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!