Saturday 27 August 2011

Oxtail & Beetroot Pie

The past week has been awful. It is so incredibly hard to be half a world away when  you lose a family member. I wish that I could be there right now with the rest of my family. Alas, I cannot. 

I made this two weekends ago. It was a lot of work but I do think it was worth it. However, it could easily be made a lot simpler with the use of chuck steak or gravy beef in place of the oxtail. This would eliminate the need for the soaking and the blanching. I will admit that I didn't make the pastry. I placed the filling in a dish and topped with puff pastry. I served it with a sweet potato & swede mash and steamed green beans

Sunday 21 August 2011

Black Bean & Vegie Nachos

I can't sleep tonight. I am tired and feeling rather blah but I just cannot seem to get so sleep. I was going to start a recipe for tomorrow night but on reading over it again it had to simmer for 3 hours. While I am having trouble getting to sleep at 11 pm I don't really want to have to stay up until 2 am waiting for something to finish cooking. So it will just have to wait until tomorrow. At least not sleeping gives me a chance to get caught up on some things that have been languishing around for a while and also schedule some posts for the next few days.

I bought some dried black beans ages ago and I haven't used them very much. There are a lot of different recipes that I have come across that use them but I just haven't gotten around to making any of them. The beans work very well in a taco/nacho filling though. I have made two different ones now. I really like vegetarian mixes for nachos and tacos. I also make my own seasoning mix. So much better for you than the ones you buy in the supermarket. I made a few extra tweaks to my seasoning mix this time and was very pleased with the results. I am glad that I wrote this recipe out while making so that I could replicate it as it was very good. 

Black Bean & Vegie Tacos

  • 1/2 c black beans, soaked overnight & boiled until cooked.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 red capsicum, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 250 g mushrooms, finely diced
  • 4 tsp homemade taco seasoning (or to taste)
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • 300g can corn (undrained)
  • 2 – 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • Heat oil in fry pan over medium heat add onion and cook 4 -5 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and cook a further minute.
  • Add capsicum, carrot & zucchini and cook stirring for a few minutes. Add mushrooms and stir in. Sprinkle over taco seasoning and stir for a few minutes or until fragrant.
  • Add beans, tomatoes, corn and tomato paste. Let simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • Serve with tortillas or over corn chips with grated cheese, salsa, guacamole and sour cream or yoghurt.
Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix
  • 6 tsp Chilli Powder
  • 5 tsp Paprika (3 tsp sweet, 2 tsp hot smoked)
  • 4 ½ tsp Cumin
  • 3 tsp Coriander
  • 3 tsp Onion Powder
  • 2 ½ tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • In storage container with tight-fitting lid, combine all ingredients and mix well.   
  • Seal tightly. Store in cool, dry place for up to 6 months. 

Saturday 20 August 2011

Honey & Mustard Roasted Potatoes and Pumpkin

I have talked before about how I believe it is just as important to spend time on making good side dishes as it is to make good main meals. This potato and pumpkin dish was so easy but so very tasty. I adapted this recipe over at Allrecipes to make this. I really enjoyed it and would definitely make it again. I served this with pickled pork with mustard sauce, braised turnips and steamed broccoli. The sweetness of the honey really added something to the meal. I would highly recommend the whole combination.

Honey & Mustard Roasted Potatoes and Pumpkin

  • 4 small potatoes, quartered
  • Wedge pumpkin, cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • salt & pepper
  • Pre-heat oven to 190 C. 
  • Line baking tray with foil (this makes clean up easier). 
  • Combine butter, honey, mustard and a pinch of salt & pepper. 
  • Add potatoes and pumpkin and toss to combine. 
  • Spread onto tray and bake for 30 - 35 minutes stirring a couple of times.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

August 2011 - Fish burgers with lentil dip & cucumber yoghurt dressing

I have mentioned before, probably ad nauseam, that I am not overly keen on seafood. I do, however, know that it is good for me. I have also read recently that omega 3 is supposed to be very good for people with bipolar. So I have decided that I really do need to make an effort to get more fish in my diet. So have been starting slowly and incorporating it into my diet more. I hadn't exactly been going for gourmet fare with take away fish and chips and some of those crumbed frozen fish fillet things from the supermarket with vegetables. However it was fish and tasted fine to me.

Then the August issue of Delicious magazine came out with Michael Moore's Fish Burgers with Lentil Dip and Cucumber Yoghurt. The burgers looked so good. It was such a different combination of flavours that I really wanted to try it out. It was also a really big coincidence as I had just purchased his cook book Moore to Food. I had never heard of him before but that book is just incredible. So many amazing dishes in it. Very much a food for entertaining book and I can't wait to do some dishes out of it for my friends. In this issue of Delicious he talks of the new book just out called Blood Sugar full of recipes that he has come up with since being diagnosed with diabetes. I really enjoyed this. I think I will make these burgers regularly. I probably wouldn't bother to do the lentil dip all the time, although it was very good. I really loved the cucumber yoghurt, which I also used as a dressing for the tomato and avocado salad that I served with the burgers. I think I will do it as a dressing more often when the weather warms. Oh, and I found the perfect plate to serve this wonderful meal on at my wonderful local homewares store.

Fish burgers with lentil dip & cucumber yoghurt dressing

  • 470 g skinless, boneless firm white fish fillets, roughly chopped, (chilled in freezer for 15 minutes)
  • 2 egg whites 
  • 2 tsp harissa paste (or to taste)
  • 1/2 bunch coriander, stalks and leaves chopped (I used parsley) 
  • Rolls and mixed leaves to serve
  • Place fish and harissa in a food processor and process. 
  • Add egg whites, parsley and salt & pepper and then pulse to combine. 
  • Form into 4 patties and chill in the fridge for 15 - 20 minutes. 
  • Heat a fry-pan (non-stick) over a medium-high heat and cook patties for a few minutes each side or until browned and cooked through, be careful as it will not take long to cook. 
  • Split rolls, spread with lentil dip, top with leaves, patty and top with cucumber yoghurt and serve with extra salad. 
Lentil Dip  

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 tsp ground cumin 
  • 1 tsp ground coriander 
  • pinch ground fennel seeds 
  • 400 g can brown lentils 
  • 1 tsp brown sugar 
  • 1/4 c water
  • Heat oil in pan over a low heat. 
  • Add garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. 
  • Add spices and cook until fragrant. 
  • Add lentils, sugar and water and cook until thickened. 
  • Place in processor and process until smooth. 
Cucumber Yoghurt 

  • 1 small cucumber, coarsely grated and moisture squeezed out
  • 1 c non-fat natural yoghurt, (a thick one)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 bunch mint (I added some parsley too) 
  • Combine all ingredients and set aside for at least 20 - 30 minutes for flavours to combine. 

Friday 12 August 2011

Blueberry Pie

I just love pie, both sweet and savoury, but sweet most of all. Pie always reminds me of my Gramma. In summer there was all kinds of fruit from their orchard and berries from their vines. My two favourite fruit pies would have to be Gramma's fresh raspberry pie and the other saskatoon pie. Saskatoons are a lovely wild berry that looks similar to a blueberry. I guess they have a similar taste but there is a definite difference. I find them to be sweeter and definitely tastier. I remember going saskatoon picking with my Gramma when on holidays. It wasn't easy work although a lot easier than picking raspberries or blackberries. Plus the bonus is that you are in Canada and don't have to worry about poisonous Aussie spiders hiding in amongst the trees/berries, which I have had occur when picking blackberries. 

Another pie that my Gramma used to make was a Sour Cream Raisin pie and it is just to die for. There is one huge but when it comes to this pie. I have tried to make it myself and I discovered what the but is. It just doesn't taste the same without proper sour cream. By that I mean that my grandparents (and uncles) milked their own cows and separated their own milk producing wonderful natural untouched cream. I have to admit that there is nothing better than fresh milk and fresh cream. Gramma would allow the cream to sour naturally. Not so much that it was bad of course but just enough that you didn't want to dollop it on top of a bowl of berries. That is when you make the sour cream raisin pie. It is just not the same using the homogenised, pasteurised and cultured sour cream that you buy in stores. I would love to be able to buy real milk and cream. Alas I do not know anyone who milks their own cows (with the exception of my uncles, but they are in Canada not Australia), not that I really blame them, owning milk cows is hard work. Another problem is that it is illegal to sell so called "raw" milk for consumption. Ah, I guess that I will just have to make another trip to Canada so that I can make a sour cream raisin pie. 

Now that I have waxed lyrical about my favourite pies I am going to tell you that I made something completely different. Blueberries are as close as it gets to saskatoons here and since I had a yen for pie I decided that it would be a good idea to try making one. After a quick google search I came up with this delectable looking Blueberry pie recipe over on Simply Recipes. I couldn't wait for it to cool down so the filling did run a bit when I cut into it but it was worth it to eat this wonderful pie. I didn't make the pastry recipe linked to in that recipe. I instead made my Gramma's recipe like I do for almost all pastry items that I make. It is a wonderful recipe. My Gramma made it with lard. I make it either with shortening (if I have it) but more often that not just with butter. It is best made with lard though. 

Shortcrust Pastry


2 c (220 g) flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp caster sugar (for sweet pies only, which is my addition)
2/3 c (150 g) lard, shortening or butter
1 tbsp vinegar
1 small egg

Combine flour, salt and caster sugar. Cut in lard using a pastry cutter, or use a food processor. 
Place egg in a 1 cup measure and lightly beat, add vinegar and top up with water to 3/4 cup. Add to flour mixture and little at a time until you have a soft pastry (you probably won't need all the liquid). 

Thursday 11 August 2011

Chorizo, haloumi & roasted vegetables with pearl couscous

One Friday night I just wanted something easy, quick and tasty. I also didn't want to have to go to the supermarket and buying more food when I knew that there was already a bunch of stuff in my house that I could use to make something good for dinner. 

I looked through the fridge and cupboards and decided to make a warm salad with pearl couscous. I do really like pearl couscous but don't use it all that often. It is very good for salads though. I also had some haloumi and chorizo in the fridge so decided to use them along with some roasted vegetables. It was so easy to just throw everything in the oven, boil the couscous and mix it altogether. It also gave me a chance to finally show off the wonderful serving plate that I bought from a lovely little kitchen store while on holidays in May. 

Chorizo, Haloumi & Roasted Vegetables with Pearl Couscous

  • 1 chorizo, chopped 
  • 1/2 red capsicum, roughly chopped 
  • small red onion, cut into wedges
  • 1/4 eggplant, roughly chopped
  • 1 small sweet potato, roughly chopped
  • half a punnet of cherry tomatoes
  • 150 g haloumi, diced
  • handful of olives, 
  • 1/2 c pearl couscous 
  • 1 c chicken stock (3/4 c might have been better)
  • handful of torn baby spinach leaves 
  • handful of basil leaves, shredded
  • Pre-heat oven to 180 C
  • Place chorizo, capsicum, onion, eggplant, sweet potato and cherry tomatoes on a tray. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Add olives and haloumi and roast for a further 5 - 10 minutes or until everything is cooked. 
  • Meanwhile cook pearl couscous in the stock until it has been absorbed. Drain if necessary. 
  • Combine couscous, roasted veg, chorizo and haloumi with spinach and basil leaves. Serve immediately. 

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Poached Eggs with Wilted Baby Spinach

A slow start to this month again. I was sick for a few days and have had a bit of writers block but for the most part I have just been a bit lazy....oops. 

I love all the different breakfast recipes that are in Bills Sydney Food and I really cannot wait to make those that I haven't already done. There are only two recipes in the breakfast section that I worry about making. The first is the Jam Doughnuts. I am not particularly worried about the yeasted dough more the deep frying part of it. I don't have a deep fryer and I don't really deep fry anything. The second recipe that I have been worried about is this one. 

I think that I have expressed my concern about making poached eggs having never been successful at it before. I am not sure if it was just a fluke or just that Bill's instructions really resonated or that the eggs were fresher than ones I had used before but this time it just worked perfectly. I was so pleased with the results, although I haven't tried them again yet so I am not sure if it was just a fluke. I will definitely try though. I really enjoyed the combination with the spinach as well too. This was definitely my idea of a perfect breakfast. 

Poached Eggs with Wilted Baby Spinach

  • 2 eggs
  • 10 g butter 
  • 200 g baby spinach 
  • 1 tsp lemon juice 
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed 
  • salt & pepper 
  • 2 thick slices of toast, to serve 
  • Fill a pan, I used my saute pan, with 5 cm of water and bring to the boil. 
  • Immediately remove from the heat and add the eggs, cracking just above the surface of the water and letting the egg slide into the water. 
  • Cover with a lid and leave for 3 - 5 minutes, depending on how you like your eggs. 
  • Meanwhile, melt butter in a pan and saute spinach. Add lemon juice, garlic and season with salt & pepper to taste. 
  • Place spinach on toast and remove eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and place on top of spinach. 
  • Top with a grind of black pepper just before serving.