Monday, April 30, 2007

Retro Cookbooks

It was the Lifeline Booksale a couple of weeks ago. They put a warehouse load of secondhand books in a big pavillion at the showgrounds, and it's a massive free for all. The books are categorised, but we tend to go on Sunday afternoon, when the books are $10 for a bag. By then the tables are pretty-well chaos.
I have developed a fetish for retro cookbooks! And I picked up a heap of them. Here are my spoils - I'm going to enjoy searching them for new recipes. Ryan actually picked up one of the baking books. He's planning on baking his own bread sometime soon.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Half a Sheep! or a side of lamb

We had very little meat left this week. The freezer was empty. So I planned for lamb stew (see Thursday's menu plan) and headed to High Country Meats. I like this store - no frills, minimal packaging, lowish prices.
I ended up buying a side of lamb - for $5/kg, it looked like a pretty good deal. It wasn't as big as I thought, easy enough to fit in our freezer, but I was a bit unsure as to what sort of cuts were actually in there. I ended up with:
- a 1.5kg roast
- 4 dinner-sized packages of lamb chops
- 2 shanks which will make a good stew
- 4 or 5 spare ribs, I think.
- a 1.5 kg bit of lamb breast, which just looks like a whole lot of skinny ribs in one piece and not much meat.
I know I should be able to roll the lamb breast and stuff it - but I don't know how to get the bones out. Instead, I'm turning it into stock. So that makes at least 8 meals for the two of us, plus stock, and the leftovers from the roast. That will keep me busy for a while!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Menu Plan Thursday - April 26

just doesn't have the same ring to it. Never mind.

Baked Marinated Chicken Wings with salad and green beans
Cauliflower soup with corn bread and left over chicken wings
Wonton ravioli (ricotta and basil)
Lamb Stew
Pork Ribs with mashed potato and vegies.

Hope you had a good Anzac Day!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Menu Plan Monday's - No More!

Here's the thing. We have big plans for our weekends that are often foiled by boring stuff like laundry and grocery shopping, and fixing bicycle punctures. So in an effort to avoid the grocery shopping at least, I am going to do the menu plan on Thursday and shop after work on Friday. Henceforth, it will be Menu Plan Thursday, unless I can think of a snappier name (suggestions, anyone?)
So here is my final (for now) Menu Plan Monday:
Chickpea curry (I know, it's been hanging around for a while, but it didn't quite happen yet)
Lamb fritters
Pumpkin Soup
Chicken & Thyme Pies.

Happy Monday!

Green Tea Muffins

Elena Ho at experiments is hosting Muffin Monday again. The theme this month is 'muffins that make you go ooooh'. But I think my muffins are more likely to make you go eewwwww. They are really quite green, even if they don't look that way in the picture. After my green tea cheesecake adventure I was determined to get my hands on some matcha powder, and do some more experimenting. When Elena challenged us to make some muffins you wouldn't normally see in the shops, this seemed like a great opportunity.
The green cheesecake didn't look particularly green (actually kinda grey) but it did taste pleasantly tea like. These muffins had a much more exciting colour, but unfortunately a very mild taste. They were pretty good anyway.

On the subject of frugality, matcha powder isn't cheap. However, most recipes only call for small amounts, so now I've got some, I think I'll be experimenting for a while...

Green Tea Muffins
2 C Self Raising flour
1/2 C Sugar
2 teaspoons matcha powder (Japanese powdered green tea)
1 C skim milk
1 egg
90g melted butter

Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease the muffin tins (this recipe makes about 15 muffins). Sift the dry ingredients together. In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry with as little stirring as possible. Spoon into muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden.
These muffins are not very dessert-like. They are more like scones or rock cakes in consistency, but still quite sweet.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lamb Souvlaki Wraps

This is one of my favourite left-overs recipes. I've only ever tried it with left over lamb roast, but it could be pretty good with chicken too. So I'm having my very own left-over Tuesday.
Lamb Souvlaki Wraps
Slice up any left over roast lamb, as thin as possible. Marinade it as long as you can with garlic and olive oil. You can add a thinly sliced onion if you like.
Meanwhile, drain and rinse a can of white or butter beans. Mash them with a fork, but leave it a bit lumpy. Mix in some lemon juice, crushed garlic, cracked pepper and some finely chopped parsley if you have some.
Fry up the lamb and onion. It really only needs to be warmed through, but I like it a bit crispy (like kebab meat). Then assemble - spread your flat bread with the bean dip, top with salad and lamb. Roll it all up. If you're feeling very gourmet, you can toast it in a sandwich press. Ta dah! Instant dinner.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - April 16

On Maundy Thursday (the day before Good Friday) I stocked up on meat. Not JUST because my vegetarian experiment was coming to an end, but because Coles had to mark it all down. I think Good Friday is the only day (apart from Christmas Day?) when they can't open at all. I got a packet of sausages for 50c, a pack of stirfry pork for $1.50 and lamb roast for $4. It all went straight into the freezer! And this week's menu plan is all about the roast. Yum. Ryan is poking it with rosemary as I type.

Monday: Roast lamb with all the trimmings
Tuesday: Lamb and vegetable soup (recipe from Women's Day)
Wednesday: Fish salad, Donna Hay inspired
Thursday: Lamb souvlaki wraps or lamb fritters. Yay for left overs!
Friday: Chickpea curry (we didn't eat it last week, so it stayed on the list)

Backup: Quesadilla's

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Quick Fruity Porridge

There is way too much going on in Canberra this weekend. Ryan got up stupidly early to take pictures of the hot air balloon festival. We are still recovering from last weekend's National Folk Festival. And today is the Thai Festival (complete with lots of yummy food), and the farmers market, and Kingston Markets.
When Ryan called on the way home, I decided to be nice and cook him a hot breakfast. Being up at dawn around here is pretty chilly!
Quick fruity porridge
2/3 cup quick oats
2 small apples, chopped
2 tablespoons of sultanas
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 cup skim milk
Pour everything into a big bowl. Zap in the microwave for two minutes on high. Stir, then keep zapping a minute at a time, until the milk starts to boil. Watch carefully! Otherwise the milk will boil and dump all the oats out on the microwave tray (yes, this is the voice of experience). Very tasty, no fat, much fibre, and two serves of fruit! What more could you want from a cold weather breakfast? This serves maybe 4 people. Or else me, and one hungry Ryan.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hot Cross Buns & other sticky English things.

When we had a birthday afternoon tea at my aunt's house, there was always sticky bun. Sometimes iced, sometimes glazed, always with fruit. We would slice it thick with lots of butter and it was always very soft and squashy. Easter Hot Cross Buns are just a ceremonial variation on the theme. I think of afternoon tea and sticky bun as being very English - but I haven't found anything to support this theory - please correct me if I'm wrong. In any case, I'm going to enter it in Sam's 'Fish & Quips' event, and hope she's often enjoyed a bit of bun with a nice cup of afternoon tea.

We made Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday, not without some trepidation. They involve gelatine and yeast, both ingredients that make me nervous. They turned out really well, and we even managed to add the crosses and glaze with a minimum of fuss. We used the recipe from Donna Hay's Classics 2, except that we forgot to add all the sugar. They turned out really well anyway.
The only other thing to add is that they taste much, much better the day they are baked. They go stale very quick.

Hope you all had a great Easter!

Campfire Cookery

We got lucky with our campsite on the weekend - we had our very own fireplace, complete with barbecue plate. There was a fairly substantial supply of firewood, and the evenings were crisp but not unpleasant. Combined with some salt and some plain flour - the recipe for hours of messy fun.

Something worth noting: The traditional lump of damper in hot coals method NEVER, EVER WORKS.

You end up with a horrible gooey mess encased in a rock-hard crust that tastes like, well, flour and water. At least Ryan's looked edible.

A more successful method is to wrap the damper around a stick, but it will break off (or fall off) if you have the consistency wrong. At least it won't be gooey in the middle, but who wants to eat their bread off a stick?

Given a hotplate, it's possible to make something a little more edible. I couldn't decide if these were more like chapatti's or tortilla's, but they tasted pretty good with eggs. Next time I will take some oil as well, and practice making tortilla's as per Hillbilly Housewife's suggestion.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - April 9

We have been camping since Saturday Morning, and spent all day Friday making Hot Cross Buns (there will be a post, soon!). This means I only have the bones of a menu plan...
Tonight we had a roast chicken breast with some vegetables - it was supposed to be roasted with couscous, but there wasn't any. The veggies in question were capsicum, tomato and red onion. Very colourful, to make up for an almost vegetable-free long weekend.
Also in the freezer is some pork stirfry strips - so there will be pork stirfry, probably on Wednesday.
I have a giant sweet potato in the fridge. The first thing that came to mind was sweet potato risotto, but I'm thinking soup might be better. I haven't made a sweet potato soup before, but pumpkin is always good.
Ryan flicked through my latest Donna Hay magazine and suggested fish pie. That takes us up to Thursday...
Chickpea curry. The ultimate pantry dinner. And an alternative protein source. Excellent.

Roast Chicken with Italian vegetables.
Pork Stirfry
Sweet potato Soup
Fish Pie
Chickpea curry.

Happy Monday! If you got one, I hope you enjoyed your long weekend!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Moroccan Couscous Salad

I should probably leave the poor Moroccans out of this, because even if they inspired the idea, I don't think they'd recognise what I had for dinner last night. This is a favourite get-dinner-on-the-table-in-30-minutes-or-less dinner. With several yummy variations. I am a big fan of any recipe that only requires throwing stuff in the frying pan.
Moroccan Couscous Salad
Turn on the oven to 200 degrees C. Peel and chop a sweet potato, toss with some olive oil on a baking tray, and throw in the oven (you can add a quartered onion, or some garlic cloves if you want). Chop up all unloved veggies from the bottom of the crisper. In my case 5 mushrooms, 1 red onion, two handfuls of green beans and a sad looking roma tomato. Throw the vegetables into a frying pan with a little bit of olive oil, and cook until slightly softened.
Now comes the fun part - add half a cup of dry couscous to the pan, with a can of drained chickpeas - then pour in some water - watch it sizzle! I think about twice as much water as cous cous. Now is a good time to add some flavour - I chose a tablespoon of tomato paste, a teaspoon of vegetarian stock powder, some chilli flakes and some ground cumin. For a more 'moroccan' flavour (and I really do use the term lightly), you could add a touch of cinnamon and a tablespoon of sultanas.
When the water is absorbed, taste the couscous and see if you need to season it. Then stir in the sweet potato (which should have been roasting for around half an hour, and be nicely cooked). Eat quickly.
Everything in this recipe (except the couscous and chickpeas) is completely optional. The sweet potato could be replaced by any cooked protein of your choice (chicken is nice). Or you could throw some salami or chorizo sausage in the pan with the onion at the beginning. This can also be very Italian, with a lot of tomatoes, some fresh basil and rocket stirred through at the end. This batch was gone too quick to take a photo - but here's a photo from one I prepared earlier...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Best Ever Pizza-base recipe

I just realised I've been writing recipes here for months and posting my menu plans for ages, without ever sharing the secret of my pizza. If you have a flick through, you'll realise that home-made pizza features frequently in my Menuplan Mondays. That kinda worries me. But I justify it by making the pizza from scratch. It's hardly an authentic recipe, but it's quick, tasty, smells awesome, and hasn't failed me yet.

Aussie Pizza Dough (or pizza with beer)
4 Cups self raising flour (White or wholemeal, or a mixture of both is nice)
tsp salt
pinch of any dried herbs you like - often basil & oregano at our house, but none are necessary
1 can of beer

Ok! I admit it! I use beer in this recipe! But trust me, it works.
Mix up all the dry stuff, then add the wet stuff. Knead lightly - it doesn't need to be beaten up. If you have time, rest in the fridge for half an hour wrapped in gladwrap. It's very stretchy dough, when you do finally roll it out. Make sure you flour your pizza tray. Add the toppings of your choice, and leave it in a 180 degree oven for around 20 minutes. Smells all yeasty. Yum.

We normally get three big pizzas out of this, so a half batch is a good dinner for two.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Orange Easter Cake

While not strictly speaking an Easter cake, clean citrus flavours and pastel colours always seem like Easter to me. This is the sort of old fashioned, Golden-Wattle-Cookbook kind of cake that my grandmother probably cooked. I've submitted it to Julia at 'A Slice of Cherry Pie'. She's hosting an Easter Cake Bake - which is an awesome idea, especially for those of us that don't particularly enjoy Easter Eggs. (oops, did I say that out loud? I hope nobody linches me...)
I guess I'm sort of cheating, because Ryan cooked the cake, and our great friend N chose it, but never mind...
Orange Cake

We ate it in the park with friends, because it's really the last warm weekend before the Canberra winter sets in. I'm not going to post the recipe, because it's published and we didn't modify it at all. But it's in the Women's Weekly favourites book called 'Food We Love'. We loved it too.

Menu Plan Monday - April 2

I'm a bit late posting this, and I've lost my list, but here is more or less what we're eating for dinner this week:

Vegetable Minestrone
Sweet Potato Pasta
Steamed fish with green beans
Morrocan Couscous
Pumpkin Curry
Homemade pizza

Happy Monday!