Sunday, October 19, 2014

{Lentil + Mushroom Bolognese}

This is not, as it might appear a vegetarian recipe, but it easily could be, just leave out the pancetta and use a vegie stock.  It's based on my spag bol recipe but with a few changes, we've been eating more and more vegetarian dishes lately and I felt like creating something that had the same cosy vibe as a spag bol does but without the cow.  It turned out better than I thought it would, its really good actually as good as the original, the lentils are completely fabulous and using french puy lentils means they hold their shape which is cute, its also faster than the other version, well my version anyway as I let it simmer away for a few hours, actually writing this reminds me I should post my spag bol recipe as its taken years to get it just right.

...the sauce
1 brown onion, peeled, 
2 carrots, peeled, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
100g pancetta, chopped
4 large field mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
3 sprigs of thyme
1 cup french puy lentils (rinsed)
400g tin of tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
400ml tomato passata 
parmesan cheese

Pop the olive oil into a large pot or high sided frypan and cook the pancetta, onion, carrot, celery until softened and starting to pick up some colour.  Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Next add in the bay leaves, thyme, lentils, stock and two kinds of tomatoes, reduce the heat to low cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 45- 60 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Season with s+p.

Serve with spaghetti and parmesan shavings and a extra drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. (I also like a sprinkle of rocket or parsley.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

{Eggplant + Tomato Curry}

Heres a free kitchen tip for you, do not drop your jar of turmeric on the floor as you get it out of the pantry, and further more do not go on to clean it up with a wet sponge because you will create a lovely bright yellow paint that will hang on for dear life to any surface you happen to wipe it along.  Yeah don't try that.  It took me longer to clean up that than the curry took to cook. True story.  Oh and this is all about the extras don't skimp on the lime, yoghurt and coriander leaves they make it spesh.

...the curry
2 large eggplants, or 3 smaller ones, chopped into large dice
1 large onion, diced
1 tbsp grated ginger
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 x star anise
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
400g tin of tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
juice of half a lime
greek yoghurt
coriander leaves
crispy shallots

Cook the diced onion in the olive oil til soft and golden, add the ginger and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the dry spices and cook stirring for another minute before adding in the eggplant.  Cook the eggplant, stirring occasionally for ten minutes until it becomes soft and is starting to pick up some colour.  Next pour in the tomatoes, and half a cup of water reduce the heat, cover and cook for half an hour.  Check the seasoning, add the lime juice and serve on rice with a wedge of lime, a dollop of greek yoghurt, coriander leaves and a sprinkling of crispy shallots.

Monday, October 13, 2014

{Red Lentil Dahl}

This is a nice little vegetarian dinner for two peeps.  Eating dahl just makes me feel good, great even, its like a bowl of magic.  I sometimes get a bit over cooking meat, we go whole weeks without it and its good you know.  Its good for our bodies and good for the environment, the house smells nicer and you feel lighter and bouncier. I'll never be a vegetarian due to the existence of bacon but I do appreciate a good vegetarian recipe and this is one of our favourites, its also dead cheap which is no bad thing.

...the dahl
100g red lentils
1/2 tsp turmeric
juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 vine ripened tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chilli powder
sea salt flakes serve
cooked rice
greek yoghurt
crispy fried shallots
coriander leaves

Rinse the lentils then cover them with a cm of cold water and bring them to a boil in a saucepan. Once the scum rises to the top, skim it off and add the turmeric. Turn it down to simmer while you make the tarka, take them off the heat once the water is absorbed and they are tender.

For the tarka, heat the oil and butter in a frying pan and add the cumin seeds. Once they darken, add the onion and cook until soft and colouring on the edges. Add the garlic and cook gently for a couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes, spices and a generous pinch of sea salt and cook until the tomatoes soften and the whole thing reduces into a paste and releases oil back into the pan, around 15 minutes.

Add in the cooked lentils, and gently simmer for another 5 minutes or so, or until the whole thing comes together. It should neither be too thick nor too watery. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding the juice of half a lemon. Serve with rice and topped with a dollop of yogurt some crispy fried shallots, and a sprinkle of fresh coriander leaves.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

{My Perfect Chocolate Cake}

First of all let me tell you that this is a compilation of a few different chocolate cakes, a bit of a frankencake if you will, but second of all I have to tell you it is the chocolate cake of my dreams.  I have baked plenty of dry and not chocolaty enough chocolate cakes to the point where I didn't even like chocolate cake and would despair every time one was requested.  This was my last hoorah, I made it to celebrate fathers day and its perfect.  Its moist and chocolaty (and importantly stayed that way for days) and everyone including the neighbours loved it.  I feel so happy to have a chocolate cake recipe, sour cream chocolate cake with cream cheese icing you complete me.

1 1/2 cups plain flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup water / or cold espresso
2 tsp's vanilla essence
250g butter, softened
1 1/3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs

185g butter, softened
1 cup cream cheese, at room temp (very important)
115g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
Pinch sea salt

Preheat oven to 180.

Butter and flour two 22cm round cake tins, knocking out excess flour.

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a small bowl whisk together sour cream, water and vanilla.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add some flour mixture to butter mixture. Mix well. Add some sour cream mixture. Mix well. Continue this process, ending with the flour mixture. Beat until the batter is smooth. Divide batter between prepared tins and smooth the tops, drop the tins on the bench a couple of times to get rid of any air bubbles.

Bake in the middle of oven 25 - 30 minutes until cooked.

Cool cakes in their pans on racks for 10 minutes. Then turn out onto racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting its really best to use an electric mixer, beat together butter and cream cheese until really light and fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and beat until combined. Place one cake on a large plate and spread with about 3/4 cup frosting. Put the second cake on top, then spread remaining frosting over the top and sides.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

{Roasted Pumpkin, Tomato and Chorizo Salad}

I'm all over a warm salad at this time of year, this is a favourite of mine in the warm salad department, its so pretty and colourful especially if you use a mix of different coloured heirloom baby tomatoes.  My local supermarket sells mixed punnets and they include red, yellow, orange and even purple, they are so sweet to look at and even sweeter to eat after roasting, lovely little bursts of warm tomatoey goodness. And you can't go wrong with chorizo, what salad is not improved by crispy chorizo.

...the salad
quarter to half a pumpkin (I like kent), cut into chunks
pinch chilli flakes
handful of fresh oregano (or basil) leaves
1 big red onion, sliced thickly
1 punnet baby tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 chorizo, sliced
2-3 handfuls baby spinach and rocket leaves
shaved parmesan

Preheat oven to 190.

Pop the pumpkin in a roasting dish and scatter over the chilli flakes, oregano and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over just enough olive oil to coat the pumpkin and toss gently to combine. Pop in the oven and roast for 15 minutes.  Next add the red onion, give it a toss to coat in the oil and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes then add the whole baby tomatoes, toss and bake for a final 10-15 minutes until everything is nicely roasted.

Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the chorizo slices for a couple of minutes each side until golden. Drain on kitchen paper to remove any excess oil.

Pop the salad leaves on a platter and then add the roasted vegetables and the chorizo, drizzle over the red wine vinegar and finish with the parmesan shavings.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

{Brown Rice, Tuna and Green Things Salad}

We have a new gelato shop in our neighbourhood and today we wandered over there with the kids for a try.  It was amazing, I am looking forward to daylight savings now and to more wandering there on a warm evenings. I had a coffee gelato which I always have but its my fav so why not, I don't mind having things over and over again if they are delicious. I drove Jay mad with ordering caesar salads every time we went out once upon a time before we had kids.  So anyways this salad is something I make over and over again, it started off as a Karen Martini recipe but I've tootooed with it a fair bit, it is filling, healthy and delicious, and makes for excellent lunchbox leftovers the next day too.

...the salad
2 cups of brown rice (I use 90 second sunrice to make it speedy)
2 handfuls of green beans, trimmed and cut into batons
40ml of extra virgin olive oil
20ml of sherry vinegar
juice of a lemon
1 tbsp of ground sumac
sea salt and pepper
185g tin of best quality tuna in olive oil, drained
handful of parsley leaves, chopped 
handful of mint leaves, chopped
(sometimes I add a handful of dill too)
1 cucumber, peeled cored and chopped
2 spring onions, finely sliced
3 soft boiled eggs at room temp or warm, sliced
handful pine nuts, toasted

Cook the brown rice, or pop the pack in the microwave for 90 seconds like I do.

Cook the beans in salted boiling water for 3 minutes, remove and then add the eggs to the boiling water and cook them for 5 minutes, remove them and leave them to cool before peeling and chopping.

Pile the warm rice onto a platter and dress it with the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and sumac, season with salt and pepper and stir through the tuna. Next add in the beans, herbs, pinenuts and spring onions, stir or toss with your hands then lastly add the eggs, and serve.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

{Jam Drops}

My little ones love these and they regularly feature as a lunchbox treat, I love that there is hardly any sugar in them, the jammy centres are sweet enough and they are simple and quick to bake with ingredients you most likely have in your pantry at any given moment.  You can also glam them up if you like by using a fancy jam like maybe a fig or peach, delish.

...the cookies
125g softened butter
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
185g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp milk
jar of lovely raspberry or strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 180. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Cream the butter, caster sugar and vanilla until pale. Add the flour, baking powder and milk and use a wooden spoon to mix the dry ingredients and milk into the butter mixture and make a soft dough.

Roll walnut sized balls and place on the baking tray about five centimetres apart. Flatten each ball then press a two centimetre wide indent in the centre of each with your finger or the end of your wooden spoon.

Bake in your preheated oven for 10 – 12 minutes or until lightly golden, remove from the oven and fill each indent with jam then bake for another 5 – 10 minutes.

Leave on the baking tray for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

{Smoked Salmon + Ramen Noodle Salad}

I could have a whole category on this blog of things that taste like sushi.  This little number would be right up there at the top of the list, it is delicious, well that goes without saying of course its delicious or I wouldn't of gone to the bother of telling you about it.  So what else? well it feels a little bit fancy because of the smoked salmon, its good for you and the ramen noodles are earthy and sexy and its perfectly finished with nutty toasted sesame seeds.  I am in love.

...the salad
2 tsp smooth peanut butter
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp honey
270g ramen noodles
200g snow peas, trimmed, thinly sliced length ways
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, sliced thinly into little discs
100g smoked salmon, sliced
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup pickled ginger, sliced

In a small bowl combine the peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, peanut and sesame oils (or shake in a jar).

Cook the noodles in a large saucepan of boiling water following packet instructions until tender. Refresh under cold running water. Drain well.

Place the sliced snow peas and asparagus in a bowl. Cover with boiling water and set aside for 1 minute. Drain well.

Pop all the ingredients except the sesame seeds on your platter pour over the dressing. Gently toss with your hands to combine.

Sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

{Lemon Bars}

It's times like these when I am paying a fortune for lemons that I wish I had my own bloody tree.  I am thinking a wine barrel and a lemon tree could be on my letter to santa this year.  I actually get massive lemon tree envy walking around our neighbourhood and will be the first to grab any that are within reach on overhanging branches down the bluestone lane ways that litter our suburb.  I'm happy to clumsily jump to retrieve a sad specimen on an evening wander round the streets or perhaps you've witnessed the exaggerated lean over the fence on the morning school run. It would be so much easier to just have my own tree although now that I am thinking about my lemony adventures not as much fun. Oh and the lemon bars are good, sticky and zesty and perfect for a friend in need.

250g butter
125g caster sugar
250g plain flour
pinch of sea salt

2 eggs
250g caster sugar
2 tbsp flour
pinch of sea salt
2 lemons, juiced and zested
icing sugar to dust

Preheat oven to 160(140 fan forced). Line a rectangular or square baking tin with baking paper this makes life easy when it comes to slice time.

Cream the butter and sugar until pale. Add the flour and salt and mix to a smooth dough. Press the dough into the base of the tin and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked and golden, cool for a bit while you make the topping.

Beat the eggs and sugar until foamy. Mix in the flour, salt, lemon juice and zest. Pour the mixture over the cooled base.

Bake for a further 25-30 minutes until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool.

Sift icing sugar over the top and cut into squares (use a hot knife to get through the sticky slice cleanly).

Friday, August 8, 2014

{Jaffa Cake}

The last time I made this chocolate orange extravaganza of a cake I doubled it, I made one for my mum in law who was arriving on a plane from NZ for a month of love and attention from us. The other was for our neighbours to say thank you for babysitting a double phil+ted pushchair, 6 eames dining chairs in very bad repair and a couple of TVs that no longer worked but which Jay could not part with in order for her to have somewhere to sleep that did not resemble a tip shop.  Jay has trouble parting with old shoes so its no surprise that he clings to crappy old things but lets just say I dealt with said TVs using said pushchair getting them to the kerb just in time for hard rubbish collection.

...the cake
140g butter, softened
200g self raising flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
200g caster sugar
3 large eggs, lightly whisked
6 tbsp milk
finely grated zest of 2 oranges finish
3 tbsp orange juice
50g caster sugar
100g 70% dark chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 180. Grease and line a large loaf tin (or 22cm round tin). 

Put all the cake ingredients into the bowl of a mixer and beat for 3-5 minutes, until combined. Spoon the mix into the tin and level the top.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch. 

Meanwhile, heat the orange juice and sugar gently in a small pan, stirring until dissolved. When the cake is cooked, remove it from the oven, poke a dozen times with a skewer and spoon over the orange syrup. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

Break up the chocolate and melt over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave. Drizzle over the cooled cake and leave to set.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

{Citrus Salmon + Quinoa Salad}

This dish is healthy, this is for when you have those friends round who are a bit sporty spice, you know the ones with defined jaw lines and lycra in their wardrobe. Maybe they participate in fun runs or cycle up hills for no apparent reason. This is for when you want to prove that you can, yes can cook without butter, cream and all those other crazy delicious things.

...the salmon
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp of lime juice
1 tsp lime zest
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
4 x 200g salmon fillets

...the salad
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 carrot, julienned
1 capsicum, diced
big handful of chopped parsley
big handful of chopped coriander
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp of lemon juice
1 tsp of lime juice
1 tbsp orange juice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh ginger
1 chilli, seeds removed, finely choppped
greek yoghurt

Pop quinoa in a saucepan, rinse a few times and drain, add 2 cups of water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let cool.

Combine carrot, capsicum, parsley, coriander and red onion in large bowl. Add cooled quinoa and toss to combine. Whisk together lemon, orange and lime juices, soy, ginger, garlic and chilli. Pour over salad and mix gently.

Marinate the salmon for 10-15 minutes, then gently panfry in olive oil until slightly pink in the middle.

To pan-fry salmon fillets, brush the fish with melted butter or oil. Heat your frying pan to medium (the citrus juices will caramelise quickly), lay the salmon fillets in, skin side down. Fry the fillet for 4-5 minutes on this side, until the salmon starts to change colour in the middle. Turn the fillets over for a further 2-3 minutes until the salmon is just cooked.

Serve salmon on a bed of the quinoa with a dollop of yoghurt.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

{Vanilla Buttermilk Cake with Brown Butter Frosting}

I made this for Billys 5th birthday and it will now be my go to vanilla cake. Billy requested a vanilla on vanilla cake and because I couldn't bear to make a vanilla cake with vanilla frosting(yawn)I fancied it up with brown butter which I know they love because they can't get enough of my brown butter banana bars.  Jack made the minecraft decorations, bless, and it was the most delicious cake I have made and eaten in a while.  The young men luckily also loved it otherwise I would of quite happily devoured the entire thing myself.  Probably in one day. 

...vanilla buttermilk cake                                                  
125g butter, softened
200g sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 tsp salt
300g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
160ml buttermilk

Preheat oven to 180. Butter and flour two 8 inch cake pans.
Cream the butter and sugar until pale and very fluffy (take your time with this step). Add the vanilla bean paste and salt then the eggs one at a time, mixing between each.
Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl.
Add half the flour mix to the butter mix. Mix until combined.
Add half the buttermilk. Mix until combined.
Then the remaining flour, the remaining buttermilk.
Do not over mix. Divide evenly between your baking tins.
Bake until lightly golden on top and set through, 20 minutes or so but really it depends on your oven, so always check it.
Remove from pans onto a rack and let cool completely.

...brown butter frosting                                    
225g butter
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp molasses
pinch of salt
750g icing sugar, sifted
100ml milk

Place butter in a pan over medium heat. Cook until the butter becomes a rich amber color and little brown flecks appear at the bottom of pan and it smells nutty. Stir quite often as to not burn it. Pour into a bowl, scraping in the little brown flecks, and pop it into the fridge until it is the consistency of softened butter.

Beat the butter, vanilla bean paste and molasses until combined. Add in half the powdered sugar and half the milk. Beat until combined. Add in remaining. Beat until very fluffy. You may need more milk or sugar depending on how stiff you want it.

Spread over cooled cake. Try not to eat it all.

Monday, May 26, 2014

{Wok Fried Chicken Noodles with Chilli Vinegar}

Hello, its been a while. A long while actually which I can tell by the stack of recipes that are beginning to prevent me from properly closing one of the kitchen drawers. Also the ones in that pile that all the bills and school notices go into. Oh and lets not forget the ones stuffed into the back of my writing pad and of course the ones scribbled onto the backs of shopping lists, it just won't do. So I am back and I'll start recording them here once again. If only for my sanity.

...wok fried chicken noodles
300g chicken thigh fillets, thinly sliced(while slightly frozen works well)
60ml fish sauce
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
200g dried rice stick noodles
250g gai lan (chinese broccoli) or broccolini, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons kecap manis
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 egg
freshly ground black pepper
handful of roughly chopped coriander leaves

...chilli vinegar
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 fresh long red chilli, thinly sliced

Marinate the sliced chicken with 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce, the sesame oil and oyster sauce for about 15 minutes.

Soak the dried noodles in hot water until they are just soft / pliable then drain and set aside (don't let them get mushy).

To make the chilli vinegar, combine the vinegar and chilli in a bowl and set aside for serving.

Heat a wok over high heat and when just smoking add 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil. Toss in the broccoli and cook until just starting to wilt and then transfer to a large plate.

Return wok to heat and add another tablespoon of peanut oil. Add the noodles with 1 tablespoon of kecap manis and 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce. Use some tongs to separate the noodles and toss around for a few minutes until the noodles are softened. Transfer to the plate with the broccoli.

Return wok to heat and add the final tablespoon of peanut oil. Add the chicken, garlic and sugar. Stirfry for a few minutes or until the chicken is just cooked. Push the chicken to one side of the wok and crack the egg into the other side. Let the egg cook for minute before tossing it through the chicken. Add the broccoli and noodles and mix everything together along with the remaining 1 tablespoon of fish sauce and 1 tablespoon kecap manis. Grind over lots of fresh black pepper.

Serve with a good drizzle of the chilli vinegar and a generous sprinkling of coriander leaves.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

{Caper + Herb Dressing}

So this is my favourite dinner at the mo, salmon, mash, cucumber and the best green dressing ever.  I've made it over and over and can't get enough of it.  This little green dressing takes moments to pull together and goes so well with salmon and you know what else? I made it last night to go along with nigellas spanish chicken.  It bloody rocked that chicken and its also just crying out for some slow roasted lamb to hang out with.  I will be getting onto that very shortly.

Its one of those simple simple combinations that can be pulled together from your garden providing you are growing parsley, mint and have a lemon tree!  It just works and I love it, you should try it, it'll jazz up your dinner no end.

...the dressing
10 big mint leaves
1/2 cup parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp capers

Chop the mint, parsley and capers finely then add them to a bowl along with the olive oil and lemon juice, stir.  Simple and fabulous.  

Monday, June 3, 2013

{Broccoli, Cranberry & Almond Slaw}

This is one of our favourite summer salads, we eat it a lot and its especially delicious at christmas time, something about the cranberries and almonds make it a wee bit christmassy. We like it with our christmas baked ham and its good at any BBQ.  Who would of believed that raw broccoli could be so fantastically delicious, all those raw food fanatics would be all over this salad although I'm not sure they believe in toasting nuts, such a shame cos a toasted nut is in my opinion a far superior nut to an untoasted one.

...the slaw
1 large broccoli, chopped into small pieces
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup toasted almond slithers
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tbsp whole egg mayo
2 tbsp greek yoghurt
juice of a lemon
dash of tabasco
tsp of honey

Pop the mayo, yoghurt, lemon juice, tabasco, honey and salt and pepper into a bowl and whisk to combine.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to coat.  The end.