Friday, September 22, 2017

Pork Pad See Ew - หมูทอดดูเอล

Thank God for Friday night Fake-away.... it doesn't get better than this dish nor can it get any easier to create this Thai style noodle dish at home.
 
Firstly let me tell you that this meal is such an easy one to prepare, cook and put on the table in under 30 minutes or so and your family will thank you for an amazing dish that actually took you minimal effort.  In fact I am pretty certain that they will think that you organized Thai Take Away.
 
Pad See Ew is a standard lunch fare among Thais and is very popular dish in Thai restaurants outside of Thailand. The soft, chewy rice noodles pan fried with pork, Chinese broccoli and a soy sauce mix, it is easy to understand why it is a comfort food for many.

The simple ingredients in this dish are readily available combined make for a really light noodle dish that is refreshing but yet very filling.  Using pork mince was quick and easy and actually not as stodgy as larger meat pieces.  The tartness of the fresh lime juice combined with the saltiness of the fish sauce and the sweetness of the kecap manis kept the dish fresh and vibrant.

I really urge you to give your family the opportunity to try this meal - you won't regret it.
 

Pork Pad See Ew - หมูทอดดูเอล
(Recipe adapted from Weight Watchers Weeknight One Pot Cookbook)

Serves: 4
SmartPoints per serve: 11

200 grams dry rice noodles, think
1 tablespoons canola oil
500 grams lean pork mince
2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
1 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely grated
1 whole fresh red chilli, thinly sliced
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
1 bunches gai lan (Chinese broccoli), coarsely chopped
2 individual green shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons kecap manis
1 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoons lime juice
2 cup bean sprouts
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
1/2 cups fresh coriander
1 medium fresh lime, wedges
chilli flakes, if desired

Prepare noodles following packet instructions or until just tender. Rinse under cold water. Drain.

Heat a wok over high heat. Add oil and heat for 20 seconds. Stir-fry mince, garlic, ginger and chilli, breaking up lumps, for 7–8 minutes or until browned. Transfer to a plate.

Reheat wok over high heat. Stir-fry egg for 1 minute or until just set.
 
Add gai lan and shallots and stir-fry for 1 minute.
 
Add mince mixture, kecap manis, fish sauce, juice, sprouts, carrots and noodles and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until heated through.
 
Sprinkle with peanuts and coriander and serve with lime wedges.  If desired, sprinkle with chilli flakes.
 
 
 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Creamy Chicken and Bacon Spaghetti Boscaiola

Pasta I think is one of the Universal words which translates instantly to "comfort food" and never ceases to please anyone in any given mood or frame of mind.  No matter who you are, where you come from and what your nationality I can honestly say that I have never ever met anyone that does not like pasta.
 
In our house, it goes without saying that it is a favourite - whether it's served with a thick meat sauce or a creamier delicate sauce, no matter what shape or size it comes in, if it's layers upon layers, etc.  I could go on but which ever way it's served here its always a hit.  Tonight was no exception. 
 
I have actually been unwell for a wee bit with this dreaded flu that is sweeping Australia.  Many people are in hospital and some have actually lost their lives due to the deadly strain.  Thankfully I was administered some very strong antibiotics, steroids and some liquid codeine as soon as I felt bad however I was bed ridden for nearly four days.  I am still battling a horrid cough, but glad to say I feel there is an end to it coming closer.  While I am still weak and aching I actually returned to work today (thankfully as being bed ridden was doing my head in) and for the first time since last Thursday I cooked dinner.  Anyways enough about me. 
 
Tonight's dinner, Creamy Chicken and Bacon Spaghetti Boscaiola is based on one of our family favourites, Penne Boscaiola.  It is definitely the perfect comfort meal – creamy, jam packed with vegetables, chicken and bacon laced with hint of cheesy sweet chilli…. mmmmm!!  It's not a traditional Italian style pasta using Asian sweet chilli sauce but it works and I would urge you to try it. 

A perfect week night wonder as it’s very easy and quick to prepare and cook not to mention devoured almost instantly.

 
Creamy Chicken and Bacon Spaghetti Boscaiola
(Recipe adapted from WW Heavenly D’Lites Cookbook)

Serves: 6
 
375 grams spaghetti
cooking spray
1 brown onion, finely chopped
3 teaspoons crushed garlic
2 chicken fillets, fat trimmed and thinly sliced
150 grams middle bacon, fat trimmed
1 red capsicum, sliced
150 grams button mushrooms, sliced
375 ml can Carnation Light and Creamy Evaporated Skim Milk
 3 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
150 grams baby spinach leaves
salt
freshly ground black pepper
80 grams finely grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta in pan of boiling water following packet instructions until just tender.  Drain.

Coat a large frying pan with cooking spray.  Cook the chicken, stirring, until browned. Remove to a plate lined with absorbent paper.

In the same pan cook the onions, garlic and bacon until onion is soft.  Return chicken to the pan. 

Add capsicum and mushroom and cook for a further 2 - 3 minutes until capsicum begins to soften. 

Add the milk and chilli sauce to the pan.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. 

Stir through the pasta, spinach and half the parmesan cheese until mix through well and spinach just wilted.

Serve with remaining parmesan cheese.

 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Chicken Jalfrezi

Curry is always a regular on our menu. I think this all stems back to when my mother was pregnant with me, where the regular haunt for dinner with my father was a Chinese Restaurant called Jim Hongs.  My mam's meal of choice was curry throughout her pregnancy and then surprisingly (or not) during both my pregnancies my husband had to stop and pick up a Beef Vindaloo on a weekly basis. It will be very interesting if this somewhat traditional craving gets passed on the my next generation.
 
Both the kids have been raised eating foods full of spices and herbs - more importantly they have eaten foods that have rarely come from packet mixes or premixed jars.  They do not understand the importance of this, hopefully one day they will.
 
As you all may have guessed by now if I can make something from scratch I will definitely give it a go.  Sometimes it doesn't taste the same or even look the same but seriously it's all about the experience and the copious amounts of laughter within the House of Murray when a "failure of sorts" occurs.  Normally it's edible but hey there have also been times that it hasn't been.  Maybe I should do a post on the things that go wrong just so you can all cash in on the enjoyment as well.  That's a thought for another time though.
 
My unemployment period is coming to an end as I have secured a role with another large company that is within the construction industry. Somewhat I am saddened by this but on the other hand I am really looking forward to the new challenge ahead that will come with the new role but it will mean back to cooking quick mid week wonders for week night dinners and sticking to the menu  planner. 
 
For my birthday I was given a book called The Curry Kitchen from my sister in law and to be honest it's a book that I haven't but down yet.  It's got sticky notes all through it for all the different curries I want to try cooking.  The really exciting thing about this cookbook is that the majority of curries actually are made from scratch.
 
Jalfrezi is always on Indian menus and is probably one of the quickest Indian curries to make.  It typically involves frying pieces of unmarinated meat, fish or vegetables in oil and spices to produce a dry, thick sauce.  A traditional Jalfrezi can range in heat from medium to very hot especially for those recipes that use fresh chillies.  This recipe wasn't overly hot in taste as I did tone down the amount of chilli I used.
 
With it's tomato base you could really taste the cumin and coriander which surprisingly is added later in the cooking process.   Along with some butter or ghee if you have it available which gave it a little creaminess.    We served this simple yet super quick curry with plain steamed rice, Mint Raita and freshly cooked poppadum's.

 
 Chicken Jalfrezi
(Recipe adapted from The Curry Kitchen Cookbook)
 
Serves: 6
 
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 kilogram chicken breast fillets, diced
3 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/2 - 1 teaspoons chilli powder (or to taste)
1 teaspoon salt
2 x 400 grams can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons butter or ghee
3 teaspoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons ginger, grated
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook for about 2 minutes or until they start to soften, then add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
 
Add the chicken, turmeric, chilli and salt.  Fry gently, turning the chicken often and ensuring that the onion mix does not stick to the pan.
 
Pout in the tomatoes, stir and simmer, covered, over a medium heat for 20 minutes.  Uncover, and simmer for another 10 minutes and let the liquid evaporate to the desired thickness and consistency.
 
Add the butter or ghee, cumin, coriander, ginger and half the coriander leaves.  Simmer for another  5 -  7 minutes.
 
Serve garnished with the remaining coriander leaves.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe).

Monday, August 21, 2017

Beef Cheeks with Thyme, Chilli and Ginger Beer with Saffron Risotto

And now for something completely different - LOL!! 
 
As always I am constantly on the hunt for a "different" recipe, dish or really anything to cook.  It's somewhat looked upon as an obsession, an illness perhaps but to be perfectly honest I don't care.  I enjoy what I do, it makes me happy and I take great pride in introducing my family to different foods, flavours, textures experimenting to find their likes and dislikes. 
 
I have mentioned before that this was the way I was raised by my parents - I was taught never to fear food but to taste and decided if I liked it or not.  Nothing was left far from the imagination - we always had food made from little or many ingredients and from many countries or regions.  My parents enjoyed their relationship with food and this was passed on to me - I believe everyone should have a good understanding of foods especially those void of all the added chemicals, additives and preservatives evident in many foods of today's world.
 
My kids have embraced the love of food - although there have been many times over the years that there have been pleas of "can we please have normal food for a change" and many nights where beans, eggs and chips have been served at our table.  However saying this I absolutely adore being at a restaurant and listening to my kids order their meals.  To my delight they often try something other than Parma and Chips.  I remember my daughter as an 8 year old sitting in the local Chinese restaurant boldly asking for Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup followed by Peking Duck.  The waitress was amazed and yelled to the chef telling him of her order.  I still chuckle when I think of that moment.
 
We have a new member in our household, our son's girlfriend.  She has been with us for several months now and I am impressed with her willingness to embrace our lifestyle and our food.  To date she has tried everything put before her and yes there are things that she wasn't a fan of but has had the openness and honestly to speak her thoughts.  I am very proud of her - she definitely belongs in our family.
 
Saying this, beef cheeks were on the menu last night and of course, I would not have done them justice if I had just slow cooked them in red wine.  Research completed and several recipes morphed together plus a few little twists of my own saw this creation - Beef Cheeks with Thyme Chilli and Ginger Beer served with Saffron Risotto.  This recipe is loosely based on a recipe that appeared in the August/September 2008 issue of Gourmet Traveller WINE but as usual I had to change ingredients and put the House Of Murray twist on things.
 
Beef cheeks must be slow cooked - there is no other way to cook them so don't even consider it.  Low and slow either in the oven or a slow cooker.  A quick fry is NOT an option of cooking these meat pieces - they will be tough.

A word of warning also - beef cheeks are a rick meat to start with and most recipes are served with a rich red wine jus or sauce in which they are cooked.    I wanted something different as much as love a good full bodied red wine sauce there was the need to experiment.  So I substituted half the red wine with white wine and also added a bottle of sugar free ginger beer.  The result was fantastic - although still a little rich which I did expect it wasn't as heavy as it would normally be.  Also added the subtly of fresh thyme and a little heat from chilli flakes. 

Overall, a truly hearty dish which served also side a Saffron Risotto was filling and well received at the table.

 
Beef Cheeks with Thyme, Chilli and Ginger Beer
(Recipe adapted from August/September 2008 issue of Gourmet Traveller WINE)
 
Serves: 4 - 6

1 litre beef stock
4 - 6 beef cheeks (approx. 250 grams each), trimmed
salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 large carrot, cut into large chunks
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 bunch fresh thyme
2 cups dry red wine
2 cups dry white wine
750 ml bottle sugar free ginger beer
2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
600 ml chicken stock
80 ml extra-virgin olive oil
200 grams risotto rice
1 brown onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons saffron threads
150 ml dry white wine
80 grams butter

Place beef stock in a saucepan over medium heat and cook until the liquid reduces by half, or for about 30 minutes.

Season beef cheeks with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

In a large jug combine red wine, white wine, ginger beer and chilli.
 
Place beef cheeks in a large bowl and pour over wine mixture. Cover with cling film and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Remove from refrigerator and separate beef cheeks and marinade.

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and cook beef cheeks for about 5 minutes or until browned. Transfer to a plate.

Add vegetables to the pan and sauté for 5-7 minutes until softened. Transfer to a bowl.

Place stock and marinating liquid in a saucepan over medium heat, bring to the boil then remove from heat.

Place beef cheeks and vegetables in a roasting dish and cover with stock mixture. Cover tightly with foil and cook in a preheated oven at 150C for 3- 4 hours or until tender.

 
Meanwhile heat the chicken stock in a saucepan over low heat.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add rice and cook, stirring continuously, for 2 minutes. Add shallots, garlic and saffron and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add white wine and shake pot occasionally until wine begins to reduce or for about 3-5 minutes. Add stock a ladle at a time until stock just covers the rice, making sure it continues to just cover the rice. After rice has been cooking for 10 minutes, stir for 2-3 minutes.

Check rice is al dente, remove from heat, stir in butter and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

 
Serve risotto immediately with beef cheeks, vegetables and sauce.


(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Chicken and Bacon Ranch Casserole

Now once I saw this recipe I knew my kids would love it... of course they would considering it was pasta - cheesy pasta with chicken and bacon.  Little did they know that it would also contain salad dressing, Ranch Dressing, when they were enjoying every mouthful.
 
Yes you read correctly - Ranch Dressing.  One of the most loved salad dressing can actually be used in cooking and it compliments this pasta dish amazingly.  The smooth combination of the garlic, the herbs and the creaminess of the mayonnaise and sour cream added noticeable flavours to the marinated chicken and of course the goodness of bacon. 
 
It was so good the kids pretty much ate the whole casserole dish full in one sitting.


Chicken and Bacon Ranch Casserole
(Adapted from Top Quick Recipes)
 
Serves - 6
 
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon of chilli sauce of your choice
1 teaspoon pepper
salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon of fresh parsley
500 grams boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
500 grams bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
500 grams pasta of your choice
1 cup Homemade Ranch Dressing or store brought Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup light thickened cream
1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

In a large bowl place olive oil, chilli sauce, pepper, salt and parsley.  Mix until well combined.  Add chicken and toss to evenly coat.  Cover and set aside.

In a large frying pan, over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp.  Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel.
 
To the same frying pan add the marinated chicken and diced onion and cook until no longer pink in the center. Set aside.

Bring a large saucepan of water to boil and cook pasta as per the packet directions.  When al dente drain well.
 
Add the chicken, bacon, ranch dressing and cream to the cooked pasta and toss until well coated.

Spray a large casserole dish with cooked spray Add ranch covered pasta to the greased baking dish

Sprinkle both cheeses and bake until cooked through and the cheese is completely melted, about 20 - 25 minutes.


(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Another preservative and additive free salad dressing!  I have made this several times for a special occasion but this time I actually made it to put in a pasta dish, Chicken and Bacon Ranch Casserole, that I had decided to make for dinner.  But to be perfectly honest it was a welcomed opportunity to make it again.

One jar, a few measuring spoons and this salad dressing is done.  Simple measure and shake.  Put in the fridge until required.  However it does not last as long as store brought Ranch Dressing so only make it when you need it.

You will be amazed with the taste of this Ranch Dressing - the texture, the fresh herbs and the clean flavours.


Homemade Ranch Dressing
(Recipe Adapted from Foodiecrush)

Makes: 1 cup approximately

6 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 tablespoons milk or buttermilk
4 tablespoons sour cream
2 teaspoon champagne or white wine vinegar
2 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
2 tablespoon chopped chives
2 tablespoon Italian parsley, minced
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Add more milk for desired consistency.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.


(Click here for a printable version of this recipe).

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Homemade Ricotta

Nothing beats being self sufficient and making your own food. It's quite therapeutic if you are into that sort of thing. I love it. To me experimenting with food to make other food is quite like a hobby. One follows a recipe and other times one doesn't. I honestly believe that if you are enjoying yourself and the outcome is good well it's a win-win situation.

Recently Noel and I participated in a cheese and bread making course. It was an all day event hosted by Tamara from Boatshed Cheese down in Dromana, on our beautiful Mornington Peninsula.  Tamara runs a variety of cooking classes which are homely, comfortable and as there are only a small amount of participants per class they are very easy to follow and you have a opportunity to be hands-on during the classes.  If you can get in you should do yourself a favour and book a class.
 
Fresh ricotta is a magnificently easy and quick cheese to make as far as cheeses go - the longest part of the process is actually boiling the milk.  You will require to have a food grade thermometer to ensure temperature accuracy. Once the milk starts to reach heat the temperature moves fast.
 
What ever you do please do not buy fancy vinegar.  This recipe requires good old plain white vinegar so don't go all out there flavoured or imported vinegar. Cheap white vinegar is best because it has a high acidity level.  It's not added for flavor - it's added to simply acidify the milk and will do nothing to the actual taste of your cheese.


Homemade Ricotta

Makes: 1.5 kilograms approx.
 
10 litres cows milk (full cream or low fat) or goats milk
1 - 2 tablespoons salt
200 - 250 millilitres plain white vinegar


Heat the milk to 60 degrees Celsius over high heat, stirring constantly

When milk has reached 60 degrees Celsius add salt and stir well.

Continue stirring while heating until the milk reaches 90 degrees Celsius or 85 degrees Celsius is you are using goat milk.

As the milk edges past 9 degrees Celsius (or 85 degrees Celsius if using goats milk) add the vinegar and stir until flecks begin to appear on the surface.

Remove from the heat and continue stirring for a few seconds until the liquid turns a clear almost greenish tinge and the coagulated curds are clearly visible.

Allow to sit undisturbed for 5 minutes so that curds can rise to the surface.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop curds into ricotta baskets or cheese moulds or even a colander and drain over the sink for 30 minutes then transfer to a bowl or container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days in the refrigerator.


(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Thai Style Chicken Satay Skewers with Peanut Sauce

I have been cooking the same Satay Sauce since I was a kid... it's the same one my mam cooks.  It comes from a old Women's Weekly Cookbook titled Chinese Cooking Class Cookbook.  Many of you would have seen this cookbook whether it was when it was first published, then republished or more likely on the shelf at an Opportunity Shop.  However saying this I thought it was time to try a different Satay Sauce to accompany some chicken skewers. 
 
Have you ever google a recipe and been amazed by how many different results you get?  Makes me wonder how big Google is or then again how big the world really is! I think I could have read about Satay Sauce for days.  Instead of the Chinese style sauce this time I thought I would be adventurous and try a recipe from another style of cooking, Thai.  While both hubby and I enjoy eating Thai foods we rarely cook it at home for a reason I can not produce.  I guess it's a style that we just haven't really experimented with - yet!

The marinade should taste sweet, spicy, and salty. It doesn't have to be the spiciest but the stronger more vibrant flavours should be sweet and salty. If you need to adjust the taste add more sugar or more fish sauce to adjust the taste. However if you would want it to be spicier you also can add more chilli.

Now for the sauce.  No peanut butter in sight as this authentic recipe for Thai peanut sauce is made with real peanuts! This part of the meal was quick and easy to make.  While this sauce is meant to have be smooth, but if you prefer it with a bit of crunch when processing the nuts leave some smaller pieces to the side. Adding more fish sauce (or soy sauce) if not salty enough, or more cayenne if not spicy enough. If too salty, add a squeeze of fresh lime juice. If you'd prefer it sweeter, add a little more sugar.

Overall this wasn't one of the easiest recipes to make but well worth the effort.

 
Thai Style Chicken Satay Skewers with Satay Sauce
(Recipe adapted from The Spruce)
 
Serves: 6
 
1/4 cup minced lemongrass, fresh or frozen
2 shallots
4 cloves garlic
1 to 2 fresh red chillies, sliced
1 thumb-size piece galangal or ginger, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons cumin
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce (available at Asian food stores)
3 tablespoons fish sauce
6 tablespoons brown sugar (you need all of this)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
18 chicken tenderloins or 1 kilogram chicken breast fillets, sliced thinly
1 cup fresh-tasting dry roasted peanuts, unsalted
1/3 cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 - 2 tablespoons brown sugar, to taste
2 - 2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup coconut milk
18 wooden skewers

Make the marinade by placing the lemongrass, shallots, garlic, chiles, galangal or ginger, turmeric, coriander, cumin, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, and oil in a food processor or chopper. Process well.


Place chicken in a bowl and pour the marinade over. Stir well to combine. Cover and allow to marinating for at least 2 hours but overnight if time permits.



Soak skewers in hot water for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile place remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend or process until sauce is smooth. If you prefer a runnier peanut sauce, add a little more water or coconut milk.  Place in a bowl.
 
 
Thread chicken onto the skewers leaving a quarter of the skewer empty to act as a handle when grilling or frying.

Grill or fry the satay, basting the first time you turn it with a little of the leftover marinade from the bowl. Depending on how thin your meat is, the satay should be done in 10 to 20 minutes.

 
Place satay sauce in the microwave on high for 1 - 2 minutes or until warmed through.

Serve with Thai jasmine rice and Thai peanut sauce for dipping.
 
Note:  This sauce tends to thicken as it sits so just add a little water or coconut milk to thin it out, as needed. Otherwise, it stores well if kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or you can place in the freezer.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Tatws A Chig yn y Popty (Meat and Potatoes in the Oven)

Many of you know that I was actually born in Wales many moons ago.  Our journey to Australia was born from a dream my parents had for a better life for them and their family.  And like other family members before us they embarked on the epic long journey across the waters to start a new life long adventure.

While I have grown most of my life in Australia, I am very passionate with my cooking especially when cooking recipes from my heritage and my childhood.  Tatws A Chig yn y Popty, translated to Meat and Potatoes in the oven, is one of my naughty all time favourites. I say naughty as there really isn't a low calorie version of this recipe and nor should there be as it would really take away the tradition from this dish.

Unlike most roast meat dishes there is not a gravy as such to accompany this meal - more like a rich broth that has envelope all the flavours into a juice that tantalizes the mouth and comforts the belly.  As this roast is cooked low and slow the meat is very tender and practically falls away from the bone.  Traditionally this dish uses lamb shoulder or the lamb flaps (ribs) but I guess it would be just as nice with any cut of meat.

With the vegetables placed under the meat while cooking they too take on the flavour of the meat juices and are a combination of tender and crispy depending on their placement within the roasting dish.


Tatws A Chig yn y Popty (Meat and Potatoes in the Oven)

Serves: 6 - 8
 
2kg shoulder lamb
1/4 cup oil
salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups water
1 kilogram potatoes, peeled and halved
1 kilogram carrots, peeled and cut in to large chunks
brown onions, peeled and quartered
 

Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius.

Season lamb with oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper ensuring that the lamb is completely covered. 

Place the lamb in a roasting tin and add the water.

Cover with foil and roast for 1 hour.

Remove from oven and place the meat on a plate. Add the potatoes, carrots and onions to the baking dish, mixing to ensure all are covered with remaining juices.  Place the lamb on top of vegetables, cover with foil and cook for a further 1½ - 2 hours, or until meat is tender.

Remove foil and cook for a further 30 minutes at 200 degress Celsius to crisp up the lamb and the top of the vegetables.

Serve the lamb sliced, with the potatoes, carrots and onions accompanied with steamed vegetables and crusty bread to mop up the juices.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Zucchini and Bacon Muffins

Well I baked something sweet this morning and thought I may as well keep it going while the oven was on and flour was all throughout the kitchen... so I thought I would bake something savoury.  I had some zucchini that needed using so that was going to be the star ingredient.

I often make a Zucchini, Bacon and Thyme Slice but this time I thought I would make muffins, just for something different, with the idea that the family may just eat them for breakfast or take them to work or school for lunch.

Jam packed with the goodness of vegetables, lots of zucchini, carrots and onions, along with cheese and a delicate hint of sweet chilli sauce along with everyone's favourite bacon I cannot believe how light these muffins are. Not to mention an easy muffin to make.

Sitting here, watching these fluffy light yet flavoursome muffins cool I am actually not quite sure if there will be any left for tomorrow??  Maybe I had better get dinner cooked....


Zucchini and Bacon Muffins
(Recipe adapted from Best Recipes)
 
Makes: 12

1 tablespoon low-fat butter
1 onion diced
4 short-cut bacon rashers
2 carrot medium grated
1 zucchini large grated
3 large egg
1/4 cup light thickened cream
1/3 cup parmesan cheese grated
2/3 cup tasty cheese grated
1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
2/3 cup self-raising flour sifted
salt
ground white pepper 

Melt butter and cook onion and bacon until soft. Add zucchini and carrot and cook until soft. Allow to cool.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Mix in cream, both cheeses, sweet chilli sauce and salt and pepper.

Add cooled bacon and vegetable mixture and stir.

Add sifted flour and stir.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Pour into a greased muffin pan and bake for 25 minutes until brown and cooked through.


(Click here for a printable version of this recipe).

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

While I have always and will always maintain that I am not the "housewife" type but since being made redundant I have actually been enjoying my time at home.  It has given me some time to actually relax and I am really feeling better for it.  I have also been able to do some blogging and sharing of recipes with you all which gives me great pleasure.  Not to mention I have had time to catch up on other websites/blogs I follow and also find some new ones to read.
 
Today while looking for inspiration for some old bananas (I hate wasting food) I came across a website that I really like.  Averie Cooks is a vibrant and fresh site full of quick and easy recipes that are uncomplicated and easy to follow.  And that is exactly where I found this recipe for Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.
 
While I adapted the recipe the results was perfect.  Crispy yet soft cookies with a bold banana flavor married with scrumptious milk chocolate laced with a hint of cinnamon.  The rolled oats complimented the cookies giving them a homemade texture and that old fashioned appeal.  Do not use instant or quick-cook as they will not give the same outcome.
 
Don't overbake even if they don't look cooked.  The cookies firm up as they cool.  These will keep for about 1 week in a sealed container if they last that long! 
 
 
Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Recipe adapted from Averie Cooks)
 
Makes: approx. 20
 
1 large egg
2 small/medium or 1 extra-large ripe bananas
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
60 grams unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1/2 cinnamon, added to taste
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
200 grams milk chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or an electric mixer) combine the egg, bananas, sugars, butter, vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until well combined. 
 
Add the oats, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute.  Add 3/4 of the chocolate chips, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.
 
Line a baking tray with baking paper and spray with cooking spray. 
 
Using a spoon or your hands form equal-sized mounds of dough approximately 1/4 cup in size.  Place on the baking tray spaced apart.  Strategically place a few chocolate chips on top of each cookie.
 
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
 
Bake for about 13 minutes (for very soft cookies, longer for more well-done cookies), or until edges have set and tops are just set. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on baking sheet.
 
 
 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Cheesy Potato and Vegetable Medallions

I would have to say that I buy Grönsakskaka from the shop at Ikea every single time that we go there - in fact I get more joy from the grocery shop at the end of the giant furniture store than actually looking at all the furniture. Don't get me wrong the furniture is beautiful and I dream of owning an Ikea house but that little shop at the end is like my reward for going shopping there.
 
For those that have not experienced these Swedish Potato and Vegetable Medallions they are simply a cheesy mashed potato and vegetable ball that are oven cooked.  They are literally the perfect side dish.  Found in the frozen section of the little grocery store at Ikea.
 
So why I am telling you about these tasty treats?  Because I have made a copy cat version using left over vegetables from the night before.  Having left over boiled potatoes and mixed vegetables, which I did not want to waste, I sat down and started thinking about things we could use them for.  Obviously we could have mashed them for a Shepherd's Pie topping or similar but there was way too much for even a quick fry up.  Then, while talking about mashed potatoes, I remembered the Swedish Grönsakskaka.
 
Of course as the vegetables we had were already cooked we could not claim that these were cooked traditionally. However I will be doing that soon - well once we have eaten all the medallions that are in our freezer!
 
 
Cheesy Potato and Vegetable Medallions
 
Serves: 12
 
1 kilogram potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 kilogram frozen mixed Winter Vegetables (or vegetables of your choice)
3 spring onions, chopped
1/2 cup grated tasty cheese
2 eggs
150 ml thickened cream
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
1/2 cup breadcrumbs, if required
salt
ground white pepper
 
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and add potatoes. Boil until just cooked through, about 12-15 minutes.  Drain and allow to cool.  When potatoes are cool, mash coarsely (you don't want smooth at this point).

Bring a second saucepan of water to boil and add vegetables.  Boil until cooked through, approximately 5 - 8 minutes or cook as per directions on packet.  Drain and allow to cool.  Mash the vegetables, also coarsely (you want vegetable pieces not puree).
 
Put the potatoes and the vegetables in the same saucepan. 
 
Add spring onions and cheese.

Put the eggs in a medium bowl and lightly whisk them.  Add and garlic powder, onion powder and thyme.  Whisk them together with the eggs.  Season with salt and pepper.
 
Add egg mixture to the potatoes and stir gently until all ingredients are completely mixed through.  If mixture is too moist, add breadcrumbs to assist mixture to firm up.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
 
Line a baking tray with cooking paper and spray with cooking spray.  Using a round cutter for it's shape and place on tray.  Fill to the top with mixture.  Using the back of a spoon gently push down on mixture while lifting cutter up.  Repeat until all mixture is used.
 
 
Or you can spray a standard muffin pan with cooking spray and put 1/2 of a cup of the mixture into each cup.  Use a spoon to push the mix into the cup so that there are no air pockets.

Spray tops of medallions with cooking spray.

Bake for 20 minutes.  Turn medallions over and bake for a further 10 minutes or until brown and crispy.

Serve warm as a side dish or these are perfect for breakfast also.

This recipe can be doubled or quadrupled as they freeze very well. If you are planning to freeze do so after cooking for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven, allow to cool and then place on an uncovered tray in the freezer. After they have completely frozen place them in a sealed plastic bag or container for storage.  To reheat the frozen medallions defrost completely and cook, as above, for 10 minutes or you can microwave them for one minute and then cook as above.


(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Chorizo and Thyme Carbonara

While we are on the subject of pasta - here is another filling and delicious pasta dish.

This upbeat version of traditional Carbonara has a bit of a spicy kick from the Spanish Chorizo while still having the comforting taste of a creamy pasta sauce. 

As with everyone's favourite Pasta Carbonara the recipe is still simple - the basic ingredients of eggs, parmesan and cream.  Replacing the bacon with Chorizo which caramelized until crunchy and this coupled with fresh thyme leaves makes a delicious change..


 
Chorizo and Thyme Carbonara
(Recipe sourced from Super Food Ideas Magazine)

Serves: 4

375g dried pappardelle pasta
2 chorizo, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup light thickened cream for cooking
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
 
Cook pasta following packet directions until just tender. Drain, reserving ½ cup cooking liquid. Return pasta to pan over low heat.

Meanwhile, heat a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook chorizo, stirring, for 5 minutes or until browned. Stir in thyme. Remove from heat.

Whisk egg, cream and parmesan in a jug. Add egg mixture, reserved cooking liquid, 1/2 the parsley and 1/2 the chorizo to pasta. Toss to combine and heat through. Season with pepper.

Serve pasta topped with remaining chorizo and parsley, and extra parmesan.
 

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Slow Cooked Beef and Pancetta Ragu

Italian food - food for the soul.  Let's face it everyone loves pasta even those low-carb diet followers secretly love pasta.  I honestly have never met anyone that does not like pasta.  Have you?
 
This wonderful Italian number shines at the top of the comfort food list... slow cooked tender beef with pancetta in a thick tomato and herb sauce is perfect especially on a cold winter's night. 
 
Now this recipe does take quite a few hours on the stove top but I am sure that it would work perfectly well in a slow cooker.  I was home all day so it was easy for me to keep an eye on the pot on the stove top.  A slow cooker would definitely be easier though.
 
Fresh thyme and rosemary are perfectly placed in this sauce - please ensure you do try and use fresh herbs anytime you can the chance.  The flavour is much fresher and bolder than dried herbs in packets.
 
This ragu can be made ahead of time.  Allow to cool and it will last in the fridge for up to 3 days in a sealed container.  It's perfectly good to freeze also. 
 


Slow Cooked Beef and Pancetta Ragu
(recipe adapted from Taste.com)

Serves: 8
 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1.25kilograms gravy beef, trimmed, cut into 3cm pieces
1 large brown onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 red capsicum, finely chopped
100 gram pancetta, finely chopped
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons plain flour
3/4 cup red wine
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 cup beef stock
410 gram can crushed tomatoes
750 grams dried pappardelle pasta
50 grams  butter, chopped
Grated parmesan to serve
Chilli flakes to serve (optional)

Heat half the oil in a large heavy-based flameproof casserole dish over medium-high heat. Cook the beef, in batches, until browned all over. Transfer to a bowl.

Reduce heat to medium. Heat remaining oil in same dish. Add onion, carrot, capsicum, pancetta, rosemary and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until vegetables just begin to soften.

Add garlic. Cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add flour. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until vegetables are coated. Stir in wine. Bring to a simmer. Simmer for 1 minute or until reduced slightly. Add tomato paste, stock and tomatoes. Stir to combine.

Return beef to dish. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Cover. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 3 hours, or until meat is very tender and sauce thickens. Use the back of a spoon or a potato masher to break up meat.

Cook pasta following packet directions. Drain well. Return to pan. Add butter. Toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
 
Serve ragu on pasta, sprinkled with parmesan and chilli, if desired.
 
 

Homemade White Bread

A couple of weekends ago Noel and I attended a Cheese and Bread Making Course at Boatshed Cheese on the Mornington Peninsula.  It was a full day course and it was a fantastic day.  Not only to make some wonderful cheese and bread, but to eat our produce and to spend the day with people who also share our passion for good food and cooking especially Tamara, our host.
 
Yesterday, I decided to put my new found knowledge to the test and make bread.  I made a white loaf and 2 large focaccias to accompany our dinner of Slow Cooked Beef and Pancetta Ragu with Pappardelle.
 
To be honest I actually thought making bread was hard - all that kneading, rising, proving and then more kneading.  But I have to tell you it's not!!  Yes your read correctly it is not.  Thanks to Tamara.  Tamara shared with us secrets, advice and techniques that make bread making easy, interesting and inviting to undertake.
 
This recipe is a fantastic mix and leave recipe.  Not to mention the bread itself is light and airy.  Oh and the taste is so different than the preservative filled shop bread... do yourself a favour and make yourself some bread you will definitely fall in love with your own home baked produce.

Now I definitely have the bread bug I am off to experiment with this recipe and all the different flavours and fillings I can dabble with.
 
  
Basic White or Wholemeal Bread
(Recipe adapted from Tamara @ Boatshed Cheese)

5 cups unbleached bread flour
(or any combination of white or wholemeal flour to equal 5 cups)
1 tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil
2 cups warm water

Add all dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl and stir.

Add oil, water and mix to a sticky dough. Turn out onto a well floured work surface and begin to knead. Continue kneading until the dough is soft and elastic. Shape bread into a round form and place in an oiled bowl, to rise until doubled in size. This should take about one hour.

Knock down and shape for a freestanding loaf on an oven tray, or shape to bake in a bread tin. The tin or tray should be oiled and lightly sprinkled with polenta or lined with baking paper to avoid sticking.

Allow the dough to rise until doubled, and then glaze with milk, water or beaten egg. Bake at 190c. for 40 minutes (less for smaller breads or rolls).

Remove from tin or tray immediately and check that the loaf is cooked. If not, return to the oven for about 5 minutes more cooking.

Allow the bread to cool thoroughly on a wire rack.


(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Oregano and Chilli Crispy Potatoes

To accompany the Chicken Parmesan Bake I decided that as I had already broken the mould of the traditional Chicken Parmigiana I may as well go all out and not serve it with hot chips.  

Instead I decide that I would take some baby chat potatoes and toss them in some herbs, bake them in the oven and voila a really nice and tasty side dish.  Everyone loves oregano and crispy potatoes - who doesn't love potatoes anyway?  I decided to add some chilli sprinkles to give them a little lift.


Oregano and Chilli Crispy Potatoes

Serves: 6

1 kilogram baby Chat potatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt

Heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Line a baking tray with baking paper.

In a large bowl combine potatoes, oil, oregano, chilli and salt.  Mix well.

Lay in single layer on baking tray.

Bake in oven for 30 - 45 minutes, turning several times, or until crispy and golden.

Serve immediately.

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

It's no secret in our circle of family and friends that both my kids (and even my son's girlfriend) are massive fans of Chicken Parmigiana - every time that we go out for dinner to a bistro it's almost instant when I ask have you decided what you want for dinner the instant reply (unless something really catches their eye) is Chicken Parmigiana, Chips and Salad.  

I am going to be totally honest here - I am not a fan of Chicken Parmigiana!  Yep!  I find the deep fried crumbed chicken fillet at times greasy along with the generally rather large amount of melted cheese on top too much for me.. too much grease on some occasions.  Sadly I just don't get the phenomena!! And I sasy phenomena as it seems to be people's most go to dish when they are out for dinner.

So with this in mind, I came across an American recipe for Chicken Parmesan Casserole.  After a little more reading I actually found many different versions of the same casserole (as we do with most American recipes depending on with US State you live in).  Many different versions from whether the tomato sauce is on the top or the bottom, whether you crumb the chicken and fry it beforehand or whether you use croutons in the topping..... so in my quest to please the family I morphed a few recipes together and came up with "my" version (like Jo has never done that before - I can see my family rolling their eyes in the back of their heads LOL).

I have to say that this dish is absolutely amazing.  For a start it was very easy to prepare not to mention cook.  I am not overly fussed with plain tomato passata so I add the element of making a quick tomato sauce to top the chicken fillets with.  If you want to use a jar or two of plain or herbed passata or pasta sauce please go right ahead. That will only make this recipe even easier.

Yes it was cheesy - the gooey mozzeralla layer laced with fresh basil was soft and comforting.  I know the cheese is a major component to the parmigiana.  And for those who do like the crumbs, they are not omitted completely.  Panko breadcrumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese and parsley make a beautiful crunchy topping - completing the dish perfectly.  

Even though I did not serve with the traditional hot chips - I served it with Oregano and Chilli Crispy Potatoes and salad, I do have to say this dish was a hit at the House of Murray and I am sure that it will be when served at yours also.  You may just want to double the recipe - just like I did!


Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Serves 4

cooking spray
1 onion, finely diced
1 bottle tomato passata 660 gram
1 can diced tomatoes 440 gram
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
1 teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
4 skinless chicken breast fillets, visible fat removed
salt
ground white pepper
1 cup grated mozzarella
20 grams fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheeses
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

Spray a small saucepan with cooking spray and heat over low heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened.  Add passata and tomatoes.  Season with black pepper.  Simmer until thickened and liquid has slightly reduced, stirring occasionally.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray.  Place olive oil, garlic and chilli flakes in casserole dish and stir to combine.  Ensure this is spread around the surface of the dish.  Place chicken breast fillets in a single layer in the dish.  Season with salt and pepper.

Evenly spread the tomato mixture over the chicken fillets.

Top with mozzarella cheese.  Sprinkle basil over mozzarella.

In a bowl combine the panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and parsley.  Spread evenly over the mozzarella.

Bake in oven for 1 hour or until chicken is cooked through.

Serve immediately.