Tuesday 28 June 2011


It is coming up to the end of financial year here and since part of my job is bookkeeper it is a rather busy time for me and will probably involve a bit of overtime for the next few days. I am also planning on working Wednesday, on what is my usual day off. Although, I do have a few other things that I need to do as well, including a trip to the vet with one of my dear cats for her annual check up. Despite all of this and the extra hours on the computer at work I have really felt like blogging lately and it is so easy to sit down and write a few posts in a row and schedule them to post over 2 or 3 days. I still have a bunch of recipes to blog so hopefully I don't lose my blogging mojo any time soon.

I do love cooking breakfast however yeasty things are usually beyond me for breakfast as, to be completely honest, I am not keen on getting up early enough to make things that involve yeast. I have attempted to make crumpets twice before. The first I used a recipe of Delia's which involved leaving the batter overnight. It was an unmitigated disaster. The second time was a Jamie Oliver recipe, which didn't turn out much better. I had heard that homemade crumpets are so much better than the bought ones so I was keen to see if I could actually get something edible with Bill's recipe. They were edible and not bad but I just don't think that it was worth the effort. I didn't make the blackberry butter to go with them serving instead with butter and honey. I would really like to conquer crumpets but I think it will be a while before I attempt them again.


  • 1 1/2 c milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 7g  sachet of instant yeast
  • 375 g flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 200 ml water
  • pinch of salt
  • Heat milk over a low heat until blood temperature. Pour into a bowl and sprinkle over the sugar and dried yeast and stir. Allow to stand for 10 minutes, until the milk starts to froth and bubble.
  • Combine flour and salt into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the yeast mixture and beat with electric beaters until smooth. 
  • Cover in clingfilm and stand in a warm place until doubled in volume (about 1 1/2 hours). 
  • Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the water. Pour into the batter and beat. 
  • Place a pan over a low heat and brush with butter. Grease metal rings and place in the pan.
  • Spoon 2 - 3 tablespoons of batter inside each ring and cook over a low heat for 5-6 minutes. Cook the other side. Keep warm while cooking remaining batter. 

Monday 27 June 2011

Puy Lentil Soup with Parmesan Toasts

I will admit it, I love winter. I am much happier layering up with clothing with the heater going. I also love winter food. All the stews, casseroles, pies and soups. All the lovely winter produce that is available. Such warming and hearty food. I had been looking forward to winter getting here so that I could make this fabulous looking soup recipe. The picture in Sydney Food just looked so warming and delicious. 

Now, this soup was a bit of a conundrum for me. It has all the right things in it to make it full of flavour but tasting it during cooking I was less than impressed. It seemed quite bland to me. I decided not to wait and see and added some extra chilli, a couple of tablespoons of tomato pesto and some dried Italian mixed herbs. I was very pleased with it after those additions and some further cooking. I made the parmesan toasts my way rather than Bill's (mine is easier). 

Puy Lentil Soup with Parmesan Toasts 

  • 2 tbspn olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped Spanish onions
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 small red chilli, finely chopped (original recipe had one)
  • 2 x 400 g tin chopped Italian tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato pesto (my addition)
  • 2 litre vegetable stock, or water
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tbspn chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried Italian mixed herbs (Masterfoods brand) (my addition)
  • 1 cup lentils du Puy
  • 1 tspn salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Heat oil over medium heat. 
  • Add carrots, onions and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add celery, garlic and chilli and cook for a further 5 minutes. 
  • Add chopped tomatoes, pesto, stock, bay leaves, herbs and lentils and bring to the boil. 
  • Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper. 
Parmesan Toasts (my way) 

sliced bread (I like pasta dura but anything will do really)
Butter one side and toast under a grill. 
Turn over and top with piles of finely grated parmesan and then back under the grill until melted and browned.

Sunday 26 June 2011

Delicious: June 2011 - Steak in a Tomato & Caper Sauce

I had every intention of getting something, actually several things, made from this issue of Delicious magazine early in the month. It just never seemed to happen though. I had even bought what I didn't already have for Jessica Brook & Phoebe Wood's Kumara, Chorizo & Goat's Cheese Tart. I had planned on making this one Sunday for lunch and having the left overs for lunch over the coming week. However, for whatever reason, it just didn't happen. I have decided that I am not overly keen on goat's cheese for the most part so I had decided to use some marinated bocconcini that I had found on special. When I didn't get the tart made, I used the bocconcini on a pizza and in some toasted pizza wraps so that it didn't go to waste. I still have the chorizo in the fridge but it is vac packed so it will be fine for a while yet. 

I was also keen on Alice Hart's Carrot & Coriander Fritters with Haloumi and Sweet Lemon Dressing. Although I would have traded out the coriander, probably for thyme or mint perhaps even just plain old parsley. It was a bit of a reminder of Bill's Corn Fritters and I thought that you could probably make a great lunch dish or a light dinner with the addition of some saladish items. 

Matthew Evans' Beef & Barley Soup was another that I had earmarked to make. I just love barley in a soup and usually make some kind of beef & barley soup each winter by just throwing things in a pot. This one was served with an orange gremolata, which seemed like an interesting addition. I will definitely be giving this one a try some time soon. 

In the end I decided to make Louise FitzRoy's Sirloin Steak in a Tomato & Caper Sauce. The main reason that I chose this recipe was that time was getting on and I was starting to get hungry on Friday night and this was a very easy recipe but one that would be packed with flavour. I had a couple of scotch fillet steaks in the freezer so I pulled them out and zapped them carefully in the microwave to defrost. I don't normally defrost raw meat in the microwave as it is so easy to go over board and start cooking it. Some times it just cannot be helped though. This was such an easy dish to make and it really did pack a punch in the flavour stakes. I had some left over mashed potato that I re-heated, steamed some spinach and heated some frozen mixed vegetables to go with it. It was the perfect easy Friday night meal. 

Steak in a Tomato & Caper Sauce 

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
  • 4 x 150g sirloin steaks
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 6 anchovy fillets on oil, drained
  • 2 tbsp capers, rinsed, drained
  • Small handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped, plus extra leaves to serve
  • 400g can tomatoes
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • Mashed potato, to serve
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frypan over high heat and sear steaks for 1 minute on each side then set aside.
  • Reduce heat to medium, add remaining oil and cook garlic, anchovies, capers and parsley, stirring until anchovies melt. 
  • Add tomatoes and oregano and simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until thickened.
  • Return steaks and any juices to the pan cover with the sauce, simmer for 6-8 minutes. 
  • Season, then serve with mash and parsley leaves. 

Friday 24 June 2011

Camembert-stuffed Turkey Meatloaf with Cranberry, Mustard & Balsamic Glaze

I know that I have already posted a meatloaf recipe this week. I hadn't really intended on posting another one so soon but this is just so good that I have to share it. In fact it was posting about the lovely meatloaf with red quinoa that inspired me to try it out again. I was really keen to use some more of the lovely red quinoa and another meatloaf seemed like a good choice. 

This time however, I wanted to try out making a meatloaf with turkey mince. This was mainly because I had some in the freezer that needed to be used up. I decided that the logical topping for a turkey meatloaf is cranberry sauce. Although I pepped it up a bit using frozen cranberries, wholegrain mustard and balsamic vinegar. It was wonderfully tangy and was the perfect accompaniment for turkey. I decided to knock it up a notch further by putting some wonderfully rich and creamy camembert cheese in the middle of the meatloaf. There is a local cafe that does a turkey, cranberry and camembert grilled sandwich that I know is fabulous so I just knew that the camembert would pair perfectly with a turkey meatloaf. The whole combination was just fabulous and I will definitely be making this one again. I didn't write this recipe down as I was going, nor did I measure anything so I am hoping that my estimates are right.

Camembert-stuffed Turkey Meatloaf with Cranberry, Mustard & Balsamic Glaze

  • 500 g turkey mince
  • 1/3 c quinoa (soaked for 30 minutes in water) (I used red quinoa)
  • 1 onion, very finely diced 
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 - 2 tbsp dried mixed herb (I just put some in, then added a little bit more)
  • 1 tsp (or so) dried ground sage 
  • handful craisins 
  • 1/4 can diced tomatoes (I get Annalisa which is quite thick, diced fresh tomato would probably be better)
  • couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce 
  • 200 g camembert cheese (there are leftovers for snacking. :wink: )
  • Mix all ingredients together very well. It will get a bit sticky.
  • Spread half the mixture in a loaf tin. Top with thickly sliced pieces of camembert and then top with the remaining meat mixture. 
  • Bake at 170 C for 40 minutes. Top with glaze and then bake for a further 10 minutes.

Cranberry, Mustard & Balsamic Glaze

  • Handful frozen cranberries (maybe about 100 g)
  • 1/4 c redcurrant jelly (cranberry jelly would work best but I didn't have any)
  • 1 - 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard (I used Maille) or to taste 
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (I have an aged one at the moment that is rather thick & syrupy)
  • Put cranberries in saucepan over a medium heat, I did this while they were still frozen, stir then occasionally until they are squashable. 
  • Add redcurrant jelly and stir until melted. Then stir in mustard and balsamic. 
  • Cook over a medium heat until thickened slightly. (I cooked mine a bit long so had to add a bit of water)

Thursday 23 June 2011

Cake Decorating

I love this post scheduling thing. It means that I can post a pretty little 1st birthday cake that I made last weekend for a friend's daughter on my own birthday. So happy birthday to the little one and happy birthday to me. 

This cake was made from my standard chocolate decorating cake, one mix in a 23 cm pan. I split it into three layers and filled it with Donna Hay's chocolate cream cheese frosting, which is just fantastic, covered with dark chocolate ganache and then covered with white fondant. The decorations are made of fondant to represent the hungry caterpillar. I had so much fun making this cake. The smarties on the cake board were an after thought but I think that they really added something to it. I was very pleased with how it turned out, with the exception of the rather large air bubble that you can see in the icing between the apple & the pear....grrr.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Zucchini & Asparagus with Feta, Olive & Harissa Dressing

Now that it is winter and the frosts are here the zucchinis have, of course, stopped producing it is nice not to have to wonder what to do with the new lot of zucchini picked from the garden. The most popular recipe over at Taste for the last few years has been this Zucchini slice. It is a good way to use up some zucchini plus it can be frozen. It is great hot and cold. I also regularly make the zucchini & mushroom crumble I posted about in yesterday's post. However, there still remains a lot of zucchinis left over to use. 

Not too long ago I got my hands on several bunches of asparagus when it was on super special. I had apparently not had enough of the zucchinis over summer as I also bought some of them too. So in need of a way of using them up I turned to the net to find a different way of using them. I came across this recipe over at The Wednesday Chef. I made a few changes to incorporate the asparagus and for my own tastes. I was really please with how it turned out plus it gave me a chance to use some more of the wonderful harissa that I got from ideli.com.au. I will definitely be re-purchasing it when I have finished this jar. This recipe will also be going into the regular use pile.

Zucchini & Asparagus with Feta, Olive & Harissa Dressing 

  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp harissa paste
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely diced 
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into batons
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut into pieces the same size as zucchini
  • Handful Kalamata olives, pitted and diced 
  • 1/4 crumbled feta
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp mint, chopped 
  • Combine lemon zest, juice, harissa, garlic and olive oil in a bowl.
  • Steam zucchini and asparagus until cooked to your liking, I prefer it to still have a bit of crunch. 
  • Toss the vegetables in the dressing.
  • Top with olives and feta and serve. 

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Pumpkin Agroldoce

So what do you have as a side dish? A while ago I  found that I was in a bit of a rut. Side dishes usually involved steamed broccoli or cauliflower, frozen pea/corn/carrot mix heated in the microwave, mashed potatoes etc. It was all pretty standard and... boring... for want of a better word. I decided that I really needed to make some new side dishes. I have discovered some wonderful things on other blogs. The Little Teochew's Spicy Tamarind Potatoes are a definite favourite. As is Nami-nami's Beetroot and Potato Salad and Chocolate & Zucchini's Zucchini & Mushroom Crumble. All of which have been made several times now along with a few other thing that I will post over the next few days. 

The pumpkin agroldoce recipe comes from April 2007 issue of Delicious magazine. It was part of a feature on the launch of the Dutch edition of Delicious magazine and the opening of Jamie's Fifteen restaurant in Amsterdam. I was really pleased with how this turned out. It was sweet and tangy with just the right amount of spice for me. I normally just roast pumpkin, or turn it into pies. I do occasionally add it in with mashed potato but this was just so good and really complemented the roast lamb that it was served with. I also served it with sautéed spinach and Jamie Oliver's Jerusalem artichokes sautéed with bay leaves & garlic a nice change from your standard fare with a roast dinner. I would definitely make it all again, in fact I have some pumpkin in the fridge screaming out for something lovely to be made out of it. Oh and the left overs are fantastic chopped up as a topping for pizza.

Pumpkin Agrodolce

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground coriander 
  • 1 dried chilli, crumbled 
  • 2 red onions, slice into rings 
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed 
  • 6 thyme sprigs, leaves stripped 
  • 1/2 c raisins (I wouldn't bother next time) 
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar 
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar 
  • 1 tsp brown sugar 
  • 800 g pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed and chopped into chunks (I didn't peel) 
  • 1/3 c pine nuts, toasted (I don't like them so didn't use them)
  • Pre-heat oven to 160 C.
  • Combine all ingredients, except pumpkin & pine nuts, in a large bowl. Add pumpkin & toss to coat well. 
  • Spread on a large baking tray, season with salt & pepper and roast for 50 - 60 minutes. 
  • Remove from oven, cover with foil and rest 20 minutes, then toss with pine nuts.

Monday 20 June 2011

Meatloaf with Red Quinoa & Mushroom Sauce

It is a bit late to be starting a new blog post now but my bedroom is freezing cold and I need to let the heater in there do its job for a little while before going to bed. It is probably not as cold as it could be tonight but still cold enough that I don't want to be trying to sleep in a cold room. I did finally succumb last night and pulled out my heavy wool doona for the first time this winter. I was definitely warmer last night than I had been the night before and it was definitely colder last night. 

This is a recipe that I have been meaning to post for over a month now. It was the first thing that I made with my purchase of red quinoa. When I first purchased it I did a google search to see what I could come up with to make with it and I came across this meatloaf recipe over at Simple Recipes. It definitely sounded like a good way to start testing the red quinoa out. I do love meat loaf especially that you end up with a bunch of left overs that can be used to make meatloaf sandwiches for lunch during the coming week. I decided to make a few changes to the recipe. My mum almost always did a mushroom sauce with meatloaf. Hers usually involved a tin of cream of mushroom soup which is fine for family size but too much for a smaller one. I have done it with a sachet of mushroom cup-a-soup. However for this one I just sautéed a handful of mushrooms in some garlic olive oil and added some cream, a little bit of dijon mustard and some salt and pepper. It was just perfect with the meatloaf. I served this with harvard beets & carrots, peas and mash. It was a wonderful meal. I think next time I will do it in my mini loaf pans. I had intended on adding in the tomatoes, I forgot but next time would add them for a bit of extra moisture.

Meatloaf with Read Quinoa

  • 450 g lean beef mince
  • 450 g lean pork mince
  • 1 cup red quinoa, rinsed and pre-soaked in water for about 30 minutes
  • 1 small onion finely chopped and sautéed in some oil until soft
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp chilli paste, or to taste
  • 2 tsp mixed herbs
  • Dash worcestershire sauce
  • ½ bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Mix all the ingredients together. 
  • Place in a oven safe dish and bake for 40 minutes at 175 C.

Saturday 18 June 2011

Spiced Orange Pork Chops

What is your favourite recipe that your mum made or you when you were a child? Do you know how to make it? Do you have the recipe memorised or written down somewhere? Perhaps this weekend is a good time to ask your mum to show you how to make it. My family owned a piggery when I was younger so our diet always involved a lot of pork. I have a number of recipes that I made up when I was younger using the large amounts of pork that was always in our freezer. 

This recipe is one of my mum's. No, actually, that is not quite right. This is a version of my mother's recipe that I came up with after she had passed away. As far as I know she had made the recipe up as I couldn't find anything similar in any of her cookbooks or her many recipes cut out of magazines. I was also unable to find it amongst her hand written recipes. It took a bit of trial and error to get this right. I am not sure that it is 100% correct but I have been making it this way for about 8 years now so it is difficult remember it any other way now. I would normally use smaller pork chops than the one I used on the night I made this but some times you just have to use what you can get at the time. I don't eat near as much pork now since the piggery is long since sold. It has turned into a rather expensive meat. Although maybe it always has been and I just never realised it before. What I do know, is if I want some comfort food there is nothing that is a bigger comfort to me than this recipe. 

Spiced Orange Pork Chops

  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder 
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder 
  • 1/2 tsp chinese five spice 
  • 2 tsp brown sugar 
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • 2 or 3 dashes of worchestershire sauce 
  • 4 small pork chops 
  • 1 red (or brown) onion sliced
  • Mix first 7 ingredients together and pour over pork chops and onions. Marinade for at least 30 minutes.
  • Drain chops, reserving marinade.
  • Fry the chops until lightly browned on both sides.
  • Pour the reserved marinade over chops including onion slices.
  • Simmer until the sauces is reduced and slightly thickened and onions are soft. 
  • Serve with steamed vegetables and rice or mashed potatoes. 

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Potato & Feta Pancakes

I love long weekends. That one extra day off gives me the opportunity to unwind just that little bit more. The unfortunate part is that you have to head back to work. It is unfortunate that work has to be part of life. Although I do think that I would go stir crazy if I didn't work but there are still times when I think how nice it would be if I didn't have to. I dutifully buy my lottery ticket each week. Although the chances of actually winning it are minuscule and winning a substantial amount of money is even less likely, still people do win and $2.15 a week is not going to break the bank. 

Another reason to love long weekends, well any weekend actually is that it gives me a chance to cook another of Bill's gorgeous breakfast recipes. This, however, ended up being lunch by the time I had decided what to make and actually got it made. I really enjoyed it though. I didn't have quite enough potatoes, not sure how I managed that, so I used some sweet potato as well. I had some dill in the fridge to use and I really like dill with potato so used that in place of the mint in the original recipe. I think next time I would add some grated parmesan to them. Since it was lunch time I served these with a salad of rocket, tomato & avocado. It was so good and I will definitely make these again. If for breakfast I would probably add a side of grilled or roasted tomato and sautéed mushrooms or some bacon. 
Potato & Feta Pancakes

  • 1/2 kg potatoes, peeled and grated
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp chopped dill
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • salt and pepper
  • vegetable oil to fry
  • Combine grated potato & onion with a little bit of salt and drain in a colander for 20 minutes. 
  • Squeeze out excess moisture. 
  • Add remaining ingredients and mix to combine, your hands are best for this.
  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add tablespoons of mixture (depending on the size you like).  
  • Squash a little to make flat pancakes.  Cook on both sides until golden brown.

Monday 13 June 2011

Skewered Chicken with Crispy Coleslaw

So onto the second of the meals that I made while I was away last month. The title of this one is supposed to read Skewered Swordfish with Crispy Coleslaw. I couldn't get swordfish but to be completely honest I was fine with that. I suppose I could have used some other fish but was not sure what else I could use and I didn't really want another seafood meal. So I decided to replace the swordfish with some diced chicken breast. Also, I didn't really want to buy all the individual ingredients for the coleslaw so I grabbed a bag of pre-packaged coleslaw ingredients instead. I did however have everything for the marinade and the dressing. 

Now, with all my changes I wasn't sure whether to actually post this as a separate recipe or if I should wait and actually make it as written. I decided though that, while I really enjoyed it, I wasn't going to do it again with fish. I might do it again with the chicken and make up the coleslaw as per the recipe as it was all very nice however I decided that I would post what I made while I was away. 

Skewered Chicken with Crispy Coleslaw

  • 2 tbsp lime juice 
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt 
  • freshly ground black pepper 
  • 2 small chicken breasts diced (thigh would also work) 
  • 1 bag coleslaw mix (I cannot remember which one I got now) 
  • Soy dressing (see recipe below) 
  • Combine lime juice, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add chicken cubes and marinate of at least an hour. 
  • Thread chicken onto skewers (I used metal ones so I didn't have to soak them). 
  • Heat frying pan over high heat and cook the skewers for a couple of minutes each side, or until cooked through. 
  • Serve with coleslaw and soy dressing.
Soy Dressing 
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil 
  • 1/2 c soy sauce 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 
  • 2 tbsp sugar 
  • 3 tbsp lime juice 
  • 2 chillies, finely chopped
  • Combine all ingredients and let sit to combine.

Sunday 12 June 2011

Grilled Scallops with Curried Noodles

When I decided to have a holiday last at the beginning of last month I really wanted to stay somewhere that was self-contained so that I could cook at least some of my own meals. It just makes things so much cheaper to go away if you don't go out for every meal. So, I sat down with Bills Sydney Food and picked out the recipes that I would make while away and packed a basket with ingredients, my knives and various other bits and pieces. In hindsight I wish I had also taken a fry pan and saucepan with me as the ones where I stayed were pretty awful. 

I will admit that this is one of the few recipes in the book that concerned me. However, I was going to the coast, where seafood is more readily available so thought that I had better try out at least a couple of the seafood dishes. I am going to be blunt, this dish was weird and I didn't like it. Perhaps if it was a hokkinen noodle instead of pasta however, I still don't think I would have enjoyed it. It is not one that I will be repeating. 

Grilled Scallops with Curried Noodles 

  • 1 tbsp oil 
  • 2 tbsp garlic, finely chopped 
  • 2 tbsp Indian Madras curry paste (I used Pataks madras paste) 
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1 tsp sugar 
  • 1 c coconut milk 
  • 3 tsp lime juice 
  • 2 tsp soy sauce 
  • 250 g angel hair pasta (I took spaghetti with me)
  • 12 scallops 
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • Parsley 
  • Heat oil over a medium heat. 
  • Cook garlic for 30 seconds then add curry paste, turmeric, salt, sugar, coconut, lime juice and soy sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. 
  • Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente then drain and mix in 2/3 curry sauce. 
  • Heat some oil in a pan over high heat and cook scallops. 
  • Server with noodles topping each scallop with a little curry sauce and then sprinkle with parsley.