Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kumara, Chilli and Coriander Soup

This is one recipe I should have blogged about immediately ... because now I've had it for 2 meals and i'm sick of it! It was delicious though and the colour is amazing. What's also amazing is that i've managed to get my husband to eat soup twice in a couple of weeks!

Kumara, Chilli and Coriander Soup
Recipe from Simple Meals by the Australian Women's Weekly Cookbooks, 2002, p12

100g fresh coriander, roots attached
1 tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped roughly
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbs sambal oelek (asian chilli paste)
1.2kg kumara, chopped roughly
1 litre chicken stock
2 cups water
2/3 cup coconut milk

Wash and dry the coriander. Finely chop enough of the roots to make 2 teaspoons and enough leaves to make a loosely packed 1/4 cup (this is what the recipe said, I just did the whole bunch because I love coriander!).

Heat the oil in a large pot then add the onion, garlic, coriander and sambal oelek. Cook for a few minutes until the onion softens.

Add the kumara and toss to combine with other ingredients. Cover with the stock and water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until the kumara is soft.

Using a stab mixer, blend the soup in the pot or transfer to a food processor in batches. Simmer again for a few minutes until the soup thickens slightly then add the coconut milk and stir through.

Divide into serving bowls and top with a drizzle of coconut milk and scattering of coriander leaves.

Serves 4-6.

You won't need bread with this soup as it is incredibly hearty and perfect for this time of year.

PS. Because I am a weather nut (sad but true) I can tell you that Brisbane had its coldest morning of the year today - just 3.3 deg C. Lovely!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Inspired by Summer Fruit Galette

I love fruity desserts so i'm really enjoying the last couple of picks! This week Michelle of Michelle in Colorado Springs chose Dorie's Summer Fruit Galette. As I don't have Dorie's book I have been relying on either finding the recipe online or waiting until it is posted by the host. Given the host is on the other side of the world that wasn't going to happen until Wednesday my time. And that wasn't gonna get us any dessert tonight!

So I have made something inspired by this week's recipe. It is a cross between a galette and a pizza but with my own twist and using ingredients I already had on hand.

I decided to use Dorie's Good for Almost Everything Pie Crust which I haven't made before. Even though the recipe uses some lard, I went with all butter as it's what I had and I thought it would be dangerous having a pack of lard in the fridge waiting to be used for something else!

Apricot and Raspberry Galette

1 quanity of Dorie's pie crust (I found it on South in Your Mouth)
1/2 cup apricot jam
100g ground almonds
1 x 400g tin apricot halves
2/3 cup raspberries (I used frozen)
Demerara sugar to decorate

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.

Roll out the pastry into a large round and scrunch/fold in the edges to form a rough pie. Spread the base with apricot jam then sprinkle over the ground almonds. This will absorb some of the juice from the fruit and prevent the crust from getting soggy. Layer the apricots over the top, cut side up, and fill in the gaps with raspberries. Sprinkle with demerara sugar.

Bake for approx 45 minutes or until the fruit is bubbly and the crust is cooked and golden brown.

I also made my own custard to serve with it.

Stirred Custard
From The Original Cookbook by the Australian Women's Weekly, 1977, p220. This is my go-to recipe and it's never failed me yet!

3 eggs
2 tbs sugar
1/2 ts vanilla extract
2 cups milk (reduced fat works fine)

Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla together in the top of a double boiler. Warm milk in a separate pan then stir into egg mixture. Stir constantly over simmering water until custard thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon. This could take 15 minutes or longer. Remove from heat IMMEDIATELY. (Sorry, don't mean to shout there but honestly it will start to curdle if you're not really quick).

Makes 2 cups (I normally do a double batch).

The taste test ...

This was absolutely delicious and after years of stomping and swearing, I have finally found a pastry that works for me! It was easy to throw together in the food processor and after a long rest in the fridge it rolled out to perfection. The texture was great too - crisp, buttery and flaky. It looked more like a fruit pizza when it came out of the oven but whatever you call it, it's a keeper!

Next week we have The Black and White Banana Loaf thanks to Ashlee of A Year in the Kitchen. Yum!

*I am not an official member of Tuesdays with Dorie - just playing along at home!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Steak, Guinness and Cheese Pie with Mushy Peas

This is another fabulous Jamie Oliver recipe and it's perfect for the arctic weather we are experiencing in Brisbane at the moment. Ok, so maybe not 'arctic' exactly but it's definitely pie weather!

Steak, Guinness and Cheese Pie
From Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver, p342

Olive oil
3 red onions, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery sticks, finely sliced
4 field mushrooms, peeled and chopped
1kg stewing beef, cut into 2cm cubes
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 x 440ml can Guinness
2 heaped tbs plain flour
200g tasty cheese
Enough puff pastry sheets to cover the top and bottom of your pie dish
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 190 deg C.

On the stovetop, heat some olive oil in a large ovenproof pot over low heat. Add the onions and fry gently for about 10 minutes trying not to colour them too much. Turn up the heat and add the garlic, butter, carrots, celery and mushrooms. Fry for a few minutes then add the beef, rosemary, a pinch of salt and a level teaspoon of pepper. Once the beef is starting to colour, pour in the Guinness, the flour and enough water to cover (I don't normally need any water).

Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and place in the preheated oven for about 1.5hrs. Give it a stir then place back in the oven to cook for another hour or until the meat is very tender and the stew is dark and rich looking. If there's still a lot of liquid at this point, put it back on the stove top and simmer until the sauce reduces. Remove from the heat, stir in half the cheese and leave to cool while you prepare the pastry.

Butter your pie dish and line with puff pastry, leaving the edges hanging over the sides. Tip the stew into the dish, even it out and top with the remaining cheese. Brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg. Top with another sheet or 2 of puff pastry and fold in all the edges so the filling is sealed. Make a slit for the steam to escape.

Brush the top with beaten egg then bake for 45 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden brown. Delicious served with mushy peas or veg of your choice.

Serves 6

Mushy Peas
A original

1 litre water or chicken stock
1 packet frozen baby peas
2 cloves garlic, whole but skin removed
60g butter
1/4 cup cream
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring water or stock to the boil with the garlic. Add the peas, bring back to the boil and cook for approx 5 minutes or until done. Drain well and pour into food processor or blender. Add butter and cream and blend well. Season well with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Spiced Meatball Wrap

This was a really yummy dinner and a great alternative to tacos or burgers. It's also pretty healthy because the meat is baked not panfried and you can serve it with as much salad as you can squeeze into a wrap.

Spiced Meatball Wrap

500g pork mince
500g lamb mince
1 thumb sized piece of ginger, grated
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 ts ground cummin
1ts ground coriander
1 1/2ts garam masala
2 tbs rolled oats
1 egg, lightly beaten
1tbs plain yoghurt

1 ripe avocado
2 tbs plain yoghurt
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
handful of fresh coriander stems, chopped finely

To serve:
Any other salad greens you like

Preheat oven to 220 deg C.

Place all meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix well to combine. I find you get a better result using your hands as it tends to turn to mush in a food processor.

Using wet hands, shape into golfball sized meatballs. You should get 12 meatballs from this mix which will easily feed 6 people. Place on a non-stick baking tray. Do this a few hours ahead of time if you can as the flavours will develop, then store in the fridge until you are ready to cook.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through but still juicy.

Meanwhile, make the sauce by mashing the avocado and combining with other ingredients. This is basically a version of guacamole but it contrasts perfectly with the aromatics in the meatballs.

Serve with freshly chopped tomato and capsicum in a flatbread wrap with plenty of sauce.

Serves 6. Delicious!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Lemon and Blueberry Pikelets

I love pikelets. Partly because they're delicious little mini pancakes so what's not to love, but also because they take all of 15 minutes from getting the frypan out of the cupboard to sitting down and eating.

This is the type of thing I'm looking forward to cooking with my own kids. But as we are just starting the TTC rollercoaster that is clearly a little while away yet!

Lemon and Blueberry Pikelets
Recipe adapted from the Original Cookbook by the Australian Women's Weekly, 1977, p178

1 cup self-raising flour
pinch of salt
1/4 ts bicarbonate of soda
3 tbs sugar
1 egg
2 ts melted butter
2/3 cup sour milk (made by adding 1ts vinegar or lemon juice to the milk and letting it stand in a warm place until it sours ie. goes squidgy and lumpy - I do this first thing and it's ready by the time everything else is assembled)
Zest of 1 lemon
approx 1 cup blueberries, either fresh or frozen

Sift dry ingredients together and add sugar. Mix to a smooth batter with beaten egg and milk, then fold through the melted butter and lemon zest.

Heat and grease frypan then drop in dessertspoonfuls of batter (I do 5 or 6 at a time but it depends on the size of your pan and flipping skills). Top each with a scattering of blueberries.

Cook until bubbly on top and golden brown underneath. Flip each one to cook other side. This second side may take a little longer than the first if you have used frozen blueberries.

Remove and repeat. Makes approx 12 pikelets. Delicious served hot from the pan with butter, maple syrup or just a dusting of icing sugar.

Note to self - next time wear gloves when handling blueberries to avoid freakish blue fingernails!


These are my boys! Leonardo on the left, Picasso on the right. You'll see a lot more of them if you stick around :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mediterranean Lamb Salad

This is another throw-together dinner that doesn't really have a recipe, but we make something like this at least once a week. There's just something about the combination of tomato, fresh basil and capers ... I could eat it every night! With it's beautiful colours it also makes a really nice winter meal - it takes your mind off the grey outside.

Mediterranean Lamb Salad

500g large pasta shapes
500g lamb leg steak
1 large red capsicum, sliced into thin strips
1-2 punnets cherry tomatoes (I used 3 roma here because the cherry tomatoes were blah)
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped just before serving
1/2 red onion, sliced finely
200g fetta, diced or crumbled into small pieces
1 jar capers, drained and rinsed
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Cook pasta as per packet instructions.

Meanwhile cook the lamb until just done then remove from the pan to rest under foil. In the same pan toss the capsicum over high heat until it is slightly charred and soft (if I had time I would roast it whole and remove the skin - this is a cheat's version).

In a large bowl combine olive oil, lemon juice, capers, onion, tomato and fetta. Season with pepper at this stage (you won't need any salt). As soon as the pasta is cooked, drain it well and add it to the bowl with the dressing. Slice the lamb into strips and toss through. Chop basil and add last thing before serving.


Serves 6-8

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler

Another Tuesday, another dessert! I'm really going to have to start exercising more often to burn off all this sweet stuff. At least there is fruit in this one so I can pretend it's healthy! (We won't talk about the huge scoop of Sara Lee vanilla ice cream on top).

Amanda at Like Sprinkles on a Cupcake chose this week's recipe. I found it online at Cook Almost Anything, and this was a really lucky find because the recipe had been converted into 'Australian'. I completely agree with Haalo's observations there about how Dorie's (and a ton of other cookbooks) are written purely for the American market. We don't measure butter in sticks or cups. It's so much simpler to measure/weigh everything and then you KNOW it's accurate. Particularly when baking is an exact science and requires exact proportions of ingredients. This is actually one of the main reasons I haven't purchased Dorie's book*. Anyway, you can find the recipe at the link above.

I think I have made a cobbler exactly once before. We tend to stick to crumbles in our house because they're easy and always delicious. The cobbler was also incredibly easy to put together - the filling just stirred together and the topping blitzed in the food processor.

As I mentioned last week N loves rhubarb so this was always going to be a winner. I had to use frozen fruit for both the rhubarb and the cherries. They actually did have fresh cherries at the supermarket but it's completely the wrong season so they've been imported (which makes me cranky) plus they were ridiculously expensive.

The only changes I made to the recipe were the proportions of fruit. I used a 350g box of cherries and a 450g box of rhubarb. I also added some extra sugar (approx 1-2 tbs) to account for the acid from the extra rhubarb.

The taste test ...

Well it tasted great but the presentation was lacking - the balls of dough on top didn't spread out at all which was a bit odd. I would also prefer a greater ratio of fruit to topping. Overall we enjoyed it but would definitely tweak the recipe if we were making it again.

Next week we have Summer Fruit Galette!

*Remember I am not officially a part of TWD, just playing along at home!

Monday, July 21, 2008

10 Minute Chicken Noodle Soup

This doesn't really qualify as a recipe, more of a 'meal idea'. Basically it's a 10 minute soup perfect for a cold winter's night. You can put in just about anything you like but always remember to taste the broth to make sure the flavours are balanced.

10 Minute Chicken Noodle Soup

2 L chicken stock (if not making it yourself, use a salt-reduced one)
1 pack soba noodles
500g chicken fillets (I use tenderloins - no cutting required!)
1-2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 thumb size piece of ginger, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced finely
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends removed and sliced on diagonal
1 tbs tamari (or other soy sauce)
a few drops of sesame oil
1 small red chili, chopped finely
1 bunch fresh coriander

Cook the soba as per directions and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large pot place the chicken stock, garlic, ginger, onion and chili. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to medium. Add the tamari and sesame oil and stir to combine.

Add the chicken pieces and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the asparagus and any other veges you like and simmer until both chicken and vegetables are cooked through (a couple of minutes max).

Refresh the noodles in hot water then drain and divide into serving bowls. Top each serve with a few chicken pieces and some vegetables. Ladle over the broth. Top with freshly chopped coriander.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Brunch is ...

my favourite meal of the week. And one of our favourite places to go is Oxford St in Bulimba, a street filled with dozens of cafes, restaurants, quirky fashion boutiques and the Balmoral cinemas (our local).

Today we went to the Riverbend Teahouse, a gorgeous bookshop and cafe that is pretty well known in these parts. We arrived just after 10am and the place was buzzing. They were totally full but we managed to grab a couple of seats at the bar overlooking the street. I actually preferred this to being seated in the midst of heaps of people.

N always has a something sweet when we go out for breakfast whereas I'm the opposite. I can't handle too much sugar first thing in the morning, and I also like to choose things I wouldn't normally make at home. Today N chose a waffle stack with apple and sultana compote, poached peaches and marscapone. Delicious! (No photo of this one).

I had a poached egg (on the way out we noticed the menu said there were supposed to be 2 eggs?) on a spinach and fetta muffin with verjuice hollondaise. It was divine. The muffin was crumbly and salty and contrasted beautifully with the softness of the egg and smooth hollondaise.

We also had a 'jungle juice' each - I had orange, pineapple and mint, N had apple, cranberry and ginger. Both were delicious!

If you're in Brisbane I highly recommend checking out Riverbend. Just remember to book!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Peach and Cardamom Trifle

Are you sick of cake and cream yet? I nearly am and that's saying something!

I made this trifle for a Christmas in July dinner with the family this weekend. Trifle was always my favourite dessert when I was little - filled with bought jam roll, lots of red and green jelly and artificially yellow custard. These days I have (slightly) more sophisticated tastes.

This trifle is built around homemade sponge cake with a filling of dried peaches and orange slices which are poached in a sugar syrup subtly spiced with cinnamon, cardamom and brandy. Yum! The kitchen smelt absolutely divine with this bubbling away on the stove. And quite Christmas-y too I think.

It also gave me a chance to use one of our gorgeous wedding presents - a Krosno glass salad bowl - which works really well for this. (Thanks Beth!)

Sponge Cake
From Modern Classics Book 2 by Donna Hay, p75

1 1/4 cups plain flour
6 eggs
3/4 caster sugar
60g butter, melted

Preheat oven to 180 deg C (I did 160 deg fan forced).
Grease two shallow 20cm (8in) round cake tins and line the bases with baking paper.

Sift flour 3 times and set aside.

Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 8-10 minutes or until thick and pale and tripled in volume.

Sift the flour over the egg and sugar mixture and gently fold through using a metal spoon. Then fold through the melted butter.

Pour half the mixture into each tin and bake for 25 minutes or until the cakes are springy to touch and come away from the sides of the tin.

Cool on wire racks. Decorate as desired (I would normally fill them either jam and cream or lemon curd and dust with icing sugar). Serves 8-10.

Peach and Cardamom Trifle
Recipe from Notebook Magazine, Sept 05, p158 (as seen on

1 plain unfilled sponge cake (in 2 layers)
200g Dried Peaches, cut in slices
1/4 cup (60ml) brandy
3 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp orange rind, finely grated
1/2 cup (125ml) orange juice
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
2 oranges, peeled, sliced
500g Pauls Premium Vanilla Custard (or any custard you like - I would have made it myself but we had run out of eggs)
flaked almonds, toasted

Place one cake layer in the base of a 2-litre (8-cup) capacity glass serving bowl.

Place the dried peaches in a medium saucepan with brandy, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, orange rind, orange juice, sugar, and 3/4 cup (185ml) water. Place over high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until peaches soften. Add orange slices and then set aside for 10 minutes to cool.

Spoon half the peach mixture over the oranges and top with vanilla custard. Repeat layering with remaining cake, orange slices, peach mixture and custard.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 3 hours or overnight to develop the flavours.

To serve, top with lightly whipped cream and sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds.

(Sorry for all the condensation on the bowl - it doesn't make for great pics!)

The taste test ...

Overall it got a big thumbs up from everyone. I think next time though I will make double the syrup and simmer the spices in it before adding the fruit. The cinnamon and cardamom flavours weren't as pronounced as I hoped they would be. But it was still delicious and a great end to the meal.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cupcake Hero: Red, White & Blue

Wow, another first!

This post is my first ever entry to Cupcake Hero, the brainchild of Laurie at Quirky Cupcake. This month's theme was chosen by Nikki and Clara. As soon as I saw what the theme was I had an idea of what I would do but the 'blue' element threw me a bit. While it seemed like a bit of a cop-out to go with blueberries, I am very anti food colouring and honestly there's nothing else blue! Even blueberries are actually purple. Oh well.

Basically I wanted to keep it simple, so I chose a snowy white angel food cupcake covered with sweetened whipped cream, luscious red strawberries and topped with a blueberry!

Angel Food Cupcakes
Recipe from Not Quite Nigella
Ingredients are unchanged but I did change the method slightly. You can find the original recipe at the link above.

5 egg whites at room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup pure icing sugar, sifted
1/2 cup plain flour

Preheat oven to 180°C (I did 160°C fan forced)

Line cupcake tray with paper liners (I had enough mix to make 7 jumbo sized, but you would easily make 12-14 normal sized cupcakes)

Beat egg whites and lemon juice together until frothy. Add vanilla and cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sifted icing sugar until stiff peaks form.

Sift flour 3 times, then gently fold it into the egg white mixture using a metal spoon until just combined.

Spoon into prepared cupcake trays. They will not rise during cooking so fill as high as you want the cake to go. Smooth the tops with knife.

Bake for approx 15-20 minutes (I did 20 minutes – they were golden brown and had shrunk in from the sides. I noticed they still sank a little while cooling but they were perfectly cooked)

Decorate however you like!

I also did one a bit differently - I cut out the centre piece of cupcake and filled it with a mixture of whipped cream and pureed strawberries. I replaced the top piece of cupcake then covered it with cream and a drenching of dessicated coconut. And of course another blueberry on top. This was actually delicious! The coconut gave it some textural interest and the pink cream in the middle was really pretty.

I'm looking forward to next month already!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate Pudding

Ok so i'm not an official member of Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) but I've been following along for a while now. To be a member you not only need a food blog but you need to own the cookbook the group is based on, Baking: from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. We received a ton of gorgeous cookbooks for our wedding a few months ago so I really can't justify splurging on another one right now!

This week's TWD is hosted by It's Melissa's Kitchen. But I'm lucky enough that this week's recipe for Chocolate Pudding is already online at Dorie's own website. We're not supposed to publish the recipe so just click here to find it.

Having never made pudding before I wasn't totally sure what to expect. For most Australians 'pudding' can mean just a dessert in general, or something like a self-saucing chocolate pudding or steamed pudding that you would enjoy at Christmas time with lots of custard. Yum!

To me this chocolate pudding is like a firm chocolate mousse or chocolate custard. It is made with milk and eggs like a traditional custard, just with a few more ingredients.

I made one hell of a mess preparing this as you can see from the photo below. Next time I might streamline the process a bit and hopefully use fewer pots and pans. There was also a lot of in and out of the food processor that was a bit fiddly. Apart from that it's really simple to make.

The taste test ...

Well what can I say? It was absolutely sublime! Smooth, silky and incredibly chocolatey. I used Lindt Intense Mint chocolate for the pudding which added a different dimension of flavour. I topped them with some pure whipped cream and a shaving of Lindt 70% chocolate over the top.

I would definitely make this again.

Next Tuesday we will be making Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler. N loves rhubarb so he'll be happy!

Monday, July 14, 2008


This is my first post and I'm not quite sure how to begin. Basically this blog will be a place for me to record my recipes and my thoughts, both mundane and momentous, in what is already a pretty significant year (more on that later). So without any fanfare, welcome to!

As today is Bastille Day, here is my take on Palmiers which are flaky and delicious French pastries.


2 sheets ready made Puff Pastry (I may progess to homemade at some point but not today!)
1/2 cup raw sugar
2 ts cinnamon

Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl then sprinkle a quarter of the mixture on a chopping board or bench roughly in the shape of the puff pastry. Place 1 sheet of the pastry on top and press to make the sugar mixture stick. Sprinkle another quarter of the sugar mix on top and coat thoroughly.

Now to shape them. Starting with the left hand side, gently roll up the pastry into a log but only as far as the middle. Then roll the right hand side in towards the middle. Using a sharp knife cut the log into 12 even pieces. Turn each individual piece on its side (cut side facing up) and flatten slightly. Repeat with the other sheet of pastry.

Arrange on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake in a preheated oven at 200 deg C for 15 minutes, turning each one half way through.

Golden puff pastry with caramelised sugar and cinnamon ... what could be better!
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