Saturday, December 02, 2006

Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer

Well, summer has hit us with a bang!
I'm not suggesting you wear tomatoes on your head, though. (It's not a self-portrait, either, in case you were wondering!) There are far better uses for them! As it's too hot to cook much, it's time for more salad ideas. Salads with substance make for good main meals, leaving room for dessert for those amongst us who have a 'sweet tooth'!

Salad Nicoise with Salmon: Make a dressing with: 3 tablespoons basil oil ( extra virgin olive oil with 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil), an extra 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and pinch of sugar. Season to taste. Cook 500g chat potatoes (small new spuds!) in boiling, salted water until just tender. Drain and set aside to cool slightly. While still warm, halve the potatoes and combine with 200g baby green beans, blanched, refreshed and halved, in a bowl. Pour over 2 tablespoons of dressing and stir well. Combine 300g cherry tomatoes and 200g yellow teardrop tomatoes,, halved and 100g small black olives in a separate bowl, pour over 2 tablespoons of dressing and stir well. Combine 6 hard-boiled eggs, quartered and 200g bottled or canned artichoke hearts, pour over 2 tablespoons of dressing in separate bowl. Place 400g salmon fillets on an oven tray lined with foil, sprinkle with lemon juice and cook gently under a pre-heated medium grill until just cooked through and the fish flakes when tested with a fork. Cool. Break into small pieces and combine in a bowl with remaining dressing. Arrange ingredients in groups on a large serving platter and garnish salmon with anchovy fillets (optional, if you don't like anchovies...I love them!).

Goat Cheese & Grilled Pancetta Salad with Roasted Hazelnut Dressing: Dressing: Place 100g hazelnuts on oven tray and roast at 180C for 5-10 minutes or until skins become papery. Remove skins by rubbing together in a tea-towel. Set aside 50g hazelnuts for the salad. Process remainder until well chopped. Add to the chopped hazelnuts 3 tablespoons Macadamia nut oil (if you can find hazelnut oil use that), 3 tablespoons light olive oil, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Process until smooth. Salad: Blanch 2 bunches trimmed asparagus in boiling, lightly salted water until just tender. Refresh under cold running water and drain. Combine 200g mesclun salad leaves in a large bowl. Pour over half the dressing and toss well. Cook 200g thinly sliced pancetta under a pre-heated hot grill until crisp. Drain on absorbent paper and break into large pieces. Divide dressed salad leaves among individual plates. Top with pancetta, roughly sliced or crumbled goat cheese and roughly chopped remaining hazelnuts. Drizzle a little more dressing over each salad. This can be made as one large salad, of course.

Roast Beef Salad: Dressing: combine 150ml olive oil, 75ml lemon juice, 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives and 2 tablespoons finely chopped sun-dried capsicum/peppers, in a bowl with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Whisk thoroughly. Mayonnaise: place 1/2 cup whole-egg mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce and a few drops of Tabasco sauce in a small bowl and stir well to combine. In individual plates or one large platter arrange 12 large, thin slices of rare roast beef, 180g half cherry tomatoes, 200g Mesclun salad leaves, 250g canned or bottled artichoke hearts, halved, if large, 75g small dill pickles and 120g smallish white pickled onions. Spoon dressing over the salad. Top with mayonnaise and serve immediately.

Now for the 'Sweet-Toothers'.....Mango Tart: Line one large 30cm flan tin or 2 smaller tins 23cm in diameter with Flan Pastry: chop 150g butter into small pieces and put into the food process with 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup ground almonds and 2 cups plain flour. Turn machine on and process for a few seconds. Make into a dough with 1 egg and 1 teaspoon water. Do not overmix at this stage or pastry will be tough. Knead lightly with a little flour. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for half hour before rolling.

After lining the flan tin/s, cover with a sheet of lightly greased baking paper. Fill to the brim with dried beans. Bake in a moderately hot oven for 15 minutes. Remove paper and beans and bake a further 10 minutes. Cool. Spread Creme Patissiere (Put 2 cups milk, 1/4 cup sugar into saucepan. Bring to the boil. Meanwhile, put another 1/4 cup sugar into a small bowl of an electric mixer with 6 egg yolks. Beat together until thick then gradually add 2 level tablespoons plain flour, 2 level tablespoons cornflour. Pour the hot milk slowly into the mixture in the bowl with the motor running and beat together well. Return the mixture to the saucepan and stir or whisk constantly over a low heat until very thick and smooth. Flavour with vanilla essence and 1 or 2 tablespoons kirsch. Pour into a bowl. Cover immediately so a skin doesn't form. Store in fridge until continue...spread creme patisserie into pastry case. Cover with sliced fresh mango. Make up a glaze with sugar and water (or orange juice). Spoon over pie/s immediately, starting from the centre.

Honey Ice Cream: Place 200g honey in a pan and bring to the boil. Boil for 2-3 minutes. Mix together 150ml cream, 1 litre milk, 4 egg yolks and add to the honey. Stir it and cook over gentle heat until temperature reaches 80-85C or until the mixture leaves trails when dribbled off the end of the whisk. Do NOT allow to boil. Add 100g sugar to the mixture, stir well and strain through a fine sieve. Leave to rest in a cool place for an hour or so...then freeze. Before it's fully set, remove and beat again. Freeze until required, leaving it to sit to soften a little before serving.

They should give you something to think about for next weekend or perhaps for doubt, we're going to have a very hot Christmas Day again...worse luck!


  1. Hi Lee ~~ Some great recipes there, you must enjoy cooking do you? It is nice to have salads this weather
    I buy Woolworth's salad mix,various types of lettuce, red cabbage and carrot strips - then I add onion, celery, can of peas and corn, can of 4 bean mix and some halved cherry tomatos. It's colorful and nice.Thanks for your comments, glad you liked the Miracle story and the jokes.Did you get some pelargoniums
    Mine are looking good. Take care
    Love, Merle.

  2. Yes, Merle...I guess I do like cooking...I spent many years cooking professionally in restaurants etc., and still enjoy entertaining friends every so often.

    No pelagoniums as yet...I'll see if there are some at the market next Sunday, perhaps.

  3. Yum Yum!!
    Cheers Margaret

  4. A bit off topic, but here goes,

    I read a news article about the Ashes cricket match ongoing down under. I could not understand a word of it. So after doing a bit of research it seems the 'series' is headed for a draw, not the same as a tie. If not enough 'points' are scored within a time limit the games end. I need to read more on the game. In the time you read this I think it will be into day 4 of 5 (?). This reminded me of something once ago.

    About eight years prior I worked on a project in south Texas and stayed in the town of Weslaco. The Valley, as it is called here, is a river delta farming area, very urbanized, and isolated geographically as well as economically from the rest of the state along the border with Mexico. Not what is generally pictured as south Texas. Weslaco is sort of in the middle of this area. Across the street from my rented dive-- er abode was the local high school practice field. On Saturdays a group of Pakistanis gathered and played sand lot cricket. I watched on occasion, if the ball rolled across the street my way I'd toss it back. Three years later I stayed in the same place for another project. The cricket crowd was still there, but included Mexicans, Whites, and the original Pakistanis. They then wore proper cricket uniforms, caps, were very serious about decorum, and had a fun afternoon. I did a Google search of 'Weslaco Cricket'. What came up is their local satellite service provider makes a point of advertising they carry the best world wide cricket coverage. If the demand for cricket coverage is still there, they must still be playing the game there. Just thought ya' might find this interesting.

  5. Yes, that is very interesting,gtotracker...thanks for that.

    No, the series won't be drawn just yet. gto..this is the second game in the Ashes series...but as I write, this doesn't appear (to me) that this game will end up in a draw. I could be wrong...I'm hopeless in the technical side of cricket! The Aussies are building up their score at the moment...there is still a way to go yet. The Poms declared at 6 for 551 and at present the Aussies are 6/470....

    The Aussies won the first game of the series...