Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Recipes - Roast Capsicum Soup

I just LOVE soups!  They're simple, versatile and can be incredibly healthy.  Perfect for winter when 'comfort food' usually means 'not going to fit into your jeans come summer'.  I think I could eat soup every day because you can use just about any and every combination of vegetable and meat with the addition of legumes, grains and pasta to create literally thousands of different varieties to suit your taste.  I created this recipe because I saw something similar somewhere and thought I'd give it a go.  So glad I did! 

Ingredients
1.5kg red capsicums, quartered, seeds and pith removed
1 spanish onion, peeled and quartered
6-8 cloves garlic, skin on
1Lt vegetable stock
natural yoghurt, to serve
chives, finely chopped, to serve
salt and pepper
olive oil

Step 1 - Preheat oven to 180°C.
Step 2 - Place capsicum, onion and garlic cloves in a large baking tray.  Season well with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.  Roast in oven for 45 minutes.
Step 3 - Squeeze garlic from skin then place veggies in a large sauce pan with stock.  Bring to boil over high heat then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Remove from stove top and set aside to cool slightly.
Step 4 - Blend soup with a stick mixer or in a blender.  Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.  Return to stove top over medium-low heat and simmer for a further 3-5 minutes until soup has thickened.
Step 5 - To serve, ladle a generous amount of soup into a bowl and top with a dollop of natural yoghurt and a sprinkling of chives.  

Notes:

Up to 750g of red capsicums can be replaced with yellow and/or orange capsicums.





Monday, 7 May 2012

Did you know?


Sweet Potatoes are very high in sugar and are a vegetable that should be consumed sparingly, especially if you are dieting.  On the plus side, they contain calcium and high levels of vitamins A and C.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Update

Way back in July, just after I started this blog, I made some Rhubarb Meringue Pots, an absolutely delicious dessert that I didn't get any photos of at the time.  Well, I  finally found an excuse to make it again and this time I made sure I snapped some quick pics before they were devoured!



Friday, 4 May 2012

Lightbulb!



Pistachio and dukkah crusted lamb rack with cherry sauce.


Think it will work?

Monday, 9 April 2012

Quotes



"Cookery is not chemistry.  It is an art.  It requires instinct and taste rather than exact measurements."
- Marcel Boulestin

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Recipes - Lentil Salad

I've been on a bit of a health kick lately but was eating the same thing every single day.  No exaggeration.  So after two weeks, instead of giving up, I decided to get creative and throw together a simple yet delicious salad.  It tastes so amazing and could easily be served as a side dish for grilled meat or chicken or be like me and enjoy it as a filling, low calorie lunch.

Ingredients
1 x 400g tin lentils, drained and rinsed
150g low fat fetta, cubed
2 tomatoes, diced
1 lebanese cucumber, diced
1 red capsicum, finely diced
1/2 spanish onion, finely diced
1/4 cup coriander or parsley, roughly chopped
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper, to season

Step 1 - Combine all ingredients in a bowl, season well with pepper and lightly with salt.   Fold gently and serve. 





Sunday, 26 February 2012

Did you know?

Kopi Luwak is the worlds most expensive coffee, retailing at around $600/pound for farmed and up to $3000/pound for wild.

The reason it is so expensive is because the Asian Palm Civet eats the coffee cherry and after the digestive process the coffee beans come out whole.  They are then cleaned, dried roasted and brewed to produce what some believe is the finest tasting coffee in the world. 

I love coffee, but not sure I would be game to try it.  

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Top 5 - Vegetarian Meals

I love red meat and white meat and seafood and could never remove this food group from my diet but I do not have to eat meat with every meal, every day.  Vegetarian dishes can be exciting, tasty, versitile and enjoyed by everyone, vegetarians and carnivores alike.  It was hard to narrow this list down to just 5 as there are so many delicious vegetarian meals, but after much deliberation, here is my pick of top 5 for vegetarian meals.


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Recipes - Onion Bhaji

I am a huge lover of Indian food and I am a huge lover of entertaining/finger food type food.  This recipe ticks both of those boxes.  It's also flavoursome, pretty easy to make and incredibly cost effective.  I completely fell in love with these and can see myself making them all the time, they're just that good!

Ingredients
4 small/medium onions, peeled, halved and sliced
1 1/2 cups besan flour 
1 tsp garam marsala
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground corrainder seeds
1/4 tsp ground chilli powder
1/4 tsp ground ginger
water
olive oil, for frying
raita, to serve


Step 1 - Place onion, besan flour and spices in a large bowl and use your finger to toss until combined.  Add water, starting with about half a cup and stir with a spoon until combined to create a thick batter.  Add more water, little by little if needed. 
Step 2 - Heat a good layer of olive oil in a frying pan and heat until oil just starts to "shimmer" with heat.  Drop tablespoonfuls of the mix into the oil and cook for 2-3 mnutes each side until golden, flip and repeat.
Step 3 - Drain on paper towel and repeat with remaining mixture adding more oil in between batched if necessary.  Serve warm with raita on the side.  



Notes:

Besan flour is made from ground chickpeas.  It is gluten free and available from select supermarkets and most health food stores.


Raita can be made by mixing natural yoghurt with chopped mint and finely diced cucumber and season with a little salt.



Monday, 20 February 2012

Quotes

"Never work before breakfast.  If you have to work before breakfast, eat your breakfast first."
- Josh Billings

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Recipes - Italy's Finest

I had this amazing combination of flavours on a pizza years ago and it has always stuck with me.  The salty anchovy, spicy pepperoni, creamy bocconcini and sweet fresh basil create a flavour explosion that will have you thanking Italy for their food genius! 

Ingredients
1-2 tbs pizza sauce
1/2 cup mozzarella, grated
12-16 thin slices spicy pepperoni
12-16 bambini bocconcini
8-12 anchovy fillets
basil leaves, to serve

Step 1 - Preheat oven to 230°C.
Step 2 - Place pizza base on a lightly greased pizza tray. Spread pizza sauce over base and sprinkle mozzarella. Distribute pepperoni, boccincini and anchovies on top.  
Step 3 - Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until base is crisp. Top with basil leaves and serve with a simple, lightly dressed green salad.

Notes:

Amounts of pizza sauce and cheese can be increased or reduced, depending on how saucy or cheesy you like your pizza.



Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Top 5 - Pizzas

I love pizza.  Always have. Always will.  Pizza is one of those awesome dishes where you can let your creativity run wild and add topping to suit your tastes.  Anything from antipasto,  vegetables, meats and cheese of every kind, even sweet pizzas using chocolate, marshmallows and fruit.  Taking inspiration from around the world you can create Indian flavoured pizza, or Mexican, or Moroccan, or Lebanese, to name a few.  As gourmet or simple as you like, pizza can so easily be adapted.  My one tip is to use your topping sparingly.  So jump in the kitchen, whip up a batch or two of my pizza dough, and start creating your own amazing pizza flavours.  For some inspiration, here is my Top 5:

  • Best of Cyprus
  • Italy's Finest
  • Surf Turf Sky
  • Smoked Salmon and Caper
  • Triple P 

Monday, 13 February 2012

Recipes - Mini Cobs

I would really love to say I came up with this idea all on my own, but I didn't.  I was chatting with a friend about how I love making cob loaves filled with dip for parties, but being a bit of a germophobe, I don't like that everyone's fingers are all over the bread - ripping it apart to dip with, which is the idea behind a cob.  He told me that he had seen individual "cobs" which eliminate this problem.  I have not been able to find small cob loaves so have used bake at home dinner rolls that can be purchased from most supermarkets.  Bread rolls would also work but might be a bit too big for finger food/canapes. 

Ingredients
12 dinner rolls
300g tub sour cream
1 pkt spring vegetable soup mix
2 rashers middle bacon
3 shallots, finely chopped
1/2 cup vintage cheddar cheese, grated

Step 1 - Preheat oven to 230°C.
Step 2 - Place bacon under an overheat grill and cook until crisp.  Set aside to cool then dice.
Step 3 - Mix bacon, sour cream, soup mix, shallots and cheese in a bowl until combined. Set aside.
Step 4 - Using a serrated knife, cut a lid from the top of each roll.  Pull of each lid, taking care not to break it and remove some bread from inside the roll and under the lid.  Spoon dip into each boat and place lids back on top. 
Step 5 - Bake for 6-9 minutes (depending on cooking instructions for rolls) until bread is golden and crisp.  Serve warm. 

Notes:

Any creamy, cheesy dip can be used in place of the dip in this recipe.



Sunday, 12 February 2012

Quotes

"Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity."
- Voltaire

Friday, 10 February 2012

Did you know?

It's a common misconception that you cannot refreeze meat once it has been thawed and this is not true.  As long as the meat has been thawed at temperatures of 4  degrees Celsius or below, it is safe to refreeze.  The major downside is that lots of water is lost and therefore the meat can become quite dry when eventually cooked.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Recipes - Chorizo and Prawn Paella

Paella is known as being the national dish of Spain, however it is actually exclusively Valencian.  Mine is in no way traditional, just something I threw together after limited research that seemed to work pretty well. 

Ingredients
2 chorizo sausages, sliced
500g green prawns
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 spanish onion, diced
1 red capsicum, sliced
1 green capsicum, sliced
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground chilli powder
3 cups chicken stock
1 quantity roast capsicum dip
2 cups rice
fresh coriander and sliced red chilli to serve


Step 1 - Heat olive oil in a large frying pan.  When hot, add garlic, onion and chorizo.  Fry off until golden then add the sliced capsicum. Fry for 1-2 minutes, until just tender then add the paprika, cumin, corriander and chilli.  Stir constantly for about 1 minute until toasted and fragrant.  
Step 2 - Add rice and toss to coat, then add capsicum dip and chicken stock and season well with salt. Stir well, reduce heat to low and seal pan with a tight fitting lid.  Cook, without stirring, for 25-30 minutes.
Step 3 - With 15 minutes to go, lift lid and quickly distribute prawns over top of rice.  Work quickly as you do not want to lose too much steam.  Replace lid and continue cooking for reaming time.  After the 25-30 minutes, check rice is cooked and if necessary, add a little more water, replace lid, and check again after 5 minutes.  
Step 4 - To serve, sprinkle with fresh corriander and chilli. Place pan on a wooden board and place in the centre of the table.  Enjoy!




Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Recipes - Olive, Bocconcini and Prosciutto Bruschetta

I was shopping the other day and spotted a packed of mini panini. They looked perfect for bruschetta so I had to buy them and test them out.  It was one of my better ideas.  The only thing better is the combination of flavours I chose to top it with! 

Ingredients - makes 24
12 mini panini
12 thin slices prosciutto, halved lengthwise
24 green olives, pitted
24 baby bocconcini
1-2 cloves garlic
balsamic galze (optional)

Step 1 - Preheat oven to 230°C.
Step 2 - Halve panini and evenly distribute, cut side up, over a shallow tray. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and bake in a hot oven for 4-5 minutes, until golden.  Remove from oven and rub warm bread with a garlic clove.
Step 3 - Top panini halves with prosciutto, bocconcini and olives.  Drizzle with balsamic glaze if desired and serve.



Sunday, 5 February 2012

Quotes

"A recipe has no soul.  You, as the cook, must bring the soul to the recipe."
- Thomas Keller

Friday, 3 February 2012

Pleased to meet you!


Hi to everyone in the UK!  You guys like to check out my blog and I'd love to know where you're from!  Comment below.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Did you know?




Yeast releases carbon dioxide when it consumes sugar.

How To - Pizza Dough

There are heaps of pre-made pizza bases available at your local supermarket, in varying degrees of taste and quality, but I've always felt it is satisfying to make your own from scratch.  To be honest, I do buy pre-made pizza bases every now and then when I want a quick meal but it's just not the same.  This pizza dough can be frozen for up to three months so I've decided to make a double batch (enough for 6 bases) so I always have some at hand.  Oh, and one other thing, making your own pizza dough is A LOT cheaper. 

What you'll need: 
  • 4 cups plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 7g yeast
  • pinch sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 50mL olive oil, plus extra to brush
  • 1 small bowl
  • 2 large bowls
  •  a fork
  • pastry brush
  • a round-bladed knife
  • Clean, dry work surface
  • Cling wrap

Step 1 - Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl, make a well in the centre and set aside.
Step 2 - Combine yeast, sugar and warm water in the small bowl, lightly whisk with a fork and set aside for 5 minutes until foaming.  Add yeast mixture to the flour along with the oil and use the round-bladed knife to combine, using cutting motions.  
Step 3 - When mostly combined, use your hands to form into a ball and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead for 10 minutes. 
Step 4 - Brush the other large bowl with olive oil and place the kneaded dough into the bowl. Brush top and sides of the dough with olive oil, cover bowl with cling wrap and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for at least 30 minutes, until dough has doubled in size.
Step 5 - Preheat oven to 230°C.
Step 6 - Cut dough into three equal portions.  Roll out to desired size and thickness on a lightly floured surface.  Transfer base to a lightly greased pizza tray/stone and top with desired toppings.
Step 7 - Bake for 12-15 minutes, until base is crispy.  

Notes:


This recipe makes 3 bases.


If freezing bases, wrap individual portions well in cling wrap at Step 6 and freeze.  Dough can be frozen for up to 3 months.  To thaw, remove from freezer 24 hours prior to use and defrost in fridge.  Two hours before use, remove from fridge and set aside to allow to come to room temperature.  Continue from Step 6.


For something a bit special, infused oils, herbs or even finely shredded cheese can be added to the dough.  Infused oils should be added in place of olive oil whereas cheese and herbs should be kneaded into the dough.






Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Facebook

Thanks to everyone who voted this week!  There were two clear favourites right from the start and I am really excited they won.  So, during the week, keep and eye out for:

  • Prawn and Chorizo Pilaf
  • Caramel Scrolls

Check back later in the week for recipes and photos!

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Recipes - Margherita Pizza

The Margherita pizza is one of the most common and widely recognised traditional pizza varieties. It is, quite simply, cheese, tomato and herbs on a tomato sauced pizza base.  It's great to serve to kids as it is simple and tasty with uncomplicated flavours. Because it is so simple and very traditional there are a hundred different recipes with slight variations in ingredients used.  My recipe will just add to that list.

Ingredients
1-2 tbs pizza sauce
8-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tsp dried Italian herbs
1/2 cup mozzarella, grated
1/2 cup tasty cheese, grated
basil leaves, to serve

I forgot the basil leaves!
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 230°C.
Step 2 - Place pizza base on a lightly greased pizza tray. Spread pizza sauce over base and sprinkle with dried herbs.  Evenly distribute mozzarella and half of the tasty cheese over sauce.  Top with cherry tomatoes and sprinkle with remaining cheese.  
Step 3 - Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until base is crisp. Top with basil leaves and serve with a simple, lightly dressed green salad.

Notes:

Amounts of pizza sauce and cheese can be increased or reduced, depending on how saucy or cheesy you like your pizza.



Did you know?


Almonds contain high levels of vitamin E which is great for maintaining a healthy complexion. 

Monday, 30 January 2012

Pleased to meet you



Hi to all my American friends. People in America are among the largest group of people checking out my blog! I'd love to know where you're all from so post your location in a comment below...

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Facebook

It's time to get your voting boots on and head over to my facebook page!  This weeks options are:
  • Prawn and Chorizo Pilaf
  • Caramel Scrolls
  • Mushroom Bruschetta
  • Hot Fudge Sauce

Vote for as many as you like or add your own and the two with the most votes will be featured on this blog, recipes and photos!  Happy voting.

Recipes - Mango and Lime Syrup Cakes

This recipe as been stolen straight from taste.com.au.  I first made these about 18 months ago and was so happy with the result I made them three times in one week!  Since then, I have made different variations: blueberry with lemon syrup, raspberry with orange syrup, strawberry with lime syrup.  Other fruits that can be used include peach, nectrine, apricot, plum, pear, pineapple and orange, to name a few.  Even after all of my experimenting, mango is still my favourite.

Ingredients - makes 6
2 large mango, sliced thinly
135g unsalted butter, softened
245g caster sugar
3 eggs
90g plain flour
3 tbs desiccated coconut
1 lime, rind and juice
3 tbs coconut milk
1/2 cup water
double cream, to serve

Step 1 - Preheat oven to 190°C.  Grease a 6 hole Texas muffin tray.
Step 2 - Lay mango slices over the base of each hole. Set aside.
Step 3 - Cream butter and 180g sugar until pale, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Fold flour into mixture then stir in coconut and lime rind.  Add coconut milk and stir until combined.  Spoon mixture over mango and bake for 25 minutes.
Step 4 - Combine lime juice, sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves.  Increase heat to high and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Step 5 - Drizzle syrup over cakes while they're in the pan and leave for 10 minutes.  Turn out onto a wire rack over a tray, to catch the syrup.  Serve warm with double cream.




Saturday, 28 January 2012

Quotes

"If God had intended us to follow recipes he wouldn't have given us Grandmothers."
- Linda Henley

Recipes - Watermelon Granita

So granita has become my new favourite thing, it is like eating fruit flavoured snow, and I've already considered about 50 different flavour combinations!  It's easy to make, just requires a couple of hours at home as it needs your attention for about 1 minute an hour for 6 hours.  The great thing is that it can be made the day before and left in the freezer until required.



Ingredients
1/4 watermelon, about 2kg, cubed
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water


Step 1 - Place a baking dish in the freezer.
Step 2 - Place sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Increase heat to high and simmer for 3-4 minutes, until syrup thickens.
Step 3 - Place watermelon and sugar syrup into food processor and process until smooth.  Pass through a fine sieve and pour into baking dish.  Return to freezer.
Step 4 - After two hours, remove dish from freezer and run a fork over the surface. Granita should be half frozen so push the edges to the centre, smooth over and return to freezer.  Leave for 1 hour then remove and run and fork over the surface.  Repeat 2-3 times until granita is frozen into small crystals and there are no lumps.  Leave in freezer until required.



Friday, 27 January 2012

Recipes - Tomato Tarte Tatin

I recently served these at a dinner party and recieved the most amazing feedback, the best of all being that they were devoured in seconds.  I got the idea after seeing a similar canape from a UK fashion magazines webpage.  Unfortunately I can't remember the magazine but I'm glad I stumbled across it as it enabled me to create this.  


The pan I used is like a mini dutch pancake pan.  It's not a whoopie pie pan or a muffin top pan as they are a bit more square through the base, although these could be used.  I've posted a photo so check it out to see the style of pan I used.



Ingredients
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
50g goats cheese
18 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
12 small basil leaves
20g soft butter, to grease pan
1 tsp brown sugar
balsamic glaze, to serve (optional)

Step 1 - Preheat oven to 230°C.  Brush pan well with butter and sprinkle with sugar.  Set pastry on bench to thaw.
Step 2 - Place three tomato halves, cut side down, in each hole.  Top each with a piece of goats cheese.
Step 3 - Using a 6cm round cookie cutter, cut 12 rounds from pastry sheet.  Place a round over each lot of tomato and cheese, tucking it around the sides.  Transfer to oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden.
Step 4 - Remove pan from oven and gently press each pastry round down into the cheese and tomato (be careful, it's hot!).  Set aside for 10 minutes to cool and set.
Step 5 - Using finger tips, gently turn each tarte to loosen it, then slide each tarte from the pan, turning it right way up as you slide it out.  If any tomatoes fall out, just pop them back on top.  Place on a serving dish and place a basil leaf on each.  Drizzle with balsamic glaze, if using, and serve immediately.





Dinner with Family

I have some extended family coming for dinner tonight.  Being Maltese, we don't count 2nd or 3rd or how far removed the family member is, everyone is just a cousin. So while I don't know exactly how I am related to these family members, they're cousins and that is all that matters.  Okay, so I'm exaggerating but you get the point.  Anyway, dinner is going to be a Mexican fiesta of sorts. 

We're having:
  • Cajun Chicken Skewers
  • Minted Yoghurt
  • Mexican Salsa
  • Mexican Rice

Recipes for these will be coming in the following weeks.  I'm also whipping up some tomato tarte tatins, watermelon granita and little mango cakes for our appetizers and desserts (yes, desserts is plural!) and these recipes will be posted this week.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Facebook

Thanks to everyone who voted in this weeks facebook poll.  The desserts won out this week so check back in a couple of days for recipes and photos for:

If you didn't get a chance to vote this week, head over to my facebook page and like it so you don't miss out next week.

Recipes - Roast Capsicum Dip

I love dips as there are a million different recipes, using thousands of ingredients and hundreds of ways to use them. This Roast Capsicum Dip is spicy and flavoursome, simple and quick to whip up (once the capsicums are roasted).  I am yet to serve it as a dip, but I have used it as an element of a canape, the base of a pasta sauce and a flavouring for rice.  So it's highly versatile as well as delicious. 



Ingredients
3 capsicums, roasted (about 300g once roasted)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbs olive oil
salt, to season





Step 1 - Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.
Step 2 - Use 3 or 4 short pulses to combine. Serve warm or cold.





Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Facebook

It's already time to go vote on what I should cook this week.

Options are:

  • Little Mango Cakes
  • Roast Capsicum and Ricotta Bruschetta
  • Watermelon Granita
  • Big Brekkie Burger
  • Cajun Chicken Skewers

Head over to my facebook page to vote now.

Quotes

"The colours of a fresh garden salad are so extraordinary, no painters pallet can duplicate nature's artistry."
- Dr SunWolf