Wednesday, December 5, 2012

going bananas

The next instalment in the instant gelato range. My love affair with banana gelato continues, almost as good as via Nazionale in a Roma and without the 27 hour flight!
The fancy pants additions are some toasted cake triangles and a raspberry compote.

Instant Banana Gelato
  • 4 large bananas
  • 200ml thickened cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 30g icing sugar (optional or a table spoon of honey)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • Slice bananas into 1 cm pieces. It is best to try and lay them flat so that when you put them in the food processor they aren't in big clump.  Squeeze over the lemon juice to stop them going brown. Freeze until firm, about an hour, or do it the day before.
  • Banana and remaining ingredients to a food processor and blend for 60 seconds, until smooth.
Again so simple and it's fruit so it's healthy right?

Monday, December 3, 2012

History repeating

With the party season well and truly upon us, I remember the party food of my childhood. Not kids food but the food the adults would have, smoked oysters, cheese and cabanossi, and vol au vents
Bacon Canapes (pronounced KaNaps not Canopay) are pretty lame but I remember them so fondly, mainly for making an appearance at every function. They were also something that as a kid I could make.
I have upgraded the ingredients from the orginal, maybe just a sign of the times, free range bacon, colby instead of plastic cheese, butter instead of margarine.

Bacon KaNaps
  • 1 bagette
  • 2 rashers of bacon, sliced in 2cm pieces
  • 6 sliced of colby cheese quatered
  • butter
  • Slice the bagette into 1 cm pieces
  • Spread with a little butter and place on a baking tray
  • Place a piece of cheese on each round
  • Top with a piece of bacon
  • Bake at 180 degrees for 25-30 minutes until golden.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I'm turning violet, Violet.

Another in the 60 second gelato range, blueberry cheesecake. With summer on the way and a predicted 38 degrees in Melbourne tomorrow, I am dreaming about anything that's frozen. Oh how I can relate to pastry, I hate the heat!!
Because this is so time consuming at 60 seconds you can spend another couple of minutes and go fancy pants with the plating. The base adds a yummy crunchy crumb, but is optional if you do have the time.

Blueberry cheesecake gelato
  • 500 grams frozen blueberries
  • 250 grams cottage cheese (or ricotta)
  • 100 grams icing sugar
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence (optional)
  • Blend all together in a food processor till smooth.
Biscuit base
  • 60grams plain biscuits
  • 30grams almonds
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon of golden syrup
  • Melt butter and golden syrup together (about 45 second in a microwave)
  • Add all ingredients to food processor and blend to fine crumb
  • To save on wash up you can make the crumb first, wipe out the processor and then make the ice cream. Use commonsense as if people have nut allergies, that could be an awkward end to a dinner party.
  • This recipe is enough for about 6 bases and gelato to spare.
You can plate fancy in a ring mold, put it in a bowl, or just go straight from the processor bowl. I am too embrassased to admit my normal plating scenario, but I'm sure you can figure it out.

I probably need to see someone about my purple obsession.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ice cream in under 60 seconds

Just like the ice cream this post will be done in under 60 seconds.
Ultra quick and I like to think on the healthier side.
Seriously it too longer to plate and take the photo than to make it.

Mixed Berry 60 Second Gelato
  • 500grams frozen mixed berries
  • 100grams icing sugar
  • 300ml light cream.

In a food processor blend all together for 60 seconds and you're done.
I like the texture of the pips and seeds because it means your eating real fruit and not a fake flavour, but you can blend for longer for a smoother texture.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Let them eat Catfood

Family heirlooms can be funny things. The value of these items is rarely determined by dollars or sense. The most expensive diamond can not compare to a childhood Christmas angel, dirty, ratty and missing a hand.

The same is the case with family food heirlooms. It can be that one dish that no matter who makes it doesn't taste the same as the Nan's, or it can just be the dish itself. For me it is my Nanna's cream of chicken soup I have been trying to master for years, I'm close to cracking the secret, I think it's nutmeg.
AB's all time favourite is a "dish" that is known by the family as Catfood. Before I came along and took over the kitchen I do believe that a large percentage of AB's diet was made up of Catfood. Surely some of you have turned away in horror, as you should, Catfood is horrid, I mean it with love but I can't stand the stuff. I wasn't going to post the recipe just in case it was a breach of the charter of human rights, but seeing it was AB's birthday this is an extra present.
Please if you make it you do so at your own risk, although I an worried that there will be a flood of comments from people that actually love it!!
My next challenge is to do a pimped up version of catfood that I'd eat.

makes a huge tray so it can be frozen for lunches
  • 1kg of pasta, Penne works well but any short pasta will do.
  • 2 cans of tuna
  • 2 bottles of passata
  • grated cheese to cover, I'd say about 2.5kg is needed to make it taste OK, but a 500g bag will also do the job.

  • Cook pasta and drain.
  • Add tuna and passata/sauce to baking dish
  • Add pasta and stir through
  • Add cheese
  • Bake at 180 degrees C for 35-40 mins until golden.
  • You can try with adding onion or herbs,but be aware they aren't part of the original recipe as I found out.

Being the birthday week there has to be a cake and in the words of Kath Day-Knight, lets just say I like to team with a theme.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Layer upon Layer upon Layer

The chickies have finally arrived!
Their presence has been about a year and a bit in the making. The process could have been made very simple by going and getting a flat packed coop at the hardware store and be done with it, but from all the reviews I have read that is just asking for your chooks to become a fox's dinner.
The coop we settled on wasn't cheap but it was the best option for happy, safe birds as well as it being built for life. It is so well made that if you put a solid roof, sides and floor, I'd happily move in. The girls, Flo, Dorrie and Mrs Whit, moved into number 96 and we so loving themselves sick in their new home, Flo was laying less than 24 hours in. The other 2 have been a bit slower to come to the party. but they are aware that I have a copy of "101 chicken dishes".
They have averaged 1 egg a day but today we got 2 so things are looking up. I need to explain to them about my baking so they understand prolific production, mine and in turn hopefully theirs.
I don't mind getting the girls out as they love a bit of free range action, plus they are way better than TV. Even though they are yet to love cuddles, they have all managed to pay a little visit while I have been writing this post. why is it everything in my life is apposed to cuddles? (outside on laptop, chickes ain't coming inside)
The first egg didn't get the royal treatment of being served with truffle, it ended up in a timpano as I had run out. We did however have the cermonial first breakfast with poached egg on smoked salmon muffin and minature asparagus from the garden. There would have been holiandese but the girls weren't quite up to that just yet.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Shaken, Stirred and all over the bench!

I'm not a fan of alcohol.
There will be friends reading this who may have possibly choked at this statement.
What I mean to say is I'm not a fan of the taste of alcohol. I like a good red or white or beer, but when it comes to spirits I need a good dose of mixer. Call me Sir Mixalot.
It is strange really as I started drinking when I was quite young, I was 6. The drink of choice for the grown ups at the dinner table was Boronia (Marsala) and coke, mine was coke with a faked pour that wouldn't have amounted to 1ml. Saturday mornings would see me up early to watch the Smurfs while the family slept, which of course would be accompanied by a Boronia and coke. OK I need to be honest, the bar was closer to the TV than the fridge so there was no Coke. Drinking straight Marsala oh how I loved the Smurfs.
With Marsala at 6 it was time to move onto the hard stuff at 12. I remember having a sore throat that was so painful I couldn't sleep and was in tears from the agony. Being a caring parent, who would like to have got some sleep at 2am, my father gave me a tumbler of orange juice. He said to drink it all in one go, that because it was cold it would numb my throat and help me sleep. Being the obedient child I was I sculled it down in one, a tumbler of straight scotch! It was not cold it burnt, but I did sleep.
I thought the martini drinker to be the height of class and sophistication so I was devastated when I had my first one and loathed the taste, oh it was awful. So when I was offered an espresso martini I politely declined, till my friend said "it just tastes like coffee." OK I'll give it a burl.
She was right it was a delicious iced espresso with only the faintest taste of alcohol, 4 more, just to make sure and I was hooked.
That week I hit the liquor store and got all the equipment (when I say "hit the liquor store" to my overseas readers I mean "went to" not robbed)
 restaurant quality
I'll share the recipe I used but I reduced the vodka and Kahlua to 1oz each. Also just a quiet tip, don't double the recipe and make 2 in the one cocktail shaker, yes Miss Moneypenny, it ended up all over the kitchen bench. It is much more elegant to drink it from a martini glass than slurp it off the laminex.
Espresso Martini
  • 1 oz  espresso
  • 1 1/2 oz Absolut® vodka
  • 1 1/2 oz Kahlua® coffee liqueur
  • 1 oz white creme de cacao
  • Pour ingredients into shaker filled with ice, shake vigorously, and strain into chilled martini glass. It should be somewhat frothy.
  • I used hot espresso straight from the machine rather than cold.
I would also advise to drink responsibly and it is not a good idea for 6 and 12 year olds to be drinking even with the Smurfs.  And please don't drink drive, not only is it illegal and dangerous, it's a laundry detergent and tastes vile.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

It's a mystery

AB has been the inspiration for some of my best cooking triumphs, remember the meat lovers ice cream, well the chico ice cream was a success. No matter what is plated up there is always praise even though I may sit there and do my best Mary Berry or Manu Fieldel and over critic each element of the dish. "oh it's is verging on a soggy bottom" "mmm butter, but there needs to be more sauce" The only time I knew I had missed the mark and risked being eliminated is when I heard "it's a strong flavour". Really you couldn't buy support like that, although I will be in trouble for writing about it.
I will in the coming weeks bring myself to blog AB's favourite dish, Catfood, it will take some time. Till then he provided this mystery box challenge after I asked him to pick up some meat for dinner.
"what do you want?"
"i dunno surprise me"
"OK...I could make you do a masterchef mystery box?"
"bring it on!"
Pasta south of the border

serves 4-5 and on the table in 30 minutes
Ingredients as above
  • 6 italian sausages
  • 360g oyster blade steak
  • 1 brown onion
  • 1/4 of a pumpkin
  • 200g green beans
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 bag pasta
  • 1 red chilli*
  • 250ml sour cream*
  • olive oil*
  • bottle of pasata*
*pantry item

  • Add boiling water from the kettle to a boiler with a good dash of salt
  • Put steak and sausages into food processor and mince
  • Dice onion and saute with olive oil in fry pan
  • Add meat to onions
  • Dice pumpkin and add to boiler
  • Add pasta to pumpkin, try to cut pumpkin the same size as pasta or smaller.
  • Add pasatato meat and season
  • Cut green beans into 2cm pieces
  • Drain red kidney beans
  • Just before the pasta is cooked, add green and red beans to sauce.
  • Drain pasta and pumpkin
  • Stir through sour cream, save a bit to garnish
  • Add pasta and sauce to boiler and mix through
  • Serve with dollop of sourcream and sliced chilli
There seems to be way too many steps but it really is just chop, add, cook, eat. Can't wait for the next mystery box, although I know you are all still thinking AB's favourite dish is catfood.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

If I only had a grain.....

I am lucky enough to share my journey of baking with one of my dearest friends. We are our own appreciation society, regularly scoring our dishes an overly generous 15 out of 10. 

I love it that after we have eaten our latest creations there will be an text the next day, "how much butter in your scones was it again?" "which recipe did you use for the bagels" "was that a stretch or a knead?" The best part to this relationship is there is no competition as to who is better.

The latest adventure was a multi grain loaf, her is amazing, so in the spirit of no competition I thought I better get my grain on.

The Internet has many multi grain loaf recipes but most call for pre-packaged grain mixes. I didn't want to use a pre-done mix so have experimented a couple of times and come up with this recipe.

You can mix up the different grains to suit your tastes, if it turns out bad, blame it on the grain!
(I'm sorry, at least I haven't subjected you to It's graining men...OK now I am truly sorry)

Grain Class of 2012
Top row L-R: black sesame seeds, chia, basil seed, sesame seeds, pepita seeds, rolled oats
Bottom row L-R:  Linseed, Sunflower seeds

Multi grain loaf
makes 2
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 3/4 water
  • 14g dried yeast
  • good splash of olive oil
  • 500g flour (I use 300g strong and 200g wholemeal)
  • 15g oats
  • 20g pepita
  • 30g sunflower seeds
  • 50g linseed
  • 30g chia
  • 5g basil seeds
  • 25g sesame
  • 25g black sesame 
  • 10g salt
  • you can vary the grains but a 200g total works well
  • Combine hot water and honey in a bowl and stir to disolve
  • Add remaining water and yeast to bowl and let sit for 5 minutes to activate.
not a cappucino
  • Combine flours, grains and salt in mixing bowl.
  • Make a well and add the liquids
If using a mixer add the liquids first, it combines better.

  •  Knead till dough is elastic and then put it in an oiled bowl to rest.
  • More flour may be needed depending on the day, it should come away from the bowl cleanly but still be a wet dough
  • Depending on the weather it should take about an hour to double in size.
  • Stretch the dough and then let rest for 30 mins and repeat.
  • Divide into 2 loaves and place in greased and floured (I use course semolina) loaf tin. 
  • Let rest for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 220°C for about 45minutes-1 hour.
  • Spray top of the bread with water and sprinkle with some extra grains.
  • Add a cake tin of water to the bottom of the oven to achieve a crusty loaf.

This bread makes the best banana sandwich ever!!!!!!!

Best breakfast bread with avocado, poached egg and diced bacon sprinkle..well chucked on the top.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

No soup for you.

Faced with the challenge of needing to devour any medicinal ingredient I could get my hands on, garlic, ginger, onions, chili, but it not being soup, I had to come up with a plan B.
Instantly rich curries and tagines come to mind, but lets not forget the man flu, it had to be ready in about 15mins and with a little effort as possible. So close to death you don't want to risk a delicious slow cook if there is a chance you won't live long enough to taste it.
The answer???

Man Flu Fried Rice
  • Olive oil.
  • 2 onions chopped (any colour)
  • 4 cloves of garlic chopped (or as much as you or your beloved can stand)
  • 4 cm ginger finely chopped
  • 2 red chili sliced (seeds in or out it's up to you)
  • 2 carrots grated
  • 3 stalk celery sliced
  • Garden fresh broccoli or any other vegetable you can get your hands on.
  • 3 spring onions chopped
  • 3 cups of cooked rice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Kecap Manis, as much as you like.

  • Saute onions, garlic ginger and chili with a good splash of olive oil in a fry pan.
  • When the onions start to soften, add the carrot and celery and other vegetables and saute for about 5 mins, you can add a little bit of water or stock if it is too dry.
  • Add the spring onions and rice.
  • Add Kecap Manis, salt and pepper to taste.
  • This version was meatless but you can add any meat of your choice...if you have the strength to go to the shops.
  • grab a box of tissues, a blanket, pillow, boxed set of your favourite DVD and pray you have enough strength to eat.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

50 shades of phlegm!

About a month ago our home was hit with a double dose of Man Flu.  A near death experience, I even had 2 days of work, not consecutively, 1 day a week times 2. This was pretty dire as I left my last job taking about 3 sick days in 2 years. Thankfully I can report that all is well and we have survived.
I'm blaming my incapacitation for the lack of blog updates, where as others may attribute it to my hoity toity laziness, but they would never say it to my face.
The staple diet of any man flu casualty is chicken soup, mothers milk. I guess you could add noodles but that would be dependant on the man patient having enough strength to chew.

This is my version, I drank it breakfast, lunch, and dinner till I mentioned having more soup and AB gave me a look that advised against it toot sweet. My solution will feature next post.

Clear Chicken Soup
  • 500 grams chicken necks
  • 2 large red onions (or any colour you have)
  • 2 chilli
  • half a bunch of celery
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 4cm ginger sliced
  • small cinnamon stick
  • salt and pepper to taste

There are options here depending on your level of Hoity Toity laziness.
Options 1
  • Brown the onions, peeled garlic and chicken necks
  • Add the remaining ingredients and cover with hot water.
  • Simmer for about 45mins-1hour.
  • Strain through a sieve and serve.
Option 2 Lazy version
  • Put everything in the pot and cover with water
  • I don't even peel the garlic as it is strained anyway.

No glamour photo shop here, this pot only has 1 handle, I must replace it!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Purple non people eater

I have a love of, well obsession but not to intervention level with all things purple. Most of my wardrobe is purple, the sofa, pens, soap, even my bin liners. My bedspread is purple which my dad gave me as a souvenir from his trip to Cambodia, I had asked for a purple table cloth. He swears the lady told him it was a table cloth, personally the double layer and the zipper were the give away that it wasn't quite right.
The garden has also not missed out on the touch of purple, beans, cabbage, beetroot, carrots, radicchio, there better be some health benefit in that much colour, maybe just not the same one.
One a good day I like to start with a vegetable juice, which should forgive any of the sins later in the day. One word of warning when you drink beetroot juice, remember you have so that when you go to the bathroom you don't suddenly think you are dying!

Beetroot is the king of all edible purple, when I was a child (ok maybe 22) I thought beetroot came from a can, that was how it grew. Nowadays I know a lot more about the joys of beetroot, roasted, chips, grated, mashed, actually I'm not sure about mashed, but now there's a project.

Beetroot relish
This is the perfect mate for a hamburger, a better marriage has not existed. I also love it on a ham sandwich.

  • 4 large fresh beetroots grated (I use the food processor, save the week of purple fingers)
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1/3 cup of white vinegar, you can use which ever you like, white wine or balsamic.
  • 1/3 cup of  water
  • optional knob of butter for gloss

  • Combine all in a medium saucepan and cook on medium till beetroot is soft and reduced about 30mins.
  • You can add more water if needed to get it started but the beetroot will also give off some liquid.
  • You can also vary the amount of vinegar as it can be a bit of a slap in the face, but i kinda like that.

Beyond easy beetroot dip X 2

Dip 1
  • 2 fresh beetroots grated (zest size)
  • 1 tub of natural yogurt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt to taste
combine, couldn't be easier......or could it??

Dip 2
  • 3 small fresh beetroots (tops removed)
  • 150g ricotta
  • 1 garlic clove grated (optional)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt to taste
  • Splash of olive oil to garnish
Put all the ingredients in the bowl of the food processor and blend till the texture you prefer, chunky or smooth. If your food processor can handle the pressure you don't even need to cut the beetroot. I'm sorry but I couldn't possibly make it simpler than that, short of coming and doing it for you.