Saturday, 31 December 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!



HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!



Update - Caramel Brie



Back in July I made the awesome caramel brie but was never happy with the photos I took.  So, as I made it today I thought I would take some more and update the original Caramel Brie recipe. 






Quotes

There is no spectacle more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves.
- Tom Wolfe

Friday, 30 December 2011

Recipes - Bigilla

Bigilla is a Maltese dip made with dried broadbeans.  When I decided to make it I didn't think getting my hands on some dried broadbeans would be too difficult.  I was wrong.  In their absence I used frozen.  My Mum insists that this is not a bigilla because it has not been made with dried broadbeans.  It's also true that usually the dip is a medium-dark brown and mine is bright green.  Whatever it is and whatever broadbean you use, this dip is addictive!!  And just between you and me, I think it tastes better than the original.

Ingredients
500g broadbeans
1/2 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup parsley, firmly packed
1 tsp harissa
salt and pepper, to season

Step 1 - Boil broadbeans in lightly salted water for 4-5 minutes, or until soft.  Drain and transfer to food processor while still warm.
Step 2 - Add garlic, lemon juice, parsley and harrisa to broadbeans, season well with salt and pepper and process.  With motor running, drizzle olive oil in a thin stream until incorperated.  
Step 3 - Taste and adjust seasoning as required.  Serve warm or cool with crackers or bread. 

Notes:

If using dried broadbeans reduce the amount to 300g and soak overnight. Drain and rinse before commencing step 1.  Cooking time will also need to be extended.


I forgot to pick up some harissa so used tabasco sauce instead.  Not traditional but still gave it the kick it needed.  A fresh birdseye chilli could be used also.



Thursday, 29 December 2011

Top 5 - King Island Dairy Recipes

You may not be aware of this yet, but I LOVE King Island Dairy! I've made a bunch of recipes using their cheese and I wanted to share my Top 5 recipes using King Island Dairy Cheese.


Pleased to meet you!


Guten Tag! This week I've had lots of hits from Germany.  I used to speak a little German and still remember one random phrase - "Hilfe! Ich bin eine ananas. Was soll ich machen?"  

So, two questions:
  • Where in Germany are you from?
  • What's your favourite German food?

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Recipes - Pineapple, Coconut and Lime Cookies

I had an idea for summer in a cookie. The idea is good, the flavour combination is great, but it's not quite what I had in mind.   This is the recipe I used on my first attempt.  The cookie itself is soft and chewy, but a little stodgy in the middle, kind like a subway cookie.  They are yummy but I want to improve them.  Stay tuned for attempt two, coming soon.

Ingredients
125g butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 cup pineapple, chopped
1 lime, zested
1 cup desiccated coconut, toasted
3 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 tbs baking powder



Step 1 - Preheat oven to 190°C.  Line a flat tray with baking paper.
Step 2 - Using an electric mixer, beat butter in a large bowl until pale then add sugar  bit by bit until incorporated.  Add egg and beat until combined.
Step 3 - Add vanilla, pineapple and coconut to bowl and mix well then fold through sifted flour and baking powder.  
Step 4 - Drop heaped tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto prepared tray leaving ample room for spreading. Bake for 18 minutes then cool on tray.  Repeat with remaining mixture.







Quotes

"I never get tired of cooking.  I do get tired of washing up."
- Anonymous 

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Facebook

The votes are in! Thanks to everyone who participated in my Facebook page poll this week.  It was a close call and the winners were:
  1. Pineapple, Coconut and Lime Cookies
  2. Bigilla
Bigilla is a Maltese dip, consisting of broadbeans, garlic, olive oil and a few other bits and pieces. 

Recipes and photos will appear on my blog sometime over the coming week. Remember to become a fan of my facebook page and you can vote on next weeks poll, giving you the chance to choose what I cook!  

Monday, 26 December 2011

Recipes - Garden Salad

I've noticed over the years that everyone does their garden salad a little differently.  Some people keep it super simple with just a few ingredients, some people like sliced carrot and cheddar cubes and other throw everything in, including mango, pineapple, apple and orange (yes! with lettuce, tomato and cheese).  I like to use the very best the garden has to offer and a few things from my fridge and pantry.  I think my garden salad is pretty alright.

Ingredients
150g mixed mesculan, washed
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
1 lebanese cucumber, halved and sliced
1/2 red capsicum, thinly sliced
1/4 - 1/2 small spanish onion, sliced very thinly
1 avocado, diced
100g fetta, cubed
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1/2 lemon
olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tbs dukkah (this will MAKE the salad! Seriously, make sure you use it!)
balsamic glaze (optional)

Step 1 - Tip lettuce into a large salad bowl then layer capsicum, cucumber, tomatoes and spanish onion. Scatter avocado, fetta and olives on top.
Step 2 - Season well with salt and pepper then squeeze juice from lemon over salad. Drizzle with olive oil, I am a bit heavy handed but you can be as lite or heavy as you like. 
Step 3 - Sprinkle salad with dukkah and drizzle over a little balsamic glaze if desired. Serve immediately. 

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Recipes - Pear, Walnut and Parmesan Salad

This is a salad I was making a lot about 6 or 7 years ago and I just got to thinking about it the other day.  An amazing combination of flavours; the peppery rocket, the sweet pears, the salty parmesan and the crunchy, creamy walnuts.  And then this is all countered with a sweet and sour balsamic vinegar.  I'm glad to be bringing this salad back.

Ingredients
120g rocket, washed and dried
2 pears, cored, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
60g parmesan cheese, shaved
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to season


Step 1 - Place rocket, pear slices, walnuts and parmesan cheese in a salad bowl. Toss gently with your fingers.
Step 2 - Drizzle with oil and vinegar and season lightly with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.  


Notes:


I used Nashi pears as they offer a slightly more crunchy texture and tend to hold their shape better than other varieties. 



Friday, 23 December 2011

Recipes - Mum's Mini Boiled Fruit Cakes

Boiled fruit cakes are super festive and taste delicious! Long gone are the times of heavy, stodgy, stale, glace-cherry filled fruit cake, these babies are light, fluffy and rich, even better when you use your own homemade fruit mince. The recipe is similar to that of a sticky date pudding, but instead of dates you use fruit mince! They are sure to impress your guests.

Ingredients
3 cups fruit mince
180g butter, chopped
1 tsp all spice
1/2 mixed spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp bi-carb soda
2 eggs, lightly beaten 
1 cup plain flour
1 cup SR flour
whole roasted almonds, to decorate

Step 1 - Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 2 x 12 hole cupcake tins with patty pans.
Step 2 - Place fruit mince, butter, spices and bi carb soda in a large saucepan and stir over medium heat until butter melts.  Bring to boil over high heat and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Step 3 - When cool, mix in eggs then fold through flours until just combined.  Spoon mixture into patty pans so they are 3/4 full.  Decorate with almonds.
Step 4 - Bake for 20-25 minutes until cooked through.  Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack.  Dust with icing sugar before serving.






Thursday, 22 December 2011

Quotes

"I don't believe in low-fat cooking"
                                - Nigella Lawson

Did you know?

Every year, more than 400,000 Australians become sick from eating tainted leftovers.

This year, don't become a statistic! Stack your fridge correctly and keep everything covered!  Don't let leftovers sit out after your meal, pack them up and get them back in the fridge or freezer so you can enjoy them later on.  

Merry Christmas everyone.

Recipes - Fruit Mince Pinwheels

Pinwheels have turned into my quick to whip up, throw anything in, entertaining solution.  So when I was left with a abundance of fruit mine, I decided to chuck on a few batches of fruit mince pinwheels to see if it would work.  And yes, yes it does.



Ingredients
3/4 cup fruit mince
3 tbs jam (I used raspberry, but use whatever you like or have)
3 sheets frozen puff pastry
icing sugar, to dust



Step 1 - Preheat oven to 230°C.  Line a large, shallow baking tray with baking paper
Step 2Set puff pastry on a flat surface to thaw.  Pastry should thaw to the point that it is malleable but not much further as the pastry is difficult to work with as it begins to warm.
Step 3 - Remembering to remove plastic backing from pastry, spread 1 tbs jam evenly over each pastry sheet, leaving a 1cm border at top.  Distribute fruit mince over jam.
Step 4 - Roll each pastry sheet into a firm sausage shape and cut about 10 rounds from each sheet.  
Step 5 - Place each round, cut side down, on baking tray leaving some space between each and bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden.
Step 6 - Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Notes:

Pinwheels can be made to the end of step 5 and frozen for up to one month.  Continue from step 6 when needed, without thawing rolls.



Wednesday, 21 December 2011

In someone else's kitchen





I was lucky enough to be invited over to my friends house for dinner recently, which was awesome, as these friends are right into pizza.  I've never really made pizzas so it was great to get into Ben and Sam's kitchen and see them at work.  After last night, I want to make pizza.  I will make pizza.  I am going to make pizza. 



Being the awesome friend that I am I rocked up with a gorgeous Christmas/Host Gift Basket that contained a delicious bottle of wine, a steamed Christmas pudding, some fruit mince tarts and some cupcakes w buttercream icing.   The wine was opened and the cooking commenced.



To start with, Sam fried up some chorizo and capsicum in olive oil.  In the last few seconds she threw in some cherry tomatoes and tossed it all together until the tomatoes were warmed through.  I was watching her thinking 'this is going to be such a yummy pizza' and was super surprised when she tipped the contents of the pan into a bowl and placed it on the table. Turns out this was an appetizer and we all enjoyed picking at it until dinner was served.






So, the three pizzas on the menu were:

  • The Antipasto
  • The Greek
  • The This Pizza is Winning


These are by no means the actual names of the pizza, more the nicknames I have given them! 



The antipasto is a smothering of all things awesome. And by all things awesome I mean chargrilled eggplant, sundried tomatoes, roast capsicum, marinated button mushrooms, marinated artichoke hearts, fried spanish onion and a light sprinkling of parmesan cheese.  The combination of flavours was perfect and the light sprinkling of parmesan cheese meant it did not over power the other flavours.




  



The first step when making The Greek is to fry off some lamb with some rosemary, just enough to seal it.  The lamb is scattered over the pizza base along with some quartered cherry tomatoes and creamy chunks of goats cheese.  To finish, the pizza is topped with olives and a smattering of minted yoghurt.   


This pizza was super yummy, such an amazing and unusual combination of flavours!  The minted yoghurt really 'made' the pizza.










OH. EM. GEE.  The This Pizza is Winning is seriously winning!  An awesome combination of olives, prosciutto, rocket and bocconcini that is lightly topped with marinated artichoke.  The best thing about this pizza is how crispy the prosciutto is after cooking which is perfectly complimented by the creamy melted bocconcini.  The bocconcini also counters the saltiness of the prosciutto and olives and the rocket proveides a subtle peppery quality.  







Ben and Sam do not make their own pizza bases, but really, they don't need to when you can buy a delicious thin base that crisps up really well!  They did tell me what brand they are, but I've forgotten.  However, I will find out because I want to make my own pizza (did I mention that yet?)


Sam also whipped up a quick salad of rocket, olives, parmesan and balsamic glaze.  
  

Dessert was pure genius. Chocolate coated strawberries, which everyone loves, with the addition of a large shard of white chocolate sticking out the top.  Because the shards of white chocolate were cut out in irregular triangle shapes, the whole presentation of the dish looked utterly amazing and it is super simple!  But the simplest things are often the best. 
All in all, I think I am super lucky to have such amazing friends who cook so well!  Great night.



Top 5 - When Entertaining

With the Christmas Season upon us I thought I would throw together a list of my top 5 must haves when guests arrive.  These tasty tidbits are sure to impress!


Recipes - Basic Cupcake and Buttercream Icing



Who doesn't LOVE cupcakes!  The perfect, pretty, light, fluffy, sweet little treat that is so delicious and super versatile.  Cupcakes are so in right now and this is a great base recipe for a vanilla cupcake and butter cream icing that can be coloured, flavoured and decorated to match your mood, your event or your creativity.  Being Christmas, I have decided to use some green and red sanding sugar, some edible glitter and some little green and red Christmas trees.  These decorations (and many, many, many more) are available from cake decorating retailers. 

Ingredients
200g butter, softened and cubed
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups SR flour
1/2 cup milk

Buttercream Icing
250g butter, softened and cubed
3 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup milk

Step 1 - Preheat oven to 180°C.  Line 3 x 24 hole mini cupcake tray or 3 x 12 hole regular cupcake tray with patty pans.
Step 2 - Cream butter and sugar then add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.
Step 3 - Fold through half the flour, then half the milk.  Fold through the remaining flour then the remaining milk.
Step 4 - As this mixture rises very well, 1/2 fill patty pans.  Bake for 10-12 minutes for mini cupcakes or 15-17 minutes for regular cupcakes.  
Step 5 - Remove from oven and stand for two minutes in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
Step 6 - To make buttercream, beat butter until pale then  beat in half the icing sugar.  When incorperated, beat in 1tbs milk, then remaining icing sugar, then remaining milk.
Step 7 - Pipe or spread icing over cooled cupcakes and decorate as desired.

Note:

This recipe makes about 72 mini cupcakes or about 36 regular sized cupcakes.