Monday, December 17, 2007

Simple Pasta Recipe

Merry Christmas everybody!

We have been hiking in New Zealand for the two weeks, so I am tanned and strong. A little pudgy perhaps, from being fed by Ryans' relatives, and our wonderful hiking guides.
Anyway, VeggieLove put a comment on my last post about simple pasta recipes. Thanks for the comment! I appreciate them all, but I especially enjoy the ones that lead to conversation.

For me, simple pasta goes something like this:
Put the water on to boil.
Get out the small frying pan, add a tablespoon of olive oil and let it heat gently.
Chop up some onion and garlic.
Throw it all in the frying pan, and stir until the onion is soft.
Add a tin of diced tomatoes, and a tablespoon of tomato paste.
Add a teaspoon of stock powder, and about a third of a cup of water.
If I'm adding dried herbs, I'd add them now. (basil and oregano, usually)
Let it simmer for a bit. (Usually the water has boiled by now, and the pasta is cooking)
If I'm adding fresh basil, I'd stir it through once I've taken the sauce off the heat.
When the pasta is cooked and drained, serve with the sauce, and fresh grated parmesan.

That's it, but the options are pretty open. You could add any chopped vegetables with the onion. Ham, bacon or salami can also go in then. For more depth of flavour for vegetarians, you could rehydrate some shitake mushrooms, and add both the water and the mushrooms (finely chopped). You can play with different herbs (coriander or rosemary are nice for a change) or different sorts of stock. If you have cooked chicken, you can shred it, and add it while the sauce is simmering. And toasted pine nuts are a fancy kick if you have some.

I think most good pasta recipes are simple. One or two strong flavours, plus some nice cheese, and everyone's happy.
Bon Apetite!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - November 26

Only 3 meals to plan this week! Actually, after a big weekend, I'm kinda glad..

Clear the fridge pizza
Fish parcels and roast veggies
Simple pasta

Happy Monday! Hope the election (or at least Australian Idol) went your way.

Friday, November 23, 2007

I Pod! Cooking Broad Beans

OK, the title was a gratuitous pun. But I really did pod half a kilo of broad beans. In my new tradition of trying weird and wonderful veggies from the farmers market, I bought a whole heap of the lumpy pods. I'd never tried cooking them before, and I've probably only eaten them once or twice.
After some brief internet research, I discovered that they needed to be podded, blanched and then possibly shelled. Which was a soothing activity to do in the early evening.
I ended up with surprisingly small pile of beans. I only peeled the big ones - partly because that was what the instructions said, and partly because I am lazy. Limes and Lycopene had some useful info. In the end, I blanched some flat beans, and steamed some asparagus, and called the whole thing salad. Dressed with extra virgin olive oil, cracked pepper and lemon juice, it was a nice dish that said 'Yay for summer!'

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Raclette: Fun with cheese

I bet you don't know what raclette is! I think of myself as a confirmed foodie, but when a BIG package arrived from the post office, I had no idea what it was. It looked a little bit like a tiny barbecue, and in fact, Ryan was excited at the idea of barbecue accessories. (boys are weird. who knew barbecues could have accessories??)
For an official definition, with explanatory pictures, look here. Ours came from Raclette Australia, and was a wedding present from my sisters. Thanks ladies!
I think our friend Aaron described it best. He said 'You mean a cross between fondue and teppanyaki?"
It's an electric grill that sits in the middle of the table, and everybody can cook things on top. Meanwhile, there are individual pans underneath, in which you can melt cheese and other goodies.
We didn't wait long to try it out, with a little help from our friends. This is the before picture, with all the yummy things we wanted to grill and melt.
It's traditional to pour your melted cheesy goodness onto roasted potatoes.
We ate a lot of potatoes.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - November 19

After a slight hiatus caused by too many dinners out, and too many trips for work, Menu Plan Monday is back! So with no further ado:
- Stuffed Capsicums
- Veggie Tofu Curry
- Quiche
- Spicy salami pasta
- Broad Bean soup

Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Butter Chicken Soup

This is my entry for the Weekend Cookbook Challenge. It's hosted by $40 a week this time, which also makes a great theme. I haven't been cooking much lately, but I knew immediately which cookbook I needed to dust off.
Ryan gave me Everyday Smart Food for the Family for my birthday last year. Like all the Destitute Gourmet books, it's about really clever food that's affordable. It doesn't have as many pictures as I like, so I don't turn to it often for inspiration. However, every single recipe I've tried has been a winner. This challenge had me trying a few new ones, like veggie samosas - but this soup was the winner. It's spectacularly good, has a very authentic flavour, and is rich without being heavy. I may have been over-generous with the chilli though. Our chilli powder is very hot.
Butter Chicken Soup
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
1 large, boneless chicken breast (or equivalent weight of boneless thigh meat) marinated
1 Tbsp butter
1 finely chopped onion
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 Can tomatoes, chopped without losing the juice
3 Cups chicken stock
1/4 C basmati rice
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp plain flour
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup cream
Natural yoghurt and fresh coriander to garnish
Combine the marinade ingredients in a glass bowl. Cut the meat into small pieces or slice thinly and mix into the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
To make the soup, melt the butter in a medium suacepan and add marinated chicken and chopped onion. Stir constantly until chicken is sealed and the onion is soft. Add the dried spices and ginger, then stir in the tomatoes and chicken stock.
When simmering pour in the basmati rice, stir, and simmer for 10 minutes. Mix together the tomato paste and flour and whisk this, a little at a time, into the soup. Add the brown sugar and cream, and season to taste. Serve in soup bowls with a dollop of natural yoghurt and some chopped fresh coriander. Provide torn-up naan bread for dunking.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Emergency Entertaining: Cous Cous Salad

We have reached barbecue season! And because we are those sort of people, Ryan asked a friend over for dinner with about half an hour's notice.

I wasn't fussed (Ryan cleaned up). I had a big pack of sausages, enough crispy things for a simple green salad, and everything I needed to make couscous salad. Ryan went to the shops for beer (and crusty bread). Lovely home made cake was brought by lovely friend. I think our entire dinner cost about $5 a head. And it was easy and happy and fun.

Potato salad would have been too slow. So here's my recipe for couscous salad.

Cous Cous Salad

Boil the kettle. Put 3/4 cup of couscous in a heat proof bowl, and start adding fun stuff. For me that was a couple of tablespoons each of sultanas and sunflower seeds, half a finely diced red onion and some minced parsley. Any sort of green onion would have done - and any sort of nut or seed (I like the crunch). Coriander would have been better than parsley, but any fresh herbs are nice. Then flavour (I used a teaspoon of vegeta stock and a good shake of harissa herbs). Mix it all together, and pour over about a cup of boiling water. Let sit. When it's cooled and the water is all absorbed, fluff with a fork.


Menuplan Monday - October 30

Oops! Not quite sure what happened to yesterday's post. But here it is anyway.

This week I'm taking inspiration from $40 a week, who is hosting November's Weekend Cookbook Challenge. I'll do my proper entry at the end of the week, but here's my menuplan for the week!

- spinach and tomato pasta (left over spinach)
- vegetarian chilli with pita chips
- home made pizza (ham and pineapple, and chicken barbecue)
- butter chicken soup (from Destitute Gourmet's Everyday smart food for the family)
- seared fish with sweet and sour glaze (also Destitute Gourmet)
- dhal and samosas (samosas from the same cookbook)

I'll try to keep track of what I spend - so far it's only been $15.
Happy Tuesday!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Freezer food: meals when you don't want to think

Life's been full of hiking and dancing and climbing lately. It's pesky trying to fit it all around work. And it's even more annoying when it cuts into my cooking time. For the nights when there simply is no time for cooking, I've been exploring other avenues.
One thing that looked really promising was the Mega Menu Mailers from I had bought the Vegetarian MegaMailer for my friend Special K (she had a new, very early, baby boy), but we never ended up cooking it. Now I dug it up and had a second look. I only have two shelves of freezer space, and the mailer makes 20 meals for 4. I decided to pick 10 - 4 serves would mean left overs for lunches.
The plan
First I had to choose my meals. Then I had to cut down the shopping list to the relevant ingredients.
Issue 1. Americans have some weird ingredients - I don't know what vegetarian sausage is, or peach preserves. And I've never seen frozen spinach.
Issue 2. Converting from imperial to metric is a major pain.
That took about an hour.
The Shop
It came to around $100, which isn't too bad for 10 dinners and 10 lunches. I did a lot of traipsing back and forth, looking for things I don't normally buy.
Issue 3. Processed soy products (like veggie patties and soy sausages) are not cheap!
Issue 4. I'm totally confused about ounces and liquid ounces, and shouldn't try to guess what those quantities could be in grams. The chop
Ryan left me on Saturday morning to prep all the ingredients. It took about 2 hours - a lot longer than I thought.
Issue 5. Chopping around 6 cups of onion is not fun.
This was probably the easiest bit. The instructions were very clear, and there was no cooking involved.
Issue 6. Having to eat all the icecream to make room in the freezer.
The result
I ended up with:
Teriyaki Broccoli Mushrooms
Crock Bean and Veggie Soup
Veggie Italian Casserole *
Dijon Rosemary Patties *
Green Chili and Cheese frittata
Roast Vegetables and Beans
Veggie lasagna *
Barbecue Confetti Pasta *
Cashew Tempeh
Baked Dill Tofu on Rice

We've tried the ones with stars so far. They were pretty good! Especially the lasagna. I'll probably tweak them a bit in the future, but they are all great meals at the end of a long day.

I don't think I'll ever go completely 'Once a Month', but this has been a great fall back. And Saving Dinner was a great starting point - even if they do have weird ingredients.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - October 22

This week's very simple - it's mostly just me at home:

Italian-style vegetarian casserole
Chicken Tikka
Beef and red wine stew
Creamy spinach pasta
Chunky salad
Sausage sizzle

Happy Monday!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Mushroom Quiche: or how to find calm on a week night

Every so often, life gets crazy and we stop enjoying making dinner. We still cook to eat, but it's the fast, uninspired stuff that gets you through the week. When cooking stops being fun, and starts being a chore, I know my life could use a little more balance.
I decided to make quiche. Not the fast, low-fat, freezer pastry version. The sort that requires blind baking and butter and - well, time. I skipped the gym. I got out my new flan pan - I hadn't even christened it since Ryan bought it for me. I put on the radio instead of the TV, and I didn't even look at my computer.
Pastry Making requires my Women's Weekly Basic Cooking book. I substituted wholemeal flour, but otherwise didn't mess with the experts. I rested the dough in the freezer. I chopped leeks and mushrooms and grated cheese. I rolled and blind baked the crust. I whisked eggs and sour cream.
I poured myself a glass of wine.
I assembled the quiche, and had to add another egg and some milk to completely cover the veggies. While it was cooking, I boiled some potatoes and zapped the beans. The whole thing was ready 10 minutes before Ryan walked in the door at quarter to ten.
He asked me what I'd done with my evening.
"Nothing," I said. "Just dinner."
Mushroom Quiche
1 Cup wholemeal flour (plain)
90g butter
3 eggs (one separated)
lemon juice (as needed)
60g grated parmesan cheese
1 green onion, finely chopped
3/4 Cup finely sliced leek
1 Cup finely sliced mushroom
1/2 Cup sour cream
Sift the flour and rub in the butter. Add 1 egg yolk, and enough lemon juice to make the dough cling together when pressed (I didn't need any juice)
Knead the pastry until smooth, then wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll the pastry thin enough to cover your flan tin. Carefully lift the pastry into the tin and push into the edges. Cover with greaseproof paper, place dried beans or rice on the paper, and bake at 180 degrees for 7 minutes. Remove the beans and bake for another 7 minutes. Let the pastry cool to room temperature.
Cover the pastry base with the cheese, then arrange onion, leek and mushooms on top. Combine eggs and cream including the leftover egg white; beat until combined. Pour over the veggies. Bake until set and browned lightly (about 20 minutes).

Monday, October 15, 2007

Food and environment: things you can do

I'm writing this post as part of Blog Action Day - I love the idea of mass action for a cause, even if the cause is as broad as 'the environment'. I hope you enjoy it!

How we choose to eat has a big impact on the environment. If you find a nifty online calculator, and find your ecological footprint, food makes up a big component. Growing, processing and transporting food uses land, energy, water and often nasty chemicals. It produces landfill, water polution and carbon emmissions, and can contribute to shrinking biodiversity. Not that I'm a saint. I calculated my ecological footprint today, and depending which calculator I used, we would need between 2.2 and 5.6 earths to support the whole world living like me.
For an example of how to live within our global means, check out Linda Cockburn and family, here. I think they are awesome. But until my landlord lets me keep a goat, or installs a composting toilet, here are some greener eating habits we can all attempt:

Buy less processed food. Seriously, the less energy that goes into creating your snack, the better. And probably the better for you, too.
Buy less packaged food. I'm not sure about you, but most of what goes in our rubbish bin is the packaging for things we bought at the grocery store. We paid for our rubbish? That bites. And it cost energy, water and pollution to create.
Buy organic. Meh. This is my least favourite tip. The jury is still out on whether organic is better for you, even if it means it's been grown sustainably. Plus, if you bought it at the supermarket, it probably had more packaging, and travelled further, than the non-organic stuff sitting next to it. But still - certified organic means grown according to sustainable best practice. That counts. Just don't buy organic beef from the other side of the world to clear your concience.
Buy local. The less it travels, the less emissions. The less it changes hands, the better for your pocket. If you've got access to farmer's markets, like we do, you can get nearly organic and very local, with no packaging - an environmental bonanza! Besides, it's fun and tastes good.
Grow your own. All you need is a half a balcony, and you can grow your own tomatoes. Can it get more local? Generally, growing your own vegetable uses much less water than the market garden equivalent. In these drought-stricken times, that's a plus.
Eat less animal products. This is the biggie. If you're already a vegetarian, you are doing more than your fair share for the planet. The difference in resources used to create a kilogram of beef and a kilogram of beans is astronomical. Just try adding one meat free meal to your week. It's better for you, better for your pocket, and better for the planet.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - October 8

Ryan is cooking pizza for dinner as we speak. We shall be away from Friday, so the menu plan is very short this week:
Homemade Pizza
Barbecue Confetti Pasta (courtesy of Leanne Ely, but I'll write about that later)

Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Favourite Foodie Friends

This list fluctuates, of course, but here are some of the blogs I turn to for inspiration. So much yummy food, so little time!

Ali-K at Melbourne Food Tales makes me jealous of restaurants I'll never get to.
Ellie at Kitchen Wench makes yummy biscuits and yummy photos.
Frugal Cuisine always has flashy things to do with one or two fresh ingredients. Now sharing street food adventures in China.
Cookie Crumb has a garden in San Francisco and has been bragging about eating local all Northern Summer. Which is fine because we are now about to get OUR summer, so I can steal all their recipes : )
Matt at Abstract Gourmet is fanatical about coffee, and takes beautiful photos, and lives in Perth. Best yet, he went to university with me, but I used to be shy so I'm sure he has no idea who I am.
JenJen at Milk and Cookies is one of the first Australian food bloggers I've found. She makes beautiful sweet things. And has beautiful, sweet photos to match.
Finally, Neil at At My Table, shares thoughts on food and wine and family. And occasionally mushrooms.

There's the Australian Food Bloggers Ring for further local inspiration.
And there's always Food Porn Watch!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Experimental Vegetables - okra

If I'm around (and out of bed) on Sunday mornings I like to go to the farmers market. But if I can't make it, I have the fresh food wholesaler's market in the next suburb. I am spoilt for choice when it comes to fruit and vegetables, but have you noticed that it's hard to past the tried and true?
Spring has sprung, and in both markets there are heaps of new and interesting things. There are jack fruit and custard apples and jerusalem artichokes, but I keep coming back to my regulars. Recently I have been challenging myself to get a new and different veggie every week. I have bought celeriac (boy, that's one ugly food), fresh tumeric (stains fingernails) and funny sorts of lettuce. This week, I chose okra.
I couldn't take a decent photo of them, so I've included Cyndi's.
I'd like to try her recipe one day, but this time I went for something a little less obtrusive, but still southern. I made gumbo!
My version was loosely based on this one on Epicure. But I messed with it a bit so here's my version. Authenticity be hanged.
Chicken and okra gumbo
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons plain flour
1 cup fresh okra, trimmed and sliced
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 skinless chicken breast, sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Stir the vegetable oil and flour in a large saucepan over high heat. When it's bubbly and dark brown, add the okra, stock and tomatoes. After 3 minutes, add the chicken and thyme, and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked.
How easy is that?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - October 1!

Oh. It appears to be Monday again.
I'm feeling a bit blah about blogging at the moment. And cooking. I've been moody all morning, and sulked because I'm doing all the cooking and cleaning around here. I kinda forgot I like the cooking bit.
Part of the problem is walking. We are going tramping in New Zealand in December, so I have 8 weeks to get my walking fitness up, to actually enjoy it. That means a 5 mile walk, every other day. It really puts a dent in my cooking time, and blogging time. But I'm so scared of being the slowest, wheeziest person in our group. I have images of being overtaken by 90yr old grandmas with walking frames.
This weekend we did an overnight hike around the Orroral Valley. It's beautiful, sub-alpine bush, still regenerating from the 2003 bushfires. Bush-bashing up to Cotter Rocks made me realise I need more hills in my training walks. But we got there.
I am ashamed to add that Ryan was carrying 20 kg (tent, stove, food, most water), and my pack only weighed 8kg. I'm a wuss. And clearly an ungrateful wuss, because this is the same Ryan that put up with my narkiness this morning.
Anyway. The list:
A lamb roast cooked on our baby weber.
Chicken Soup
Sort-of Salad Nicoise
Veggie Burgers

Happy Monday everybody! I hope your's finds you with less blisters than I have : )

Monday, September 24, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - September 24

Every week lately, I look at the date and think "When did that happen?"
I'm enjoying the change of seasons, just not the feeling that the end of the year is looming.
This week's menu is full of easy things, because we seem to be busy, busy people:
Beef curry and potato curry
Chunky salad with eggs and bacon
Smokey fish mornay
Veggie burgers (who says you can't have burgers twice in one week?)
Sweet potato salad with pine nuts.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A very foodie Sunday...

This morning I woke up too-early for a Sunday, and Ryan and I headed to the farmers market. The salad has arrived! We had a choice of several sorts of chemical-free lettuce, and some 'French Wild Rocket', which I bought. We also got broccolini, tomatoes, sweet potato... I'm not sure what else, but my bags were all full. Ryan bought some more eggs, too.
I spent the rest of the morning baking. I made banana bread, apricot bars and oaty muffins. I would have done Anzac Biscuits as well, but Ryan came home and we wanted to go bushwalking.
We didn't have quite the right map for the walk we wanted to do.
Instead, we stopped for an impromptu picnic.
On returning home early, we decided to see a movie - Ratatouille!
Then we had hamburgers for dinner, with banana bread for desert.

Sometimes, I wonder why I blog about food.
I think I just figured it out.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Simple, spicy, sweet potato soup

This recipe is great. It's quick, tasty, and you can substitute pumpkin or carrot for the sweet potato. You can also vary the flavour by experimenting with different stocks, different curry pastes or replacing the coconut milk.
It freezes well, too.
Spicy sweet potato soup
2 Tablespoons Curry paste of your choice (I used green this week)
1 kg sweet potato (or carrots, or pumpkin - parsnip maybe?)
1 L stock
1 can coconut milk (optional, or easily replaced by evaporated milk, normal milk or cream)

Heat the currypaste until fragrant, in a large saucepan. Add the stock and the sweet potato, and boil until the sweet potato is tender. Take the soup off the heat, and blenderise it until smooth (I use a hand blender in the pot, but whatever works). Add the coconut milk and heat through.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - September 17

This week is a bit haphazard, but there was lots of spring veggies at the market:
salad with feta and bacon
salad with asparagus and tuna
roast veggie extravaganza
sweet potato soup
beans on toast

happy monday!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Simple Rhubarb Tart

Ryan's been away for work, and the trip's been extended. So I have been sad, and mopey and sulking, and neglected both cooking and blogging. Tonight I got a little bit inspired again, and made this tart from Donna Hay's Instant Cook. I even made custard to go with it!
Ryan ran off with the camera, so I can't give you pictures. Sorry
Simple Rhubarb Tart
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Sprinkle 8 thin stalks of rhubarb with sugar, then roast on baking paper in the oven for 20 minutes. Allow them to cool.
Place a piece of frozen puff pastry on a baking-paper lined tray. Top with a mixture of 1 cup ricotta, 2 tablespoons icing sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla essence. Leave a border of about 1 cm.
Top with rhubarb and cook in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until the pastry is golden and the filling is set.
Homemade Custard
2 eggs
3 tsp cornflour
3 C milk
3 tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
Whisk together the eggs, milk and cornflour in a saucepan. Put it over a low heat, and keep whisking until thick and creamy. Then add the sugar and vanilla and whisk through (if you add the sugar on the heat, it will stick to the bottom of the pan.
This makes a lot of custard. I'm not complaining or anything.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - September 10

I think I'm gonna have to rename this blog '98 things to do with beetroot', since Ryan bought another bunch home this week. We did some experimenting over the weekend, so stay tuned for more beety goodness.
Chicken and celery casserole
Pasta with feta and beetroot (I wasn't kidding!!)
Sausages and stuff
Shepherds Pie

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Purple Goodness - Beetroot Pizza

You may have noticed I have a thing for beetroot. When I see beautiful bunches of baby beetroot in the farmers' market, I can't help but buy. (I have a thing for alliteration, too.)
I thought I'd exhausted all beetroot possibilities (roasted, souped, dipped, burgered) before it occurred to me that I'd never put beets on a pizza.
It worked out really, really well.
Beetroot Pizza
Put four baby beetroots in the oven to roast for half an hour, or until they are tender. Make a batch of the best-ever pizza base. Roll out a quarter of it to make the beetroot pizza (I made salami and tomato with the others). Spread with natural yoghurt and sprink with harissa spice mix. Slice the beetroot, and top the pizza with beetroot, cheese and fresh coriander. Cook as normal.
(and don't tell ryan you used yoghurt for the sauce - not until after he's eaten it)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - September 3

September? When did that happen?

This week's dinners:
Potato and Leek Soup
Lamb Chops and Celeriac Gratin
Roast Veggies
Stirfry with broccoli and carrots
Baked Risotto

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bircher Muesli - my easy-healthy breakfast

When I have yoghurt, I like to make bircher muesli.
Weekday breakfasts can be frantic around here. Bircher muesli is great because I prepare it the night before, and it's disgustingly healthy. Oats and yoghurt are both considered 'super foods', with more than their fair share of nutritional goodness. Cinnamon is thought to moderate blood-sugar levels, and sultanas have fibre and (I think) anti-oxidants. We'll just ignore the massive amount of honey that Ryan likes to add...
Kazari's Bircher Muesli
The night before: Grate an apple. Add about a cup of quick-oats, twice as much thick plain yoghurt, a handful of raisins or sultanas and half a teaspoon of cinnamon. Stir until all the oats are wet, and everything is well combined. Store in the fridge overnight, in a covered container. Try to choose a container with as little air as possible (I used glad wrap over a bowl, squished down to get the air out). It doesn't really matter, but it helps keep the apple from discolouring.
In the morning: Scoop out some muesli, slather with honey, and enjoy as much as you can before leaving for work.

Of course, the proportions in this are pretty arbitrary. As are the ingredients - any dried fruit works well, and you can substitue orange juice for the yoghurt if you really want to.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Chocolate Velvet Pie

Sometimes the old school recipes can't be beaten. I don't know where this one came from, except I saw it on Simple Savings. It is decadent and reminiscent of all those good things like chocolate self-saucing pudding.
I hope you like it.
Chocolate Velvet Pie
1/2 Cup plain flour
3 Tbs Cocoa
1 Cup shredded coconut
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Cream (I didn't say it was healthy!)
1 Cup Milk
4 eggs, lightly beaten
100g butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Mix all the ingredients thoroughly and pour into a greased 25 cm pie dish. Bake for 1 hour, and let stand for at least 10 minutes before eating. Serve with cream or icecream.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - August 27

Wow - last week was a busy blog week for me. Not that there's much to show for it! Evil, template-eating internet. Anyway, this week we are trying a couple of new recipes and a couple of old favourites.

Spaghetti and meatballs
Indian Mince and rice, with Tandoori Cauliflower
Chicken and veggies (beans and carrot)
Home made Pizza
Vegan Mac & Cheese Florentine

Happy Monday!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Oops! Updated

I inadvertently updated my template - please bear with me while I tinker!

Edited to say:

While I tinker, you can check out Smokey Mountain Breakdown, where I've guest posted about Ryan's latest cookie discovery. Rosie posts about wildlife, goats and local culture as well as food. And her short-story posts are breathtaking.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Fantastic Four - a meme

I have been neglecting this blog recently. But because I am a vain person (and nosy to boot) I still check my stats on technorati to see who is linking to me. And guess what? I got tagged with a meme! This is doubly exciting because I wasn't familiar with Something Yum, and now I have links to a whole heap of new UK bloggers. Yum : )
I don't know where it came from, but I thought I'd play along anyway. You will have to wait until tomorrow for my post about Chocolate Velvet Pie.
4 jobs I've had
Purveyor of Christmas trees
Front counter at an upmarket veggie shop called Epinards
Marine Conservation Officer
4 places I've lived
Winnepeg, Canada
Grand Cayman
Perth, Western Australia
That's pretty much the whole list...
4 places I've holidayed
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tours, France
Margaret River, Western Australia
Budawang Ranges, New South Wales
4 favourite foods
Only four?
Cheese - blue, sharp, crumbly, soft and gooey - I don't care
Bircher muesli - I still remember being surprised by my first taste of this. It looked so boring!
Mussels - specifically, chilli mussels from Kailis in Fremantle. But I'm not fussy.
Dessert - whatever Ryan has decided to make.
4 places I'd rather be
Near the beach. Anywhere.
In the UK with my sisters
Somewhere like Rosies farm, where there is goats and wilderness and running water
4 bloggers to tag
Well, I decided to pick 4 bloggers that I'd like to know more about. Kat was right, this is a bit nerve wracking!
Neil at At My Table
Traceyleigh at TLSC
Rosie at Smokey Mountain Breakdown
Mummy at Red Dirt Mummy

Anyway, I hope somebody finds this interesting, or at least click through to some of the other blogs. I always find them interesting!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - August 20

This week I did the grocery shopping on Friday (how's that for organised!) but I completely forgot to plan a couple extra meals. So we have a few pantry meals as well.
Curry Night with friends (Spiced Green Beans and baby corn)
Roast Beef with veggies (I'm doing this in the slow-cooker - I hope it turns out!)
Chicken Nacho's (the last of the leftover Red Rooster chicken from the freezer)
Spaghetti with beef ragu (from the roast)
Tandoori Chicken
Satay Meatballs
Gnocchi with tomato sauce

Happy Monday!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Gozleme Recipe

I have re-written this post a heap of times. I'm not sure why, but the gallery software I use is having a heart-attack over the photos. Then the internet connection would die, and it wouldn't save my edits... It's latest attempt to frustrate me involves rotating the photos 90 degrees when it uploads them. Gack!
Gozleme are Turkish flatbread that are stuffed with something good. Usually spinach and feta, although there are a heap of variations. I found a great recipe here. The dough is just flour and yoghurt, which is pretty healthy, and really frugal if you make it with home-made yoghurt. Once you've made the dough (which is soft and stretchy and very forgiving) you form it into pasty kind of shapes, and fill it with good things. In my case, that was leftover chilli con carne, and leftover vegetables and gravy from a Red Rooster Classic Roast pack. I'm not sure why I had that hiding at the back of my freezer, but never mind. Anyway, I thought the gozleme would be a great entry to Project Foodies' Leftover Tuesday #7.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Too many vegetables - celery pasta

What would you do if you inadvertently bought two bunches of celery at the same time? This is what happens when Ryan and I go in separate directions at the farmers' market. I didn't mind too much though - I saw a briliant recipe on Frugal Cuisine (months ago) and remembered it just in time.
Basically, you sweat the celery for a little while, add chicken stock and set to simmer. When the celery is breaking down and the stock has reduced a bit, you add some stirfry noodles, and cook until ready. I couldn't find any stirfry noodles in the cupboard, so I added some bowtie pasta a little earlier.
It was good. I just wish I could take photos as well as Pepper.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - August 13

I hope your week has started out ok. We didn't get to the veggie markets on the weekend, so this is a bit of a clean-out-the-cupboard week.
Stuffed capsicums
Red Rooster gozleme
Sausage rolls
Cous cous and canellini burgers
Chicken and chickpea curries

Happy Monday!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sweet Potato Gnocchi for Donna Hay

I love Donna Hay recipes for the simplicity and the beautiful photos. I don't think gnocchi is either simple or particularly photogenic, but I love eating it. So when Linnylu chose gnocchi as the theme for Hay, Hay, it's Donna Day #14, I knew I was going to have a go.
I'd like to say I came up with a completely new and original recipe, but this stuff is difficult! I've had gnocchi disasters before. (Hint: If you're going to freeze 'raw' gnocchi for later, you probably want to flash freeze it. Or eat a lot of potato cakes.) I found a recipe for Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage on epicurious, and proceeded to make an enourmous mess. I also made some cute little gnocchi's, that maybe aren't so ugly after all. The colour was great, but the best thing was the sage butter. Unfortunately I can't add the aroma to the photo for you!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Mushy Mushrooms

What on earth is that funny lumpy stuff? Well, according to the recipe I was following, it's Two-Mushroom Barley Soup. It's a slow cooker recipe from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker. I really like the book - because I'm always on the hunt for slow cooker recipes that don't rely on a can of cream of mushroom soup. The range of recipes is really inspiring, as is the meatless factor. It even has instructions for making your own seitan (wheat protein), which I'm keen to try.
As for the mushy mushrooms, they turned out more like a barley risotto. Not that I'm complaining - it was still really tasty and had texture. If you've got a slow cooker, I'd definitely recommend it. I've written it up in metric, but the measurements were actually in ounces.
Two-Mushroom Barley Soup from 'Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker' by Robin Robertson
30g Dried mushrooms (I used shitake where the recipe recommends porcini)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped (I'm not sure about yellow onions, I used a brown one)
1 large carrot, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped (I used a couple. I may explain later)
1 Cup pearl barley
225g white mushrooms, sliced
6 Cups vegetable stock (mine was homemade, also from the slow cooker)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons minced fresh chives (I didn't have any)
1. Place the dried mushrooms in a heatproof measuring cup and cover with hot water. Let sit until softened. Drain, straining and reserving 1/2 Cup of the liquid, thinly slice the mushrooms, and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a small skillet (frying pan, aussies) over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
3. Transfer the cooked vegetables to the slow cooker. Add everything except the chives and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Taste to adjust seasonings before serving. If a thinner soup is desired, add more stock (I may have missed that bit).
4. Serve, garnished with the chives.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Crustless quiche - impossible pie

This is a new recipe from Australian Table Magazine. It's quick, tasty and good for you, but the reason I'm REALLY posting about it is eggs. We have started buying eggs at the Woden Farmers' Market. (They are on Sunday mornings at Woden CIT if you'd like to buy some yourself). These eggs are small, but so fresh! You can tell good eggs by the gooeyness of the whites (they get more runny over time) and the yellowness of the yolks.
This quiche turned out so yellow!
We've been eating these eggs for breakfast, and I'm amazed at how good they taste. I think they are definitely worthy of Alanna's icon, even if they aren't veggies.
"Impossible" Quiche
5 small eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 Cups skim milk
1 Cup fresh bread crumbs
1 Cup grated cheese (your favourite)
100g diced sandwich meat (I used roast beef)
1 brown onion, finely diced (green onions would be better, but I didn't have any)
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Grease a pie plate.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and season to taste. Pour into pie dish and bake until golden and set (around 30 minutes). Bon Apetite!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - August 6

Good grief, I can't believe it's August already. I can't believe I survived last week without a menu plan either. It was fine by myself, but when Ryan was back on the weekend we ate an awful lot of takeaway.
Anyway, it's a new week, with a bunch of new things to try. I bought a new cookbook, I'm going to put an entry into Hay, Hay, it's Donna Day. And there was some new and interesting vegetables at the farmers market.
  • Sweet Potato Gnocchi
  • Prawn Curry
  • Lamb Chops with couscous and endive salad
  • Sausage Rolls and more salad
  • Stuffed Capsicums
  • Two-mushroom and barley soup
The soup is in the slow cooker as we speak, and it smells pretty good.
Happy Monday!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Crispy Chickpeas

This is really simple. But these crispy roast chickpeas are a great snack. They also make a great addition to salad, or work as a garnish on top of curries. Tonight I ate half in a simple (really filling! salad), and I'm saving the rest to snack on during 'Las Vegas'.
Bon Apetite!
Crispy Chickpeas
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 Tablespoons olive oil
A generous amount of rock salt.
Heat the oven to 200 degrees C. Mix everything together, until the chickpeas are coated. Then spread them out on a cookie tray, and roast for 20 minutes until crispy. Of course, you could add any herbs or flavourings you like. Check on them every so often, and shake the tray a bit so they roll around and cook evenly.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A five minute pasta dinner

I love making dinner just for me. I don't have to worry about anybody else's whims. But this is easily dinner for two - just increase the portions.

Smokey tuna tomato pasta

Cook enough wholemeal pasta for just you. Top it with one of those small, flavoured tuna tins - I love the smokey flavour. Cut up some cherry tomatoes, red capsicum, and any other veggies you like. Mix it all up, and zap it in the microwave for two or three minutes. Yum. This recipe works equally well for two people.

OK, I admit it isn't quite as quick if you have to cook the pasta. But I had a single serve already cooked and frozen in the freezer. I'd put it in the fridge last night.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A five minute turkey dinner

This really only took 5 minutes. I would include a photo, but Ryan took his camera away with him (how dare he!).

Heat the grill. Take one turkey chop (they are selling them in Coles at the moment). Rub some spices on the outside - I used a spice rub we bought at the markets, but cumin and chilli flakes would be good. When the grill is hot, cook the turky chop for a couple of minutes on each side. In the meantime, cut up some cherry tomatoes, lettuce and capsicum. Find some salad dressing, rescue the turkey chop, and dinner is served.

I wish I took a picture.

There IS no menu plan

We were out of town on the weekend, and Ryan's away for most of this week. So there is no menuplan this week. Instead, I'm going to post a heap of improvised dinner for one. Here's what I had in the fridge to work with:
- a punnet of cherry tomatoes
- some small sweet potatoes
- half a wombok
- a baby endive lettuce
- some carrots
- onions
- a couple of spring onions
- a lonely turkey leg chop
We also have a well stocked tin cupboard. Stay tuned for my adventures in cooking for one!

Simple Savers' Blogs

Quite a few of my recipes (and much of my inspiration!) come from the community at Simple Savings in Australia. There is much conversation on the joys and woes of frugality, simplifying and cooking! Vegetarian alternatives, sources of organic food and the many uses of vinegar are hotly debated.
Many of the clever contributors are also bloggers, but my blogroll is getting increasingly messy. Instead, I've decided to put them all in one post, and link to it afterwards.
If I've missed you, or inadvertantly messed up the link, please comment and let me know : )

Food Life Style
Amy Simple Saver
Miserly Mum's Musings
Lightenings thoughts, musings and happenings
Becoming a Gardening Goddess
Low Income Lady
Saving a dollar in a spend spend world
Kez's Blog
Jo's thoughts and woes
Day in the Life fo Jade
Rich Student Poor Student
The Frugal Family Blog
Greener by the day

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cheesy, boozy goodness

This was a rare evening of nothing-planned. No gym, no climbing or classes or social happenings. We had a leisurely dinner, with a candle. We had car things and mortgage things and paperwork to discuss and fill out. Ryan wrote an email. All very ordinary.
But we had been saving an unordinary dessert. One of those recipes you see, that looks so decadent and delicious that you remember it for years, but never quite get around to making.
I made it. Next time I probably won't share it.
It was that good.
Camembert with port raisins
1 small camembert round
2 tablespoons of port
2 tablespoons of raisins
Heat the raisins and port in a small pot until just boiled. Set aside to cool. Cut the top off the cheese, and scoop out the middle. Put the raisins inside, squash in as much of the cheese as you can, and put the lid back on. Wrap the whole cheese in greased aluminium foil. Heat a frying pan on low, and put the cheese on the heat. Leave it there for 10 minutes, or until it's soft and warm all the way to the top. Eat with water crackers, and maybe some more of the port. Seeing as you opened it already.
I found some other great looking camembert recipes too! Check out Warm Camembert with Wild Mushroom Fricase or Brussel Sprout and Camembert Gratin in Butternut Squash.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - July 23

I have been picking recipes out of this month's Australian Table magazine. Ryan left it in the car for me on my birthday. : )
Impossible Pie (it's a quiche, i think)
Turkey Chops
Vegetable Crumble
Beef Stew
Kidney Bean and Spinach Curry (not sure about this one).

Happy Monday!

A celebration eight

Rosie sort-of tagged me for a meme of 8 odd facts about me. And this week I have celebrated my birthday, and 101 blog posts. So here's a list to mark the occasion:
1. Birthday parties were infrequent when I was growing up. But every birthday was marked by afternoon tea at my cousin's house, with fairybread and a sticky bun.
2. Our current birthday cake of choice is Cherry Ripe Mud Cake (the Women's Weekly version). So sickly sweet, but so very, very good.
3. I read just as many 'writer' blogs as I do foodie blogs. It's my favourite way to procrastinate.
4. I am saving up for a macro lense so I can take better food photo's. Which is a bit silly, because Ryan takes all the best photos around here, including the foodie ones.
5. I love peanutbutter and banana toasted sandwhiches.
6. I was very good at acquiring other people's lollies when I was a kid. I convinced one sister that clinkers tasted gross, so she should give them all to me. I have left a trail of mintie wrappers, and told my youngest sister that a mintie-monster raided her showbag. And please never ask my mother about the TimTams!
7. I think I have every Donna Hay magazine published in the last 3 years
8. We have been known to re-organise trips to Sydney and Melbourne, in order to go past Haig's chocolates.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Fajita's for cheats

I love Mexican food. I love beans, I love hot chilli flavours cut with cheese and sour cream, and I'll eat just about anything on a tortilla.
To make good fajitas, you take a big chunk of good steak and marinate it overnight. You fry it up, let it rest, and slice it as thin as you can. Then you wrap it up in a tortilla with fried up onions and capsicums and serve with all those other mexican goodies (guacamole, bean dip, grated cheese, fresh chillis).
Unfortunately, it was 7pm, and all I had was a half defrosted piece of stewing beef, some left over kidney beans and half an avocado. So here is a fajita recipe for when you don't have time to do it properly.
Cheats Fajita's
Slice up your beef as thin as you can, across the grain. Leave it to marinate (for as long as you can) in lemon juice, crushed garlic and finely chopped chilli. I used 2 cloves of garlic and one mild chilli.
Search your fridge for any non-root vegetables. I found a red capsicum and a bunch of silverbeet. Slice an onion, throw in a frying pan with all the vegetables (except the silverbeet). Add some ground cumin, ground coriander and some more garlic - fry til aromatic and the vegetables are beginning to soften.
Acquire some tortillas. Mine were in the freezer, but Hillbilly Housewife has some great recipes if you've got more time.
Cook the beef in a really hot frying pan for about 2 minutes - you really don't want to overdo it! Throw the silverbeet in with the other vegetables, and put the lid on - you only want it in there long enough to wilt.
Serve with the tortilla's, grated cheese, and an odd salsa made from kidney beans, onion, capsicum, avocado, cracked pepper and lime juice. Then everybody can roll their own tortillas.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Cheesy Roast Vegetable Tarts

I looked in the fridge and found about 50g of left over goats cheese and a big chunk of pumpkin. I wasn't really sure what I could make, but the cheese made me think of Rosie and I knew I didn't want to waste it. Goats cheese is one of those ingredients that can seem extravagantly expensive, but it only takes a small amount to flavour a whole dish.
Anyway, despite the haphazard beginnings, this turned out beautifully. I don't think I'll ever run out of things to do with roasted vegetables.

Cheesy Roast Vegetable Tarts

Chop up about a quarter of a butternut pumpkin, a carrot and half a red capsicum. Roast them in the oven with a couple of unpeeled cloves of garlic. Meanwhile, slice an onion as thin as you can. Saute the onion with some butter and olive oil in a frying pan, until just soft. Then turn the heat down low and cover, and leave to cook for about half an hour, stirring occasionally. The aim is caramelized onions, but I wasn't patient enough to let them get completely brown.

Pull out a piece of puff pastry from the freezer, and let it defrost on the bench.

When the roasting veggies look cooked and feel tender, pull them out of the oven and put them in a mixing bowl to cool. Squeeze the cloves of garlic and put the insides in with the vegetables. Then crumble in the goats cheese and stir well. Cut the pastry into whatever shapes please you. I just cut it in half (one for me and one for Ryan). Heat the oven up to 200 degrees. Top the pastry with the onion, and the onion with the cheesy vegetable mess. Cook in the oven until the pastry is puffy and golden.

Don't let it get cold before you eat it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Beetroot Risotto or 'My Goodness that's pink!'

I'm not quite sure where the inspiration came from, but beetroot risotto made it onto our menu plan this week. Last night I came home from the gym to find Ryan madly stirring, and the result was incredibly colourful, and incredibly tasty. The chunks of roast beetroot were firm and earthy. The risotto was creamy and slightly cheesy. It was a much more sophisticated dish than we had expected, and we'll definitely cook it again.
Ryan says he pretty much followed the recipe at Though small, it is tasty.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Where are food blogs?

I just thought this was cute and worth sharing. Thanks to Tana for setting it up!
In my day-job world I have a lot to do with maps.

Menu Plan Monday - July 16

It's still very chilly around here! Our search for healthy comfort food continues:
Chicken curry with spinach raita
Beef Stew
Beetroot risotto
Borlotti Bean soup
Also, I've splashed out and bought the vegetarian mega-mailer from Saving Dinner. I'll let you know how the meals turn out.
Happy Monday!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Chorizo Silverbeet Pasta

My biggest problem at the moment (kitchen-wise), is the lack of affordable, edible looking green things at the market. I object to paying $6.99 a kilo for broccoli, or $9.99 for green beans. I thought it was bean season?
Anyway, one thing that is plentiful, fresh and very green is silverbeet. I've been buying it in bunches, even though I'm running out inspiration for using it.
The two last chorizo sausages provided inspiration. This was rather good, and gave us a good serve of veggies to boot!
Chorizo and Silverbeet Pasta
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 chorizo sausages, sliced
1/2 Cup vegetable stock
5 big silverbeet leaves, washed and chopped
1/2 red capsicum, chopped
1 Cup of white wine
the pasta of your choice
Heat the olive oil in over a low heat. Add the onion and the chorizo sausage, frying over a low heat until the onion is soft. Add the vegetable stock to the onion and chorizo and simmer until slightly reduced. Throw in the wine, silverbeet and capsicum and cover. Let it steam until the silverbeet is wilted and soft(this should only take a couple of minutes). Stir in the pasta and serve.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Chorizo and White Bean Stew

I love chorizo sausage. I love the flavour they give to just about anything. I love them fried up by themselves. I love how just one sausage will neatly spread a warm spiciness through a whole dish. This is a new recipe for us, but it was so good that we forgot to take pictures. Sorry. It's based on a recipe in an old copy of BBC's Good Food magazine. You will need some crusty bread to capture every last bit of the sauce.
Chorizo and White Bean Stew
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 rashers of bacon, sliced (rind removed)
1 bay leaf
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp paprika
2 tomatoes, chopped
3 uncooked chorizo sausages
2 cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Heat the oil in a heavy based pot, over a medium heat. Add the bacon and the bay leaf, and when the fat becones to run, add the onion. Keep the heat low so the onion browns but doesn't burn. Add the garlic, rosemary and thyme and cook until aromatic. Stir in paprika and tomatoes and simmer until the tomatoes are soft.
While it's simmering, slice the chorizo into 1cm slices. Add the chorizo and beans to the pot, with enough water to cover. Simmer for 5 minutes. Done!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - July 9

We had a great lamb roast last night, so this week's meals are accommodating a few left overs.

Sunday:  Lamb Roast
Monday:  Chorizo and White Bean Stew
Tuesday:  Lamb Souvlaki Wraps
Wednesday:  Fish and veggies
Thursday: Pasta Arabiatta (maybe with some chorizo if there's any left)
Friday:  Out for dinner
Saturday:  Shepherds pie

Happy Monday!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Destitute Gourmet - A favourite Cookbook

This is a shameless cook book plug. I think I've written about Donna Hay, and the occasional Jamie recipe. Sophie Gray is another big favourite that you might not have heard of before.
What I like about Donna Hay is the simplicity, but often that simplicity relies on premium ingredients that I wouldn't normally buy. I'm happy to buy bocconcini cheese, or rib eye steak, or swordfish - but I'd never buy them all in one week.
Sophie Gray recipes take the next step. There's an emphasis on cooking from scratch, working within a budget, and still creating very flash food. Where a Donna Hay pie recipe might use frozen puff pastry, the Sophie version includes a simple shortcrust recipe. I just wish her cookbooks had more pictures!
Sophie Gray writes as the Destitute Gourmet, and her website is here. Another bonus for us Australian's - Sophie is a New Zealander, so all the measurements and ingredients are familiar. Anyway, here is a picture of 'Casserole of Chicken and Thyme' also featuring her herby dumplings.

Buttered Asparagus with Ham

As I rose out of my flu-induced apathy, I started craving vegetables. I wandered around Fyshwick Markets with a friend, trying to buy veggies while I had no idea what I was going to cook. The red capsicum looked good, so I grabbed some. I felt like soup, so I grabbed a some stock-making veggies (making a mental promise to Ryan not to feed him parsnip). There was no healthy looking green beans, and the broccoli was expensive. Even the spinach looked old and unhappy. Then I found some asparagus that looked green and crunchy and good. And I had some inspiration from cookiecrumb about exactly what to do with it.

Buttered Asparagus with ham

Brown a small amount of butter in a non-stick pan. Turn the heat down to medium, then roll the asparagus around in the butter, until it's nearly cooked. Then throw in a handful of shaved ham. Keep stirring it gently until the asparagus is developing black blisters, and the ham is getting a little crispy. Pile on to a plate, add some cracked black pepper, and enjoy.

This might be even better with a soft poached egg, but I'm not that patient.

Wrap your sausages

Ryan found a new way to cook sausages, and I'm very impressed. I'm not usually a sausage person, even if the sausages in question are preservative-free from the farmers market. But this is guaranteed to please the fussiest carnivore.
Find some toothpicks. Wrap each sausage in a piece of bacon, and secure with the toothpicks. Then cook in a frying pan over a very low heat until the sausages are cooked through. Remove the sausages and make a quick onion gravy in the pan. Then serve everything on good mashed potato.
Oops. Don't forget to remove the toothpicks!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - July 3

Yes, I know it's Tuesday. I don't think I've ever been hit so quickly and so hard by one bug. But now that I'm feeling a bit human, I'm going to make up for last week's pitiful blogging effort.

Here's the plan:
Curried Sausages
Baked meatballs and assorted vegetables
A swanky fish dish (a friend is coming for dinner, and there is much to celebrate)
Sweet Potato Risotto
Chicken Stew with dumplings

I am still in winter-warming and comfort food territory. But I do have pictures to share, and some yummy recipes.
Happy Tuesday

Monday, June 25, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - June 25

I've been flattened by a cold. So lots of comfort food this week (especially comforting when cooked by Ryan).
Satay Meatballs
Chickpea and Vegetable Soup
Sweet Potato Pizza
Bangers and mash
A something pie. Not sure what yet.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Sesame Date Muffins

These muffins were really good. Definitely one of my best muffin experiments so far! Just in time for the next round of Muffin Monday too! The theme for this round was a muffin and your favourite muffin-matching drink. I've been drinking a lot of apple tea and mint tea lately, so I concocted a muffin to match.
Sesame Date Muffins
1 Cup Self Raising flour
1 Cup Wholemeal Self Raising flour
small pinch ground cardamom
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup milk
1/2 Cup cream (you could double the milk instead)
1 egg
1/3 Cup tahini *
3/4 Cup chopped dates
1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease the muffin tins
2. Sift flour into a large bowl with the cardamom, then stir in the sugar.
3. In another bowl, mix the milk, cream, tahini and egg.
4. Combine wet and dry ingredients, and dates. Stir as little as possible to combine. Use a spoon to drop into muffin tins, sprinkling with sesame seeds if you have some. Bake for around 20 minutes or until golden.
I can't wait to see the other muffins at the round-up!
* tahini is sesame paste (like peanut butter, but not). if you have to substitute, canola oil with a tablespoon of sesame oil would probably work.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Lamb Cutlets and Fritteda

I finally cooked the fritteda! I didn't half the ingredients, so I made it up. I like this way of cooking vegetables though, so I'll probably do it more often.
2 small potatoes
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and squashed
300g of green beans
half a cauliflower
2 medium zucchinis
1/2 Cup frozen peas
a handful of mint leaves
Chop all the vegetables into around 1cm pieces. Heat some oil in a heavy based frying pan, then add the potato and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the potatoes are slightly browned. Add the green beans, cauliflower and 1/3 Cup of water. Simmer over a medium-low heat until the water is almost all gone (about 10 minutes). Add the zucchini and peas, and some more water if it needs it. Simmer for another 5 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender. Stir in the mint, and serve.
Lamb Cutlets
Trim the cutlets, drizzle with lemon juice and set aside for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with cracked pepper. Grill (under the griller) for two or three minutes each side. Easy!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Basic Minestrone Recipe

This soup is so simple, I made it during CSI (and didn't mess it up). It's also very versatile - pick the veggies of your choice! So it's perfect for the Heart of the Matter #4, being hosted by Joanna. The challenge was for new ways with vegetables. I guess there isn't much new about minestrone, but it's quick, easy, tasty and comforting. So I thought I'd share it.
Basic Minestrone
2 Tbs olive oil
2 celery stalks
1 leek
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 carrot
3 small chat potatoes
2tsp tomato paste (salt reduced, for extra heart healthiness)
2 bay leaves (if you look closely at the picture, you'll see Ryan is about to eat one. oops!)
2 sprigs fresh oregano (any italian herbs will do, though - basil, thyme, anything)
6 Cups of stock - vegetable or chicken. (I used 2 cups of chicken, and the rest vegetable. Again, if worried about sodium, you could substitute water for some or all of the stock)
1 Can of cannellini beans
2 small zucchini
1 Cup frozen peas
Sprinkle of grated parmesan, to serve.
Chop all the vegetables finely. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, then saute all the hard veggies (leeks, garlic, carrot, potato, celery) until the leek is translucent. Add the tomato paste, herbs and stock and bring to the boil. Simmer until the potato is tender (around 20 minutes). Add beans and soft vegetables (peas and zucchini). Simmer for another 10 minutes. Serve with a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan, and basil pita crisp.
Wholemeal Basil Pita Chips
1 Wholemeal Pita bread
Spray olive oil
Dried basil leaves.
Spray the pita with the olive oil, then sprinkle with the dried basil and pepper. Rip into pieces, then cook under the grill until crispy. Eat as soon as possible.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - June 18

I'm still finding new and interesting recipes in my Delicious magazine. Here's the plan:
Lamb cutlets and fritteda
sang choy bau
chicken with Vietnamese caramel sauce
lentil salad
crispy bacon & cauliflower pasta

Happy Monday!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A very sweet husband

I was trying to explain to Ryan why I haven't posted much lately. First, I've been working a lot. So I get home and make faces at the computer, not wanting to go anywhere near it. Second, we've cooked a few things lately with very complicated recipes (like the pie from the cover of Delicious). They turn out ok, but I'm too lazy to type them up, and I worry about duplicating somebody else's hard work. Finally, most of the photoworthy food around here has been Ryan's creations, not mine. Ryan said that was silly, I could post about his stuff. So here is a selection of his recent endeavours:

Chocolate Dessert Cakes. Yummy, and fudgy, and I think I blogged about them already.
Then a chance conversation brought an urge to make souffle. Chocolate, of course.
At this point, I tried to exert a healthy influence, and opted for Apple Cobbler. But that just made Ryan feel like shortbread, with icecream and jam.

The next night, Ryan felt compelled to complete the biscuits, by making the caramel filling that the recipe suggested.

He forgot we'd already eaten 10 biscuits, so there was a lot of caramel left. Not wanting to waste it, he made caramel & cherry ripe tarts.

I think I've just realised why I've gained a kilo this month. Oh dear.

Experiments in cheese

Or, how not to make palak paneer.
I found an awesome site about cheesemaking, here, via simplesavings. It's a very cool site, and has explicit instructions on making many cheeses, including panir, which is an Indian cheese. One of Ryan's favourite Indian curries is Palak Paneer, or Saag Paneer, which is this cheese in a spinach sauce. So I got all excited, thinking we could make the cheese and then the curry and it would be GREAT!
This was a great lesson in following instructions. I used the wrong sort of pot, treated the measurements as guidelines only, and finally, decided the texture looked funny. I pressed the cheese, even though the recipe only said to hang it. My cheese turned out dry, with a vinegary after taste, and a 'squeaky' texture. If you've ever eaten unheated haloumi, you'll know what I mean. But anything covered in a good curry sauce tastes ok, doesn't it?
I had to find a recipe for the curry. I eventually found one where I recognised most of the ingredients (still not sure what methi leaves are). There was no way that I could quit at this stage, so even though I only had half the required spinach, I pressed on. Normally, the spinach sauce for this curry is almost pureed, and a very lurid green. But mine was really only slightly mashed, and the spinach shortage made for quite a yellow result (almost as much onion as spinach).
The end result was edible. Not much like Ryan's favourite, but we both ate it. That could have been politeness though. Ryan made chapatti's from scratch to go with the curry, and they were fairly experimental as well.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - June 11

We went bushwalking this weekend (today was a holiday in most of Oz). This morning I was cooking over an open fire, making chapattis and scrambled eggs and tomatoes. Now I am home, and clean again, and I have to figure out what we're eating this week.
Here's a quick guess, based on what we didn't eat last week, and what's living in the freezer:
chilli bean soup
roast veggie couscous
yellow chicken curry
lamb cutlets and fritteda (I really am going to try it this week!)
spicy beef, olive, and caramelised onion pie (it's on the cover of delicious)
chicken and leek pasta bake (because Ryan won't let me cook any of the parsnip recipes in the new Donna Hay magazine)
I think that will do.
Now I'm going to sleep.
Good night! Happy Monday!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Ignoring my cookbooks

I've been neglecting my hardcopy recipe books lately, and trying some great recipes on the web. My menuplan this week was deliberately vague; I didn't know what sort of stew I wanted to make, I just knew I wanted to find one with lamb chops. And I found one on the ABC. It was pretty good, but a bit greasy. Next time I'll trim the chops a bit better.

Tonight's meal was a bit more spectacular. I had spaghetti and meatballs on the menu plan, but when I saw Bill Granger's Baked Meatballs with Tomato and Tamarind Sauce, I changed my mind. I actually followed the recipe to a T (even substituting lime juice for the tamarind, which I didn't have). I even made all the side dishes. Everything tasted good, but there was way too much rice.

Ryan just wandered in to ask what I wanted for dessert.

Happy Thursday!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - June 4

Here's what we are eating this week :
Vegetarian Lasagne
Roast Veggie cous cous
Spaghetti and meatballs
A lamb chop stew
chicken curry & chickpea curry
chicken with butterbeans

Last week I got a challenge to menu plan for Pissed Off Housewife.
"Between them I need one meal to feed all that includes nothing with a mushy or lumpy consistency and nothing white. The rule is food must have a different consistency going down than it would coming back up. We eat a lot of chicken, lamb rice and fresh steamed veggies but I'm bored... And Adam won't eat "girly" food but he also won't give me a definition of "girly" food except to tell me that boys eat BBQ ribs."

I've been dreaming of summer food, so here's the boy-food-no-mushy-white-stuff plan:
Barbecue! That's gotta be boy-food. I'd go with recipe, or chickpea burgers, with lots of roast vegetables, and maybe this. Anything with tentacles is boy-food.
Chicken (or whatever) with Roast Vegetable Couscous – we eat variations on this a lot. This recipe doesn’t look too bad. You can add oven roasted chickpeas, or some toasted nuts for a bit more crunch.
Homemade pizza - I think this probably fits the boy-food label too, especially if they get to add their own toppings. And you can load them up with vegetables. And serve them with salad.
Spicy green beans and baby corn - with the curry protein of your choice. I can post the recipe if you think your kids will eat it. The short version is blanch the beans, sauté some onion, throw in spices, desiccated coconut and baby corn. Serve with lots of rice and poppadums. Poppadums in the microwave are great, because they puff all by themselves - which is an easy thing for the kids to do.
Chicken Parmigiana and Fritteda - I've only just discovered fritteda. It's an Italian dish with lots of green vegetables cooked with stock. I have a slightly different recipe to try, and I'll hopefully post about it later in the week.
Lamb Parcels – I thought this sounded pretty good too.

There’s also Freddie’s adventures at The Great Big Vegetable Challenge, if you still need some veggie inspiration. So let me know what you think!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Best Chocolate Pudding Recipe

Right now, I swear at the weather report. Because 12 Degrees is not a bloody maximum!!
Ryan just laughs at me, and starts making wintery desserts. This one, from Donna Hay's 'the instant cook', is the best one we've ever found. The book is worth it, just for this recipe and the bread and butter pudding.
My only advice for messing with this recipe: smaller servings are good, if you've eaten dinner. And don't over cook it - it's better fudgy.

chocolate dessert cakes
185g butter, melted
1 Cup caster sugar
1/3 Cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/4 Cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 Cup cocoa
double cream to serve

Preheat the oven to 160 Degrees Celsius. Place the butter, sugars and eggs in a bowl and mix unti combined. Sift over the dry ingredients, and mix until combined. Place in 4 x 1Cup capacity coffee mugs (or whatever). Bake until 20 minutes or until fudgy. Serve warm or colded topped with the cream.
Oh, I forgot! These are also really awesome heated up in the microwave! They rise, and taste just as good as when they first came out of the oven. I might have to make some more...

Mushroom Wonton Soup

It is deep soup weather here. It was negatve 3 last night! Ice on the car, gloves on the hands. I needed hot, spicy comfort food. Anh at food lovers journey also has a beautiful soup recipe - and much prettier pictures than me.
The instructions for making wonton soup are here, thanks to taste magazine. I pretty much followed the wonton part, except I used chopped fresh shitake mushrooms instead of the pork mince. The recipe I want to share is the broth, which is equally good with dumplings, meatballs or wontons. Wonton's are fun though.

Simple Spicy Soup
1L Chicken Stock
2 big tablespoons of fresh grated ginger
Sliced shitake mushrooms
a pinch of chilli flakes
1 star anise
a splash of soy sauce
a splash of fish sauce
fresh coriander

There isn't much in the way of a method. Get the stock boiling, then turn down the heat to simmer. Add everything else, and let it simmer until the wontons are ready! I like boiling the wontons in a separate saucepan, because I like a LOT of wontons. I drain them, add them to bowls and then pour the soup over the top.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - May 28

Still eating our way through our bulk lamb purchase. This week it's the roast. We are also using the three small butternuts that we bought last week, and oddly, forgot to eat.

Lamb Roast with lots of vegetables (including pumpkin).
Pumpkin and Feta Pasta
Souvlaki Wraps
Fish. I'm not sure how yet, but I'm sure there will be pumpkin.
Pizza. From scratch, of course. Maybe with pumpkin.
Quiche. Can you put pumpkin in quiche?
Chicken with Butter Beans

Happy Monday everybody!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Layered Shepherds Pie

I am one of those odd people that plans to have leftovers. Most of our leftovers go straight into lunch-size containers and into the freezer, so we never have to buy our lunch at work. Sometimes though, I plan leftovers to be eaten in another meal. Lamb roast becomes lamb fritters or Greek souvlaki wraps. Roast chicken becomes chicken risotto, which becomes arancini. (yum!)
For this Leftover Tuesday, it's a bit different. We bought a whole side of lamb a month ago. I made stock with the bits I couldn't identify, but I rescued all the meat that got boiled up. Sounds appetising, I know. But this meat is so tender, it deserved to be rescued. And Leftover Tuesday was a good excuse to use it. This recipe would work equally well with any leftover roast meat, or chicken, I think. I'm sorry it's such a loose recipe, but it doesn't really need a lot of measuring. Trust yourself!

Layered Shepherds Pie
Dried shittake mushrooms
An onion and a clove of garlic, diced
Left over meat, chopped as finely as you can
Tomato paste, soy sauce, vegetable stock powder (whatever seasonings you like, really)
Assorted root vegetables (I chose 4 small potatoes and a renegade beetroot. The beetroot had somehow escaped from being roasted earlier in the week)
Two big leaves of silverbeet (leftover from Ryan's spinach and ricotta
Milk and butter for the mash
Grated cheese

Boil the kettle and soak the mushrooms. Meanwhile, chop the potatoes (and beetroot) and put them on to boil. Heat some oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic, stirring until the onion is soft. Add the lamb, just to heat through. If you have any other vegetables to add, now is the time. Capsicum or tomato (finely diced) would be good.
When the stuff in the pan is all heated through, throw in the mushrooms with their soaking liquid. This is the base for the gravy, so add a tablespoon or so of tomato paste, a dash of soy sauce, and any other herbs or flavourings. Let it simmer for 10 minutes, then take it off the heat.
When the potatoes are soft, drain them and mash. Adding the beetroot made for a funky pink version, and added some depth of flavour. Chop the silverbeet finely and then steam it briefly (just until it darkens in colour slightly).
Finally put it all together - the meat at the bottom of a casserole dish, topped with the silverbeet, topped with the mash and then cheese on top. Heat in a medium oven until the cheese is melted. Enjoy!

Thanks for hosting this Pam!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Chilli Chocolate Muffins - Muffin Monday 3

We got pretty excited when the third Muffin Monday was announced. The first one had started an Iron Chef competition here. The second one resulted in very green Green Tea Muffins. This time we are going spicy!
Ryan and I decided to experiment with Chilli and Chocolate. The trick is making it spicy, without making it inedible. Chilli syrup seemed like a good starting point. And we were encouraged by Clotilde's Chocolate Chilli Bites. Ryan went first with a chocolate chip style muffin, but we weren't brave enough with the chilli's. Mine were much richer, with much more bite. We hope you enjoy!
Ryan's Chilli Choc Chip Muffins
1 1/2 Cups Self Raising Flour
1/2 Cup Wholemeal Self Raising Flour
1/4 Cup Cocoa
3/4 Cup milk
100g melted butter
2 eggs
3 Tablespoons chilli syrup (we could have added a lot more)
3/4 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips.
Sift together the dry ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients together, then stir into the dry ones, with the chocolate chips. Stir until just combined (or as little as possible). Spoon into muffin tins, and cook for 20 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius. The muffins are cooked when they spring back from a gentle touch.

Rich Chilli Chocolate Muffins
1 1/2 Cups Self Raising Flour
1/2 Cup Cocoa
1/2 tsp Paprika
150g Dark Chocolate
100g Butter
1/2 Cup Chilli Syrup
1 Egg
Sift together the flour, cocoa and paprika. Melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave, stir well and allow to cool slightly. Mix the egg and chilli syrup into the chocolate mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mix until just combined. Spoon into muffin tins and cook for 20 minutes at180 degrees Celsius. Makes around 12 muffins.

Chilli Syrup
4 birds eye chillies
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup water
Bring to the boil in a small saucepan. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the chillies and cool the syrup. Keep in the fridge until needed.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Simple Beef Curry

I love slow cooked beef - stews, roasts or curries where the meat is falling-apart tender. This is one of my favourite ways to cook it. It creates a really mild, really succulent beef curry. There's a picture of it here.

Simple Beef Curry
Curry Paste (this time I used Thai Green Curry Paste - tandoori or penang are good too)
Stewing Beef - chopped into pieces
Coconut Milk

Heat the curry paste with some oil in a small pot. When it's fragrant, add the beef, and saute until it's browned all over. Add the coconut milk (I usually use a whole can) and if it isn't enough liquid to cover the beef, add some stock. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down. Simmer, uncovered, until the beef is tender. Stir it occasionally to make sure it isn't sticking.
This is a pretty flexible recipe. I often add a potato or a carrot to it, once the coconut milk has gone in. I haven't had a bad batch yet.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Simple in-a-hurry Chickpea Curry

Ryan and I both like curry. We will happily eat any sort, Thai, Indian, Fijian, Ethiopian or Somali (just some of the taste sensations available in Canberra). But sometimes you have to cook them up yourself.
Curries make great frozen lunches, so usually we do two or three big batches and freeze the leftovers. This week we made a chickpea curry, a mixed-lentil dhal and a hybrid green beef curry. Don't worry, I haven't been cross-breeding livestock. But I used the green curry paste in ways that no self-respecting Thai chef would admit to. It's the chickpea curry I'm going to share today, because it's the easiest one to make.

Simple Chickpea Curry
1 Tablespoon Cumin Seeds
1 red chilli (you can leave it out if you like)
1 red onion
1 400g can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 big handfuls of spinach (or silverbeet)
2 Tablespoons sour cream (or cream)
squirt of lemon juice

Heat the cumin seeds in a frying pan until they are aromatic. Add enough olive oil to coat the pan, then add the chilli and onion. When the onion is soft, add the chickpeas. When the chickpeas are warm, throw the spinach on top. Put the lid on, and let the spinach wilt a little before stirring it through. Add the cream and lemon juice, stir through and serve.

How easy is that?

Menu Plan Monday - May 21

I have given up forever on Tidbit Thursday.
Apart from the cute name, it just didn't fit in with my life. Menuplanning on Monday makes a lot more sense in our house.
So here is a renewed Menu Plan Monday:

  • A big curry cook up (dhal, chickpea curry and a green beef curry)
  • Spinach and Ricotta Canelloni (as inspired by the Australian's Weekend Magazine)
  • Sweet Potato Cottage Pie
  • Roast Chicken Thighs with Roast Vegetables
  • Creamy Fish Pasta
and... something with lamb.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Happy Birthday Ryan!

After all the eating out, it was nice to have dinner at home. With cake of course!

This is a cherry ripe mud cake from the Women's Weekly Kitchen. And now ours : )

Friday, May 11, 2007

I'm still here, just not cooking

Just apologising for not posting. We have a houseguest, and it's been busy at work, and we are attempting to buy a house. All in one week.

So instead, I'm going to post a list of blogs I love to read:
At My Table - his descriptions of mushrooms are even better than pictures.
The Great Big Vegetable Challenge - go Freddie!
Morsels and Musings - the first food blog I discovered. and I'm still hooked.
Milk and Cookies - beautiful photos.

Meanwhile, our beautiful houseguest has cooked us a beautiful meal. Lambchops with asparagus, green beans and sweet potato mash. Yum. And Ryan made bread and butter pudding with white chocolate and raspberries. There may be pictures.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A Taste of Yellow - Prawn Laksa

I saw this event hosted by Barbara at Winos and Foodies and I thought I needed to support it. Not only is cancer awareness a good cause, but Barbara is doing this in conjunction with the Live Strong Foundation, and I've just finished reading Lance Armstrong's biography. Besides, Barbara is from Western Australia, like me!
My yellow food is prawn laksa. Laksa is any curry soup with a coconut base, so it isn't always yellow. But we get a great, yellow laksa paste from the Kingston markets, so mine is nearly glowing.
Yellow Prawn Laksa
Heat some peanut oil in a wok, and add some curry paste. I usually use around 2 big tablespoons, because we like it hot. When the paste is sizzly and aromatic, add a chopped onion, and any other hard vegetables you have handy. I added a carrot. Stirfry until nearly cooked, then add a couple of cups of chicken stock and a can of coconut milk. When it comes to the boil, throw in some rinsed bean sprouts. When it returns to the boil, add some raw prawns. As soon as the prawns are pink, take off the heat and serve.
If you are a hungry carb-loading person like Ryan, pour the laksa over some cooked rice noodles. Or if you are grumbling about your weight (like me) eat it by itself.
The proper topping would include fresh chopped coriander, chopped peanuts, fresh chopped chilli. But I was hungry.