reflects the blend of different cultures – the Viet, the Chinese, the Cham etc.

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Today the herb featured is very southern – rice paddy herb (ngo om). This herb is found mostly in southern Vietnam. It has a very pleasant fragrance – the blend of light circus, gentle cumin and some faint sweet basil. Rice paddy herb is so lovely that it can be enjoyed by almost everyone.

Rice paddy herb is most famous in southern most popular dish – sweet and sour freshwater fish soup. Although the versions of this soup can be found everywhere in Vietnam, I think the southern version is the most glorious. Not only because the fish used (a flathead type) is excellent but also because of rice paddy herb. Of course the herb can also used in salad, stir-fry and as garnish for varieties of dishes.

I use rice paddy herb quite often like in this chunky meat and taro soup. It is inspired by a southern dish that used grated purple yam and rice paddy herb. The herb provides a sweet aroma to the smooth and silky soup. I like to eat it alone, but others may want to serve it over rice. No recipe is needed for this very easy soup. Simply use your normal recipe for a chunky potato soup and substitute potatoes with taro. Taro goes well with meat so use cubed beef or pork if you like. Cook as normal. Just before serving, add some coarsely chopped rice paddy herb to the pot. The hearty and aromatic soup is then ready for you to enjoy!

This is my post for Weekend Herb Blogging. Founded by Kalyn, this week edition is hosted by Sher of What did you eat. Both Kalyn and Sher’s blogs are excellent so don’t miss them out!

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The Daily Bread

>> Friday, April 20, 2007

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I occasionally bake breads when time permits. But looking back, whole-wheat breads have never in my to-do-list. But things changed when I picked up the excellent book The Village Baker. Reading the book from cover to cover, I decide to try out different types of flours and techniques. The first bread I chose is very simple whole-wheat loaf that we now see.

This bread turns out lovely although I know my techniques must be improved greatly. I don’t remember enjoying any whole-wheat loaf this much. It has an enjoyable depth of flavor. And knowing that it is healthy is another bonus. The loaf makes great toast, with a generous amount of good butter and some not-too-sweet jam. Oh, don't forget the vegiemite if you are in Australia! That’s all I need for a good breakfast to start my day.

I am currently very interested in bread-making, so don’t be surprised if bread is something you see more often here :D.

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Whole-wheat Bread

Recipe from The Village Baker

Ingredients (enough for 1 loaf measured 9x5 inch)

The sponge

1 tablespoon active dried yeast

1 cup warm water

¼ cup honey

1/6 cup corn oil

½ tablespoon powder milk

1 cup whole-wheat (whole-meal) flour

The dough

All sponge form the previous step

½ tablespoon salt

½ cup water * - please pay attention in the recipe

2 cups whole-wheat (whole-meal) flour

Glaze (optional) 1 whole egg whisked with 3 tablespoons of cold milk

Method

To make the sponge: Proof the yeast with 1 cup of warm water. When it is creamy, add the rest of the water, honey and oil. Combine milk powder with the flour then add slowly to the yeast mixture, mixing with a wooden spoon. Mix for a few mins until everything is well incorporated. Cover; let it rise until triples in volume, about 2 hours (depending on temperature).

To make the dough: Stir down the starter and sprinkle salt on top of it. Stir the water into the sponge (use cold water if the sponge is warm in summer; use warm water if the sponge is cold in winter). Add handfuls of flour until the dough comes together, reverse a few handful for kneading.

Knead the dough for 5-8 mins, using the rest of the flour to prevent it from sticking.

Let the dough rise, cover, in a bowl until doubled in size.

Take the dough out, punch back and flatten it. Fold it over onto itself, square the edge by pushing the dough an inch or so into the middle. Roll the dough up into a tight log, sealing each turn with the heel of your hand.

Place the loaf into the greased pan and let rise for another 30-40 mins.

Glaze the loaf then baked in the preheated oven 425F for 45-50 mins. Cool on the wire rack.

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Chicken Baked in Bread Parcel

>> Wednesday, April 18, 2007

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The current wave of Middle Eastern Food at Meeta’s blog has driven me crazy. My craving for some kebab, dips, sweets and Middle Eastern breads just goes up like a rocket. I will play truant tomorrow to visit my favorite bakery (A1) in Brunswick for great Lebanese breads and some Turkish coffee. But for now, let me challenge and entertain myself with some home made food.

I have wanted to make this particular dish for a long time. It appears in a superb cookbook called Saha by Greg & Lucy Malouf. Greg Malouf is the top Middle Eastern chef in Australia, and he has successfully brought modern Middle Eastern cuisine to Australian food fare. Anyway, the dish requires the chicken to be baked with spinach and chickpeas in mountain bread (pic above). As you see the bread is soft, thin and really delicate. I was afraid that baking chicken in it would make the bread soggy… But I was wrong. After baking, the top layer of the bread was crispy, but the part in touch with the chicken was really smooth and silky. It was incredible, I was amazed!

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This is how the dish appears at the table. The paper bag of bread and chicken is served along side with spinach and chickpea stew. You really need to get messy with your hands to enjoy the dish. Open up the paper layer (used to form the bag), then the bread, and here it is, the chicken sitting inside – moist, spicy and flavorsome…

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Chicken Baked in Bread Parcel

Adapted from recipe by Greg Malouf

Ingredients (serve 3-4)

1 package of mountain breads (mine has about 10 medium pieces)

Chicken Marinade

About 4-5 pieces of chicken thigh cut into cubes

2 cloves garlic

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp sumac (*)

Chili powder, to taste

2 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

Stew Mixture

40ml olive oil

2 onions, finelt grated

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 ½ tsp ground sumac

2 bunches of spinach leaves, blanched, squeezed and chopped

300 ml good-quality chicken stock

150g cooked chickpea (from 1 can)

Juice of ½ lemon

150g roasted pine nuts

Salt & Pepper

Extra-virgin Olive Oil

Method

Marinade the chicken for 1-2 hours.

For the stew, sauté onions & garlic with oil until soft. Add spices and stir well. Add the chopped spinach to the pan, then the chickpeas. Use a fork to slightly crush the chickpeas (I didn’t do this), then add half of the stock. Turn up the heat & boil for 5 mins, or until the stock has evaporated. Remove from the heat, add lemon juice and pine nuts. Leave to cool.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200C (400F). Cut pieces of baking paper roughly 3 cm (1¼ inch) larger than the squares of mountain bread. Lay them on the work surface and place the bread on top. Spoon a dollop of spinach mixture onto the centre of each piece of bread and place some chicken on top.

Gather the edges of the paper and bread together above the chicken and tie with kitchen string so you have a little bag. Place on a baking tray and cover with foil to stop the paper getting crisp and the string from burning. Cook for 20 mins. Carefully open one bag and check if the chicken is cooked. Cook for 10 mins more if necessary.

Meanwhile, tip the remaining spinach mixture into a pot with the remaining chicken stock. Add a splash of extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 mins on gentle heat.

Present individual parcels for each person to unwrap at the table. Serve with bowls of spinach stew.

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***

Sumac is a red spice mix that is used for its tangy taste. Available at Middle Eastern Stores.

Mountain Bread: a type of flatbread that is soft and thin like tortilla. It is available in most supermarkets in Australia under this brand name.

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The loved root

>> Sunday, April 15, 2007

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For this week Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by the lovely Haalo of Cook (anything) at least Once, I would like to feature a starchy root – taro. By saying taro, I mean the root vegetable with firm white and light purple flesh. I think they are called yam in some other places, but the most common name is Taro.

I am personally familiar with two types of taro: the large (left) and small varieties (right). The smaller round ones tend to have sweeter flavor and more delicate texture. They are, however, harder to find. The large variety is occasionally found fresh in good Asian Groceries. Otherwise, the imported frozen products should be readily available.


When searching for taro, I am amazed to find that it is widely used in many different parts of the world like Southeast Asia, South Asia, Hawaii & Fiji etc. Some taro leaves and stems are also edible but it will be the subject of another post. As a root, taro is starchy and a good source of fiber. It can be boiled, steamed or fried in both sweet and savory dishes. Taro flour (starch) and pearls are also widely used as thickening agent and in desserts.

Today I will use taro in a modern Cantonese-style preparation. The taro is steamed, mashed and flavoured with Chinese fermented bean curd. This mixture is, then, stuffed in thick eggplant slices, coated with a light chickpea flour (besan) batter and deep-fried until golden brown. The end result is a fritter with crunchy skin and smooth, melt-in-your-mouth filling. A great vegetarian entrée or finger food.

The recipe is loosely based on a dish served at Lau’s Family Kitchen in St Kilda, Melbourne. This restaurant is packed all the time and I haven’t bothered to check it out yet. But Bea was there last month and she had a good impression.

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Eggplant Stuffed with Taro

Ingredients

300g fresh taro (*)

10gm piece of Chinese fermented bean curd (*)

1 large eggplant

Corn oil, to deep-fry

Potato flour, as needed

Salt, Sugar and Pepper to taste

Batter

150g besan flour

1 tsp baking powder

250ml warm water

A pinch of sea salt

Preparation

  1. Steam and mash the taro. Mix in the Chinese fermented bean curd. Check seasoning (you may need to add a little sugar). Add some oil from the preserved bean curd so that the mixture comes together.
  2. Mix the batter ingredients together. Set aside for at least 20 mins.
  3. Halve the eggplant lengthwise. Cut each half into 2.5 cm-thick slices. Starting from the skin-side, cut through each slice horizontally, leaving 1cm attached at the bottom. Open out gently and press taro mixture in.
  4. Dust the stuffed eggplants with some potato flour then dip in the batter. Deep-fry for 5 mins or until golden.
  5. Serve immediately with your favourite Chinese sauce. I served mine with my home-made tomato pickle.

(*) You can use thawed frozen taro. However, add some potato flour to the filling mixture so that it is not too moist.

(*) Like cheese, Preserved Bean Curds vary in strength and flavor. Here is the brand I normally use and a picture of how the preserved bean curd looks like.

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Hot and Spicy

>> Friday, April 13, 2007

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I have an ultimate weakness to noodle soup. Back in my childhood, I could eat noodle soup for all meals of the day and even snack. That habit changes a bit now because there are no street food stalls (hawkers) around. But if I have a chance to visit an Asian country, I will definitely stuff myself with noodles!

My choice for noodle soup of course is bias towards Southeast Asian & Chinese cuisines. After successfully create pho, my most-loved dish, I determine to try on cooking laksa from scratch. Laksa is a wonderful dish. It has everything I love about Southeast Asian cuisine – hot, spicy, creamy and extremely fragrant. It is nice to see how Australian cuisine has embraced laksa (and pho as well). A lot of my friends would hunt down for a nice bowl of that spicy and “coconuty” noodle soup. Who can really resist its charm anyway?

My first ever attempt to cook laksa from scratch was really smooth. After all, the most important thing is to make a good spice paste. I have a pantry full of Asian ingredients so it is quite easy. And the beauty of making my own paste is the freedom to choose and adjust different ingredients to my liking. I let my imagination fly and came up with a few combinations which I would try gradually. So if laksa appears again on some fine days, you will know why.

My first laksa was made based on Charmaine Solomon’s recipe. Her recipes are excellent foundation to anyone who loves Asian food. And this laksa is no exception.

A small note about spiciness. The paste I made turned out quite mild, and I ended up using ground chili paste to spice it up. Next time I would double the amount of chili. But if you just have a start on making laksa, keep the indicated amount and adjust later. I can tolerate spicy food quite a bit but cannot compete with my Singaporean or Malaysian friends. The spiciness level was adjusted to their liking, and gosh it was spicy! I was sweating all over when eating that laksa. But well, laksa is not laksa if it is not spicy!

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Singaporean-Inspired Laksa

Based on Charmaine Solomon’s recipe

Ingredients (to serve 4-5)

500g fresh king prawns

Oil (don’t use olive oil)

2 liters (8 cups) water

2 tsp salt

300g noodles (I used the combination of hokien noodles and rice vermicelli, but choose only vermicelli if you wish)

400ml coconut milk

Small bunch of laksa leaves (Vietnamese mint)

2 fresh lime leaves

8 squared deep-fried bean curds (available from Asian stores)

1 block of fried fish cake, sliced (available from Asian stores)

150g bean sprouts, trimmed and rinsed

3 hard-boiled eggs, halved

Laksa Paste

6 dried bird-eye chili – soaked with hot water until soft

2 small bird-eye chili

10 purple shallots, peeled

5 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

5 candle nuts, roughly chopped (can be substituted with macadamia)

2 stems of lemongrass, thinly sliced (white part only)

3 tablespoons dried shrimps – soaked with hot water until soft

2 tablespoons chopped fresh galangal (or used the one in brine)

1 teaspoon belacan (Malaysian Shrimp Paste)

1 handful of coriander roots, cleaned

1 tsp ground turmeric

A generous pinch of coriander powder

Method

  1. Stock: Shell the prawns, leave the tail on. Stir-fry the heads & shells with 1 tbp oil until pink. Add the water, some salt and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 mins. Strain the stocks and discard the shells & heads.
  2. Paste: Put all ingredients in a food processor and puree. Add oil as needed to facilitate the process.
  3. Heat 3 tbsp oil in a large saucepan/wok, fry the paste, stirring constantly. When the oil separates from the mass, add the strained prawn stock. Simmer for 20 mins.
  4. Prepare the noodles according to package direction.
  5. Bring the soup to simmering point. Add coconut milk & lime leaves, lower the heat and simmer gently. Stir in the prawn meat. When the prawns turn pink, remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm.
  6. Keep the stock simmering; prepare the noodle in serving bowls. Warm the noodles & the bowl up by pour some hot stock into the bowl, then, carefully return the stock into the pan. Bring to simmer point again. Check seasoning.
  7. Garnish each bowl with shredded laksa leaves, bean sprout, eggs, prawns and fried bean curds. Ladle the hot stock over. Serve immediately with some extra chili sauce on the side if desired.

***

This dish is my entry to Presto Pasta Night, hosted by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast. Please hop over to her blog for the round up on Friday.

Presto Pasta Night

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Weekend Herb Blogging # 77 - The Round Up

>> Tuesday, April 10, 2007

First of all, I hope you all have had a wonderful Easter break. And thanks to your concerns, I have fully recovered from the cold.

Without any further delay, I am proudly presenting you the recap of Weekend Herb Blogging #79. With 39 entries from all over the world, we are really celebrating the common love for herbs and food!

Chicken Salad with Apple and Chives

Katerina of Daily Unadventures in Cooking

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Our first entry is a late addition from last week round up. We don’t want you to miss out on Katerina’s delicious salad, so it re-appears in this week recap. Using her home-grown chives, Katerina whipped up a simple yet flavoursome salad. Do visit her post to read the interesting discussion on how to make chive flavoured oil dressing.

Fenugreek Leaves and Green Peas in creamy sauce

Sushma of Sunmkiran’s Recipe Source

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Our second entry is beautiful green dish. The fresh fenugreek leaves and peas were cooked to perfection in a spiced creamy sauce. I haven’t seen fresh fenugreek leaves around, but if I have a chance to get them, this dish is definitely a must-try.

Uses for mint

Scott of Real Epicurean

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Can you imagine Scott has grown his mint for 10 years now and it is growing well? With all the mint he has in his herb garden, Scott is collecting ideas for using mint. The list has gone quite long and very interesting. Do you have any more ideas to share?

Everything Fennel

Chris of Mele Cotte, Atlanta USA

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Using the fennel bought from farmers’ market, Chris was able to cook up not one but two dishes. The first one was fennel slaw which had an amazing refreshing flavor. The second one, braised fennel, was truly a dish of comfort just by the sound of it.

Herbal Chai (Tea)

Sharmi of Neivedyam, USA

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It was a cold day in Melbourne when I received Sharmi’s entry. Her post really warmed me up with Herbal Chai, which contains spices like cardamom, ginger, fennel seeds and Tulsi (Holy Basil). Sharmi’s descriptions about the usage and medical properties of each ingredient are also very informative; you really don’t want to miss out.

Mushroom Sauce for Pasta

Joanna of Joanna’s Food

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I am a big fan of anything mushroom so Joanna’s entry is delightful to read. According to her, cooking mushrooms slowly brings out the rich earthy flavor which you can use for pasta, casserole or even on toast. With this method, even the standard supermarket mushrooms will taste delicious!

Asparagus with Simple Hollandaise Sauce

Cate of Sweetnicks

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Spring is in the air in northern hemisphere and Cate, like a lot of my fellow bloggers, is enjoying the abundant season of asparagus. Asparagus is such a lovely vegetable and there are a lot of things you can do with them. Do come over to Sweetnicks to read Cate’s experiences on matching asparagus with hollandaise sauce and some other valuable suggestions by her readers.

Rhubarb Scones

Sheela of Delectable Victuals

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Using the rhubarb from her garden, Sheela made some incredible scones which paired up beautifully with clotted cream. From her post, you also learn a lot more about rhubarb, the special vegetable.

White Bean Salad with Tuna and Parsley

Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen

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Our 9th post comes from Kalyn, the founder of WHB. I once told Kalyn that all her salad recipes are freshly delicious and I really love them. And she did it again, coming up with a flavorful salad using the classic combination of tuna, parsley, olive oil and lemon. Adding white bean and you will have a complete healthy meal!

Asparagus Pizza with Rosemary and Goat Cheese

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Shawnda of Confession of a Foodie Bride

WHB can really change the way a lot of us see herbs. We love and appreciate them more like before. Shawnda is no exception. Inspired by WHB, she planted more herbs in her garden. And from the lovely home-grown rosemary, Shawnda made a pizza that no one would want to miss. A perfect spring dishes when you have asparagus around.

A warm buckwheat and mushroom salad

Pille of Nami-nami

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I was thrilled to read Pille’s post about buckwheat groats, an ingredient that I have been hunting for a while now. With this special ingredient, Pille came up with a hearty main dish that looks and sounds delicious. You can also find a lot of useful information about buckwheat groats in her post.

Salsa Verde

Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook

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This beautiful green looking “yet devilishly hot” salsa comes from Susan. Thanks to her detailed instructions on how to deal with the two “sneaky” ingredients, tomatillo and Anaheim pepper, the rest of us can whip up something as pretty and yummy as that some day.

Nyonya Chap Chai (Brasied or Stewed Mixed Vegetables)

Tigerfish of teczcape-an escape to Food

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Tigerfish brings a hearty Nyonya vegetable stew to this week WHB. Using treasure Chinese ingredients like lily buds, shitake mushrooms and black fungus, this stew is surely tasty and exceptionally healthy. Her instructions also so specific that even a novice like me feel confident cooking the dish!

Easy New-and-Improved Chicken Broth with star anise

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I’m so happy to discover a new Vietnamese food blog through WHB! Like any Vietnamese, Hedgehog is passionate about Pho Broth (Vietnamese Noodle Soup). This week she gives us a quick and easy version of Chicken Broth that can be used for the chicken version of Pho. Spiced with star anise, an essential ingredient for Pho broth, you cannot go wrong!

Dill Mustard Sauce

Myriam of Once upon a Tart

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I first visited Myriam’s blog through last week WHB and was stunned by her lovely recipes and photos. Featuring dill as the main herb, Myriam made a tasty sauce that would be a perfect match for all your fish dishes (and perhaps other seafood dishes, too).

Smoked salmon and mango in nut-n-cheese cup

Gattina of Kitchen Unplugged

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My dear friend Gattina brings us an incredible creation that is a feast for the eyes. In a green & white nut-n-cheese cup, she matched up the pink smoke salmon with the refreshing pale yellow mango from Peru. Wanna make it for your next party? Then go over to Gattina’s blog to see how she did it!

Spiced Parnsip Soup

Smita of Smita Serves You Right

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This entry is comfortable soup for a cold night. Blending parsnip & carrot with popular Indian spices, the end result was something really satisfying. In Smitta’s words - “The soup is a delightful blend of flavors - subtle sweetness from the hearty parsnips balanced with the well-behaved coriander/cumin spice combination.”

Pork-and-Ricotta Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Sher of What did you eat?

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If you like meatballs, you really need to try Sher’s recipe out. And even if you don’t like meatballs, perhaps her delicious meatballs can change your preference. According to Sher, fennel seeds lend a mysterious anise-like taste that adds another depth of flavour to this all-time favourite dish. This recipe is a keeper!

Radish Kadhi

Asha of Aroma

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Asha enlightens me this week with her entry about red radish, something I haven’t used much. And best of all, the radishes come straight from her garden to a light soup that is surely delightful to eat. The recipe also has besan, one of my favourite ingredients, so I will try it out soon.

Sauce Gribiche

Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once

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I can’t help drooling whenever I visit Haalo’s stunning blog. This week she used chervil to make Sauce Gribiche, which was a perfect partner to the delicious crumbled King George Whiting. The recipe is from Sydney chef Matt Moran. And after seeing Haalo’s fabulous photo, I just want to jump into the kitchen and start using his cookbook straight away!

In Praise of Potatoes

Katie of Thyme for Cooking

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Katie is doing justice for the much misunderstood potatoes in her entry. Potatoes are good for us despite the much common belief that they are wasted calories. For useful facts about potatoes, come over and read Katie’s passionate post. And when you are there, check out her two recipes that use the tasty new potatoes she found in the market.

Chinese Herbal Chicken Soup

Yich of SIM Cooks

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Yet another fascinating post about a lovely Chinese medical herb, wolfberries. Wolfberries have a lot of medical benefits and Yinch’s post tells us a lot about it. Pairing them with other herbs, Ying cooked a nutritious Chinese Herbal Chicken Soup. This soup is very popular among the Chinese, and it is believed to improve your health if eaten on a regular basis.

Harissa

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Pookah of What’s cooking in Carolina?

In the mood for Moroccan dishes, Pookah has managed to cook up some really lovely dishes at home. And for a cold night recently, the warming lentil and lab stew that used a Morrocan spice mix, Harissa, was so comfortable. Harissa is quite easy to make (I can confirm that), and Pookah gives us her very own version which she describes as “very, very good”.

Lemon and Hazelnut Green Beans

Ashley from Big Cook, Tiny Kitchen

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This green bean dish is not only healthy but also appetizing. The fragrance of lemon is refreshing, and those toasted hazelnuts give a crunchy bite! A delicious side dish at dinner table.

Prawn Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms With Crisp Comte Cheese Crisps

Christine of Christine Cooks

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Christine’s entry for this week WHB is truly mouth-watering! The mushrooms are stuffed with wild-caught prawns (wow wow!), glazed basil and some perfect-looking cheese crisps. I can’t help drooling and surely will try this myself.

Ceviche Mixto del Mar

Anna of Morsels & Musings

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Anna brings us a revitalizing ceviche that makes use of the incredible fresh seafood that Sydney is famous for. Her dish, inspired from the Cuban recipe for ceviche mixto, combines some of the most fabulous seafood ingredients with the heat of chilli and the lovely citrus flavour of lime, orange and grapefruit. Adding coriander (cilantro), you will have a combo to remember!

Durian Cream Puffs

Angie of My Kitchen, My Laboratory

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My good pal, Angie, has a very interesting discussion about some “offensive food” (Think blue cheese, natto etc.) in her post. It is so true that “one man’s meat is another’s poison” and “taste is a very personal thing”, isn’t it? Angie, then, uses durian as the filling for her very beautiful looking cream puffs. Durian is a hard-to-appreciate fruit (read Angie’s post and you will know why). But if you can get over certain barrier, it is perhaps one of the best fruits on Earth.

Charchari - a Bengali Mixed Vegetable Dish

Sandeepa of Bong Mom's CookBook

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Using lovely Indian herbs, spices and five vegetables, this vegetable medley is guaranteed to be delicious! I always love Indian vegetarian dish, and this one is no exception. Sandeepa’s informative description about the background of Charchari is delightful to read, too.

Chocolate Cardamom Strawberries

Rinku of Cooking in Westchester

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Our next entry is sweet and seductive. Having found those stunning stem strawberries, Rinku dip them in cardamom-spiced melted chocolate. I always think chocolate and strawberries are perfect partner. And using cardamom brings out the mysterious warming sense of chocolate. Perfect for any occasion!

Verbena & Pepper Mint Panna Cotta, with Apricot Sauce

Virginie of Absolute Green

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Using agar agar as a replacement for gelatine, and soy milk for the normal milk, Virginie comes up with an elegant and vegetarian-friendly panna cotta. Flavoured with verbena leaves and pepper mint, this healthy panna cotta is also very aromatic.

Tuna with Gotu-Kola and Coconut “Pesto” Noodles

Ros from Living to Eat!

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Have you heard of gotu-kola leaves (also called asiatic pennywort)? I haven’t so this entry from Ros is enlightening. You should read her port thoroughly to learn about the Gotu-Kola and also how she comes up with the flavoursome noodle dish. Everything looks so delicious and Rosa confirmed that “There was the classic gotu-kola, coconut, lime combination balanced by the ginger and chilli in the tuna.” Superb!

Salted Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

Deborah of Play with Food

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Deborah has a huge pot of rosemary in her garden and from that she makes the incredible salted roasted rosemary potatoes. My mom used to salt-roast chicken and it was delicious so I’m sure Deborah’s dish will taste beautiful, too.

Spinach Salad With Red Onions And Tahini Vinaigrette

Emily of Superspark

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Emily’s entry for this week is a simple salad that tastes really delicious thanks to the unusual Tahini Vinaigrette. I really like her descriptions about the salad: “Comprised of nothing more than fresh spinach, lightly pan-fried red onions, and an unusual, creamy tahini vinaigrette dressing, this salad is easy to make but tastes much more complex. The onions become soft and sweet and the dressing is rich and nutty.” Delicious, isn’t it?

Mini Pear and Cinnamon Cake

Y of Lemonpi

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It is autumn in Australia, and Y from Sydney is enjoying a varieties of pears at the moment. To celebrate the season, she baked a creamy mini cake with pear as the essential ingredient. Scented with a hint of cinnamon, the cake is perfect for the cooler seasons.

Zucchini with Rice

Burcu of Almost Turkish

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Burcu never fails to impress me with her traditional Turkish recipes. And this rice dish sounds so delicious and comfortable with the use of fresh herbs and zucchini. Burcu said it is good for hot summer days, but I think it can be enjoyed at anytime of the year.

Heart of Palm Quiche

Patricia of Technicolor Kitchen

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The next post brings us all the way to Brazil where Patricia made her debut entry for WHB with a gorgeous Heart of Palm Quiche. I have seen palm trees back in Vietnam but haven’t tasted heart of palm before. I am very curious since Patricia said she really loved it!

Pumpkin and Pancetta Risotto

Valentina of Trembom

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A beautiful recipe by another Brazilian, Valentina. Using the last mama squash of this season and applying a Gordon Ramsey’s recipe, the end result is a perfect risotto with a lovely colour. With mascarpone as one of the ingredients, it will be superbly creamy, too. This is what I call comfort food.

Oven-baked Butternut Squash and Rosemary Risotto

Sophie of Mostly Eating

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Like Valentina, Sophie used the combination of squash and risotto for this week WHB but her dish is very different. It is really fascinating to see how we can use the same basic ingredients to obtain diverse taste and texture. In Sophia’s recipe, risotto is baked with a few secret ingredients to become “a rustic, weeknight supper kind of a dish”. Her discussion about keeping the wholegrain goodness is also helpful.

Plum Crumble Pie

Anh of Food Lover's Journey

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My entry for this week WHB is a plum crumble pie. Stoned fruit season is coming to an end in Australia, and I am eating them as much as possible. And I think this pie is a perfect way to celebrate my love for stoned fruits.

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It has been a pleasure to host this week WHB. All entries are really amazing and I have learnt a lot! Thanks everyone for your support.

For next week, WHB continues to stay in Melbourne when it is hosted by the gorgeous Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once. Be sure to come over for another great recap then.



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