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Competition Results

For some reason, my post that was meant for today has not appeared. Luckily for me, I was able to get internet access today for the first time in four days.

As you know, I cooked on Friday for the Gourmet Garden Cook Off. After several problems such as the organisers losing our equipment and having prepared the entire dish with a butter knife, the cooking of my dish pretty much went to plan. I put up a lovely dish and the judges commented on how well it was cooked several times.

On a spit decision, my competitor, Carolyn from Desire Empire was named the victor.

The judges took a lot of time to deliberate on the dishes, and asked me several times what was in my dish. When they announced the winner, they said that unfortunately it came down to how much of the sponsors product was used, and my competitor used more product than me.

I have learned a lot through the experience and will be much better prepared if I ever enter a competition again.

I will be home tomorrow and then blogging can return to its normal pace. Thank you once again for your support and patience over the last week.

 
13 Comments

Posted by on June 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Gourmet Garden Cook Off: Lamb Cutlets

It’s here!

Today is the day I cook off in the semi finals of the Gourmet Garden Cook Off. A full report will follow, but I thought Id share with you what I will be cooking.

 

[ Serves: 3  |  TIME: 30 MINUTES  |  COST: $10  ]
[  JoeS RATING:  4.5  / 5  |  MY RATING: 4  / 5 ]

Ingredients

6 organic lamb cutlets – cleanly Frenched
1 cup bread crumbs
2 Free Ranged Eggs
1 tablespoon Gourmet Garden Chunky Garlic Paste
1 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Thyme Paste
1 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Rosemary Paste
zest of 1 lemon
20g butter
splash of oil
salt and pepper

Method

  1. To prepare the meat, ensure that the bones are perfectly Frenched, leaving a raw exposed bone at the end. Use aluminium foil to wrap the exposed bones to keep them clean until serving.
  2. In one bowl, scramble the egg and set aside.
  3. In one bowl, add the bread crumbs, garlic, thyme, and rosemary and lemon zest. Using your finger tips, mix the ingredients to ensure even distribution.
  4. Using the aluminium covered bones for ease of handling, dip the meat into the egg wash, using a spoon if necessary to ensure the meat is evenly covered in egg wash. Drip off excess.
  5. Lay the egg covered meat into the bread crumb mixture and use a spoon to ensure that the bread crumbs evenly coat the meat. Use the back of a spoon to press the meat down into the mixture before shaking off excess.
  6. Repeat the egg wash and bread crumb stages to apply a double coat of crumbs to each cutlet.
  7. Add the butter and a splash of oil to a warmed frying pan and bring to a moderate heat. Place the cutlets into the pan and cook for 4 minutes. Turn over and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes until golden brown.
  8. Remove the cutlets from the pan and allow to rest on a plate for 4 – 5 minutes before serving. Cover the meat with aluminium foil to keep it warm.
  9. Serve with seasonal vegetables and yoghurt dressing.

Observations

  • I will be serving this meal with seasoned vegetables tossed in garlic butter.
  • Diabetic Note: This meal isn’t too bad. It’s a little naughty with the bread crumbs but the vegetables have no carbs in it so it is balanced over all. Be gentle with the frying, though. Excess oil isnt always good.
  • Ethical Note: I had to decide what to cook for this meal that would take less than 30 minutes to prepare, cook and plate. I have decided to do a family favourite but put my own spin on it with the organic and free ranged choices. Hopefully my message will reach a larger audience.
  • Stay tuned, guys – I promise to post the results of the competition in about eight hours after the competition.
 

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Gourmet Garden Blog Off

As you guys know, I’ve been competing in the Gourmet Garden Blog Off. The competition is now over for round one, and judging has taken place. I have just received this in the email:

Dear Rhianna,

Thank-you for participating in the Blog Off round of our promotion and for your delicious recipe ideas! We are astounded by the amazing response to the promotion and all the fantastic blogs (you can see these at http://www.gourmetgarden.com/au/contents/view/Blog-Off).

The competition was tight however we have reviewed all the posts today and voted based on both blog and recipe creativity and we are delighted to invite you to progress to the “Cook Off” round of the promotion. Congratulations!!

I am SO excited, dear readers! I am through to the second round where I will be competing at the Good Food and Wine Show in either Sydney or Brisbane (details are not yet confirmed). I am not sure yet what I will be cooking but lets hope I have a choice. I have 45 minutes in which to create a masterpiece. Sourdough calzones do take their time to make (hours), but really are a huge crowd pleaser. You can’t go wrong with muffins and those zucchini cheese ones are pretty nice. Sauces and other condiments do make sensational additives to an otherwise ordinary meal. The brinjal was a pretty awesome pickle too, but is it good enough to be judged on?

What do you think? Id love some feedback from you guys! Help me decide what I should make 😉

 
6 Comments

Posted by on May 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Chicken Calzones – Gourmet Garden Blogoff

We adore Calzones. I mean, they are tasty crunchy parcels of awesome so what’s not to love, right? I’ve decided to share with you my spin on this family favourite using the Gourmet Garden herb collection. I know it looks like a lot of elements, but trust me, its easy and delicious! Its time well spent and the reward will be your families smiling faces!

Thai Chicken Calzone with Coriander and Yoghurt Sauce

[  Makes: 4  |  TIME: <10 HOURS  |  COST: $10  ]
[  JOES’ RATING: 4.5 /5  |  MY RATING: 4.5/5  |  BRITTANYS RATING:  4.5/5  ]

Ingredients

DOUGH: ADAPTED FROM A BREAD A DAY

1 ½ cups warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 cups wholemeal flour
2 cups white flour
1 cup sourdough starter

Thai Filling:

250 g free ranged chicken – cut into strips
1 cup tasty cheese, grated
1 capsicum, sliced
1 carrot, cut into julienne strips
1 bunch bok choy, blanched
1 spring onion, sliced thin
1 red onion, sliced thin
1 tablespoon Gourmet Garden Thai Seasoning
1 tablespoon Gourmet Garden Chunky Garlic Paste

Mediterranean Filling:

250 g free ranged chicken – cut into strips
1 capsicum, sliced
1 leek, cut thin
1 zucchini, sliced thin
1 tomato, sliced thinly
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
½ cup Romano Pecorino, grated
1 tablespoon  Gourmet Garden Chunky Garlic Paste
1 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Thyme Paste
1 teaspoon  Gourmet Garden Basil Paste

Yoghurt Sauce:

1 cup plain yoghurt
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon  Gourmet Garden Chunky Garlic Paste
1 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Coriander Paste
salt and pepper to taste

The list might be long, but its all basic pantry ingredients!

Method – Dough Preparation

  1. To prepare the dough, mix ¾ of the flour and water together until to difficult to stir. Turn out and knead until the dough is sticky and elastic. Place in a bowl, cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Remove the plastic wrap, and add the oil, salt, remaining flour, and starter.  Mix. If the dough looks very wet, add more flour by tablespoons only as needed.  Once desired consistency has been reached, continue knead until dough has been kneaded for a total of 5 to 6 minutes. Place the dough out into a large lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 – 4 hours.
  3. After resting, remove plastic wrap, slide a large spatula under one side of the dough, and gently fold it over the centre.  Do the same for the opposite side (imagine you’re folding a letter into thirds).  Then, turn the bowl 90º, and fold the dough in half over itself (as though you’re folding the letter in half).  Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, 1 – 4 hours or so.

The dough after the final rest is fluffy, light and easy to work.

Method – Thai Filling

  1. Fry the chicken in a little oil until cooled. Place in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Boil the bok choy lightly in a little water. Drain, and set aside.
  3. Fry the remaining vegetables (except spring onion) and spices in a frying pan until cooked half way through. Place in a bowl and set aside.

Method – Mediterranean Filling

  1. Fry the chicken in a little oil until cooled. Place in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Slice the tomato thinly and set aside.
  3. Fry the remaining vegetables (except the tomato) and spices in a frying pan until cooked half way through. Place in a bowl and set aside.

Folding and milk washing the calzones for the oven.

Method – Construction and yoghurt sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C.
  2. After the dough has had enough time to proof, divide dough into 4 sections, covering the pieces not being used.  Form into balls and roll each out on lightly floured surface to a 9 inch circle.  If your dough is too loose and sticky to roll, simply press and stretch each piece into a rough 9 inch circle.  Either way is fine.  Carefully transfer dough rounds onto prepared baking sheets.
  3. On one half of the dough circle, layer your ingredients leaving a 3cm border around the outside. Finish with a serving of cheese before fold the other half over to form a half circle pie. Use your hands to fold the sides to seal the ingredients like a pocket. Use a knife point to place a few slices into the calzone to allow the steam to escape and apply a milk wash.
  4. Bake calzones for 35 – 45 minutes, or until well-browned.
  5. While calzones are baking, mix all the sauce ingredients together. Serve calzones hot with lemon, seasoning and yoghurt sauce.

Assembling the Calzones is a matter of layering the goods in an orderly manner. Try to keep your layers neat to make sealing easier later.

Mediterranean Calzone. Notice the thickness of the pastry.

Observations

  • Although there are a lot of elements to this dish, it’s actually VERY simple to make. The dough may appear to be time-consuming, but you don’t need much time to work it. The majority of the time is in the proofing stages.
  • If you don’t have sourdough, you can use some yeast and an extra half cup of flour and water. Adjust til you have a moist dough.
  • Use your imagination with the fillings. Try these combinations: Chicken and Mushroom, Chicken, leek and Camembert, Lamb, spinach and feta and Pork, apple and fennel. Be guided by your taste buds!
  • If you are not a coriander lover, try substituting mint for coriander in the yoghurt sauce.
  • As delicious as the yoghurt sauce is, there are times when a squeeze of lemon is a much better option. Be guided by your taste buds.
  • This is a fantastic finger food / communal meal for special occasions, intimate gatherings or family dinners.
  • Diabetic Note: I tend to roll the pastry quite thin, and its all the better for my blood glucose levels. I also avoid eating the edge parts which are denser in pastry content. This selective grazing makes this meal total acceptable for my diabetes. Remember portion control, and enjoy!
  • Ethical Note 1: At the risk of boring my regular readers, I feel compelled to share some information about the ethical benefits of sourdough. Sourdough is a living natural yeast culture that allows doughs to rise naturally under their own power (without the need of manufactured yeasts) and add a delicious “sourdough” taste to your baked items. They are easy to maintain and provide a wealth of health benefits. Baking with sourdough is fun and easy and is an excellent way of by passing all the additives in commercially available breads and doughs.
  • Ethical Note 2: I always use free ranged chickens. The taste difference is quite big and needs to be experienced to appreciate. Ethically speaking, the difference between free ranged and commercially mass-produced chicken is worlds apart.
  • Ethical Note 3: As usual, most of the vegetables are sourced from local farmers markets and where possible is organic,  ensuring the lowest possible carbon footprint. The taste and health benefits are evident, but the drain on the environment is reduced. Consider switching one meal a week to organic produce to reduce your impact on the earth.

The family table set to share a communal meal. This recipe makes four calzones, however my family of three can only eat two at one meal. YAY leftovers for lunch!

 

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Pork with Plum Sauce – Gourmet Garden Blogoff

Hmmm, pork. So tasty… And do you know what’s better than pork? Organic free ranged pork! The other day at the farmers markets I bought a lovely piece of collar butt pork from Sunforest Organic Meats. We grabbed some local organic veggies for steaming and Joe suggested the most delightful accompaniments to jazz up an otherwise ordinary meal; Chilli Plum Sauce and Garlic Butter. Welcome to heaven!

Organic grilled pork with plum sauce, steamed vegetables and garlic butter.

[  SERVES: 8  |  TIME: 10 MIN  |  COST: <$4  ]
[  JOES’ RATING: 3.5 / 5  |  MY RATING: 4 / 5 ]

Ingredients – Plum Sauce

375 g plum jam
1 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Chunky Garlic Paste
½ teaspoon Gourmet Garden Hot Chilli Paste
½ teaspoon Gourmet Garden Ginger Paste

Method – Plum Sauce

  1. Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and summer until reduced to a desired consistency.
  2. Serve hot but note that the sauce will solidify upon sitting.

Hmm, sauce. Sweet, sticky, silky, spicy sauce!

[  SERVES: 2 – 4  |  TIME: 2 MIN  |  COST: <$2  ]
[  JOES’ RATING: 4 / 5  |  MY RATING: 4 / 5 ]

Ingredients – Garlic Butter

1 – 2 tablespoons softened butter
1 teaspoon  Gourmet Garden Chunky Garlic Paste
1 teaspoon shredded parsley
freshly ground pepper to taste

Method – Garlic Butter

  1. In a small bowl or container, mash all the ingredients together.
  2. Place a dollop on hot steamed vegetables to add a special something.

Observations

  • Oh yum! This pork and the plum sauce was a marriage made in heaven. In fact, I am pretty sure this plum sauce just became a favourite sauce for our family. These quick, cheap and easy condiments will make any meal taste heavenly. It doesn’t take much to jazz up a normal family meal. Just imagination!
  • The plum sauce will thicken on sitting, but a little heat will see it back to its delicious silky sweet liquid form! It can be stored in the fridge for several days in an air tight container until needed.
  • Garlic butter is pretty much made of winning and can be used in everything from vegetables to bread. You can store any left over garlic butter in an air tight container in the fridge for a few days or so.
  • Diabetic Note: hahahaha…… oh right. yes. Ummm…. Diabetics… I hate to break it to you but… jam = bad. (I know! Here, share my tissues *sob*) There is SO much sugar in the jam that it’s probably best reserved for special dinners. And used sparingly. (I am sure licking the plate clean of any sweet sticky goodness wont add any additional calories…). The butter isn’t good for you either, but its tasty! Again, sparingly. (I know, I know, I’m the fun police!)
  • Ethical Note: If we all switched from beef to more sustainable meats such as pork and poultry, most of our climate change issues would almost disappear. Every small change we make as individuals affects the world we live in, for the good and bad. Make a commitment to switch one meal a week to an organic option, and give the earth that sustains us a bit of a break. One meal, one step, one earth.

Dinner was so awesome that everyone wanted their fair share.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on May 16, 2012 in Food: Ethical Eating

 

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