Saturday, 30 November 2013

Lentil & Cauliflower Dahl

Serves 4
Ingredients:

2 tbsp. sunflower oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp. medium-hot Indian curry paste
1 cup (200g) dried red lentils
3 cups (750ml) vegetable stock
2 tbsp. tomato paste
500g cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 tbsp. roughly chopped coriander leaves, plus extra to garnish
natural yoghurt and naan bread, to serve

Let's Cook:
  1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and curry paste. Cook stirring, for 5 minutes.
  2. Add lentils and stir well to coat. Add stock and tomato paste. Bring to the boil. Cover and simmer5 over low heat for 15 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
  3. Return heat to medium. Add cauliflower and simmer, covered, for 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Serve the curry with yoghurt and naan, garnished with extra coriander.

Traditional Christmas Rum Balls

Ingredients:
10 weetbix
1 pkt glace cherries
1 tin condensed milk
3 tablespoons rum
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup chopped raisins
1/2 cup coconut

Method:

Crush weetbix. Finely chop cherries. Mix together all ingredients except coconut. Let stand 30 minutes in the frig. Roll into balls.

 Roll balls in coconut or chocolate sprinkles and store in the frig.

These also freeze well if made in advance.

Rum Balls Eungella Style

Makes approximately 30 Rum Balls. I enjoyed these very much at the restaurant at Eungella, near Mackay, and the wonderful chef  gave me this recipe.

250g butter
2 egg yolks
4 tablespoons cocoa (60ml)
4 tablespoons icing sugar or mixture (60ml)
4 tablespoons Bundaberg rum (60ml)
200 g sultanas
330 g cooking chocolate
30g coconut


Grate 300g chocolate, cream warmed butter and egg yolks, mix in cocoa, icing sugar, rum, sultanas & grated chocolate thoroughly. Grate remaining chocolate and mix with coconut. Form mixture into balls and roll them in the grated chocolate/coconut mixture. Refrigerate before serving.

Potato salad with fresh dill

A simple but delicious fresh potato salad with fresh dill and spring onions. Your loved ones will not be disappointed if you turn up at a BBQ with this delight! Great for Christmas.

Ingredients:
30 large peeled and diced potatoes
3 bunches fresh chopped dill
2 bottles good quality mayonnaise
20 tablespoons good quality wholegrain mustard
1 bunch fresh chopped spring onions

Preparation method:

  1. Peel and dice potatoes, add to boiling salted water and cook for approx. 10-15 minutes or until cooked but slightly firm.
  2. In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, mustard and chopped dill and mix well.
  3. Drain potatoes and allow to cool slightly before adding to mayonnaise mixture.
  4. Combine well so that all potatoes are nicely coated and serve warm with chopped spring onions on top.

Molten Chocolate Puddings

Ingredients:

180g NESTLE PLAISTOWE 63% Cocoa Couverture, plus 100g extra melted chocolate to serve
140g unsalted butter
3 eggs, plus 3 egg yolks
85g caster sugar
2/3 cup (100g) plain flour, sifted

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease eight 175ml dariole moulds. Break 40g of the NESTLE PLAISTOWE 63% Cocoa Couverture into 5g squares and set aside.

Let's cook:
Place the remaining chocolate with the butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (don't let the bowl touch the water.) When melted, remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Cool slightly.
Place eggs, extra yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until pale and thick. Pour in melted chocolate, then add flour. Using a large metal spoon, stir until mixture is  well combined.
Pour evenly into moulds. Push a square of reserved chocolate into the centre of each pudding, ensuring it is completely covered. Place moulds on a tray and bake in the oven for 9 minutes.
Remove moulds from the oven and stand for 1 minute before inverting onto serving plates. Serve immediately, drizzled with extra melted chocolate.
Makes 8.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Healthy Vegetarian Barley Risotto


This is the easiest risotto, which minimal stirring required unlike most risottos. I love the texture of the high fibre barley, the wine enhanced flavour, and with the variety of vegetables it is a meal in itself. I combined two recipes and then gave it my touch, hence the versatility of the ingredients. The pumpkin is definitely optional, as it takes longer, however I love its earthy flavour.

Ingredients:

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 chopped onion or 1 chopped leek
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 cups barley
1/4 cup white wine
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup fresh diced tomato
1 cup peas
salt and pepper
grated romano or parmesan cheese
4 fresh thyme sprigs
Optional vegetables:
1 chopped zucchini
1 head broccoli (about 320g) cut into small florets
1 kg butternut pumpkin, deseeded cut into 2 cm pieces

Let's Cook:
  1. If using pumpkin, preheat oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Place the pumpkin, in a single layer on the tray and spray with olive oil spray. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in oven for 1 hour or until tender.
  2. In olive oil, sauté onion (leek) and garlic until softened. Add mushrooms, cook until browning.
  3. Add barley, thyme, and cook for 5 minutes until lightly toasted.
  4. Add white wine, add 3 cups stock, tomato, salt & pepper.
  5. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until barley is tender.
  6. Add the broccoli and cooked pumpkin.
  7. Add peas, and some additional broth or more wine if needed, simmer an additional 10-15 minutes, stir in cheese, and more salt & pepper if needed. ( Be careful during this last 15 minutes that the mixture doesn't stick to the pan.)
Enjoy and be healthy!
So dear readers do you have any suggestions to enhance this recipe further? Do you enjoy cooking with barley?

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Lawrence's Rustic Greek Cheese and Spinach Pie


Everyone loves Cheese and Spinach Pie, and there are lots of healthy versions out there. This recipe brings with it fond memories of our visits to Scotland, where Lawrence, the chef of the house and a vegetarian, always serves this as his signature dish. It is always successful and so delicious.

Snow capped Fell to cool us down
Now that the rains have come to North Queensland, and the heat has eased for a while, I feel like cooking again so this is on the menu for tonight.

Ingredients:
2 pkts frozen spinach, defrosted, and squeeze all the moisture out of it
1 onion
3/4 clove of garlic, roughly chopped (I add 2 cloves)
1 egg, beaten
2/3 tablespoon sour cream
1 pkt Halloumi cheese, grated ( a job for the assistant chef)
salt and pepper
3 sheets pastry - Short crust (home made if possible)/ Filo/ Puff Pastry (my choice if in a hurry)

Let's cook:
  1. Oil or lightly grease a baking tray or equivalent.
  2. Place pastry on tray roughly, overlapping edges.
  3. Mix all other ingredients and press into pastry.
  4. Fold over pastry and leave hole in the centre.
  5. Bake in the oven until pastry is cooked.

Let me know if other cheeses work for you with your Cheese and Spinach pie.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Pesto Pine Nut and Parmesan Muffins


It's Muffin Monday and muffins are on the menu for breakfast, savoury Pesto Pine Nut and Parmesan Muffins that is. This recipe serves 12.

Ingredients:
  • Oil or butter for greasing or use nice paper muffin cases in a muffin tin
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (no shortcuts here)
  • 1/2 cup (80g pkt) pine nuts
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 6 tablespoons sunflower oil or melted butter cooled(can use canola and pine nut oil)
  • 2-3 tablespoons pesto
Topping:
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan or line it with muffin paper liners. To make the topping mix together parmesan and pine nuts and set aside.
  2. To make muffins: Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Stir in the grated parmesan cheese and pine nuts.
  3. Lightly beat the eggs in a larger bowl, then beat in the buttermilk and oil. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the beaten liquid ingredients. Add the pesto and stir gently until just combined. Do not overmix.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin pan. Scatter the topping over the muffins. Bake in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes until well risen, golden brown and firm to touch.
  5. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes then serve warm.


Friday, 22 November 2013

Sweet and Sour Chicken for Retirees and Travellers


Dear friends, Here is such an easy and economical version of Sweet and Sour chicken with great flavour, using basic ingredients, and so easy to put together if you are travelling or feeling lazy at home. More vegetables such as zucchini, or snow peas can be added if you have them on hand.

This is so much healthier for us when we are in a rush than reaching for a ready made jar of sweet and sour sauce from the supermarket and tastes even better and is just a cinch to make.

Left over cooked chicken can also be used as a substitute for the fresh chicken. Just cut  into cubes and add it at after cooking all of the other ingredients. So easy and fast.

Ingredients:

3-4 chicken breasts
1 capsicum
4 celery stalks
1 can pineapple pieces, or use fresh if you prefer
1 tin tomato soup
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon curry powder
garlic if preferred or on hand

Let's cook:

Cut chicken pieces into bite size pieces and fry until lightly browned. Remove from the pan.
Add chopped vegetables and fry until slightly softened.
Add the pineapple pieces and the juice and the tomato soup.
Add sugar and curry powder. Stir together and simmer until vegetables are cooked but still slightly crisp.



Replace the chicken pieces and serve with rice or noodles.

One of my Cattleya orchids in flower

Happy travels

Best wishes

Pauline

Poached Pears in Red Wine Sauce

Cherry blossom, Rotorua, N.Z.

This Poached Pears in Red Wine recipe is simple but sophisticated and because it is based on fruit and red wine, must be healthier as a dessert.
Serves 4. Prep and cook time: 40 minutes
Ingredients:
1 cup (220g) sugar
1 cup (250ml) red wine
1 cup (250ml) water
1 cinnamon stick
1 strip lemon rind
4 just ripe pears, with stems attached

Let's cook:
  1. Place sugar, wine, water, cinnamon and lemon rind into a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 5 minutes or until slightly reduced.
  2. Meanwhile, peel pears and, using a small sharp knife, remove cores from underside of pears.
  3. Lower pears into poaching liquid and simmer, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes or until tender, turning pears occasionally during cooking so they colour evenly.
  4. Transfer pears to a heated plate and cover to keep warm. Boil the remaining liquid for about 10 minutes or until it becomes syrupy. Serve pears with syrupy red wine sauce and ice-cream or double cream, if desired.
Do you prefer your pears peeled or unpeeled for this recipe? I don't mind them unpeeled either but perhaps the wine doesn't soak into the fruit as well.





Thursday, 21 November 2013

Jays Mums Pavlova Recipe

This is one of the best Pavlova recipes I have ever used. I think that soaking the sugar overnight ensures the sugar dissolves well and provides a crunchy texture.

INGREDIENTS;

2 egg whites
2 teaspoons of vanilla
4 tablespoons of boiling water
2 cups of castor sugar
4 teaspoons of white vinegar
2 teaspoons of baking powder

METHOD:

Place egg whites and sugar in a bowl. Soak this overnight. Do not refrigerate.

Beat egg whites for 7 minutes. Add the vanilla, vinegar and water. Beat until stiff (20 minutes). Add the baking powder. Cook in a slow oven for 2 hours.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Ma Ma's Christmas Cake


Ma Ma’s Christmas cake

8 oz butter                                            
3 oz almonds
8 oz light brown sugar   
1 lb. raisins                                   
5 eggs                                                             
3pkts Mixed fruit or (1 kg mixed fruit and 1 doz. dates + 100g cherries)
2 ozs S.R. flour                                               
1 level teaspoon salt
9 oz plain flour                                                
¼ teasp each cinnamon, nutmeg, and mixed spice      

Prepare the fruit and nuts the day before and warm the following ingredients together in a small saucepan until nicely blended.

1 tablsp brandy  or sherry (rum)                
½ teasp each of vanilla  essence, and almond essence                 
1 level dessertspoon golden   syrup                                                      
1 dessertspoon each of lemon juice, orange juice, and coffee essence
1 level dessertspoon  dark jam                           

Pour this mixture over the prepared fruit and nuts - Cover and leave overnight.
Day of cooking:
Method: Cream butter and sugar until light and soft. Test each egg separately in a cup and beat them into the butter, cream one at a time, and add a little of your measured flour between the last 2nd or 3rd egg to prevent any risk of curdling.

Have ready the flours sifted together with salt and spices. Add these and blend smoothly and well. Last of all add the soaked fruits and mix evenly and thoroughly let it stand in the bowl for 10 minutes before placing in the prepared tins.

Place your wooden spoon upright in the centre of the mixture. It should not move if correct consistency.

Line your tin with alfoil, and 2 layers of brown paper or Glad Bake. Set oven at 180 deg. , and after 1 hour decrease to 150 deg. for approx.. 3 hrs.
OR ( Alternative oven temperatures that my cousin Rae suggests for cooking Christmas Cakes, are 200 deg. for 10 minutes, 150 deg. for 1 hour, and 110 deg. for 3 hrs.)

“A helpful hint for the baking of your Christmas Cake. After 1 hour of baking a rich fruitcake place on the bottom shelf of your oven, a baking dish, 3 parts filled with cold water. This prevents the bottom of your cakes burning and also the steam keeps the cake moist.”

Chickpea Curry


Mum’s Chickpea Curry


Preparation time: 10mins

Total cooking time: 40 mins

Serves 4. 
Ingredients:

1 tablsp. Ghee or oil

2 onions, sliced

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teasp. chilli powder

1 teasp. salt

1 teasp. ground turmeric

1 teasp. paprika

1 tablsp. ground coriander

1 tablsp. ground cumin

880g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

440 g (14oz) can chopped tomatoes

1 teasp. garam masala

Let's Cook:
  1. Heat the ghee or oil in a pan.
  2. Add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring until the onion is soft.
  3. Add the chilli powder, salt, turmeric, paprika, cumin and coriander. Cook, stirring, for 2-3 mins.
  4. Stir in the chickpeas and tomato. Simmer,  covered, over low heat for 20 mins, stirring occasionally.
  5. Stir in the garam masala. Simmer, covered,for a further 10mins. Serve as part of an Indian meal with paratha.

Anna's Rum Chocolate Profiteroles (Scotland)


This profiterole recipe was given to me by Anna, a friend in Linlithgow, Scotland. We were served this on our last night that we stayed with them. Amazing! This would also be delicious as a special sweet at Christmas time.

Choux Pastry

 Ingredients:

75g (3oz) plain flour
 
2 small eggs

125 ml (1/4 pint) water

50g (2 oz) margarine

Pinch of salt

 Let's cook:
Sift flour and salt into a bowl

Heat fat in water slowly, making sure fat melts

Bring to the boil

Remove from heat, add flour, stir well with wooden spoon

Return to heat stirring all the time. Cook until paste leaves side of pan and mixture thickens

Remove from heat

Beat eggs and add little at a time to paste beating in well

Shape

Make choux pastry and leave to cool. Place small balls of mixture onto greased baking tray. Bake. Fan oven: preheat 195 deg c, 15-25 mins

Conv. Oven: preheat shelves 2 and 4 220deg c, 15/25 mins

Remove from oven and split to allow the air to escape.
When cold fill with whipped cream

Fill with ½ pint whipped double cream 

Chocolate sauce, served with the profiteroles

50g (20z) plain chocolate, broken into squares

4x15ml spoons (4 tablespoons) golden syrup

15 g (1/2 oz)Stork margarine 

  1. Place all ingredients in a small bowl over a pan of hot water and leave to melt
  2. Beat until smooth and glossy.
  3. Serve with ice-cream, profiteroles,, cooked pears etc
  4. Choc. Rum Sauce – Add 1x15 ml spoon (1tablespoon) rum. (Bundaberg rum of course).
  5. Serves 4
 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Low Fat French Tarragon and Thyme Omelette for breakfast


Late breakfast this morning following a session at the gym and I needed protein and a good coffee hit. As my barista set to work I started on an omelette. Nothing new you say, however most of the recipes out there , and there are a lot of French omelette recipes, use copious amounts of oil, fat and cheese.

It is now a balancing act between controlling the kilos and the food still tasting great. I use spray on rice bran oil in a non-stick pan, low fat tasty cheese, unless it is a really special occasion and I will substitute goats cheese or Gruyere. A low fat omelette with good fresh ingredients  is also an easy and tasty option when travelling, as retirees do. I am so lucky that I can pick all of my herbs fresh from my garden and they last well refrigerated or in a vase of water. I must source some chervil though, as it's not in my garden at present.




French Herb Omelette for two

Ingredients:

4 organic eggs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon or leaves from two good sprigs (your call depending on your love of this flavour)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Ground pepper and salt to taste
Rice Bran Oil cooking spray
6 cherry tomatoes
Handful of chopped mushrooms


Remove the leaves from the sprigs of tarragon and chop finely. Scramble the eggs with the tarragon, thyme, and half the parsley. Spray the oil into a small omelette pan and heat. Saute the mushrooms in the pan until slightly soft. Pour in the omelette mixture over the mushrooms and start cooking. Add a layer of the halved tomatoes to the eggs when slightly set. Cook the omelette until the base is just brown and leaves the pan cleanly with a spatula.

Sprinkle cheese on top and place pan under the grill to lightly brown the omelette.
Garnish with chopped parsley to serve.

Please note: I am using the correct spelling of omelette, not omelet, as it is originally a French word, so it is an omelette.





Saturday, 16 November 2013

How to Make the Easiest Baba Ganoush Eggplant Dip


Purple Lebanese Eggplants in my tropical garden, perfect for making Baba Ganouj or Moussaka

 Everyone likes Baba Ganoush. Baba Ganouj (spelled this way as this is how it is pronounced) can be eaten as a dip, a starter, a salad, or a vegetable side depending on its consistency. With its earthy, smoky, garlicky, and nutty flavour, it is best eaten with Lebanese bread. However, dry biscuits or chopped vegetables also taste great with it.

Baba Ganouj is an Arabic term meaning "Father of Pestle". A Levantine dish,  it originates from Israel, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, and is made with Eggplant or Aubergine. This is the easiest, healthiest and tastiest  recipe I have found. You will need a Food Processor.

Ingredients:

2 large eggplants or whatever variety you have on hand
3-4 crushed garlic cloves
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini paste
1 tablespoon olive oil

Let's cook:
  1. Preheat the oven to moderate 180deg.C  or (350deg.F Gas 4).
  2.  Cut 2 eggplants in half lengthwise, sprinkle with salt and leave for 20 minutes.
  3. Rinse and pat dry eggplants with a paper towel.
  4. Bake the eggplants for 35 minutes, or until soft and remove the skin.
  5. Place the eggplant flesh in a food processor with 3-4 crushed cloves garlic, tahini paste, lemon juice, and olive oil.
  6. Season to taste
  7. Process for 20-30 seconds, then sprinkle with paprika and serve with Lebanese bread.
Makes 2 cups. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

STORING AND FREEZING BABA GANOUJ OR BABA GHANOUSH:
Spray the surface of the dip with Olive oil spray and it will keep covered in the frig for 2 weeks. It will also freeze in a plastic container if the surface has a very thin layer of olive oil covering it.

If you still have lots of eggplant to use up, cook Moussaka.

What is the best and authentic spelling for Baba Ganouj? I like to be authentic, not replicate what Wikipedia uses.





Friday, 15 November 2013

Fresh Herbs for Healthy Meals and Salads




Thyme, Parsley, Sage, Lemon Balm and Tarragon make a healthy difference to a meal.

Last night I put together a healthy and simple salad to take over to friends for dinner, which not only tasted delicious, but looked very attractive as well, because of the addition of herbs growing in my garden. I added thyme leaves, chopped parsley, finely chopped tarragon, and the yellow tarragon flowers sprinkled across the top gave it a very festive appearance and were edible. It was so easy and drew lots of appreciative comments.

Fresh herbs are so easy to grow, are a great companion crop for the vegetables, and are very economical, stretching the budget.

Fresh Sage is also a winner for beef casseroles and roast chicken stuffing and grows so well near your citrus or with the vegetables. So rewarding, give it a try.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Slow cooker Beef Casserole with Sage

Sage is such an under utilised herb, and whilst it isn't so palatable when it is fresh, it adds a wonderful flavour to beef casseroles, stews, and of course roast chicken. I have two beautiful sage bushes growing in my garden so I am keen to experiment with sage in various recipes. I also love the shape and colour of the leaves which remind me so much of the Mediterranean countries.




Ingredients:

2 carrots
2 onions
1/2 capsicum (optional)
1 kg lean beef (chuck or blade steak is ideal)
500g sliced mushrooms
5 leaves of fresh sage thinly sliced ( dried will be ok but don't overdo it)
1/4 cup red wine
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce                   
3 teaspoons chutney
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons cornflour (optional)
1 small bunch parsley

Let's cook:

Peel and slice the carrots. Peel and dice the onions. Remove the seeds and membrane from the  capsicum and dice. Place in the slow cooker with the beef, mushrooms, wine, lemon juice, sauce, chutney, salt and 1/4 cup of water.

Place lid on slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on High or 6 hours on low, or until meat is tender.

If necessary, mix cornflour with 1/4 cup of cold water to a paste and use a little or all of it to thicken the dish.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with chopped parsley to serve.

Note: Use less liquid by removing the red wine, soy sauce and water, and this makes an excellent filling for pies.

What other uses are there for sage? I'd love to know.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Christmas Salad

Mixed salad greens, toasted almonds, red onion and crumbled blue cheese are tossed in a fresh cranberry dressing for an impressive and easy salad.

In readiness for Christmas, here is the Salad which I made last year and was a huge success. It serves 30 so adjust the ingredients to suit the numbers at your table.

Ingredients:
360g slivered almonds
2 red onions, thinly sliced
500g crumbled blue cheese, such as Gorgonzola
2 kg mixed salad greens

For the Cranberry Dressing:

180ml red wine vinegar
300 ml extra virgin olive oil
90g fresh, dried (or thawed frozen) cranberries
3 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 small clove garlic, minced
1.5 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons water

Preparation:
  1. Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan over medium heat - just stir frequently and keep a close watch so that they don't burn, or until nuts begin to brown.
  2. In a blender or food processor, combine the vinegar, oil, cranberries, mustard, garlic, salt, pepper and water. Process until smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the almonds, onion, blue cheese and salad greens with the dressing until evenly coated.
Salad dressing can be made in advance so that preparation is easier on the big day. This salad can also be decorated with some attractive edible flowers.

Serves 30.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Slow Cooked Bolognese Sauce

This is another family recipe handed down to us by Mr. HRK's cousin, Judy, and originated from Canberra I believe, but don't hold that against the recipe. This always tastes great, and I think the secret ingredient in this recipe is the can of tomato soup. I always substitute fresh herbs instead of the dried ones, if I have them, and I generally do. This sauce is full of flavour and works really well layered in lasagne. I also generally add some finely chopped vegetables such as carrots, zucchini and celery  to increase the amount of vegetables for the family.

Ingredients:

500g prime minced beef
1 clove garlic
1 onion, diced
1 tin tomato soup
1 tin whole peeled tomatoes (chop up or use chopped variety)
1x140 g tomato paste
1 clove garlic (I add a few)
1/2 teasp dried oregano or fresh
1/2 teasp dried basil or fresh
parmesan cheese, grated
Optional: sautéed mushrooms

Let's cook:

Saute onion in a small amount of olive oil; add mince. Stir until meat is "broken into grains" and greyed through. (I strain off all juices once it's cooked.)

Now add tomato soup, chopped tomatoes and tomato paste, crushed garlic, oregano & basil, and freshly ground  pepper. Stir and bring to the boil.

Cover and simmer very slowly for approx. 2 1/2 hrs, stirring occasionally at first to guard against sticking.

Before serving, I add fresh basil leaves and sautéed mushrooms. Serve with parmesan cheese for topping. Serve with lots of fresh pasta.

Minced lamb, or lamb and pork can also be used for this recipe. It is so much more readily available now and makes a nice change form the usual spagbol.

 What do you prefer?



Monday, 11 November 2013

Easy Scottish Lentil Soup


This is the easiest lentil soup, from the Scottish highlands, via our friend Callum. For this recipe though you need a Pressure cooker to really do it justice. I have cooked it slowly in a heavy based pot  and it is still delicious.

Ingredients:

1/2 mug lentils
2 onions chopped
3 bacon stock cubes crumbled
4 good sized carrots
Cover with water

When cooked add salt and pepper to taste.

Puree to serve and leave as lumpy as you like.

Garnish with coriander, parsley or whatever herbs you have on hand.

There are lots of variations out there for Lentil soup, and I have added pumpkin and other vegetables at times, however this recipe is a good basic soup which also stretches the budget.

Is your Scottish blood stirring?



Middle Eastern Orange and Almond Cake with Orange Syrup and Mint Sugar







Middle Eastern Orange and Almond Cake with Orange Syrup and Mint Sugar

Oranges were bountiful this winter, and we are very fortunate to have access to a beautiful orange tree. Now that I am retired, I have time to freeze the oranges and use later in cakes, desserts etc. Oranges freeze very well. Activity in my kitchen reflects produce that is growing in my garden or what I am given and I love that self sufficient approach. Oranges straight from the tree rather than the supermarket also ensure that they are preservative free.

We are expecting guests over the weekend, so the oranges are cooking in the saucepan and when cooled I will make this wonderful Middle Eastern orange cake recipe. This cake is very moist and quite dense and the cooked peel gives it a tart and seductively exotic flavour. It can also be served with an orange syrup and mint leaves and extra slivered pistachio nuts for a special dessert.

I often cook the basic and more economical version of this cake, without the pistachio nuts, and it is just as delicious. The cake tin selected should be big enough so that the batter is no deeper than 6cm or the cake will take much longer to cook. A 23cm tin suits this recipe.

This recipe is adapted from the wonderful Stephanie Alexander's Cook's Companion.

"A classic Passover dessert that draws on the Sephardic traditions of the Mediterranean, Morocco and the Middle East. In this recipe whole oranges are boiled for two hours and then puréed skin, pips and all. Not only is this cake incredibly moreish and moist, it is also gluten and dairy-free making it the perfect all-rounder. "  SBS
http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/orange-and-almond-cake

Serves 8

Ingredients:

Cake:

2 large organic oranges, unpeeled and washed
6 eggs, beaten
250 g ground almonds (almond meal)
250 g white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup pistachio nuts, finely ground (optional)

Topping:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves, plus extra to serve
1/2 cup pistachio nuts, slivered
yoghurt, whipped cream or creme fraiche to serve

Orange Syrup:

1 cup orange juice
1 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon Cortas Orange Flower Water

Cake Method:

Boil the oranges in a little water in a covered saucepan for 2 hours. Allow to cool, then cut open, remove pips and chop roughly.

Preheat oven to 190deg. C and butter and flour a 23cm springform tin. Blend oranges and remaining ingredients thoroughly in a food processor. Pour batter into prepared tin. Bake for 50mins to1 hour. If cake is still very wet, cook a little longer. Cool in tin before gently turning out.

Orange Syrup:

For dessert, the cake can be served with an orange syrup flavoured with Orange Flower Water

1 cup orange juice
1 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon Cortas Orange Flower Water

To make the orange syrup, place orange juice and sugar in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium, bring to the boil and simmer for 5-7 minutes, or until thickened to a syrup. Add Orange Flower Water. The syrup could take up to 15 minutes to thicken whilst stirring occasionally and attending to other things in the kitchen. Set aside and it will thicken even more.

Topping:

Place sugar and mint in a food processor and pulse until combined. Place mint sugar and slivered pistachios in a bowl and toss to combine. Place on top of the cake and serve with orange syrup and crème fraiche, yoghurt or whipped cream.

Or alternatively it can be served with a pile of citrus segments and the best thick cream.



Apple Crumble

This is my original Apple Crumble recipe which I have been told by my family not to mess with. I know I will be cooking this for the family over the Christmas period sometime, so here it is for easy reference everyone.

Fruit

4-6 Granny Smith cooking apples
1-2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup water
Fruit Variations
Rhubarb and apple
Tinned apple
Pie peaches
Stewed dried apricots

Crumble

1 cup plain flour (refined or wholemeal is preferable)
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons coconut
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon Rolled oats (use a little bit less flour)

Let's cook
  1.  Peel and core apples and slice thinly.
  2. Place in a saucepan with water and simmer gently until soft. Add sugar to taste and stir to dissolve.
  3. Allow to cool then pour into a pie dish, keeping back excess juice.
  4. Place flour in a bowl then rub in butter with the fingertips.
  5. Add sugar, coconut, rolled oats and cinnamon and mix well until good crumbly consistency.
  6. Sprinkle lightly on top of apples.
  7. Bake in a moderate oven until lightly browned on top.
  8. Serve hot or cold with boiled custard .
(I like doing steps 4 and 5 by hand, however you could use the food processor.)

What do you think?


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Roast Duck with Red Curry and Pineapple



This is so quick and easy to cook and the duck gave the dish a wonderful gamey flavour which married beautifully with the red curry. The most difficult thing is ensuring that you can obtain the Roasted duck breasts on the day. The dish can stand on its own without the pineapple.
I have galangal growing so I will use that next time instead of the store bought ginger.

Ingredients:

2 x Chinese Style Roasted 1/2 ducks
3 tbs. Alfa One Rice bran oil
2 onions, quartered and thinly sliced
1 knob ginger or galangal, grated (according to taste)
3 heaped tabs. red curry paste (store bought) or homemade
400ml can of low fat coconut milk
3 tbs. fish sauce ( important to use a good fish sauce)
1 tbs. soy sauce
1 tbs. grated palm sugar
3 kaffir lime leaves, very finely sliced ( don't worry if you don't have them)
Juice 1 lime
3/4 cup pineapple, chopped into small chunks

Garnish
1 long chilli, very finely sliced
Thai basil

Serves 4-6

Friday, 8 November 2013

Summer camelia


In my kitchen, the first perfect camelia flower of the season just picked this morning, and what a magnificent fragrance. I wish I could bottle that perfume.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Yummy Boiled Egg Custard

It is tradition at Christmas time for us to serve this boiled custard with the Christmas pudding. However, it can be served at anytime with any dessert which is complimented by a custard. This is great comfort food.

Bring 2 cups of milk to the boil and add the following and stir:
1 beaten egg
1 dessertspoon sugar
vanilla

Mix 1 dessertspoon cornflour with about 1-2 tblsp. milk. Pour boiled milk onto this mixture. Return to the saucepan to thicken and then pour into a nice jug.

Enjoy!!

MaMa's Christmas (Economical) Plum Pudding

This is the best Christmas Plum Pudding I have ever tasted. When my Mum passed on 5 years ago, I took on the family responsibility of cooking the Christmas pudding with some trepidation, however it turned out well, came out of the pudding bowl beautifully, and has remained on the Christmas menu ever since. Phew, what a relief!! It is now time to start thinking about Christmas fare again, and as this tastes better after being left to develop for a couple of months, it's time to start cooking.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lb sultanas
2 oz mixed peel
1/2 lb raisins/8 oz/250g
1/4 lb currants/4 oz/110g
2 oz. Glace cherries/65 g
2 oz Almonds/65g
1/2 lb butter or marg.
3 tablsp. Brandy or sherry (some extra for flambe if you wish)
1/2 lb. Brown sugar
4 eggs
1 grated carrot
6 oz flour
1 level teasp mixed spice
1/4 level teasp. bi-carbonate soda
6 oz. soft breadcrumbs
N.B. Mixed fruit can be used to the equiv. weight of fruit listed above.

Method

Prepare fruits. Add brandy or sherry. Cover. Allow to stand overnight. Cream shortening  (butter) and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beat well with each addition. Add fruit and carrot. Add sifted flour, spice, bi-carbonate of soda and breadcrumbs. Grease pudding steamer well and 3/4 fill with mixture. Seal. If using pudding cloth, flour and tie securely, allowing space for expansion. Place in a saucepan of boiling water with water level about half way up sides of basin. Cook for 4 hours in large pot on gentle simmer being careful not to let the water run dry, cool and keep in cupboard,  and then gently simmer again in the large pot for 2 hours on day of reheating (Christmas Day) .

This should be served with my Yummy Boiled Egg Custard.


Hope's Scotch Pancakes

This was my Mum's recipe and never failed. We often had them for tea on a Sunday night with lemon juice and sugar, which we thought was a real treat back then.

Let's cook:

Mix together 1 1/2 cups flour and 2 teaspoons cream of tartar. Beat together 1 egg and 1/2 cup sugar.

Mix in 1 cup sweet milk, in which 1 teaspoon soda has been dissolved. Add to flour.

Drop in small quantities on a greased girdle.

(This is straight from my Mum's recipe book.)

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate (Oprah Winfrey)

Das Neumann Haus Museum and cafe at Laidley

Visited Laidley in the Lockyer Valley on our way to Toowoomba for a 60th birthday party and discovered the Das Neumann Haus Museum. What a nice surprise when travelling, to be able to buy a tasty lunch of quiche and salad and an excellent coffee for just $10 each. It is only open Thursday to Sunday though as the museum is promoted as the main attraction. The museum reflects the very interesting story of the Neumann family in Laidley since 1893,  where Mr Neumann made violins, church furniture and grandfather clocks. many of which are still in the area.

If you are there when the museum is closed, never mind, as the Laidley Florist Ristique Rose Tea Rooms, whilst closed on Sunday when we were there, looked absolutely delightful through the French doors with a well stocked cake cabinet to die for. The beautiful French inspired decor is unexpected in a small valley town.