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