May 1, 2015

Apple, fennel and cabbage slaw

It’s Friday and the tempting thought of take away for dinner is on my mind. However I mentioned on an earlier post that in Orange there seems to be a gap here. With a cornucopia of produce and outstanding ingredients as well as many delicious restaurant choices to dine in, the take out choices around town have taken a back seat. In my opinion there are only 1-2 exceptions to sub-standard take out food. In the two years we have lived here I still am yet to figure out why, as I am sure that there are many people like myself who love to cook and occasionally like a little bit of a break!

So my half way point is to take advantage of my fabulous local butcher M&J’s Butchery http://www.orange-nsw.com/MJButchery.html who have so many options loaded with flavour that are pre-prepared like their pulled pork in the most delicious sauce and spices which requires a short time in the oven. They come cryovac packed so it can sit for quite a while in your fridge waiting for that day when you would like a convenient dinner night.

My craving? Soft shell tacos with pulled pork, guacamole and my apple, fennel and cabbage slaw to bring it all together.

Lately, many friends have asked for the recipe and I have just realised I have not ever posted it up here. It is a real crowd-pleaser as it is easy to make and complements crumbed fish, chicken, roast or pulled pork.

You also might be wondering why I am posting a few apple recipes lately? This is the season where Orange, NSW is overflowing with apples and with the annual apple festival approaching from 8-10 May http://www.orangeapples.com.au/ourstory/orangeapplefestival there is so much inspiration to use, cook and eat as many as possible.

With their antioxidant power the highest amongst fruits, it’s no wonder that the saying prevails “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Fennel plays a great role in cardiovascular and colon health too with good sources of fibre, folate and potassium. It’s crunchy and refreshing and to be honest I am becoming a little obsessed with fennel trying to add it anything I am eating these days. Include a cruciferous vegetable like cabbage (using red will increase nutritional benefits) into the mix and you have a formidable salad.

Apple, fennel and cabbage slaw

Apple, fennel and cabbage

Serves 8 (25 minutes preparation)

Ingredients:

Half head of cabbage – red or white, washed and finely shredded

2 fennel bulbs

3 apples (I like using a mix of pink lady, red gala or granny smith)

2 Tbsp tarragon finely chopped

2-3 Tbsp parsley – flat or curly finely chopped

3 Tbsp light sour-cream

3 Tbsp good quality mayonnaise

1 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

3 Tbsp lemon juice

1-2 teaspoons salt

pepper to season

Method:

1. Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard and 2 Tbsp lemon juice together in a bowl.

2. In a large stainless steel bowl, add cabbage and with a wooden spoon mix in the dressing to help mulch and massage the cabbage. Set aside.

3. Core and finely slice apples and pour remaining 1 Tbsp of lemon juice over them.

4. With the fennel, cut in half and remove solid core slicing finely. This is best done last as it will oxidize becoming brown if you prepare it earlier. (Alternatively, you could prepare in advance and sit in ice-cold water with some lemon in it).

5. Add tarragon, parsley, fennel and apple to cabbage and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Apple, fennel and cabbage slaw

Enjoy!

April 25, 2015

ANZAC Rosemary, lemon and olive oil cake

Today marks the 100th Anniversary of the Gallipoli landings – ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) 25th April, 1915.

It is a time to reflect and remember the day that many Australians served and died in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations. It is a most important national day that marks the first military action that Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.

The courage and sacrifices they made on that day evokes a stream of emotion; teary eyes and a frightening shudder for the thousands who were killed or seriously wounded.

The commemorative march service is about to begin and my five-year old son has been learning about this special day at school and has been asking questions to understand more about what this day means. He is attending for the first time and respectfully wearing his school uniform, I am a proud Mum today.

Anzac day march

I am baking a cake to honour those servicemen and servicewomen to share with my family and friends using rosemary which is significant to remembrance.

The Australian War Memorial website talks about aromatic rosemary since ancient times as it is believed to have properties which improve memory. It has become an emblem of this day for Australians as it is found growing wild on the Gallipoli peninsula. See https://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/customs/rosemary/

Rosemary also has a memorable flavour and wonderful aroma which does work well in savoury and sweet dishes. Rosemary stimulates the immune system and contains anti-inflammatory compounds and can increase blood flow to the head and brain which improves concentration. Lemon also aids the immune system and is high in Vitamin C a powerful antioxidant.

To create this cake, inspiration has been taken from two cakes I love; an upside-down rhubarb, ginger and almond cake by Katie Quinn Davies and a Torta de Santiago (Cake of St James).

Speaking of memory, I made the fatal error of forgetting to line the sides of the cake with baking paper – essential! Otherwise I was very happy with the texture and taste of the cake. This cake is light and fluffy and not at all heavy. If you don’t like a strong lemon flavour, cut back the lemon zest by one teaspoon and only use the syrup sparingly. I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback if you try making this cake.

ANZAC Rosemary, lemon and olive oil cake

Rosemary, lemon and olive oil cake

Ingredients:

4 egg yolks

5 egg whites

1/2 cup caster sugar

1/4 extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup almond milk

1/4 cup lemon juice (+ an additional 3/4 teaspoon)

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary finely chopped (+ a couple of sprigs for garnish)

1 cup almond meal

1/2 cup plain flour sifted

1 teaspoon baking powder

Lemon rosemary infused syrup

Shaved zest of one lemon

3 teaspoons rosemary finely chopped

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar

Method:

1. Pre-heat oven to 160 C (or if fan forced 150 C). Line base, sides and grease lightly a 22 cm springform cake tin.

2. Beat egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar until thick and pale – this should only take a few minutes.

3. Mix in the olive oil, almond milk and lemon zest. Then add the flour, baking powder almond meal, rosemary and 1/4 cup lemon juice and beat until well combined.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk 5 egg whites with electric beaters and gradually add 3/4 teaspoon lemon juice and 1/4 cup sugar until glossy medium to stiff peaks form when you turn off beater.

5. Fold a bit of the egg white mixture into the batter to loosen and then combine the rest till just combined.

6. Pour into tin and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes until a skewer comes out fairly clean/dry. Rest until completely cooled in tin and then remove carefully. It will sink a bit which is normal due to the aerated texture of this cake.

7. Meanwhile prepare lemon sugar syrup by boiling lemon zest and rosemary in some water for a minute or so. Drain and reserve 2 Tablespoons of the water and set the rosemary and lemon zest aside separately.

8. Combine sugar, lemon juice and reserved water in a small saucepan over a low-medium heat until the sugar dissolves and simmer for a further 5 minutes and then return rosemary and lemon zest to the pan for a couple of minutes. Remove and strain and you should have 1/2 cup of lemon rosemary infused syrup.

9. Decorate with rosemary sprigs and if you like some icing sugar with a trickle of lemon rosemary syrup on top.

Enjoy and lest we forget.

Rosemary, lemon and olive oil cake