Friday, April 30

Wonder Women: Mothers' day giveaway!

Yes, I think one of you deserve an extra mothers' day present (well you all do really!)   Someone who loves to cook or maybe has lost their will to cook.  I'm so excited because I personal would LOVE something like this for Mother's Day.

So to a special Mummy out there I have:

A Wonder Woman Shopping Bag (love this, I have one!)
Stylish, whilst stating the obvious, of course!

A copy of Heston Blumenthal's 'Family Food' (I have yet to find a copy in Australia!)
This is a great cookbook that is bound to inspire you to cook up all kinds of wonderful things - it really takes it up a notch - really accessible recipes that you can get the kids to help you with - and no, it's not full of pasta and bistro food - it's REAL adult food that kids will love.

Plus... I'll throw in a bottle of my homemade jam too!

What do you need to do?
Leave a comment here and let me know what recipe you love here (with link) and why!  Even if you haven't tried it yet...

Extra entry if you link this post on your blog/website somewhere (it will appear in links to this post section under the comments, if not, just post a link to it here - then I can check YOU out! :) )

Now the boring stuff:
-Giveaway only open to those with an Australian address
-If I can't track your email address through your comment (i.e. your blog with an email address link) please put your email address with your comment or email it to me by clicking the 'contact me' tab on the menu bar.
-One entry (by comment) only per person, one extra PER post linking competition by author.
-Competition closes Friday 7th May, midnight Sydney time.
-Winner announced 9th May 

'How a pressure cooker saved my life' book review and 'Baba's 1 minute prawns'

When I gaze at the cookbook I think 'Juanita Philips...
 doesn't she read the news?'
Yes indeed she does.She also has a hubby and 2 young children.

The book is very visually appealing - it's kind of 50's kitsch - cute and sweet, but modern and funky.  And although the title suggests it's a cookbook, I wouldn't describe it that way.

It's more of a busy mum's guide, but likewise could be adopted by anyone with a busy lifestyle. Juanita makes no secret, she's no chef, but she had to 'up her game from basic to intermediate cook' to cater in minutes because she and her family aren't traditional in the sense that they eat together every night. She needs to be organised, she wanted to have variety of yummy nutritious meals but didn't want to spend her precious family time in the kitchen.  Let's face it, who does?

Juanita tells the tales of her failures, how she came to find systems/focus in her life that worked - whether it be laundry, housework, shopping, friendships and all other aspects of life - nurture yourself - learn to say no.

For working and busy mums out there - you will love the editorial.  It's common sense stuff but it's also refreshing in the sense that it's so relateable - it's not written in a motivational type prose, it's not condescending - it's just an honest account.  I like that.

I'm not a pressure cooker user, in fact I needed to borrow a pressure cooker to road-test the recipe.  All the recipes are written with a prep-time, a cook time in the pressure cooker, and comparable conventional cooking time.  It does motivate me to find myself a pressure cooker of my own admittedly!

Pros:  The 'editorial' or 'story' part of the book is a lovely, helpful read. Realistic and validating.  Both recipes I road tested worked, and were delicious.
Cons:  Recipes have no pictures, they are difficult to follow when cooking by virtue as they are written in paragraph not in point form. The recipes I road tested, made me feel a little more under pressure to get things ready quickly (tip, have all ingredients on hand pre-prepared) and also the timings to prepare were not realistic, so you need to allow a little extra time if you read the recipe and it seems like there's a bit more preparation involved.

Release Date:  1st April 2010
Cost :  $35.00
ISBN: 978073332588
Browse inside click here

Road Test 
Baba's 1 minute Prawns

This is one I actually had a bit of a hard time getting on the table - in fact it took me from beginning to end 1 hour, not the 28 minutes as on the recipe.  However, it is delicious, and now using the tips I'm going to share with you, I will make it again.

The recipe was given to Juanita by her croatian mother-in-law.  She then adapted it from a conventional recipe to a pressure cooker recipe.

1 kg green prawns, shelled, de-veined, tails on - reserve shells
1/2 tsp vegetable stock powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 tsp crushed garlic (I used 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced)
1 large bunch continental parsley, chopped
1 cup white wine
2 tsp cornflour

Prepare all ingredients  up front, shell your prawns, chop your parsley/garlic measure out your white wine and dissolve the cornflour in the wine.

When shelling your prawns, reserve the shell.

Place the shells in a saucepan, fill saucepan with water until it reaches just near the top of the shells. Add stock powder and salt.  Remember the less water, the better the stock you are going to make. Bring to the boil, remove from heat and strain to reserve the liquid, discard the shells.

Heat your oil until it is sizzling, add the garlic, closely followed by the prawns, stir for 30 seconds, then add the cornflour/wine, then 1 cup of the stock.

Place the lid on your pressure cooker, it should pop/rattle immediately.  Cook for 1 minute, then remove from heat, and rinse your pressure cooker under cold running water for 1 minute.  

Gently take the lid off, and serve with rice and/or green salad.

Psst:  come back at 1pm today - I have a great Mothers' Day competition launching!

Thursday, April 29

Tenth Photo

I haven't done a meme for a long while - most of them are recycled, but when I was tagged by Jade for this one, I thought it would be a bit of fun.

The basics of “Photo #10″ are to:
  1. Open the first/oldest photo folder in your computer library
  2. Scroll to the 10th photo
  3. Post the photo and the story behind it
  4. Tag 5 or more people to continue the thread.

It's little surprise that mine is food. This folder in October last year is the earlier folder given that I move folders regularly off my PC and onto our external hard-drive.  This pic is of the gorgeous Pink Ribbon biscuits hubby and I made (yes, he is culinary competent!) for a pink ribbon morning tea - I love this pic too - it's my desktop image. (feel free to save it as your own, it makes your computer look good enough to eat!)

We made many things - pink salmon mini quiches, Monte Carlos (well Kir and I made those)  perfect pink ribbon cupcakes, lemon meringue cupcakes, triple chocolate cupcakes,  pink popcorn.  We took them along to a friends' grand house (sprawling mansion I kid you not) and enjoyed a lovely morning with friends and lots of yummy food.  We raised loads of money for the pink ribbon cause too, because that's what it's all about right?

If you want to see some more pics from the day they are here.  Looking forward to pink ribbon this year too, I've added a whole lot more pink recipes since October to add to my pink ribbon repetoire!  I will, I promise show you how to make these gorgeous biscuits this year too!

As for tagging people, I would love to tag you all!  Please post back a link here - I can't wait to see what you've got in your photo files!

Wednesday, April 28

Slowcooker Recipe: Drunken Chicken

Inspired by the gorgeous Alvin on Masterchef I found myself craving drunken chicken.  Don't panic people, it's not anything about a football mascot on a big night out... it's chicken cooked in chinese wine and originates from Shanghai.

It's a great meal to have on a cold night or when feeling a little under the weather - and I'm feeling a little run-down of late so the garlic and ginger are great for that.   It takes all of 10 minutes to prepare and pleases the crowd in about 3 hours.

Size 16 chicken (I used a Lilydale 1.6kg chicken)
1 cup white rice
2 thick slices ginger
3 spring onions, sliced
1 star anise, whole
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup chinese rice wine (I picked mine up from a local deli for $2.99 a bottle)
Soy sauce to serve

Par-cook your rice - I used a microwave rice steamer and put the rice in with 2 cups of water on high for 7 minutes.  Those who boil their rice will need to add their rice to 3 cups of boiling water for 7 minutes.  Drain, and place in the bottom of your slow cooker.

Place the spring onions, garlic, ginger and star anise in the cavity of the chicken, then place the chicken on to top of the rice.   Pour over the stock and the rice wine, put the lid on the slow cooker and  place the setting on high for 3 hours.  Check periodically for moisture.  If you're finding it drying out a little add a little mix of 50/50 chicken stock to rice wine.

Check to see if it is cooked by piercing the thigh and ensuring all juice than runs out is clear.

Remove from slow cooker, slice as desired and serve on remaining rice - pour over with soy sauce.  Serve with vegetables of your choice.

PS:  Head over here today to see a 'day in the life' of our farmgate treks - Masterchef went to our butcher last week and I think might re-visit tonight!  Also our apple picking adventures!

Tuesday, April 27

Preserve Me: Fig Jam

I'm only a recent convert to the lover's fruit, the fruit of gods, the fig.  They weren't in my home growing up and since I just don't see them around..  unless they are dried.  Now I have found my new love.  The sweet juiciness, the creamy texture - it doesn't taste at all how you expect it to from first sight.

The idea of fig jam amuses me - the acronym of 'F**k I'm gorgeous, just ask me' of the 80's - and recently having picked up a whole gorgeous tray, I set myself to work making fig jam. (Yes,, I'm gorgeous!) If you're a little dubious, let me tell you - if you like strawberry jam, you'll love fig jam.

2 kg fresh figs, stalk cut off, and cut into 1/8'ths
Juice of one large lemon
60 g pectin (I used jamsetta - it's a setting agent in powdered sachet you can purchase from the baking aisle with the cake decorating bits)
5 cups white sugar

Sterilise enough jars to make fill 2 litres of jam.  I place them in a large stockpot with cold water filled to totally submerge the jars and lids, then bring to the boil, and continue to boil for 5 minutes, remove with tongs and set aside.

Place all the figs and lemon juice in your empty stockpot.  Mash with a potato masher to get to a chunky-sloppy consistency, and then add the pectin.   Bring to a simmer for 20 minutes, stirring at 5 minute intervals.

Add the sugar, and continue to simmer for a further 20 minutes or until it has reached the right consistency.  (i.e. place a plate in the freezer for 5 minutes, take out, drop some jam on the plate, if it becomes jelly-like it's done)

Skim off the white foamy'scum off the top before you bottle.

Pour into your sterlised jars, seal with your lids well.  Clean your stockpot and then fill up with water, bring to boil and place your jars of jam in the pot and allow to process for 15 minutes (i.e. boil).  This will destroy any of the bacteria inside the jar.

Keeps well for up to 9 months.  Refrigerate once opened and keep in fridge for up to 2 months.

Monday, April 26

In Season: Comforting Cauliflower and Bacon Soup

Hello friends!  How was your weekend?  If you're in Australia or New Zealand you're enjoying (hopefully!) a day off - as Anzac day public holiday is today.  It seems I  have jinxed Sydney - sorry everyone - I told everyone on Saturday that the weathers' been beautiful and continues to be so - well I was proven wrong yesterday afternoon when it got cool and proceeded to rain all afternoon.  Harrumph.  

But with the cooler weather has me whipping out my cookbooks and magazines and thinking about comfort food.  I had a head of cauliflower in the fridge and we had a big day yesterday, so a quick, healthy and comforting recipe was in order.  Cauliflower soup got the vote from the frills.  It was yummy.  Everyone had second helpings.  Gave us all warm tummies.  And it's pretty low fat if you use shortcut bacon - makes up for all these yummy things I've made and eaten this week!

1 head of cauliflower - approx 1.2kg
4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced into 2cm thickness
4 rashers of bacon or 8 pieces of shortcut bacon, diced
1 leek (white part only) diced
2 cups chicken stock
1 can skim evaporated milk

Cut the florets off your cauliflower and boil/steam it with the potato slices until soft

In a large stockpot, add a little oil and over moderate heat, fry the leek and bacon, until soft. Add stock and raise the heat to a simmer.

When your potatoes and cauliflowers are cooked, drain well, then put in the stockpot with the other ingredients, and simmer for a further 15 minutes.

Transfer in batches, to your food processor and puree, when all is done transfer back to the stockpot.

Add a good lashing of pepper and the tinned evaporated milk, stir well.

Leave to simmer for a further 5-10 minutes, serve with buttered toast or bread.

Sunday, April 25

Sunday Baking Project: Baked Raspberry Ripple CHEAT mini cheesecakes

*Squeal*  I love a cheaty recipe - and this one goes to the top of the list!  I love cheesecake and I have felt so guilty for paying $3 -5 on an individual serve because no-one else in my house shares the love for them like I do.  (I know - who ARE these people?)

This one's going to get you rushing to the supermarket if you love cheesecake and I make no apologies for that - because you'll be as happy as me before long - with your gorgeous raspberry ripple cheesecake.  Bliss.

So the cheaty bit ?  Use an Arnotts' Ripple biscuit as the base!  It fits perfectly in the bottom of the Robert gordon cupcake papers.  Perfectly.  If you can't get hold of them (seriously people there everywhere - try here or here online if you can't find them locally) use a large cupcake paper and cupcake/muffin tin.

Makes: 12
12 Arnotts chocolate ripple biscuits
375g cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g raspberries - fresh or frozen
1/4 cup icing mixture

Preheat oven to 170 degrees c (160 degrees fan forced)

Place ripple biscuits in the bottom of each cupcake/muffin paper - if using standard cupcake/muffin papers, use with a tin.

In a food processor or mixer combine raspberries and icing sugar, mix until a thickish sauce consistency, set aside.

Cream cream cheese and caster sugar together with electric beaters, add vanilla essence, then eggs one at a time until all well combined with no lumps.

Spoon cream cheese mixture over the biscuit in cupcake/muffin paper. Dollop the raspberry in the centre with a teaspoon (only 1/2 -3/4 of a teaspoons' worth) and then with a toothpick or skewer, swirl around to get the raspberry ripple effect.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, until they start to brown, then turn off the oven and leave the oven door ajar for 30 minutes, then allow to cool to room temperature.  Serve!  You need nothing else!

Saturday, April 24

Make your own bubblemix - big bubbles!

 Here in Sydney we're having some pretty unseasonal weather.  We're loving it!  It's been 25-27 all week and sunny.  Yesterday hubby was inspired by a tv show that showed how to make a big bubble frame with two straws and a piece of string... he set to work on making it and I found some bubble mixture.

The frame was an easy peasy task but the premade bubblemix we had just wasn't working - so I set to work on modifying a bubblemix recipe I had.  With a bit of experimentation hubby aced it!

Bubblemix for large bubbles
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cups dishwashing liquid (we used morning fresh)
3 tsp glycerine (look in the cooking aisle with colourings and flavourings)

Mix together!

 So then started the fun!

 Give a try this weekend whilst the sun is still shining!

Friday, April 23

SuperFood Ideas One-pot Cooking Book Review and Tuna Broccoli Bread Bake

Who's a fan of one-pot cooking?  Okay, you can all put your hands down.  Not only is it simple but it's less washing up right!?

Super Food Ideas is on my monthly must-have magazine lists - I buy it without fail.  A couple of times I have bought it twice by accident (hey good for their circulation right?)  So when they have released a cookbook with over 250 one-pot dinners this sounds like heaven to a busy Mum!

It's got pictures - hooray - because I find a recipe so much more enticing when I've got a picture to see what I'm getting to - piquing my interest.  They are clear and aren't too elaborate - just honest looking.  The recipes look achievable and not something I'd need to buy 10 new ingredients to make.

It's divided into easy to find sections - soups, beef, chicken, lamb, pork, seafood, vegetarian, sweets.

There's a great section for the beginner - all about what cuts of meat are better for what kind of cooking methods, a guide to what size saucepan, roasting pan or casserole dish works best - if you're setting up a kitchen  or upgrading your pots and pans this has some great tips on what pieces have the most versatility.

Who would I buy this for?   This is a great cookbook for those with a busy lifestyle, with or without kids - those who love to cook, but don't have a gold Amex.  It suits just about everyone.

Cost:               RRP $29.99
ISBN:              9780732291013  
Publisher:       Harper Collins
Release date:  1st April 2010
Browse inside the book here

I've bookmarked quite a few recipes: (recipe tabs are from Kikki-k)
  • Sausage and pumpkin curry
  • Smoky beef stew
  • Reduced-fat butter chicken
  • Trinidadian lamb curry
  • Lamb biriyani
  • Peach clafoutis
  • Coconut peach pudding
  • Apricot muesli balls 
  • Golden Syrup Dumplings
Aaand today I'm going to share with you a recipe from the book that I've road tested:

Tuna and broccoli bread bake

This seriously took about 15 minutes to prepare, with two four-year-olds in my ear and in my way!  It's one of those recipes that once you make it once, you could make it again because the ingredients are easy to remember!

10 slices white bread, crusts cut off and then cut in half.
425g can tuna in oil, drained
250g broccoli florets
3 spring onions, chopped
8 eggs
1 cup low fat milk
1 tsp mild english mustard
60g grated cheese
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180 degrees c (160 degrees c fan forced)

Place broccoli florets with 2 tb water in a microwave proof dish and place in microwave on full power for 2 minutes, drain and rinse in cold water, drain.

Lightly grease square baking dish and layer 1/2 of your bread on the bottom

Flake and crumble the drained tuna evenly over the bread, add broccoli florets and then scatter the spring onion.

 The layer the rest of the bread on the top:

 Then in a mixing bowl or jug, mix the eggs, milk, mustard and some salt and pepper, whisk with a fork until well combined.

Pour evenly over the top of the top layer of bread and ensure all bread has been covered and is moist.  Sprinkle cheese on top.

Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 1 hour.  Remove aluminium foil and allow to brown on top for 10 minutes.

This can be made ahead and frozen for up to one month.

Thursday, April 22

Picnic, school snack or light lunch - Cheese and rosemary muffins

Muffins don't need to be sweet - but these are sweet in a whole other way - aren't the cases adorable?  They're new Robert Gordon range, I've got a few of the new designs, so stay tuned!

Ahem.. back to the muffins..

Yes, so.  I haven't had a cheese muffin in years and had a hankering for something savoury and needed some new things for the lunchbox as I mentioned the other day.   These require no mixer, no fuss and seriously takes about 10 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to bake, so you can have these made in a jiffy.    Perfect.  You could also make mini ones and serve them with dip.  They are yummo.

1 egg
1 1/4 cups milk
50 grams butter, melted
1/2 tblsp finely chopped fresh rosemary - or dried if you don't have any!
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups plain flour
3/4 cup tasty cheese

Preheat oven to 200 degrees c

In a mixing bowl whisk egg and milk with a fork.  Add rosemary and cayenne pepper then melted butter.

Gradually sift in the flour and baking powder, stirring/mixing through as you go.

Lastly add your cheese and combine well.

Spoon into muffin cases and then into the oven for 15-20 minutes- until golden brown on top.

Serve warm or cold, suitable for freezing in airtight container/bag for up to 2 months


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