Thursday, 29 September 2011

Lemony Quail

The theme for this month's Random Recipe challenge is all about recipes from magazines, cuttings and pull-outs collected over the years. Put all of them in a pile, then select a recipe at random and cook/bake it! Simples!

I don't collect clippings or cuttings from magazines or newspapers, so that's no good. But I do subscribe to one food magazine: Jamie (Oliver) Magazine. However, me cooking from Jamie's magazine, I think that's too predictable. One other magazine I subscribe is the self-proclaimed, "the world's leading men's magazine", GQ. It is my bible for trends in fashion, style, gadgets and entertainments; not that I can afford many of the goods in it. I simply could not justify spending my savings just for a jacket. I'd end up living on the street, with one kidney, next to a dumpster, finding food. But I'll be wearing a very nice jacket which will probably be out of style in a month's time.

You'll be surprised (or, perhaps not) to know that it's not just clothes and scantily clad women and men are featured in the glossy magazine. There are some very good interviews, essays on politics and current affairs, travel, sex and relationship guides, and book, music and film reviews I enjoy reading. But obviously, one of my favourite sections is food. I never cooked anything from the magazine yet, and it's about time. I was quite nervous, in case if I get a complicated recipe by Heston Blumenthal, a regular contributor to the magazine. But thankfully, the random recipe I got is from the latest edition of GQ, lemony quail by Simon Schama. I never cooked quail before, so this is definitely a nice challenge. I am just not prepared yet to cook anything that requires liquid nitrogen as an ingredient.

The lemony quail is actually quite a simple, but certainly an elegant dish. I just love the spices, the fragrant cumin and coriander (I am a freak for coriander). I could find preserved lemons in my local supermarket, but I didn't really want to buy a whole jar when I only need one. So I omitted it and used more fresh lemons as suggested by Mr. Schama.

You could serve the quails with polenta or lentils, but I was in the mood for something light, so I went for a generous scattering of salad leaves, like peppery rocket and tender baby spinach leaves which go really well with lemon and fresh coriander leaves; and a simple dressing of lemon juice, crushed cumin and coriander seeds to echo the flavours of the quail, capers, pinch of sugar, salt, pepper and good olive oil.

Lemony Quail 
Recipe by Simon Schama
To serve four

8 oven-ready quail
zest and juice of 2 lemons (or 4 if not using preserved lemons)
4 medium sized preserved lemons, sliced medium thick (optional)
4 tablespoons olive oil
t tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed coarsely in pestle and mortar
2 tablespoons cumin seeds (as above)
1 small dried red chilli
1 tablespoons coarse rock or sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
fistful of fresh coriander leaves, torn
150 ml chicken stock
1 glass of dry white wine

Marinate the quail for one hour in juice and zest of two lemons plus, if you have them, the flesh of two preserved lemons. Add half of the olive oil, all the seeds, chilli, salt and pepper, and half the coriander.

Heat the oven to 220C. Remove the quail from the marinade. Stuff each bird with a slice of the preserved lemon, cut in half; seal cavities with toothpicks.

Heat a ridged grill pan with the reaming olive oil until almost smoking and brown quail on all sides.

Transfer the quail to a plate and deglaze the pan with stock and white wine. Let it reduce for a few minutes.

Return quail to the pan, top with lemon slices, roast for 15 minutes. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with polenta or puy lentils (if you wish).

Saturday, 24 September 2011

More Apples Made Into Apple Cake

Last night I had a great night-out with friends. I thought we'll be meeting for food first then found out that, that's not the case and went straight for cocktails, gin and tonics and the dance floor with empty stomach. On my way home, Mark and I went to the kebab shop and I had some greasy chips and greasy kebab meats with garlic sauce. Lovely at the time of intoxication, but this morning, not so good...

Anyway, as I shouted to my friends all night, "I am fine!", let's get to business. This apple cake recipe is inspired by a recipe from a wonderful blogger friend, Dom at Belleau Kitchen. His recipe for Gunby Orchard Apple Cake looks utterly delicious (today is Dom's birthday, so Happy Birthday Dom! Have a fantastic day filled with food and drinks!!). I'd love to try the exact recipe but since I am bringing this cake to work, I am required to adjust some of the ingredients and also the apples give to me from my friend Janet are of different kinds. I used gluten-free flour so that my friend Michelle is able to enjoy the cake. I omitted the sultanas because my boss hates them, and I always want to be on the good side. And I added apricot glaze to the cake for smooth, shiny look.

I still have more apples and if you have apple recipes you think I should try, please send me the link. Thank you... and enjoy your weekend!!

Apple Cake
Inspired by Gunby Orchard Apple Cake TM

For the cake:
100 grams light brown sugar
100 grams caster sugar
200 grams butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
300 grams all-purpose flour (I used gluten-free flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons milk
450 grams apples, peeled, cored and finely diced

For the topping:
3 - 4 apples, peeled, cored and finely sliced
2 tablespoons caster sugar
25 grams butter, cut into small dice
3 tablespoons apricot jam

Start by creaming the softened butter and the sugars with free-standing or hand-held mixer, until light and fluffy.

In a bowl, measure and sieve the flour, baking powder and ground cinnamon. Add the first egg to the butter, mix well. Then add half of the flour and mix again. Add the other egg and the rest of the flour. Add the milk to thin the batter slightly. Fold in the finely diced apples.

Pour into a greased and lined cake tin. Like Dom, I used a nine inch square tin. Top the batter with finely sliced apples in any patterns you like. Sprinkle with sugar and dot with the butter. Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 45 minutes. Stay in the kitchen and enjoy the lovely aroma of baking apples and cinnamon.

When the cake is done, heat the apricot jam and brush the apple topping completely with the jam. Allow to cool and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Damp Apple and Almond Cake

So, the internet is working again! Hooray, hooray!! Well, at least for now. I promise I am changing to a different and hopefully better internet provider. *sigh. How I have missed reading your delicious posts and sharing my rants to all of you. Work has been pretty busy and it's not even the busiest time yet! Next week, it will be... yikes! But I like it when it's busy. Time just flies...

Last week my friend from work Janet harvested some apples from her garden and when she asked if I want some of the apples, of course I said yes. Don't be silly, why and when would I ever say no to food? I was only expecting few apples, but she gave me a bagful of them! Awesome!! The apples are tart like Granny Smith which I love. And in return, apparently, when life, or Janet to be precise, gives you apples, you bake cakes. Obviously I don't mind. There are actually several apple recipes I wanted to try and one of them is this damp apple and almond cake.  This is so easy to make because it's all done in a food processor, and just so lovely with a cup of tea in the afternoon. For this cake, ground almonds are used instead of flour which results in wonderfully delicate and moist cake. Sure, the puréed apples and the 8 eggs help too. I'll be making this often.

Damp Apple and Almond Cake
Recipe by Nigella Lawson

For the apple purée
3 tart eating apples, such as Braeburns
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons caster sugar

For the cake
almond oil/flavourless vegetable oil to grease tin
8 eggs
325 g ground almonds
275 g caster sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
50 g flaked almonds

To decorate
1 teaspoon icing sugar

Peel, core and chop the apples roughly. Put them in a saucepan with the lemon juice and sugar, and bring the pan to a bubble over a medium heat. Cover the pan and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes or until you can mash the apple to a rough purée with a wooden spoon or fork. You should have about 285 g of purée  Leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 180 C; oil a 25 cm springform tin with the oil and line the bottom with baking parchment. Put the cooled purée in the food processor with the eggs, ground almonds, caster sugar and lemon juice and blitz to a purée. Pour and scrape into the prepared tin, sprinkle the flaked almonds on top and bake for about 45 minutes. It's worth checking after 35 minutes, as ovens do vary, and you might find it's cooked earlier - or indeed you may need to give it few minutes longer.

Put on a wire rack to cool slightly, the spring open. This cake is best served slightly warm, though still good cold. Push a teaspoon of icing sugar through a fine sieve to give a light dusting. If you'd like, by all means, mix in a pinch or so of ground cinnamon with the icing sugar before you sieve it on the cake at the end.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Chocolate Cheesecake

The internet is not working again and I am not happy! I'm posting this from the office. Obviously not during working hours, just in case if people are checking. I hope you all had a great weekend. I told you on my previous post that I might bake on the weekend and I did: chocolate cheesecake. Yum! I didn't plan to bake cheesecake but this was a request from my dear friend Michelle. She wanted to learn to make cheesecake, so she came around on Sunday and helped with the baking and she did all the washing-up. She can definitely come again.

The only thing that we change to the recipe is instead of using digestive biscuits for the base, we use gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. Michelle is allergic to gluten. It'll be such a shame if she cannot taste the delicious cheesecake. And the gluten-free cookies work just fine.

Anyway, gotta go home now. I am tired and hungry. Unlike chocolate and cheesecake, these are not good combinations.

Have a great one!

Chocolate Cheesecake
Recipe By Nigella Lawson
For list of ingredients and instructions, click here.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Soba Noodles with Sesame Seeds

So, the rumours aren't true. I am not dead and I have not stopped eating (no way!). The truth is, my internet has not been working (how annoying!!) and it's been super busy at work. If you work in education, though you don't have to, you know how it feels at the beginning of a new academic year. Scary. But I actually rather enjoy the manic-ness. Time just flies when you're busy.

But even on the most tiring day, I try to eat well and eat right, I want foods that require minimum effort to make and most importantly, delicious. One of my favourites is this soba noodles with sesame seeds. Lovely on its own, but sometimes I like to have it with grilled salmon.  The original recipe calls for the noodles to be left with the sauce for thirty minutes to let the flavours develop. *sigh. I am afraid, that's just impossible!

Now, the internet is working again... I cannot wait to read what you've been up to and I look forward to a relaxing weekend at home... maybe I'll bake something.

Soba Noodles with Sesame Seeds
Recipe by Nigella Lawson
For list of ingredients and instructions, click here.