Sunday, October 21, 2007

Risotto Relay Rundown

Well, its time to judge our very first blogging event - The Risotto Relay, and boy was it tough for the 2 of us to agree on one winner.

We had 14 entries and I reckon I could sit down at the dinner table and enjoy them all. I tell ya, looking at all this risotto means I am craving it and we're having it for dinner here in Sydney on this sunny Sunday.

There is probably more than 14 ways to say yummy but I can't think of them right now, instead take a look for yourself...

So the 1st entry we received was from Brilynn Jumboempanadas with her Prawn/Shrimp & Pea Risotto

2nd was Simona from PBJonrye with Pumpkin Risotto but we didn't get a copy of a photo and I am unable to get a link to take you directly there, its worth a look though. (Augustina, please email us a photo if you see this and we'll amend it).

3rd was Augustina from Briciole with an idea for leftovers, Risotto-al-salt

4th was Chez Denise from Chezdeniseetlaudalino with Abalone Mushroom Risotto

Number 5 was Gretchen from Canelaycomino with Mushroom Barley Risotto

Number 6 was Lizann from Bitsnbites, Saffron & Prawn Risotto

7th was Lisa from Chefmomcooks made Breakfast Risotto

Number 8 was Zuzana from Burntmouth made Mushroom & Wine Risotto

Number 9 , Annemarie from Divineambrosia had 2 entries, one was Annemarie, Squid Paella & Pumpkin & Sage

Next to arrive was Kevin from Closetcooking with Pear & Gorgonzola Risotto

The last entry to land in our inbox was the sweet Steph, from Whisk & a Spoon

And now for the winner, Deborah from Workingwomanfood! This was Deborah's 1st time with a risotto Liz and I were both amazed at how good it looked for a first timer. Well done Deb - we love you! Expect some famous Aussie Tim Tams in the mail soon. Deb made Chicken, Mushroom & Cashew Risotto which you can see here -

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Creamy Sundried Tomato Pasta

A few months ago I was on the Atkins Diet and was not allowed to eat carbs. Dave and Monique, our dear in laws, cooked this pasta dish for me and Andy. Being on Atkins I was not permitted to eat it, but it looked so good that I had a serve of the sauce, without the pasta. I nearly died - it tasted so good! You know how now and then you taste something that is just phenomenal? Bursting with flavour? You can actually feel your tastebuds dancing?? Well this is one of those dishes!

I decided to recreate it last night. Dave and Mon had shared the list of ingredients with me, but I hadn't asked measurements. I put it together with guesstimations and I think it turned out pretty close to perfect. I ate two bowls worth! And I cannot wait to get home tonight to have a third! I added quite a bit of chilli as I like my meals very hot. But you can, of course, add as much or as little as you like. mmm.
I really felt that no matter how many photographs I took, it did not do justice to this magnificent meal. So you'll just have to try making it yourselves!

500g penne pasta
Olive oil
175g bacon, chopped into small squares
1 bunch of spring onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon paprika
4 mushrooms, sliced
3 teaspoons fresh chilli, chopped
1 jar Leggo's Sundried Tomato & Roasted Garlic Stir Thru Sauce
400ml cream

Fry off the bacon until crispy and to your liking. Set aside draining on paper towel.

Boil pasta as per directions on the pack.

In a large fry pan, fry off spring onion and garlic until soft in a small amount of olive oil. Add the mushrooms and continue to fry for a minute or two. Add the sundried tomato stir thru sauce. Add the paprika and chilli. Allow to heat until it begins to simmer. Add the cream and stir. Allow to simmer for fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally, allowing to thicken.

Drain the pasta and place back in the pot. Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir through. Add the bacon. Serve.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Woman's Got Taste...

Jamie Oliver called this gorgeous recipe "Jool's Favourite Beef Stew" and by golly does Jool's have taste. It is so delicious. As soon as you put it all together in the pot the aroma fills the kitchen. The unfortunate thing is that you have to wait at least three hours to taste it!!

The recipe makes loads so Andy and I have been enjoying it for three days now! We had it with hot crusty bread and it was so moreish and flavoursome and warming! You've got to try it!

Olive oil
a knob of butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
a handfull of fresh sage leaves
800g stewing steak (I used gravy steak)
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
flour to dust
3 parsnips, peeled and quartered
4 carrots, peeled and halved
1/2 a butternut pumpkin, seeded and roughly diced
500g small potatoes, roughly diced
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1/2 a bottle red wine
285ml beef stock
zest of 1 lemon
a handfull of rosemary leaves, picked
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Put a little oil and your knob of butter into an appropriately sized pot or casserole dish. Add your onion and all the sage leaves and fry for 3 or 4 mins. Toss the meat in a little seasoned flour, then add it to the pan with the vegetables, the tomato puree, wine and stock, and gently stir together. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. Bring to the boil, place a lid on top then cook in the preheated oven until the meat is tender. Sometimes this takes three hours, sometimes four - it depends on what cut of meat you're using and how fresh it is. Once it's cooked, you can turn the oven down to about 110 degrees and just hold it there until you're ready to eat it.

The best way to serve this is by ladling big spoonfulls into bowls and some really fresh, warmed bread. Mix the lemon zest, chipped rosemary and garlic together and sprinkle over the stew before eating. Just the smallest amount will make a world of difference - as soon as it hits the hot stew it will release an amazing fragrance.


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Jelly Cakes

Jelly cakes have always been on the top of my list of favourite treats, and I discovered this weekend, while staying at my parents house, that they are my mum's number one favourite treat! So she was very excited I was making them!

I decided I would make them for a Daring Bakers Challenge being hosted by called the Boobie Bake Off. We had to make something Pink! So jelly cakes were perfect! They are so easy and so delicious! I've always bought mine from a bakery in Adelaide called Villi's, which is incredibly popular, and these jelly cakes taste exactly the same.

I would suggest doubling the mixture though as the recipe below only made ten. Thus, they lasted about two minutes...

60g butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup self-raising flour
2/3 cup milk
85g packet raspberry jelly crystals
1 cup boiling water
1 cup cold water
3 cups desiccated coconut
1/2 cup double thick cream

Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, a little at a time, beating until well combined. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold in half the flour and half the milk. Repeat with remaining flour and milk.

Spoon mixture into patty pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool cakes on a wire rack.
Stir jelly and boiling water together in a bowl until crystals are dissolved. Stir in cold water. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until cold and slightly thick.

Place coconut into a large bowl. Cut each cake in half horizontally. Sandwich halves back together using 1 teaspoon of whipped cream. Using a slotted spoon lower cakes, 1 cake at a time, into jelly. Drain excess jelly. Toss cakes in coconut until well coated. Place onto a lined tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until set.


The Best Chicken Sandwiches

These chicken sandwiches are in my Donna Hay cookbook which my wonderful parents gave me for my birthday recently. As soon as I saw the sandwiches I thought, I've got to make these! And as Donna Hay says, "they aren't just chicken sandwiches, they are the best chicken sandwiches!"

Then I saw a challenge on the daring bakers being hosted by called Show Us Your Sarnie and thought it was the perfect excuse to make these delicious sandwiches.

I was a little worried that they may be a bit girly and herby for the hard working men I was feeding them to, but I made seven sandwiches to feed four men, and they all went. Every last bite. Words the men used to describe them included "delicious" and "refreshing". I tried them and was delighted with the flavour. I'll absolutely be making them again!

12 slices white bread
Butter for spreading
2 cooked chicken breasts, skinned and chopped
6floz/170ml mayonnaise, plus extra for spreading
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped basil leaves
2 tbsp shredded mint leaves
Salt and pepper
6 tbsp finely chopped chives

Spread butter on one side of the bread.
Combine the chicken, mayonnaise, lemon juice, basil and mint, and season with salt and pepper.
Divide between half the bread slices and top with the remaining bread. Cut into small triangles and spread one edge with the remaining mayonnaise.
Press one side into the chives and serve.


Banana & Walnut Cake

I spent Friday and Saturday night at my parents Olive Grove again this weekend. Andy came too which was lovely. I'm sure he regretted it once he reaslied dad and his mate Don were paving the entire perimeter of the house - the house being 38 metres long!

And so while the boys worked hard I spent the day in the kitchen. Mum had some old bananas so we decided to use them and bake a cake. We used two bananas instead of one and made two cakes.
As you can see from the photos the sun was just setting as I finished icing them. It was a beautiful day in the Clare Valley. An entire cake was eaten after our roast pork dinner. The icing was delicious!

90 g butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 large banana
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 ¼ cups self raising flour
pinch salt
1/3 cup plain yoghurt
2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts

125g philli cheese
2 cups icing sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add lightly beaten egg, beat well. Stir in combined peeled, mashed banana and lemon juice. Fold in sifted dry ingredients alternately with yoghurt. Stir in half the chopped walnuts, mix until smooth. Spoon mixture into greased and greased paper lined 25 cm x 8 cm (10in x 3 in) bar tin, sprinkle with remaining walnuts.
Bake in moderate oven 40 minutes or until cooked when tested. Allow cake to cool 5 minutes in tin, turn out and cool on wire rack.

To make the icing. Beat the three ingredients together until smooth and delicious. If it is too runny, add more icing until it is at the consistency you require. E.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Lamb Curry

I had been trying to make this curry for weeks! But everything was working against me as things kept coming up, people kept cancelling or time did not permit! But I'd seen the photo in my Marie Claire cookbook and knew I had to make it! It just looked so tasty! And so last night was the night! I bought all the ingredients, and prepared the kitchen - and then read the method and realised the meat needed to marinate for three hours!! By this stage it was 4pm! I wanted it on the table before midnight!! So I opted to marinate for an hour and a half and it was still so lovely. The recipe also asks for 2 teaspoons of garam masala but I added about a tablespoon. Two teaspoons just didnt seem enought to me....

In the end it was absolutely lovely. And I think my photo turned out looking very similar to the one in the cookbook - without all the arty farty talent that their photographer obviously had! Andy said it was the best curry I've ever made! (I've only made 5 mind you...) But still, a compliment. Very quick and easy to get it all in the pot and mixed together (once the 3 hours of marinating is over that is), and the result is very much worth it!

1kg Lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 onions, finely chopped
400g chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 green chillis, seeded and cut into strips
250ml beef stock
10 mint leaves, finely chopped
300g plain yoghurt
steamed basmati to serve

Put the lamb cubes into a large ceramic dish and add 2 tablespoons of the oil, the lemon juice, ginger and garam masala. Massage teh ingredients into the lamb to ensure it is well coated. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate for 3 hours in the refrigerator.

Heat the remaining oil in a large heavy based saucepan and add the onion. Cook for a few minutes until the onion is soft then add the lamb - depending on the size of your pan you may need to cook the lamb in two separate batches. Cook for several minutes until browned. Add teh tomato, tomato paste, chilli and stock and return the rest of the lamb to the pan if necessary. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally over a low heat for 1 1/2 hours, or until the liquid has reduced and the lamb is coated in a rick, thick sauce.

Meanwhile, stir the mint leaves into the yoghurt. Serve the lamb spooned over steamed rice with a dollop of minty yoghurt. Serves 4


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Farfalle with Carbonara and Spring Peas

Yesterday was a public holiday here in Adelaide. Andy was playing computer games on my mobile so I couldn't get any conversation out of him at all. Eventually, after talking to myself for an hour, I started thinking about food and what I should cook for dinner. The decision was made to do a pasta, and Andy pulled himself away from his game long enough to say he wanted Carbonara. Carbonara is something I have never cooked before, although my sister in law Catherine has cooked it for me on a few occasions and it has always been perfect and delicious. But I have always been told to mix it up and serve it quick or it will be like scrambled eggs. I think for that reason, I have always avoided cooking it. I found a few basic recipes for Carbonara, but decided to go with a Jamie Oliver version which was a little different. It was really yummy and so simple. The flavours are so subtle and the peas really do burst in your mouth. I'm already looking forward to having the left overs this afternoon.
455g farfalle
1 egg
100ml double cream
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 rashes of pancetta or smoked streaky bacon, rouchly sliced
3 handfuls of fresh podded or frozen peas
2 sprigs of fresh mint, leaves picked
2 handfulls of freshly grated parmesan cheese

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the farfalle and cook according to the packet instructions. Whisk the egg in a bowl with the cream, salt and pepper. Put your panchetta or bacon into a second pan and cook until crispy and golden.

When the farfalle is nearly cooked, add the peas for the last minute and a half. This way they will burst in your mouth and be lovely and sweet. When cooked, drain in a colander, saving a little of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the pancetta and stri in most of the mint, finely sliced - if the pan isn't big enough, mix it all together in a warmed bowl.

Now you need to add the egg and cream mix to the pasta. What's important here is that you add it while the pasta is steaming hot. This way the residual heat from the pasta will cook the egg, but make sure they do not resemble scrambled eggs. The egg will actually cook enough to give you a silk smooth sauce. Toss together and loosen with a little of the reserved cooking water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with parmesan and the rest of the mint leaves and serve as soon as possible.