Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The real four ingredients

Often the simplest recipes are the best, and four ingredients really is all you need. Not the four ingredients of the cookbook fame, with all their preservatives, flavourings and packaging, but the pantry staples that your great Grandmother would recognise. 

Eggs, cheese, salt and pepper for an omelette. Flour, baking powder, butter and milk for scones. Lemons, eggs, sugar and water for a lemon pudding.

Sure, the recipes aren't always low in sugar, salt or fat, but they're made from real ingredients with no nasties.

Since the birth of the twins, I've found myself relying on my mother-in-law's currant loaf more than once if I need to whip something up quickly. It's easy, can be frozen and relies on ingredients commonly found on my shelves. Although I confess, last time I made it I put out a desperate call to family up the road for some currants. I can happily report I am now restocked.

Janet's Currant Loaf

1 cup currants
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup warm tea
2 cups self raising flour

Place fruit and sugar in a mixing bowl and pour tea over. Let stand one hour or more. Stir flour into mixture and pour into a greased, lined bar tin. Bake in moderate oven for 1 hour (try 160).


I love the flavour the tea imparts and I'm keen to try it with earl grey, or maybe a strong smokey blend. Serve fresh with a little smear of butter... If you can bear to break with four ingredient traditions.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Feeling dippy

I have a confession: when it comes to hors d'oeuvres, I'm the scoffer who eats more than their share. Especially now I'm a breastfeeding mumma - although there's quite a few mums amongst my friends who are either pregnant or have babies younger than mine, so I'm rapidly losing my excuse.

Not only do I eat a lot, I also find nibbles rather expensive. I do love a delicious wedge of European cheese, but it's a treat kept fairly rare by my budget. What DOES fit in my budget are canned chickpeas. And what can you make from chickpeas? Hummus.

This is a recipe I've been making for nearly ten years. I'm really sure how authentic it is, but it's quick, easy and feeds a crowd. What's more, apparently it's quite low in fat.

3/4 cup (150g) dried chickpeas* or 450g canned chickpeas (I use canned)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, quartered
1/4 cup tahini (available from supermarkets)
1/4 cup lemon juice
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley

Drain cooked or canned chickpeas and reserve 1/3 cup of liquid. Using a stick blender (or food processor), blend chickpeas and liquid with salt, garlic, tahini and lemon juice. Top with cayenne pepper and parsley to serve.

*If using dried chickpeas, you'll need to soak them overnight and cook them.

I find the hummus tastes richer if it's prepared some time in advance, to allow the lemon and garlic flavours to develop.

You can use hummus on pides, with grilled kebabs or on roast lamb. However I serve it as a dip with lavish or Turkish bread, and carrot and celery if I have the time to chop. It forms part of my "holy trinity of easy dips to please a bbq crowd"' with Stephanie Alexander's guacamole (reproduced here: http://nickcancook.blogspot.com.au/2010/11/stephanie-alexander-guacamole.html) and her basil pesto (see  http://www.kitchengardenfoundation.org.au/uploads/09_resources/kg_recipes/Yrs5_6_BasilPestoRecipe_WEB.pdf).