Top Food Blogs

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Capsicum Chilli Relish

Well Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.
As usual the Christmas meal was fabulous. We only had fifteen this year way less than normal but still managed to have far too much food. We always start with a smoke roasted salmon with caper berries, wasabi  mayonaise and some pickled red onions. I make the pita chips to go with it. Also this year I did an old favourite, the egg caviar which went down a treat  All of this was devoured with some French bubbly as we watched a flurry of Christmas paper and ribbon fly around the tree, as presents were unwrapped. Lots of fun and frivolity.
This year Bob cooked the turkey Gordon Ramsey style and I have to say it was sensational. Not to mention the carving. He began by  removing the drumsticks then the whole breast from the bird on each side along the bone and then cutting it quite easily down into slices. Presentation stunning! I am sure this method can be found on the internet.
We had a Saskia Beer black pig for the ham, always delicious. Lots of salads and crunchy spuds to accompany it. Christmas pud, beautiful berries, ice cream and brandy custard.... yum, chocolates, more champagne, more wine, more chocolates and as usual, some dancing !!
After we have finished the fabulous excesses of Christmas and are perhaps on holiday, you may like to make this very moreish relish, to go with the left over ham. Capsicums are plentiful now.
You need some left over sterile jars as well, to put the finished product into.I usually make this before Christmas and give it as a hostess gift for drinks parties.

12 red capsicums
6 onions
12  red chillies ( if you aren't a fan of too hot cut down on the amount )
12 garlic cloves
750 ml vinegar
8 cups white sugar
salt to taste

Place the capsicums,onions, chillies and garlic into the food processor and pulse till chopped, fairly small.
Place a large heavy based saucepan on top of the stove and fill with the vinegar and chopped capsicum,onion, garlic and chillies. Cook this for 1 hour on a slow simmer.
Add the sugar and stir until mixed in. Cook for a further 1 1/2 hours, but you must stir it every 10 minutes or so as the mixture gets quite thick, it will stick to the bottom of the pan. When you are stirring, be careful as it tends to spit at you and could cause a nasty burn.

Cool slightly and spoon into the sterile jars. It will make about 6-8 jars depending on the size you use.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Rum Balls

What would our Christmas Fare be without the rum ball. My grandmother used to make these little delights as did my aunts, my mother is still making them and now we all do too. There are many recipes for the rum ball and I have tried a few but this is my favourite and its so easy.

250 grams butter
500 grams icing sugar
1 cup  chopped nuts
1 cup chopped sultanas
4 tablespoons dessicated coconut
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons rum
chocolate sprinkles you may use coconut

Soften butter to room temperature. Sift icing sugar and the cocoa into butter. Add the nuts, coconut, and sultanas.
Mix the lot together to combine and add the rum mixing it in well. At this point you may like to add a little more icing sugar or coconut if you feel the mixture is a little runny.
Place it in the fridge for 15 minutes or so as it becomes easier to handle if cool.
Cover a plate with the chocolate sprinkles.Take heaped teaspoonfuls of the mixture and quickly roll in your hands into a ball. Roll the balls in the sprinkles to coat and place in mini paper cupcake containers.You may have to have a break, putting them back into the fridge to get cold again, whilst you enjoy a glass of Christmas bubbles, preferably French !
This amount will make approximately 48 and is easily halved.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Talking Turkey

Its only 8 more sleeps until Xmas Day with lots of eating, cooking and drinking ahead!
Just thought I would share with you some notes on the turkey. I am also going to give you a few stuffing recipes for the bird all quite different. In Australia we don't cook turkey a lot, except for festive occasions.  Everyone asks about the cooking of the turkey perhaps a little scared of ruining the main meal.They are generally bigger than a chicken and  have a tendency to dry out quite easily.
Whether your preference is a whole bird, a buffe, which is the breast on the bone with no wings, or a boned breast all of the following seasonings are suitable. The seasoning also helps to keep the bird moist.

Notes on the Turkey
If you are serving a lot of people you are better off buying two smaller birds than one giant one, therefore, less risk of a dry bird
Any frozen bird destined to be stuffed, needs to be completely thawed. The bird cannot be stuffed the night before and the seasoning must be at room temperature and the turkey stuffed just prior to cooking.
The turkey should be rinsed out and wiped with a paper towel and can be smeared with lemon and a few fresh sprigs of thyme. The bird must be smeared with butter and salt and pepper and loosely covered with foil. Some people also cover it in butter soaked muslin, if you happen to have some on hand.
For a 4.5 kg turkey cook in 220 C oven for 15 minutes, then turn down the heat to 180 C and cook for a further 2 1/2 hours. For the last 20 minutes take off the foil.
To test prick the thickest part of the thigh, just as the juices become clear remove immediately. rest the turkey for 15 minutes before carving.
All of the below seasoning can be added to.

Three Onion Seasoning   A little more traditional
5-6.5 kg bird
7 cups bread in large chunks
8 small leeks cut into 1/2 inch pieces, cut length ways then cross ways
3 medium  red onions cut into 1 inch pieces
12 large shallots
3 large celery stalks
3 tablespoons minced garlic 10 small cloves or 5 large
3 tablespoons chopped thyme leaves
2 tablespoons chopped sage
1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
Rylstone olive oil
1 cup chicken stock

In a shallow baking pan, spread the bread and bake in a moderate oven stirring occasionally until golden, 10-15 minutes.Transfer to a large bowl.
Wash the leeks, and in a large pan cook the leeks, onion, shallots, celery, garlic and herbs with some salt and pepper in the butter and olive oil. Add the onion mixture to the bread and toss to combine. Stuff the turkey but leave some aside.
The seasoning can be made the day ahead to this stage and stored in the fridge covered. Approx 1 1/2 hours before the turkey is cooked drizzle the remaining seasoning with the stock and cook covered for about half hour, uncover and brown for 20 minutes.
This will give you a moist and a crunchy dry seasoning.

Couscous Seasoning ( for a fruity seasoning )
1.5 kg bird
65 grams couscous
80 ml chicken stock
35 grams chopped dates
35 grams chopped  dried apricots
35 grams toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons apricot nectar
2 tablespoons chopped coriander

Heat the stock and pour over the couscous and leave to stand for 10 minutes.Add the remaining ingredients.

Apple and Prune Seasoning ( more substantial and my favourite )
3.5-5 kg bird
500 grams cooking apples
30 grams butter
12 spring onions
500 grams pork mince
12 pitted prunes, chopped
3 rashers bacon chopped
port for soaking the prunes
1/4 cup parsley
a couple of chopped sage leaves
2 cups soft white breadcrumbs
2 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper
Warm the port in the microwave and soak the chopped prunes for about an hour. Peel and core the apples and chop into small pieces. If you choose to cook the apples you will have a moister stuffing. I leave them uncooked. Saute the onions in the butter and add the bacon, stir until cooked. In a large basin mix the pork, bacon, apples, breadcrumbs, herbs, salt, pepper and eggs. Add the prunes and the port to the mixture. Keep in the fridge until ready to use but take out approximately an hour before stuffing the bird.
If you have any of this seasoning left, roll into a sausage shape in foil and cook in the same pan as the turkey for the last hour. This can then be sliced as a sausage and place around the carved turkey on your platter.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Veal Parmigiana

A beautiful simple Italian dish. If you have your tomato passata already made, half the work is done. The veal can be crumbed and cooked well ahead of time with the tomato passata and cheese added right before you are ready to put into the oven. The time in the oven is really only heating time, so it doesn't need much more than 20 minutes, depending on the oven of course. One piece of veal per person, easy for catering purposes, maybe a couple of extra ones for hungry boys !

6 pieces of veal schnitzel
1 large egg
fresh breadcrumbs or Krummies 
Rylstone olive oil
grated cheese mix
I use a blend of mozzarella cheddar and parmesan, if you buy a blended cheese please add extra very good parmesan.

Tomato Sauce/ Passata
Rylstone olive oil
1 large onion finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 kilo fresh Tomatoes, or 3 tins tomatoes
Chopped basil, parsley and chives 

Fry the onion and garlic gently in some Rylstone olive oil, until soft. Add the tomatoes and chopped herbs and simmer for about 15 minutes. If you would like to increase the quantity add some tomato puree like Sugocasa or Pomi.

Break the egg into a bowl and beat. Place a good amount of breadcrumbs onto a flat plate and mix in some salt and pepper if you wish. It is also good to add a couple of tablespoons of grated parmesan to the breadcrumb mix. Dip the veal pieces one at a time into the beaten egg and coat in the breadcrumbs. Press the crumbs into the meat and make sure each piece of the meat is covered well with the crumbs.You may need to use another egg if you are using more pieces of veal.
Heat the oil in a large fry pan and place a couple of the pieces of veal into the hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pan. Cook until browned on each side and remove. Drain on absorbent paper.
Preheat the oven to 175C.
Place the cooked veal into a greased large ceramic baker, so they aren't overlapping each other. You may have to use two dishes. Cover with a good quantity of the Tomato Sauce and the cheese mixture.
Place in the oven for approx 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and the dish is thoroughly heated.
Serve with a green salad or steamed vegetables.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Moist Christmas Cake

I will be honest I have been marinading the fruit in lashings of Cointreau for 2 weeks now, just waiting for the time to make my cake. My girlfriend Jacquie and I have been making this cake forever, its our little Xmas ritual and hopefully we will continue to do it for a long time.
It always surprises me how many of my girlfriends have never made a Xmas cake, mostly because they have a Mum around who does it for them. Well, Jacquie and I both moved to Sydney a very long time ago, away from our Mums, so we decided that we had better get busy with the cake otherwise it was never to be. I love fruit cake probably more than any other cake, and the ceremony of the preparation which we have. When the children were much younger they would all have a stir and the adults would have a few glasses of bubbles as we worked. The tradition has changed a little as the children are all adults now except for one, and are too busy, for something seemingly so unimportant ! The workers still enjoy a glass or two of bubbles and everyone would be devastated if we didn't make the cake.
I have made many different recipes for fruit cake, but this one is our adaption of an old Women's Weekly one and I think we have perfected it.
The amount of fruit will make two cakes, so invite a girlfriend or a sister to join you, or halve the ingredients. You can marinade the fruit for three weeks. You can also make it three months ahead. I have never been that organised and it's very hard to get the glace fruit that far ahead. A couple of days is fine a week would be great. Glace fruit is available at any good health food shop. I will post a photo of the cake when I have made it !

6 cups sultanas or 1 kilo
2  1/2 cups currants
2 cups raisins
1  1/2 cups  seeded dates
1 cup seeded prunes
4  1/2 cups glace fruit this can consist of glace pineapple, pears, apricots, peaches but must contain some cherries and ginger.... about 1/2 cup of each or a little more of your favourite
3 medium apples grated
grated rind of 3 oranges
2/3 cup fig jam
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cups of brown sugar
2 tablespoons mixed spice
1  3/4 cups Cointreau

Chop all of the glace and dried fruit into chunks, not too small and all similar size, cherries in half. Leave raisins, sultanas and currants whole. Put them all into a large tupperware or similar plastic lidded container, mix in the jam, rind of orange, grated apple, lemon juice, sugar spice and Cointreau. Stir well to combine, cover and set aside in the pantry and stir every second day.

1/2 Quantity of fruit mixture .. for one cake
250 grams melted cooled butter
5 eggs beaten slightly
2 1/2 cups plain flour
2-3 tablespoons Cointreau

Preheat the oven to slow 160C. I don't use fan forced for a fruit cake.
Line a square or round tin with paper, internally on the bottom and sides. Cut the bottom to fit. I use 2-3 layers of paper. Either use Glad Bake or brown paper which you will have to grease. Extend the paper to come up the sides of the tin about 5 cms.

Place the basic fruit mixture in a large bowl and mix in the butter and eggs, then the sifted flour in two batches. Spread the mixture into the prepared cake tin and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake uncovered for about 3 hours. Brush with the Cointreau and cover the tin in foil. Cool overnight and turn out. Every oven is different, you may need to cover the cake with foil or Glad bake in the last hour as it may be catching and burning on top. If you can smell the cake, it usually is pretty close to being cooked. If your oven is really hot, turn it down a bit and cook a little longer. You don't want it to be burnt on the outside and not cooked in the middle. I really hope this becomes a favourite !

Friday, 23 November 2012


After an abundance of Thai food lately, I thought I would venture to another country, Greece ! I had some lamb mince and some beautiful glossy eggplants and decided to cook a moussaka, a dish I haven't done for years ! We had forgotten how delicious and family friendly this simple dish is, and even better the next day.
You can use beef mince if you want, but for me it is not the same. The lamb makes it a little sweet and is more authentic. I served it with a Greek style salad, mixed leaves with shavings of fine red onion and some big juicy kalamata olives and slices of cucumber. Toss a little feta on top to finish.

1 kilo lamb mince
2 large potatoes
2 eggplants or one large
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 onion finely chopped
3 cloves garlic crushed
2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley finely chopped
2 cups tomato passata,
1 tin tomatoes
1 cup white wine
Rylstone olive oil
salt and pepper

60 grams butter
60 grams plain flour
2 -  2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup  grated parmesan or romano cheese
pinch of nutmeg

Slice the eggplant in long thin slices and lay on a paper towel and salt. Set aside for half an hour. Peel and thinly slice the potato. Cover the potato in water to stop it discolouring.
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and saute the onion and garlic. Add the lamb mince and cook until browned. Add the tomato, cinnamon, oregano, parsley, white wine and salt and pepper. Simmer for about half an hour. This step can be done well ahead, even the day before.
Pat the eggplant dry with paper towel and heat a good amount of olive oil in a fry pan. Fry the eggplant slices until cooked and drain on fresh paper towel. Eggplant does soak up quite a bit of oil, so make sure the oil is hot before placing the eggplant into it.
Fry the thin potato slices in the same pan and set aside.

To make the bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan and whisk in the plain flour to make a roux. Warm the milk slightly in the microwave and add slowly to the roux beating continually to stop any lumps forming. If you don't heat the milk, remove the roux from the heat and add the milk when the saucepan has cooled a little. When the sauce is thick and creamy add the cheese and nutmeg beating into the mixture to combine. The bechamel should be quite thick.

Use approx a 2 litre baking dish. Layer half the eggplant on the bottom, overlapping if necessary.
Next layer the potatoes and half the mince. Press the mince down a little with the back of the spoon.
Add the rest of the eggplant in a layer, then the remaining mince. Again press down with the back of the spoon. Finally add the bechamel. It should come to the top of the dish.

Cook for 45 minutes in a 175C oven. You may want to place it on a flat oven tray to catch any spills
as it will bubble over. Enjoy !

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Thailand Food Tour 2013

After months of preparation I'm very proud to announce my very first cooking food Tour of Thailand which commences in March next year. We begin the tour in vibrant Bangkok where we stroll through local markets specialising in different ingredients used in traditional Thai cooking. Throughout the day we will sample a variety of delicious street eats and learn about the history and culture of the various communities that make up Thailand. Bi-lingual guides will take us on daily adventures as we learn to cook Thai food in hands on cooking classes. Dine in some of Bangkok's fabulous restaurants, and  enjoy the dishes they are famous for. 

Our accommodation is in gorgeous spa hotels where a little pampering can be enjoyed after a days outing. We will mix it up with some shopping and a little culture. We also venture north to the beautiful city of Chiang Mai for a more laid back totally different experience. 

Come on an fun filled adventure with like minded people, and a holiday experience you won't forget.

For those of you who are interested in joining me for the forthcoming tour to Thailand in March 2013
or on any future tours please contact me for a full itinerary on my email at

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Red Braised Pork with Vegetable Stir Fry and Crackling

Braising stocks have become a staple in my kitchen and  I would like to share this red braising stock with you. I have done this recipe with beef brisket which is also to die for. Once you have all the ingredients, which I am sure I say all the time, you can make this very quickly and do it well ahead of time. The stock can be strained and used again. The meat is so succulent and full of flavour . There won't be a person who doesn't want more and ask you for the recipe. You simply can't go wrong. If you happen to have any left, which I guarantee you won't, it is still beautiful the next day.
All of the ingredients are available at an Asian supermarket and are very inexpensive. Shaoxing wine you can get for 99 cents sometimes normally  $1.99. Stock up and keep these ingredients on hand.

1 piece of boned pork leg with rind. The size depending on the number of people you are feeding, as long as it fits in to your pot. Alternatively buy a few smaller ones
If purchasing from a butcher get him to cut off the rind and keep to roast separately, otherwise do it yourself, its very easy. NOTE if you keep the boned leg rolled up it will slice quite nicely. If you choose not too it will be chunky pieces of meat as it is falling apart when cooked , this is also very acceptable and will happen if you use a pork shoulder not rolled up too.

6 litre water
3 cups Shaoxing wine
1 cup mushroom soy sauce
2 cups light soy sauce
2 cups of rock sugar
10 bruised garlic cloves
1 red onion chopped into 8
6 shallots, chopped into large pieces
1 cup chopped ginger
1 piece dried orange or tangerine peel
6 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks

Use a large boiling pot on top of the stove. Place all of the ingredients into the water and bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer for 10 minutes to infuse all the flavours. Place the pork into the stock and simmer gently for 2.5 hours. Turn off and leave in the liquid until ready to serve.
Oil and salt the pork rind and place in a baking dish in a hot oven and cook until it is crackled. Break up into largish chunks and set aside.
These amounts for the vegetables are a guide only you can feed six generously with the following amount.

1/4 butternut pumpkin sliced and cut in half again
1 bunch choy sum
1 bunch buk choy
1 red capsicum, finely sliced
250 grams sliced mushrooms
2 cm piece finely chopped ginger
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 sliced red onion
2 bunches broccolini
1 bunch asparagus,each stalk chopped into 3 pieces
1/2 cup Lee Kum Kee vegetable stir fry sauce
1 tablespoon peanut oil

I use a wok, chop vegetables roughly. Heat oil in the wok and gently fry garlic, onion and ginger.
Add the pumpkin first with the stir fry sauce and simmer gently. You can precook a little in the microwave first if short of time. Add broccolini and the capsicum. Toss frequently through the sauce to cook. Add the asparagus, and mushrooms and lastly the buk choy and choy sum. They will wilt pretty quickly so make sure the other vegetables are cooked through.
Turn out onto a platter, leaving the remaining sauce in the wok. Add 1/2 cup of the red braising stock to the stir fry sauce and reduce slightly over a high heat.

Reheat the pork at serving time in the braising stock. Remove and slice to serve garnishing with some star anise and chopped spring onions. Drizzle over the sauce you've reduced slightly in the wok.

Place the stir fried vegetables on a platter and garnish with large chunks of the crispy pork crackling

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Barbequed Beef Ribs

These ribs are a family favourite and the recipe comes from my brother in law Matt. A cook of some repute we always look forward to a meal my sisters place. Matt and Gilli make a great team in the kitchen. They have a Tandoor oven and we have had some fun lunches creating absolutely delicious meals from the oven. We may even try these at a later date with an Indian slant to them. Another favourite appliance is their pressure cooker which they use to create that fabulous shredded beef for Mexican meals and for this particular recipe. Of course the pressure cooker cuts the cooking time, allowing for pre preparation and for entertaining ones guests.

If you don't have a pressure cooker, don't worry you can pre prep, in the oven. Use a baking dish and cover it tightly with foil. They look a little messy but don't be deceived they are very moorish and you will want to make them again and again. The hardest part is finding a butcher who will do these meaty ribs, you may have to order them in advance. Chipotle chilli are available in jars and have a slightly smokey flavour to them, use any chilli if unavailable, or some hickory would be good, which you can buy at some barbeque stores or good delis. Serve with some barbequed corn cobs, beautiful at this time of year ! Maybe a bean salad or a fab potato salad. The 2.5 kg of ribs would feed four adults, easily doubled or tripled.
The precooking can be done well in advance.
If you do happen to have a pressure cooker prepare as follows

2.5 kgs meaty beef ribs
water and one  beef stock cube
Cook for 30 minutes and set aside.

If you don't have a pressure cooker
Cook them in a baking dish with 2 cups of beef stock and cover tightly with foil.
Cook on 120C for 1.5 hours.


3/4 cup barbeque sauce
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 Chipotle Chilli

Prepare marinade, whisk all the ingredients together, and heat slightly to melt sugar. Set aside.
Marinade the ribs and continue brushing with the marinade whilst barbequing, for approx 15 minutes.Watch them go!!!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Apple and Pecan Cake

We all love to eat cake ! Since the resurgence of the cup cake and the macaroon we have perhaps abandoned the traditional whole cake in favour of the two bite sized, hand held morsels.
Whilst we do love these, they are a fiddle to make, but a cake is so very quick and easy ! It looks just as impressive and can double as a dessert !
This little apple and pecan cake served with some cream does just that. It doesn't require icing and is
moist and delicious on its own.  It takes no time to whip up ! Do not use a mixer for this cake just a spoon or the apple and pecan will get chopped up even more. They need to stay chunky.

2 Granny Smith Apples
1 cup sugar
1 cup chopped pecans 
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
125 grams butter
1 egg

Melt the butter in a dish in microwave or on stove top and set aside to cool.
Peel core and chop apples into chunks as you would for apple pie, or approx 2 cms.
Place into a bowl and mix through the cup of sugar and set aside.
Sift the flour  into a mixing bowl together with the bicarb of soda, and the spices.
Add the chopped nuts and mix through.
Whisk the egg into the cooled butter and add to the flour mixture. At this stage it will seem a little stiff.
The sugar will have released juices from the chopped apple, so add this last and lightly mix into the flour mixture.
Spoon into a round 8 inch tin and cook in a 160 C oven for 45-50 minutes.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Poached Chicken with Rice Noodles and Asian Salad

I am a huge fan of poaching and braising. Kylie Kwong and Neil Perry introduced me to this beautiful way of cooking, which imparts so much flavour and keeps the meat so moist and tender.
The added bonus of cooking this way for guests is that most of the work can be done well ahead, leaving the meat in the liquid just to be reheated at serving time . A lot of the poaching or braising liquids can be frozen for future use.
This poaching liquid is almost like a laksa, served over the noodles with the salad on the side.
The salad  and indeed the whole dish reminds me of the many meals I had in Thailand. Beautifully light and so tasty, perfect for our summer weather.  You can serve this with any barbequed meat or fish really, and play around with the ingredients. The quantities below are for 4 people but can easily be increased.

2 cups coconut cream
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1/4 cup fish sauce
4 slightly crushed garlic cloves
1 red chilli finely sliced or a spoon of minced chilli
4 coriander roots slightly bruised
8 kaffir lime leaves torn
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon palm sugar
1 kilo of chicken I have used breast and thigh
rice noodles 500 gram
Thai basil torn
mint torn

Asian salad

1/4 Chinese cabbage, finely sliced
1 carrot grated or use a vegetable peeler to slice fine strips
12 snow peas sliced into 3 or 4 strips
1/4 finely slice red capsicum
4 sliced shallots
1/4  red onion finely sliced
1 small chilli finely sliced (optional )
2 tablespoons roasted peanuts
1/4 cup chopped coriander
1 clove minced garlic
4 tablespoons fish sauce
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 tablespoon castor sugar
4 tablespoons lime juice

Prepare the dressing, by combining the fish sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, garlic and sugar together and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Cover and set aside until serving. This will keep in the fridge in a screw top jar for weeks. Prepare all of the salad ingredients and place in a bowl and toss to mix. Set aside until ready to serve.
In a large saucepan or wok combine the stock, coconut cream, fish and soy sauces, garlic, lime leaves coriander and chilli. Bring to a boil and simmer for a couple of minutes to infuse the flavours. Gently add the whole breasts or thighs and poach for about 10 minutes or until just cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and cover and set aside. If you have a while until serving, leave the chicken in the poaching liquid.
Cover the rice noodles with boiling water and soak for 5-10 minutes to soften, or throw into a pot of boiling water for 3 minutes and drain.
After removing the chicken, from the poaching liquid add the sugar and lime juice and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Remove the garlic cloves, coriander root and lime leaves before serving.
At serving slice or shred the chicken. Place a quantity of noodles in each bowl. Add the sliced chicken and ladle over the hot poaching liquid. Scatter with coriander, mint and Thai basil.
Dress the salad and serve separately.                                                                        

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Bread and Butter Pudding

As a child my mother made bread and butter pudding regularly. Probably to use up the stale bread. I hated this pudding with its soggy bread and jam and was at a loss to understand how anyone could enjoy it.
Later in life I decided to give it a go myself and am not sure where the inspiration for this recipe came from. I did go through a" French stage" and bought brioche all the time. Maybe the brioche inspired me, being sweeter than bread and a different texture. I now love this pudding.

The weather has turned chilly again as it usually does at this time of year. Perfect for pudding !

100 grams pitted prunes chopped in half
2 tablespoons whiskey
4 eggs
240 grams castor sugar
600 mls milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
300 grams brioche preferably a little stale
50 grams butter

Whiskey Sauce

50 grams brown sugar
50 mls whiskey
50 grams butter
50 mls of cream
nutmeg freshly grated or ground
thickened cream to serve

Soak the prunes in the whiskey, for several hours.
Combine eggs and sugar beating well.
Heat the milk and whisk into the egg sugar mixture and add the cinnamon and nutmeg.
Break the brioche into large chunks.
Grease an ovenproof souffle dish about 1.5 litres or 6 cup capacity.
Place alternative layers of the brioche and prunes in the dish. Top with small pieces of the butter.
Pour the custard mixture over the brioche to fill the dish and bake at 180C for 30-40 minutes until firm.

For the sauce in
Dissolve the brown sugar in the whiskey over a low heat. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and cream. This can easily be doubled for extra sauce.
Serve pudding topped with a little of the sauce, a sprinkling of nutmeg, cream and extra soaked prunes if you desire.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Simple Green Chicken Curry

After my trip I felt I had to give you all a touch of Thai. This is a dish I am sure you have all tried in some form or another . I have cooked Green Curry so many times with a variety of ingredients , but this recipe is just so quick and easy you will do it again and again.
Of course you must have the curry paste on hand and a couple of other ingredients are a staple part of Thai cooking, Fish sauce and Palm sugar. You cannot skimp or compromise on these two ingredients. Well at a pinch if you are really stuck you can use brown sugar instead, but it is sweeter than palm sugar I feel, so use less. The other essential is kaffir lime leaves, even those can be bought in a jar on the shelves if you are finding them hard to get.
The secret to the meal is Spicy Sweet and Sour or Salty. There is really no excuse for not having the makings of a great curry in your pantry. They do not have to be purchased at an Asian store either everything is readily available in Australia at the supermarket. Once you have the staples you can make many curries, and this one is made in no time!! Just know your paste ! If using a bought paste they vary greatly in heat so maybe use caution initially if you are not sure.

1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large can coconut cream
2 tablespoon green curry paste
200 gram sliced chicken breast
2 teaspoons palm sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
250 grams small white and red eggplant  or a little less with the tiny pea eggplant as well ( if you can't get these do not use normal eggplant it is too strong ) substitute, kumera or pumpkin chopped into small pieces and some snow peas, or broccoli pieces.
2 kaffir lime leaves torn into small pieces
Extra fresh chilli finely sliced optional

Heat the oil in a large pot or wok. Add the paste and stir until fragrant a minute or two.
Add 1 cup of coconut cream and bring to a simmer. When the oil appears at the edges or surface is shiny, add the chicken and when coloured add the rest of the can of coconut cream, which will be milky or thinner in appearance.
Bring to a boil and add the vegetables of choice with the lime leaves. When the vegetables are cooked add the palm sugar and fish sauce. Garnish with the fresh chilli. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Want Food Tour of Thailand

I have just returned from a frenetic food and cultural tour of Bangkok and Chiang Mai. It was fabulous and we were treated like royalty.
Asia is so different to Europe, everything operates 24/7, no afternoon siestas which means you aren't forced to rest ! We did manage to get some pool and spa time though ! There is so much to see, so many places to eat and so many shops!!

We ate in many restaurants, from incredibly cheap to the uber cool Nahm operated by David Thompson originally of Darley Street Thai fame. It is rated in the top 50 restaurants in the world and it certainly didn't disappoint on any level. The tasting menu was truly amazing and incredibly inexpensive by our standard .  Having done a cooking course at The Blue Elephant that day and eaten every dish we cooked, we felt we couldn't manage it so we settled on four dishes. Next time !
Crab and Pomelo Salad  at Nahm
Braised Spicy Ribs with Pineapple  from Soul Food

Soul Food Mahanakorn owned and operated by an American, Jarrett Wrisley was a taste sensation of Thai regional dishes with some signature cocktails. The aubergine salad topped with thick chunks of bacon and soft cooked duck egg, was gorgeous as well.

The food is a sensory delight, so tasty and so fresh.
We ate street food, with a guide of course, indulging in some incredibly cheap and delicious bowls of Thai food. I declined the cockroaches, worms and spiders, but did eat duck cheeks. Tiny little bite size morsels that were very tasty. The Thais eat everything, anything that crawls or walks and every part of it, quite fascinating  and only for those Westerners with an iron stomach.

The remainder of a Plate of Duck Cheeks

The markets were so clean and organized, with all of the food so beautifully presented on wickers trays with banana leaves and flowers. All of the produce was very fresh and I was told comes to market every day from the growers. Of course all so inexpensive ! I was a frustrated cook, as I didn't have a kitchen to go home to prepare this healthy gorgeous produce.
Fresh Scallops
Mud Crab

I only took this because I love fresh asparagus

These dear little ladies make the most delicious dumplings which you buy cooked at the Samyan Market. Note the people queueing for them. They spend hours everyday making them and like all Thai people still manage to smile continually.

River Prawns
We also toured the wonderful markets of Chiang Mai, in the north of Thailand.
 Each market has its own speciality and with our guide we explored many edible treasures for a few hours. You can buy anything dried, from fish to fruit, and everything else.
Deep fried chicken heads and grilled frogs, which I didn't try, nor did I try the packets of dried white worms which I was told are delicious!! We did try beautiful miniature fruit and banana dumplings, prepared on the spot. We did a cooking class in a Thai home with Yui and she also took us to her local food market, where she sources produce for her classes. Another day of continual eating !
At the end of our day at the market we returned to our hotel for another assault of the senses... a facial and Thai massage at their gorgeous spa. Two hours of pure indulgence , after which we just had to lie around the pool have some cocktails and prepare for our next meal out !
We also did a lot of shopping, funny about that! Well when in Thailand..... it is their favourite pastime !

As this goes to post, I am working on some tours to Thailand, to take like minded people to discover
the sensory delights of Thai food. Come and enjoy cooking classes, market tours and sampling, gourmet walking tours, have lots of laughs, some genuine fake shopping, search for beautiful antiquities and treasures for the home. Add a little culture to balance things, a regular serving of fabulous cocktails and what more can you want !

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Lemon and Herb Barbequed Loin of Lamb

Spring is in the air with a hint of summer ! I refuse to put on winter clothes again and am looking forward to a warm, rain free summer with lots of outdoor entertaining and a few drinkies of course.!
You may have guessed I love lamb and here is another little beauty. I find it never disappoints !
This lamb dish is very simple, can be increased easily if you have more guests or you can use boned legs of lamb. The loins are smaller and very tender, but it works just as well with the small boned legs that are readily available at Thomas Dux,  all good butchers and Woolworths.
Until the weather does get a little warmer serve the lamb with Roast Vegetables Greek style or the Couscous from my previous lamb recipe. I usually make extra to serve at the table.
Until I post some yummy salads with maybe a touch of Thai after my trip to Thailand.

leaves of 2 sprigs of thyme
leaves of 2 sprigs of rosemary
juice and rind, of a lemon
4 cloves crushed garlic
4 slices of ginger finely chopped
3 tablespoons of honey
4 tablespoons butter
2 boned loins of lamb
1-2 tablespoons Rylstone olive oil
salt and pepper

Put into the blender the herbs, juice, rind, garlic and ginger, honey, salt and pepper.
Reserve 1 tablespoon of herb mixture and mix with the olive oil
Add remaining herbs to the butter and reserve 2 tablespoons for later.
Generously spread the loins with the herbed butter and put together using cooking twine.
Score the loins and rub the herb and oil mixture into the meat. Put into a china dish, cover and refrigerate overnight. If you don't have time for this, it needs to be marinated for at least 4 hours.
Cook in a preheated oven 200C for 20 minutes. Cook for a further 15 minutes on a barbeque or
under a grill.
Carve into 2-3 cm slices and serve with the reserved herb butter mixture melted to a sauce.
Make extra to serve at table

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Pork and Veal Thai Meatballs with Yoghurt sauce

Getting in the mood with a touch of Thai, again. I had some of the yoghurt sauce in the fridge  from my vegetable pasties and it was also delicious with the meatballs.
Fresh ingredients and beautiful aromas of freshly chopped coriander and mint, have you salivating for these before you have cooked them.
They can be adapted and made a lot smaller for finger food for a party.
Serve them with a really fabulous salad and when the weather gets a bit warmer a mango salsa would be beautiful with them too.

1kilo pork and veal mince
1/2 red capsicum
1 small red onion
2 cloves garlic *
2 teaspoons minced ginger *
3 tablespoons chopped coriander
3 tablespoons chopped mint
1 stalk lemongrass finely chopped
2 tablespoons Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce or to taste
1 egg beaten
Canola or peanut oil

* I used for this recipe a minced  bottled garlic and ginger bought from an Asian supermarket

 Finely chop onion, capsicum, lemongrass and whole garlic and ginger if not using minced.
Add these along with the chopped mint and coriander to the pork and veal mince. Mix thoroughly and add Sweet Chilli Sauce  and the beaten egg to bind the mixture. At this point you can add salt and pepper.

Shape the mixture into balls  about the size of golf balls. If making them this size a kilo will make about 20 meatballs.
Heat the oil in a shallow fry pan and add the meatballs. Don't put them all in at once and don't overcrowd the pan. Turn them to make sure each side is evenly cooked.
Drain on paper towel and serve when ready with the yoghurt sauce, or alternatively serve with extra Sweet Chilli sauce
They can be made earlier and reheated. They also freeze well.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Fab Finds

Just had to share these finds. I always try out new things, sometimes good sometimes not. This is a goody ! The Woolworths Select brand of Thick Greek Style Yoghurt.
Really thick and delicious.

Also from my local Indian Supermarket Mothers Recipe brand, Garlic and Ginger Paste.
Getting me in the swing of  things for all the Thai, I am going to be cooking ! So easy and a really nice blend. Great if you are in a hurry or haven't got the fresh on hand !

Friday, 14 September 2012

Thai Vegetable Pastie with Yoghurt Sauce

I will be in Thailand as this goes to print, to source some fabulous cooking schools and gourmet walking trips through the unknown parts of Bangkok and Chiang Mai. I hope to get a great Food Tour organized for next year, so watch this space. There is a lot of  eating to do and I have set myself, a pretty hectic schedule.
Before leaving I thought I would get in the mood  and make this little vegetable pastie probably more like a samosa without the right pastry. I used puff pastry and Yellow Curry paste from the Spirit House. There are many store bought curry pastes, use a green if you like, slightly different taste but still a little chilli and Thai ( sort of ) You could use an Indian Curry paste as well, medium to hot
The yoghurt sauce is a fabulous and very versatile . Wait till the summer barbeque, delicious with lamb and chicken too.

2 tablespoon oil
1 onion finely chopped
1/2 red capsicum
2 potatoes peeled and chopped
200 gams chopped pumpkin or sweet potato cut into 2cm pieces
1 carrot
2 cloves garlic
2 cm piece chopped ginger
1 tablespoon tomato paste
30 grams curry paste or 1 good tablespoon
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
Puff pastry sheets thawed in fridge
1 egg

Yoghurt sauce

1 cup plain Greek style yoghurt
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 clove crushed garlic
1 tablespoon chopped coriander
1 tablespoon chopped mint
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Make the yoghurt sauce first and keep in the refrigerator.
Toast the nuts in a pan until slightly golden on a low heat. If you don't happen to have pine nuts slivered almond would do. Add the ground cumin and turmeric and cook until fragrant about 1 minute.
Remove from the stove and  cool . Process until finely ground.
Add the remaining ingredients and give a quick pulse to combine or use a hand mixer. Check seasoning, maybe add a little salt.
Set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok or large pan. Add the curry paste and stir until fragrant. Add the onion and garlic and coat in the spices. Add the rest of the vegetables and tomato paste and stir through.
Add one cup cold water, and bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Remove lid and add chopped parsley and coriander. Stir and keep cooking until liquid has evaporated. If you find the vegetables aren't cooked and water has evaporated add more water, until they are cooked.
Set aside and cool.
Preheat oven to 175C
I used a bowl turned upside down to mark a 15cm circle on my pastry sheets. Of course if you want to serve them as finger food use a smaller cutting guide.
This mixture will make 6 large pasties.
Divide the mixture into six and place an amount on each pastry circle. Work one sheet at a time at a time, if you find this easier.
Pull pastry up to centre and crimp together with your fingers.
Place on a baking paper lined tray and wash with the beaten egg.
Cook for 15 minutes or until pastry is golden.
Serve with the yoghurt sauce and a chutney if desired.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Leek and Prosciutto Risotto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Leeks are plentiful at the moment and I love cooking with them. Risotto is not hard to make it just requires 20 minutes of your undivided attention with continual stirring. You can always pour yourself a big glass of wine and chat to your guests as you make it ! There are a number of oven bake risottos and I haven't tried this one in the oven , purely because I prefer to cook them the old fashioned way !
Although, some steps for this are done in the oven making it a little simpler.
I think the secret to a good risotto is a good strong stock and it must be boiling hot when it hits the rice to keep the cooking going. If you don't make your own there are many great stocks available in store these days other than a stock cube. But by all means use this if you have too, but keep in mind they are quite salty. Try a Massell stock powder instead !
If you prefer pancetta to prosciutto that is fine too, as long as they are thin slices.
How much stock to use is approximate, you may end up using slightly less or more. It doesn't matter. The important thing is for the risotto to be creamy, not too dry or too runny. Do not drown the rice in stock it should only be just covered maybe 1/4 cup at a time , absorb and repeat until done approx 18-20 minutes. This recipe will serve four, it is easy to increase amounts !

300 grams Arborio rice
1 large leek finely sliced
6 slices thin prosciutto
1/2 punnet cherry or truss tomatoes ( if they are small use the lot )
2 large cloves crushed garlic
1 litre chicken stock
80 grams butter
3/4 cup  white wine
2 tablespoons fresh or dried tarragon if fresh unavailable
1 cup finely grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 180C. Place prosciutto and tomatoes on a baking paper, lined tray in the oven for approx 10 mins.
Remove from the oven and break the prosciutto into smallish pieces and set aside.
Place stock in a saucepan alongside the pan you are going to cook the risotto in and bring to the boil.
In the pan  you are cooking the risotto, melt 60 grams of the butter and saute the leek and the garlic with the wine, until soft.
Place the rice into the pan and stir to thoroughly coat in the butter, leek mixture.
Begin ladling the hot stock, about 1/4 cup at a time, and wait until totally absorbed until the next ladle of stock is added, keep repeating and stirring the whole time.
About 5 minutes before finishing, add the tarragon, and stir through.
When the rice is done, turn off the heat and add the prosciutto, the remaining butter, a twist of black pepper and gently toss the tomatoes through trying to keep them whole. If some break up that's fine, but it is quite nice when you are eating to get a burst of tomato every now and again.
Just be careful with salt content, prosciutto and parmesan and stock are all salty !
Serve at once with extra parmesan.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Steamed Apricot Pudding with Creme Anglaise

We made this little pudding for Fathers Day dinner. I haven't made it for years and had forgotten how delicious and easy it is.
My friend Jacquie and I were mad about steamed puddings in the early 1980's.
I did a cooking course back then with Gretta Anna who taught us how easy a steamed pudding can be. She passed away a year or two ago, but she was a great inspiration to me and a lot of cooks I am sure.
Everything can be prepared before and it can sit waiting to pop in the oven as you sit down to the main.
The creme anglaise is a cheats version and can be done well ahead too.
If you don't have apricot jam to line in the little dishes, use peach as I did for half of the puddings.

90 grams chopped apricots
50 grams sultanas chopped if large
250 grams self raising flour
juice of a medium sized orange and zest of that orange
2 tablespoons butter melted
4 tablespoons sugar
200mls milk
2 eggs
apricot or peach jam
1 teaspoon vanilla

Creme Anglaise

Cream thickened
Custard store bought
Basically its half the quantity of cream to custard. As an example, 600ml custard to 300 cream with 2 tablespoons icing sugar added. 

Simmer the apricots and sultanas in the orange juice for about 1 minute to soften. Set aside.
Beat the sugar with the eggs and add the melted butter. Sift the flour.  Add the milk and alternate with the flour a little at a time until all mixed in. If you still have a lot of juice in the soften apricots drain some off. This purely depends how juicy your orange is !!
Add the vanilla, apricots and sultanas along with the orange zest and mix through thoroughly.
Butter 6 x 150 gram pudding moulds. Place 2 tablespoons of the jam on the bottom of each mould.
Divide the mixture evenly amongst the moulds, but don't let it come to the top as the mixture will rise. Tap onto the bench to even out the mixture.
Place into a baking tray. You may leave them at this point until ready to cook.
At cooking time preheat the oven to 180C, fill the baking pan with boiling water to come half way up the sides of the moulds.
Cover the pan with buttered foil and press tightly down to avoid ant steam escaping.
Cook for 25 - 30 minutes. or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Serve with the Creme Anglaise

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Cheese and Chilli Dip

My children told me I have to put this dip on my blog. They love it, as do adults ! I also served it for the dinner party for the 30 young men, whilst they consumed 100 beers ( or so it appeared )
It goes very well with a Mexican themed meal and will disappear in no time. Great for a snack before Chilli Con Carne. I think it is best served with corn chips or you could use the pita chips from my previous blog. Great for outdoor summer easy entertaining.

1 small finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 cup  hot chicken stock
100 grams  Philly cream cheese
150 grams sharp cheddar or those cheese blends that are already grated and so readily available in supermarkets
100 grams grated parmesan cheese
1 small red chilli or 1 teaspoon of minced chilli from a jar.

In a saucepan saute the onion and garlic and chilli in the butter. Add the flour and stir to combine.
Add the chicken stock and mix through the roux.
Add the cheeses and stir until melted.
Keep stirring until cheese is melted and mixture is thick. Be careful with salt content as stock will be salty if using cubes and parmesan is salty.
Serve warm with chips garnish with finely chopped tomato if liked.
If you make it well ahead and find on reheating it is too thick, just add a bit more stock, to thin.
it will be gone in no time !!

Friday, 31 August 2012

Chilli Con Carne

A bowl of delicious chilli con carne on a cool evening, with all the added extras.. Yum.
This little number goes a long way, basically cooks by itself with the occasional stir and can feed an army if needed. I served it as part of a tex mex night for thirty 25 year old hungry men. Stand up cocktails and easy finger food followed by the chilli con carne.
I served the brown rice and chilli in a noodle box and I put all the extras out for them to use as desired and it went down so well. Not a lot of washing up and all prepared the day before! Easy entertaining or a great family meal, with corn chips, sour cream, jalapenos, grated cheese, and extra finely chopped onion. Put it all out an let them choose .
This recipe can be doubled and tripled, but the chilli heat is purely up to your taste,. That's why it is good to serve the jalapenos or jalapeno sauce as a side for those who like a big kick of chilli.
I bought a Mexican spice mix from the markets in North Sydney and it is so hot you only need a very small amount, so be careful if you have a spice or chilli blend. Start off cautiously!
To be honest, I probably never make this the same way. If you want to add tomato paste add a little sugar as well. The sugar balances the chilli .

1 kilo beef mince
1 chopped onion
3 cloves garlic chopped
2 tablespoons oil
3 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons paprika
2 freshly chopped chillies or 2 spoons of minced chilli from a jar or more if desired
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
2 tins of chopped tomatoes  OR
1 tin tomatoes and 1 bottle Sugocasa Tomato sauce (sold in tall bottles at supermarket )
1 tin red kidney beans
fresh chopped coriander
fresh chopped parsley
salt and pepper

Chop the onion and garlic . Heat the oil in a large pot on the stove top and saute the onion and garlic.
Add the mince in small amounts and brown. You will have to stir and chop it down with a spoon to get it all browned. Add the tomatoes and Sugacasa and all of the ground spices with the chilli and tomato
sauce. Simmer for about half an hour then add the kidney beans, chopped coriander and parsley.
Stir through and  check your seasoning ! This is the time to add more chilli if you would like. If you feel the mixture is too dry, this will depend on your mince, you can also add more tomatoes or some water or stock.
Simmer for a further half an hour, stirring every now and again to stop it catching on the bottom.
Serve with all the accompaniments . This can be made the day before eating, and freezes very well.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Lemon Curd

This is the easiest treat to make and most people think it is too hard. Older people say "Oh I used to make that all the time but couldn't be bothered. Well I don't believe you can buy any lemon curd that tastes as good as home made. It keeps in a container in the fridge for ages and can be used for a great variety of things.
I made some for a fun party platter for my brother in law Matt's 50th on the week end. A casual day time party, on a beautiful nearly spring day, champagne, live music in the garden, it was the perfect addition to a casual sweet platter for guests to pick on at their leisure, at the end of the day.
Little lemon curd filled tart shells and mini meringues sandwiched together with lemon curd. Tart shells and mini meringues store bought. We also had mini cup cakes, pistachio chocolate fudge, nougat, Turkish delight and yes, the kid in us all, Starburst party lollies and malteasers  and all garnished with  good shake of icing sugar to finish it all off. I happen to have a fabulous, huge, old french cheese board from Country Trader in Sydney which serves me well on so many occasions and it didn't let me down this time !

Juice and rind of two large lemons
175 grams caster sugar
100 grams butter
2 eggs

Juice the lemon and zest the rind and add to a warm saucepan with the caster sugar and butter.
Stir until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved, into the lemon juice.
Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Whisk the eggs together in a bowl.
Add the whisked eggs to the cooled lemon mixture and return the pan to a gentle heat. Do not let the mixture boil at all.
Whisk continually until the mixture is thickened. If you don't continue beating or whisking the mixture can catch on the bottom and burn or the eggs can scramble. Your arm may tire a little but it is worth the effort.
You can also do this in a double saucepan if you prefer.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Chocolate Brownies

These delicious little morsels are so quick and easy. They are made before the oven is even heated .
I have been making them for years and made them every Saturday for the basketball afternoon tea at my sons school. The coach requested healthy food ! Yeah right !!! Thirty ravenous boys do not want carrot sticks after playing that level of basketball ! They requested more brownies please, what is a Mum to do ? It gives us a lot of pleasure to see kids devouring our home cooked delights, so thats what we all continued to do ...
The recipe below, I always double cause it doesn't last long.
Tin for amount below, I use a square tin 8x8 inches. If doubling it fits a 9x12 inch rectangular tin.
You could also serve it as a dessert with cream or ice cream.

225 grams caster sugar
40 grams cocoa
75 grams self raising flour
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
100 grams butter

Preheat oven to 175C
Mix the dry ingredients. Melt the butter and mix into the dry. Whip the eggs with the milk and add to the bowl and mix together quickly.
Pour into a baking paper lined tin and bake for 40 mins.
Sprinkle with icing sugar and cut into squares.

Note: If your oven is very hot you may need to turn it down a little, if doubling the recipe you will also need to cook it a little longer.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Roast Vegetables with Honey Mustard Dressing

Sometimes you get a huge craving for a plate of beautiful vegetables, sometimes some red meat, a chocolate, a glass of champagne....  and the list goes on.. The weather is showing a taste of things to come. Spring is nearly in the air and we start thinking of barbeques and salad and vegetables to go with your meat. I had a vegetable craving last night and made this  roast vegetable dish, which can be increased very easily depending on the number of guests you are catering for.
The dressing is actually a salad dressing, but I warmed it up and poured it over the roasted vegetables. Delicious ! I served it with a grilled steak, you could serve it with the Boned Marinated Leg of Lamb, or Pork Cutlets, indeed any type of grilled meat or fish. My son came home with some barramundi and cooked it to go with the vegetables and sprinkled some feta on top too !
This is for 6 people approx and of course the vegetables can be varied, this is what I had in the fridge last night.

Honey and Mustard Dressing

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup seeded mustard
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup olive oil, ( I use Rylstone Olive Oil )

I use a screw top jar. Put all of the ingredients into the jar and with lid on tightly, give it a good shake to mix. Set aside. This will make far more than you need for this dish, but you will have a lovely salad dressing  to keep in the fridge for another meal !

1/2 jap or kent pumpkin
2 parsnip
2 large zucchini
2 large carrots
large handful green beans
1 large kumera
6 cloves garlic
2 onions
Olive oil
Maldon Sea salt
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped coriander

Preheat the oven to 175C
Prepare the vegetables. Cut the pumpkin into fairly decent size wedges and leave the skin on. Think one wedge per person. Peel the kumera and the carrot and parsnip and cut in half and then each half into 3 or 4  thick long fingers. Leave the zucchini unpeeled and do the same. They should be of a similar size to cook evenly.
Peel and slightly smash the garlic, peel and quarter the onion. Top and tail the beans if needed.
Put the pumpkin, carrot, parsnip, zucchini and kumera into a plastic bag splash a liberal amount of olive oil and Maldon sea salt into bag and toss around to coat them.
Tip into a large baking dish and place into the preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes. Meanwhile toss the remaining vegetables in the same bag with more oil and Maldon Sea salt if needed.
After 30 minutes, remove and add the onion, garlic and beans to the pan. Mix the balsamic and brown sugar together and gently toss through the vegetables. Make sure the original vegetables are turned to cook the other side.
Return to the oven for another 30 minutes, or until cooked. The sugar and balsamic will give them a slightly caramelized coating.
This can be done well ahead and reheated at serving time!
Warm the dressing in the microwave and pour 3-4 tablespoons of it over the roast vegetables and garnish with the chopped coriander. There are no rules, this is approximate you can add more or less if you like, and the same with balsamic and brown sugar which you would need to do if you are cooking a lot more vegetables.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Casserole of Spicy Pork Spareribs

This Asian dish is a real family favourite. The addition of the steamed vegetables at the end makes it a complete meal even the little ones would enjoy. You can serve it with rice to make it go further of course. I have made it with Beef ribs and Beef shin, which is often sold in Asian butchers as Osso Bucco. I only ever use veal in my Osso Bucco though!
The Asian butchers also sell Beef asado, which is just another name for ribs, but the term is actually used all over South America for a barbeque. The best thing about shopping at the Asian butchers is the price !! They trim all their meats of fat and don't charge to do it, like the western butchers. So if you have one near you give it a try. They are usually located very near an Asian grocer, well worth a visit to stock up on all your pantry goodies,  and ingredients for this dish and much cheaper !
The pork ribs I use are often sold as pork rashers, as opposed to American ribs. They have a lot more meat on them, but you will have to trim them a little of fat.
I haven't added any salt as the black beans make it salty enough !

1-2 kilos fresh meaty pork spareribs or rashers, trimmed of fat. You can also cut the rind off at this stage or leave it for diners to remove themselves. The rind comes away very easily, when cooked.

2 tablespoons minced ginger
3 cloves crushed garlic
2 tablespoons Chinese black beans not rinsed. ( they are sold at Asian supermarkets in cry vac packs on the shelf )
3 tablespoons sliced shallots
1 stalk of finely chopped lemongrass
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Japanese rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine 
1 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons mushroom soy sauce
Chilli this is entirely up to you, 1 teaspoon will give it a little kick that children could tolerate, go for a bit more if you like your food a bit hotter. Remember its not a chilli dish though, don't put too much in as it will overpower the Asian flavours.
4 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
Vegetables of your choice, you may use a combination of any of the following
snow peas, mushrooms , asparagus, capsicum, onions, green beans, baby corn, onions, carrots, zucchini.
Simply prepare the vegetables as you would for a stir fry and set aside. 

Preheat the oven to 180C
Trim your ribs of fat and chop into nuggets. Heat the oil in a wok and fry the pieces of pork until browned. Don't crowd the pan too much , work in batches. Set aside.
Chop and prepare the ginger, garlic, black bean, shallots, chilli and lemongrass.
Heat the oil in a heavy casserole dish that you are using, and fry all of the above. Add the ribs to this mixture.
Combine all of the liquids in a jug, mix together and pour over the ribs, mix in and cover.
Lower the heat to 160C and put the casserole in to cook for 1 hour .
Remove the casserole from the oven and layer your choice of vegetables over the top  and replace the lid. Return the casserole to the oven for a further 15 minutes, when the vegetables will be steamed.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

My girlfriend Jacquie gave me these gorgeous cake tins in three sizes. We make our Xmas cakes together and always bemoan the fact there are no really nice cake tins to store them in. Jacquie found some and they are so pretty, I feel they can't stay empty all the time so I just had to make these absolutely moorish chocolate chip cookies.
I always made them when the kids were at school and now everyone in the house watches their weight, I don't tend to bake as much. Interestingly when I made them they didn't last long, funny about that!!!
Of course you can't stop at one!

250 grams soft butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups soft brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
230 gram bag of Cadbury Baking Chips ( these come in milk or dark sweet or bittersweet )

Preheat oven to 160C
Beat the butter with the two sugars. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well.
Sift the flour, baking powder  bicarb soda and salt together. Add the dry mixture to the butter mixture. Add the vanilla and mix in. Finally add the chips most of the bag approx 200 grams and save some to poke a few extra into each biscuit.
Roll the mixture into small golf ball type shapes and poke each ball with extra chips if needed.
Place the balls on baking paper lined trays leaving plenty of room in between each cookie as they spread quite a lot. I press each ball slightly with a fork to flatten a little. They don't seem to spread quite as much if you do this.
Bake for 15 mins. they should be brown on the edges. They will harden up as they cool, but they are meant to be slightly chewy.


Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Celery and Blue Cheese

Cauliflower are plentiful right now, and very inexpensive.
I just love a cauliflower cheese with my roast lamb in winter. It's a childhood memory, perhaps we didn't even like cauliflower then and this is the way our mothers got us to eat it. Not everyone in my household does like it, but funnily enough they do love this soup. Sometimes, it is not necessarily the young ones who object either ! Just don't tell them what the main ingredient is until after they have finished. I guess if you don't like blue cheese give it a good dose of parmesan or romano or as an alternative some chopped walnuts are a yummy addition at serving time.
It is a simple family soup, that is smart enough for dinner guests with its garnish.
Did you know, when cooking cauliflower if you cook it in milk, with a piece of bread in the saucepan it will stay really white ? !!! ( one of those Nanna tips )

1 whole  medium size cauliflower, broken up into small florets
1/4 bunch celery, sliced
2 onions, peeled and sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 large potato peeled and cut into 8
chopped chives for garnish
blue cheese or walnuts
1.5 litres good strong chicken stock
100 grams butter
Cream approx 400 mls or half cream /milk

In a large saucepan, saute the onions, garlic and celery in the butter until soft.
Add the potato and cauliflower florets and the chicken stock.
Cook until the cauliflower is soft. Cool and puree in a blender or with a handheld device in the saucepan. Check for seasoning  and beware, some chicken stocks, if not homemade can be very salty. The cheese is also salty. You can now add about 400 mls cream, which makes it very creamy OR wait till serving time which is what I do and only add a small amount.
Plate the soup, add a dollop of cream and crumbled blue cheese and the chopped chives.
Let your diners stir through the cream and the cheese. Yummm !

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Vegetable Curry

This is the curry I served with the Indian Roast Lamb. I thought I should share it with you. It is a delightful dish full of vegetables and flavour.
You can change the vegetables depending on what is in season or what you have available at home.
It is also a great vegetarian dish served with some basmati rice, yoghurt, chutney and some naan bread if you desire.

2 medium onions chopped
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves chopped
2 inch piece of ginger or approx 100 grams peeled and chopped
2  green chillies  ( you can increase or decrease this amount depending on your tastes )
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek 
2 tablespoons lemon juice
black pepper approx 1/4 teaspoon
4 potatoes peeled and cubed
3 carrots peeled sliced and cut in half if large carrots
1 parsnip peeled sliced and cut in half for larger slices
2 large zucchini sliced into chunky slices and cut in half
you may use any of the following vegetables as well
green beans chopped in half 1 cup OR 1-2 cups broccoli flowers OR 3/4 cup green peas
1 can of chopped tomatoes approx 400 grams
salt teaspoon

Heat the oil in a large pan. I use a wok over a gas flame.
Add the onions, ginger, garlic and chillies and fry until onions are soft and starting to colour.
Meanwhile combine the spices, turmeric, paprika, coriander, fenugreek and pepper with the lemon juice and a little water. Add to the pan and fry with the onion mixture, stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Add extra water if it gets too dry.
Add the chopped vegetables to the pan and fry in the spices for a couple of minutes until totally coated.
Add the tomatoes and salt and cover the pan. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 25 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Check occasionally and stir gently to make sure the vegetables aren't sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Transfer to a serving dish