Monday, December 19, 2011

My New Favourite Canapé

This season, I’m getting seriously involved in a hot and heavy relationship with glitter nail polish. I've also been to some mental Christmas parties where I have been lovingly fed some of the best party snacks ever. The two (nail polish and festive eating) really do walk hand in hand, as it just isn’t Christmas without glitter, and it isn’t glitter without a party, and it REALLY isn’t a party without food, even if it’s there to play no larger role than to soak up the Veuve.  
Everyone has their fall-back canapé. My mum whips up little tarts of smoked trout, wasabi cream and pickled red onion for every event without fail. There is also a dish that appears at a few family functions (not for a while, however) - the ever-suspicious Seven-Layer Dip. Two of those layers are comprised of grated cheddar cheese, there is guacamole in there somewhere, and also those pre-sliced black olives you can buy in a jar. I think sour cream might hide under the second layer of cheese, or was it under the salsa? Anyway, it’s essentially nachos minus the chips. Mind you, we all freaking loved it until a few years ago when it disappeared from the banquet table. This strange disappearance may or may not have occurred around the same time of the Donna Hay Magazine launch, banishing grated cheddar from garnishing dips forever.
I first tasted something like this at John & Peter Canteen’s launch party at CarriageWorks in Eveleigh. They served theirs on a crisp, fried pastry with a light snowfall of Parmesan (which I forgot to put on mine before I photographed them, remember to do it!). Whipping the ricotta with a little milk smooths out the lumps and bumps and whips it up into something so soft and creamy you’ll want to dive head first into it. It’s milky taste softens the blow of the salty prosciutto, before the Parmesan ties it all together into a bite-sized canapé dream. The beetroot chips may look like dried salami (as my friend Emily pointed out) but I reckon they look quite pretty under the white ricotta, and are something a bit different to the boring old corn chip.
Happy holidays, and happy snacking! 
Beetroot chips with whipped ricotta and prosciutto

350g full-fat fresh ricotta
splash of milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 x bag beetroot corn chips (the round ones, you can get them at any good providore, like Thomas Dux. You could use plain round corn chips too, but try to get unsalted ones.)
about 15 very thin slices of prosciutto
Parmesan cheese

Using an electric mixer, whip the ricotta, milk, salt and pepper until it is smooth and fluffy; about 3 minutes.

Lay out about 25-30 beetroot chips on a serving tray. Fill a piping bag with the whipped ricotta and pipe about a 20cm blob of ricotta onto each chip. Top with a torn piece of prosciutto, and using a microplane or very fine grater, grate parmesan over the top of everything before serving. The whipped ricotta will last in the fridge for about 2-3 days if you want to whip it beforehand. WHIP IT GOOOOOD.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lessons in Lomography #2

After my last attempt at taking photos with the Holga camera that Ed gave me last Christmas, things have improved only slightly. I think I roll the film along too far when I get to the next frame, and I also probably hold the shutter open for too long. It's not an automatic shutter so it's hard, ok! I do kind of like these two though, especially the last one which was taken at Bondi. We were eating ice creams and watching the Festival of the Winds, which is the annual day of kite-flying on the beach. The festival is my Grandmother's favourite day of the year and always reminds me of her.

I obviously need some tips, anyone have any?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lime and Herb Mayonnaise

There is a story that Ed's best friends like to dredge up from time to time, usually when Ed eats something exotic, or announces he might cook dinner. There are laughs and laughs and a few frowns(from my direction)when they bring up "the time when Ed would only eat cheese and mayonnaise sandwiches."

This information is a little unnerving, but also not surprising, because we all have something weird we like to eat. For me it's that awful Kraft spreadable cheese that comes in a jar. I love it on Cruskits. I know it's not "cheese" but it's my dirty little food habit, and I'm not going looking on the back of the label searching for ingredients either. Ignorance is bliss. Hopefully homemade mayo will make for an acceptable stand-in in Ed's sandwiches. It is also incidentally dreamy with freshly peeled prawns, eaten on a picnic blanket in the park around Christmas time.

Lime and Herb Mayonnaise
Expanded on a recipe for basic mayonnaise from The Australian Women's Weekly COOK: How to Cook Absolutely Everything

Makes 1 cup of mayonnaise

2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup neutral-flavoured oil such as canola or grape seed oil
1/2 cup mild olive oil
juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons dill, finely chopped
2 tablespoons mint, finely chopped
salt and black pepper

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and mustard until combined and smooth. In a small jug combine the two oils.

Now this part is way easier if you have a friend/sister/lover/kidlet/spider monkey to help you out, whisking all the while, pour the oil into the yolks in a very, very thin, steady stream. Don't rush this, the yolks and oil have to emulsify not too quickly or the mayo will separate.

Make sure you don't stop whisking until all the oil is incorporated and the mixture has thickened and is beautiful and glossy. Add the lime juice and herbs, whisk together and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour into a jar and keep in the fridge. Amazing with prawns, ham, roast beef sandwiches, fish, a whole bunch of things!