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.