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Monthly Archives: August 2010

Coq au Vin

Gee, I’m on a roll with these late night, unappealing photos aren’t I?

I’m hoping you’ll forgive me but I was just so proud that I had made my very first Coq au Vin without the assistance of a packet ‘flavour base” that I had to share.

So it might look unappealing and let’s not go there comparing it to other things it may resemble, just trust me when I say it was scrumptious and I will definitely be making it again.

We had this with olive oil mash and crunchy steamed green beans.

I made a few of my adaptations to this recipe.

  • I used brown onions instead of pickling onions.
  • I used chicken breast fillets because that was what I had.
  • I used pancetta instead of bacon.
  • I skipped on the cognac.

Ingredients

  • 20 small onions (pickling onions)
  • A few sprigs of parsley
  • A sprig of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 50 g butter
  • About 100 g bacon, cut into small strips
  • About 250 g mushrooms
  • 8 chicken pieces on the bone, e.g. 4 drumsticks and 4 thighs
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • About 30 ml cognac
  • 1 large tbsp plain flour
  • About 400 ml red wine
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley

Method

  1. Place peeled onions in a saucepan with cold water. Bring to the boil and boil for 2 minutes, then drain.
  2. Tie the parsley, thyme and bay leaf together using kitchen string.
  3. Heat half the butter in a wide saucepan on medium heat and brown onions for a few minutes. Add bacon and stir well for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes until mushrooms are soft. Transfer onions, bacon and mushrooms to a dish.
  4. Heat remaining butter in the same pan and brown chicken pieces on high heat for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir well.
  5. Drain excess fat into a bowl and discard.
  6. Add cognac to pan and flame the chicken by either lighting a match or by tilting the pan towards the gas flame. Stir well, then sprinkle flour over the chicken.
  7. Add wine and shake the pan. Add herbs, garlic and tomato paste and stir well. Bring to a slow simmer, cover with a lid and cook for about 20 minutes.
  8. Turn chicken pieces over. Add mushrooms, bacon and onions, cover with a lid and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
  9. Check the seasoning, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

Recipe adapted from here

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Posted by on August 24, 2010 in Delish Dinners

 

One the kiddies will love: Bean Taco Cups

Ok, so in my Food Network induced coma, cooking really took a backseat. I survived on peanut butter toast, Crunchy Nut cornflakes and salads. My cooking was limited to quick, easy and cheap (I had just spent a few hundred dollars on…stuff…and hubby was pissed to the max), so I often opted for ‘uni student’ food.

This recipe is great if your kids are helping you out in the kitchen, it also jazzes up the normal burrito/taco thing and adds a little twist. And we all know how kids go apeshit over burritos and tacos. They love building their own burrito or taco and it really is a great way to get them involved in the kitchen and get them interested in their food at the dinner table.

I’m sorry for the crap photo, it was late at night and I was bordering on tipsy after a few too many Cherry Ripe cocktails…yep, I just blamed it on the booze.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 packet of soft flour tortillas
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 small brown onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 cup cheddar/Tasty cheese
  • 2 tomatoes, diced (reserve half for the guacamole)
  • 1 cup iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Sour cream, to serve

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Spray a muffin tray with oil and forming the tortillas into cups, stuff them into the muffin holes. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until golden and crispy.
  2. Pour olive oil into frying pan over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic for a few minutes until soft and fragrant. Add kidney beans, cumin and paprika. Add the salsa and stir to combine, heat over medium heat for 5 minutes, then set aside.
  3. To make the guacamole, blend avocado, green onion, lemon juice, sour cream, salt and pepper together (I used my beloved Magic Bullet, a 2 second job, gotta love it!).
  4. When the taco cups have cooled and gone deliciously crispy, spoon in the kidney bean mixture, top with grated cheese, tomato, lettuce and top with a dollop of guacamole. Add some sour cream.
 
 

Chicken Salad Niçoise

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1/2 lb red potatoes (I used 3 average sized potatoes)
  • 1/2 cup green beans, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 3 precooked skinless chicken breasts (1lb), cut into long, thin strips
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into thin strips
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
  • 1/2 small red onion, cut into thin strips
  • 1/3 cup niçoise or other black olives
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil, tarragon or chives
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
  • 2 small tomatoes, cut into wedges

Dressing

  • 2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Place potatoes in a saucepan with salted water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. (*I steamed mine)
  2. Drain and cool potatoes, then peel and cut into thin wedges.
  3. Meanwhile, cook green beans in a small saucepan of boiling salted water until tender but crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes. Pour into a strainer, run under cold water and then pat dry. (*I steamed my beans)
  4. For the salad dressing, combine garlic, mustard, basil and lemon juice in a small bowl.
  5. Whisk in oil a little at a time until well mixed, and season with salt and pepper.
  6. In a large bowl, combine chicken, potatoes, green beans, carrots, red pepper, onion, olives, capers and fresh herbs.
  7. Toss with dressing. Garnish with egg and tomato wedges. If desired, serve on lettuce-lined plates.

Recipe Source

 
 

Chocolate Chilli Cake

Ingredients


For the cake:

  • 250g Butter/Margarine
  • 300g Light Muscovado/Caster Sugar
  • 100g Plain Flour
  • 100g Self-Raising Flour
  • 3-4 Eggs
  • 300g Dark Chocolate
  • 1-3 Red Chillies (depends on your preference)

For the ganache:

  • 200g Dark Chocolate
  • 200ml Double Cream

Method

1. Heat an oven to 160°C
2. Grease with butter a 20cm (approx) cake tin or springform pan.
3. Using a whisk, add the butter/margarine to a mixing bowl together with the sugar. Whisk till light and fluffy.
4. Beat in the eggs one at a time, take care not to let the mixture seperate. If it does seperate, add a bit of flour.
5. Next you need to melt the chocolate, this can be done by microwaving it in a microwave-save bowl for 1 minute bursts, mixing with a spatula between bursts.
6. Once cool, add the chocolate to the mixture and mix in.
7. Add the remaining flour to the mixture and stir till smooth.
8. If you are using fresh chillies finely chop them, and either add now or crush/blend them to a paste.
9. If using ready made chili paste or oil, add it to the mixture now, or the paste you made yourself. Add slowly, checking it does not too badly ovepower the mixture. Stir till smooth.
10. Pour the cake mixture into the greased cake tin.
11. Bake for just under 1 hour or till fully cooked. Check by poking a knife or stick in, and if clean it is cooked. Do not let it burn, so check occasionaly. It should be risen and have a slight crust.
12. Take out the cake, and let it cool for 10 minutes, before taking out of the tin. Then leave to cool for another 10 minutes on a wire rack.
13. The cake could be eaten now, or if you want to ice it, proceed with the instructions, or choose your own icing choice.
14. To make Chocolate ganache icing, simply:
Melt the chocolate as before, and mix together with the cream, and then cool until thickened. Cut the cake in half, ice, then put back together and ice all over.

Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver’s recipe.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2010 in Devilish Desserts

 

Almond Biscotti

I must apologise for my recent lack of updates.

No, I did not drown in a sea of laundry (hubby gave me CPR and brought me back from the brink just as my life started flashing before my eyes), nor did I run away with the circus (although, sometimes I was surrounded by a few too many clowns).

I will tell you where I’ve been if you promise not to judge me too harshly.

A month ago, I had cable TV installed. I’ve been glued to the Food Network ever since.

I am a bad blogger. Bend me over and spank me.

To paint you a picture, here’s what my days have been like over the last few weeks.

9:00AM– Get up, turn on TV in bedroom, watch Food Network while getting dressed, doing hair and putting on face.

10:00AM– Put on heels, spritz with perfume while mesmerised by the Food Network. Repeat for the remainder of the day.

6:30PM– Get home, take off heels and bra. Turn on Food Network. Drool.

7:30PM– Catch up on all recorded cooking shows I missed during business hours. Eat peanut butter toast.

9:00PM– Throw the remote at husband for interrupting 5 Ingredient Fix or Ace of Cakes. Laugh at Chef Duff’s laugh and Anne Burrell’s grunts.

11:55PM– Realise I haven’t cooked dinner. Shrug. Head to bed and watch Food Network in the bedroom until I fall asleep.

I know I will eventually snap out of it. But for the moment, let me enjoy my Food Network glow. The wonders of cable television, how could I have been so resistant for soooo long?

So to apologise for me ditching the blog, I made you this peace offering. Almond biscotti, my all time favourites.

I have also made chocolate-orange biscotti, substituting the almonds for chocolate chips and adding orange rind and Cointreau. I have also made hazelnut and chocolate biscotti, substituting the almonds for hazelnuts and adding choc chips.

Recipe

  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups plain flour, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 150g whole almonds (skin on)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 170C and line a large baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. Beat sugar, eggs and lemon rind in a bowl and mix until pale and thick.
  3. Fold in sifted flour, baking powder and almonds and knead the dough until it’s well combined, smooth and elastic. You will wonder if I’ve been smoking crack when you start this process because it doesn’t look like it will possibly come together, but work at it and I guarantee it will.
  4. Divide mixture in half and form 2 logs. Place on baking sheet, ensure there is adequate space between the logs. Bake for 20-25 minutes until dough is firm and slightly golden.
  5. Remove from oven, set aside to cool.
  6. Reduce oven to about 140C.
  7. Once dough has cooled, use a serrated knife or even better, an electric knife to cut the biscuits out of the log.
  8. Lay the slices flat on the baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes, turning once, until golden and dried out.
  9. Remove from oven, allow to cool. Store in airtight container for 3 weeks.
 
 

Spaghetti with Creamy Mushroom, Leek & Pancetta Sauce

I only discovered leeks a few years ago, on a rainy afternoon lunch break where I dashed into a local Starbucks for a caramel macchiato.

In my haste and my desperation, I needed something quick and easy to eat on the way back to work. The only thing left in the barren looking refrigerator case was a lovely golden pie, with a perfect, buttery puff pastry top that I claimed with my eyes while standing in line…and I was prepared to shoot death stares at anyone who dared step in on my pie.

Now,  I was skeptical. Skeptical about the pie. Skeptical about the coffee. Skeptical about the barista with chipped nail polish and a bad attitude, but I didn’t have time to starve, so I bought the pie, not even knowing what was in it and dashed into the rain back to my car.

This was my first taste of leek, in particular, chicken and leek together. I’m not particularly proud that it happened courtesy of Starbucks, wet bedraggled hair and scoffing lunch in my car, the windows steamed up while I hungrily watched the clock and dug in to the crispy, buttery puff pastry and creamy chicken and leek filling. I was impressed. And my fascination with leek grew from there.

I remember actually Googling ‘leeks’ when I got home later that night, curious why I had always walked past this vegetable and never given it the time of day. I suppose because my mother and grandmother had never really cooked with it, I had never been introduced to it.

Nowadays, leeks are a staple in my fridge – I love that they are so versatile, can be used in anything from soups to stocks, stews to pies and they seem to last for ages too….great for time-poor people who don’t have the luxury of being able to shop regularly.

Ever the helpful pal that I am, I have rustled up some info on leeks….just so you know. Here it is…

  • The leek is related to both the garlic and the onion, with a sweeter, yet more subtle flavour.
  • The smaller the leek, the more tender it will be
  • It’s important to rinse leeks thoroughly, washing out any accumulated dirt and gunk from between the leaves. Most recipes call for the white part to be used only. The outer leaves tend to be more woody and bitter.
  • The leek is known to have anti-bacterial properties as well as being a source of iron, vitamin B6 and folate (the stuff that’s very important for babymaking).

A few notes about this recipe:

  • My measurements served approximately 2, so adjust accordingly if you need to.
  • The pancetta can be substituted with prosciutto or bacon…or omitted entirely for vegetarians.
  • If you’ve had One Of Those Days (OOTD) at work, add 1/4 cup white wine to the sauce so you have an excuse to stand there and take a swig from the bottle while your husband isn’t looking.
  • You can use fettuccine, penne, tortellini or even gnocchi for this recipe instead of good old underrated spaghetti.
  • If you’re watching your weight, you can substitute the cream with evaporate milk….but I don’t like your chances of it being as tasty!

Ingredients

  • 300g dried spaghetti
  • 30g butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic/2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 1/2 large brown onion, diced
  • 1 leek, white part only, sliced thinly
  • 300g button mushrooms
  • 50g pancetta, sliced into strips
  • 150ml thickened cream
  • 1 spring onion, sliced
  • freshly shaved parmesan, to serve

Method

  1. Cook the spaghetti in a large saucepan of boiling water according to packet instructions or until al dente. Drain and return to the pan.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Drop in half of the butter and olive oil (to prevent the butter burning) and add garlic, onion, leek and mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently until mushrooms and leeks are soft.
  3. Add the pancetta and cook for a further 3-5 minutes, then pour in thickened cream and stir well. If you’re adding wine, one swig for you and one for the pan, now.
  4. Add spring onion and then reduce heat to medium-low and cook gently for another 8 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Season to taste, now!
  5. To serve, distribute spaghetti amongst bowls, top with sauce and freshly shaved parmesan.
 

Banana & Honey Yoghurt Bread

Sorry for the lack of recent updates (I’m hoping somebody missed me…or I’m delusional, whatevs!)

I’ve been back at work after a month off and have been totally knocked off my feet with the whole thing, leaving me a drained, cranky mess at the end of the day. That, and I have been flitting around like the social butterfly I am, catching up with friends for incontinence-inducing laughter and well needed cocktails.

This week, I kid you not, my husband and I ate hoi-sin vegetable and udon noodle stirfry for dinner every single night of the week, purely because I was so tired, brain-dead and uninspired to do anything else.

That is my confession, but luckily I am anonymous in the big wonderful world of the internet and can admit these shameless things without being stoned to death.

Today, I had to use some extra bananas that were about 2 days off growing their own legs and running away. Okay, perhaps they weren’t that bad….but they were brown and mushy and not something I’d wanna be eating. As always, what do you do when you have extra bananas to use up? Banana bread of course!

Banana bread is one of my understated favourites. It never gets enough recognition or appreciation for being a delicious and filling snack or lovely breakfast. I’ve experimented with a lot of different recipes, but this one is my favourite and I’m sticking with it. I’ve posted the recipe purely so I can refer back to it next time I’ve got bananas that need using up.

The addition of youghurt to this recipe keeps the bread lovely and moist and also adds another depth of flavour. I’ve used different flavours in the past but have to say the mixed berry flavoured yoghurts are probably the tastiest.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup self-raising flour
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 125g butter
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 tbsp flavoured yoghurt (I used honey-flavoured youghurt)
  • 50g brazil nuts
  • 1 tbsp honey


Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a loaf pan (I used a silicon loaf pan because it’s easier to turn the bread out without it ending in tears).
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until well combined and light and fluffy. Add the whisked eggs and mix well.
  3. Combine flours, cinnamon, mashed bananas and yoghurt in a separate bowl and mix well. Add the creamed butter and sugar mixture as well as the brazil nuts and honey. Stir well to combine.
  4. Scoop the mix into the loaf pan, sprinkle lightly with brown sugar  and bake for approximately 45-50 minutes, until golden brown
 
 
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