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.  

Thursday, May 30, 2013

{Monte Carlos}

 


Do you remember monte carlos ? Have you bought them recently ? I haven't but I remember that those suckers are stuck together with a glue like jam that makes it impossible to separate them without some level of destruction and a lot of crumbs.

These are naturally better than a bought one, these were a big hit with me, I think I ate pretty much all of them, Jay may of had one. Kids were not quite on board, Billy has recently acquired an uncanny ability to detect pips in jams, icecreams and yoghurts and takes issue with them. Jack basically will only eat my brown butter biscuits at the moment so what's a girl to do. I couldn't just leave them sitting the tin all sad and unloved now could I, I took care of them. Lets call it maternal instinct.

...the cookies
180g butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup self raising flour
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1/2 cup ground almonds

...the filling
60g butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 vanilla extract
Raspberry jam

Oven to 180 and line two biscuit trays with baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the egg, honey and vanilla and beat again for another minute or so then add in the dry ingredients and fold through the creamed butter mixture.

Roll into small balls, about a teaspoon each and pop on the trays leaving a bit of a gap. Press down on each cookie with a fork(dipped in flour works best)and then bake for 10-12 minutes or until the biscuits are pale golden.

Remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

For the filling, cream together the butter, icing sugar and vanilla, spread one side with the butter filling and its matching pair with a little jam (I used raspberry but you could use your fav).

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

{Slow Braised Caramel Pork Belly}







The time has come for soups and slow braises, saturday nights with an open fire crackling and a bottle of red sitting warm on the mantle, time for cosy beds and warm socks.  Lovely.  

I've already made a few soups this chilly season, Jay is just overjoyed with the idea of soup for dinner, he just can't get enough of it.  Not.  So this recipe is a more substantial and amazingly delicious slow braise, it is adapted from the last season of MKR, I wasn't about to crack and juice 2 young coconuts, that sounded like way too much effort for a Tuesday.

So anyway its pretty much my idea of the perfect way to spend a cold and windy afternoon at home, while I was making this it actually hailed, and right at school pick up time, don't you just love that! bbbrrrrrrrrrrr.  At least when I returned home I was greeted by the smell of my delicious dinner.

...the pork
1.5kg boneless pork belly
4 tbs caster sugar
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 cups coconut water

3 cups water
1 tbsp sea salt

1 tbsp white pepper
1 star anise

...caramel sauce
220g caster sugar
145ml light soy
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2cm piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced
2 tbsp malt vinegar


...the salad
1 cup shredded chinese cabbage
1 long red chilli, finely sliced
½ cup vietnamese mint leaves
½ cup coriander leaves
1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Slice the pork belly into thick rectangles.

Pop the sugar into a large ovenproof and lidded pot over medium heat, cook until it becomes a dark golden caramel, add pork stir until well coated in the caramel, next put in the garlic, give it a quick stir then add the coconut water, and the tap water, ensuring pork is submerged. 


Bring to a boil then add salt, pepper and star anise, simmer for 5 minutes then transfer to your oven preheated to 140 and cook for 3 hours.  Check half way thru that there is still plenty of braising liquid.  After the 3 hours is up remove from oven, take off the lid and simmer on the stove top for 15 minutes.

To make the warming gingery caramel sauce, bring all ingredients to a boil over a low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer for 10 minutes.

To make salad, place all ingredients in a bowl, toss.  Serve the pork, sauce and salad with rice.  This is enough for 4.


Monday, April 22, 2013

{Brown Butter Biscuits}






Ever since I made brown butter banana bars I've been a bit in love with the whole brown butter thing.  These biscuits are a crunchy take on that nutty taste, I love them, especially dipped in my coffee! classy.  This is the third batch I've made in a week, this time I reduced the sugar, yes me, I did that ! And the bikkies are better for it. 

These suckers are going into lunchbox's left right and centre and are still the most requested after school snack, happily munched on with a big glass of milk sucked through a couple of curly straws.

Another excellent thing about these biscuits is that they are made in one pot, the pot you brown the butter in, I am a bit lazy like that and not a big fan of washing up. Bloody genius if you ask me. 

... the biscuits
125g butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
1 1/2 cups self raising flour

Preheat oven to 180.  First of all put the butter into a big saucepan, one that's going to fit the rest of the ingredients.  Melt and then gently simmer the butter until it changes colour to a light golden brown, like the colour of a lion and smells nutty, take it off the heat (it takes around 6 minutes).

Let the butter cool slightly, then add the rest of the ingredients and stir, roll into balls the size of a small walnut, press down slightly on a lined baking tray and bake for 13 - 15 minutes.  Cool on a rack. 


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

{Kumera, Carrot + Coriander Soup}






My little Billy has a barometer for yumminess. When he eats something he really loves he hums, right now he is sitting at the kitchen table in the sun with a faux cup of tea and is dipping, eating and humming some brown butter biscuits I made yesterday.

This soup also got the hum, he is my good eater, so there is often a lot of humming, he asks for lettuce in his kinder lunchbox, he's a darling, he makes me look good ! and when I cook something and I get the hum, my heart sings along.

... the soup
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 stalks lemongrass, soft inner part finely chopped
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 kaffir lime leaf
2 kumara (sweet potato), peeled and cubed
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cups chicken stock
400ml tin of coconut milk
2 tsp honey
s + p
natural yoghurt

handful fresh coriander


Add olive oil to a large soup pot with a lid, cook your onions until they soften and become translucent then pop in the garlic, lemongrass and ginger and cook for five minutes over a low heat.

Next add the kumara and carrots and cook for a further five minutes then add the coconut milk, chicken stock, kaffir lime leaf and honey.

Simmer for around 30 minutes or until the carrots and kumara are soft and starting to break down. Puree the soup till smooth, season to taste with seasalt and pepper. 

Serve with a dollop of yoghurt and some coriander leaves.

Monday, April 8, 2013

{Fig Caramel Cake}









Oh my lord I just made the most amazing cake. Will you just look at that cake ! roasted figs, caramel, vanilla bean, cream, HEAVEN.

We went for a drive in the country this weekend, stopped at an orchard for a bag of apples for the boys who eat hundreds of them, hundreds I tell you. On the counter was a bowl of figs, warm, soft, fragrant and just begging me to take them home and make them into something special.

This cake is special, its a celebration cake, make this for people you love, or like me, have it on a Monday after you've taken the kids to the pool on the bus. Who really needs an occasion when it comes to cake, not me, clearly.

...cake

150g butter, softened
150g caster sugar
half a vanilla bean, seeds scraped
2 eggs
150g self raising flour
1/3 cup full cream milk

...caramel
¼ cup caster sugar
50g butter
1/3 cup pure cream
1/3 cup honey
the other half of the vanilla bean, seeds scraped, and pod
2 large ripe fresh figs

Preheat oven to 180. Grease and line a 20cm round spring form cake tin with with baking paper, then wrap the outside base with foil (so your caramel doesn't escape). I used a profiline pushpan which was very kindly sent to me to try, it worked perfectly, completely watertight or in this case caramel tight!

To make the cake batter beat the butter, sugar and vanilla seeds from half the pod together until pale, add eggs one at a time mixing until combined. Add flour alternately with milk.

For the caramel sauce, place all ingredients except figs into a medium saucepan cook over medium heat until sugar has melted. Bring to a gentle boil and cook until mixture turns golden brown. Remove the vanilla bean pod.

Pour caramel into your prepared tin. Cut figs in quarters and arrange prettily cut side down. Gently dollop over the cake batter, spreading until even. Bake for 40-45 minutes until cooked through.

Serve warm with lashings of softly whipped cream.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

{So Not Daggy Chicken Satay}





So lets talk about peanut satay, is it daggy now? a bit like shrimp cocktail? I'm not sure, I'm also not terribly cutting edge cool so I still like to eat both. I have made a few satay sauces in my time, many with the addition of peanut butter but I've never been happy with that arrangement, it always felt a bit like cheating.

Think of this as an introduction by me to you and my perfect satay sauce, think of it as a bit of a blind date, nothing kinky, I can just see the two of you sitting at a candlelit table, easy conversation, zesty little satay picking you up after a rough day.  A pretty good first date, maybe even your perfect match, you can thank me later when you tie the knot.

...the satay
600g chicken breast fillets
1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, finely chopped
2 tsp finely grated ginger
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp brown sugar
½ cup (80g) toasted peanuts, skins off, finely chopped
1 x 270ml tin coconut milk
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 Lebanese cucumbers, thinly sliced into ribbons
2 red radishes, trimmed, very thinly sliced
½ cup mint leaves
½ cup coriander leaves
limes to serve
rice to serve

You will need to soak 12 bamboo skewers in water for about 15 minutes before you cook.

Chop the chicken breasts into cubes suitable for stabbing onto a satay stick, keep them all a similar size.

Combine the lemongrass, ginger, soy sauce, coriander, cumin, turmeric and 2 teaspoons of the sugar in a small bowl. Add half the paste to the chicken to marinate. Set aside for at least 15 minutes(you can also leave this all day or overnight in the fridge).

Meanwhile, pop the remaining spice paste, the chopped peanuts and coconut milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Simmer, stirring, for 5 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken and is heated through. Add the lime juice, fish sauce and remaining sugar and stir to combine. Turn off the heat and taste you can adjust further with extra lime juice, fish sauce or sugar, if desired.

Heat your barbecue or frypan to medium. Thread the chicken evenly amongst the pre-soaked skewers. Cook on for 2-3 minutes each side or until golden brown and cooked through.

For the salad combine the cucumber, radish, mint and coriander in a bowl and add a squeeze of lime. Serve with or without rice but definitely with a wedge of lime.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

{Beef + Lentil Korma Curry}






First up I'd like to give a big high five to Jamie, you know Jamie right? of course you do, well this is one of his 15 minute meals recipes.  I don't know if it actually took me 15 minutes I pottered around a fair bit and I didn't do his fancy rice but it was quick and also I didn't throw food all over the benches like he does so quite possibly it took a bit longer to cook and a bit less time to clean up. 

...the curry
1 x 400g tin of lentils, rinsed and drained
1 heaped teaspoon garam masala
400g quality lean beef mince 
olive oil
3 ripe tomatoes
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
2 spring onions
1 red chilli
1 bunch fresh coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon runny honey
2 heaped teaspoons Patak's rogan josh curry paste
270g tin of light coconut milk
greek yoghurt, to serve
1 lemon

Put the lentils into a big bowl with salt, pepper, garam masala and mince, combine with clean hands, divide the mixture in half, then with wet hands quickly squeeze and mould each half into 6 fat fingers. Pop them into the frying pan with 1 tablespoon of oil, cook turning when golden.

Roughly chop tomatoes and throw into a blender, add the peeled sliced ginger, trimmed spring onions, half the chilli, the coriander stalks, turmeric, honey, curry paste and coconut milk, then blitz until combined.  Pour into the pan with the golden koftas, bring to the boil, then simmer for around 10 minutes and season to taste.

Finely slice the remaining chilli along with the coriander leaves and scatter them over the curry, dollop with yoghurt, then serve with lemon wedges, poppadoms and the rice (I added a handful or two of peas to my rice).

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

{Passata for Jazz}




























My girlfriend Jazz handing me a massive bowl of home grown tomatoes and a bag clinking with sauce bottles, she didn't say a word, she didn't need to. This is the recipe I came up with, its really quite delicious, that could be down to the quality of the tomatoes but the kids loved it (hers and mine) and it made the best spag bol to ever come out of my humble kitchen. She asked for the recipe so I thought you might like it too. x

The next bag she delivered was full of green apples ...

...passata for Jazz
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 large brown onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed

4kg ripe tomatoes, peeled, cored, chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar
handful thyme or rosemary (whole stalks)
couple of bayleaves
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

To peel tomatoes score a big criss cross thru skin at base and submerge in boiling hot water for 30 seconds to a minute. Remove tomatoes, peel skins off and use a small knife to core the top, then just chop up into big bits.

Heat oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add onion. Cook, stirring, for 6 to 8 minutes or until onion has softened but not coloured. Add garlic, cook stirring for 2 more minutes or until fragrant.

Add tomatoes, rosemary or thyme, bayleaves and sugar. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer, lid off stirring occasionally, for 2 hours or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper. Bottle.


Friday, February 22, 2013

{Pork, Fennel + Rosemary Spaghetti}




I love a friday night pasta, firstly because I know being a friday there is going to be wine.  There better be wine.  Secondly its a nice comforting way to slip into a weekend, I can get the pasta sauce ready in the morning and over the course of the day it just gets more and more delicious. Come dinner time its easy, I just cook some pasta whilst sipping above mentioned wine.

This pasta sauce is a real winner if you like italian sausages, it tastes like really really good italian sausages, you know the ones you pay a fortune for at the farmers market. Its bursting with bold flavours and takes about 15 minutes to make, I mean hello, what more could you ask for?  I can't wait to make it again, I hope you make it too, you'll thank me.  This is enough for 4.

...the pasta
400g spaghetti
olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
500g good pork mince
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves
2 x 400g tins cherry tomatoes
s + p
parmesan

Pop a splash of olive oil into a large frypan and add the garlic, saute it gently for a minute then turn up the heat and add the pork mince, chilli, fennel and rosemary.  Cook this until you start getting some colour on the pork, break up any lumps it should take about 8-10 minutes.

Add in the two tins of cherry tomatoes and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper, cook for another 5 minutes until its rich and glossy.  Serve on spaghetti with a dusting of parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

{Bean + Basil Salad}





I probably should of posted this at the beginning of the heatwave, not what feels promisingly like the end.  Do you know it rained the other day and it had been five weeks, five whole weeks since the last rain fell.  Rain is my favourite weather. Last night as I slept with the fan at my side I actually dreamt the noise was rain, it was the best sleep I've had this summer.

It's been a while since I've posted anything, sorry about that, a lot has happened. Jack started school and Billy started kinder. Those things are both a big deal, its all good though, no tears, just excitement and we sent them on their way knowing they are loved and we are proud of them and hopefully armed with the tools to make good decisions.  They are both cool dudes. I love watching them grow.

So the salad, its simple and delicious, its really quick to whip up on a hot night while your handsome sidekick grills the lamb cutlets, add into the mix a glass of vino and a slice of sourdough and life is good my friends.


...the salad
250g green beans
400g tin kidney beans, rinsed
400g tin cannelini beans, rinsed
150g roasted capsicum, sliced
handful of olives, chopped
handful of basil leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
1.5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
clove of garlic, smashed
s + p

In a small jar combine the olive oil, balsamic, smashed clove of garlic and s + p, pop the lid on give it a good shake and set aside.

Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil, add the green beans return to the boil and cook for one minute.  Drain and plunge into a bowl of ice water, drain once cooled and pat dry with a clean tea towel.

Now you can just chuck everything prettily onto a platter and dress, leaving behind the garlic clove.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

{Mussels For My Man}


 


I'm not terribly romantic, I find cheesy romancey stuff a bit vomittey. However I love my man and I made these for him after his first day back at work, you know as a sort of high five, go you sort of gesture.

The sauce is really subtle letting the mussels shine and I like that, my mussels came from near where we camped last year, Portarlington and were vacuum packed, it made me miss nz mussels, over there in pretty much every supermarket you go into you'll find a tank of live mussels to take home for your tea.  I wish I'd bought those mussels more often, I took them for granted. Mussels are cheap, yummy, lightning fast to cook and bit of fun to eat. Dude food.


...the dish
1.5kg - 2kgs mussels, de-bearded
600ml cream
1 tsp curry powder
1 x leek white end diced
knob of butter
black pepper
1x cup fish stock
1x cup white wine
juice of a Lemon
handful parsley
crusty bread to serve

In a big pot soften the leeks in butter, when soft add the curry powder and turn up the heat. Next add the white wine, stock and cream and simmer for half an hour to reduce.

Add the mussels. Simmer with the lid on stirring occasionally to make sure the mussels are coated in the sauce. When the mussels are opened/cooked stir through the parsley and lemon.  Serve with crusty bread.

Monday, January 7, 2013

{No Bake Berry Tart}





See how fancy that tart looks, well I think its pretty fancy looking and it was so easy.  So easy that you would have to be a total womble not to be able to pull it off.  It's a Nigella, she is a goddess and you know what? I just saw her on the telly last week make another version and instead of lemon curd she used nutella and instead of berries toasted hazelnuts.  I am so making that too.

I'm guessing I don't need to tell you how delicious this was too, absolutely not just a pretty face, I think that while the berries are still utterly and completely juicy and sweet you should make this for your next gathering. That's if you are in my hemisphere of course, if not then remember it for when summer swings back your way x


...the tart
375g digestive biscuits
80g melted butter
400g cream cheese, at room temperature
240g lemon curd, at room temperature
fresh berries to top;


I used a punnet each of blackberries, strawberries and red currants.  Raspberries and blueberries would be fab too.

Crush the biscuits and add the melted butter, press the mixture into the sides and bottom of your tart tin (with removable base). Place in the freezer (or fridge if that is not possible) for about 10–15 minutes.

Whisk the cream cheese and lemon curd till smooth, I used my kitchenaid but you could do it by hand (both MUST be at room temperature for this to occur easily).  Dollop and spread it around the chilled tart tin, smooth it out a wee bit.

Pop the tart into the fridge for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight. It does need to get properly cold in order to set enough to be unsprung and sliced easily.


Arrange all of the lovely fruit gently on top and enjoy.