Monday, July 26, 2010

Lentil Soup and Toasted Onion Bread

This simple soup came out of a botched recipe that left me with some red lentils being cooked in vegetable stock and, strangely, some burgul wheat, finely chopped onion and flour mixed into a slurry. Intrigued?
I will try that recipe again very soon, and let you know all about it!

In the meantime I had some cooking to do, and luckily I had my kitchen mojo and popped the slurry in with some flour, with yeast and salt and a little oil and mixed it up to a lovely dough. I gave it a long slow rise and let it turn into this delicious loaf. The burgul gives it an added toastiness and the onion a sweet savouriness (if you know what I mean!)

The soup was easy ~ I had carrot, zucchini, corn and tomato, so I chopped them up and added them in. I fried red capsicum, onion and garlic with a little chili paste, and popped that in too. Salt and lemon juice finished it all off.

And there it is, the warmest, tastiest simplest lunch.

YamDaisy food!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pear and Raspberry Almond Crumble

Pear and Raspberry Crumble! YUM!
Ofcourse it would be delicious! My friend Lin had made it the week before, and since I was conveniently shopping at the greengrocers with her when she told me, I immediately bought 3 big beurre bosc pears, those brown skinned ones that are so easy to cook with.

I peeled and cored them and stewed them with a little orange juice and a sprinkle of brown sugar. Then into the pie plate and topped with frozen raspberries.

I made the crumble topping by melting 50g of butter (pyrex jug in the microwave) and adding in:
1/2 cup flaked almonds
1/4 cup plain flour
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp freshly ground cinnamon
Mixed up and sprinkled over the top and then into a moderate oven until golden ~ I let mine go for twenty minutes.

And then this!

Fruit based, seasonal (sneaking in the raspberries), delicious dessert!
As I said at the start: YUM!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Yiota's Summer Menu Part 2

Yiota's Menu
Soup: Potato Soup with Fresh Thyme
Main 1: Chicken and Diced Vegetables Gratin
Main 2: Vegetarian Pastitsio
Fruit Dessert: Cherry Pie

Vegetarian Pastitsio
I was so excited to make the pastitsio and share it with you. When I first read Yiota's menu I had no idea what pastitsio was, although when I saw pictures I realised I had seen it before:
It seemed a perfect dish to make into a vegetarian version and I made a big vegetable sauce that my food processor makes very simple. I roughly chopped up 2 onions, 2 garlic cloves, 4 small apples, a zucchini, and 2 red peppers and 6 dried tomatoes that had been soaked and then chopped. I minced them with the steel blade of my food processor and put them in a big pot with heated olive oil (about 4 tbsps).
While they began cooking I put the grater attachment on my foodprocessor and grated 3 carrots and 4 celery stalks and added them to the mix.
Next goes in 2  400g tins of diced tomatoes and a teaspoon of salt, and then the whole big potful needs to simmer for about three hours. For the last hour I added 500g of chopped mushrooms. Once it was simmering happily I put the heat diffuser under it and only had to give it a stir now and then. It ends up so thick and soft and tasty! I added a little freshly ground cinnamon right at the end, and it really added a magic touch to the whole dish.

I had a couple of serendipitous events. My good friend Lin said out of the blue that she had made pastitsio the weekend before, and how wonderful it was. So I told her that it was on Yiota's menu and she sent me her recipe.
Also Mary at One Perfect Bite posted a recipe. She wasn't completely happy with hers, so I concentrated even harder on making this a good one!

Apart from the sauce, I followed the recipe Lin gave me:

PASTITSIO  (Serves 10)
Olive oil to grease
2tbs dried (packaged) breadcrumbs
1 x 500g Mini Penne Rigate pasta
2tbs olive oil
1kg beef mince
1 brown onion, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 x 400g bottles passata (tomato pasta sauce)
80ml (1/3) cup plain flour
1tsp ground cinnamon
70g (1 cup) shredded parmesan
80g butter
50g (1/3cup) plain flour
1l (4cups) milk
4 eggs, lightly whisked

Preheat oven to 180c. Brush a 6.5cm-deep, 26 x 33cm (base measurement) ovenproof dish with oil to grease. Add the breadcrumbs and shake to coat.
Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and return to the pan.
Meanwhile, heat half the oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  Add half the mince and cook, stirring, for 3-4 mins or until mince changes colour.  Transfer to a heatproof bowl.  Repeat with the remaining mince.
Heat the remaining oil in the pan and add the onion and garlic.  Cook stirring, for 5 mins or until the onion is soft. Add the mince, passata, water and cinnamon and cook, stirring, for 5-8 mins or until the sauce thickens slightly.
To make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until foaming.  Add flour and cook, stirring for 1 min or until the mixture bubbles. Remove from heat and gradually add the milk, stirring constantly until smooth. Place the pan over a medium heat and cook stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and whisk in the egg.  Season with salt and pepper
Add 310ml (1 ¼ cups) of the béchamel sauce to the pasta and stir until well combined.  Place half the pasta mixture in the prepared dish.  Spoon over the mince mixture. Top with the remaining pasta mixture.  Spread the remaining béchamel sauce over the top.  Sprinkle with parmesan. Bake for 45-50 mins or until golden.  Serve.

I wished I had just one more centimeter in the tray as I was scared to put all the sauce in! Next time I will put less pasta on the bottom level so that more sauce can sink in to it (is this a good idea pastitsio makers?) But for my first effort I need to serve it with some added sauce that I didn't fit in! Making the bechamel and mixing it into the pasta worked really well.
But let us pretend I got the ratios right and serve it here with some lovely braised green beans for the YamDaisy cafe!

Cherry Pie
O yum! How much the short cherry season is loved around the world! It will come to Melbourne in November. I think the YamDaisy Cafe would want Cherry Pie on the menu at least once a week as long as the season lasts!
Since I cannot make it at them moment I can link instead to a mouthwatering cherry pie I have seen on the beautiful Cherrapeno blog:

Thankyou Yiota for a menu that inspired me so much, gave me new dishes to add to my repertoire, and that are such a pleasure to share with everyone else. These dishes are just what the YamDaisy Cafe idea is all about! Delicious, seasonal, mouthwatering, not fussy... but heartwarming food to the people you are feeding.

The first part of Yiota's menu is here
The YamDaisy website is here

Good wishes to everyone!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Yiota's Summer Menu

What a treat it is to present this menu. It comes from Yiota in Greece and is full of the flavours of summer.
There are four menu choices each day in a YamDaisy Cafe. They must reflect the seasons, the everyday needs of the clients for delicious nourishing food, and of the chef(s) who need to be able to cook them up in a small (but well equipped) kitchen. Read more about the idea of the YamDaisy Cafe and it's menus here.

Yiota's Menu
Soup: Potato Soup with Fresh Thyme
Main 1: Chicken and Diced Vegetables Gratin
Main 2: Vegetarian Pastitsio
Fruit Dessert: Cherry Pie

In Yiota's email she wrote:
'So here's what I thought of: because summer vegetables are at their best here, I've used them in both main dishes; zucchini, red peppers, green peppers, carrots, mushrooms, green beans - you choose...  Cherries are also in season and I love, love, love them!'

Potato Soup with Fresh Thyme
O yum, this is one I love, and if the weather is very hot it can be served ice cold.
Here is how I make it:
Mince 3 finely chopped leeks and one finely chopped onion and saute in 2 tablespoons of butter.
Add 3 peeled and diced potatoes and 4 cups of stock.
(I used a vegetable stock flavoured with thyme)

When the potatoes are cooked, puree briefly and season with salt and pepper.
Add 1 cup of milk, cream, or a mixture of both and reheat without boiling.
I garnished mine with some thyme. It is winter here as I write, but in Summer I would sprinkle a few tender thyme leaves and maybe some chopped chives too.
The toast is made with buckwheat and oats and was a lovely accompaniment.

Chicken and Diced Vegetable Gratin
I avoided flooding Yiota with millions of emails asking about this dish, and so instead I had a real adventure with it. The only gratin I know is made with sliced potatoes, and certainly no chicken. Not only that, I have such trouble cooking it as whenever I try the potatoes never get soft!
I googled away and realised what a big number of bakes come under the name 'gratin', and remembered a friends suggestion to cover the dish with foil for part of the baking time to help the vegetables cook.
I struggled most to imagine how to include chicken (some of you know I am an old vegetarian, only recently learning to cook chicken), so I was glad to find this recipe:
I played around with it a lot!
I started with 2 chicken thigh fillets that I browned in a mixture of butter and olive oil and then cut them into bite sized pieces. For vegetables I had carrots, butternut pumpkin (squash), heart of celery and a potato. I diced them up and added them to the chicken in the dish.

I followed the recipe for the dairy mixture (except I had no pimento) and no crumb topping. I was feeling VERY pleased with myself!

So in to the oven it went with the foil covering for the first 20 minutes. And when I got it out:

sadly.... it had curdled.

I blame the lemon juice! But maybe covering it brought the temperature up too high. I would use ordinary cream instead of sour cream next time too. It broke my heart that it curdled but I did taste it and was delighted that the chicken came through beautifully: tender little morsels among the veggies.

It is definitely one to try again and get right! Then I would serve it with green leaves and tomato salad.

The second part of this menu will be up very soon, before the cherries have finished!
Jump to it here

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Diabetes and the YamDaisy Cafe

It is Australia's Diabetes Awareness Week this week.

My YamDaisy claim is that the biggest thing that a community could do to help in prevention and management of diabetes (type 2) would be to set up YamDaisy Cafes!

How nice for a doctor who is faced with someone who is ill, exhausted and whose life has just been changed completely by the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, to be able to include in all the information that there is a YamDaisy Cafe in their neighbourhood.

At the YamDaisy Cafe they could be assured of getting delicious meals, cooked from scratch, that are exactly what health educators are recommending for people with diabetes. They would be affordable. The cafe would be within walking distance, and the walk there and back would contribute to the recommended exercise.

The chef at the YamDaisy Cafe would understand the necessary diet, and the community aspect of the cafe means that the chef would get to know favourite foods and special needs.

The back up from the YamDaisy Organisation would include IT and magazine style news, articles, specials, tips and recipes.

If necessary every meal could be supplied from the YamDaisy Cafe. Breakfast might be tricky, but there are several possibilities that I will post about in the future!
The easy thing would be stopping by the YamDaisy Cafe for a freshly cooked lunch and delicious, healthy takeaway for supper from the days menu also.

And why would the doctor wait until things got so far! What a relief to be able to recommend the YamDaisy Cafe to patients who showed the danger signs for developing diabetes? Think how many people could be saved from the trials and complications of diabetes by the presence of a beautiful, little YamDaisy Cafe in their neighbourhood?

The sooner they start going up the better!

For further information about the YamDaisy Cafe idea, check out the website (and it would be lovely if you could show your support by joining the facebook page too?)

For further information about diabetes and check out Diabetes Australia.

I found the excellent cartoon by googling, but I don't know who did it. Let me know and I will put the info up (or pull the cartoon down if that is what is necessary!)

All Best Wishes

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Vale Marie

For those of you who sent such lovely wishes when I posted about the Appeal for Marie Cook I need to let you know with sorrow that Marie died on the 7th of July from complications of her cancer.
This is the poem that has connected me most with my feelings about her death

The Swan

The labouring through what is still undone,
as though, legs bound, we hobbled along the way,
is like the awkward walking of the swan.
And dying – to let go, no longer feel
the solid ground we stand on every day
is like his anxious letting himself fall
into the water, which receives him gently
and which, as though with reverence and joy,
draws back past him in streams on either side;
while, infinitely silent and aware,
in his full majesty and ever more
indifferent, he condescends to glide.

By: Rainer Maria Rilke

Farewell Marie

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Nice times ahead

After a week full of changes and visitors where I have hardly been able to glimpse into my nice internet community, I am now headed for lovely uninterrupted times when I can really focus on my YamDaisy project.

I have a gorgeous new menu coming up, given to me from Yiota in Greece! And I get the delight of trying out some dishes I have never made before, all in the cause of research and photoes!
I am also preparing a post on the ABC of YamDaisy customers!
And it is Australia's Diabetes Awareness Week next week so I will try to do a post then ~ about that!

I have talked about living with Chronic Illness here before, and how this means I often cannot do the things I want to do and plan to do. My current game plan is to try to blog more often even if it can't be the post that takes a bit of work to get right. I will see how it goes!