Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Roast Turkey with Ricotta Stuffing

I have always wanted to roast a turkey for christmas. This year, I did it! This recipe from Neil Perry was so delicious with the ricotta and butter rub- only thing was his recipe was for a very very big bird (7.6kg!), so I tweaked the oven cooking time/method to suit the 4kg turkey I ordered.

4kg whole turkey
extra virgin olive oil
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
8 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup baby spinach
200g fresh ricotta, drained
1 T chopped thyme
1 T chopped flat leaf parsley
90g raisins, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes and drained
75g unsalted butter, finely diced (room temperature)
1 egg
sea salt and white pepper

Serves 6 adults with plenty of leftovers

1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Rinse the turkey and pat dry with absorbent paper.
2. To make the stuffing, heat a little olive oil in a frying pan. Add onion and garlic and cook over low heat for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
3. Microwave the spinach in hot water for 2 minute, drain and rinse under cold water. Squeeze the excess water from spinach. Chop coarsely.
4. Combine the onion mixture with the spinach, ricotta, herbs, raisins, and butter in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, season with salt and pepper and mix well.
5. Spread the stuffing between the skin and breast/legs, until it is firmly packed in. Rub the skin with plenty of olive oil and season the turkey inside and out with sea salt and white pepper.
6. Place the turkey on a greased wire rack in a large baking tray, and roast breast side down, on top, cover with greased aluminium foil and roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
7. Turn turkey, breast side up, and roast uncovered for a further 20 minutes or until cooked (When tested with a meat thermometer, the internal temperature of the breast should be 74°C and the legs 80°C).

1. If the turkey was frozen, start defrosting in fridge at least 2 days before cooking.
2. For gravy, heat up the juices from turkey in a pan with 20g butter, 3 T plain flour, 2 cups of water. Stir and let reduce to gravy consistency. 
3. When seasoning the skin and inside of turkey, rub with ALOT of salt (I used at least 1 Tablespoon).
4. Meat thermometer is essential to make sure the turkey's cooked perfect.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Glutinous Rice Balls 湯圓 in sweet ginger syrup

Becoming a mom this year got me thinking of the value of rituals and traditions, and I would love to create some for our family. Winter solstice festival fell on the 22nd of December this year, so glutinous rice balls are the 1st Chinese tradition I'm starting us with! This brilliant recipe was passed on to me from my mom and aunties. Using a variety of sweet potatoes gives it lovely colour, much healthier than the usual food colouring.

250g of glutinous rice flour (divide into 3 parts)
1 cup purple sweet potato, diced.
1 cup red sweet potato, diced.
1 cup white sweet potato, diced.
2 stalks pandan leaves (screwpine)
3 T white rock sugar
4 cup water
3 thin slices of thumb size ginger

1. Steam sweet potatoes in separate bowls until soft, then mashed finely or puree.
2. Mix glutinous rice flour into separate puree bowls until 'play doh' consistency.
3. Shape the 'play doh' into little balls (1-2 cm in diameter)
4. To prepare the ginger syrup, boil pandan leaves and ginger in water for 10 minutes. Lower heat and add sugar.
5. Put the glutinous rice balls into the bubbling ginger syrup. When the balls float to the surface of the water, you're done.
1. If you could not reach the 'play dough' texture, try mixing in more glutinous rice flour if the dough is too wet, or mixing in some water if the dough seem dry. You'll get it in the end by process of trial and error, keep trying.
2. Use an ice cream scoop to divide your dough into equal parts, shape into thin rolls, cut rolls into 1-2 cm sections then shape into little balls.
3. You can also use steamed pumpkin, or any other fruits to get a variety of colours (beetroot?!).

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Karen Martini's Son in law eggs

This is one of my favourite Thai appetiser! Restuarants like 'Chin Chin' and Gingerboy generally charge a hefty A$8 for 2 eggs. When I saw Karen Martini's recipe published on the Sunday Age couple years ago, I HAD to make it. To make at home, this would only cost A$8 for all the ingredients, and will yield triple the portion + lots of Nam Jim sauce left over for future meals.  So easy, and mouth watering delicious! My husband absolutely love it!!

Nam Jin Sauce

3 cloves garlic, peeled
3 pinches salt
12 red chillies (long, skinny), seeds in and sliced
350g caster sugar
320ml red wine vinegar
2 T tiny dried shrimp
1 T fish sauce

1. Pound garlic and salt to paste. Add chilli and pound to rough paste. Place paste in saucepan with sugar, vinegar.
2. Pound dried shrimp until fluffy. Add shrimp to saucepan.
3. Bring saucepan mixture to boil over medium heat.
4. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 8 minutes or until slightly syrupy. 
5. Add fish sauce and simmer for 1 minute, then transfer to sterilised jar and allow to cool.

Son-in-law Eggs

5 soft-boiled eggs, peeled and cooled to room temperature
4 kaffir lime leaves, finely julienned
1 / 2 bunch watercress, trimmed
1 / 4 bunch mint, leaves only, torn
5 T Nam Jim Sauce
2 t crispy shallots
juice of 1 lime

1. Cut eggs in half and place on serving plate.
2. Sprinkle lime leaves over eggs and scatter with watercress and mint.
3. Spoon Nam Jim sauce and lime juice over salad, then spinkle with crispy shallots and serve.
1. For perfect eggs, I used the Cuisinart eggcooker. It was a gift from the Fat Rascal (bestfriend) many years ago, extremely handy tool which I use all the time.
2. You can make the Nam Jim sauce few days in advance. On the day of the meal, only assembly is required. Sauce can keep up to 2 weeks in the fridge. Such a versatile sauce, I've even used it in place of tomato sauce for BBQs.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

French Pear Tart

This is a fool proof recipe for french pear tart by Dorie Greenspan (Baking from my home to yours). I've baked this a dozen times, and it always comes out perfect! The recipe is really detailed, Dorie's style, which is brilliant. Always bake the tart case earlier to avoid the mad rush during the day of serving (frozen tart base can be kept up to 2 months). I also like to make the almond cream several days in advance, so all I need to do is assemble the tart before a meal//party. This tart is delicious served with vanilla ice cream, and a cup of earl grey tea!

Partially baked tart base made with sweet tart dough
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 t salt
110g very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

1. Put flour, icing sugar and salt in food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in - you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas  Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in log pulses- about 10 seconds each - until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change - heads up! Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
2. Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly into the pan. Using all but a little piece of dough, which you should save to patch any cracks after the crust is baked.
3. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
4. Preheat oven to 190c.
5. Butter the shiny side of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust (Since the crust was frozen, you can bake it without weights). Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon and patch the crust if necessary. Let it cool completely (keep it in its pan).

Almond cream
3 canned whole pears, drained.
80g unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup almond meal
2 t plain flour
1 t cornstarch
1 large egg
2 t dark rum or 1 t vanilla extract

1. Put the butter and sugar in a food processor and process until mixture is smooth and satiny. Add almond meal and process until well blended. Add the flour and cornstarch and process to blend, then add the egg. Process for 15 seconds more, or until almond cream is homogeneous. Add rum and process just to blend. You can either use the almond cream immedietly, or scrape it into a container and refrigerate it until firm, about 2 hours (can be frozen for up to 2 months).

3 canned whole pears, drained.
icing sugar for dusting, or some jelly for glazing.
partially baked 9 inch tart base made with sweet tart dough, cooled

1. Preheat oven to 180c.
2. Fill the cooled partially baked crust with almond cream, spreading evenly with an offset metal icing spatula.
3. Thinly slice each pear and arrange it over the almond cream (I hadn't arranged it the traditional way)
4. Bake the tart for 50-60 minutes, or until almond cream puffs up around the pears and browns. Transfer to rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature before removing the sides of the pan.
5. Right before serving, dust the tart with icing sugar or warm jelly with water and brush this glaze over the surface of the tart.
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