Sunday, November 20, 2011

Provencal Lamb Ragu

I'm currently on the Body Trim diet which is a high protein diet and I love it!  In six days I've lost 3.5kg and I already feel so much better.  And the food is so easy!  Steak, salad, vegetables!  You're even allowed bread and cereal in the morning if you like AND you get a day off once a week.  This is my dream diet!

So last night I decided to use a recipe from my Body Trim manual and it was delicious!  I really caramelised the meat when I browned it and I think that made it this incredible rich, deep, glossy brown colour and because it's slow cooked the meat just shred in your mouth.  The zucchini, eggplant and capsicum don't go in until close to the end so they hold their shape and flavour and it's such a good way of doing it - the rich ragu is perfectly balanced by the sweet vegetables.

This recipe made plenty also so we're having the left overs tonight.  It was amazing that Jared and I both had two big bowls of it and because it is virtually carbohydrate free neither of us felt even slightly bloated afterwards.  Jared said he felt hungry so reached for a packet of chips....    I on the other hand continued to marvel at the 3.5kg I've lost in under a week!

600g Diced Lamb
400ml Red Wine
2 Onions
3 Cloves Garlic
400g Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
1 Eggplant
2 Zucchini
1 Red Capsicum
1 Yellow Capsicum
1 Green Capsicum
4 Sprigs of Thyme
1 Sprig of Rosemary
5 tbsp Warrick Grove Olive Oil
Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper

Chop the Onions and garlic. Heat 3 tbsp of the oil in a large saute pan and brown the meat all over until caramelised. Add the Onion and the Garlic and fry briefly before adding the Red Wine. Add the Tomatoes and Herbs, cover and cook for 1.5 hours.

Heat the rest of the oil in a separate pan.  Sweat the Eggplant and Zucchini for ten minutes and then add the Capsicum and fry all together for 10 minutes.

Mix the Vegetables with the Meat and cook for a few minutes – season with Salt and freshlt Cracked Pepper.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Asparagus, Leek, Potato & Blue Vein Cheese Soup

We're back up in Clare for the weekend as Jared has another assignment due and needs the tranquility of mum and dad's study.  It also keeps me from bothering him out of boredom because I have mum, dad and nana to catch up with.

I had a few bunches of asparagus to use and Jared suggested I turn it into soup.  Immediately I started trawling through google looking for different asparagus soup recipes and Jared kept saying to me; "Just put asparagus, potato, leek, lots of garlic, white wine, stock and some blue vein cheese in it!  You don't need a recipe!"  I decided to go against all my cooking fears (I'm a stickler for a recipe) and do as I was told.  And it was so delicious and creamy and bursting with flavour.  I was very proud of my non recipe efforts!

25g butter
1 tbsp Warrick Grove Olive Oil
2 bunches asparagus, ends trimmed
1 leek, roughly sliced
3 potatoes, peeled and quartered
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups boiling water with 2 heaped teaspoons vegeta chicken stock dissolved
100g blue vein cheese

Melt the butter in a large saucepan with the oil.  When it begins bubbling add the leek and garlic over a low to medium heat.  Fry off gently for 5 minutes and add the asparagus.  Turn the heat up to medium and add the asparagus.  Fry off for another 5 minutes and add the white wine.  Cook the booze off and add the stock and boiling vegeta water.  Add the potatoes and some pepper and cover. Simmer for an hour.  When ready to serve crumble the blue vein into the soup and stir to mix once it melts.  Blitz the soup with a bamix to a creamy cosistency.  Serve with sour cream and parsley.  (Although Jared says it absolutely does not need the sour cream.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Nigella Lawson Forever Summer Chocolate Peanut Bars

Jared and I spent the weekend at Mum & Dad's with Nana because the folks have gone to the Gold Coast for a week.  Jared was in the study for 10 hours both days working on a uni assignment so that left Nana and I to amuse ourselves.  And we did - we shopped and baked and read and snoozed. 

This was our baking feat - Nigella Lawson Chocolate Peanut Slice.  I love that in her pre recipe blurb she says she was laying in bed one night with a fist full of peanuts and a bowl full of chocolate and she thought to herself, 'surely we can combine this heavenly combination?' and she did.  I'm a big salt fan and a huge caramel fan so the combination made me very happy, and still is...  They are delicious and moreish.  I fell asleep with the box of slices next to the bed (as you do) and woke up to the heavenly smell of chocolate.  And some smeared all over the sheets and my brand new PJs....  whoops!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter
14 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
4 tablespoons maple syrup
250g Salted roasted peanuts
250 bittersweet chocolate
75g milk chocolate

Heat oven to 160C. Line 23cm baking pan.
Shortbread: In food processor, process flour, sugar and butter until mixture looks sandy and begins to
clump. Turn into pan; press over bottom. Prick all over with fork.
Bake in the oven at 160C for 5 minutes. Lower heat to 150C and bake for 30 to 40 minute until crust is pale and golden.  Let it cool in the pan on wire rack.

Over medium heat melt the butter, add the condensed milk and maple syrup and stir into a gorgeous caramel.  Let it begin to bubble slowly and keep stirring for two to three more minutes and add the peanuts and whisk until all combined well.  Pour it into shortbread pan and ensure it is even and let it cool.

Over a water bath melt the chocolate and mix well.  Spread chocolate over peanut filling. Let cool. Once
chocolate is set, with sharp knife, cut into 24 bars.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ravinder Bhogal's Lamb Stew with Turnips, Pearl Barley & a Garlic Bread Crust

I wanted to cook something slowly and make a kind of casserole but I'm sick of the same old same old red wine/rosemary/bay leaves/carrots/celery & onion style of casserole.  So this recipe was exactly what I was looking for.  It has leeks, chilli, pearl barley, turnips and a garlic bread crust!  Totally different from your stock standard winter stew.

It smelt amazing as I caramelised the leeks, turnips and celery.  I've never used pearl barley before and it was really simple and a great addition to the meal - it fills you up though, I think I need a nap.

Jared loved it and finished off the pot which serves six!  Including the ten slices of garlic bread on top.  He described it as 'great bush tucker'.  I'm so happy with this dish.

1tbsp olive oil
500g diced boneless lamb shoulder
2tbsp plain flour
1 knob of unsalted butter
3 celery sticks, chopped into large chunks
1 leek, trimmed and chopped into thick rounds
300g  small turnips, quartered
½ tsp chilli flakes
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of rosemary
100g  pearl barley
500ml hot chicken or lamb stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the crust:
1 medium French baguette
3 garlic cloves, chopped
½ tsp sea salt
1tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
25g (1oz) soft unsalted butter

Heat the olive oil in a casserole. Dust the chunks of lamb with the flour, dust off any excess flour and then brown the lamb in the casserole on all sides. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and leave to rest on a plate.

Melt the butter in the same pan. Sauté the celery, leek and turnips for 10-15 mins until they have caught some colour and caramelised slightly.

Return the sealed lamb to the pan, add the chilli flakes, bay leaves and rosemary and fry again for 1 min. Pour in the pearl barley and hot stock and season well. Cover and leave to simmer on a low heat for 1 hr, topping it up with water if needed.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Cut the French baguette into slices on the diagonal. Make the garlic butter by pounding together the garlic, salt and parsley, then stir in the softened butter. Butter one side of each slice.

Take the casserole off the heat and arrange the sliced bread over the surface. Bake it in the oven for 20 mins or until the bread is golden and crisp. Serve piping hot.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Red Wine & Bacon Shepherd's Pie with Colcannon

I found this recipe in Masterchef Magazine in a section all about British Pub Fare.  Every recipe looked delicious, especially this one.  Being a cold, wet and windy winter in Adelaide I was dying to try it out. 

The acutal mince part of this pie is to die for.  It is so rich which I believe comes from the 4g of porcini mushrooms.  I loved it, especially the deep sexy colour it went.  I will use the mince recipe any time I'm making a shepherd's pie in the future.  The Colcannon was also fantastic and I loved the flavour of the cabbage through the creamy, buttery mash - but there was just far too much.  There is no need for 2kg of potato and cabbage for the topping.  Next time I make this, and there definitely will be a next time - I'll be halving, if not quartering, the amount of colcannon.

As usual, I had loads left over so I sent a serve to my favourite food critic Richard - here's what he said:

Wow, dish after dish never fails to impress. The onion, bacon, potato, everything was just right on the money. It was the perfect meal for a cold and wet winter’s day. Such a large serve lets me live it all again tomorrow. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou.

4g packet dried porcini mushrooms, crumbled
1 tbs olive oil
4 rashers rindless bacon, finely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
700g minced lamb
2 tbs plain flour
400g can Italian chopped tomatoes
2 tbs tomato paste
250ml (1 cup) red wine
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce


100g butter, chopped
500g (about 1/2 small) savoy
cabbage, cored, cut into 1cm pieces
3 spring onions, trimmed, thinly sliced
1.4kg sebago potatoes, peeled
250ml (1 cup) pouring cream
50g grated parmesan

Soak mushrooms in 125ml (1/2 cup) hot water, then drain. Heat oil in a large casserole over medium heat. Add bacon and stir for 5 minutes or until starting to brown. Add onions, carrots and 1 1/2 tsp salt, and stir occasionally for 8 minutes or until carrots are almost soft. Add garlic and mushrooms, and stir for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add mince and break up with a wooden spoon for 3 minutes or until browned. Stir in flour, tomatoes, tomato paste, wine and Worcestershire sauce. Cover partially with a lid and simmer gently over low–medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until sauce is thick. Season with pepper.

Meanwhile, to make colcannon, heat 40g butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add cabbage and onions, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until cabbage is soft. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Place potatoes in a large saucepan of cold water, then boil for 35 minutes or until tender. Drain. Add remaining butter, cream and parmesan to the pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Using a potato ricer, press the potatoes into the pan. (Alternatively, mash potatoes using a potato masher.) Stir in cabbage mixture until combined. Season colcannon with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 200C. Spoon mince mixture into 6 x 500ml (2-cup) ovenproof dishes or a 3L (12-cup) ovenproof dish. Cover with colcannon and bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Warm Chocolate Cakes with Toasted Marshmallow Meringue

Last weekend Sathya and I held our first dinner party together and it was a raging success.  We decided to go with a Movida inspired theme so everything was very spanish. I was expecting it to be a really stressful affair as we made loads of tapas, a main with two sides and then dessert.  Everything ran perfectly smoothly and we all had a great night - especially enjoying all the bubbles, whites, reds and dessert wines that went with each dish. 

Below is what we had for dessert.  I loved it!  The cake was really moist and rich and the meringue was so marshmallowy.  In my drunken state I did place it too high under the grill and gave the meringue a little too much toasting, but they still tasted great.  Unfortunatley none of us finished dessert because we were so full of rich foods - all of which I will post over the coming weeks.  I thought this dessert was really impressive and I'll be making it again for sure.  Even if it is just to lick the bowl of meringue clean the next morning!

Chocolate Cakes
1 cup butter, plus more to butter the molds

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 eggs
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
8 teaspoons flour
unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

Set a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (You just need a couple of inches of water - do not let the bowl touch the water). Add the butter and chocolate and heat them gently together until the chocolate is almost completely melted. Remove from the heat and whisk until chocolate is smooth.

While that's heating, beat together the eggs, yolks, and sugar with a whisk or electric beater until light and thick, several minutes.

Pour in the egg mixture into the chocolate/butter mixture and then quickly beat in the flour, just until combined.

Butter and lightly dust with some of the cocoa powder eight 4-ounce molds, custard cups, or ramekins. Divide the batter among the molds. (At this point you can refrigerate the desserts until you are ready to eat, for up to several hours; bring them back to room temperature before baking.)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Bake the molds on a tray for 10 minutes; the center will still be quite soft, but the sides will be set. Remove from oven. Set the oven to "broil".

Pipe the Marshmallow Meringue on the top of each cake. (If you don't have a pastry bag and tip, just use a gallon size zip lock with a corner cut off). Return to oven and broil just until tops are toasted - watch carefully so they don't burn.

Optional: Skip the marshmallow and invert each mold onto a plate and let sit for about 10 seconds. Unmold by lifting up one corner of the mold; the cake will fall out onto the plate. Serve immediately.

Marshmallow Meringue
(You will need a cooking thermometer for this recipe)
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
a large pinch of cream of tartar

Combine egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a heat-proof mixer bowl. Place bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk until sugar is dissolved and whites are warmed to 145 degrees F. about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and place bowl on electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat starting on low speed and then increasing to high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes. Use immediately.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lamb Shank Pie

I made this on Australia Day and haven't posted it because I'm lazy really!  I've attempted to post it a few times by searching for the recipe online (its a Jamie Oliver) and just cutting and pasting it into the blog.  The recipe is quite long and I can't be bothered retyping it you see.  But I've discovered that if you post any of Jamie Olivers recipes online you will shortly receive an email from his solicitors advising you to remove the recipe or face legal action!  Yikes!

So basically - if you want the recipe for this - shoot me an email or drop a comment at the bottom of this post and I'll scan it into a computer and email it to you.

Although the recipe is long to type - its not hard to make.  We loved it and felt very aussie having it on Australia Day.  It was also my first attempt at a pie of any sort - I've never used much pastry except for puff.  And it worked a treat.  Did exactly what it was supposed to do.

Slow cooked lamb shank pie is a winner!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Anzac Biscuits

And so we are married!  23 days ago we were married in a small catholic chapel in Blackwood followed by a beautiful reception at the Belair Park Country Club.  Everything went to plan and every guest had an amazing time.  It was by far the most full on day of my life.  I did my best to take it all in.  The only time I felt completely relaxed was when Jared was next to me or talking to me, dancing with me or smiling at me. He made it the most wonderful day of my life.

Four days after the wedding Jared flew off to the USA and Canada for a two week work conference trip.  I really missed him but it was almost nice to have some time to myself to decompress and sleep.  The busyness of the time leading up to the wedding had wiped me out.  Plus we plan a proper honeymoon to Cairns in July.

He's home now and we've had 7 days off work together and it has been really lovely. We've been to Meadows for an Easter Fair, McLaren Vale for some camping, spent time in the garden, had a big bush walk, snuggled watching dvds in bed and cooked some fancy meals together over stunning bottles of wine.  Life is good!  Fantastic in fact!

And today is Anzac Day  - so what better thing to cook but Anzac Biscuits.  I cooked them using a recipe that won First Prize for Caitlin Fulton in a bake off in Penola.  As it's a public holiday I couldnt go to the shops for extra ingredients so I cooked using Ghee instead of butter and I used dark brown sugar instead of plain brown sugar.  The result - rich, moist, gooey anzac biscuits with loads of crunch around the edge.  Perfection.  Anzac Biscuits always remind me of my nana and I think most Australian kids would say the same.

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup shredded coconut
125g Ghee
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Preheat oven to 160 degrees or 140 if fan forced.  Grease oven trays, line with baking paper.

Combine oats, sifted flour, sugar and coconut in a large bowl.  Combine butter, syrup and water in a small saucepan, stir over low heat until smooth; stir in soda.  Stir into dry ingredients.

Roll level teaspoons of mixture into balls; place about 5cm apart on trays.  Flatten slightly.  Bake for 20 minutes, cool on trays.  Makes 25 biscuits.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Weight Watchers Quiche

So its now 24 days until I become Mrs Jared Simes - so needless to say the diet is very much underway!  I'm actually doing Weight Watchers At Work which is fantastic because the meetings and weigh ins are during our lunch hour and in our building! Perfect.

I bought one of the Weight Watchers cookbooks called Simple - and this recipe really is just that and is so delicious! I've already made it twice and have been asked for the recipe by three people.  Its a real winner!  I was slightly worried it would be a bit bland initially (I generally find (healthy) quiches to be very boring and eggy) so I added a few extras to liven it up.  Even with the extras this quiche is still so low in points.  The entire thing is 28 points and with the new ProPoints Weight Watchers system you get 36 points a day!  So you could eat the entire thing and still be under your points.

Do yourself a favour and cook this little beauty!  I will be making it for years to come -whether I'm dieting or not!

8 sheets filo pastry
1 bunch english spinach, trimmed
1 bucnh asparagus, trimmed thinly sliced
100g lean leg ham, fat trimmed, chopped
75g reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled
125g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch spring onions, white part chopped
60g tasty cheese, grated
1 teaspoon masterfoods moroccan spice
5 eggs
1/2 cup low fat milk

Preheat oven to 190 degrees or 170 degrees if fan forced.  Lightly spray 23cm round flutted tart tin with oil.  Lightly spray each sheet of filor with oil and fold in half crossways.  Layer pastry in tin, lightly spraying with oil between layers.  Place tin on baking tray.

Lightly fry off the ham and spring onions in a fry pan with a light spray of olive oil.  Place spinach in a large heatproof bowl.  Cover with boiling water and set aside for 30 seconds or until wilted.  Dran and rinse under cold water.  Drain well, squeezing out excess liquid.  Finely chop.

Arrange spinache, asparagus, ham, spring onion and feta over pastry base. Top with tomatoes, cut side up.  Whisk eggs and milk in a large jug.  Season with moroccan spice, salt and pepper.  Pour egg mixture over filling in tin.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until pastry is golden and filling is set.  Remove from oven and sit for 5 minutes.  Serve with rocket salad.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!

Jared and I spent this weekend in Clare with my nana.  It was so lovely to sit and relax for two days.  The past few months have been go go go - non stop plans and socialising so it was great to get away and recharge.  We watched loads of movies, drank red wine and relaxed.  At the bottom of this post is an incredible photo of the sunset from the loungeroom in Clare.  I haven't been able to stop looking at it.

When I'm in Clare with nana I always try to fit in some baking.  It was nana who taught me everything I know about baking and still to this day she gives me tips on how to get it to work better.  As it's Valentines Day this week I thought it was a perfect opportunity to bake love heart buttercream biscuits.  This recipe made loads of them so I'll be taking them into work tomorrow to share with our colleagues.  As usual my favourite part is the icing - I believe you need to really layer it on thick.  The biscuits are really yummy - not too short and just sweet enough.   I think they'll be a big hit tomorrow!

2 cups butter (no substitutes), softened

2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder

Preheat your oven to 180.
Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl. Then add the eggs and vanilla, mixing well. Combine the flour and baking powder and gradually add this to the egg mixture; mix well. Use a heart-shape cookie press to shape these cookies. Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are light brown. Cool and ice with buttercream frosting.

1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk
Rose coloured food colouring
Pink sprinkles

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, and vanilla. Blend in the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the milk, and continue mixing until light and fluffy. Keep icing covered until ready to decorate.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Stephanie Alexander Potato Salad

Well, the summer holidays are over but summer certainly isn't.  We've just had a month off and it was incredible.  We ate, BBQ'd, napped, socialized, swam and generally relaxed all day, every day.  I've never had that much time off and it was just what the doctor ordered.  I also planned the wedding in that time.  Pretty much everything is done!  I even have two wedding dresses because I went off the first one.  All that needs to be done now is shoes for the bridesmaids, shoes for me and a big diet! 

So this post isn't overly diet friendly but yummy none the less.  It's 33 degrees and Jared and I are lazing by the pool.  We've decided to have a BBQ for dinner and I've made potato salad from my Stephanie Alexander cookbook.  From preliminary taste tests, its a winner!  The vinegar gives it a lovely zing but the mustards and sour cream make it smooth and moreish. And then the crispy bacon - oh yum! There's a good chance this will become my go to potato salad recipe.  Very easy!

500g waxy potatoes

125g bacon, diced
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons seed mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Pinch salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives

Peel and boil potatoes until tender, then chop into cubes.  Fry bacon until crisp, and retain bacon fat. Combine sour cream, mustards, vinegar and salt, then tip into bacon pan. Mix, and pour over potatoes. Mix in, scatter with chives and season with cracked black pepper.


Saturday, January 1, 2011


It's been quite a while since I posted on here and a lot has happend in that time!  Sadly Jared's dear Pop passed away on the 10th of December which has been very hard for everyone but we were lucky enough to share our engagement with him before he passed away.  Jared actually proposed to me in the hospital room the evening before Pop died, which was so special and shows the kind of man I'm marrying.

So wedding plans are well underway as we've decided to have a shotgun wedding as we want to start having kids straight away.  April 2nd 2011 is the big day so it's lucky we've both got a month off work to get most of the planning happening.  I have the church, the priest, the reception, the cars, the bridesmaids and groomsmen and the DJ all booked!  I've also chosen the invitations and its now just a matter of finalising the guest list - which is incredibly hard!

So with all of this we've also had Christmas and New Years obviously.  We had my family stay for three days over Christmas and we had a lovely lunch with Jared's whole family as well.  We also decided to have a small gathering for New Years Eve which turned into a huge night!  There was skinny dipping at 6am and some guests were still drinking at 8am!  I don't know how they do it!

Which leads me to today's blog - Cheeslaw!  Jared taught this to me when we first got together and went to a BBQ.  It is nothing short of incredible.  I honestly could live on it.  And every single time I make it for a BBQ, someone asks for the recipe.  My mum phoned yesterday in the middle of making it to get some directions and about 15 minutes ago Jared's mum text him asking what the ingredients were.  So I thought I should just post it on the blog - that way I can direct everyone who asks here to have a look.   It really is an amazing salad. 

6 carrots peeled
750g tasty cheese
spring onions
1 jar Heinz Salad Cream
Mayo (if needed)

Grate the cheese and carrot in a food processor and mix together.  Slice the spring onion and stir that through.  Mix in one jar of Heinz Salad Cream.  If it isnt creamy enough, add some extra mayo to get it to a nice creamy consistency.  Eat!