Friday, December 17, 2010

Chicken Korma - curry my children will eat!

I cooked Jamie Oliver's Chicken Korma tonight, from his Food Revolution book, amazingly it was a hit with the whole family - 2 and 4 year olds included! And it was on the table in 30 minutes from start to end.

I use a Patak's Korma Paste which is very mild and I skipped the chilli, although you could remove your kids portion at the end and add it then. It was still very flavoursome.

I added sweet potato, mushrooms and zucchini to the curry so I didn't have to do vegies on the side. The kids had frozen peas and corn added to theirs (their staple vegetables - I hope they contain every vitamin children need!).

Chicken Korma
This is the full Jamie Oliver recipe, paraphrased. To simplify, you could easily leave out the ginger, almonds, coconut... But I recommend trying the full version once, as the flavour and texture are great! Also add whatever vegies you have on hand, or serve steamed alongside.

800g chicken thigh fillets (or breasts, but I prefer thighs), chopped
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 green chilli (optional), finely chopped
4cm ginger, grated
small bunch of fresh coriander, leaves picked and stems finely chopped
400g tin chick peas, drained
vegetable oil
20g butter
1/2 c. Korma curry paste (Patak's is good)
400ml can of coconut milk
small handful of sliced/flaked almonds
2 tbsp desicatted coconut
To Serverice
natural yogurt

Heat a frypan or casserole pan on a high heat and add a lug of oil. Fry the chicken till just golden. Set aside. If using breast, skip this stage.

Add the onions, chilli, ginger, and cilantro stalks with the butter. Cook for around 5 minutes. Add the curry paste and fry for 2 more minutes until aromatic. Add coconut milk, half your sliced almonds, the drained chick peas, coconut, the chicken and half a tin of water.

Simmer, covered, for 15-30 minutes with the lid on. If too dry add more water. If too runny, remove the lid and boil to thicken.

To serve
Serve with rice. add a few spoonfuls of natural yogurt dolloped on top, and sprinkle over the rest of the sliced almonds. finish by scattering over the coriander leaves, and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

Slow Cooker Variation
You could easily follow the recipe up till after the korma paste is fried, then throw the lot in a slow cooker for a couple of hours, not too long though as is doesn't need much cooking.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Teriyaki Chicken followed by Toffee Oranges

We had a family of 4 over for dinner and I cooked teriyaki chicken followed by toffee oranges.
The oranges were so good there was bowl licking going on! They really are delicious, I used to make them years ago and don't know how I forgot about them. You just pour hot toffee over orange slices and it dissolves to make a yummy sauce leaving behind some crispy toffee. This dish is also partly an excuse to eat King Island Creamy Indulgent Yogurt!

My Mum did a Japanese cooking course in the early 1990s and my whole family are still using the recipes. This teriyaki chicken is fantastic, it tastes like what you get in the restaurants and nothing like what comes out of a bottle.

You need mirin and sake for this recipe. These are both Japanese alcoholic beverages made from rice (though mirin is never drunk and is only used in cooking). Mirin is stronger and sweeter than sake. Sake can be used as a substitute for mirin (with an added pinch of sugar), and vice versa. If you cannot get a hold of either, you can use sweet sherry or Chinese shiaoxing wine or dry white wine at a stretch.

Mirin is easy to buy, they sell it at Harris Farm among other places. Sake is a bit harder to get, Essential Ingredient sell it although it is much cheaper at any asian supermarket in a city. If you are not a regular Japanese cook for the first time try and get some mirin and use it to replace the sake.

Teriyaki Chicken
serves 4
750g chicken thigh fillets, or steak scotch fillet - or enough to feed your family
1/4 chinese cabbage, sliced - enough to cover a plate
¼ C soy sauce
¼ C sake
¼ C mirin
1 tbsp sugar

Place the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and reduce by about one third.

Heat a frypan and lightly grease with oil. Add the meat and pan fry on both sides; quickly for the beef, longer for the chicken. Add the teriyaki sauce, it will bubble up. Continue to cook and turn the meat once or twice to coat with sauce as it continues to reduce, until thick and sticky. If you want your steak rare, keep an eye on it, take it out when done and keep the sauce bubbling if not thickened.

Slice the meat into fingers and place on chinese cabbage on a serving plate and pour the sauce over.

Toffee Oranges
You could serve this with any number of things besides yogurt - cream, icecream, panna cotta, cake...
serves 4-6
4 oranges, peeled and sliced into 1/2 - 1 cm thick slices
350g caster sugar
1/2 C water
1 cinnamon stick
4 star anise
3 tbsp liqueur - whiskey, drambuie, grand marnier... (optional)
vanilla yogurt to serve - King Island is my favourite

Place orange slices in a shallow dish and drizzle with 1 tablespoons of the liqueur.

Place the sugar, water, cinnamon, star anise and 2 tablespoons of the liqueur in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Turn heat to medium and simmer for 10-15 minutes until golden WITHOUT STIRRING, brushing down the sides of the saucepan with a wet pastry brush to remove any sugar crystals.

Immediately pour the caramel over the oranges and set aside for 2 hours, by which time some of the caramel with have liquified to make a sauce, leaving some shards of toffee.

Serve with vanilla yogurt or anything else that takes your fancy.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chilli con Carne in the SC followed by Chocolate, Raspberry, Meringue Semi-freddo

Last night I had 5 lovely people over for dinner. The menu was Chilli con Carne served with corn chips, avocado and lots of sour cream. Followed by dessert of semi-freddo (a soft icecream, literally translates as half-frozen) with chocolate, raspberries and meringues - we all had seconds!

Yesterday was a work day, so I nicked home at lunch and put dinner on in the slow cooker; an enormous pot of Chilli con Carne - I filled my 6.5L slow cooker pot! Its not traditional but I like to include vegetables in the chilli, because who really wants to eat them on the side, except avocado of course, they cook down and you dont notice them. I have given you a recipe for half of what I cooked because that is well and truly enough for a family. But you can do what I did and cook double, feed 7 adults and 2 children and still have dinner for another night in the freezer. My kids love this without the chilli, particularly because they get to have chips for dinner!

When I got home from work I quickly whipped up the semi-freddo. I got it in the freezer at about 6pm and it was perfectly almost frozen at 8:30 when we wanted to eat it. If you prepare it earlier in the day, just put it in the fridge to soften awhile before you want to eat.

Chilli con Carne with Hidden Vegetables

I have given instructions for the slow cooker and the stove top. This reheats well and freezes well - a versatile meal as the accompaniments are easy!

1 tbsp olive oil
800g beef mince

1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
pinch ground cardamom
1 red capsicum, seeded and finely diced
1 zucchini, grated
1 carrot, grated
1/2 sweet potato, diced
600g canned chopped tomatoes
4 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp cocoa
400g canned red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup water (if cooking on the stove)
To serve
corn chips
cheese, grated
avocado, mushed
sour cream
jalapenos in a jar
corn on the cob is nice if you want more vegies

Heat half the oil in a large frypan and break up half or all of the mince beef into the pan, keep stirring it and breaking it apart as the meat browns, I use two wooden spatulas at once to do this. Depending how big your frypan is, it is probably easier to do the mince in two batches. When just browned but not all cooked, scrape into the slow cooker or onto a plate.

Heat the remaining oil in the frypan and fry the onion and garlic until it begins to soften. Add the coriander, cumin, and crushed cardamom pods and stir well. You can add the chilli now, not at all or at the end after you have taken out the childrens serves. Add the capsicum, zucchini and carrot and cook until softened.

Slow Cooker
Add the vegie mix to the slow cooker. Add the sweet potato, chopped tomatoes, ketchup, tomato paste, kidney beans and cocoa stirring to make a rich red sauce. Turn on low for 8 hours or high for 4.

If you don't have a really big frypan with high sides you will need to change to a bigger pot now. Add the beef back into the vegies. Add the sweet potato, chopped tomatoes, ketchup, tomato paste, kidney beans, cocoa and water stirring to make a rich red sauce. Simmer partially covered for 1 1/2 hours. At this point you can cool and freeze the chilli, or just keep it in the refrigerator overnight.

To serve
Put the chips in a flat oven proof dish and sprinkle with cheese and jalapenos (or just on half to keep everyone happy) and cook in the oven at 180C for 10 minutes until the cheese is melted.
Put everything on the table and let everyone help themselves!

Chocolate, Raspberry and Meringue Semi-freddo
This recipe is inspired from one by Jamie Oliver. You can really add any flavourings you like - use your imagination. The meringues give it a really great texture!
Serves 6f

(sorry I forgot to take a picture before we devoured it!)
5 eggs

2 tbsp sugar
500 ml cream
100g chocolate, grated OR 1 lg packet Maltesers, bashed until broken
3 handfuls meringues, broken into large pieces
2 handfuls raspberries, fresh or frozen, chopped

Separate the eggs. Whisk the whites until they form very stiff peaks Whisk the yolks with the sugar until light and fluffy.

In another bowl, whip the cream until soft. Now add the chocolate/Maltesers, meringues, raspberries, egg whites and yolks to the cream. Gently fold in until everything is mixed together. Put it into a flattish dish or container and freeze for about 2 hours - by this time it will be semi-frozen.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pulled pork on bread rolls

I made the pulled pork from this post, back in September again. I did it exactly the same with great results.

Actually that is not true, I was getting it ready the night before and my Mum rang half way through. So of course I multi-tasked.... I was sprinkling paprika all over the meat when I smelt something funny and realised I had the curry powder tin in my hand - OOPS! For the record, curry powder washes off meat quite easily. I cut the skin off the meat, sprinkled with the spices, put in a freezer bag, poured a bit of sauce over to marinate and left in the fridge overnight, with the rest of the sauce in a jug. The next morning all I had to do was pour it all in the slow cooker and turn on.

This time I served it American style on fresh bread rolls with avocado, mayo, tomato and lettuce. The meat from the sauce soaked into the bread - yum! And I remembered to take a photo. The kids thought this was very funny and made me take a photo of their dinner too but I won't share those ones with you, not a pretty site, my 2 year old loves the meat!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fried Rice, Kids Fried Rice and Stir-fried Bok Choy

"It's better than the fried rice in Beijing" said by the man who just spent three weeks in China.

I always cook too much rice so that we have left overs which make great fried rice, a popular dinner in our house. I cooked it up quickly tonight after we got home late, I served it with stir-fried bok choy. Great fried rice has to have a high ratio of yummy bits to rice. Use whatever leftovers you have in the fridge. Tonight I remembered to sprinkle those crunchy asian fried onions on top and they are great, adding a crunchy texture, even the kids liked them!

I often make a quick version of fried rice for the kids dinner, I have also given this recipe below. When cooking just for the kids I pour the beaten egg over the rice and it sort of scrambles and holds the rice together, making it easier for the kids to eat. My kids love hoisin sauce, or the spoon sauce as they call it because it comes in a jar and they serve it with a spoon, so we serve it with that.

Fried Rice
vegetable oil
3 eggs, beaten
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped or grated
4 rashers bacon, chopped
other meat - leftovers, chinese sausage...
1 tsp sugar
handful dried chinese mushrooms, soaked in boiling water then chopped
4 spring onions, chopped
1/2 C frozen peas
1/2 C corn kernals - fresh of frozen
other vegetables - anything else that needs using up in your fridge
2 tbsp shaosing wine (chinese cooking wine)
3 - 4 C cooked rice (or enough to feed your family)
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
To Serve
fried onions
coriander leaves

Heat a little bit of oil in a wok over medium to high heat. Pour in egg and mix around as it cooks. Remove from the wok, chop and set aside.

Heat a bit more oil in the wok. Add onion and garlic and cook for a minute. Add bacon and cook for another minute. Add sugar and stir around to caramelise. Add mushrooms, spring onions, peas, corn and cook until peas are defrosted. Pour in shaosing wine and let bubble. Add rice and break apart with a spoon. Keep stirring until rice is hot. Add soy and oyster sauces and cooked egg and stir through.

Serve sprinkled with fried onions and coriander.

Quick Kids Version
bacon, ham, cooked sausage or other leftover meat
frozen peas and corn (or whatever vegies your kids will eat)
egg, beaten
hoisin sauce or soy sauce
cooked rice

Heat a small frypan with a little oil. Fry up meat and vegies. Add rice and cook until hot. Pour over the egg and mix around until cooked. Add sauce and stir through.
Serve with more hoisin sauce, which my kids insisting on putting on themselves.

Stir-fried Bok Choy
vegetable oil
1 bunch bok choy, leaves off the base
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
pinch salt
1 tbsp shaosing wine
oyster sauce - optional, it depends what you are serving this with to if you want more flavour

Heat a bit of oil in the wok until very hot. Add bok choy, garlic and salt and keep stirring to stop the garlic from burning. Once starting to cook add shaosing and stir until cooked to your liking, I like the leaves wilted but the stems still crunchy.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chinese Poached Chicken in the Slow Cooker

I spent all Saturday sewing tutus, as you do! So I wanted a quick dinner for when the rest of the family came back after leaving me alone for the afternoon. So the chook  in the freezer got turned in to chinese poached chicken from this Womens Day Slow Cooker Monday article and originally from the book "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipe Book". I followed the recipe but added more liquid as I have a large 6.5L slow cooker and was only cooking a small chicken. I put it on at lunch time on high to get it going then low, it was probably on for 3-4 hours. The recipe states it needs 7 hours on low - this is a long time and hers is falling apart after that long, so I would do less.

I served it on noodles - 2 minute noodles with frozen peas and corn for the kids and stir-fried egg noodles with vegetables for us. Ava asked for more and more chicken - I love an appreciative eater.

The flavour was delicious! The dark meat was juicy and succulent, and the breast only slightly dry which I would expect cooking it this way, but much improved with lots of the broth poured over. I strained the broth off and froze it to repeat or use in soup.

Two days later the leftovers got used up in rice paper rolls, my 4 year olds favourite.

Slow Cooker Chinese Poached Chicken

1 chicken, trimmed of extra fat
4 spring onions
handful coriander
2 smashed and peeled garlic cloves
5 peeled and smashed slices of ginger
3 whole star anise
Sauce (double for a large slow cooker)
1/4 C shaosing cooking wine
1/4 C soy sauce
1/4 C chicken stock or water

Put the flavourings in the bottom of the slow cooker and some inside the chicken. Place the chicken breast up in the slow cooker. Pour over the sauce ingredients. Cook on low for 4-6 hours until the breast is just cooked. If the breast isn't cooking quick enough turn the chicken over for half an hour of so.

Rice Paper Rolls
I haven't given proportions here as you can make it up as you go along. The ingredients below are what I put in it for the kids. For us I also add coriander, capsicum, spring onions and I add it in sticks rather than chopped up.

cooked chicken meat, finely chopped
cucumber, cut into small pieces
carrot, grated
rice vermicelli noodles, cooked
any other vegetables, herbs etc, depending
hoisin sauce
rice paper wrappers

Combine chicken, cucumber, carrot, noodles and hoisin sauce to taste.
Soak wrappers in warm but not boiling water. Wrap filling in wrapper. Only do this shortly before you want to eat them.
Cover with a wet paper towel until ready to eat. Do no refridgerate or they will go hard.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fantastic Chinese Pork/Beef in the SC

Another fantastic recipe from A Year of Slow Cooking, she calls it asian shredded pork/beef, I would describe it as chinese flavoured. I chopped it up rather that shredding it, the meat is deliciously flavoured and falling apart with a great sauce.

One pork shoulder from the supermaket makes heaps, more than enough to serve us for two nights. The first night we had it on rice with lots of the yummy sauce, served with crispy noodle and cabbage salad. Two nights later I chopped it up and put it through stir fry noodles.

Chinese Slow-Cooked Pork
2 kg boneless pork shoulder or beef roast

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
4 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice powder
6 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 teaspoons garlic powder )

Trim any visible fat from the meat, I used a rolled pork shoulder, so I unrolled it, cut off the skin (a bit of a pain) and cut it into a three pieces.

Sprinkle the dried spices directly onto the meat and put it in the slow cooker. Pour over the ketchup, honey and garlic (if using fresh). Pour in the soy and hoisin sauces. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours, or until meat is falling apart.

Remove from the slow cooker and chop up or shred. If the sauce is really runny you may like to boil it down on the stove while you chop the meat.

Satay Chicken in the SC

Another of my new slow cooker recipes we are enjoying. This recipe can easily be halved, or cook this amount and freeze half. I tend to add sweet potato and carrot and then serve steamed green vegetables on the side. You could easily cook this dish on the stove or in the oven, it wouldnt take long, but the joy of the slow cooker is you can put it on at lunchtime while the kids are eating, or sleeping and then be free in the afternoon when they are driving you crazy!

Satay Chicken in Slow Cooker
1 kg chicken thigh or breast fillets, cut into chunks

2 brown onions cut into wedges
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 heaped tbsp peanut butter
5 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp tomato sauce (ketchup)
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
3/4 cup coconut milk or cream
Vegetables - sweet potato, carrot, beans, broccoli, whatever you like
2 tbsp corn flour

Heat a frypan over medium heat, fry onion with a little oil until soft, quickly add the garlic then scrape it all into the slow cooker. Fry the chicken very quickly, just to lightly brown not to cook through! Add to the slow cooker.

If you are in a hurry, skip the frying step and just throw it all in the slow cooker.

Mix the peanut butter, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, sweet chilli sauce and the coconut milk until smooth, and pour over the chicken. Stir all the ingredients together in the slow cooker, making sure everything is evenly covered. Place the lid on the cooker and cook for 2-3 hours on high or 4-5 hours on low.

After about 1 hour add the hard vegetables - sweet potato, carrot etc. With only 30 minutes to go add the
rest of the vegetables - beans, broccoli...

If the sauce is runny, mix the cornflour with a little water to make a paste then stir through the sauce and leave for a few minutes to thicken.

Serve on rice

From Slow Cooker by Sally Wise

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hilary's Chow Mein

My friend Hilary makes this, just like her Mum did and my family all love it - so now I make it too. Its quick and easy and because I always have mince in the freezer I can have most of the ingredients on hand. Add whatever vegies you like, but the cabbage is essential. The picture below is of the chicken version.

This is a good recipe to cook for another family in need, just cook double, put half in a container and give it to them with one of those packets of instant microwave rice.

Chow Mein
serves 4
500g Beef or Chicken Mince
1 onion, diced
1-2 tsp curry powder
1 packet Chicken Noodle Soup
1/4 head of cabbage (normal or chinese), sliced in 5mm strips
Other vegetables - carrot (grated or chopped), beans, mushrooms, corn
Rice to serve

In a large frypan over medium heat fry onion (and carrot if using) with a little oil until soft. Add mince and break up as it browns. Drain excess oil if necessary. Add curry powder and cook briefly.

Add soup packet and 2 C water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or so, until  cooked and thickened. Add cabbage and any other vegetables and cook for another minute until tender (some people throw it all in with the water, but I am not a fan of soggy vegies).

Serve with rice. Also tastes great the next day on toast!

Best homemade bread ever - no-knead bread

I served this bread at a dinner party the other night and twice got asked "where did you get the bread". I think that is pretty good for homemade bread!

This is quite an unusual method but just normal ingredients and you really don't knead the bread at all. You quickly mix together a really wet dough, leave it to rise for 12 - 18 hours, then reshape, leave for two hours then bake in a preheated cast iron 'dutch oven' with lid on. This effectively steam bakes the loaf, imitating a professional steam injected bakers oven, enabling you to get a really crisp crust. There is also a quick version, which uses much more yeast and doesn't developed the same flavour, but is ready to bake in 4 1/2 hours, I make this just as much and it is great.

The recipe by Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery was printed in the New York Times in 2006 with some more fine-tuning suggestions here with a good explanation here and then there was a follow up article two years later which gives a recipe for a whole-wheat version and a quick version. Overwhelmed yet? The recipe was considered fairly revolutionary to home bread making and has developed quite a following - just do a google search!

Here is the recipe. I have used both plain and bread flour with good results and bake in a 24cm Le Creuset pot, you could use smaller, but not larger as you would end up with a very flat loaf.

No-knead Bread
The quick version is written in [brackets]

3C (430g) plain or bread flour, more for dusting
1 1/2C (375ml) water
¼ tsp (1g) [2 tsp] instant yeast (plus an exta 1/8 tsp in winter if your house is cold like mine!)
1 - 3 tsp salt
Extra flour, semolina, cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours [4 hours], preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 21 degrees C (but it works in winter at my house which isnt 21C!).

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Smear olive oil on a work surface and place dough on it; fold it over on itself once or twice. (Now you are supposed to cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes, but I generally skip this step).

3. Using just enough flour or oil to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a square of baking paper with flour, semolina (my choice), wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on paper and dust with more flour. Cover (I use a large plastic cake container inverted over) and let rise for about 2 hours [30 minutes]. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 225 degrees C. Put a 5.5 to 7.5 L heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats, it is quicker to put the lid and pot in separately to heat. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under baking paper and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 20 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Olive and Rosemary bread - fold through 1/2 C chopped olives and 1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves after the first rise.
Other suggestions - seeds, onion, cheese, bacon, walnuts, raisins or whatever other traditional bread flavourings mixed through after the dough is mixed or after the first rise.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bacon and egg pies for a picnic

We had a picnic for dinner tonight, while my husband had footy training. So the perfect picnic food... bacon and egg pies. Bacon would have to be our family's official favourite food. Our two year old calls it bacy bacy and will eat any she can get her hands on, then steal other peoples. Needless to say the pies were a hit, and Ava wanted more bacon. I balanced the meal out by chopping up vegie sticks and making hummus.

I love moist bacon and egg pies, and have worked out the secret - the bottom of my pies have a ricotta spinach mixture in them under the bacon and egg. My daughter can't have too much dairy, so I just left the ricotta mix out of hers, it still works fine.

Individual Bacon and Egg Pies
makes 4
2 sheets puff pastry
200g ricotta
handful parmesan, grated
handful baby spinach, finely shredded
3 rashers bacon, rind removed, cut into thirds
1 tomato, sliced
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 180C.
Line large muffin tins with puff pastry, so the pastry hangs out the sides. I would cut one square from the pastry sheet, then cut the remaining L shape and overlap to make another square. My metal muffin tins tend to stick, so roughly line the tins with a square of baking paper pushed in before the pastry. My silicon trays dont need this. Prick the bases of the pastry cases with a fork a few times.

Bake the pastry for 10 minutes or so, until starting to cook.

Microwave the spinach for 20 seconds or so to just wilt. Mix with the ricotta and parmesan, season to taste.

Lightly cook the bacon pieces in a frypan.

Remove the pastry from the oven. Put a dollop of the ricotta mixture in the bottom, spread. Top with a slice of tomato. Curl pieces of bacon around the edge of the pastry (I chop the kids up into little pieces to make it easier to eat, so they dont have to bite through the bacon). Crack the egg into the centre.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the white is cooked and the yolk still soft (or keep cooking if you like a hard yolk). Remember unless you are eating it straight away, the yolk will keep cooking a bit when you take it out of the oven.

I transported these to the picnic still in their tin, sitting on a tea towel in a wicker basket.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Favourite biscuit recipes

This is my favourite choc chip cookie recipe ever and the first one I ever made, from an old Women's Weekly cookbook. I made a double batch of these with the kids last week; all those little hands do helping with rolling the biscuits out.

And while on the topic of biscuits, here is my other favourite recipe, Cranberry and White Chocolate Biscuits, which have oats in them making them deliciously chewy. Mmmm, I feel like making and eating them now.

I tried a new biscuit recipe the other day, Fig Swirls, which looked great but were a bit disappointing. I have memories of making a biscuit with figs in the centre that were really delicious, but no idea what recipe this was. Will stick with the old favouites for a while.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 45
I think these cookies taste best when they are only lightly cooked, so they are chewy, soft in the middle and not too crunchy.

125 g butter
½ C sugar
½ C brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 ¾ C self-raising flour (or 1 ¾ C plain flour plus 3 ½ tsp baking powder)
½ tsp salt
125 g chocolate chips or pieces
60g walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180C, cover two baking trays in baking paper.

Cream the butter, sugars and vanilla in an electric mixer. Add lightly beaten egg gradually, beating well after each addition. Mix in flour and salt. Add chocolate and nuts and mix well.

Shape teaspoonfuls of mixture into small balls, place on trays, allowing room for spreading. Bake at 180C for 10 – 12 minutes until lightly golden.
Women’s Weekly The Big Book of Beautiful Biscuits

Cranberry and White Chocolate Biscuits
makes about 18

150g unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
125g (1 cup) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup white chocolate chunks
²/³ cup sweetened dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 180C, line 3 baking trays with baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and stir until combined. Add the oats, chocolate and cranberries and stir to combine.

Roll tablespoons of the mixture and place on baking trays. Flatten the balls with a fork dipped in flour. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until pale golden.

Remove from oven and cool on trays for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

My daughter wants to write her name

Pulled Pork in the slow cooker with burritos

While searching the web lately for slow cooker recipe I kept reading about pulled pork. Then my sister-in-law who just spent 2 years in the States was also talking about, so I decided to give it a go. The Americans often serve it with bbq sauce on hamburger buns but I went for a slightly more authentic mexican experience. Most of the recipes are based on ketchup or bbq sauce except for the most authentic of mexican ones which just had too many ingredients I couldnt get. So I just went with it, what I did is based around this Good Housekeeping recipe, but adapted some what.

The results were yum. The ketchup flavour wasn't overpowering but the sauce was delicious. Shredding the meat with forks did make for a great texture but took a while, actually my husband did it and he says it was a palaver. Next time I will just chop it up with a big knife if I am in a hurry.

You could do the same thing on the stove or in the oven; you want long slow cooking at a low temperature.

To bulk out the meal, I also made the Taco Soup that I have blogged about previously from the Year of Slow Cooking blog. Except of course my slow cooker was already in use, so I did it on the stove and it only took 30 minutes and thickened up nicely. This went really well but is quite strong so did drown out the delicious pork flavour a bit.

Pulled Pork
1  onion, chopped into large pieces
1/2 C ketchup
1/3 C cider vinegar
1/4 C packed brown sugar
2 tbsp sweet paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp salt
1.8 kg boneless pork shoulder blade roast, rind removed, cut into 4 pieces
To serve
Sour cream, avocado
Jalapenos (from a jar), chopped

1.Add sauce ingredients to slow cooker: onion, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, paprika, cumin, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper until combined. Add pork to sauce mixture and turn to coat well with sauce.
2.Cover slow cooker with lid and cook pork mixture on low setting for 8 to 10 hours, or on high for 4 to 5 hours, or some combination depending what time you get dinner on, or until pork is very tender.
3.With tongs, transfer pork to large bowl. Turn setting on slow cooker to high; cover and heat sauce to boiling to thicken and reduce slightly. Or if your slow cooker is like mine and this would take forever; pour the sauce into a saucepan and simmer to reduce. I removed the onion by straining the sauce as I poured it, but this may not bother you.
4.While sauce boils, with 2 forks, pull pork into shreds, this is a somewhat painful process. Return shredded pork to slow cooker with the sauce and toss to combine. Cover slow cooker and heat through on high setting if necessary.
5.Serve on burritos with accompaniments.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Slow Cooker Pizza

Today I am making Slow Cooker Pizza from the blog A Year of Slow Cooking, not exactly a pizza but as close as you are going to get in a SC. It is a bolognaise style sauce in the bottom covered with a pourable batter mix made with eggs and cheese topped with salami and olives. It really does smell like pizza while it cooks, must be the tomato sauce, salami and olives that does it. The recipe is even gluten free made with a gf baking mix, but I just used ordinary flour with 1 teaspoon of baking powder.

I made the pizza for the first time last week. It tasted great, but I got it on a bit late and so the dough wasnt quite cooked through after 3 hours (in my large 6.5l SC), so I scooped most of it into a casserole dish and finished it in the oven.

The second time I made it I put it on early enough and it cooked through and was greatly enjoyed by 6 adults. My friend asked for the recipe and cooked in the next week so that is a good sign.

Here is what I did differently:
  • I didnt use her spaghetti seasoning recipe - just seasoned with salt and pepper.
  • I used plain flour and added 1 tsp baking powder
  • I used chopped salami instead of pepperoni

Loving my slow cooker and Taco Soup

I recently got my first slow cooker and am loving it and trying to use it as much as possible. It really helps with the crazy predinner hour and even more on work days when little Ava walks in the door at 5pm, points to her chair and says "dinner".

I have found a great blog for recipes called A Year of Slow Cooking. Steph, the writer, really did cook with the slow cooker everyday for a year. I think most of the recipes are gluten-free too. Although of course you can substitute normal flour.

Two nights ago I made her Taco Soup, I suppose it is like a version of chilli con carne. I made mine without mince, as we had leftover roast chicken which I added when serving. My soup didnt turn out very soup like, but that was fine.  It was a tasty mix of tinned tomatoes, corn, beans and taco seasoning. Chris, who doesn't like beans, actually quite enjoyed it!

Here is the recipe adapted for ingredients available in Australia. I didnt put mince in mine as I had left over roast chicken that I chopped and sprinkled over when serving.

Australian Slow Cooker Taco Soup

1 can kidney beans
1 can mexe beans by Old El Paso (the recipe calls for pinto beans, these are chilli pinto beans) or cannelini beans or black beans if you dont want the spice
1 can corn
1 large + 1 small can diced tomatoes
1 packet taco seasoning (the original recipe used 1/2 packet but this wasnt enough)
500g beef mince (optional - I didnt use it)
To serve: grated cheese,sour cream, avocado, jalapeno chillies from the jar (especially good if you have made this mild for the kids)
Crisp tortillas or corn chips

Brown meat if you are going to use it. Drain fat and add to slow cooker.
Sprinkle taco seasoning packet on top of meat.
Drain and rinse the kidney beans and add.
Add the entire contents of the mexe beans, corn and tomato cans.
Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5. I think the longer you cook soup, the better, so if you have the time, opt for cooking on low.
Stir well, and serve with a handful of grated cheese, a dollop of sour cream, avocado, jalapeno (for the adults). I crisped tortillas in the oven and broke them up over the soup, but you could have them soft or use corn chips.