Tag Archives: Recipe

Ruby Red Rhubarb

20 Oct

So I love living in the Hills District.

I have been known to refer to it as “God’s country” on more than one occasion.

I love the wide open spaces, the rolling hills, the paddocks with their horses and cows…

What I particularly love, is the abundance of fresh produce grown in the market gardens that are so prolific in this area. I love that at nearly every corner, one can find a little stall selling cut flowers, honey straight from the hive, fruit, vegetables or even cow manure if you so desire!

The other day I picked up a beautiful bunch of rhubarb for the grand total of $1!

I was so excited I bought the whole three bunches on offer and gave one to my mum, and one to my psudo-if-we-were-catholics-then-this-woman-would-be-my-God-mother friend.

I decided to stew my rhubarb, as I love anything stewed.

My brother Lee would disagree, as he would vehemently state “hot fruit is unnatural”

Alas, I began stewing.

Ruby Red Stewed Rhubarb

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of rhubarb, washed, chopped into 3-4cm pieces
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • The juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons water

Method

  • Add all ingredients to a saucepan and stir over low heat
  • Leave to simmer/stew for about 10 minutes
  • Eat hot or cold!

 

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Swanky grilled cheese and posh tomato soup

4 Sep

One of my favourite things in the world is grilled cheese and tomato soup.

I am quite partial to canned tomato soup and white bread, but I reckon it would be fun to swank it up occasionally.

How cute are these toastie fingers and soup shots?

These would be beautiful made with a gorgeous sourdough and gruyere cheese…

My mouth is watering.

Bill’s Individual Cheesecakes

28 Jul

My mum is a baker.

Well, that’s not technically true, she is actually a nurse – but she is a recreational baker.

She often speaks about her desire to bake sweet treats and sell them in a specialty shop that also sells second hand books, flowers, coffee and has a facility to weigh babies (yes, weird I know, but that’s my mum!)

Last Friday night my mum and I made a big family dinner to celebrate the fact that all 6 of us were under one roof for a meal – something that rarely happens these days!

We baked these beautiful Bill Granger individual lime cheesecakes. They were lovely, plenty of lime tang, and just the right size. They were a hit with our four boys too!

Individual Cheesecakes

Ingredients
Base
  • 100g shortbread biscuits
  • 55g ground almonds
  • 50g unsalted butter
Filling
  • 400g cream cheese
  • 100mL sour cream
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 medium egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
  • strawberries or raspberries to top
 Method
  • Preheat the oven to 160’C
  • Line a 12 hole, 125mL capacity muffin tim with patty pans
  • Crush the biscuits to fine crumbs, using a food processor or rolling pin
  • Put the biscuit crumbs, ground almonds and melted butter into a bowl and combine
  • Press 1 tablespoon of the mixture inot the base of each patty pan
  • Refridgerate while you make the filling
  • To make the filling, beat the cream cheese, sour cream and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg first, then the egg yolk, vanilla and lime zest, beating well after each addition.
  • Spoon mixture over the bases, then sprinkle the berries evenly on top
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheesecakes are puffed and starting to colour.
  • Allow to cool, then refridgerate until ready to eat
  • Remove the cheesecakes from the patty pans
  • Top each one with fresh berries and dust with icing sugar to serve

 Being individual, these cheesecakes don’t need the overnight setting time a large one usually requires.

Intrigued by Zucchini Flowers…

16 Jun

 I am incredibly intrigued by the pretty and delicate flowers of the zucchini plant.

MasterChef seems to use these regularly, and the are often featured on the menus of fancy restaurants!

Has anyone ever cooked with these blossoms?

Have you ever eaten them?

Share your thoughts, experiences and recipes with us!

 

The Diva of the Kitchen

13 Jun

Last night was a cold, wintery night here in Sydney, and after having our lovely friends Vanessa and Marcus over for lunch (see Vanessa’s fab blog here http://vanessajanephotography.wordpress.com) Mark and I found ourselves with a quiet night ahead! While Mark was happy playing PS3, I decided to tackle what I like to call the Diva of the Kitchen, the macaroon.

Now, to be honest, I didn’t find her to be too much of a prima-donna, but she definitely has that reputation, so I learned whilst pouring over the hundreds of recipes on the internet! There were basic recipes, variants on basic recipes, lists of what to do, lists of what NOT to do, discussions on how long to age egg whites, how long to let rest before baking, what special mats to bake them on – I got tired of reading – so I just decided to give it a go!

My friend Tamara came over and helped me with my mission (see Tamara’s pretty blog here http://tamarabell11.wordpress.com) When we returned from Woolworths with the ingredients, I realised that I had made the same mistake I always make – I had not read the recipe from start to finish before beginning to bake! I learned that I should have separated my egg whites and had them resting at room temperature DAYS AGO, and I needed to have at least 3 hours up my sleeve for resting time! I had not aged my egg whites, nor did I have hours up my sleeve – and they still worked! So don’t be scared, fellow bakers, just give them a go!

 

French Almond Macaroons

Ingredients
  • 225g icing sugar
  • 125g almond meal
  • 110g egg whites aged overnight or longer, at room temperature
  • 30g white sugar
  • Pinch of salt
Method
  • Use a pencil to draw golf-ball sized circles about 4cm apart onto a piece of baking paper. 

(Note: You only have to draw circles on the baking paper if you want absolutely even-sized macaroons. If you’re skilled with piping and don’t mind eyeballing the amount of batter per biscuit, skip this step).

  • Double sift almond meal and icing sugar. Mix the almond meal and icing sugar in a bowl and set aside.
  • In a large, clean, dry bowl whip egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. Continue to whip until stiff, firm and shiny peaks form.

(Note: If you choose to colour your macaroons, add food colouring at this stage. Take care not to over-beat eggs and lose the peaks in the process).

  • With a flexible spatula, gently fold in almond and icing sugar mixture into egg whites until completely incorporated. The mixture should be shiny and ‘flow like magma.’ When small peaks dissolve to a flat surface, stop mixing.
  • Using a piping bag, pipe the batter onto the baking sheets onto the previously drawn circles. Tap the underside of the baking sheet to remove any air bubbles. Let dry at room temperature for 1 or 2 hours to allow skins to form.

(Note: When making these myself, I baked half of the biscuits straight away, and let half of them rest for one hour. They both worked, and tasted fabulous, although the ones that I allowed to rest, definitely had better ‘feet’).

  • Bake in a 160’C fan forced oven for 10 to 11 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to keep the oven door slightly ajar, and rotate the baking sheet after 5 minutes for even baking.
  • Remove macaroons from oven and transfer on the baking paper to a cooling rack. When cool, slide a knife underneath the macaroon to carefully remove from paper.
  • Pair macaroons of similar size, and pipe your filling of choice onto one of the macarons. Sandwich macaroons, and refrigerate to allow flavors to blend together. Bring back to room temperature before serving.
A Few Tips
  •  Sift your dry ingredients at least twice – multiple times if necessary. You want your ground nuts to be powdery, no lumps. Almond meal and icing sugar mixture may be pulsed in a food processor to make finer.
  • Use old egg whites. Everywhere I read said to leave them out for three days at room temperature if you don’t mind waiting for that long. Using fresh egg whites is more likely to result in macaroons that are too fragile and flat.

(Note: My egg whites were fresh, and I bought them that night straight out of the fridge at Woolies. I brought them down in temperature by letting them sit in a bowl of tepid water for 10 minutes to remove the chill of the fridge).

  • The final macaron batter should have the consistency of magma. What’s the consistency of magma? Not too liquidy, nor too stiff. If you form a peak, it should slowly and completely sink back into the batter.
  • If the cookies form peaks on their tops after piping, flatten them with a wet fingertip.
  • Prevent your macarons from burning by using a double layered baking sheet (stack two sheets on top of each other) and by propping the oven door open with a wooden spoon for the entire baking period.

I ran out of time to make a proper ganache filling – I must admit that! I used Betty Crocker frosting – which was nice, but WAY too sweet for my liking. There are a million ganache filling recipes online that I am dying to try. The first one being white chocolate and raspberry! But that will come – another day, another blog post!

 Here are my pretty macaroons, photographed by my beautiful husband!

 

Cooking for Love

11 Jun

I am a family girl.

Family is the most important thing in my universe.

In November I was blessed with a second family to call my own. When I married my beautiful husband Mark, I inherited his Mum and Dad (Helene and Gerald), two older brothers (Brett and Peter), and sister in law (Linzi). Since then, the magnificant little Lily Josephine has joined our family, and enriched it beyond imagination.

Today is a sad day for Linzi and Brett, they are attending the funeral of Linzi’s dear friend’s mother. Funerals are exhausting things, I always leave them feeling incredibly flat and making dinner is often the last thing I feel like. And I don’t have a 3 month old baby either!

I am fortunate enough to have four days off work over the long weekend, and because i’m oh-so-organised (!) I had my housework all done quite early today, so I turned my attention to making Linzi and Brett (and baby Lily) a comforting, wintery, home made meal. I think cooking for someone is such an easy, but pleasureable thing to do. It is something we can ALL do, meaning that we can’t take the sadness of a friend dying away, we can’t make a baby sleep through the night, we can’t make a mother’s exhaustion disappear, but we can make food. 

My Mum often cooks this recipe, and I feel warm and cozy whenever I eat it.

Ultimate comfort food!

Cottage Cheese Loaf

Ingredients
  • 500g lite cottage cheese
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 large finely chopped brown onion
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vegemite
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Sprinkle of mixed herbs
Method
  • Simply mix ingredients together using your (freshly washed, ringless) hands
  • Spread mixture into a greased oven proof dish
  • Bake for 40 minutes at 200’C
  • Serve with any vegetables your heart desires!

I would serve this with boiled baby potatos with butter and chives, lovely green asparagus and anything else I had in the fridge! 

A little tip on boiling potatoes – or anything starchy! If you add a splash of olive oil to your water, you won’t get that horrible starchy foam which boils over and makes your stove look dirty!

Welcome to Eat Your Heart Out! Care for some nougat?

9 Jun

So I have been reading blogs for a long while now… I started off with the beautiful, inspirational ramblings of Style Me Pretty, The Bride’s Cafe, A Cup of Jo, just to mention a few. Once I had finished planning our wedding, I moved on in a rather natural progression to blogs which feature beautiful homes, fabulous interiors and DIY projects… I became obsessed with Young House Love, Colour Me Happy, A Room for Everyone.

Following our beautiful wedding in November of 2009, I found myself to be a wife – who had to produce a meal most nights. What to cook?? My mum is a beautiful cook, and has always had yummy, nutritionally sound meals on the table for us – every night of my entire life. So apart from the half-hearted sitting-at-the-bench-chopping-what-she-told-me-to-whilst-chatting-about-our-days, I really had/have NO skills in the kitchen!

So in my quest to solve the never-ending question of what to cook, I began buying cook books.  Slowly but surely, I have completely fallen in love with cook books, food styling, food photography and generally making tasty, pretty treats.

This blog is a place where I hope to showcase the pretty food I make, the food that my friend’s make, recipes we come across, handy tricks of what to do (and what not to do!) and anything else my heart desires.

So what better way to start a blog, than with a piece of nougat and a cup of tea?

Cranberry, Pistachio and Almond Nougat

Ingredients

  • 3 sheets edible rice paper
  • 1/4 cup glucose syrup
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 cups caster sugar
  • 1  egg white
  • 1/2 cup pistachio kernels, toasted
  • 1 1/3 cups blanched almonds, toasted
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries

Method

  • Place glucose syrup, honey, sugar and 1/3 cup hot water in a heavy-based saucepan over low heat.
  • Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes or until sugar has dissolved, brushing down side of pan with water to remove sugar crystals.
  • Place a candy thermometer in pan (don’t let it touch base). Increase heat to medium. Bring to the boil. Boil, without stirring, for 12 to 15 minutes or until mixture reaches 150°C on thermometer (see tip).
  • Remove pan from heat.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat eggwhite in a large, heatproof bowl until soft peaks form.
  • Gradually add syrup in a steady stream, beating to combine.
  • Working quickly, fold through pistachios, almonds and cranberries.
  • Spoon mixture into prepared pan. Using a wet spatula, smooth top, pressing down firmly.
  • Top with remaining rice paper, trimming to fit. Press down firmly.
  • Stand at room temperature until set.
  • Lift from pan. Cut into squares. Serve.

The next time I make this recipe, I will soak the rice paper first. I’m not sure if I should have, but I didn’t, and the rice paper was crunchy and snappy. Not soft and melty like it should be. I’d also use slightly less honey, as the balance of flavours was definitely overpowered by the honey.

Other than that, a winner!