Thursday, March 31

Video Tutorial: How to make creme caramels!

Hello friends!  Well today you are invited into my kitchen in a whole new way.  By video.  You get to hear me say 'so, ok' about eleventy billion times.  If you are one of my overseas visitors (hello!) you get to hear my Aussie accent and all of you get to see how shocking I look without make-up..!  But, I'm not the star here, it's the food right?

And today's star is the creme caramel.  with only five real ingredients it's not so hard but I think something that people are worried they may not be able to pull off. Toffee in particular scares people I've been told.  So to show you how utterly achievable and fabulous these are I decided to do our first video tutorial!  I hope you love it!

I want to dedicate the video to a dear friend whose mother has recently passed away - she was a lover of all things French - my thoughts and love are with you. xxx

2/3 cup caster sugar
water to cover

Custard (Creme)
2 cups milk
1 cup cream
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
2/3 cup caster sugar
4 eggs

6 small or 5 large ramekins, greased with canola spray
1 large baking dish
1 small saucepan, 1 medium saucepan
1 mixing bowl
1 whisk
1 ladle

  • Preheat oven to 150 degrees c
  • Spray some canola oil in 5 large-ish ramekins or 6 medium ramekins (you could make one large one if you like too!)
  • Add 2/3 cup caster sugar to a saucepan with just enough water to cover and put on to boil on the stove.  Do not stir, but shake the saucepan to keep it mixing until it starts to form a golden brown colour, remove from heat immediately and pour into your moulds.
  • Place your ramekins in a baking tray and fill the baking tray (not in the ramekins) with water until they reach about 2/3 of the way up your ramekins.
  • Next to another saucepan add cream, milk, vanilla extract/bean paste and remaining sugar.  Bring to a boil and ensure all sugar is dissolved.
  • Beat eggs in a large bowl until well combined and then slowly beat in the hot milk until all combined.   Ladle the custard into the ramekins and then place in the oven for 40-50 minutes until the custard becomes gelatinous - wobbly but firm.
  • Remove from oven and take the ramekins out to cool for about hour.  Serve warm or cover with cling film and serve when ready - you can make these a day ahead if you need to!

So my friends, be kind.... was the video helpful?  I need a personal stylist don't I?  What recipe do you feel you'd love a video on?

Wednesday, March 30

Food Mag Files - April 2011

I've mentioned this a good many times now, but I have a terrible, terrible magazine addiction.  Well, it's not terrible for me - but I'm sure my postie rolls his eyes every time he delivers one because I get magazines every.single.week.  Sometimes a few at a time.

So I thought I'd give you an overview of what's in the food mags I read - and what might be worth checking out yourself.  Most of the magazines this month quite predictably offer some Easter fare, but I'm loving that many magazines are focusing on seasonal ingredients..

Australian Good Taste

Well it's the CHOCOLATE issue.  Need I say more?  I love their photography, it's so lickable isn't it?
The recipe on my list from this issue is Salmon and Dill pie.  Looks so comforting doesn't it?

Recipes +
This issue is a standout I must say and really hones in on the family on a budget.  

My only criticism would be the overuse of pre-packaged sauces and pastes in the recipes.  My pick is the impossible lime and coconut pie (and I think I may even roadtest it this week here what do you think?)

Australian Good Food
I love this magazine and though it is littered with celebrity chefs, the recipes are achievable.  

The crazy Spaniard Miguel Maestre shares some Easter seafood recipes - and I'm definitely going to try some out - the best seafood I've ever eaten was in Spain and he has a very simple and flavoursome approach to food.   There's also a great Italian Easter recipe feature by Giovanni Pilu.

The best way to describe Delicious for me anyways, is it's aimed at those who entertain, and I think either kids who have flown the coop or DINK couples.  It's not family-centric in my view.  It does have some great recipes in it from time to time though that's got 'cross-over' appeal - but it's a bit hit and miss.

This issue the recipe that grabs my eye is the gluten free hot-smoked trout, pea and lemon risotto:

Masterchef Magazine (Issue 10)
This issue marks one year of Masterchef Magazine - but like the Delicious Magazine, not many of the recipes would make it on my weekly meal plan.  A lot of it is restaurant-style food and whilst I love that kind of food it's not my every day.

What has caught my eye though was the Turkish Pide editorial and recipes.  Great recipe to feed a family or serve a crowd at Easter:

And lastly but not leastly, Super Food Ideas
What I love about this publication is that it's jam-packed with useful things. 

I love the guide on where to put what in your fridge and all round fridge hygiene guide..

And being a big fan of meatballs, their meatball feature this month I think will appeal to many...

So do you have any comments on these issues? Do you have them?  Do you subscribe to many magazines or do you buy them at the supermarket/newsagent - where else?

Tuesday, March 29

Make it in bulk: Slow cooker vegetarian dhal

Since I started making my chili con carne in bulk in the slow cooker I've been giving some thought to what other recipes freeze and reheat nicely that I could adapt my stove top recipe, and decided that this one fitted the bill nicely.  There is a bit of stove-top action to get it started but it really cooks itself after about 5 minutes preparation, can't complain really.  I love that almost all of the ingredients come from the pantry!

This is one of those recipes you can easily set before you go to work and not worry it will dry out whilst you are gone.  Set it on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 - whatever suits you - serve it up with some rice and stir though some fresh chopped coriander when you get home and you're sorted - for dinner for 8 or some leftovers for lunches or an extra family stash meal.  It's pretty healthy too.

1 cup dried red lentils
1 cup dried yellow lentils
1 cup dried split green peas
2 litres chicken stock
4 tb yellow mustard seeds
2 tb ground cumin
2 tb ground coriander
2 tsp ground tumeric
2 tb fresh ginger, grated (about 6cm of ginger)
3 cloves garlic, minced or finely diced
2 medium onions, finely diced
3 x 400g tin diced tomatoes
1 x 400g tin of light coconut cream
2 sprigs of coriander, finely diced to serve

In your slowcooker place your lentils and split peas with the stock, set on medium.

Meanwhile, heat up a small saucepan and chop your onions.  Add your mustard, ground coriander, cumin, tumeric with a tb of oil, stir well to develop the flavours of the spices.  Then add your onion, garlic and ginger and a little of your stock from the stock pot to soften - I used about a cup.

Simmer for about 5 minutes until your onions soften.

Then pour the contents of the saucepan into the slowcooker along with the tomatoes and coconut cream.  Cover and cook for 10 hours on low, 8 hours on medium or 6 hours on high.  Stir though coriander before serving on rice.
Yum, seriously yum.

Monday, March 28

Bloggers Manifesto

You might know by now I'm a bit into manifestos.  They are great for keeping focussed on the things you can do and at the moment I have many a little project on the go.. some exciting things ahead!  So whilst I read this post over the weekend I wanted to bookmark it but it read to me like a manifesto so I made one.  I added one more thing to the manifesto which is: Be YOU.  I don't think Chris will mind.

I've printed mine and it sits beside me as I type.  I kind of already had this internal manifesto but this really stops me from being distracted, which all bloggers know at times is our worst enemy.

Those who aren't bloggers, and are thinking of taking it up or need some inspiration and tips, check out the new free eBook from KleenexMums: Blogging 101 !

I've also got the A4 version of my manifesto here if you want to print it out yourself...

What would you add?  Don't feed the trolls?  Blog for yourself?  

Sunday, March 27

Sunday baking project: Apple cinnamon crescent rolls (almost sugar free)

Hello everyone - hope you're enjoying your weekend, or if you've had a Sunday away from the computer, hope you had a wonderful weekend.  

As the weather cools down I find myself flicking through familiar and favourite cookbooks and just looking for new inspiration cooking wise.  We've moved well and truly into autumn produce so I find myself making more things with apples and pears at the moment..they are so lovely right now.

I'm also loving the inspiration I'm finding over at Yeastspotting - it's a place where bakers submit their links to all kinds of breads and pastries - if you love to bake - check it out!   This recipe I found there - from Taste of Pearl City her version is 'mini apple croissants' but really I think of croissant I think of puffy pastry.  These are not puffy, more like sweet bread, but using the minimum of sugar.  I like to call them crescent rolls because really that's what they are.

Those of you reducing your sugar intake - you will love these because really the only sugar is on top - and that's a pinch or two per roll.

2 large sweet apples (I used gala) peeled, cored and sliced
1 tsp honey
1 tsp cinnamon

3 cups plain flour
3 tsp dried yeast
1 egg
100g soft butter
1/4 cup honey
150ml warm milk

1 egg yolk, extra
1 tb milk, extra
2 tsp cinnamon, extra
2 tsp caster sugar

In a saucepan place apples, cinnamon, honey and 2 tb water.

Simmer, stirring occasionally until soft.  Cool and then puree (I did mine with the stick blender)

In a mixer with a dough hook or in a large bowl, mix flour, yeast, butter, honey, egg, milk and apple puree.  Knead for 3 minutes by machine or 10 minutes by hand until soft and elastic - add more flour if required.

Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with clingfilm.

 Leave for 1 1/2 hours or until it has doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees c.  Mix up your cinnamon and sugar together.

Roll out half your dough on a floured surface into a roundish shape.

Cut into triangles - the more triangles, the smaller your crescents will be.  I cut mine about 8-10 cm wide at the edges.

At this point you can brush with glaze (egg yolk + milk) and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar if you like it really cinnamon-ny.

Make your crescent but taking one of your triangle and start rolling it up from the bottom, stretching it out as you go....

Then twist the ends around.

Place on a greased baking tray and then brush with glaze again. 

 If you like, sprinkle with some sugar on top.

Bake until golden brown - about 20 minutes.  Place on rack to cool.

So all in all - not THAT bad for you - in comparison to a croissant - if we'd make a croissant we would have used SIX TIMES as much butter.  That's a bit scary no?

Are you baking today?  Would you like to give these a go or what else is on your baking list?

Friday, March 25

Family Recipe: Katie's biscuits

I feel like I don't have 1 bazillionth the family recipes I should have.  I come from a long line of bakers and cooks, butchers and farm-wives.  My heritage is Irish settlers who were part of the Monaro Pioneers and established the Snowy Mountains Scheme.   My Nan was born and raised in Cooma, my grandfather born in Sydney after his parents moved there with his father's job.

This recipe comes from my great, great Aunty Kate.  Just how is she my great aunty?  It's kind of a hoot to explain: When my grandparents met at dance in Balmain in late 1940's they had no idea they were already related.  By marriage that is. (Phew I hear you all exhale!) Aunty Kate was both my grandparents aunty..!

It turned out my Grandfather's Aunt had married my Grandmother's Uncle.  They had never met until that point though could have potentially many times before.  My Nanny used to go with her Mother to Aunty Kate's house as a child on a regular basis, my great grandmother and Aunty Kate were sisters in law, married to two brothers (a butcher and baker no less).  Both loved to bake and would spend an afternoon a week baking together for their families.  Katie's biscuits was one of these recipes.

The recipe my Nan sent me on(On email no less, how times of changed) makes 6 dozen biscuits, so I divided it in half...  
My eyes nearly bugged out of my head when I looked at the amount of butter and sugar but then when you divide in half - it doesn't seem that bad.

They are quite a nice biscuit actually, but I make and eat them knowing they are part of my history.  That's a lovely feeling.

Katie's biscuits:
1 heaped cup plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
125g butter, melted
1/2 cup dried fruit/nuts whatever takes your fancy (I used some finely chopped dried apple and some sultanas)

Preheat oven to 190 degrees c

Mix all ingredients together

Drop heaped teaspoons onto baking trays (no need to grease)

Bake for 15 minutes, until lightly brown on top. 

Does your family have family recipes? Are they shared freely?

Thursday, March 24

Chapter Two: The school yard romance has now got a little complicated...

{my little minx}

Remember last week how I told you about Laura and her 'boyfriend' Z?  It's a cute and amusing story if you haven't caught up, recommended.

This past week has been a little more amusing if that's possible.  It seems Laura has more than one admirer.  Apparently Master E declared at his family dinner last Friday night: 'I love Laura in my class and I'm going to marry her'.  His father obviously a bit shocked to hear this from his five year old who never expressed any interest in girls at all, let alone marriage asked him why:

'Because she smiles at me Dad, and I want to marry a girl who smiles at me'.

Good point.

Anyways, when Laura arrived at school on Monday, in her locker she found some drawings, of her and Master E under a rainbow with some flowers.  She said thanks and put them in her bag. Master E asked Laura if Z was still her boyfriend.   To her credit she said 'Yes, Z is a nice boy'.

At lunchtime that day Master E thought he might see if he could try his luck another way and asked Eloise, my eldest some advice:

'Can you tell Laura to be my girlfriend, I think I love her more than Z does'  Eloise's quite astute response was:

'E, I can't get my sister to do anything, I don't think it's going to work'.

Aaah, young love... here's the cute something I found hanging in the classroom:

In other related news, apparently the class has been spoken to about 'the germs we spread when kissing'.  Perhaps I'm raising the class hussy? hehe.

10 things to do with your snags, besides chucking them in a pan or BBQ

There can come a time when every budget-savvy shopper looks at sausages at rolls their eyes.  Mainly because they either can't bear to eat them again or have their family living on them.  My butcher makes fabulous sausages at an excellent price so I'm always looking for ways to get those sausages on my plate without tomato sauce...

The Kaotic kitchen book has some great ideas (the casoulet recipe below is from that) but maybe, just maybe these might inspire you to do something different should you find yourself on a sausage diet - even if only for a few nights...

When I lived in the UK I loved Lincolnshire sausages and became a true convert to pork sausages.  I actually prefer a pork sausage over a beef one any day.
Personally if I had to choose a favourite it would be the slowcooker eggplant and sausage casserole, it doesn't look pretty but oh my it tastes amazing and is fabulous (and healthy) served on brown rice.  The eggplant takes on the texture of a thick tasty sauce.  It's really easy peasy.

So my friends, any you want to try?  Have you got your own favourite sausage dish and what kind of sausages do you buy/love?

{Psst if you are using a reader or similar you may not be able to see the 10 linked images to the recipes, be sure to visit the original post}

Wednesday, March 23

The Manifesto now living in my wallet

I absolutely love this.  I want it on a big poster, but for now, I've printed it out and put it in my wallet.  Love, love LOVE.  

I like 'If you are looking for the love of your life, STOP; they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love'  that's EXACTLY what happened to me.  Is there anything in particular that speaks to you?  I just had to share it with you - share it with your friends too!

Thanks to AnnaLikes for sharing it in the first place!

Tuesday, March 22

A warm snuggly hug with soup: Spiced potato and cream cheese soup

I'm in a soup frenzy at the moment.  I can only seem to think about soup.  I'm sure this has something to do with the bucket and buckets (and buckets!) of rain that's fallen over the past two days.  I myself was drenched to the core twice on Saturday night after leaving my umbrella in retromummy's (hire) car.  You have no idea how I was cursing my own stupidity.

So this soup came about from a recipe I found from - however it was just with white pepper and to me, it seemed a bit bland.  So I used some of my balti paste and I wanted something smooth, not chunky. You can use your favourite curry paste - I only used a little and whilst it was tasty, it didn't overpower the taste of the soup it gave a little kick - the kids didn't even notice.  At all.  In fact Eloise had seconds.

I served it with my super quick Turkish bread.

4 litres chicken stock (I used stock powder and water)
2 kg new potatoes peeled and diced
1 small onion, peeled and diced
2 tsp balti paste
250g cream cheese

Place chicken stock, potatoes and onions in a large pot.  Bring to the boil for about 20 minutes, until potatoes are soft.

Add the curry paste and cream cheese and turn down to a simmer for about 10 minutes.

Turn off the hob and using a stick blender process until smooth.  Place the hob back on low and simmer for 1 hour.

Add some cracked pepper and serve with bread, the soup will be thick and luscious!

Who loves soup?  What do you like to eat with your soup?  A particular type of bread or croutons...something else?

Monday, March 21

What I'm up to this Easter (and my easter goodie guide!)

Did your eyes just bug out of your head?  Did you just gasp?  Easter? Already?  But yes, I'm on to Easter.  You know me, I'm a freak.  And I love Easter.  So there.

So here's what's on MY to-do list for this holidays... (so far!)

1. Food
I'm so making chocolate Babka again. Great way to get on your chocolate merry way or use some leftover chocolate.  Did you see the post last year when I wrote about the Seinfeld episode with the last Babka and the actress I referred to in the episode came and actually COMMENTED?  I nearly wee'd myself.(check out her blog here)

Obviously I'll be making hot cross buns and stashing them in the lead up to the holidays - Hot cross buns for breakfast are just a must for Easter aren't they?  I overdose every year and then can't bear to look at them again. Until next year anyway.

If you don't have time to make some or you'd like to gift some (I like to gift some to the teachers) your best bet is Coles - they have fruit, fruit-free, choc-chip, mini and just about everything is below $5.  I think that's reasonable. don't you?

And of course....EASTER EGGS! - here's some ideas

If you are the one who eventually eats all or some of your kids Easter chocolate
You can't go past the gorgeous Lindt egg with bunny ears or the heads and tails sliding box.  You can slide the feet and heads to make fun combinations. Six mini bars of glorious Lindt inside, great to give a group of kids or a family - a little bit for everyone!

If you are the one who has or knows a child (or adult!) with a dietary intolerance
The Sweet William bag of bunnies is fabulous.  Dairy/gluten/nut/lactose free.  They even have a 10 pack of bunnies which has no sugar added!  Otherwise they come in 12 and 15 pack of individual foil wrapped bunnies.

If you need to go the economy option
Try Darrell Lea, IGA/Local supermarket for no-name eggs.  Especially if you are doing an egg hunt.  It gets pretty exxy!

If you are one of those people I love who doesn't like chocolate or can't eat it (more for me you see)
Try buying some empty plastic egg cases from spotlight (very inexpensive) and fill with things like stickers, jellies, novelties money or for adults maybe a love note, some jewelry or even a promise to do the dishes.

2. Family
Even if you don't have annual leave over the Easter break there's still a bunch of public holidays so I always make it a priority at Easter to spend it with family rather than use it as time to catch up on housework (any excuse!).    My mother in law usually makes the trip down and we enjoy her visit.. she only sees the frills a few times a year and misses them dearly - so it's a special time.

But, remember even if family aren't visiting - it's easy to transport Easter WITH you if you want to go away (far easier than Christmas).  We have Easter traditions with friends and family - we host Easter lunch or afternoon tea and the kids have an egg hunt.  Whilst they are all 'believers' it's a lot of fun.  I think more fun for us than them actually!

3. Exercise
I like to spend as much time as possible outdoors over Easter - because usually it's the nearing winter and the cooler weather - the days are warm but not too hot.  My mother in law being the avid gardener we will usually work off at least some of those easter eggs and hot cross buns in the garden.  You might remember two years ago we began our opera house vege garden and last Easter we harvested our first autumn crops, and started planting our own seedlings.

This year I'd like to shift some things around the vege garden, get some peas going and put a second lot of carrots down.  There's A LOT of weeding to be done.  Lots of exercise!  Get in your garden this Easter - start one, be it a few herbs or get busy!!  It's a great time to get started!

4. History
I'm personally going to use some of my time in the evenings to get on with a project I've been working on for years - Family History.  I've got a bit of the way down my Grandmother's line but I'd like to add more to the 'names' by adding stories - trying to source photos etc.  Hopefully my Nan is up for the task.

I'm also taking the girls back to the Australian Museum during the holidays.  Eloise has been doing some environment topics this term at school and Laura and Olivia have been learning about bones and parts of the body and what they do - I think going back with a fresh mind - they would get so much more from it.  It's really cost effective and fun day out.

and Lastly..

5. Creativity:
Easter is a time I like to get my craft on.  Especially on those rainy days.   Woolworths has a colouring in competition going at the moment I think in most stores across the country.  Eloise is a colouring-in-aholic and is convinced she's going to win.  She doesn't even know what the prize is!

Last year we made our own Easter egg hunt baskets from coloured paper, tape, ribbon and some margarine containers!  We'll be using them again this year - they are so cute!

This year I think I'm going to give egg blowing and dye-ing a go.  I'd going to sew too.  I have some beautiful fabrics to use and I really do need to re-cover my lounge cushions.

So all in all I'm going to be very busy - but very happy. Easter is the time to share and cherish.  I hope the Easter Bunny is kind to me this year - I've been good - honest!

What do you like to do at Easter?  Do you go away?  Spend it with family?


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