THURSDAY 13TH JUNE
Right. So that went well. It's now some....um 106 days later. I blame Megan Morton & her wonderful "the School" http://www.theschool.com.au Yes she is amazing & fabulous & I love working for her, but I have had zero spare time for my blog. The good news though is that MM has me hooked on Instagram (in fact she made up my Insta name @mossetheboss) which means at least I keep photos of the food that I have been cooking. It's actually quite brilliant because I often forget what we had for dinner last night let alone a few months ago and when you find a goodie you want it on speed dial. So today as I give myself the whole day on the couch & give into my mini-breakdown (aka headcold) I have added some newbies:
Polenta, Chargrilled Vegies & Feta Lasagne
Chocolate Hazelnut Macaroon Torte
Apple & Cheese Danish
Raspberry Marbled Cheesecake
Wild Mushroom Tarte
White Bean Salad with Peas & Mint
Harissa & Honey Grain Salad
WEDNESDAY 27TH FEBRUARY
NOOOOOO! It can't be the end of February already. It really can't. I committed myself to at least 2 blogs per month and I only have 2 days! OK so I haven't been blogging, but I have been cooking and posting photos on Instagram (@mossetheboss - don't ask about the name). Out of all the deliciousness I've been cooking over summer, this PONZU SOAKED BEEF SALAD http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598177 from blog "whatkatieate" with some adaption by me is our family favourite. I've told you how much we love Japanese flavours before. Here's some of the other things I've been cooking/eating part 1:
Free Form Peach Tart - from blog "italyonmymind"
Raspberry & Banana Bread - from Jan 2013 "delicious"
Ruby Plum & Amaretti Crumble - from Nigellissima
Lamb, Zucchini & Haloumi burgers - from Jan 2013 "delicious"
TUESDAY 8TH JANUARY
I used to think that frozen cocktails were really only for holiday resort pool bars. Not so. Nigella has freed me from that misconception and now on a day like today I can enjoy a FROZEN WATERMELON DACQUIRI or two at my leisure. You will need a little something quick and easy to go with it though and here are my favourites:
Roasted Beetroot Dip (always in my fridge goes with goats cheese)
Potted Trout with Dill Cucumbers
White Bean Dip
Salmon Ball with Wasabi & Lime
Avocado & Olive Salsa
SUNDAY 6TH JANUARY 2013
Some more salads for summer celebrating. These 3 are seriously good and will make sure you are very happy to have salad every night. Jackie E made us the old school classic ASIAN FRIED NOODLE SALAD with which you will love getting reacquainted, the HALOUMI, BROCCOLINI & LEMON SALAD from Real Living Dec '12 looks amazing and this SWEET POTATO & POMEGRANATE SALAD from loveandlemons.com will impress everyone.
SUNDAY 30TH DECEMBER
Summer, post Xmas it's well & truly salad season and it's time to get a little creative before we all die of boredom or turn into rabbits. I have eaten some good ones lately thanks to my foodie friends. Lisa R made this gorgeous PRAWN & WATERMELON WITH FETA, MINT & POMEGRANATE SALAD by Karen Martini which is very fresh with some kick from the sumac and very easy to prepare. Jude gave us SPICY SALMON SALAD at a lunch which is a great crowd feeder and last night I made "XMAS QUINOA" salad using some pretty random Xmas leftovers. Some of my other favourites include:
GREEN BEAN, STRAWBERRY & FETA SALAD
FENNEL, PEA & RICOTTA SALAD
LABNEH, BEETROOT & BLOOD ORANGE SALAD
QUINOA & NECTARINE SALAD
TUESDAY 13TH NOVEMBER
I have a genetic disposition to short cuts so when I saw a review of High Fearnley-Whittingstall's new book 'Three Good Things on a Plate' I knew I definitely needed to give it a try. Whilst I was a bit skeptical as to whether 3 ingredients can really be that tasty, at the same time the simplicity of the recipes was intriguing. Well, I have put it to the test trialling, of course, 3 of his recipes and all were really tasty, ridiculously easy and altogether satisfying!
Sausage, egg & parsley - perfect for the morning after or the hungry teen
Chicken, tomatoes & taragon - mid week nourishment
Condensed milk, lemon & gingernut - instant no cook dessert
SATURDAY 10TH NOVEMBER
I have been working more and more lately and I am determined not too fall into multiple takeaways. Trouble is if I arrive home at 6 o'clock without any sort of plan for dinner I go into a bit of panic. I stare blankly into the cupboard and then suddenly it's 8 o'clock. My solution to this problem is a little meal planning and shopping on Sunday and hey presto I can get the dinner on the table by 7!
Some of our mid-week dinners lately have included:
ORSO PASTA WITH PEAS & PANCETTA
SEAFOOD & LEMON RISOTTO
MISO-GLAZED SALMON WITH GINGER BUCKWHEAT NOODLES
EASY FISH CHOWDER
BAKED FISH WITH POTATOES, CAPERS & LEMON
TUESDAY 9TH OCTOBER
I really love a one pot wonder, no doubt about it! Come home late after the usual run around, chop up some vegies, brown some meat then throw it all in a pot and pop in the oven. Off I go to sort out the kids and house, pour myself a cheeky glass of wine and out it comes ready for the table. Even better, the washing up is kept to a minimum! This ONE POT CHICKEN & RICE from Michael Moore's 'Blood Sugar' was a perfect Tuesday supper. Leftovers for lunch tomorrow. http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598166
My other favourite one pot wonders include:
ONE POT PASTA
SLOW COOKED MIDDLE EASTERN BEEF WITH SPICES
SUNDAY 7TH OCTOBER
I love a little break from my kitchen to feel inspired when I return to it! That as well as a new cookbook - Nigella's new one 'Nigellissima' thanks to my mother-in-law Merle who know what a big fan I am! It is Nigella at her best - witty, precise instructions with mouth-watering photos and I can't wait to try many, many of the recipes. Tonight we had this SICILIAN PASTA WITH TOMATOES, GARLIC & ALMONDS http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598180 followed by ITALIAN APPLE PIE. http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598172
Both were quick, easy and delish.
MONDAY 24TH SEPTEMBER
School holidays again and I don't think I have ever been so grateful for a break from packing those school lunches! On Saturday I spent a leisurely afternoon going through my old magazines and pulling out all the recipes I wanted to try. It was quite inspiring and these holidays I want to get started on the spring ones. Tonight we had FISH TACOS WITH SHREDDED CABBAGE & LIME from an old 'delicious' magazine which were fresh, tasty and a little bit of fun. I don't know why but I really love eating with my hands as do the kids as no one nags them about their manners!
MONDAY 17TH SEPTEMBER
I know I know MORE quinoa but I just can't get enough of it especially when I'm trying to be healthy as we head into summer & the festive season! This GREEN QUINOA SALAD http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598177 was my lunch today and it was perfect. We also had it for dinner with SUMAC & YOGHURT LAMB KEBABS http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598173 from October 'delicious' which is now out and looks really good. I am planning to try a few quick and easy recipes for dinner from it this week such as SWEET MISO STEAK WITH RAMEN.
If you are feeling like an adventurous breakfast outing, you have to try 'Kazbah', a Middle Eastern restaurant at Balmain. They serve the most sensational breakfast tagines in gorgeous little tagine dishes. I had the vegetable one...DELISH! Check out their website http://www.kazbah.com.au/default.htm
TUESDAY 11TH SEPTEMBER
My goodness there has been a fair bit of over-indulging lately! I am in serious need of a spring clean! My favourite lunch when I feel like I should be a bit healthy is a SPRING QUINOA SALAD
which is really just a combination of some cooked quinoa and whatever was in my fridge last Wednesday! It was fresh and I felt virtuous in the spring sunshine! Equally healthy was this OCEAN TROUT WITH SRPING ONION & MINT COUSCOUS
from my September 'delicious' magazine (which is getting a serious workout and is definitely one to keep). It was very light yet filling and took all of 15 minutes to make.
WEDNESDAY 5TH SEPTEMBER
You know how I love a celebration, well Fathers' Day is no exception. For us, Fathers Day is more about kids and Dads spending time together and less about hankies and socks. (Actually Mothers' Day is also about kids and Dads spending time together too come to think of it!) Anyway on Sunday we had SPRING LAMB RACK WITH CAPER & HERB CRUST AND RHUBARB COMPOTE http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598173 served with THYME-ROASTED BABY CARROTS and MINTED BABY PEAS http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598178, all by Katie Quinn Davies in September 'delicious'. A wonderful family lunch with kids, parents and grandparents in the gorgeous spring sunshine. I have been enjoying the rhubarb compote on my porridge ever since. For dessert we celebrated my son's 15th birthday with this LEMON CURD, MASCARPONE & ALMOND LAYER CAKE http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598172 by The Food Dept, also in September 'delicious'. Now, for those of you, like me, who don't often attempt a cake of many layers, this one is a winner. I have been eating spoonfuls of the lemon curd Nigella style at midnight from the fridge ever since! Maybe my cleavage will grow larger and not just my bottom! Sadly, probably not.
Finally, I must mention another celebration that slipped by unnoticed by me. Yesterday my blog turned 1! Who would have thought...
MONDAY 27TH AUGUST
I'm a little bit obsessed with jars lately for flowers & candles but also for food and drink. When I saw that Mike McEnearney from Kitchen by Mike at Rosebery had served little LEMON DELICIOUS puddings in jars for "In Style" September 2012, I had to put my collection to use!
I also noted that the blog "The Food Dept" has a LEMON, LIME & ORANGE DELICIOUS which looks sensational and will be next served in my jars!
THURSDAY 23RD AUGUST
We are mad for all things coconut in this house so when I saw a couple of interesting recipes involving coconut in the September "delicious", I had to give them a try. Tonight we had this COCONUT-POACHED SALMON which was tangy & light and prepared in 20 minutes. http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598176
Earlier in the week we enjoyed MASSAMAM LAMB CUTLETS WITH CRUNCHY COCONUT POTATOES which was an Indian twist on the perennial favourite crumbed cutlets. http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598173
THURSDAY 16TH AUGUST
Recently I attended a cooking course at Accoutrement given by the Monday Morning Cooking Club. I hadn't heard of them before I went. They are a group of 6 Jewish women from different backgrounds who have been meeting on Monday mornings for the past 6 years to share recipes and cook together. In 2011 their first book came out with all profits going to charity. They are currently working on their second book. Have a look at their website.
TUESDAY 14TH AUGUST
I'm going to my Foodies group tonight and the theme is fast and easy mid-week dinners which is brilliant for me as I've recently starting working again. Here I give you my favourite five fast mid-week dinners including this VIETNAMESE BEEF PHO from August "delicious" we had last night. It was all done in under 20 minutes and seriously flavoursome. You can see from these recipes that I always have my pantry stocked with soy sauce, various vinegars & oils, mirim & spices and I am NEVER without the holy trinity onion, garlic & ginger not to mention coriander & mint from my little herb pot. I will often buy fish the day before I cook it so that's no problem either if I can't get to the fish monger on the way home.
1. Vietnamese Beef Pho
2. Chicken with Haloumi & Honey
3. Soy & Mirim Simmered Beef on Rice
4. Lime & Sumac Salmon with Mint & Pea Salad
5. Blue-Eye Cod with Soy, Ginger & Mirim
THURSDAY 9TH AUGUST
My friend Rachel C lent me this wonderful cookbook. I LOVE it and I've told her I'm never giving it back. EVER. It's called "kitchen coquette the go-to guide for those random life scenarios when food is the only answer" by Katrina Meynink. The book is divided up into different scenarios like "moveable feasts", "awkward moments" and "a time for fuss". The recipes are right up my alley, ie simple with a twist, but mostly I love the writing. So funny, so real, so "omg yes that happened to me". Checkout her blog at http://www.theothercrumb.blogspot.com.au/
Anyway, I have been trying loads of recipes from the book including these PEPPERMINT CRISPIES - a make at home version of the absolute classic peppermint crisp bar. (cue flashback to 1977 on my golden melvin star at the local milk bar). I had to add some green colouring to really make it authentic! Get the kids to make them. http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598172
We also loved the PASTITSIO which is perfect for make ahead, freeze and reheat or if you are cooking for a friend. I had never made a pastitsio before which is a Greek baked pasta dish. This one uses risoni.
TUESDAY 7TH AUGUST
Oh my blog how I've missed you! It's been weeks and I have withdrawals. Not from cooking or eating. I've still been doing that in abundance. No, from me time. Or rather me & my Mac time. Sitting here pondering which recipe to tell you about next. A few to start with. I am completely addicted to BAKED RHUBARB. On my porridge. Every morning. These gorgeous red & green soldiers dusted in cinnamon sugar went in my oven 5 minutes ago. Another 15 or so & they're done ready for tomorrow. I prefer my rhubarb baked not stewed so that it doesn't turn to mush. My Mum used to tell us when she was a girl, in country NSW, she would eat rhubarb stalks straight from the vegie garden. I also like mine very tart but just add more sugar if you don't. I often add orange zest and a little juice too. Speaking of rhubarb, my friend Lisa R made the RHUBARB, VANILLA & SOUR CREAM CRUMB CAKE from August delicious for our Bookclub last week. It was a big hit. http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598172 Also from August delicious, tonight we're having Bill Granger's SLOW-COOKED BEEF & RED WINE PAPPARDELLE (or rather I'm going to try topping the beef with some Careme puff pastry for pies instead). I'll let you know how that goes! http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598173
Finally, I've had the shocking head cold that every second person has right now so my beautiful friend Jude made me Jamie Oliver's CHICKPEA & LEEK SOUP which was perfect for my sorry self!
MONDAY 16TH JULY
During the holidays I had some girlfriends over for a cards night. A retro night it was. We played 500 and whilst I explained the workings of the right and left bower, we supped on Denise's BAKED CAMENBERT followed by a sensational FRENCH ONION SOUP from Lisa H. It was perfect. Very satisfying with no disruption to the game needed.
MONDAY 2 JULY
When staying in a holiday house or apartment with family and friends I like to take a few frozen prepared ahead meals. That way we still get to enjoy good food whilst staying in holiday mode. My favourite 3 make ahead travel meals are:
1. SLOW-COOKED BEEF LASAGNA
2. SPAGHETTI BOLOGNAISE
3. SPICED SLOW-COOKED LAMB SHANKS
For dessert there's always going to be A LOT of chocolate and ice cream but as well I like to take along Nigella's INSTANT PANCAKE MIX http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598181 in a tupperware and get the kids busy in the kitchen too. A batch of CHOCOLATE BROWNIES http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598172 also makes a great travel treat as they store for several days in a tupperware.
WEDNESDAY 27 JUNE
Celebrate the school holidays with some family meals. One of the easiest ways to feed your family or a bunch of families is golden, juicy roast chicken/s. Oh the sublime smell that dominates the house! This version from Jamie Oliver in the "Naked Chef" called MY PERFECT ROAST CHICKEN ticks all the boxes. Golden on the outside? Yep. Succulently juicy on the inside, including the breast? You bet. Better still, the lemon and herbs permeate the whole chicken. http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598166 I served it with the baked butter rice tossed with baby spinach. Delish. http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598180
I also made these scrumptious SALTY CHOCOLATE CHIP OATMEAL COOKIES from "A Cozy Kitchen", another blog I recently discovered. Seriously moorish they lasted about 24 hours in our house! http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598172
TUESDAY 26TH JUNE
School holidays are upon us again. Gone are the school lunchboxes (hooray!) however, like me, you might have a few crowds of kids and their parents to feed. Here are a couple of simple, tasty ideas that are great for exactly that. Super fast to prepare with minimal fuss using ingredients that will probably be in your fridge or pantry already:
YOGHURT & MXIED BERRY PUDDING
TUESDAY 19TH JUNE
A bit more old school. Everyone loves a good beef stroganoff, a dish named after 19th century Russian noble and gourmet, Count Pavel Stroganov, who often served the dish when entertaining. This one is my favourite - EYE FILLET STROGANOFF from "Madison" magazine a few years back. http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598173
I got inspired to roast a rack of pork tonight as our friends Nikki & Jack delivered some gorgeously gigantic Granny Smiths from Bilpin. I made a SPICY APPLE SAUCE to go with the rack of pork which I served with cauliflower mash. Pork rack is so easy and the smell is sublime, (less so the customary argument over the fair distribution of crackling!) Just roast it for about 1 hour per kilo, turning the oven up to high for the last 15 minutes for the crackling, and remember to rest it before serving. The sauce was the perfect match for pork but you could also smear it on some puff pastry and top with some berries for a quick dessert or some goat's cheese for entree. I am equally happy spooning into straight out of the jar!
FRIDAY 15TH JUNE
I was thinking how this blog/website has evolved since I started it. At first it was just my favourite recipes for food I have cooked. Now it's more about recipes for wonderful food I've experienced either through cooking or eating and sharing with people. I'm so lucky to have such fabulously generous friends who are happy to share the recipes for their delectable culinary creations. I think it's a super idea for us all to share recipes because its like having all these test kitchens out there working through hundreds of recipes from the thousands of different sources and collating the best. Anyway, one of these gorgeous and generous friends, Jen M, recently made this wonderfully simple but beautifully fluffy and light BLUEBERRY CAKE http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598172 which was so delicious with passionfruit yogurt. Sometimes food gets a little too fancy, too complicated. For me, you really can't beat simple classic food. I like a bit of old school. The other day I had to feed a crowd for dinner. I made SLOW COOKED BEEF LASAGNE from "donna hay" Jun/Jul http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598173 - simple, tasty, went down well on a cold night after the rugby. Even better reheated for lunch next day. Finally, I made these seriously wicked WALNUT, GINGER & CHOCOLATE BLONDIES from "Joy the Baker" yesterday. http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598172 Guess what, all gone already!
PS if you have a recipe you would like to share email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TUESDAY 12TH JUNE
Sunday was one of my favourite days. We had a bonfire picnic in the paddock, something we do as often as possible but not enough. Breathing in the country air watching the kids get as dirty as possible in their gumboots. We stayed warm by the fire with this stunning CHEESE PLATTER by Rachel C, photographed by Denise, along with my husband's hot toddy or "hoddy" of choice WHISKY MAC.
Warmth from the inside and the outside!
Possibly my favourite part of the picnic lunch was the S'MORES that Wendy brought for the kids' dessert. OMG if you haven't tried these American treats, thought to have originated around girl guide campfires in the 1950's and named because the kids kept asking for "some more", you must ASAP! http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598165
THURSDAY 7TH JUNE
Friday night is pasta night in our family. A bit of carb loading for the kids' sports, husband's bike ride and for me, well a bit of energy to get through Saturday's activities. I think I drove 300kms last Saturday! Pasta is one of those foods where people are in two camps - either "only home-made pasta will do" or "why would you bother just buy it". I am, however, a fence sitter on this one. I agree it is a pain and exceedingly messy to make pasta, but, if you involve your guests in the pasta making itself, it can be quite hilarious. The kids absolutely love it too - best to let them do it outside! Last Friday night we had some friends over for pasta and I got them all involved in my kitchen both making the pasta and the sauce. We had FETTUCINI WITH CRAB & ZUCCHINI based on a recipe in delicious "ultimate pasta".
It was a lot of fun and a memorable night. http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598180
On another pasta making night, my friend Jude brought these sensational WILD MUSHROOMS from Rick Stein in May delicious to go with the pasta. These mushrooms were so good that I decided to serve them on crostini at a dinner party recently. Then I used them again to stuff inside chicken breasts & roasted them for dinner. LOVE a versatile recipe! http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598178
TUESDAY 5TH JUNE
I've been meaning to tell you about ibooks. Well actually not tell you about ibooks because most of you already know about it! But did you know that now you can get many cookbooks on ibooks? Not only does this mean that you get cookbooks cheaper than hard copy, but also you don't have to store hard copy books. Plus you can easily access the recipes on your iphone or ipad in your kitchen or, like me, in the supermarket when you leave your shopping list in the car (which is routine for me)! I bought Michael Moore's "Blood Sugar" on ibooks which I absolutely LOVE. I've already told you about his ROASTED BEETROOT DIP http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598179, which is sublime as part of a cheese platter, but lately I have been using his WHITE BEAN DIP as a mash with dinner. Most recently I served it with this delectable LIME & SUMAC SALMON WITH PEA & MINT SALAD from Kate Gibbs in Sunday Life magazine. Ridiculously easy, fast & delicious for mid-week AND good enough to serve when you have people over too. http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598176
MONDAY 4TH JUNE
Monday. Again. Will it ever stop? I seem to find Mondays really hard which leads to some procrastination aka sit at your computer reading your favourite food blogs instead of cleaning up your house. It's a big wide BLOG world out there. There are just soooo many of them which can be daunting if you don't know where to start but it's also FANTASTIC because we get access to all these recipes FOR FREE. I have this trick that I go to my 3 favourite food blogs then I look at their "blog roll" or "inspiration" to find other good ones. Most of them are American and heavy on the (often stunning) photography, words & styling and lighter on the recipe side or their recipes are a little weird or, to be honest, just too vegetarian, but I check in every now and then and find a winner. I give you my latest 5 favourite food blogs:
Anyway yesterday for lunch I couldn't face another ham & cheese toastie (my daughter's lunch of choice) so I made these OKONOMIYAKI (JAPANESE CABBAGE PANCAKES) from "Love and Lemons" which do sound both weird and were, in fact, vegetarian, but they were a super quick, tasty, healthy lunch. I was thinking of serving them at a dinner party topped with smoked salmon too.
SUNDAY 3RD JUNE
Winter is here and it's raining outside. No better time for some slow cooking and some rustic baking! I love slow cooking because it is, frankly, very forgiving cooking. You forget to take it out, no problem, it just gets better the longer you cook it. You put it on HOURS before your guests arrive so not matter how much mess you've made you can still clean it up before they come! It makes your home smell so good that your guests start salivating from the moment they step in. You can use cheaper cuts of meat to feed a crowd and it melts in your mouth. In summary it's all good so turn on those ovens! Here's whats been coming out of my oven lately:
SATURDAY 26TH MAY
I do love to serve food "Nigella style" at the table. This is such a fabulous idea for a number of reasons - you get to have
the "ta da" moment that you deserve after your efforts in the kitchen, you don't miss out on so much of the dinner table conversation AND everyone can choose the quantity they feel like eating. There is something so homely and comforting about everyone helping pass the plates and dishes around the table just like the Waltons. Time to get out all those serving platters you received for your wedding or birthday and take them to the table! I served this easy ONE-POT ROASTED FISH WITH GREMOLATA from May 2012 delicious at the table for a recent mid-week dinner. The kids loved picking out their favourite bits and we all went in for the leftovers!
FRIDAY 25TH MAY
Everyone loves a winner right? Well this CELERIAC AND PARMESAN SOUP by Valli Little is a DEAD SET WINNER. If, like me prior to this recipe, you have not cooked with celeriac before, as per the picture, it has an unusual appearance and is related to the celery family. Its texture is a bit like a parsnip and you can find it at your greengrocer now. The creamy, flavoursome soup will have your guests debating the ingredients whilst begging you for the recipe. The hint of truffle oil takes it to extra special and I often serve it at dinner parties. Give it a try.
SUNDAY 6TH MAY
We had our first dinner party of what I like to call the dinner party season last night. We tend to have more formal sit down dinners in the colder months with a cozy fire eating and drinking around our dining table. I love it. I think the secret to a good dinner party, or any party really, is happy, relaxed (if not a little inebriated) hosts. Whilst some, like Nigella, gracefully pop into the kitchen to cook while their guests await, for me relaxed means doing as much as I can before friends arrive. A little bit of planning can go a LONG way when it comes to a dinner party. I set the table, shop for food and make the dessert before the day of the dinner party. For the party day itself I have an hour by hour military style task schedule working backwards from the time the guests come. Seriously. That way I don't forget some essential part of a recipe that takes 3 hours and I actually enjoy the day pottering in my kitchen. Last night for dessert we had this SALTED CARAMEL CHEESECAKE from Joy the Baker's blog which of course I made on Friday! It got the thumbs up from the guests.
SATURDAY 28 APRIL
I'm not a tidy cook. There.. I've admitted it to you but please don't tell my husband. He can not believe how much mess I can make. Luckily for me, his mum, whilst being a wonderful cook, is possibly even more untidy. This is good because he associates good food with a fairly large amount of washing up. He has come to accept it as normal. Perfectly normal. He doesn't complain (too much) as he washes.
Anyway, whilst not being a tidy cook, whenever there is an opportunity to cut down on washing up, I like to try it. Today I give you my 3 best tips for minimizing washing up:
1. Order take away. Everyone needs a break now and then.
2. One pot cooking. I'm OBSESSED with it. I tried this ONE-POT PASTA from May delicious "ultimate pasta" booklet which is effectively a pasta with bolognese sauce cooked in just one pot. Family loved it.
3. Glad Bake. FANTASTIC stuff. I always line my baking trays and pans with it. You lift it off with the mess & pop it straight into the bin. I also love using it to make parcels to poach fish in as it keeps everything so moist. The other night I made HADDOCK BAKED IN THE BAG WITH MUSSLES, SAFFRON, WHITE WINE & BUTTER from Jamie Oliver's "jamie's kitchen". I used Blue Eye. Delicious.
SUNDAY 22ND APRIL
My sister Tina told me about this fab internet site call Eat Your Books. In summary you add all the titles of your cook books and magazines to the site and then it allows you to search them all for different recipe types. It saves you physically flipping through all your books/magazines to search for recipes. For example, this morning I needed to take 2 dozen muffins to brunch and wanted to try some new recipes. I used Eat Your Books to search for all the muffin recipes in my cook books & magazines and it came up with about 20 different recipes. Check it out.
I settled on these BANANA MAPLE SYRUP MUFFINS from "marie claire cooking" and RASPBERRY & WHITE CHOCOLATE MUFFINS from Donna Hay's "modern classics Book 2". Both were simple, quick and deliciously moist.
THURSDAY 19TH APRIL
I'm clearing out my freezer. It is completely CHOCKERS and not in a good way. Not in that lovely filled to the brim with cooked dinners ready for that emergency dinner kind of way. No, just lots of raw frozen meat & chicken. I'm not sure why it doesn't ever seem to occur to me that if you just keep buying meat & chicken and putting it the freezer without ever using the contents for meals that this will happen. Every time. So here I am AGAIN in need of a clear out. I am not buying any meat or chicken until it's done. No matter what. (I have set a morning reminder on my iPhone to take something out each morning so there is actually a chance this will happen.)
Last night I used one of the many rump steaks I seemed to have liked A LOT at some stage to make Bill Granger's SOY & MIRIN SIMMERED BEEF ON RICE. Very Japanese flavour, so tasty. Warm on a rainy night.
WEDNESDAY 18TH APRIL
I had about a dozen or so kids to feed last Sunday lunch prior to feeding their parents so I had to keep it simple. I cooked up a couple of batches of FRIED RICE in advance to heat up just before serving in those little cardboard boxes. Easy to serve, easy to eat, easy to clean up. The best bit, however, was the dessert. I made giant meringues from "Ottolenghi, the Cookbook" and created a SELF SERVICE PAVLOVA BAR. The kids topped their pavs using those cans of whipped cream (themselves a huge hit) followed by a choice of strawberries, kiwi, banana and passionfruit. See photo "styled" by my eleven year old daughter, mid consumption by the looks of it!
SATURDAY 7TH APRIL
I do love a celebration, especially one involving a tradition. They are the fabric of my childhood memories as I hope they will be one day for my own children. Be it a celebration of Christmas,
Easter, long weekends, Halloween, last day of term, end of exams, the blossoming of the camellias each year, a birthday...doesn't matter, I love it. For Good Friday each year my family eats fish. Last night was my turn to cook dinner for the extended family. We had these impressive yet really simple and delicious individual SEAFOOD PIES. Sorry, no photo possible before they dived in. Sometimes I am just not fast enough!
FRIDAY 6TH APRIL
Easter Holidays at last and what better time for this CHOC HONEYCOMB SLICE to eat with your afternoon tea today. Completely additive and over indulgent but it is holidays and we all deserve it. Really simple, get the kids to make it. Thanks to Wendy D AGAIN for these gorgeous little treats from High Tea.
WEDNESDAY 4TH APRIL
Do you ever get to 2.50pm and think, "Time to get the kids, oh no what the hell's for dinner?"? I had such thought yesterday and, opening my Pandora's Box of a pantry, I literally stumbled across a jar of dukkah when it fell onto my toe. I've been meaning to try dukkah-crusted salmon for ages so of course it was a sign! I googled dukkah-crusted salmon recipes and came up with this recipe for DUKKAH SALMON WITH ASPARAGUS & WHITE BEAN SALAD by Anna Gare on lifestylefood.com.au. Just enough time to grab some salmon & asparagus on the way to guitar lessons and I substituted white beans for the chickpeas already in my pantry. A tasty and very healthy dinner prepared in under 10 minutes. LOVE THAT!
TUESDAY 3RD APRIL
We went camping on the weekend. It was just beautiful. Apart from being ridiculously blessed with the weather, it was a stunning location with gorgeous friends. Whilst not a regular camper, as a lover of food, my camping had to be just a little bit gourmet (to go along with a lot of BBQ!). A little bit of prep before hand, a LOT of tupperware & a big esky can do a lot towards achieving this. For brekkie it was SPICY POACHED RHUBARB & STRAWBERRIES http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598165 topped with yogurt in little containers before our bacon & eggs on the barbie. For drinks I made an easy OCEAN TROUT DIP and Michael Moore's ROAST BEETROOT DIP. http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598177
All easy & tasty & prepared before hand to maximize the amount of relaxation. I am definitely in for some more gourmet camping very soon!
PS: I won't mention that my husband thought the best part of dinner was a friend's potato salad straight out of the Woolworths' container ... no I will keep that to myself!
SATURDAY 24TH MARCH
Wendy D created these stunning little tangy, snow topped treats for a celebratory lunch this week as part of a smorgasbord of sweet delicacies. It was unadulterated girl heaven as we sat around sampling each one, trying to pick our favourite, then resampling, and finally deciding that we simply couldn't choose.
Wendy used store-bought pastry cases for these gorgeous MINI LIME MERINGUE PIES which means they are achievable for all of us so get those blow torches out!
WEDNESDAY 14TH MARCH
Last night we had a mini celebration at dinner time as my son had finished a set of tests at school. It's always a relief when tests/exams are over for the whole family! I made this ROAST SEAFOOD from "Nigella Kitchen"
followed by Valli Little's YOGHURT CAKE from "Delicious - Simply the best". http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598172
I served the yogurt cake with some left over roasted plums - see blog from Saturday 10 March.
TUESDAY 13TH MARCH
We had another one of our "Foodies" nights last week (see blog from 20 November). This one was a pasta night at Lisa H's house which was just magic. A late summer night under the pergola, fresh eggs from backyard hens, tomatoes still on their vines & herbs pulled from the garden. Eight women made pasta together and hung it over giant coat hangers to await its fate. Vanessa made this CONFIT OF ZUCCHINI, PEAS, GARLIC & SPINACH from Karen Martini to go with the freshly made pasta and it was a SENSATION!!!
SATURDAY 10TH MARCH
A recipe in March Gourmet Traveller for CHICKEN, ROAST PLUM, LABNE & GRAIN SALAD caught my eye. Vibrant ruby plums, snowy labne and grassy parsley leaves jumping out from the page. It was fresh and deliciously light and different to your usual chicken salad. Perfect for the after weekend detox.
The star of the show however was the sweet and juicy roasted plums. Ever since I have been roasting them frequently to put on top of my Wheatbix or porridge in the morning or to mix with some yogurt for dessert. They would go perfectly with some roast chicken or some lamb or you could top them with some nutty crumble for dessert.
THURSDAY 8TH MARCH
Failure. No such thing in cooking. I think of it as practice. Well I have had a bit of practice lately. You must embrace it, learn from it and move on. It mustn't put you off cooking. I usually don't go back to a failed recipe (as there are so many recipes to try) unless I re-read the recipe SLOWLY and realize I completely missed a step or essential ingredient! I have this amazing friend who restarted a recipe three times to get it right recently. Even went out and bought more ingredients. I admire such resilience and determination. Me, I believe in recipe karma. Sometimes me and a recipe are just not meant to be. That's cool. As I say move on.
Anyway, after a bit of "practice" in the kitchen, it is important to go for a fail safe delicious recipe like this ROAST CHICKEN WITH SAFFRON, HAZELNUTS AND HONEY from "Ottolenghi, The Cookbook".
THURSDAY 1ST MARCH
My friend Lisa H and I have done a cookbook swap. This is a fabulous idea because you just can't buy and store all the wonderful cookbooks that are out there. Chances are your friends have some different books to you. We have swapped Ottolenghi books - my "Plenty" for her "The Cookbook". STUNNING photography in both books and user-friendly recipes you just want to try, especially the vegetables and of course the famous meringues! I am definitely visiting one of the restaurants when next in the UK.
Anyway my Dad came over for a Sunday roast last week so from "The Cookbook" I served these gorgeously green FRENCH BEANS AND MANGETOUT WITH HAZELNUT AND ORANGE along with DANIELLE'S SWEET POTATO GRATIN with a rack of lamb.
SUNDAY 26TH FEBRUARY
Hors d'Oeuvres, from the French, literally "apart from the main work" are so wonderfully useful in that they ensure the guests don't overdo it too early in addition to keeping the pressure off the hostess whilst she readies the meal. Of late I've served a couple of different Hors d'Oeuvres. These pretty SALMON RILLETTES WITH LITTLE TOASTS were served at an elegant ladies lunch whilst the more rustic POTTED TROUT WITH DILL CUCUMBERS was served at a large lunch by the sea. Both were easily prepared in advance to serve as guests arrive with their glass of something.
THURSDAY 23RD FEBRUARY
Summertime again and we're feeling like a GnT. Today some instruction on this refreshing drink from a friend and neighbour who wishes to remain anonymous but rest assured I have sampled his GnT and it's perfect...
THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO A GIN AND TONIC
Correct choice of Gin is paramount. I prefer Tanqueray - subtle, and truly English (subliminly bold and outrageous). Some may suggest others, but for me Gordons and Bombay are like the ford and holden battling out Bathurst when the real game, formula 1, is left to other, real, players.
To compliment, there is no option but bottled Schweppes tonic.
The real secret however lies in the 'order of things', as any scholar of Michel Foucault (a true intellectual giant) would know following "an archaeology of the human sciences"
'Alor', the order of things:
1. Universally we prefer our men tall and slender, so too our G and T vestibule. Minimum 250 mls.
2.No G and T is worth consumption without 40% to 50% of ice - crushed is ok but real chunks is preferable.
3.Gin over the ice is the next crucial step. The Queenslander equivalent is 'always bundy over ice' but I suspect Mr Tanqeray was around for sometime before Mr Bundy, so consider the Queenslander claim to this as being, at best, inherited, at worst, stolen.
How much Gin? A mid-stream poor (similar to those tests in those little plastic bottles) over the bottle cap coupled with a count: "1 - 2 - 3" will seal the deal.
4. One half slightly scarred lime is next. (Don't you love those Tahitian limes imported all the way from Townsville). Cut into quarters, significantly squeezed (like the Greek economy) over the ice/gin with skin residue deposited into the glass.
5. Mr Schweppes on top (his preference) and its all over, following a quick stir.
WEDNESDAY 22ND FEBRUARY
My friend and baking queen Lisa R made this STUNNING Coconut Cake from the Joy of Baking website to celebrate a friend's birthday recently. You can see how gorgeous it looks, well the flavours and textures are just as memorable. Tangy lemon curd filling, smooth meringue icing, crunchy coconut on top, moist sponge cake.....need I go on? DIVINE. We were all in raptures and even those who don't eat much were diving in for 3rds!
I must be honest and admit that I wouldn't have thought about trying this cake as cakes are not really my thing. I like to blame my oven! Yes, it's definitely my oven. Lisa assures me though it is not difficult, however it does take time and is best made the day before. I think I might give it a go...
Hey check out the Joy of Baking website if you haven't already.
TUESDAY 21ST FEBRUARY
My daughter is currently a pescatarian, that is a vegetarian who eats fish. Whilst this is (hopefully) just a phase, it is also a good excuse to eat more fish and have a healthy week after the ice cream of the weekend! Last night I served George Sinclair's BLUE EYE COD WITH SOY, GINGER & MIRIN which I steam in my fish kettle. The dinner was ready in 20 minutes.
MONDAY 20 FEBRUARY
Icecream is my weakness. Can't get enough of it. If only my thighs didn't seem to love it too...oh well, for special occasions. I have been thinking about getting an icecream maker for a while but am a bit short on cupboard space so I stick to recipes which don't require a maker. I made this HONEYCOMB & CHOC CHIP ICECREAM for a large group of friends, adults & children, on the weekend and served it with these gorgeous wafer biscuits. It was a super easy way to feed a crowd and was a big hit with all ages.
WEDNESDAY 15TH FEBRUARY
My sister Ju has been asking me to add a tab for Kid Friendly Meals to ilove2cook.net for a while now. I was thinking "isn't that a bit boring or easy"? But I guess people get soooooooo bored of cooking a sausage for their kids and their friends' kids that perhaps this might be some inspiration.
Kids are so diverse in terms of everything including the variety of food they will eat. I firmly believe though there is a direct correlation between the food kids are exposed to and the variety of food they will eat and that the variety evolves over time. If you want your kids to eat, get them involved in choosing the food and cooking it.
My kids are good eaters. They will eat at least some element of most of the recipes on this site but they are teenagers and they have grown into it. They will eat some pretty strong flavours like ginger and chilli but their all time favourite without any doubt is spaggy bol. Yep, spaghetti Bolognese. So this must definitely be the first recipe on the Kids tab.
I have been doing some recipe research on spag bol recipes. There are so many versions and everyone has a favourite ingredient etc. Here is one basic version. Email me/add a comment if you have a fabulous version/ingredient.
WEDNESDAY 8TH FEBRUARY
Everyone has their version of a last minute whatever's in your fridge pasta. This PASTA SHELLS WITH SMOKED SALMON, DILL & CAPERS is one of mine. I always have pasta in the cupboard and smoked salmon, capers, semi-dried tomatoes & cream cheese in my fridge as they all keep for at least a few weeks. I buy herbs each week and it often includes dill & chives which of course are such good friends with salmon. Dinner in 15 minutes!
TUESDAY 7TH FEBRUARY
Instant afternoon tea - 5 minutes to prepare, 20 minutes in the oven and this HEALTH SLICE from my friend Sarah F is ready for whoever is coming home. No mixer or food processor required. Perfect!
MONDAY 6TH FEBRUARY
I have decided that one of the keys to healthy lunches and last minute dinners is to make good use of leftovers, be it roast lamb or beef, rice, cooked vegetables, salmon fillets, chicken drummies. Cook some extra for dinner and you will always have some meat to add to that salad or wrap or sandwich to make it delicious, or some rice to make the kids some fried rice or drummies to add to their lunchbox. I found a delicious and simple recipe for CHILLI-ROASTED CHICKEN WITH LEMONGRASS AND ROASTED LIMES in March 2012 MindFood (one of my favourite mags) with an accompanying recipe using the leftovers - CHILLI-ROASTED CHICKEN SALAD. Both were hits.
THURSDAY 2ND FEBRUARY
My frequently-mentioned foodie friend Wendy D made this SMOKED SALMON TERRINE WITH APPLE, CUCUMBER & CAPER RELISH for us to have with drinks one night. As you can see it looked FABULOUS - straight out of a Maggie Beer cookbook (it might actually be a Maggie recipe, I can't tell) and it was a taste SENSATION, but the thing I loved most about this gloriousness was the way Wendy casually slipped it from the fridge onto the plate as her guests were arriving without a care in the world. I LOVE THAT! A prepare the day before, look seriously professional, relatively easy recipe that tastes great and causes no stress. Am definitely going to get the girls over for some vino's and this terrine very soon.
WEDNESDAY 1ST FEBRUARY
I do love to chop. Something so calming yet satisfying about building up a stack of vegetables in a bowl. Summer is a great time for a "slaw" to serve with your BBQ or seafood and here we have COLESLAW- 3 WAYS: 1. Pineapple, apple and zucchini slaw with mustard dressing, 2.Thai Coleslaw and 3. the more traditional Pineapple Coleslaw. Get yourself a good knife and start chopping!
FRIDAY 20TH JANUARY
I do love carrots and my kids actually eat carrots, or at least raw carrots, so when we have a carrot salad they will eat it with us. It is even better when purple carrots are available (as they are now) because you get the fabulous colour combination of orange & purple. LOVE IT! My Mother-in-Law Merle showed me these two easy carrot salads:
1. Carrot & Mint Salad
2. The Rainbow Room's Carrot & Peanut Salad from Nigella's "Forever Summer".
Another thing Merle told me about was the fabulous book "The Hundred Foot Journey" by Richard C. Morais which I have just this minute finished. For foodies it is a delicious book that I thoroughly enjoyed. Put it on your reading list if you haven't read it.
TUESDAY 3RD JANUARY
Isn't the fruit just sublime at the moment and what better way to savour it than a gorgeous SUMMER FRUIT SALAD such as this one created by my friend Terri A? It looks magnificent
doesn't it using just mango, blueberries, passionfruit, lime wedges and mint leaves. So healthy after all the excess of the holidays so far.
Also in the vein of being healthy, I am trying to eat a lot of salad in January so it is important to find a good variety or else culinary boredom will set in! My friend Vanessa M made us a delicious RICOTTA, FENNEL & PEA SALAD using her home-made ricotta and my sister-in-law Mel made us a great ROAST PUMPKIN SALAD both which go exceedingly well with a summer BBQ.
MONDAY 2ND JANUARY
Another winner for a super quick & easy dessert is Eton Mess especially when the summer berries are so good. I followed Nigella's version from "Nigella Express". A big hit with the kids as well as the adults.
SUNDAY 1ST JANUARY 2012
Happy NY! - A new year to do even more cooking!
Stuck in a holiday apartment with a large kitchen with NOTHING to cook with. ABSOLUTE TORTURE! Bought a cheap baking tray and some of those foil BBQ trays and made good use of the virtually brand new oven (clearly all other tenants find it equally challenging to cook without ANY BAKING TRAYS too - NOTE TO ALL LESSORS)! Anyway I baked Fiona's SLOW-COOKED PORK WITH FENNEL AND APPLES again for our NYE family dinner which was succulent & juicy & SOOOOOOOO simple.
I was on the "What Katie Ate" blog and saw that her Xmas entry had some STUNNING looking vegetables so I cooked the BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH BROCCOLINI, BACON & PINE NUTS the ROAST POTATOES, and the BABY CARROTS WITH FENNEL, THYME, HONEY & WHITE WINE (or my versions of them anyway with my limited kitchen/food resources). A simple, tasty feast for 8.
SATURDAY 31 DECEMBER
My mother-in-law Merle made us this MELK TART or Milk Tart for dessert yesterday which is a traditional South African treat. It is very light and delicious with some fresh fruit. Merle says it is very quick and easy to make so I will definitely be trying it for myself soon.
FRIDAY 30TH DECEMBER
My sister-law-Mel made us these gorgeous little XMAS MINCE PIES from our mother-in-law Merle's recipe. We eat them every Xmas and Merle says we must each eat a dozen before New Year. I guarantee that is VERY easy to do as the pastry is so thin and the filling sweet & tangy. The kids ADORE eating and making them. My father-in-law Robert serves them with a dash of brandy/rum/whisky on top for the adults which makes them even better!
THURSDAY 29TH DECEMBER
December has gone by in a whirlwind of celebrations including much eating and drinking! Prior to Xmas my friend Kate C hosted 25 girls for lunch and served a WHOLE BAKED SALMON with various salads. It looked absolutely magnificent and was such a fabulous way to feed a crowd. I decided to try it for Christmas Day as something different to the Asian salmon below. It was relatively easy (given my first time baking a whole salmon) and my family were impressed and polished it off. It is based on a recipe from Jamie Oliver in "Cook with Jamie".
I can't seem to get enough of Quinoa as a healthy "carb" salad so I attempted to recreate a QUINOA & PEA SALAD my friend Tracy had served for us at a pre-Xmas dinner that she got from Crave at Bondi. It has olives in it which I'm not a big fan of but they go so well in this salad which we had on Xmas Day.
Along with my mum Alison's glazed ham it was a SENSATIONAL Xmas lunch and really very healthy which meant I could have seconds!
For dessert my sister-in-law Jane S made a superb LIMONCELLO TRIFLE from the Taste website which she added some crumbed almond praline to the top of. See picture in the link below - it looked so pretty and tasted DIVINE.
FRIDAY 2ND DECEMBER
We had a special birthday celebration lunch last week and my friend Sarah made this ASIAN-MARINATED BAKED SALMON from Valli Little's "Faking It". It ticks all the boxes: prepare in advance, cook in 10 minutes, looks fabulous, fresh, sweet, healthy and completely delicious. I think I will make this one for our Xmas Day lunch table.
THURSDAY 1 DECEMBER 2ND EDITION
I have had a couple of recent requests for this recipe for
PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED FIGS
which comes thanks to Kirsty at my daughter's school. They are an absolute winner, quick to prepare, so deliciously moorish and a winner for the Xmas cocktail parties.
THURSDAY 1 DECEMBER
Here we are first day of summer and we have a wintery 19 degrees! Well it reminds me of the Xmas in July feast I cooked for my family. (Think I mentioned previously I get carried away when I watch Food channel sometimes, well this was one of those times.) Anyway I went totally insane watching Nigella one day and decided to get the family over for a feast of HAM IN GINGERALE, served with SPICED PEACHES, SWEETCORN PUDDING & BUTTERNUT PUMPKIN WITH PECANS AND BLUE CHEESE from Nigella Bites & Nigella Express. It was a big hit and my sister-in-law Janie has been asking me for the recipes ever since. Perfect for a Xmas celebration and all SERIOUSLY easy albeit, in the case of the ham, requiring a longish cooking time. But not hard. Trust me, Gingerale does something to the ham that makes it so sweet and juicy and that corn pudding, whilst looking very eggy/souffley, is a taste sensation with the ham. The Spiced Peaches in a pretty jar would be a nice hostess gift in a Martha Stewart sort of way. People love receiving things that you have made and we've all got a lot of ham to eat over the next few weeks! Nigella also does HAM IN COCA COLA which I have yet to try but am sure it is just as good as the gingerale version. Note the recipe with gingerale calls for a 5kg joint of gammon (cured pork), while the Coke recipe requires a smaller 2kg gammon with a faster cooking time. It really depends on how many people you need to feed and more importantly how big your pot is! Order the gammon from you butcher in advance so they can cure it for you.
Ham in Gingerale
Ham in Coca Cola
Butternut Pumpkin with Pecans & Cheese
TUESDAY 22ND NOVEMBER
This recipe for
, a popular dish hailing originally from Jamaica, is perfect for entertaining because you can prepare the marinade well in advance and have it ready to pop in the oven, or, if you are doing a cold lunch, actually cook it the day before. You can make it kid friendly by using long red chillies or fire it up with some jalapeno or small chillies! This recipe from Valli Little's "delicious, Simply the best" calls for a green salad to serve, however more traditionally it is served with cold slaw. I can feel a picnic coming on....
MONDAY 21ST NOVEMBER
On Saturday night we had dinner at our friends house so I decided to take along some homemade chocolates for after dinner. Of course I turned to the queen of chocolate, Nigella and made her
SWEET AND SALTY CRUNCH NUT BARS
. This recipe combines salty peanuts with chocolate and some honeycomb. Goes without saying with Nigella very simple and DELICIOUS! I popped them into a cellophane bag and tied it up with some ribbon. A nice hostess gift for the Xmas celebrations.
SUNDAY 20TH NOVEMBER
I started this group with my friends which is sort of like a bookclub in that we meet each month and drink wine but instead of books we talk all things food. Recipes, produce, providores, restaurants, AND we get to eat all types of GORGEOUS things we have bought/made ... how FUN is that? We had one of these "Foodies" nights last week and it was a Cheese night. A couple of the girls made cheeses and the rest brought along their favourite cheeses. IT WAS HEAVEN. I need to share some ideas and recipes from that night. I had never before contemplated making cheese but it is really quite easy to make your own soft cheese. Firstly, our host Fi made a LABNEH and then served it in a BEETROOT & BLOOD ORANGE SALAD. Gorgeous to look at and eat.
Wendy brought along a hard cheese called Comte Marcel Petit which she served with an orange paste (both from Fourth Village Mosman) on flat ginger snap biscuits. The cheese with the citrus and ginger was a taste SENSATION! Seriously, you have to try it.
WEDNESDAY 16TH NOVEMBER
2 very exciting things have happened:
1. I found a food blog/website that looks FAB and I definitely will be trying recipes from in the very new future thestonesoup.com - check it out.
2. I got a new recipe book. LOVE getting new recipe books as I get all inspired to try new things and of course I have to have my guinea pigs (girl friends) over to try them. This time it was Valli Little's "Delicious, Quick Smart Cook" which has GORGEOUS photos and, as always, she keeps it pretty simple. I had some girls over last Friday and we started with her
MELON, PECORINO & PROSCIUTTO SALAD http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598179
CRISP PORK BELLY WITH SOUR PEACH SALAD http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598173
. Both very easy, largely prepared in advance, fresh, healthy and tasty. We washed it down with some PIMMS followed by some Bellini's as a nod to the peach salad. A very nice start to the weekend.
TUESDAY 15TH NOVEMBER
It's getting to that time of year where there isn't much time for cooking and it's easy to fall into multiple takeaways... not good. I'm always searching for make in 20 minute fresh, tasty & low carb mid-week dinners and this CHICKEN WITH HALOUMI AND HONEY from Donna Hay "Fast, Fresh, Simple" was last night's installment. Sorry had no time for a photo so will get one next time.
MONDAY 14TH NOVEMBER
I have a couple of friends who detest peas but I can't get enough of any kind of pea and my kids eat them too which is a bonus. The combination of lamb, mint and peas in this recipe for HERB-RUBBED LAMB CUTLETS WITH PEA & FETA SALAD by Valli Little in her new book "delicious simply the best" is fabulous. It is all assembled so quickly so a mid week winner.
TUESDAY 8TH NOVEMBER
You have to love a celebration cake. I have previously commented on the beautiful
MANGO MERINGUE BIRTHDAY CAKE
on the cover of the Nov 11 Delicious by Christopher The of BlackStar Pastry in Newtown. See link below.
I will definitely be visiting them in the very near future.
Anyway, my friend Julia F made the cake for her husband's birthday on the weekend and it looks magnificent. If you have a special occasion coming up, have some time and feel like some baking, I have added the recipe & a picture of her cake to the Baking & Biscuits page.
Tonight for dinner we had
BLUE EYE COD ON LENTILS
from Taste magazine issue 1 by Terry Durack
Another very tasty, simple to prepare and healthy fish dish.
Finally did you hear that Fratelli Fresh have opened a new store & ristorante in the CBD at 11 Bridge St. Will have to check that out too....
MONDAY 7TH NOVEMBER
In our coconut-obsessed house we are all mad for these
from Alison Thompson's "Bake". They take me back to my childhood when my mum (another Alison) would make them for afternoon tea. According to Adriano Zumbo (who ought to know) macaroons, (an English word), are a small meringue cake, typically made of coconut and often dipped in chocolate. They are not to be confused with the currently popular macaron, (French word), a dome-shaped biscuit made of egg whites and almond meal,
hard to the touch with a chewy interior. For my sweet tooth, I'll take both of them!
SUNDAY 6TH NOVEMBER
I have been neglecting cauliflower for the past few years. I have not been enthused about it. I think I have too many childhood memories of being forced to eat over-boiled and lumpy cauliflower cheese! Coincidently today I was looking at a cauliflower recipe in Gwyneth Paltrow's book "Notes from my Kitchen Table" whilst watching Jamie Oliver's show "Jamie at Home" on the Food chanel. (Love a bit of multi-tasking!) Anyway, Gywneth raves about roasting cauliflower in her book and Jamie was saying that Cauliflower and chilli are a match made in heaven on his show. I have combined both these above in
ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH CHILLI AND PARMESAN
. Looks and is so simple but, trust me, it is FABULOUS!
After the cauliflower for dinner tonight we had what I will call SUNDAY NIGHT STEAK. It is essentially Bill Granger's Saturday Night Steak from his book "Holiday" however I added a few bits and pieces to make it a bit more substantial for dinner. We love his Japanese flavours in our house. It is fresh and light and tasty and, of course, super easy to prepare. After all, it is Sunday night!
SATURDAY 5TH NOVEMBER
My friend Sarah F gave me this
which she makes for her boys for afternoon tea or their lunchboxes. Don't let the name fool you. It tastes GREAT! It is so simple - I promise it takes 5 minutes to prepare and 20 minutes in the oven and it's done. Gotta LOVE that!
THURSDAY 3RD NOVEMBER
I love it when the kids ask you what's for dinner, you tell them and they say "awesome Mum, that's my favourite"! This
from "Nigella Kitchen" ALWAYS gets that response, includes 3 green vegetables that they don't even really notice and is easy to prepare so we are all happy.
WEDNESDAY 2ND NOVEMBER
First some more info on the
from my friend & PIMMS connoisseur Lisa R, wife of learned friend Johnny R. The rule of thumb is a third, a third, a third, ie one third PIMMS, one third lemonade, one third gingerale then add your mint, strawberries & cucumber or whatever takes your fancy. Lemon, lime or orange also works.
Back to Sunday's lunch. For entree we had
COCONUTTY CRAB CAKES
by Nigella Lawson atop
ASPARAGUS SALAD WITH A COCONUT DRESSING
by Valli Little. Both recipes are from the Nov 11 Delicious which has that gorgeous Mango Meringue cake on the cover. The asparagus salad was meant to have prawns on top, however, I thought since the crab cakes were "coconutty" they would work well with the coconut dressing of the asparagus salad and I wanted to try the coconutty crab cakes and didn't feel like peeling prawns. I have included both recipes here.
MONDAY 31ST OCTOBER
We had some friends over on Sunday for lunch and I had only Sunday morning to prepare. We started with a couple of jugs of PIMMS which for me signifies all things summer. My learned neighbour Johnny R once told me that you can never put enough PIMMS in the PIMMS jug (along with lemonade, ginger ale, cucumber, mint & strawberries). With the PIMMS we had Neil Perry's
from Saturday's Good Living which you make with your mortar & pestle. I like to serve guacamole with those beetroot chips you can get from Harris Farm as the colours are glorious.
More about the meal tomorrow but by far the best bit (and always my favourite course) was the
MARGARITA ICE CREAM
for dessert from "Nigella Express". Possibly the easiest dessert on record and just so delicious. Should be served with Tequila shots and lime wedges but for some reason no one was up for Tequila shots on Sunday. Might have something to do with the PIMMS....
WEDNESDAY 26TH OCTOBER
I have friends whose partner love to BBQ and will BBQ every night for them in summer or whenever guests come over. Fantastic. Whip up a salad and dinner's done. No, I am not blessed with a partner who likes to BBQ (or cook at all for that matter). Our BBQ is in a state of blackened, rusty disrepair. Our friends can attest that when I have asked for some sausages to be BBQ'd for the kids, we have bushfire-like smoke everywhere and blackened sausages (not to mention guests with watery eyes, dirty windows and me doing my best to not get annoyed). So, in the interests of all, I steer clear of BBQs. Unhappily, this means all those gourmet sausages you get now that look so delicious at the butchers have been off the menu in our house. Anyway, all of the above is a long way of saying that when I saw this recipe for
RIGATONI WITH PORK AND FENNEL SAUSAGES
from Bill Granger's "Holiday", which uses gourmet sausages in it, I had to try it. It was quick, easy and delicious.
SUNDAY 23RD OCTOBER
Part 2 of Saturday's dinner! For main course we had SLOW COOKED PORK WITH APPLE & FENNEL served with steam green beans & new potatoes. Sorry I forgot to take a picture of it (let's blame the watermelon daiquiris) but it was a shoulder of pork that had cooked for 6 hours which means you can time it to take out of the oven as you sit down to dinner - super easy. The crackling on top was crunchy and the meat literally fell into pieces so no carving required! YUM. You bake the apples and fennel in the pork juices for one hour. Thanks to Fiona for this fabulous recipe. She thinks it came from Karen Martini but it is Fiona's pork to me!
After a weekend of serious over-indulgence I am back to my health kick this week. For lunch I made up a delicious (I need to get some more words for delicious besides "yum" because tasty doesn't quite do it for me). Anyway let's call it a SALAD OF PORK, APPLES & FENNEL. Yep, based on the pork recipe above and using the left over cold pork from the fridge all put together in 5 minutes tops and very healthy.
SATURDAY 22 OCTOBER
Last night we had friends over for dinner. I love to entertain and often get a little over-excited when it comes to planning the menu! This time I decided that I would cook my first lobsters since the summer weather had finally arrived. Off I went to the fish markets which was all very easy and I bought a couple of live lobsters. I found a recipe for
ASIAN STYLE LOBSTER SALAD
in October/November '11 Donna Hay Magazine which was deliciously fresh and all prepared in advance so it was easily assembled at dinner time.
For pre-dinner cocktails we had
from "Nigella Bites". You cut the watermelon into cubes and freeze them in advance so you can easily blend them with the Bacardi, lime juice and icing sugar just before your guests arrive. So yum and moorish which isn't so good for the chef but just as well the meal was so easy and prepared in advance!
For dessert we had
CHOCOLATE CLOUD CAKE
also from "Nigella Bites" which I served topped with beautifully fresh raspberries. It was very rich and chocolaty and definitely not good for the diet! Worth the calories though...
WEDNESDAY 19TH OCTOBER
I'm on a health kick at the moment that includes a majority alkaline diet. This translates roughly to lots of fruit and vegetables but not much red meat, wheat, gluten or dairy. It has been quite a struggle for me I have to say but for lunch today I whipped up this
using ingredients from my vegie drawer and it was delicious. If you are not familiar with Quinoa, pronounced "Key-noir", (like me prior to this health kick) it is a grain often used as a gluten free alternative for rice or couscous.
TUESDAY 18TH OCTOBER
I do love a chunky dip that you have to spoon on that seems like a mini meal in itself, especially good when you're having a few drinks and you get to that point where you don't feel up for making dinner! My friend Denise made this fabulous
OLIVE AND AVOCADO SALSA
the other night. She made it in front of us in about 3 minutes and served it with corn chips. Delicious.
SUNDAY 16TH OCTOBER
My 11 year old daughter has decided that she will be cooking our family dinner once a week. She likes to use the Junior Masterchef book she got for Xmas last year as it has simple instructions and great pictures of fresh and tasty recipes. Last night she choose Anthony's GARLIC PRAWNS which we adapted slightly and she served it on pasta. I won't tell you about the mess that somehow seemed to accumulate in our kitchen but it was a very fresh and tasty and simple dish. A great Sunday night dinner.
THURSDAY 13TH OCTOBER
Whenever I visit my friend Jude's house for a few bubbles and a chat she always serves this most gorgeous looking and delicious SALMON BALL WITH WASABI AND LIMES. I just love the taste and it looks fabulous with the lime green and pale pink. Serve it on a board with toasted baguette slices and make sure you roll it into a ball! Sorry this picture is a bit dark, I'll get another one next time (which is sure not to be too long!)
MONDAY 10TH OCTOBER
Last night we had another simple healthy yet delicious dinner of CRISPY HARISSA FISH WITH LEMON COUSCOUS from Donna Hay's "Fast, Fresh, Simple". I used Barramundi which worked well but you can use any firm white fish. I whipped up a quick Tzatziki of Greek yogurt, cucumber, mint & lemon juice. You could cook the fish on the BBQ.
SUNDAY 9TH OCTOBER
We were out late last night and all day today so after a quick nana nap this afternoon I wanted something quick and tasty to wip up for dinner. We are MAD about Japanese food in this house so the SOY AND MIRIN-SIMMERED BEEF ON RICE from Bill Granger's "Holiday" caught my eye. I knew I had some steak in the freezer (which I partially defrosted in the micro-wave so it was easy to slice thinly), ginger and onions are always in my fruit bowl and mirin and soy are a pantry staple. PERFECTO! Really tasty and a hit with all. MUCH better than takeaway!
I had a little bake fest yesterday afternoon including these GINGER NUT BISCUITS from "Bake" by Alison Thompson. I am not embarrassed to admit that I bought this book because it has a pretty pink and black cover, as opposed to any major desire to bake, but it turns out (per my expert baker friend Lisa) that it is a very good book. These biscuits are deliciously gingery and MUCH better than the shop bought ones.
WEDNESDSAY 5TH OCTOBER
I have a couple of recipes that I have been wanting to add for a while but haven't had the opportunity to cook them to photograph. They are great healthy recipes so I will add them now and post photos later. I will definitely do this as I always prefer recipes with photos so I know where I am heading even if I do end up taking a slightly different direction as is often the case depending on ingredients to hand and moods etc!
The first recipe is a
Salad of Figs, Cos, Fennel, Prosciutto, Pistachio & a Citrus
Dressing by George Sinclair from Yellow Bistro. It was from a cooking course he did in 2009 at Accoutrement called "Be Prepared in Advance". PERFECT for me. I made this salad for a lunch at my house for 18 or so girls. I had done all the chopping and made the dressing in advance and put the ingredients ready in containers so that to serve I just had an assembly line with a couple of girls helping. So easy. The combination of figs and Prosciutto really works.
The next recipe is from another Accoutrement cooking course I attended this year by Lyndey Milan with a title that I can't remember but of course it had the words "simple" or "fast" or "easy" in it! It is a South American dish -
Rib Eye with Chimichurri Sauce, Corn, Bean and Tomato Salad
. The Chimichurri sauce is deliciously fresh.
MONDAY 3RD OCTOBER
On the weekend we stayed with my husband's parents and, as always, my Mother-in-Law Merle, a very accomplished and adventurous cook, spoiled us with amazing feasts for every meal. Of course I am in heaven with the opportunity to sample new recipes and to see them produced in front of me. WONDERFUL. Merle has a library of cookbooks the likes of which I have not seen, well not in person anyway (only on TV)! Since before we were married I have spent many hours at the kitchen table with a stack of Merle's cook books in front of me. Anyway, during the weekend, one night after making us a traditional South African meal of Bobotie (DELICIOUS - more on that another time), Merle made Nigella's Lemon Meringue Cake. So deliciously tart with the lemon curd and sweet with the meringue, a combination we are all very fond off in my family. I shall certainly be giving this one a try very soon.
FRIDAY 30TH SEPTEMBER
The family were hungry and pushing for take away tonight but I was adamant I could have a healthy dinner on the table in 15 minutes. I had bought 4 fillets of blue-eye cod and they needed to be eaten. Looking in my recipe folder I found a recipe from a cooking course by George Sinclair from Yellow Bistro (LOVE that place) for Blue Eye Cod with Soy, Ginger & Mirin and I added a salad of snowpeas, sprouts & fennel. Perfect. SO HEALTHY, very low carb, fresh and SERIOUSLY FAST using ingredients I always have to hand.
Note to Shelley: this is VERY Vision friendly! x
THURSDAY 29TH SEPTEMBER
A travesty has been corrected tonight. I discovered my children had never eaten
. My Mum used to make it for us as children on a regular basis on Sunday nights so this was something I definitely wanted to correct. In addition, my two LOVE lemons (to the point of sucking on them like oranges) so I knew they would be into it. It was true to its name, super lemony and absolutely delicious - crusty on top, oozy on bottom. We ate the whole bowl between us and it is now their favourite dessert.
TUESDAY 27TH SEPTEMBER
I opened up my October Delicious today and found a Kaffir lime & pepper marinated beef salad in the global flavours article on Cambodia which looked very fresh, light and delicious so I gave it a try tonight. YUM. The beef was so tender as very thinly sliced and quickly seared, with the fresh mint and iceberg and the tangy dressing with a hint of chilli. VERY easy to prepare so give it a try one warm evening or for lunch.
MONDAY 26TH SEPTEMBER
I had 4 ripe avocados in my fruit bowl this morning which I couldn't bare to see go to waste so it was time for
. I mashed the avocados and added 2 diced long red chillies, 1 tablespoon of tabasco sauce, 3 tablespoons of lime juice and a handful each of mint and coriander. To go with the large bowl of guacamole I took inspiration from the Quesadillas in Nigella Express (link below), however I varied them slightly. I spead one white tortilla with homemade tomato sauce, added 3 slices of prosciutto, roasted red & yellow capsicum slices, chopped spring onion, coriander leaves & grated cheddar. On top I added another tortilla and then I toasted it in the toasted sandwich maker ie squashed them together. In 2 minutes flat I had a delicious
to serve topped with the Guacamole. Perfect for pre-dinner drinks or lunch.
Note if you don't have the time or inclination to roast, peel & slice capsicums, you can get roasted capsicum in a jar which is a handy pantry ingredient.
SATURDAY 24 SEPTEMBER
I go to various cooking courses at Accoutrement in Mosman each year for a great day out as well as refreshing my recipe repertoire. I always chose the courses whose titles include the words "Quick" or "Fast" or "Simple" as I know these will be right up my alley and I will actually try the recipes at home. One of my favourites from this year was by Valli Little called "Quick and Easy". Yep, right up my alley. For dessert she did
Verjuice Poached Pears with Chocolate Mousse.
It was simply delicious (as expected!) but the best bit was that the chocolate mousse was made in a couple of minutes in the blender. HOW GOOD IS THAT? No whipped cream and egg whites and melted chocolate all separately. Nope. A saucepan and a blender. I have made it a lot, especially for the kids who have it with icecream whilst I give it to the adults with the pears. Try it.
FRIDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER
My daughter inherited my sweet tooth. It's in her genes. These
Rocky Road Crunch Bars
from "Nigella Express" are her absolute favourite so I made a batch today for her netball team party this afternoon. Whenever I make these I find all the morsels that come lose when cutting it up end up in my mouth so be warned...once you start eating it you can't stop! Oh well...you can't fight the genes.
THURSDAY 22ND SEPTEMBER
OK last night of fish week tonight as we are out tomorrow night but promise to order fish...
Tonight we had a
from "Marie Claire Kitchen" by Michele Cranston. I haven't looked at that book for so long and have forgotten what fabulous pictures of the food it has and what easy, short recipes they are. Will have to add a few more of them to this website!
Have enjoyed fish week. Feeling healthy and have realised that fish isn't as scary as I have always imagined.
WEDNESDAY 21ST SEPTEMBER
Fish week continues... Tonight it was Nigella's Mirin-Glazed Salmon. Deliciously sweet with the glorious dark sauce dribbled over the salmon. SERIOUSLY easy and fast. I went for carb-friendly option so I served the salmon on a bed of lettuce, snow peas and bean sprouts. I'm starting to feel it's not so hard doing without meat or chicken....who knew!
MONDAY 19 SEPTEMBER
OK night 2 of fish week. Tonight we had
Sophie Dahl's Crab & Salmon Fishcakes with Homemade Tartare Sauce.
I LOVE these fishcakes and with no breadcrumbs or potato they are carb friendly too! A good start to my healthy week (well it would have been until I licked the bowl of the tartare sauce keen OMG that is good!). I'm loving the baby coz lettuce around at the moment and I made the most DELICIOUS salad dressing from Gwyneth Paltrow's book "Notes From My Kitchen Table". The hubbie and kids had some oven baked fries on the side to fill them up because they can only take so many carb free dinners in a row! Links below:
Crab & Salmon Fishcakes
Balsamic & Lime Vinaigrette
SUNDAY 18TH SEPTEMBER
Today my family and I ran in the Sydney family fun run over the Harbour Bridge to the Opera House. As a race course it really doesn't get any better than that on an absolutely STUNNING Sydney spring day. With that healthy start to our Sunday I decided to take it further and make it a "fish week" for us this week. To kick it off tonight I turned to Gwyneth Paltrow's book "Notes From My Kitchen Table" for some healthy inspiration. This book is a health fest but in a good, tasty way. We had her
Hot Nicoise Salad
for dinner. Really delicious and we are all feeling virtuous tonight...
SATURDAY 17TH SEPTEMBER
Yesterday my sister had a girls lunch at her home which was DELICIOUS but still low fuss and stress free. She served:
ucchini Fritters with Smoked Salmon & Creme Fraiche
For dessert, one of our friends Lou brought along some
macarons from Adriano Zumbo
. Now I have been a little skeptical about all the fuss over these little meringue-like biscuits lately. I LOVE anything sweet, don't get me wrong, but to me there are other sweet delights just as worthy of the fuss as the macaroon. Well, that was until yesterday. Lou brought out this GORGEOUS long box filled with a rainbow of Macarons. Diets were tossed. We demolished that box as only women can when it comes to sweet things! They were SO melt in your mouth and the combination of flavours sublime. Get them on his website, link below, or at his patisseries in Balmain and Manly, or at the cafe in Rozelle.
THURSDAY 15TH SEPTEMBER
I've gone a little mad about baking lately. Growing up we always had a cake tin or a biscuit tin on the kitchen bench my mum had filled with something she'd baked and I love that my kids have that too when they come home from school or have friends over. Now I'm no expert baker like some of my friends, in fact I am pretty average really. Nothing too fussy or technical for me, but I have to say I just love the smell of baking in the house no matter what it is. It is such a fantastic feeling to pull your latest batch out of the oven ready for morning or afternoon tea. Today I made Nigella's Banana and Butterscotch Muffins...YUM!
TUESDAY 13TH SEPTEMBER
Great day today. One of those days when you bounce out of bed, get the kids off to school, make the bed, hang out the first load of washing and get started on some baking all before 8am! Gotta love it when you bake a dozen muffins and they are all gone by the end of the day. These
RASPBERRY AND WHITE CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS
are a sensation. The kids love them in their lunch box and for afternoon tea and they freeze well too.
MONDAY 12TH SEPTEMBER
I am trying to be good this week with no (obvious) carbs after 6pm... but it was a cold day so a cold salad for dinner would not do. I needed some warm meat and vegetables without potato or pasta. Flicking through my recipe folder I came across this recipe for M
OROCCAN LAMB WITH TOMATO AND EGGPLANT SALAD.
I served it with a Harissa yogurt as both Harissa and natural yogurt are always in my fridge. A tasty low carb dinner for us all.
THURSDAY 8TH SEPTEMBER
I finally managed to track down some pomegranates so tonight I cooked Nigella's
Warm Lamb Salad with Mint & Pomegranates
. I love the idea of cooking the lamb overnight, which I will do next time, however today I cooked 2 * 1.5kg lamb shoulders for 4 hours and then rested them for 45 minutes. It was a big hit with the kids as the lamb was melt in your mouth and the pomegranates seeds sweet & juicy. See link to recipe below.
TUESDAY 6TH SEPTEMBER
I have been to a number of different cooking classes over the years. It is such a nice thing to do with your friends. I was looking through one of my cooking folders and found this recipe for
Harissa Crusted Lamb with Roasted Vegetables
from a cooking class I attended in 1995 or thereabouts. I cooked it for our dinner tonight - see picture above, I am not a food stylist but this was very tasty and quick to assemble mid-week.
SUNDAY 4 SEPTEMBER
On Friday night we had our good friends over for dinner. I love having these friends over because they are fabulous but in addition to that because they are vegetarians. This means that I must go out of my comfort zone and find something vegetarian to eat which is wonderful. I started thinking about this dinner on Thursday (nothing like a bit of forward planning) and I recalled that on Good Friday this year another friend had us over to lunch and served us with the most delicious fish burgers. This friend, Wendy, is a food lover and sensational cook so when she gave me the recipe it came with detailed instructions which I will now share with you. See link below.
On Sunday we had some boarders out from my son's school and I was keen to send them back with some home-cooked fare but I had very limited time. I needed a recipe assembled in 15 minutes using ingredients already in my cupboard. I stumbled across this very easy recipe for chocolate brownies on Donna Hay's website. I always just use the Nestle milk chocolate melts for spur of the moment cooking. Completely idiot proof and delicious and my kids will be finishing them off for afternoon tea today.