Sunday, February 22, 2015

{Little Lemon Glazed Cakes}

My littlest school boy does not like chocolate (or school drop off it would appear).  Pretty much all my school baking to date has included dark chocolate because that's what my biggest school boy loves and I like to think its a good option for school, I reckon anything homemade is better than anything bought even if its got chocolate in it plus its full of antioxidants and energy.  

However I now need to find some new lunchbox goodies to suit them both and I started with these, they have a gentle citrus flavour and are as cute as a button. These lovely little cakes will be popped into this weeks lunch boxes, that is if there are any left, they have been given the big tick of approval at our place, you know the one where they keep asking and asking and asking for another one!  

...the cakes
125g butter, softened
125g caster sugar
2 large eggs
zest of 1 lemon
175g self raising flour
pinch of sea salt
4 tbsp milk

...the glaze
juice of 1/2 a lemon
100g icing sugar

Preheat your oven to 180 and line your cupcake tins with 12 paper cases.

Cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, zest in the lemon then add the eggs one at a time beating after each addition. Gently fold in the flour and the salt, then lastly add the milk, stir until just combined. Spoon the batter into your prepared cases and bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.  Remove from oven to a rack and cool completely.

For the glaze combine the lemon juice and icing sugar in a small deep bowl and stir until smooth, dip the cooled cupcakes into the glaze then pop them back on the rack to set.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

{Five Spice Pork + Rice Noodles}

I may need to start a section on my blog called things topped with a fried egg. OK maybe not.  This dish was inspired by a recipe I came across called taiwanese meat sauce, that's not a name that appealed to me but the idea of it did, it sounded sort of like an asian spaghetti bolognaise. I tweaked the recipe and its name and this is what I came up with.  It is completely delicious, a little bit sweet from the brown sugar, fragrantly spiced by the chinese five spice and has a gentle heat from the black pepper.  It is all good my friends all good.

…the dish
500g pork mince
2 tsp olive oil
1/3 cup crispy shallots
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp chinese five spice powder
1 tsp of freshly ground pepper
2 cups chicken stock
125g rice noodles (pad thai)
spring onions
free range eggs, fried

sriracha sauce

Heat the oil in a large frypan over high heat and cook the pork, stirring with a wooden spoon for five minutes until starting to brown and there are no large lumps. Add in the crispy shallots, soy sauce, brown sugar, five spice, rice wine vinegar, black pepper and cook stirring for a minute or two.

Next pour in the stock and bring it to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. 

Cook the noodles according the the pack usually its a matter of covering them with boiling water and letting them sit for ten minutes, chop them with scissors into smaller pieces once they are softened. Drain and then add them to the sauce, stir thru, serve topped with a fried egg some sliced spring onions and sriracha sauce is optional but highly recommended.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

{Dark Chocolate + Raspberry Brownies}

So yesterday was valentines day.  We don't make a big deal of it in our house but I did bake something.  Something lush and rich and befitting valentines day and now I am a bit in love with this brownie.  It's completely dense and gooey and so chocolaty it makes me swoon but then the little bites of raspberry tartness lift it from being too full on which means you can eat more and more. I'm still debating as to whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.

…the brownies
250g butter
350g brown sugar
220g dark chocolate (around 70% cocoa)
4 x free range eggs
140g plain flour
50g cocoa
200g frozen raspberries

Line a 20x30cm (ish) slice tin with baking paper. Melt the butter, sugar and dark chocolate in a large saucepan over a medium heat, stir until smooth and thick.

Next add in the eggs one at a time stirring each one in completely.  Then sift over the flour and cocoa, stir until incorporated then lastly gently stir through the raspberries.

Cook at 160 fan (or 180 no fan) for 35 to 40 minutes until it is set on top and beginning to come away from the sides, you don't want a clean skewer with a brownie.

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then transfer to a rack using the baking paper to cool further.  Once cool dust with cocoa powder.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

{Vietnamese Chicken Salad}

You know when you can't get something out of your head, a song, a person, a movie, a meal? well that happened to me so I made this to replicate something I ate in Richmond about six months ago. A lunch that got stuck in my brain.  If memory serves me correctly its pretty spot on, it is really quite amazing that what seem like a bland bunch of ingredients, poached chicken, carrot and cabbage can turn into something so amazing.  Its all about the dressing, this dressing is the business.     

Also in other news I think I may need to check into some kind of support group as I am currently eating sriracha sauce on everything, I even found myself putting it on a stock standard roast chicken the other night and that's when it struck me that I might have a problem. 

Oh and speaking of support groups we've just watched the entire first season of Transparent on Stan (via the free trial!).  Its so so good.  I would highly recommend it.  I'm in mourning now its over, like when you finish a good book.

1 chilli sliced thinly 
2 x cloves garlic grated finely
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp sunflower oil

2 x chicken breasts
125g rice noodles (pad thai)
2 x carrots, sliced thinly or julienned
1/2 a cabbage, shredded or sliced thinly
bunch of mint, leaves chopped
bunch of coriander, leaves chopped
3 x spring onions sliced thinly
sriracha sauce 
salted roasted cashews

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, once boiling add the chicken breasts, turn off the heat and leave them with the lid on for 30 minutes.  

While that's happening make the dressing by simply combining everything in a jar or bowl and mix.

Once that's done remove them to your board and allow them to rest and cool for five minutes before shredding the chicken using two forks or your fingers.  Pour over 1/3 of the dressing.

Pop the noodles into a bowl and cover them with boiled water for ten minutes, use scissors to chop them into smaller pieces of around 10 cm (easier to combine into the salad and to pick up with chopsticks) then tip them into a sieve run cold water over them then allow them to drain completely before adding to the chicken along with another 1/3 of the dressing.

Lastly chop up the carrot, cabbage, spring onions and herbs and toss them together with the chicken and noodles and you guessed it the last of the dressing.  Serve with sriracha sauce and a sprinkling of cashews or peanuts.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

{Dark Chocolate & Oat Cookies}

So here we are, school starts tomorrow and so to the kitchen I go to do what I do, bake.  In this instance bake for two little peoples lunchboxes.  I don't know if I want to laugh or cry. 
These are a actually a great lunchbox treat, oats and dark chocolate for energy and they are crunchy, I am firmly in the crunchy biscuit camp.  I do not like a soft biscuit I mean come on you might as well just eat cake. I need crunch, serious and sustained crunch.  These cookies are just that, crunchy, oaty and chocolaty but they could easily be oaty and nutty or oaty and fruity and nutty if you know what I mean, just use the base and add what you and your little people love.

...the cookies
250g softened butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 tbsp condensed milk
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups oats
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
220g dark chocolate, chopped or use chips

Preheat oven to 180.  Cream the butter, sugar and condensed milk until pale and fluffy.  Tip in the flour, baking powder, salt and oats, stir to combine, lastly add in the chocolate give it a final stir until combined.

Roll tablespoonfuls of mixture into balls and press down onto a baking tray lined with baking paper leaving space in between.  I like to make criss crosses with a sharp knife but its just for show.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until golden, let them sit on the tray for a few minutes before moving to a tray to cool completely.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

{Tandoori Chicken with Herb Yoghurt}

This is a killer dinner and if you are a little bit stepford like me and you love a meal plan then marinate the chicken a day or two before you want to eat it, you'll be happy you did.  Also like they used to in the 90's why not throw some leftover chicken on a pizza and once it comes out of the oven dollop on some of the herby yoghurt, its not cool but it would be quite retro and delicious.

...tandoori chicken

6-8 chicken thighs
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 x tbsp paprika
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 x tbsp grated ginger
3 cloves grated garlic
200g greek yoghurt

...herb yoghurt
200g greek yoghurt
handful mint leaves
handful coriander leaves
juice of half a lime
pinch of sea salt

Combine the chicken thighs with the rest of the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and leave in the fridge for a day or two, or at least overnight.

Preheat the oven to 250 and lay the chicken out in a single layer on a baking tray and cook for 20 minutes then reduce the heat to 120 and cook for a further 20 minutes.  Let the chicken rest for five minutes then slice and serve with rice and the herbed yoghurt (just combine all the yoghurt ingredients in a small bowl and give it a good stir).

Friday, December 19, 2014

{Spicy Potatoes + Peas}

If I ever want something from Jay like these in a size 38 preferably in time to wear to the "uncles" xmas day shindig because clearly if anyone will appreciate a sexy pair of shoes its them, then I make him this for dinner.  It's his absolutely favourite dinner and it could not be easier to pull together.  Thank god his favourite meal is not salmon en croute.

...the spicy spuds
800g potatoes peeled and diced
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 cloves garlic finely chopped 
1 tbsp ginger finely chopped 
1 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric 
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
freshly ground pepper 
25g butter
3 spring onions finely sliced 
1/2 cup peas (cooked in microwave for a minute or you could add to spuds for last few minutes)
2 fried free range eggs
greek yogurt 
a lemon or lime

Bring the diced potatoes to the boil in a large saucepan of salted water cook for 13 minutes then drain into a colander and let them sit and steam for a few minutes.

Pop the oil into a large frypan on medium heat, add the mustard seeds and once they start to pop add in the ginger, garlic, curry, turmeric and chilli flakes stir for a minute or two then drop in the butter and the cooked spuds season with s+p and cook for five minutes stirring often.

Serve with a sprinkling of sliced spring onions and peas (or sometimes I like to use diced cucumber) top with a lovely fried free range egg, a squeeze of lemon or lime and a dollop of greek yogurt. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

{Citrus Cake with Cardamom Syrup}

I cannot get my head around traditional xmas cake it is not something I ever want in my mouth.  I do love cake though and  always bring a cake to this festive picnic we have every year with our neighbours.  I came up with this syrup idea yesterday, I thought it, I baked it and I took it along to the park last night. It turned out to be a real christmas cracker of a cake.  A keeper.

She is pretty and sweet but also zesty and spicy with lovely little bursts of cardamom seed, not to mention as light as the clouds I gazed upon as I reclined on my picnic rug.  

So this is now officially my version of a xmas cake, a xmas cake for when it's 30 degrees and you are picnicking in a park surrounded by gumtrees.

...the cake
125g softened butter (plus extra for brushing the bundt tin)
2/3 cups caster sugar
a lemon, zested and juiced
an orange zested
a lime zested
2 x eggs
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
2/3 cups buttermilk

...the syrup
3/4 cup caster sugar
an orange zested and juiced
a lime juiced
3 slices of fresh ginger
4 x cardamom pods, crushed so the seeds can escape
thick dollop style cream to serve

Preheat oven to 180.  Brush a 20cm bundt tin generously with the extra butter.

Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, add in the zest of an orange a lemon and a lime, give it a mix then add in the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.

Juice the lemon you just zested into the buttermilk and give it a stir to combine.  Next fold the flour and buttermilk alternatively in batches into the butter gently and until just combined.

Pour batter into the bundt tin, even it out and give it a tap on the bench before popping it into the oven for 30 - 35 minutes.  Test with a skewer, cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning upside down onto a wire rack with baking paper underneath (for syrup drips).

While the cake is in the oven and towards the end of the baking time you can make the syrup by combining all the ingredients in a small saucepan, bring it to the boil stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Once it boils turn it down to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes without stirring. Strain the syrup and pour it over the warm cake then arrange the candied orange zest and cardamom seeds from the syrup over the cake.  Serve with thick cream.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

{Mr Wolf Pizza Dough}

I've tried many pizza recipes over the years and was quite crap at the whole thing until I got my pizza stone.  Since then I've gotten a whole lot better at the home pizza making business and now I am killing it using Karen Martini's Mr Wolf pizza dough recipe thanks to my pal Rach.  

Also can I just say that I love that when I whip up a batch of this lovely dough I get to ferret away some lovely soft balls in the freezer making for a quick dinner after swimming lessons, in the time it takes me to whip off my bra and make a gin dinner is ready.  High five Karen, and Rach.

...the pizza 
800g flour
250g semolina
20g salt
2 sachets dry yeast (14g)
600ml mineral water / or tap water is just fine
50ml olive oil

Using a stand mixer with a dough hook, add the flour, semolina and salt into the bowl. Whisk the yeast, mineral water and oil in a separate bowl. Turn the mixer to slow, add the liquid all at once, and bring together to a soft dough. Once combined, turn the speed to medium and mix for six to eight minutes until you have a smooth, silky, springy dough.

Remove the hook and push the dough down into the bowl. Cover and allow to prove for 45 minutes in a warm spot.

Preheat oven to 220, pop your pizza stone in if you have one.

Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured bench and gently knead it with your hands, roll into a log shape and portion into balls as desired (6 or 8). Allow balls to rest for another 5 minutes under a clean tea towel.  Next roll or press out to desired thickness on baking paper. Add your favourite toppings and using the baking paper transfer it to your pizza stone and bake for 10-ish minutes, or until it looks done.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

{Spicy Crunchy Flatbread & Tuna Salad}

It is officially summer now and also officially the silly season. We drove out of the city today to find our small but perfectly formed christmas tree so as I sit here its lights are twinkling (flashing manically) and there is the smell of pine in the air (mingled with nachos) and a christmas movie on TV (that we've all seen a dozen times).  Summer naturally means salad, so here's a new one for you to try. It is so delicious, I think you'll really like it.

...the salad
2 large round flatbreads, rolled up tight and thinly sliced
1 x tsp cajun spice mix
2/3 cups extra virgin olive oil
1 x 185g tin of best quality tuna in olive oil or chilli oil

2 x lebanese cucumbers, halved longways and sliced
a punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup edamame beans
1/4 a red onion, finely sliced
3 shakes of tabasco
1 x tbsp red wine vinegar

juice of half a lemon
1 large handful of torn basil leaves
1 large handful of picked italian parsley leaves

sea salt + pepper
lemon wedges, to serve

Toss the sliced flatbread in the cajun spices and olive oil in a big frypan. Turn the heat up to medium high and cook for 2 - 5 minutes, or until the bread is starting to crisp and turn golden. Remove from the heat, add a generous sprinkle of sea salt and let them cool (and get crunchy).

I used frozen edamame beans so to prepare those you just add them to boiling salted water and cook for 5 minutes, then drain them and run them under cold water, then pop the beans out of the pods.

Mix the rest of the salad and dressing ingredients together in a large bowl or on a platter, season with salt and pepper and then top with the crunchy bread strips and serve with a lemon wedge.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

{My Granola}

I used to eat toast with peanut butter for breakfast everyday, then one day I got over it.  I tried some cereals and they mostly tasted like their boxes or had stuff in them I didn't like so I started to make my own.  I've been making granola for over a year now, every week I bake a new batch and I change up the nuts and fruit depending on what I feel like, or what I've got. I burnt a few batches in the beginning so you need to watch it, I would even recommend hovering nervously around the oven the first time you make it because your oven is different to mine and I'd hate for you to burn a batch, its a real pain in the ass. 

3 cups whole rolled oats
2 cups puffed rice
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup goji berries
1 cup nuts 
(almonds / macadamias / hazelnuts / pistachios)
1 cup dried fruit 
(sultanas / currants / dried blueberries / cranberries)

Preheat oven to 180.  Combine the oats, puffed rice, pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and chia seeds in a large bowl, add in the salt, cinnamon, cardamom, maple syrup and olive oil and stir thoroughly to combine.

Tip out onto a large baking tray lined with baking paper, spread out and flatten it down with the back of a spoon.  Bake for 10 minutes then stir, bake for another 10 minutes then stir again, sprinkle over the nuts then bake for 5 more minutes so the granola is nicely toasted and the nuts are ever so slightly toasted.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool and become crunchy.

Once cool pop it into a lovely big jar, add in the goji berries and the dried fruit and shake to combine.  Eat with yoghurt and fresh fruit.  Feel good and healthy.

Monday, November 3, 2014

{Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream}

Oh my lord there are literally buckets of lollies everywhere, I've hidden some in the laundry waiting for the kids to forget about them, Halloween is to blame, don't get me wrong I do love it and afterall I am responsible for filling plenty of other little monsters buckets.  I was supposed to be a werewolf this year but one of the first kids to come to our house said (after yawning no less) "you're a puppy" ??!!  

Anywho the last thing we need right now is more sugar but I've been meaning to post these for a while.  My kids love my cupcakes, in fact everyones kids love my cupcakes, I feel like the pied piper when I produce a batch of these babies and they are so so easy.  Don't tell the boys that though, I'm not wanting to diminish my cupcake baking rock star status just yet.  

1 1/4 cups of self raising flour
2/3 cups caster sugar
125g softened butter
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

125g softened butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups of icing sugar
food colouring
splash of milk as required

Preheat the oven to 180, pop paper cases into 12 holes of your cupcake / muffin baking tin. 

Pop all of the cupcake ingredients into the bowl of your electric mixer and beat on a low speed until combined then increase the speed to medium, high and beat for around 3 minutes or until completely smooth and pale in colour.

Spoon the mixture amongst the paper cases, I generally use two tablespoons to do this, one to pick up and one to scrape off.  Cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until your cupcakes are golden and a skewer comes out clean.  Pop onto a rack and cool completely.

To make the vanilla buttercream beat the butter and vanilla in the mixer until very pale and creamy, add in icing sugar 1/2 a cup at at time and continue mixing til lovely and light and fluffy, colour the buttercream as you wish and if you feel it needs it add a few drops of milk to achieve your desired consistency.

Spread or pipe onto the cooled cupcakes. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

{Freekeh Salad with Cajun Chicken}

I went to the shops to get barley and broad beans and came home with freekeh and cucumber and this is what I made.  Watch this space for my barley broadbean idea because on a recent drive in the country and following a spot of pub lunch we stopped in at an apple orchard and I got me a lovely little pack of organic barley, once I get my hands on those pesky broad beans, well you know, there will be another salad recipe here! You can hardly wait I'm sure.

...the salad
1 cup of cracked freekeh 
2 x freerange chicken boobs
cajun spice blend (I just bought a jar from the market)
1/2 bunch mint, leaves picked
1 x cucumber, peeled, cored and diced
2 x sticks of celery diced
1/4 red onion thinly sliced
handful of toasted pine nuts
block of danish fetta, cubed

juice of a lemon
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Rinse the cracked freekeh and then pop it in a saucepan along with 2 1/2 cups of water, 1 tsp of salt and 2 tsp's of olive oil, bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, covered for 15 minutes, then tip into a sieve, rinse with cold water and set aside to cool and drain.  Once cool pop the freekeh into your serving dish add in the mint, cucumber, pine nuts, celery, onion, and fetta, season with s+p and drizzle over 1 tbsp of olive oil, the lemon juice and give it a gentle mix.

Sprinkle the chicken generously with the cajun spices, put them between baking paper, and then bash to around 1 cm thick using a rolling pin.  Panfry them in a tbsp of olive oil over a medium to high heat, they should take around 3 - 5 minutes a side, remove from pan and pop onto some kitchen towel on a plate, sprinkle with sea salt and let them rest for five minutes before slicing into strips and serving on top of the freekeh salad.

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.