Sunday, 28 August 2011

Recipes - Cheeseboard Muffins

I love cheese.  The other day I counted eleven different types of cheese in my fridge.  I really felt a cheese muffin was in order and boy was it delicious.  Try this recipe. Today.


Ingredients - makes 18 (using a 1/3 cup capacity muffin/cupcake tray)


1 quantity savoury muffin mix
1 cup grated sharp vintage cheddar
1/2 cup grated tasty cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/2 tsp paprika
2 tsp mustard, wholegrain or dijon
150g double cream brie, I used King Island Dairy, cut into 18 pieces
1/3 cup milk, extra


Following the savoury muffin mix recipe;


Apologies for poor picture quality,
my camera broke!


Step 3 - Add tasty, mozerella and cheddar cheeses plus, mustard, paprika and extra milk with wet ingredients and stir til combined.

Step 4 - 1/3 fill muffin holes with cheese mixture then place a piece of brie in the centre of each and top with remaining mixture.  

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Lightbulb!

I've been wondering what to serve with the panna cotta and I just had a lightbulb moment - strawberry, mint and balsamic glaze 'salad'.  


Yummo, now I really can't wait to make panna cotta! 

I can't wait for the weekend to begin

So, I've had a pretty quiet cooking week but I am planning on getting straight back into it over the weekend.  On the agenda:

And something easy for dinner tomorrow night, maybe Chicken Caesar Salad. 

Check back in for recipes and photos. 




Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Recipes - Orange and Dark Chocolate Muffins

I'm not the biggest jaffa fan but this combination was made by request and tastes pretty spectacular.



Ingredients
1 quantity sweet muffin mix
1 cup dark chocolate chips
oranges, zested

Following the sweet muffin mix recipe;

Step 3 - After combining wet ingredients, gently fold trough orange zest and dark chocolate bits. 





Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Project Cake - Central Coast, NSW

The cake is the pinnacle of a celebration and therefore it should be special!  Jazz from Project Cake recently made a baptism cake for my niece and not only did it look amazing it was exceptionally yummy.  One guest described it as being delightfully delicious and delectable.  The cake, a layered chocolate mud with chocolate ganache, was rich and moist without being too sweet or intense.    

One look at Project Cakes facebook page and website and I realised that Jazz takes immense pride in her work and puts all of her heart and soul into everything she makes.  She goes above and beyond to ensure what she creates meets her impeccable standards and is exactly what you had in mind.  

So now you know who to call when you need a perfect cake for your special occasion.    




Sunday, 21 August 2011

Lightbulb!

Lemon Meringue Muffins.


So I had a little help coming up with this idea (thanks Mum) and actually made them successfully over the weekend. However, they could, and will, be better than my first batch so at some point this week I will perfect the recipe and post it. 

Check back soon! 

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Recipes - Zucchini and Haloumi Bites

This is another great recipe I found on taste.com.au that is always a favourite of my guests.  I have made a few small changed, the main being altering the way they are cooked to reduce fat and also to save time and energy.  


Ingredients
300g zucchini, about 3-4
250g haloumi, grated
1 brown onion
2 eggs
1 lemon, zested
75g flour
2 tbs chives
salt and pepper, to season
aioli, to serve




Step 1 - Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease a 24 hole mini muffin tray and a 12 hole mini muffin tray.
Step 2 - Grate zucchini and onion into a colander.  Squeeze out as much moisture as possible and transfer to a large bowl.
Step 3 - Add remaining ingredients to bowl and stir to combine.  Press mixture into holes in pans.  
Step 4 - Bake for 40 minutes and serve warm with aioli. 

Friday, 19 August 2011

Recipes - Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins

Raspberry. White Chocolate.  Enough said. 


Ingredients
1 quantity sweet muffin mix
1 cup frozen raspberries
2/3 cups white choc bits
1 tsp vanilla extract


Following the sweet muffin mix recipe;


Step 3 - After combining wet ingredients, gently fold trough raspberries, vanilla and white chocolate.



Recipes - Pumpkin Soup

Everyone has their own way of making pumpkin soup and this is mine.  I developed this recipe after seeing a TV chef make something similar ten years ago.  Their method always stuck with me and led me to create something that has become a favourite among my family and friends.

Ingredients
2kg butternut pumpkin, skin removed and cut into large pieces
2 potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 brown or spanish onions, quartered
4 cloves garlic, whole and unpeeled 
1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbs ground cumin
1/2 cup cream
2 tbs chives, finely chopped
4 slices prosciutto
sour cream, to serve

Step 1 - Heat oven to 220°C.  Spray two baking trays with olive oil.  
Step 2 - Evenly distribute pumpkin, potato and onion over the baking trays.  Spray vegetables with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.  Place trays in oven.  After 20 minutes, reduce heat to 180°C, add garlic to trays and bake for a further hour or until tender.
Step 3 - When vegetables are ready, heat stock in a large pot. Remove any excess skin from vegetables, ie onion and garlic and place vegetables in pot with stock. Blend with a stick mixer until smooth and thick.  Remove from heat and stir in cumin and cream.
Step 4 - Grill prosciutto until crispy, about 2 minutes each side and set aside to cook slightly.
Step 5 - To serve, ladle soup into bowl and top with sour cream, chives and prosciutto.   

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Recipes - Pimped Nachos

Who doesn't love good Mexican food?  Especially nachos!  The pre-brought spice mixes are great as a flavour base to which you can add extra spices and a few other ingredients to develop a rich, flavoursome sauce, better than what you find in most Mexican restaurants!  


Ingredients
500g mince
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, diced
1 red chili, seeds & pith removed & sliced
1 packet of taco or burrito seasoning
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander seed
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground chili
1 tbs tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
1 x 400g tin tomatoes
1 x 400g tin red kidney beans
To serve
2 x tomatoes, seeds removed and diced
1 small spanish onion, finely diced
guacamole
tomato salsa
grated tasty cheese
sour cream
corn chips


Step 1 - Heat a good splash of oil in a large frying pan.  Add onions, garlic and chili and fry off for 1-2 minutes.  Add cumin, coriander, paprika and chili and fry off for up to one minute.
Step 2 - Add mince and brown.  When brown, add taco or burrito seasoning, tomato paste and sugar and cook, stirring frequently until tomato paste is dark in colour and well cooked.
Step 3 - Add tin tomatoes, red kidney beans and 1 cup water. Reduce heat and simmer slowly  for 1-3 hours.  The longer the sauce cooks the richer the flavour will be.
Step 4 - To serve, place nacho mix, corn chips, onion, tomato, cheese, guacamole, sour cream and salsa in separate bowls in the middle of the table and let people serve themselves. 


Notes:


The amount of chili can be reduced or omitted for children.  To increase kids vegetable intake grate 1 carrot, 1 zucchini and 2 celery sticks and fry in step one after spices and before adding mince.  





Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Did you know?

Nachos is the food most craved by pregnant women according to a survey of over 2000 pregnant women conducted in North America in 2008.


Check back tomorrow for my 'Pimped Nachos' recipe.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Recipes - Best Ever Omelette

Want the lightest, fluffiest, tastiest omelette?  Look no further! This is how omelettes are supposed to be and while it does seem a little more complicated than your average egg breakfast it should only take about 10-15 mins from starting prep to plating up.  


Ingredients
3 eggs
1/4 cup tasty cheese, grated
filling ingredients (see below for filling ideas)

Step 1 - Heat a little oil in a 25cm frying pan and cook filling ingredients. Remove from pan and set aside.
Step 2 - Separate eggs, putting the whites in a very clean glass bowl and yolks in a small bowl.  Gently beat yolks with a fork and set aside.
Step 3 - Beat whites on medium speed until soft peaks form.  Gently fold yolks through whites with a spatula.
Step 4 - Wipe out pan with paper towel, spray well with olive oil and heat on medium.  Also, turn grill on to medium heat.
Step 5 - Pour egg mixture into frying pan and use spatula to smooth into an even layer.  After 1-2 minutes, run spatula around sides of omelette and gently lift to see if bottom is cooked.  When bottom is a light golden colour, move the pan to under the grill to cook the top.
Step 6 - When top is golden, sprinkle with cheese and return to grill until cheese is melted and golden.
Step 7 - Remove pan from grill, spread filling over half the omelette and fold the other side over the top.  transfer to plate.  Serve on its own, with toast and/or a side salad.

Ideas for fillings:

Meat - bacon, ham, prosciutto, chorizo, smoked salmon
Vegetables - onion, mushrooms, capsicum, spinach, zucchini, tomato
Cheese - ricotta, feta, haloumi 

For this omelette I used
  • 50g ham
  • 6 button mushrooms
  • 1/4 spanish onion
  • 20g baby spinach 

Monday, 15 August 2011

Good tips, good tricks

Raw onion has an intense and overpowering flavour that is not always pleasant.  Sauteing onion will bring out its natural sweetness, but what do you do when you need to add raw onion to a recipe before cooking?  

Place sliced, diced, chopped or grated onion into a sieve and pour boiling water over the top.  While it won't sweeten the onion it will eliminate the overpowering and unpleasant raw flavour by par cooking it. Just remember to squeeze out some of the excess water. 

This is a great tip for adding raw onion to muffins, breads, soup, casseroles or any recipe where a raw onion flavour would upset the balance.   


Top 5 - Breakfasts

I love cooking a delicious brekkie but usually only have a chance to do so of a weekend. This top 5 is my selection of 'go to' breakfast recipes when I want to impress my friends and family.  Enjoy.  

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Recipes - Basil Pesto and Sundried Tomato Muffins

Basil Pesto and Sundried Tomato is a match made in heaven.



Ingredients
1 quantity savoury muffin mix
2 quantities basil pesto, about two cups
1 cup sundried tomatoes, halved
2 tbs milk, extra

Follow the savoury muffin mix recipes;

Step 3 - Add pesto, tomatoes and extra milk with wet ingredients. 




Pictured with Olive Tapenade and Feta Muffins

Recipes - Olive Tapenade and Feta Muffins

When I decided to put this combination together in a muffin, I was thinking it would be a sort of homage to the chocolate w white choc chip muffin. It tastes better. 

Ingredients
1 quantity olive tapenade, about 2 cups
200g feta, crumbled
2 tbs milk, extra

Follow the savoury muffin mix recipes;

Step 3 - Add olive tapenade, feta and extra milk with wet ingredients. 




Pictured with Basil Pesto and Sundried Tomato Muffins

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Recipes - Olive Tapenade

Never buy olive tapenade again!  This takes two minutes to make and is so yummy.  Quantities of each ingredient can be altered slightly so you can make it to suit your taste.  




Ingredients
2 cups kalamata or green olives, pitted and rinsed
2 tbs capers, rinsed
2 anchovies
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 small clove garlic, crushed
3 tbs olive oil





Step 1 - Place all ingredients, except oil, into a food processor and process until chopped.
Step 2 - Add oil and process until well combined, scraping down sides half way through.

Notes:


A combination of kalamata and green olives can be used. 


Olive Tapenade tastes better the next day so make in advance if possible. 

Recipes - Bacon and Egg Pies

I make these at least once a month and sometimes surprise the baristas at my favourite coffee shop by bringing in a tray on a Saturday morning.  I also make them whenever I travel as they can be eaten hot or cold for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  That said, they're best hot out of the oven for breakfast.  I got the idea when I saw something similar at a cafe while holidaying in Port Macquarie in 2009 and have been making them ever since.  

Ingredients
6 eggs
6 rashers middle bacon, cheeks and rind removed
20g baby spinach
1/3 cup grated tasty cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 sheets puff pastry, defrosted
6 thick slices tomato (optional) 
salt and pepper, to season





Step 1 - Preheat oven to 220°C.  Grease a 6 hole 3/4 cup capacity texas muffin pan.
Step 2 - Cut puff pastry sheets into 4 even squares.  Line each cup with a square of pastry and reserve the remaining six squares.
Step 3 - Wrap the bacon around the inside of the pastry, put half a dozen spinach leaves on the bottom and crack an egg into the centre.  Repeat with the remaining bacon, spinach and eggs.
Step 4 - Season with salt and pepper and evenly distribute tomato, if using, and cheese between pies.  Top with remaining pastry squares, gently pressing down the sides to seal the filling. Carefully pierce two holes in pastry.
Step 5 - Bake for 15 mins then reduce heat to 180°C and bake for a further 25 mins. 
Step 6  - Cool in pan.  



Recipes - Coffee and Hazelnut Muffins

Coffee and Hazelnut is a delicious combination that works really well as a muffin.  I really really love a super strong coffee flavour and would happily double the amount of coffee used, so add more at your discretion. 

Ingredients
1 quantity sweet muffin mix
2 x double ristretto shots
1 cup hazelnuts, chopped and dry roasted
1/4 cup SR flour, extra


Following the sweet muffin mix recipe;


Step 2 - Add hazelnuts and extra flour with dry ingredients.
Step 3 - Add coffee with wet ingredients.


Friday, 12 August 2011

Top 5 - Savoury Muffins

Here are my Top 5 Savoury Muffin Recipes.  Now, which one to make first?

I don't remember a time I didn't cook

age 11...


I was at home by myself one day and very very bored. So I did what any bored 11 year old does, I baked a cake.  

My mum always bakes and cooks so I had an amazing pantry of ingredients at my disposal.  I took out one of my Mum's recipe books and chose the most impressive looking cake - a two tier chocolate sponge cake with chocolate ganache icing.   


It was the first time I'd made a sponge and I didn't know that sponges have a habit of collapsing if not cooked just right, which was probably a good thing cause I followed the instructions to the letter and was rewarded with two tall, beautiful, light sponge cakes.  I cut the rounded tops off each and sandwiched them together with strawberry jam and chantilly cream. 


To ice the cake I made the chocolate ganache and spread it across the top and down the sides in as smooth and even a layer as I was able. I even piped a whole lot of (mostly) evenly sized rosettes around the edge, how very 1990's!  When I was done I popped the cake into the fridge and sat down to eat a few pieces of off-cuts with the leftover ganache. 


Mum came home that afternoon and I proudly told her about the amazing cake I made that day.  She saw the container of off-cuts on the bench and said 'yum, your cake looks nice.'  I told her she needed to open the fridge and when she did so, she was rendered speechless.  She still talks about that cake.  Maybe I should make it for her again. 

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Did you know?

Odour is by far the most important contributor to the flavor of food. The impact of taste, texture, and appearance are insignificant by comparison as odour makes up approximately 75% of the flavour of food. Humans can distinguish an estimated 20,000 different odour qualities. 

How To - Poached Eggs

Perfectly soft poached eggs are the holy grail of the Sunday breakfast, and not as elusive as many people think.  Just follow these simple steps to impress your friends and family but be warned, you'll have people knocking on your door around breakfast time every Sunday.

What you'll need:
  • A large saucepan with lid
  • A slotted spoon
  • Water
  • 1/2 - 1 cup white or malt vinegar
  • Eggs
Step 1 - 3/4 fill the pot with water, add vinegar and bring to boil with lid on.
Step 2 - Remove lid, reduce heat to medium-low and wait until water reaches a consistent slow simmer. You want a slow but steady stream of bubbles rising to the top and gently breaking on the surface.  
Step 3 - Create a whirlpool by running the spoon around the sides of the pot.  Crack egg directly into centre of whirlpool. Do not drop the egg from a height, ensure you open the egg close to the water.
Step 4 - Cook the egg for 2-3 minutes, then remove from water with slotted spoon and serve immediately.   

More than one egg can be poached in the pot at once, but do not add more than 3 or 4 as the water temperature will fall too low and cease to simmer.  If adding multiple eggs, do so in quick succession to avoid removing an uncooked egg while overcooking another. 


Pictured here with Balsamic Mushrooms w Haloumi

Recipes - Balsamic Mushrooms w Haloumi

This is one of my favourite things to have for breakfast. And lunch. And dinner. 


Ingredients - Serves 4
6 large field mushrooms, cut into slices or wedges
200g haloumi, cut into 8 slices
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbs balsamic vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tbs oregano
4 egg
4 thick slices of sourdough bread



Step 1 - Heat a good splash of olive oil in a large frying pan and fry garlic and mushrooms until mushrooms are cooked through.  Add balsamic vinegar, toss mushrooms to coat and leave on medium heat for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat, sprinkle with oregano.
Step 2 - Heat a grill pan and fry haloumi for 1-2 minutes each side. Squeeze some lemon juice over the top.
Step 3 - Poach eggs
Step 4 - To serve, grill sourdough bread, top with mushrooms, haloumi and egg. Sprinkle with oregano and fresh cracked black pepper.



Wednesday, 10 August 2011

How To - Gremolata

Gremolata is an Italian condiment made from parsley, garlic and lemon zest.  The ingredients are chopped together until fine and sprinkled over pasta, risotto and stew.  Gremolata also tastes amazing over most main meals and savoury breakfast dishes.  The combination of flavours adds some freshness to a meal and (you've been warned) is addictive! 



What you'll need: 
  • 1 cup loosely packed parsley 
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • zest of two lemons
  • A wooden chopping board
  • A sharp knife







Step 1 - Place the garlic on the chopping board and chop finely.
Step 2 - Place the parsley and lemon zest on the garlic and chop everything together until all ingredients are fine.

Recipes - Prosciutto and Pea on Angel Hair Pasta

I created this recipe at a time in my life when money was very very tight.  One fateful day I had people coming for dinner and all I could find in my pantry was angel hair pasta, frozen peas and two lemons.  I had $8 and decided to blow all my cash on sundried tomatoes, cream and prosciutto.  I also stopped by my Mums place and picked up some garlic and some parsley.  Dinner was delicious and my guests proclaimed that I needn't have gone to such great trouble and expense.


While there is cream in the sauce it is there to bring the sauce together and coat the pasta but it is not a heavy cream sauce.


Ingredients
6 thin slices prosciutto, diced
2/3 cup peas
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
1 lemon, zested
1 clove garlic, crushed
2/3 cup cream
250g angel hair pasta
pepper, to season
gremolata, to serve




Step 1 - Put a large pot of water onto boil. When boiling, add pasta and cook to packet specifications. 
Step 2 - Heat a good whack of olive oil in a frying pan.  Add garlic and prosciutto and fry until prosciutto is crispy.
Step 3 - Pour in cream and simmer until thick and reduced, about 1-2 minutes
Step 4 - Add peas, sundried tomato and lemon zest.  When peas are tender, remove from heat and season with pepper.
Step 5 - Toss cooked pasta through sauce and serve immediately sprinkled with gremolata


Notes:


Have all your ingredients ready and ensure your pan is hot before making the sauce as it should only take 3-4 minutes to cook.  If you prep your ingredients while the pasta water is coming to the boil the sauce can be made in the time the pasta cooks and you'll have an amazing meal from start to serve in ten minutes.  






   

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Top 5 - Sweet Muffins

Here are my Top 5 Sweet Muffin Recipes.  Recipes will be posted over the next few weeks. 

Recipes - Caramel, Peanut Butter and Choc Chip Muffins

My mum LOVES these muffins.  In fact, I think the flavour combination was her idea. You won't be able to stop at just one.


Ingredients
1 quantity sweet muffin mix
380g tin caramel top and fill
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup dark choc chips


Following the sweet muffin mix recipe;


At step 3 - Add caramel and peanut butter with wet ingredients.  When combined, gently stir in choc chips.





Recipes - Muffins

This basic muffin recipe can be used to create any flavour combination your imagination can conjure.  I have listed the recipes for both sweet and savoury muffins.




Ingredients - Sweet Muffins
2 cups SR flour
1 cup sugar 
1 egg
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup milk
1-3 cups additional ingredients








Ingredients - Savoury Muffins
2 cups SR flour
1 cup grated cheese, tasty or parmesan 
1 egg
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup milk
1-3 cups additional ingredients









Step 1 - Preheat oven to 200°C.  Grease muffin tray.
Step 2 - In a large bowl add dry ingredients and mix to combine.  Make a well.  
Step 3 - Add wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not beat mixture as muffins will become tough. 
Step 4 - Fill muffin tray holes 3/4 full with mixture.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  
Step 5 - Remove from oven and turn out onto wire rack to cool.


Notes:


Depending on additional ingredients, the amount of milk or flour may change.  If the mixture is too wet, add flour tbs at a time until you have reached the right consistency.  If mixture is too dry, add milk 1 tbs at a time. 




I'll be posting my Top 5 Sweet Muffins and Top 5 Savoury Muffins soon.