Thursday, July 23, 2015

Creamy Fish Pie

This simple fish pie is perfect on a cool evening with a glass of white wine - something with enough acid to cut through the richness. 
I have cravings for this baby. Give it a whirl - you won't be disappointed. 

60 g (21/4 oz) butter 2 leeks, white part only, sliced
1 large fennel bulb (about 500 g/1 lb 2 oz), finely sliced (reserve the fennel tips for the sauce)
 1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 large garlic clove, crushed
 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) boneless, skinless white fish fillets, such as snapper, flathead, blue-eye or ling
80 ml (21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) dry white wine or vermouth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
 a few parsley stalks
a few celery leaves
40 g (11/2 oz/1/3 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
a large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) milk
250 g (9 oz/1 cup) crème fraîche or sour cream
 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
 1 tablespoon lemon juice
11/2 tablespoons finely chopped fennel tips or dill

16 slices of white bread, crusts removed
softened butter, for spreading
1 handful of flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped
75 g (21/2 oz/3/4 cup) finely grated parmesan cheese

serves 6–8

Melt a third of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add the leek and fennel. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until soft. Add the celery and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the celery is tender. Remove from the pan and set aside, but keep the pan at the ready for continuing the sauce.

Put the fish, wine, bay leaves, peppercorns, parsley stalks, celery leaves and 1 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan, then add enough cold water to cover. Slowly bring to the boil over medium heat, removing the fish with a slotted spoon as soon as it becomes opaque. Continue to cook the stock for a further 15 minutes, then strain and keep warm over low heat. When the fish is cool enough to handle, break it into large flakes.

Add the remaining butter to the same pan you sautéed the fennel in and place over medium–high heat. When the butter begins to sizzle, stir in the flour and nutmeg and cook for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in 750 ml (26 fl oz/3 cups) of the warm fish stock until smooth. Whisk in the milk and continue whisking for 5 minutes, or until very smooth and thickened slightly. Stir in the reserved fennel mixture and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Take the pan off the heat, then stir in the crème fraîche, mustard, lemon juice and fennel tips or dill. Season well. Carefully fold the sauce through the fish, trying not to break it up too much, then pour into a large, well-greased ceramic baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until ready to cook.

Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/Gas 5). To make the topping, spread the bread with softened butter, cut into small cubes and toss with the parsley and parmesan. Scatter evenly over the top of the fish mixture. Bake for 40–45 minutes, or until the topping is crunchy and golden and the filling is hot.
VARIATIONS: Replace the fish or half the fish with some cooked prawns (shrimp) and scallops and add a tablespoon of finely chopped capers. You can also use good-quality tinned or bottled tuna and a ready-made fish stock to save time.

This recipe is from Grub  - Favourite Food Memories by Jane Lawson

Copyright Jane Lawson. 
Image by Photographer Steve Brown. 
Text and images cannot be replicated in any format without permission from the author.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Quick and Easy Spicy Baked Beans Recipe

 My dad used to sing a little ditty about baked beans but it isn’t appropriate for print — well not in a cookbook anyway! The baked beans we eat today are believed to draw upon Native American as well as French or Italian origins. Baked beans were first produced commercially by the Americans in the late 1800s, with the British following close behind. Although the tinned form is very handy, it just doesn’t compare with this flavoursome version, which is almost, but not quite, as quick as opening the tin.

By request, from my cookbook 'Grub - Favourite Food Memories' here is a simple recipe for making your own Spicy Baked Beans at home.

serves 2 as a main and 4 as a side

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small brown onion, chopped
1 slice of bacon, finely chopped, optional if you are veggo
1 garlic clove, crushed
60 g (21/4 oz/1/4 cup) tomato paste (concentrated purée)
1 bay leaf 
1 teaspoon sweet paprika (or smoked sweet paprika if not using bacon)
large pinch of cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons mustard powder 
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons golden syrup (if unavailable, substitute with maple syrup  or honey) 
11/2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
2 x 400 g (14 oz) tins cannellini beans, drained

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium–high heat. Add the onion and the bacon, if using, and sauté for 5 minutes, or until lightly golden. Add the garlic, tomato paste, bay leaf, paprika, cayenne pepper, mustard powder, worcestershire sauce, golden syrup, sea salt flakes and 375 ml (13 fl oz/11/2 cups) water. Stir well and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the beans and cook, stirring occasionally, for a further 10–15 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and saucy and the beans are tender but not mushy.

Season to taste and serve on thick slabs of buttered toast or as a side dish for fried or poached eggs. These spicy baked beans also make a great jaffle filling.

**This recipe is from my cookbook Grub published by Murdoch Books  - all text and images are the copyright of Jane Lawson and may not be replicated without permission.
Image by super lovely photographer Steve Brown.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Homemade Crumpets

Australians have a fond attachment to this bubbly, yeast-leavened version of the pancake. Crumpets are (or were) commonly eaten toasted for breakfast - smothered with butter and  honey or Vegemite!

Thank you dear Simon Marnie (ABC Radio) for sharing your love of this recipe with your audience. It makes me smile to think of you whipping these up at home for the family! I agree - the store-bought version has NOTHING on homemade crumpets!

makes about 12 (serves 4–6)

2 teaspoons dried yeast
1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar
310 ml (103/4 fl oz/11/4 cups) warm milk
250 g (9 oz/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
vegetable oil, for cooking (choose one with a mild flavour)

3 tablespoons drained stem ginger in syrup, very finely chopped, plus 1 tablespoon of the syrup
 250 g (9 oz/1 heaped cup) mascarpone cheese
4 ripe nectarines or small peaches, cut into thin wedges
golden syrup, maple syrup or honey, for drizzling

To make the crumpets, sprinkle the yeast and sugar over 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) of the warm milk and stir until the yeast has dissolved. Cover with a clean tea towel (dish towel) and leave to sit in a warm place for 15 minutes, or until frothy.

Sift the flour and 1 teaspoon salt into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Whisk the remaining milk with the egg and pour into the well. Add the yeast mixture, then whisk to form a smooth, soft batter. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rest in a warm place for 1 hour, or until the batter has doubled in volume and is covered with bubbles. Mix the bicarbonate of soda with 1 tablespoon water and beat it into the batter. Leave to rest for a further 10 minutes before cooking.

Meanwhile, mix the chopped ginger and ginger syrup through the mascarpone cheese and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Heat a large, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Brush with vegetable oil. Working in batches, carefully ladle 1/4 cupfuls of the crumpet batter into the pan, leaving space in between for spreading. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the top is completely covered with popped bubbles and is dry to touch. If you like, flip the crumpets over and cook for a further 30 seconds, or until just very lightly golden. Remove from the pan and cover with a tea towel to keep warm while you cook the remainder. (You can also cook the mixture inside egg rings for a less rustic result, but you will need to use a little less mixture in each one.)

Serve two or three crumpets per plate, topped with a dollop of ginger marscapone, some nectarine slices and a drizzle of golden syrup. You can reheat any leftover crumpets by toasting or grilling (broiling) them.

VARIATION: For a savoury breakfast, smear the hot crumpets with butter and Vegemite or Marmite and top with a poached egg.

*Image above by the seriously lovely Photographer Steve Brown
Grub was published in 2007  by Murdoch Books and is currently out of print. Jane Lawson now owns the copyright of text and images which must not be used without permission.

Bacon and Egg Rolls with Homemade BBQ Sauce

While I'm feeling generous  .... Here's another recipe from my cookbook 'Grub - Favourite Food Memories'.  It is easy to make excellent Bacon and Egg sangers at home when you know how to make your own quick and easy BBQ sauce !

serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small brown onion, chopped
11/2 tablespoons tomato paste (concentrated purée)
1 tablespoon golden syrup  ( you can use maple too)
11/2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
11/2 teaspoons mustard powder

6 long, thin slices of good-quality bacon
olive oil/ butter, for pan-frying
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 large handfuls of baby rocket (arugula) leaves or baby English spinach
4 soft white bread rolls, split & buttered ( or you can spread with good quality mayo or aioli)

To make the barbecue sauce, heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium–high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, or until lightly golden. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for a few seconds, then add the golden syrup, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, paprika, mustard powder and 80 ml (21/2 fl oz/ 1/3 cup) water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes, or until thickened. Season to taste and set aside.

Cut the bacon into half-lengths. Brush a large frying pan with a little olive oil if your bacon is particularly lean ( this would never happen in my house - we like it streaky!) and place over high heat. Add the bacon and cook, turning occasionally, for 4–5 minutes, or until cooked to your liking.
When the bacon is almost ready, heat some butter in a  large, heavy-based frying pan over medium–high heat and carefully crack the eggs into the pan, keeping them well spaced so they don’t run into each other (use egg rings if you prefer). Fry the eggs until cooked to your liking — if you like your yolks runny like I do, especially when served in a roll, don’t flip the egg, just cook it without turning for 2–3 minutes, or until the white is fully set and the yolk is still a little wobbly.

Put some baby salad leaves on the bottom half of each bread roll and top each one with three pieces of bacon, an egg and a dollop of the barbecue sauce. Top with the bread roll lids and serve immediately. This one is best eaten with your hands!

*Image above by the seriously lovely Photographer Steve Brown and must not be replicated without permission.

Grub was published in 2007  by Murdoch Books and is now out of print. The rights to text and images have reverted to Jane Lawson.

Banana Bread with Brown Sugar Butter

For those who asked for the Banana Bread recipe from my book Grub  - here 'tis!
It's similar to the banana bread you have in Australian cafes and is great toasted with or without the brown sugar butter! Plain good quality butter works just as well.

makes 1 loaf (serves 6–8)

150 g (51/2 oz) unsalted butter, chopped & slightly softened
115 g (4 oz/1/2 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
45 g (13/4 oz/1/4 cup) soft brown sugar
2 large eggs 250 g (9 oz/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
11/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
5–6 (about 900 g/2 lb) very ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract 125 g
(41/2 oz/1/2 cup) sour cream (you can use a good creamy yoghurt too)
50 g (13/4 oz/about 1/2 cup) walnuts, pecans or macadamia nuts, chopped, optional

125 g (41/2 oz) unsalted butter, softened
45 g (13/4 oz/1/4 cup) dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F/Gas 2–3).
Grease the base of a loaf (bar) tin approximately 22 cm (81/2 inches) long, 9 cm (31/2 inches) wide and 9 cm (31/2 inches) deep. Line the base with baking paper.

Cream the butter with the caster sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time until well incorporated. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon with a pinch of salt, then beat it into the butter mixture to form a thick batter.

Combine the banana, vanilla and sour cream and fold into the butter mixture, with the nuts if using, until just combined. Pour into the prepared tin and smooth over the top.

Bake for 11/4 hours, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

While the cake is cooling, make the brown sugar butter by beating the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. (Do not refrigerate unless you are preparing the butter in advance, in which case remove it from the fridge before serving so it softens enough to spread easily.)

Thickly slice the banana bread using a bread knife or serrated knife. Toast and serve hot, spread with the brown sugar butter.

VARIATION: Top a slice of banana bread with thinly sliced banana, dollop with a little of the butter and place under a hot grill (broiler) until lightly golden.

Pssst... For those trying to eliminate/cut back on wheat flour there is another version here.  It used almond meal and potato flour etc but sometimes I replace them with coconut and coconut flour . Sometimes I add yoghurt, sometimes dates, or other nuts if not using almonds. Sometimes honey, sometimes maple syrup. A bit of chopped dark chocolate stirred through the batter is pretty damn good too.

*Image above by the seriously lovely Photographer Steve Brown
Grub was published in 2007  by Murdoch Books and is now out of print. Jane Lawson now owns the copyright of text and images which must not be used without permission. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

WIN a copy of ZENBU ZEN - Finding Food, Culture and Balance in Kyoto by Jane Lawson

Zenbu Zen takes you on a very personal 'armchair' escape to Kyoto, Japan with food and travel writer Jane Lawson. This book includes an informative, easy to read narrative with details about Japanese ingredients and plenty of authentic recipes.  

Plus the book is so beautifully designed and illustrated you won't be able to stop running your hands all over it! 

If you are interested in learning to cook and eat like the Japanese do at home and have an appreciation for the Japanese aesthetic you will love this book.

Lucky you! There is a copy up for grabs - all you have to do is this:

1. Go to the @zenbu_tours instagram page and follow if if you don't already

2. Find the image of the book cover above on the instagram thread and like it

3. Leave a word (plus #) under the photo on the instragram thread to describe what interests you most about Japan eg #Japanesetravel #japanesecuisine #food #zen #culture etc

That's it! 

You must enter by midnight AEST Friday 15 May 2015. 
All entries go in the hat and will be drawn on 16 May. 

Good Luck !

Friday, April 24, 2015

Win a copy of Snowflakes and Schnapps

Hello people of excellent taste who like to cook great food!

I'm giving you the chance to win a copy of my cookbook Snowflakes and Schnapps - the only book you need to get you through winter in style!

Just ask foodie Ann Brady who is currently cooking her way through the entire book, a HUGE effort and slightly crazy if I do say so myself - even I wouldn't attempt such a thing!  But I am so loving watching her recreate all my recipes and posting them to Facebook. (locate my facebook page if you want to take a peek) 

What fun - it's even made ME go back and cook a few things from it and her antics have inspired this giveaway - yep, it's Annie you need to thank if you win. 

OK, the rules are:

1. Go to my instragram page @janelawsonfood and follow it if you don't already (your still counted if you already like it!)

2. Find and 'Like' the image of the photo above 

3. Leave a one word comment (prefaced by a hashtag) describing something beautiful about winter eg #fireplace #snow #schnapps #soup #hot-toddies -you get the drift

That's it!

The competition closes midnight 01 May 2015 (AEST). 
All entries go into the hat. 
Good luck!