Saturday, May 26, 2012

This week in the kitchen and in life

This week the big news in our kitchen is that we bought a new oven and it will be arriving tomorrow.

It's really just the modern version of our old oven a 90cm Blanco. This one has an electric oven while the old one has gas. Sadly we couldn't afford a split system when we built the house and installed the original.

Our oven hinges were dying (no one wants a hot oven door to fall on their feet) and the seals as well. It was time.

As I type my daughter is making weetbix slice in the old oven. That along with a turkey hindquarter I will roast for dinner (and sandwich meat for the week) will be the oven's last service.

It has served us well. We've hosted countless birthdays, Christmas, Yulefest, bridal showers, baby showers, bucks and hen's and even one perfect Christening with that oven (Someone tell me why I thought catering for 70 including making 7 pies with an eight week old baby was a good idea?!)

When we built the house I insisted we get a a big oven, that and a corner spa bath were my only real requests and I don't regret either. (In fact I advise people get a big oven and get a spa bath when building or renovating but!)

This week we ended up eating crockpot beef casserole, chicken and mushroom casserole, some killer nachos and homemade pizzas on Friday.

I will include a photo of the new oven for those who may be interested.

On an un-foodie note I have written a book that will be available on Amazon as a e-book this week. I will post details here. There is a little cooking in the book but mainly they just cook up some romance. In will provide the link when it is live. Anyway if my food-related posts are scant this week it may be oven related but more likely it will be book related.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Chicken pies

A couple of weeks ago I did a big freezer cook-up. Sadly we've eaten most of the contents now and I need to start fresh.

Anyway one of the things I made was chicken pies. I made a chicken and mushroom and a chicken and asparagus. These were very cheaty pies because I bought frozen pie shells and used pre-made puff pastry.

I cooked the basic mix - chicken, onion, herbs and separated it adding mushrooms to half and asparagus to the other. Then I sprinkled in flour, a dash of wine and cream.

The filling for two pies took about 20 minutes. I filled the pre-made pastry cases. topped with pastry, brushed with egg and sprinkled with poppy seeds. Each pie cost about $3-4. The local chicken shop sells the same size chicken pies at $12 each.

Chicken and asparagus pie
Chicken and mushroom pie

It's a simple method rather than a recipe that anyone can follow.

And when dinner time rolls around a couple of weeks later it's a very quick and easy job to throw the pie in the oven and add some sides.

Monday, May 21, 2012


The last week was totally nust at my place.
There was just too much going on and when I did make a lovely meal I kept forgetting to take photos.
For example on Saturday night I made tea poached pears and homemade vanilla bean ice-cream but we had visitors and I was busy chatting and didn't get a picture of either the pears or the ice-cream.
I did make mixed berry muffins last week using the Universal Muffin Recipe.
The Universal Muffin recipe is from the Tightwad Gazette put out by Amy Dacyczyn that allows you to alter ingredients of muffins to suit your ingredients. This blogger explains it well.
Here are some I made last week using oatsa and frozen berries.
Oatmeal and berry muffins.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

This is a busy week for me. I run a small business and we are on deadline. Later in the week is the Sydney Writers' Festival and I will be there all day Thursday and Friday so I need to be organised.

These are the weeks I find a menu plan really serves me well.

Monday - My husband is fishing today. If he catches anything then fish if not (and it's cold and windy so that seems likely) honey mustard chicken legs, potato bake and creamed spinach
Tuesday - Stuffed calamari (a new recipe)
Wednesday - homemade sausage rolls and veggies
Thursday - Spinach stuffed shells and salad
Friday - homemade pizza or chicken pie from the freezer

Hopefully that gets us through. I really need to bake some treats for the lunchboxes so that might be a good project for this afternoon.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cake batter donuts - a pinterest recipe

I used to have a pretty lethal donut addiction. When I turned 21 I was given no less than four dozen donuts from Annie's in Bathurst (where I went to Uni) for my birthday. Clearly my friends knew me well and I did share don't worry.

I was an RA at college and my apartment on campus had the coffee flowing and the donuts on tap. They were my naughty addiction. Everytime I walked down the hill into town I came back with donuts. Those were the days when I could eat anything and it had no impact on my body or my health.

These days I don't actually eat desserts or cakes or for the most part sugar -so they are a rare treat.

On Pinterest I have noticed several recipes for cake batter donuts and then I noticed in the Mother's Day Avon catalogue (which I get from a friend each month) there was a mini donut tin. It felt like the universe was speaking to me.

I got my donut pan yesterday and made these donuts yesterday:

When they were done we tossed the first ones in cinnamon and sugar like the local donut shops.

The final batch I added rainbow chocolate sprinkles so they were a tad chocolatey.

My daughter took the remains in her lunchbox today and declared them a hit!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Chinese style Pork ribs

A funny thing has happened in the last few years. Some of the cheaper cuts of meat have become the expensive cuts. Hello lamb-shanks, hello pork spare ribs, I am talking to you.

About five years ago pork spare ribs were $7kg and now they are double that. We love American style spare ribs but we tend to eat them less than we used to. A great alternative is slow cooked pulled pork roast. You get the flavour of ribs but no bones.

Pork rashers are another cut that fall into this same category. They are like a boneless rib. You could easily use spare ribs or even beef ribs. When I think about it pork rashers are just pork belly roast cut into strips so I suppose one could make them that way. I didn't.

We like them baked with a hoisin based sauce. They would be great on the table as part of a Chinese feast but we just had them for a standard Tuesday night dinner with rice, carrots and asparagus. I actually tossed the carrots in with the pork for the last ten minutes or so. They got the yummy sauce on them but were still firm.

Chinese style pork ribs/rashers
1.2kg pork ribs
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup ketchup manis
ground black pepper
a dash of olive oil.

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl to marinade as long as possible - you can do this the night before if you like.

2. arrange in a single layer in a well greased baking dish.
3. Bake about an hour or until golden and a bit crispy.
4. Serve with rice.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Blender Bernaise

This week at the supermarket I bought a peppered beef roast on sale. It is the perfect size for our little family.

I don't like food too spicy and neither does the 11 year old so I was wondering what I could serve with the beef to take the edge of the pepper. Then it hit favourite of all sauces - Bernaise.

I love Bernaise sauce. I love the texture and  the slight acidity. I love that I associate it with fine dining at 5 star hotels with my parents in the 1980's. Really I love everything about it.

So I sought out a recipe for Blender Bernaise and decided upon one by American chef/cook Ina Garten. All my American friends swear by her recipes so who am I to question their wisdom?

Here is a link to her recipe. The only thing I altered was that I halved it because we were low on butter and really we have tons for 3 people with 1/2 the recipe.

Ina Garten Blender Bernaise

It doesn't photograph that well but it tastes divine and was super easy. I've put off making my own mayonnaise - my favourite condiment - forever but this experience has made me think I will do it this week.

Make some Bernaise and enjoy.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Cheeseburger and fries casserole

This is a classic twist on the has-brown casserole. We are really not huge casserole eaters but they freeze well and sometimes they are just plain handy to have ready to toss in the oven.

I had some leftover hash browns and so on my freezer cooking day I made this. It is quick, simple and easy.

8 hash browns
500g beef mince
1 onion
1 tin tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato sauce/ketchup
1/2 cup mustard sauce or American mustard
1 cup grated tasty cheese

1. Soften onion in olive oil in fry pan. Add ground beef and brown.
2. Add tinned tomato, tomato sauce and mustard and allow to simmer 5-10 minutes until cooked through.
3. Line base of baking dish with hash browns (mine took 6). Cover with sauce.
4. Slice remaining hash browns into french fry shapes/sticks. Place on top of meat mix. Cover with cheese.

5. Freeze or bake 30-40 minutes. (As you can see mine went in the freezer).


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Quick Apple Cake

I had a friend stopping by yesterday and I wanted to make something quick, simple and not too heavy for afternoon tea.

Additionally we had quite a lot of apples that really needed to be used up so I decided on an easy Apple cake. This recipe is from Stephanie Alexander's, The Cook's Companion. If I could only own one cookbook this would probably be the one I would keep.

It really is a beautiful book. After basic techniques and explanations on a variety of things from custard to pastry to stock  it then runs through ingredients alphabetically providing a range or techniques and recipes to use them. It's very comprehensive and while it looks a but intimidating many of the recipes such as this one are actually very simple.

I followed her recipe entirely except I used vanilla vodka where she recommended apple brandy or rum.

Quick Apple Cake
2 cups peeled chopped apples
2 tablespoons apple brandy, brandy or rum (I used vanilla vodka)
140g unsalted butter (I used salted because that's what I had)
160g plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 eggs
120g castor sugar

1. Soak fruit in alcohol for 1/2 an hour. (I think you could soak in apple juice).
2. Preheat oven to 200C. Butter a 24cm ring tin or 24cm round cake tin.
3. Melt butter and allow to cool.
4. Beat eggs and butter until thick and fluffy, fold in flour gently.
5. Drizzle in melted butter then fold in. Fold in apple and any liquid.
6. Spoon into cake tin and cook for 40 minutes.