Monthly Archives: July 2012

Pantry Tomato & Cranberry Relish

I love the feeling of making my own sauces and condiments (case in point here and here). Most of the time, they turned out to be easier than I’ve imagined. Having said that, I do consciously try to steer away from recipes that are too complicated for my fuss free minded self. :P

Now making relish is no rocket science. Or at least this is what I gather from reading cookbooks. The only discouragement maybe the cooking time required to reduce the mixture into thick and sticky jam like consistency. But this can be easily averted if you make in a smaller quantity (you can halve the recipe below to make one cup of relish) and see if relish making agrees with you.

Not only I started small, I also started by using ingredients that are already in my pantry. The prep work for this recipe is minimal. So minimal that it can be a spontaneous relish making exercise if you wish. All you need to do is to peel and roughly chop the garlic and ginger…the rest is basically opening cans of tomatoes, pouring and mixing stuff together. Sounds pretty easy huh?

Pantry Tomato & Cranberry Relish

(Tweaked very slightly from The Food of India – A Journey for Food Lovers)

Makes two cups

What you’ll need:-

  • 6 – 8 garlic cloves (depending on the size & your preference), roughly chopped
  • about 5 cm (2 inches) piece of ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
  • 2 x 400g/14 ounces canned chopped tomatoes
  • 310ml/10.4 fluid ounces (1.25 cups) clear vinegar
  • 350g/ 12 ounces soft brown sugar
  • 2 tbsps dried cranberries (aka craisins) – original recipe calls for raisins (aka sultanas)
  • 2 tsps salt
  • chilli powder (optional) – which I have omitted
  • a small food processor
  • a 2.7 litre / 91 fluid ounces sized pot
  • 1.5 hours of your time ;)

(1) Fill a food processor with garlic, ginger and some canned chopped tomatoes – see Note 1. Blend until smooth…like smoothie. Set aside. (2) Meanwhile, fill a pot with the remaining canned tomatoes, dried cranberries, brown sugar, salt and vinegar.  Bring the mixture to the boil over medium heat and then add the ginger-garlic-tomatoes mixture. (3) Reduce the heat to allow the mixture to simmer gently for 1.5 hours, stirring occassionally, until the mixture is thick enough… resembling a thick jam – See Note 2. (4) Add cayenne pepper to taste should you wish to do so. (5) Leave to cool, then pour into sterilized jars (as per the recipe book: wash the jars in boiling water and dry them in a warm oven). Store in cool place or in the fridge after opening.

Note 1 – The recipe says half the tomatoes but depending on the size of your food processor (mine is a really small one), just pour enough to fill up the food processor (no more than 1 can). Adding liquid will help to blend the ginger and garlic into very fine pieces. For this recipe, the canned tomatoes is the “liquid”.

Note 2 – I let the mixture simmer uncovered. When the mixture became really thick (about the last half hour of cooking time) and started to splatter a little, I place the pot cover, tilted to aside and continue to finish cooking. This way it will reduce the splatter around the kitchen area, allowing the mixture to reduce at the same time. The thicker the mixture, the more likely it is going to stick and burn. So towards the last half hour (apprx) of cooking time, you basically need to stand by the pot to stir gently.

Relish makes sandwiches more stylish and gourmet-esque. I also love relish with cheese and crackers. What else do you like to (or can) add relish to?

Leek, Lemon & Feta Bite-Sized Quiche

I was a looking for a lemon dish to bring to the monthly cooking club in Orange called the Orange Feast. This month’s theme was lemon.  It was a my first participation and I wanted to make a good impression.

Even though I was really proud with my lemon brownies, I thought brownies as nibbles maybe a tad too heavy. So I decided on savoury nibbles instead.  To play it safe, quiche is my top choice.  To stay true to the lemon theme, I was delighted to discover this leek, lemon and feta quiche recipe. It was a really easy recipe and perfect do ahead dish. After all, quiche tastes better overnight.

Leek, Lemon & Feta Bite-Sized Quiche

Makes 36 bite-sized quiche

(tweaked very slightly from food52)

What you’ll need:-

  • 4 sheets frozen puff pastry (used Pampas Reduced Fat Puff Pastry)
  • 1 leek, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tsps freshly grated lemon zest (used 2 medium sized lemons)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 100g/3.5 ounces feta cheese, diced into 36 small pieces
  • Cooking oil to grease a 12-hole cupcake pan
  • A 7.5cm/3 inches diameter cookie cutter

(1) Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius/ 375F. Thaw puff pastry according to package instructions. Grease cupcake pan with some cooking oil. (2) Rinse off any visible dirt and slice the roots from the end. Remove the dark green tops, leaving the light green with the white portion of the leek. Slice the leek as thinly as possible. Rinse the sliced leek in a fine mesh colander to get rid of hidden dirt deep in the layers of the leek. Drain and pat dry with a kitchen towel. (3) Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the leek and cook until it is just wilted (when the slices of leek are about to give off the liquid. Turn off the heat and set aside. (4) In a large measuring jug, using a whisk of a fork, beat together the milk, cream, eggs, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Set aside. (5) Place a sheet of thawed puff pastry (with the plastic divider still attached) on a chopping board, plastic side down. Use a cookie cutter and cut the sheet. A 7.5cm/3 inches in diameter cookie cutter can yield 9 portions per sheet (see the photos above). (6) Transfer the cut puff pastry to cupcake tin. Press the pastry slightly in the hole to form a “cup” to hold the egg mixture. (7) Distribute a small portion of leek into each hole. Pour the egg mixture and top with slices of feta cheese. (8) Bake quiche for 20 minutes or until the egg filling is firm and the top surface is golden brown.

Potato, Avocado & Pickled Jalapeños Salad

Whenever I don’t feel like doing too much in the kitchen after work, I don’t mind buying a roast chicken from the supermarket as my quick dinner fix. Sometimes, I will also buy a side salad and potato salad is often my favourite pick.

Roast chicken and potato salad… you can’t beat this combination.

For today’s dinner, I resorted to the garlic and chilli roast chicken from Woolworths. But instead of getting the potato salad from there, I’ve decided to make my own with an addition of avocado and pickled jalapeños.

Avocado has a similar consistency as cooked potatoes. That’s why I thought it will work in my creamy potato salad.

I like to have pickled ingredients in my potato salad…simply to distract myself from the fact that this is a carb laden salad. ;)

Potato, Avocado & Pickled Jalapeños Salad

Quantity is enough to fill a Pyrex Storage Fridge 1.1L Rectangular Storage Plus

What you’ll need:-

  • 3 large potatoes (I used red skin potatoes)
  • A recently boiled hot water to cook the potatoes
  • 1 Hass avocado
  • Juice from half a lemon – to
  • 1 French shallot (you can buy it from Coles, Woolworths or Harris Farm)
  • 6 pieces pickled Jalapeños *adjust to taste*
  • 3 – 4 tbsps mayonnaise
  • A handful of parsley
  • Ground paprika for garnish *optional*

 (1) Boil whole potatoes (skin on) until soften when prick through using a satay stick – see Note 1.  Cool, peel the skin, cut into cubes and transfer them into a large salad bowl – See Note 2. (2) Finely chop a French shallot and pickled pickled Jalapeños. Add them to the salad bowl with the potatoes. (3) Cut the avocado in half and remove its pit – see Note 3. (4) Squeeze some lemon juice over the cut side up. With one half of the avocado cradles in your hand, use the tip of a knife and score the avocado vertically and then horizontally, to form score multiples of cubes (be careful not to score all the way, thus breaking the skin). Then use a spoon and scoop the cubed avocado out gently onto the potatoes. (5) Add 3 to 4 tbsps of mayo (depending on how creamy you like your potato salad to be) and use a fork and spoon to mix all the ingredients together. (6) Mix in chopped parsley and garnish with a sprinkling of paprika if you wish.

Note 1 – It took me about 40 minutes to cook the whole potatoes to my preferred “softness”. If you are pressed for time, you can peel and dice the potatoes first and then boil them. This ensures more surface area. Translation – less cooking time.

Note 2 – I cut them into fairly large chunks so that when I mix the potatoes with the mayo at the later stage, the potatoes do not turn into a big mash potato instead. The potatoes will mash a little when you toss them around with the dressing. Also, to speed up the cooling process, I actually “rinsed” the cooked potatoes under running cold water.

Note 3 – You can lift the seed out gently with a spoon or you can hit the seed with a knife and twist to lift it out. [information source: ehow]. I have also found another way depicted by the Nutrition Diva to be intriguing. It is actually a similar way to how I remove the flesh of a mango from its skin. This probably works well if the avocado isn’t too ripe. So select whichever way that will work for you! :)