Sunday, August 29, 2010

Oatmeal and raisin cookies.

Whenever I cook something with flour in it, Rooney gets all excited, putting his paws in the bowl and then putting flour all over his face. He's like a little kid that is too impatient to wait for the cookies to be cooked, so just eats all the batter raw.
Oatmeal and raisin cookies are such an American thing. I never say oatmeal, or cookies, or raisins. I say biscuit and oats. I don't even know if there's a difference between sultanas and raisins. (Is there a difference? Please let me know).
But if you say oat and sultana biscuits, they just don't sound quite as appatising, somehow. But thats ok. We'll eat them anyway, because these biscuits are tasty as. They're thick and chewy and all you could ever  want from a biscuit. If you made them with choc chips instead of sultanas, it'd be heaven!

Adapted from smitten kitchen
Oven- 170
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinammon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
pinch salt
1 1/2 cup oats
3/4 cup sultanas

Cream butter, sugar, egg and vanilla
Add the dry ingredients, and mix
Spoon teaspoon sized balls onto a lined tray, and chill for half an hour (to stop the biscuits from spreading).
Bake for 10-12 mins. Should be gold around the edges but still soft.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Es! is for soup

I can't think of a better way to spend winter, than by making soup. It's just so warming and easy and healthy. And, goodness, it's cheap too! (Did you say $3 for that whole pumpkin?)
I'm no fan of tomato soup, and potato and leek just doesn't seem that great, but pumpkin soup has got it all going on. It's colourful and healthy and, well, thats all I need, really.

I made this soup with some frozen chicken stock that I made ages ago. Stock seems so easy to make, but it was the first time I made it, and I didn't really have the hang of it, so the stock didn't really taste like that much. I ended up having to put a stock cube in the soup as well, to make it extra tasty. If you've got a good stock recipe, please share!
I'm sure you don't need a recipe for pumpkin soup, it's just so simple! But here's one anyway... I haven't used much liquid because I like my soup thick, but add more if you like.

p.s. this has nothing to do with soup, but my sister is just so talented, I thought I'd share a photo with you of her amazing installation. [click here]

Butternut Pumpkin Soup:
1kg butternut pumpkin, seeded, peeled and chopped
2 cups of chicken stock + more water, if you prefer your soup thinner
1 onion, diced
olive oil
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
cream, for swirling

Heat a big saucepan and fry the onion in some oil until translucent.
Add the pumpkin, stock and spices, bring to the boil.
Cook until pumpkin is soft.
Transfer to a blender and blend it, baby!
Pour a little swirl of cream on top.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Oven fried chicken.

Today was one of those classic Hobart Winter Days. It's completely georgous in the morning. You take off your beanie and scarf and wonder why you're even wearing a jumper. Then the wind picks up. The clouds sweep in and it gets so cold you can't feel your toes. It pours down with rain, big sheets of grey rain, and you can't believe you went outside at all. You spend the rest of the day gazing out the window, wondering what happened, watching your breath steam up the glass. When you wake up in the morning, it's sunny again, the mountain iced in snow. You forget about the rain altogether and start to think about the best way to get the most out of this sunny day.

I love days like these. You start the day wondering what happened to winter, feeling ripped off that there hasn't been any snow. Then end the day wishing it was summer, yearning for days that stretch on forever.

So here's a recipe to get you in the summer mood. To help you forget about the cold and rainy days, and get you dreaming about long, summer days.
This recipe is super quick and easy. Another mix-everything-together-and-put-it-in-the-oven recipe. It'll get you thinking about barbecues and beaches, without you actually having to go to the beach, or fire up a barbecue.

Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken:
Adapted from everybody likes sandwiches.
Oven- 200

1 cup plain yoghurt
1/4 cup milk
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp dijon mustard
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small onion, diced
salt and pepper
chicken drumsticks and wings

Mix everything except the chicken.
Add the chicken and marinate for as long as you can (Overnight would be best).

1 cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup parmesan
1/4 cup plain flour
2 tsp dried herbs
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Mix everything together.
Take one drumstick at a time, and roll in the crumb mixture.
Place on baking tray.
Continue for all the chicken.
Bake about 45-50 mins until golden and crispy and smelling of summer.

Monday, August 23, 2010

winner, winner, (honey soy) chicken dinner.

I find myself thinking about recipes all the time (especially when I'm meant to be doing my assignments). I love reading cooking magazines and looking at food blogs. It just makes me all excited and I get all inspired and want to cook something straight away. It's just what I'm in to, I guess. I love cooking for people that I care about. To cook them something that they will really enjoy. If I had a much bigger house that had room for a dining table, I'd have people over to dinner all the time. Unfortunately, our house is just too tiny. So I have to make do with cooking for just me and Brent. Not that I'm complaining. I'm sure Brent would hate having to do the washing up after dinner parties for lots of people...

Now, this isn't really the sort of thing I'd cook for a dinner party. But chicken really does it for me. I could eat it everyday and not get bored. For a while I just liked eating it roasted with gravy, with some steamed veggies on the side. But here I am, trying new recipes. Watch out! Who knows what might happen.

This is a super easy recipe. It's really quick too. Just mix everything together and marinate the chicken. We had this with a simple salad, but it'd be good with rice or potatoes or something like that.

Oven- 180

1 tsp seasame oil
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 garlic cloves, diced
2 tsp sweet chilli sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp honey
4 chicken drumsticks, skin on

Mix everything except chicken.
Add chicken and marinate for as long as you can (overnight would be best).
Bake for 45-50 mins until crispy and dark golden.

Friday, August 20, 2010

whisky disaster cake

It rained all day today. It was super cold and it snowed on the mountain. The first day that it snowed heaps all winter, and I have to work all weekend so I'm not gonna get to see the snow even a little bit! That's just typical.

It stopped raining just long enough for me to walk to the shops and buy the ingredients for a chocolate whisky cake. I've been thinking about this cake since Brent's sister left a bottle of Canadian Club at our house 2 weekends ago. We've got a cake at work that is a Grand Marnier Chocolate mousse cake which is delicious, and I thought I could make something similar using the CC. Then I saw a recipe for bourbon cupcakes on everybody likes sandwiches, and I thought I'd adapt it a little bit to make a whole (non-vegan) cake.

I was super excited about it. Chocolate? Booze? What's not to like.
Except, something went wrong. On this cold, rainy day, somewhere, something went wrong and I just didn't make a very good cake. The sauce was ok, but it wasn't thick enough. It just ran straight off the cake and it was Super alcoholic. It was like eating chocolate liquors, but without the satisfaction.
The cake was soft, but wasn't as chocolatey as I'd hoped. Basically, disaster.

Originally I'd made this to take to a dinner party, but the party was cancelled at the last minute. This was a stroke of luck, really. How could I face anyone with this horrible, boozey cake I'd made? Thank god no-one else had to eat it. No. Not really. It wasn't seriously that bad. But it wasn't seriously good. It wasn't even plain good. I guess we can't all be good in the kitchen all the time. I'm not even gonna give you the recipe for this, because I'm sure you can find a nicer one somewhere. Maybe you could just have some whisky and some chocolate and you'll be happier than me.

So I'll just sit here, while Brent watches the footy, and eat my boozy cake. Maybe if I eat enough, it'll start to taste good. We'll see what happens.

Oh! is for orange cake.

There are lots of things that are better than the federal election. Orange cake is just one of them. Do yourself a favour and make an orange cake on Saturday, to cheer yourself up.

We served this cake straight out of the oven, covered in syrup and thick, plain yoghurt. It was like a proper afternoon tea, where everyone drops in at just the right moment to sit around talking about their how day was, while they enjoy some cake and tea.
The orange syrup bubbled away nicely while the cake cooked and the sun shone into my parents kitchen through the big windows that overlook the ocean.
This cake is moist and textural and the syrupy oranges on top make it look lovely. If I do say so myself.

Semolina Orange Cake:
Adapted from Australian Women's Weekly cookbook
Oven 180

125g butter, softened
1/2 cup castor sugar
zest of 1 orange
2 eggs
1 cup semolina
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup almond meal

Orange Syrup:
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 orange, sliced
2 tsp orange blossom water

Cream butter, sugar and orange zest.
Add eggs, beating between each.
Fold in semolina, almond meal and baking powder.
Pour into bundt tin and bake for 30 mins.
For the Syrup:
Put juice, sugar and oranges in saucepan over medium heat. Simmer, then pour over cake.

Start your day right. Vanilla and almond museli.

Breakfast is my most favourite meal of the whole day. I usually eat breakfast by myself, because Brent goes to work super early in the morning, but this means that I can eat whatever I want! I could have eggs, or toast, or porridge or cake, if I felt like it. Or all of these together. Wowser!

I like eating oats. A lot. They make me feel homely and wholesome and ready for the day. Especially if I eat them in museli rather than in anzac biscuits or oat and raisin biscuits, which has been known to happen on occasion.

When I was little, Mum would make us breakfast all day on special Sunday's. We'd have cereal for breakfast, pancakes for lunch and eggs for dinner. I never do this anymore. I like to have a roast on Sunday's, and that's not really a breakfast meal at all. I never really eat pancakes either, I prefer to have savoury things for breakfast. This museli is an exception to that rule though.

You totally don't need a recipe for this. Just use what you think tastes good.
I used cranberries and sultanas and almonds because I like them. I used vanilla and mixed spice because I like them, too, and they taste good.
Obviously it's not peach season at all because it's the middle of winter, but I used canned peaches (no added sugar!) because I like to eat peaches all year round. We didn't have any milk or yoghurt this morning, so I used the juice from the can of peaches. It was excellent. I didn't miss the milky goodness at all!

Serves one
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup each of dried cranberries and sultanas
couple of almonds
between 1/4 and 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 tsp mixed spice
peaches, or whatever fruit you like.

Mix everything together (except peaches) and top with fruit.
Relax into your day.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lady (Blood Orange) Marmalade.

Ah, winter. Orange season. Look at those blood oranges! They are lovely.

I only recently got into marmalade. Now I eat it pretty much everyday. Dad and I were talking about making marmalade a little while ago, and one day he called me up.
"What are you doing this weekend?" he says.
"I don't know, Dad. Why's that?"
"It's seville orange season!"

So we made marmalade.

The great thing about blood oranges is that you get an amazing red colour scheme, along with the tangy orange flavour. Not that plain old orange isn't a nice colour. I didn't say that.

The thing I enjoyed most about making the marmalade (apart from spending some quality time with old Dad, of course) was slicing the oranges up as thinly as I could. It was like a competition with myself to see how thin I could get them. I won.

Dad says you need to use a big, wide pot for this, rather than a big, high pot, as the heat distributes better. Dad also says that the sugar makes the fruit break down faster. So if you like your marmalade a bit less peely, put the sugar in earlier. 

Blood Orange Marmalade:
The same weight of oranges as sugar.
We used 1kg oranges : 1kg sugar
We also used a few seville oranges, along with the blood oranges.

Make sure you wash your jars and lids thoroughly in soapy water, and, when dry, steralise them (just pop them in the microwave for 5 mins).

Cut the oranges in half lengthways.
Cut the pithy bit out of the middle and slice the ends off. Put these, and any pips, in a muslin bag for later.
Slice the oranges as thinly as you can and put in a big, wide pot.
Tie up the muslin bag with all the orange bits and add this to the pot.
Pour in enough cold water to just cover the oranges.
Cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until the oranges are starting to break down.
Take out the muslin bag.
Add the sugar and stir.
Cook until the marmalade is at setting stage.
Pour into your steralised jars.
Leave the lids off the jars until a dry skin starts to form on the top, then put the lids on. If you put the lids on too soon, the tops will go mouldy. Gross.

Serve on toast with heaps of butter and lots of tea.

Also, check out this girls outfit! I hope you wear something like that when you make your marmalade.

Feeling patriotic? make some Anzac biscuits

When I make anzac biscuits, I feel like I should have my hair curled and be wearing an A-line dress, so that I can send the biscuits off to my husband/son in the war.
Hopefully no-one I know will have to go off to war, so I won't have to send anything off to them.
But it's fun to play pretend.

I'm not sure where this recipe came from, it was just in my recipe book. The amounts of sugar and syrup were a bit off- maybe I wrote the recipe down wrong?- but I tweaked them a little bit and now they're pretty perfect.
They're crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, and not too sweet (you could add more sugar if you like them a bit sweeter). The ones you can buy in cafe's are usually a lot flatter than these, but I like my biscuits chunky. yeah!

makes about 20
oven- 150
1 cup self raising flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup oats
3 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp bicarb
6 tbsp water
1 tbsp butter

mix dry ingredients
heat golden syrup and water, then add bicarb and melted butter.
pour into dry ingredients and mix.
roll into tbsp sized balls and bake on a lined tray for 20-25 mins until golden.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Museli bars (of the homegrown variety).

When I was little, Mum would always pack museli bars into my lunch box. They were always just Uncle Tobys ones, but I'm sure that Mum would've made these for me, if she had the recipe.
When I'm feeling a bit homey, I imagine what kind of a mum I'll be. The kind that makes you choc chip biscuits but still makes you eat all of your carrots. I'll definately be the kind of mum that makes museli bars and packs them into your lunch box as a treat for little lunch.

These museli bars are super crunchy with just the right amount of sweetness. They also fall apart like there's no tomorrow, but you'll get over dopping oats on the floor once you taste them.
The original recipe calls for all honey, but I used half honey and half marmalade, because I love marmalade. No other reason.

Oven: 170
Adapted from smittenkitchen
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup almonds, chopped
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup marmalade
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
3/4 cup cranberreis chopped
3/4 cup sultanas, chopped

Mix oats, almonds and coconut and bake for 10-12 mins (on a tray) until golden. Stir occasionally.
Transferoat mix to a bowl. While still warm, add honey, marmalade, vanilla and salt. Stir until coated.
Add fruit, mix.
Press mix into a (lined) baking dish with wet fingers until tightly packed.
Bake 25-30 mins until golden.
Cool for 2-3 hours before cutting. (Don't think about skipping this point. The bars will just totally fall apart)

Fishes Love Pie.

Main Street, Chipping Norton, UK
When Brent and I were in England, we visited a little town called Chipping Norton, about an hour out of Oxford. Because it was so cold when we were there, we decided to go to the pub. All 5 of them. Now remember, this is a tiny town. There's probably about the same amount of houses as there are pubs. Nearly.

So the last pub we went too, we decided that we were starving (and, to be honest, a bit pissy) so we sat by the roaring open fire and had dinner. Brent had some kind of chicken and bacon meal and I had fish pie.
I'd never had fish pie before, but it was pretty much the best thing I've ever eaten. Fish and scallops in a creamy sauce covered in mash potato. What's not to like?
Ever since then, I've been thinking about this pie, talking about making it at least once a week, but never getting around to it.
Finally, I did it. I made an executive decision and decided that we would have fish pie for dinner.

I went to the fish shop and bought the special of the day (Silver Warhou) and made the pie.
(Note: make sure you get skinless and boneless fish. I forgot this important detail and had to de-bone and de-skin the fish myself. How fun!)
(Also, this would be really good if it had more veggies in it, like spinach and celery)

oven180, serves about 3 people
300g white fish, diced
big handful of scallops
1/2 cup cream
1 carrot, grated
1 onion, finely chopped
2 big potatoes
olive oil

Boil potatoes in salty water.
Fry onion and carrot until soft. Pour in the cream and simmer.
Put fish and scallops in a little cassarole dish. Pour over the cream mixture.
Mash the potatoes with some olive oil and fresh pepper.
Arrange over the fish.
Bake for 30 mins or until golden and bubbling.

Papa's Salad Dressing.

I love a good salad and it seems to run in the family. My Grandpa always made this salad dressing. It's the perfect amount of tangy and sweet and you could totally change the ratio's if you like less tangy or less sweet. This is how I like it though. And I tend to have the addition of anchovies in mine, because that's what I'm into - salty fish. I hear that some people don't like anchovies. Maybe I'm in the minority. Who knows.
This dressing really could go on any type of salad. But Stephanie Alexander, kitchen queen, reckons that different types of lettuce and extras need different types of dressing to compliment their bitter/crispy qualities. Oh well, I don't like bitter greens anyway!

Papa never used balsamic vinegar in his dressing, because he thought it made the lettuce look discoloured. I like to use balsamic vinegar, because I like to be able to see my salad dressing. If you're like Papa, use white vinegar instead.

Makes a bit more than half a cup
a tsp of dijon mustard
a tsp brown sugar
3 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Fresh cracked pepper

Shake! Let stand for a bit before using.

Here's a song to get you in the shakin' mood...

Chocolate loaf.

When I walked to work the other day, I passed this woman who smelt like chocolate. Melted chocolate. Chocolate walking around in lady form. She smelt so strongly of chocolate, that I couldn't stop thinking about chocolate cake all day.

8 hours later, after having dinner, I made a chocolate cake. Finally. I'd never made this particular cake before, but it was perfect. Dense and chocolatey. I actually think it was better cold, rather than when it was straight out of the oven.

This isn't a particularly fancy cake. Just a good, chocolate cake.

Chocolate Cake:
Taken from Smitten Kitchen

Oven 170
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups plain flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

Grease a loaf pan.
Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and beat.
Add milk and vanilla.
Add flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
Stir with a spoon until well mixed.
Pour the batter into pan.
Bake for 50-60 mins until cake tester comes out clean.

(Remember this song? Definitely a good one to bake a chocolate cake too.)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Brent's Nan's Chicken Curry Pies

Brent's family live a few hours drive away from us. So whenever we go up to visit for the weekend, we always go to his grandma's house to say hello. And eat her chicken curry pies.

I've never really eaten chicken curry pies before. It never really appealed to me. But after having these ones, I was an instant convert. They're nothing fancy, just simple and homemade. My kind of thing!
After trying them, I desperately wanted to get a pie maker, because thats what Nan uses. They're just so easy and they cook everything so quickly and they make cute little individual pies. Little individual ones!

So for christmas last year, Brent's parents got us a pie maker. We haven't used it that much, really (there's only so many days in a row you can have pie). But every now and then, I'll get all inspired and make pies on a lazy Sunday, so that we can eat hot pies in front of the telly, when it's cold and grey outside.

Nan's Chicken Curry Pies:
3 sheets of frozen puff pastry
1 onion, diced
3 chicken breasts, chopped
1 tbsp butter
2 tsp Keens curry powder
2 tbsp flour
1 cup frozen peas

Fry onion in butter until soft. Add chicken and fry until golden.
Add curry powder and flour and stir for a minute.
Add peas and enough milk to cover chicken.
Keep stirring until sauce becomes thick, and reduced slightly.
Add salt and fresh ground pepper, to your liking.
Cut out pastry sheets into circles and put in your pie maker (or a muffin tin will do, I suppose)
Cook until golden.
Listen to some laid-back tunes while you're cookin'.

A 50th of a Cheesecake.

It was my Step-Mum's 50th birthday and I offered to make a cake (or two) for the celebration. I figured, seeing as I missed my Dad's 50th and both my siblings birthdays' this year, I should at least make an effort for one of them.
This was before I realised how many people would be turning up to the party. About 40 or 50. Now this may not sound like very many, but I've only really cooked for small amounts of people before.
No pressure!
So I searched high and low to find a cake recipe that would be big enough to feed so many people. Apparently, they don't exist. So I decided that I would make two cakes, plus a batch of cupcakes, to keep everyone happy. But most importantly, to keep everyone full of cake.

As it turns out, having lots of choice for birthday dessert is something that everyone appreciates. So there I was, donned in my finest attire, with everyone saying how nice the cakes were and what a good effort I'd gone too. Apparently, hardly anybody knew that I had so much talent! (Ha!)

So here's the recipe for one of the cakes I made. A rosemary cheesecake with added pinenuts, for that extra crunch we all crave. I made this with low-fat ricotta, but full-fat ricotta would probably be just as good, if not nicer, I imagine.

Rosemary and Honey Cheesecake:
Adapted from Karen Martini

oven 180
100g fresh breadcrumbs
2 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
100g honey, plus extra for glazing (about 4 tbsp)
620g ricotta
1/4 cup castor sugar
5 eggs
1 cup plain yoghurt
250g mascarpone
zest of 1 lemon
50g pine nuts (use more, if you like)

Grease sides of a 26cm springform pan with butter. Press breadcrumbs around the tin.
Mix rosemary and honey, bring to a simmer in a saucepan.
Beat ricotta and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating between each.
Add cooled honey, yoghurt, mascarpone and lemon, mix.
Pour into tin, and sprinkle with pinenuts.
Bake 1 1/4 hours until golden.
Melt extra honey and spread over cake to glaze.

Plus, here's a super song for you to listen to while you're getting your bake on!

Feeling Anarchic? Have a cupcake.

A little while ago, Brent and I had my sister and some of her friends over for afternoon tea. Being in high school, they all think they're pretty punk and shit. Wearing tartan and listening to 'Against Me!' and whatever else kids are into these days.
So 3o'clock comes and 4 kids turn up at our tiny apartment (and I mean tiny). So they all pile in, and sit on the floor (because our lounge room isn't big enough for a table) and I bring out tea. Of the English Breakfast variety.
Then it gets awkward. I'm not even sure why we decided to have all these 15-year-olds over in the first place! Who's idea was this? Not mine, that's for sure. So we're sitting there, me and Brent, my sister and her friends, talking about bands that we've been listening too, and then I remember the whole reason they came over.


But, to be more precise, punk cake.
(Forgive the pictures being on their sides. I couldn't work out how to get them around the other way. Whoops!)
[Note: I just want to clarify, that I don't actually think of myself as a punk, not even a little bit.]


Punk As Chocolate Cake:
oven 180.
125g butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup self raising flour
2 eggs
100ml milk, combined with 2 tbsp cocoa.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat again.
Fold in half the flour, then all the coca mix, then the rest of the flour.
Bake 45 mins.
(You could easily make this in a regular springform tin, or a (meat)loaf tin, if you're feeling creative.)

For the ganache and piping
90g dark chocolate
1 cup cream
icing sugar

Melt the chocolate and cream in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. (you can mix icing sugar in at this point, if you like it a bit sweeter).
You don't want the ganache to be too runny, either.
Smooth ganach over cake.
When cool, pipe words on, (made from glace icing- a mix of water and icing sugar and food dye) making them as anarchic, or not, as you like).

Lemon Anarchy Cupcakes:
oven 175
makes 18
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 cups self raising flour
4 eggs
1 lemon, juice and zest
icing sugar and more lemon juice and food dye.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and beat with electric mixers until combined.
Spoon into Patty(Smith) pans.
Bake for 20 mins, or until golden.
When cool, mix icing sugar with extra lemon juice until desired consistency (not too runny!).
Separate into two bowls, leave one white and colour the other.
Ice each cupcake with white icing, finish with coloured piping.

Rock on!

(If you like, you could listen to a bit of Against Me! while you're baking.)