Sunday, June 29, 2008

Spinach & Egg Gratin

This recipe was the second of two dishes we served for Snoozen and her family for brunch today. This recipe was learnt by B and I at a cooking school in our local area, called Urban Graze.

We amended the recipe we learnt very slightly by using baby spinach leaves instead of English spinach leaves, both are equally good, in my opinion. Oh, and there was supposed to be a pinch of nutmeg too, which I just realised now as I was typing it out . *ahem* oh well, it is fine without the pinch of nutmeg ....

Spinach & Egg Gratin

60g (2 oz) butter
60g (2 oz) flour
1 tsp mustard powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
500 ml milk
50g (1.8 oz) vintage cheddar, grated
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
150g (5.3 oz) baby spinach leaves, washed and chopped fine
1/2 cup green onions (shallots), sliced fine
1 tbsp lemon juice
4 x small eggs
1/2 cup Japanese panko breadcrumbs (found in asian aisle of supermarket)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Blend in flour using a spatula and cook for 1-2 minutes without the flour colouring.

Stir in mustard powder and cayenne pepper. Remove from the heat and using a silicone whisk (we just used a regular metal whisk), whisk in 1/3 of the milk. Use a spatula to get into the corners of the saucepan to make sure all the flour gets mixed in. When it starts to thicken return to the heat and add another 1/3 of the milk. Now whisk in the rest of the milk.

Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat. Continue to stir until sauce is no longer floury tasting (about 5-8 minutes) and season with salt and white pepper. Add grated cheese and stir until melted.

Remove from the heat and stir in the spinach in 3 separate lots so that it has time to wilt. Stir in the green onions. Squeeze in lemon juice to finish.

Divide amongst 4 brulee dishes and let rest for a few minutes.

Preheat oven to 200 deg C (392 deg F). Place brulee dishes on a baking tray.

Make a hole in the centre of the gratin and break one egg into the centre.

Dust with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.

Place in oven for 12-15 minutes.

Serve with toast.

Brunch with friends

Snoozen and family came over today for brunch to celebrate Snoozen's 40th birthday yesterday.

We cooked a couple of things, first course was a potato and leek soup, followed by a spinach and egg gratin. Both were served with fresh bread, either plain or toasted and cut into soldiers.

Can we see the recipes, I hear you say? Sure!

Here is the potato and leek soup recipe ....

Potato and leek soup

Serves 4

1 knob butter
2 leeks
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large potatoes, diced
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup thickened cream
cracked black pepper to taste
dash of Worcestershire sauce

Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add leeks, onions and garlic. Saute until soft. Add potatoes, stirring well. Add stock, bring to a boil and simmer partially covered, for 30 minutes. Put in food processor and puree. Return to the pot, stirring well. Bring to the boil, let simmer. Add cream, Worcestershire sauce and pepper. Serve

Here is what it looks like ...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock

B bought me the latest Madonna CD for my birthday last month, and I love it. I have been a massive Madonna fan for many years, and after listening to this CD, I've started to play my other Madonna CDs again. There's one in the upstairs CD player (Confessions on a Dance Floor), the latest one (Hard Candy) was played about 30 times in the car, now I've got American Life in the car, which has one of my favourite songs of hers "Die another Day" from the James Bond movie of the same name.

So the song I've obsessively listened to the most out of those .... 4 Minutes. It features Justin Timberlake (or JT as the young people like to call him), who I'm not a big fan of, but hey Madonna rocks!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Why do I care?

A post from Bou over at Boudicca's Voice resonated with me tonight. She was talking about how although she didn't know George Carlin personally, she will miss him, and is genuinely sad he has died.

For me, it's not George Carlin (I knew the name, knew he was a comedian, but that was about it, guess his work wasn't showed overly much here in Aus), it's Heath Ledger.

I remember reading about when he died, and I was just in shock. I kept looking at the headlines thinking "it can't be true, he's so young". I'd been quite the fan of him, loved his movies, especially "10 Things I Hate about you" and "A Knight's Tale". But since the day he died, I have been unable to watch his movies. I know that the movies that once were a source of enjoyment for me, are now tinged with sadness.

On a more sane level, I know this makes no real sense. I mean, I never met the guy, I never met anyone who had met the guy. For all I know, he was a real dick.

But I am sad that he has gone.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Things to work on

So, another visit to the psychologist this afternoon ... went ok I think. Trying to deal with issues with my self esteem and self worth is a hard slog at the moment.

I've found that I've been opening up to people more often, but that it is a difficult thing for me to do, as it leaves me feeling vulnerable and wishing I hadn't. So then the next time I see them I feel all awkward. My psych says that's natural, it's because I'm not used to doing it. That I need to push on, that the more I open up to people, the more they'll open up to me, the easier it will become.

This post in itself is difficult to write, it's hard to wrap words around emotions and feelings, but I need to figure out who I am, and how I can fit into the world.

I read back over this, and it feels awkwardly written .... ah well, stuff it, at least I'm trying to put it into words and work it through.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Tag, I'm it!

Well I guess it had to happen sooner or later ... I've been tagged for a meme, by the lovely Suze over at Frippery.

Rules are as follows:

Write a six-word memoir - my brain feels like it is going to explode ... nope that's nine words, will keep thinking ...

Post it to your blog including a visual illustration if you would like - oh yes, as I am sooo creative *cough* not *cough*

Link to the person who tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogsphere. - Here's some linky love for my mate Suze

Tag 5 more blogs with links (or however many people you feel like annoying). - well I don't really want to annoy people ... but hey, let's see if Snoozen wants to play

Don’t forget to leave a comment in the tagged blogs with an invitation to play. - otherwise they might not realise they've been tagged, I get it ... :)

So six words ... six words ... 'my mind is a total blank' ... seems kinda depressing

'I saw Gordon Ramsay, Suze didn't' ... seems a bit too much like rubbing it in ... :)

Ok, here it is .... *drum roll please*

"Emotionally partially broken, getting better though"

This is a picture that was taken when B and I were on holiday up in Kingscliff last November. B is my husband and my best friend, who has stood beside me through all my issues and hard times, as well as all the good times.

Pain perdu with raspberries & ricotta

So, I went to Borders yesterday and bought the Gordon Ramsay book "Fast food". I had a look through it last night and there are some very yummy recipes, that's for sure.

Plus, I found the 3rd recipe that Gordon cooked at the Good Food and Wine Show on Friday. Here it is ...

Pain perdu with raspberries and ricotta

Serves 4

125g ricotta cheese, drained
125g mascarpone
2 tbsp caster suger
squeeze of lemon juice
200g raspberries
25g unsalted butter
4 slices raisin bread
3 large eggs, beaten
few basil sprigs, to finish
icing sugar, to sprinkle

Beat the ricotta, mascarpone, sugar and lemon juice together in a bowl, then gently fold through half of the raspberries to get a rippled effect.

Melt the butter in a wide non-stick frying pan until it begins to foam. Dip the raisin bread into the beaten eggs, add to the pan and fry for a minute or two on each side until golden brown. Place each slice on a serving plate.

Spoon the ricotta mixture on to the warm pain perdu and tumble the remaining raspberries on top. Finish with basil sprigs and a sprinkling of icing sugar to serve.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Green Bean, Red Onion & Pecorino Salad

Another dish that Gordon Ramsay did today at the show (actually with this one his assistant did a lot of the work) was a salad that looked quite yummy. It's also in his book "Fast Food" ... starting to think this book might be a worthy addition to my collection, may have to go look at it in Borders.

Green Bean, Red Onion & Pecorino Salad
Serves 4

400g (14) green beans, trimmed
sea salt and black pepper
1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
50g (1½ oz) pecorino, freshly grated
45ml (3 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
juice of ½ lemon

Add the beans to a pan of boiling salted water and cook for 4 minutes or until just tender. Drain, refresh in cold water, then pat dry with kitchen paper.
Put the onion in a colander, sprinkle with salt and leave for 5 minutes. Holding the colander over the sink, pour on a kettleful of boiling water to remove some of the onion’s acidity. Drain well and pat dry.
Toss the beans, onion and pecorino together in a bowl. For the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad to serve.

Good food and wine show

I went to the Good Food and Wine Show in Sydney today with a good friend of mine, Kaz. The highlight for me, (apart from spending time with my friend of course) was that we had tickets to see Gordon Ramsay in a cooking demonstration/show/thing ... he was very charismatic and entertaining.

I meant to get a show guide as I know from past shows that they have the recipes that the celebrity chefs cook in their shows. However, 1) we didn't see anywhere selling them, and 2) I then plain forgot.

Trusty ol' Google to the rescue, I found the recipe for the soup he did today. Apparently it is from his book called "Fast food".

Butter bean, chorizo & red onion soup
Serves 4

250 g chorizo sausage, skin removed
3 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and very finely sliced
few thyme sprigs
2 x 420g cans butter beans, drained and rinsed
sea salt and black pepper
squeeze of lemon juice
large handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Chop the chorize into small bite-sized pieces. Put the kettle on to boil.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan and add the onions, garlic and thyme. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes then add the chorizo. Stir over a high heat for a few minutes until the oil has taken on a reddish-golden hue from the chorizo.

Tip in the butter beans and pour in just enough boiling water to cover them. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for about 10 minutes.

Season generously with salt and pepper and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Scatter over the chopped parsley and ladle the soup into warm bowls to serve.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Yes, I'm still here

Ahem, yes well, blog has been shamefully neglected, oops.

Didn't quite make my day by day blog of 30 days of Isagenix.

So, would I recommend Isagenix? Meh ... to tell the truth I wasn't hugely impressed. I did lose some weight (approx 2 kilos), and some girth (is that the right word? when the trainer uses the tape measure to record how many centimetres I am around neck, chest, ribs, stomach, right thigh, right calf, right bicep), but I did not reach my goal with my stomach.

My stomach, it annoys me. At one point I had lost 6cm around my stomach, but then on the final weigh in/measure in last week, that had reduced to having lost 3cm. It seems to fluctuate wildly, and I wasn't doing anything different with the diet, I stuck to it to the letter. My trainer also thought the cleanse part of it would make more of a difference to my stomach than it did.

Plus, having shakes two times a day instead of food, although I got used to it, I knew it wasn't forever, that I'd have to go back to real food at some point. I will wait and see if my weight goes back up.

But apart from the program, what I'm pleased about? 32 days alcohol free so far, and counting. Did I think I could do it? Not a chance.

Now that I know I don't have to have it to get by, I have to decide if it will form any part of my life moving into the future. That goes for caffeine too, but that's not such a big issue.

I also haven't had any tablets (ie disprin, nurofen, pill etc) since the start of the program. I'm no hero on that front though, I was lucky not to get any headaches during that time .... lol

And before anyone gets any ideas, no I'm not pregnant. Do I want to be? Yes, no, maybe ...