Wednesday 30 May 2012

Delicious May 2012 - Tuscan Bean Soup

Okay, so I know I had a little rant about this issue of delicious magazine a couple of posts ago. Seems a bit hypocritical to be posting another recipe out of it. However my views still stand on what I said. I actually made this the day after I made the gnocchi recipe. I was looking for something to make to have for lunches and this seemed like it would be very easy and with the addition of the beans nicely filling without been overly rich. 

While I was making it I found that it was a little bit bland. However I resisted the urge to spice it up a bit knowing that there was a spoon of pesto to be put in when serving. I used some of the leftover cashew & lemon pesto that I made for the gnocchi recipe. Although I did end up putting a bit too much in. It was fine though. 

This recipe is kind of dependant on sizes of your vegetables too. I had some rather large sticks of celery so I think I could have easily used just one as two was a bit much. I also thought that 1/4 of a cabbage was too much and my cabbage wasn't all that big. I ended up having to add two - three cups of extra stock. It is not a soup that can be left a with a little be less liquid and made a bit stew like as you can do with some meat soups. Probably some of the loss of flavour happened when I added the extra stock. Perhaps it would have been better if I added some extra tomatoes and some stock. Would stick to my instincts next time and add less veg if I think it is too much. 

The recipe is here on the UK Delicious magazine website. I will mention a few things. That recipe is double what wast in the Australian Delicious magazine. It also has smoked paprika, which would have been a really nice addition. All ingredients have been doubled with the exception of the cabbage which has been quadrupled. I have no idea why. I found 1/4 was too much. Unless they are talking about those little mini cabbages that you can get now. It doesn't say that though. Oh well, it was good none the less. 

Monday 28 May 2012

Satay Lamb with Carrot Pilaf

Quite a while ago now I bought a whole lamb all cut up and put it all in the freezer. I have been slowly using it, although not really quickly enough. I made this satay lamb quite some time ago and I think that it is almost time to make it again. 

It really was very easy to make. I found a recipe for satay sauce on but it wasn't exactly what I wanted so I experimented a bit with it and it turned out really well. The carrot pilaf is a recipe from Taste. I really enjoyed it, I think that it could be served with a lot of meals. If you are not serving the satay with the carrot pilaf I would add carrots to the with the capsicum and beans. You could use whatever vegetables you liked.

Satay Lamb

6 lamb forequarter chops
1 tbps grapeseed oil)
Satay sauce (recipe below)
1 red capsicum, seeded & sliced
200 g green beans, halved (I don't know if this is the right amount, I just used what I had in the fridge)
Cut the meat off  lamb chops and dice. 
Heat heavy based pan over a medium-high heat. Add oil and lamb and brown. 
Poured the satay sauce stir to combine. 
Add capsicum and beans. Placed the lid on the pan for about 10 minutes then removed the lid and cooked until the sauce reduced down.
Serve with carrot pilaf. 

Satay sauce

1 tsp grapeseed oil
1/2 small brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tsp sambal olek (or to taste)
3 tsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 cup natural crunchy peanut butter (I ground my own peanuts probably about 1/2 c)
125ml water
1 tbs lime juice
2 tsp kecap manis
1/2 tsp brown sugar 
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft and golden. Add garlic and sambal olek and cook for 1 minute or until aromatic. Add curry powder and turmeric and cook for a further minute. 
Add peanut butter and stir  then add water, lime juice, kecap manis and sugar. 
Cook, stirring, for 3 - 5 minutes or until sauce thickens.

Sunday 27 May 2012

Delicious May 2012 - Gnocchi with Cashew & Lemon Pesto

So here is the delicious magazine annual Italian issue. Hmm, to be honest I have to admit that having an annual Italian issue is beginning to annoy me. I am not saying that I don't love Italian food/recipes. It is just that delicious never seems to focus on any other cuisines. Surely they could change it up a bit. How about a Greek issue? Or a Moroccan/Middle Eastern issue? French, Mexican, Chinese, Spanish, Thai or perhaps a mix of Asian cuisines, Indian. There are so many cuisines that could be the focus of a whole issue rather than the same one every year. If you are going to produce and issue each year that focuses on one cuisine a bit of variety would be nice. 

Okay, so now that I have had a bit of a rant. There actually was quite a few recipes in here that I was interested in making. From first read I was going to make Debbie Major's Roast chicken breasts stuffed with mushroom & herb butter. It just sounded so incredible. It sounds like a really fancy recipe and the picture looks like it would take you a while to do but actually reading the recipe it is not that hard. For some reason though, I just never got around to making it. Also part of Debbie's section was Sausage, fennel seed & mushroom ragu with parmesan polenta. It also sounds and looks really good. I think it will get a run one day. Although I don't have pork sausages. I know that I could buy them, but I have a bunch of beef sausages in the freezer so I think I would use them. 

There was a Rick Stein feature in this issue as well. He had a recipe for Bagna Cauda which really interested me only because it featured in one of my favourite tv shows, Babylon 5 though, LOL. It was just in one episode where one of the characters is trying to get the ingredients for it except he is supposed to be on a diet. The Rick Stein recipe show exactly why it is not diet friendly, full of butter, olive oil, garlic, anchovies and cream. It sounds wonderful actually but is really not a recipe for one. Perhaps I will get a chance to make it one day. Another Rick Stein recipe that I was interested in was Slow-braised beef cheeks with parmesan polenta (hmm, lots of polenta in this issue). The recipe said that it served 8, for me it would probably be more like 10 or 12. Even halving the recipe would make too much for me. Plus I already have a freezer full of meals so will keep the recipe in mind. 

I ended up making Gnocchi with cashew & lemon pesto. Actually it was supposed to be almond & lemon pesto but I had cashews in the cupboard but no almonds so I decided that the would work just as well. I also added some parmesan to the pesto. I really enjoyed this. Next time I would probably leave out the prosciutto and  add some extra veg, like marinated eggplant, roasted capsicum and marinated artichoke hearts and perhaps some spinach at the end. The pesto was very good, although was a little bit oily for me so I would probably reduce the amount of olive oil in it a bit, maybe 75 - 100 mls. I almost didn't put it all in, I should have followed my instincts. I was lazy and didn't make my own gnocchi, just bought some from the supermarket, it was surprisingly good. I have gnocchi leftover in the fridge and a heap of pesto left over so I will make it again during the week with the changes I have suggested.

Gnocchi with cashew & lemon pesto

400g potato gnocchi
50g creme fraiche or sour cream
4 slices prosciutto, torn
semi-dried tomatoes, quartered
shaved parmesan, to serve

Cashew & Lemon pesto
1/2 cup cashews
2 garlic cloves
2 firmly packed cups basil leaves
grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup (125ml) extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 120 C. Place cashews on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 5 - 10  minutes or until just starting to colour. Make sure to watch them closely. Cool. 
Using a food processor blitz the cashews and garlic together, add basil, lemon zest & juice and parmesan and process until basil is chopped. Drizzle in the oil with the motor running watch it closely and only use as much as you feel is necessary. Combine pesto with sour cream (I didn't combine it all, I just mixed up as much as I wanted to use). 
Place the gnocchi in a large saucepan of boiling salted water, removing and draining as they come to the surface. 
Combine hot gnocchi with prosciutto, semi-dried tomatoes and pesto. 
Serve with shaved parmesan. 

Saturday 26 May 2012

Vanilla Cupcakes

My grandmother is a member of the local Country Women's Association (CWA) and they had a cake stall this week. She has previously asked me to do some baking for her for cake stalls. I am more than happy to do it as it gives me a chance to do some baking and not have to eat it all myself. I love making cupcakes. The first time I cooked for a stall I made these vanilla cupcakes using the Magnolia recipe and decorated them up. I was told that they were very popular. 

This time my grandmother said that I should make them smaller. I am not sure what she expected though as they were made in my regular cupcake pans. I think they looked bigger because of the icing. 

Anyway, I found some slightly smaller cases and didn't fill them as much. So then ended up smaller than the previous once. She also didn't want them as fancy. I have no idea why. When everyone loved them so much and I enjoyed doing it, but whatever, that is what she wanted. In the end I decided not to make the Magnolia recipe again and found one on Exclusively Food. It didn't make too many and had a really nice glaze recipe with it. I had some left over flowers from something else so popped them on top. I was happy with them. I haven't seen my grandmother since the stall so I am not sure how well things sold. I hope that they went quickly again.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Sweet potato, chorizo & leek penne

Sorry I haven't been around much lately. Things have been a bit crazy this month. Actually things have been a bit crazy for most of the year. I hope that everything settles soon. Although still lots of work in front of me. 

I was wondering what to make for dinner tonight this afternoon. After quite a while without I really wanted to have some pasta. I knew that I had quite a few sweet potatoes at home that I really needed to start using up. I bought them a week ago as they were on special and hadn't gotten around to using any of them yet. I also had some chorizo in the fridge that needed to be used up as well. Oh and one very sick looking leek. So I combined them all together to make a delicious pasta sauce. 

Sweet potato, chorizo & leek penne

3 small sweet potato, halved 
1 head garlic, halved horizontally
1 leek, finely sliced
1 chorizo, diced 
dash chilli flakes, to taste
1/4 - 1/2 c milk
handful parmesan
2 tbsp sour cream 
Penne, I cooked about 1/2 box of Barilla penne

Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
Place sweet potato and garlic on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt & pepper and roast for 40 minutes or until sweet potato is very soft. 
Meanwhile, in a saucepan over a low heat add a drizzle of olive oil and add leek. Sauté until soft.  Add chorizo cook for 5 - 10 minutes. 
Cook penne in lots of boiling salted water. 
Add scrape sweet potato from skins, this will be easy when cooked, and add to chorizo & leeks. Squeeze garlic out the roasted garlic and add with the sweet potato. Mix well. Add enough milk to make it a sauce consistency. Taste and season to taste. 
Add parmesan, reserving a small amount for sprinkling. 
Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and then add to pasta and mix well. 
Serve and sprinkle with reserved parmesan. 

Sunday 13 May 2012

Cricket Cake

My latest cake decorating job was for a 40th birthday. Only request was that it have something to do with cricket. After discussing with some other friends about what I should do and joking that I should do a cake in the shape of an insect cricket, I got down to the serious job of working out what I would do. Okay so the insect would have been funny and I am sure the birthday boy would thought it was hilarious, his wife probably would have ripped my head off. LOL

I considered doing a large cricket bat but he is more of a bowler. So I thought that I could do a cricket ball but I don't have the sphere pans and I really didn't want to buy them. So instead I decided to make a cricket field. It turned out really well. I had wanted to set it up as a proper cricket field with players. However I couldn't get any little plastic cricket players. So instead I wrote "Stumps" on the scoreboard to explain while there were no players. LOL. I was really happy with how the cake turned out and it was a big it with everyone at the party. 

I have blanked out the name of the person as their surname was on the scoreboard.