Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Macadamia and wattleseed Baklava

Is there anything better than a dark Turkish/Bosnian coffee with a sickly-syrupy-sweet slice of Baklava and a mid-afternoon chat with a good friend?! Growing up I watched my mum prepare Baklava many times, and as soon as my brother and I were old enough, we would sit down as a family for a Bosnian coffee with baklava, and sometimes Turkish delight and tahini Halva. What wonderful memories! She used the more traditional walnut in her Baklava, and though it didn't require any changes, my love for experimentation has resulted in this Aussie version! Wattleseed, for those of you who may not have heard of it, is the seed of an Australian Acacia plant. It has a subtle flavour and aroma reminiscent of ground coffee and cocoa - a perfect addition to this dessert!

Makes 750g Baklava

200g ground macadamias
1 tsp ground and roasted wattleseed
3 Tbsp rapadura sugar
100g butter, melted until liquid
200g filo pastry

150g rapadura sugar
150mL water
2 tsp lemon juice
2 cardamom pods
1 Tbsp rose water
1/4 tsp orange flower water

Preheat oven to 180C. In a bowl combine the ground macadamias, wattleseed, and 3 Tbsp of sugar. Grease a small baking dish (mine is 25cm by 17cm). Place a couple of sheets of filo pastry in the baking dish, folding the edges in so it is the right size. Top with a little bit of butter and sprinkle with some macadamia mixture. Cover with another 2 sheets of filo pastry and press down gently. Repeat until all of the macadamia mixture is used up. Finish with 2 sheets of filo pastry. Press down firmly. With a sharp knife cut the baklava into pieces - vertical lines in one direction and 45 degree diagonal lines in the other. Bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the syrup. Place the sugar, water, lemon juice, cardamom pods and orange flower water in a saucepan and heat gently while stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Then increase the temperature and simmer for 10 minutes without stirring. Stir in the rose water and remove the cardamom pods. Keep syrup warm while waiting for baklava to finish baking. Once out of the oven, pour syrup evenly over the top of the baklava. Allow to cool before serving.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mole Poblano with crunchy avocado and mango salsa

Being a life-long chocolate addict, I still remember the sunny day a few years back when I discovered that you can eat it in a main meal. (What?! I don't have to wait for dessert anymore?! Fantastic!!) Since then we have had the pleasure of feasting on Mole Poblano many times and now I think I have the perfect accompaniment: crunchy avocado and mango salsa! Celery and red capsicum offer the crunch, while buttery avocado and sweet tropical mango taste divine with the nutty-spicy-chocolatey flavours of the mole.

Serves 3

Crunchy avocado and mango salsa
1 celery stalk, diced
1 small red capsicum (i.e. sweet pepper, for non-Aussies!), diced
1 large mango cheek, diced
1-2 shallots diced
1 avocado, diced
handful of coriander, chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 Tbsp maple or agave syrup

Mole Poblano
2 corn cobs, sliced in 5cm-thick rounds
1 sweet potato, large chunks
(Other veggies you have in your fridge may also be used, e.g. plantain, green beans, pumpkin...)

1 dried ancho chilli
1 dried pasilla chilli
1 dried mulatto chilli
3 Tbsp peanut oil
1 small onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, crushed
30g goji berries (use raisins if you prefer)
30g almonds
30g peanuts
30g sesame seeds
3-4 handfuls corn chips, crushed (do this by hand straight in to the pan)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground star anise
1/2 tsp allspice
400ml vegetable stock
50g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)

Deseed chillies, tear in to small pieces, fry in 1/2 Tbsp peanut oil for a few minutes then transfer to a bowl. Cover chillies with boiling water and leave to soak for 20-30 minutes. While the chillies are soaking, prepare the remaining ingredients. Parboil the corn and sweet potato for 5 minutes then set aside. (Roasting the sweet potato will bring out a better flavour, if you have the time!) To prepare the salsa, mix all ingredients in a bowl.

Drain all but a little of the water from the chillies and blend to a puree in a small food processor.

Heat the remaining peanut oil in a frying pan. Fry the onion until softening slightly then add garlic, goji berries, peanuts, almonds, sesame seeds, corn chips, oregano, thyme and fry for a few more minutes until almonds are just starting to brown. Add the cinnamon, cloves, star anise and allspice and fry until fragrant. Add the chilli puree and vegetable stock and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and puree with a hand held blender (warning: wear an apron!) or place in a food processor. Return to the heat and add the chocolate, stirring while it melts. Season to taste with salt and maybe a little sugar.

Add the corn and sweet potato chunks and simmer for a few more minutes.

Serve with brown rice.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy new year everyone! :)

We have a new addition to our family! Suco joined us in December 2008. He is a gorgeous baby blue-fronted Amazon parrot. He hasn't had a chance to try guava yet but so far he is obssessed with mango, blueberries and green beans!

More recipes will be online soon. Watch this space during January for sorbet, a macadamia-studded dessert and more!