Monday, May 31

Slowcooker Recipe: Set and forget Hearty Ham Soup

Hello friends!

What a weekend!  I need a weekend to get over my weekend, what about you?  We've got a HUGE week this week at Frills in the Hills... let me summarise for you:

Tomorrow - I'm going to share another recipe from Kaotic Kitchen:  Mince and sausages - don't forget to enter! you can do so daily.. (plus... my biggest frill, Eloise turns six officially, wah!)
Wednesday - Sydney Film Festival Opens and a FUN recipe for all of you!
Thursday - there will be the announcement of a winner or THREE ;)
Friday - a big announcement of something NEW here that YOU can participate in weekly!

So on to today:
Well today I share a dish I touched upon in the very beginning of my blogging days, but now there are so many more of you and nobody goes deep into the cockles of my archive (or do they?) that I thought I would reprise this recipe for those slowcooker addicts out there... and I know who you are.....

The recipe was adapted from my Mum's stovetop recipe and I remember it fondly on a cold night, smelling it cooking all day.  Now you have some choices depending on how you like your soup.  If you like it really chunky and a bit on the stew-y side, cook it overnight or put it on extra early - you want to slow cook it for 12 hours.  If you like it more soup-y and a bit on the lighter side, 7-8 hours should do it.  I made it at breakfast, and didn't look at it until dinner time.  I love that about this soup.  It's also very cost efficient and will easily do two meals for your family as it does ours.

1 ham hock - you can pick these up at your butcher or even the supermarket.
500g dehydrated premium soup mix (The one I get is from a deli but basically it's split yellow and green peas, barley and kidney beans)
2 bay leaves
2-3 large carrots, diced
2-3 large stalks celery, diced
1 large parsnip, diced

Place all ingredients in your slowcooker

Fill your slowcooker to the top with water

Set and forget - THAT.IS.IT.  The ham hock makes a gorgeous flavourful stock with the bayleaves.  The soup mix goes lovely and soft as does the veges and takes on the stock flavour.  Serve with toast, or as I did the perfect soup bread.

Enjoy my friends, enjoy.

Saturday, May 29

The Birthday Party Report - Eloise turns six..

Well not officially, birthday is on Tuesday - but today was the party!

12 kids.
Pouring with rain outside

No seriously, it went well.  It was a morning party so everyone was gone and cleaning had been done by 2pm - no trace of said party, apart from 3 sugar high children that is!

We had crackles...

We had cake....

We had copious amounts of sugar....

There were games...

There were girls...

And there were good times to share

And of course, goodie bags to go...

She had a wonderful time, and for her first school party I couldn't have asked for better kids, only a few hiccups but considering we were inside, and sugar added it went smoothly - very!

Friday, May 28

Currant buns


Twelve currant buns in the Frilly Hills' Shop
Round and fat with pink icing-on-the-top
Along came friends with an appetite one day
Took a currant bun and ate it right away.....

Forgive the indulgence - but when I was making these I kept singing this little ditty to myself.  It made me happy.  There's something about baking that's so therapeudic for me.  The mixing, kneading (OK, watching the kitchenaid knead mostly...) the rising, the fun knocking back, the shaping, the baking, the glorious smell and then the adornment or eating it warm... slightly addictive.

This recipe is the same as that as the finger buns except I added currants, shaped them differently and of course used different icing.  So they are light and fluffy and are absolutely delicious either on their own or with cold butter. mmmm butter.

They go well in the school lunch but really, are total winners for afternoon tea on a weekend afternoon inside in this really dreary rainy weather us Sydneysiders are having.. so put it on your weekend baking list - you won't be disappointed!  

475g plain flour
35g milk powder (or 160ml of lukewarm milk and omit water further down)
75g caster sugar
2 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
1 egg, lightly beaten
150ml lukewarm water
40g butter, cubed   
1/2 cup currants (optional) 

In a bowl, add the flour, milk powder(If using milk, don't add now) currants, sugar and yeast

Add water (or milk) and egg whilst and then cube by cube knead in the butter.  The mixture will become soft and elastic-like.  Place in a bowl with some clingfilm over the top and place in a warm draft-free place until it doubles in size (can take about 2-3 hours if it's particularly cold, or place it about 1-2 metres away from your heater!)

When it has doubled, take it out of the bowl and knock back the dough (i.e. a quick knead to expel most of the bubbles and then divide into twelve balls - place onto greased tray and again, cover with clingfilm and allow to rise for about an hour.
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees c (170 fan forced)  Place your buns in there for about 15-20 minutes until browned on top.

Mix this icing by sifting 1 cup icing mixture in a bowl, add a few drops of food colouring (I've used Queen brand rose colouring) and then a tsp or two of milk and mix through with a fork until it becomes a runny, yet thick consistency - like that of honey.
With your fork, drop the icing over the buns in a swirling motion.  Or if you like loads of icing, spread it on with a knife and let it ooze down the sides!

Submitting this one to yeastspotting for sure!

Thursday, May 27

Book Review: Kaotic Kitchen Mince & Sausages, Road test and GIVEAWAY!

Now, I've got to be honest, even though I cook with sausages and mince on a regular basis I was a little stumped to think of a lot recipes to make with them.  So I was intrigued when the lovely team over at Kaotic Kitchen approached me to review their cookbook, devoted to mince ... and... sausages.

Well I am impressed.  Mums, you want this cookbook.   
Uni students or anyone on a budget, you want this cookbook.
Look, I'm telling you - buy this cookbook!

Amanda and Sally met each other in the playground where their kids attended the same school.  Amanda's stepson would spend afternoons with Sally's family until she finished work each day, and when she came in each weekday for the pick up - she saw what Sally was preparing each night, and the conversation and adventure started there.

Pros:  Lots of pictures (we love pictures!) and they're big and glossy.  The recipes use every day ingredients, nothing is too fussy, but it all looks like it can be on any family's kitchen table.  Good variety of dishes too.
Cons:  Probably that it's not widely available.  But seeing as you are such savvy internet people, you can buy yours direct and online here.

Cost:  $18.95
ISBN: 9780646522616

GOOD NEWS FOR YOU:  Kaotic Kitchen have sent me three copies to give away!  More details below after road test!

Road test:  Pork, pumpkin and sage casoulet

This is first of two road tests I did with this book, and it far exceeded my expectations.  As soon as it was eaten, I wanted to eat it again.  Even if you're not a fan of pork sausages, I urge you to give this one a try, it will have you licking your plate!

500gr pumpkin, peeled and sliced
2 tbs olive oil
12 pork sausages (I used a few more, it works!)
2 tbs butter
1 tsp crushed garlic (I used 1 clove finely chopped)
1 onion, thickly sliced (I used a red one, use what you like :) )
3 tbs chopped fresh sage (or 1 1/2 tsp dried sage)
1 tbs dijon mustard
300ml chicken stock
400g tin butter beans
Preheat oven to 200 degrees c (180 fan forced)

Boil (or steam the pumpkin for 5 minutes) and place on a greased oven tray.  Place in the oven until crispy.

Heat the oil in a frypan and brown the sausages for about 3-4 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Add butter, garlic and onion to the frying pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes until onions have softened.

Add the sage, mustard, butterbeans and chicken stock, stir well until all combined.
Return the sausages to the frypan, bring to the boil and then let simmer for 15 minutes.
Serve with the roasted pumpkin, enjoy!


How do I enter?
  • Leave a comment here with what your favourite sausage or mince recipe is!
  • Extra entry if you tweet about this competition  [ See road test and win one of three Kaotic Kitchen cookbooks @frillyhills 's blog! RT to food lovers! ] 1 entry allowed per day.
  • Extra entry Become a fan of Kaotic Kitchen on Facebook and write on their wall:  I found you from !

Boring bits
  • Enter from today - ends next Wednesday 2nd June 2010 midnight.
  • Entries with Australian postal addresses only please. (Intl people, there will be one for you soon, promise!)
  • If I can't track you back to your blog through your comment, only entries supplying an email address on the comment or via my contact (contact me on menu bar) can be accepted.
  • Winner announced Thursday, 3rd June 2010.

Wednesday, May 26

Chocolate Walnut Biscotti

How cold is it at the moment?  Pretty cold!  I find myself hugging up to warm hot chocolate at nights these days whilst putting the finishing touches on my blog posts, catching up with my latest telly addiction and relishing the fact I don't have three little frills talking AT me usually

I've been feeling like biscotti for weeks, weeks. Finally got around to making them.  So now, it's my lindt hot chocolate, with my chocolate walnut biscotti and peace, trashy tv and sometimes twitter to keep me company.  Bliss.

1 cup walnuts
75 grams good quality cooking chocolate (I used Lindt specialty cooking chocolate)
75 grams butter
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk

Heat your oven to 180 degrees c (170 fan)

Place your walnuts on a tray and into the oven, for about 5-10 minutes until roasted

In a microwave proof bowl, place your butter and chocolate and heat in the microwave on 50% power for 1 minute.  Remove and stir.  Return to microwave for a further minute on 50% power.  
Stir, and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and with a fork, whisk through your eggs.

Stir in your chocolate mix and a little milk unti you reach a dough-like consistency.  Stir through the walnuts.
Cover, and place the dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Preheat oven again to 180 degrees c or 170 c fan forced.

Remove from the refrigerator and pour out the mixture onto a floured surface.  Make two log shapes and place on on a greased baking tray.  Bake for 40-50 minutes until cooked through.  It will crack a bit, don't despair, this is normal!

Remove from oven (leave it on though) and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.

With a bread knife, cut your log on the diagonal and return the slices to your baking tray.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then turn over and bake for another 10 minutes.

Leave to cook and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks (they won't last that long, I promise!)

Tuesday, May 25

Slow Cooker Recipe: Osso Bucco

A few years ago when the frills were much smaller, osso bucco was definitely our family's favourite meal.  Tender, easy for babies/kids to eat and little effort to put together for an amazing result.  We ate it A LOT.  You know when you totally over do something?   Well that's what happened with osso bucco around these here parts - Osso bucco and our family went separate ways for a while.

Then I saw them - lovely meaty cuts at our butcher a few weeks ago - and a lovely price - around $2 each.  I snapped up 5 and stashed them in the freezer.  I usually prepare it in the oven but on thinking about it - it made perfect sense to put in the slow cooker - so I did - with fabulous results.

It takes about 15-20 minutes to prepare and then you stir through some stuff 30 minutes before serving - the taste disguises the effort - it tastes like you've spent aaages procuring the taste!

5 pieces osso bucco
1/4 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper 
2 large carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, sliced/thinly diced
2 onions, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 cup red wine
2 cups beef stock
400g tin (or 4 large fresh) diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
continental parsley, chopped.


Mix the flour, salt and pepper together in a ziplock bag.  Place the osso bucco pieces in the bag and shake so all the meat is covered with flour.

Dust off any excess and place in a frypan with a couple tb of oil, on medium heat,  Brown the osso bucco on both sides, and place in your slow cooker.

Add the onions, garlic, celery, carrot, tinned tomato, stock and red wine.  Place the lid on the slowcooker and set to high for 3.5 hours or low for 5 hours.

30 minutes before serving, stir through the tomato paste and parsley, put the lid on and turn onto high.

Serve with pasta or potato mash/greens -or just on its own!  

    Monday, May 24

    Quick fix chicken strips and spiced kumara fries

    I've never been one for the frozen packet meals.  Ingham and Steggles have not made a cent from me!  However I do understand the need for quick-from-frozen meal for the kids (and hey, sometimes us too!) when life gets out of control.   When I was working full time with the three girls (hard slog I take my hat off to y'all doing that right now!) I would make up a kilo of these up at a time, and stash them in zip lock bag and into the freezer (cooked) - a quick 10 minute reheat in the oven.  

    The sweet potato fries - these can be chopped up and tossed in the oil and spices and frozen too (raw).  Put them in the oven when you do the chicken. couldn't be easier really!

    Chicken strips
    600gr chicken thigh fillets, sliced into strips
    1 cup milk
    5 ml vinegar
    1 tb cornflour
    3 pieces bread
    2 tb chopped continental parsley

    Kumara chips
    1 kg kumara, peeled and cut into chips
    1 tb vegetable oil
    pinch of cayenne pepper
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp pepper

    Pour mix and vinegar into a bowl.  Allow to stand for about 5 minutes, to slightly curdle, and then add cornflour (It will then resemble a thick buttermilk)  Place your sliced chicken in the bowl and allow to sit whilst you prepare your breadcrumbs.

    Preheat your oven to 200 degrees c.

    In another bowl, add your kumera, oil, cayenne, salt and pepper - mix through with fingers until all pieces of kumera are coated.

    Make your breadcrumbs by either grating or placing your bread in the food processor and pulsing until resembles rough breadcrumbs (fine if you like, I like 'em rough for this)  add salt and pepper and your parsley.
    Put your kumera chips on a baking tray, and place in the oven on lower tray.

    Take each piece of chicken out of the milk and roll in the breadcrumbs, place on a tray sprayed with canola oil.

    Place both in the oven, after 10 minutes turn over both chicken and kumera, cook for a further 10 minutes and serve - with salad or veges of your choice!

    Sunday, May 23

    Sunday Baking Project: Family beef pie (cheat's version)

    I'm finding my way to winter here, although I love being outside in Spring and that is my favourite season, winter is my favourite in the kitchen.  Roasts, stews, soups, the slow cooker going - and of course the puddings, can't forget the puddings!

    My hubby loves a meat pie and it's not something I make very often but this pie, literally leapt off the plate into the stomachs of my family. I think I'll be making more pies somehow this winter (stay tuned, I have some ideas!) and this is a lovely cost efficient way to feed your family as the beef goes lovely and soft and it makes itself a lovely gravy, that you mop up of course, with your pastry.  Lick those fingers!

    I will have a go at making the pastry from scratch next time, but this time I went for the quickie version - we all need a quick alternative now and then don't we?

    I kg blade steak, fat removed and diced
    2 onions, finely sliced
    1 carrot, diced
    2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
    6 medium button or 2 large field mushrooms, diced
    1/2 cup red wine
    1 cup beef stock
    1 tsp cornflour
    1 tsp tomato paste
    3 sheets
    2 sprigs thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
    3 sheets frozen puff pastry
    1 egg

    In a large saucepan or frypan, add some oil and fry your onions, carrot and potato until they are slightly softened - about 5 minutes

    Add the thyme and then the beef, and brown.  Add the mushrooms, wine, stock with the cornflour added to it, and then the tomato paste.  Pop the lid on your saucepan or frypan and turn down to a simmer (low) for about 40-50 minutes. Stir occasionally.

    Preheat your oven to 180 degrees c.

    Grease your pie dish and cover with puff pastry - Mine is a bit large so I put one sheet on the bottom and then patched it with triangles from a second.

    Put your filling in your pie ...

     And seal it up with a second piece/s of puff pastry.  Fork down the edges to fuse the top and bottom layers of pastry.  Brush with beaten egg.

    Bake in oven for 25-35 minutes depending on the size of your pie!

    Serve with greens!


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