Top Food Blogs

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