Friday, November 8, 2013

Tuna, Tomato and Caper Pasta Sauce

I didn't grow up eating tinned tuna and didn't think I really liked it until a friend cooked this for us after one of my babies was born. Now it is a regular pantry staple dish. I cooked it the other night and couldn't believe I hadn't blogged it when I was checking the recipe so here it is.

Tuna, Tomato and Caper Pasta Sauce
I find buying quality tuna makes a big difference, I like Serena. I enjoy chilli flakes in this but I am cooking for the kids I leave them out and just sprinkle into my bowl.

1 tbsp              olive oil
1                      onion
1 clove             garlic, finely chopped
800g tin           tomatoes, diced
425g tin           tuna, drained
1/4 C               capers, chopped if large
                       chilli flakes, to taste (optional)
handful            basil or whatever herbs you have handy, chopped

Pour the olive oil into a large frying pan or heavy based pan, add the onion and garlic and cook over medium to low heat until softened. Add 800g tin of tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes or however long you have while you cook the pasta. If you simmer for quite awhile you might like to add some water.
Blend the sauce, if I have cooked it in a large pan I bamix in the saucepan but if it is in a frypan I pour it into a heat proof jug or bowl and bamix. Return to the pan with a large tin of tuna flaked, capers, chilli flakes if using and maybe some herbs. Serve on pasta with a sprinkling of parmesan.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Trio of Banana Cakes - one for today, one for the week and dairy free

These days I have a repertoire of banana cake recipes. The first one is the old faithful, my Mums recipe cut from the pages a huge old recipe book, the Australian and New Zealand Recipe Encyclopedia or something like that. I can remember making it with her countless times as a child, I loved adding the bicarb to the warm milk and seeing it fizz. It is a great cake, delicious fresh for the first day or two then its great toasted with butter. If I know we are not going to get through the whole cake, I slice and freeze it, then I can just pop the frozen slices in the toaster for a quick snack.
The second recipe I discovered after I started this blogging thing on Paula's lovely blog Pod and Three Peas. I have mentioned her blog here before and cook from it regularly, she shares so many great recipes. So the next cake is hers, similar to my first one, but with the addition of sour cream. I have come to love sour cream cakes, they seem to stay fresh for ages. So this cake is a good one when you want it to last the week for lunch boxes and morning munchies. On the topic of sour cream cakes, Nigella has a good chocolate one and I love the lemon one also from Pod and Three Peas. I also want to try Paula's new version of a banana sour cream cake with yummy sounding brown butter icing.
Finally the latest addition to my repertoire is my own innovation, the dairy free banana cake. I created this so that my youngest daughter, who is dairy intolerant, could enjoy banana cake. At almost two, she has recently learnt the word "cake" and can't be left out of anything! This cake has the benefit of being a quick mix cake, I just mix it up by hand in one bowl.  Its a lovely moist cake, I enjoy it and don't miss the dairy.
Old Faithful Banana Cake Recipe
125g butter
3/4 C caster sugar
2 eggs
2 -3 bananas, preferable overripe
1/4 C milk, warm
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 C plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a loaf tin or deep 20 cm round tin.
Cream butter and sugar until light, white and fluffy. Add beaten eggs, gradually, beating well after each addition.
Mash the bananas, I put them on a plate and use a fork, and beat into cake mixture. Combine warm milk and bicarb, mix into cake mixture. Sift flour, baking powder and salt (if you can be bothered, I usually can't) and fold into mixture. Spread into prepared tin.
Bake at 180C for 40 - 45 minutes. Leave plain or spread with icing, see recipes below.
Pod and Three Peas Banana and Sour Cream Cake
find the original post here
115g butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tbsp milk
2-3 ripe mashed bananas
Preheat oven to 180.  Grease and line loaf tin.  
Cream butter and brown sugar till pale, add eggs one at a time and combine.  Sift in flour and baking soda, stir, add in banana, sour cream and milk stir till combined.  Pop in oven for 50 - 60 minutes til skewer comes out clean. Cool and ice.
Dairy Free Banana Cake

1/2 C oil, I use rice bran oil and I imagine coconut oil would work too
3/4 C caster sugar
2 eggs
2 -3 bananas, preferable overripe
1 1/2 C plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch salt
Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a loaf tin or deep 20 cm round tin.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar and eggs until combined.
Mash the bananas, I put them on a plate and use a fork, and mix in. Sift flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt (if you can be bothered, I usually can't) and fold into mixture. Spread into prepared tin.
Bake at 180C for 40 - 45 minutes. Leave plain or spread with icing, see recipes below.
These are my two favourites. I also want to try the brown butter icing here.
Lemon Icing
1 C icing sugar
1 lemon, juiced
Place the icing sugar in a medium bowl and add sufficient juice to make a thick paste. Spread on the cake.
Cream Cheese Icing
250g cream cheese, at room temp
80g butter, at room temp
1 C icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
Beat the cream cheese with an electric beater for a few minutes until smooth. Add butter and beat again until smooth. Add icing sugar and lemon juice and mix fro 30 seconds until combined.
Spread over cake.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Loving Soup Minestrone

We have had a breakthrough this winter, the kids now like soup, I would go as far as saying they love soup! Even Willa, who is only 1 1/2, can feed herself a bowl full. At first I thought it was just pumpkin soup so stuck to that for a few weeks then I ventured into pea and ham and they ate that too. Then I just threw in all the vegies I had and made a sweet potato and random vegetable soup and they even loved that, in fact they requested it for the next few nights in favour of whatever else I had made. Imagine if I served them up a bowl of boiled sweet potato, zucchini, cauliflower and broccoli; there is no way they would touch it but in soup form they are going back for seconds. I have to admit that sour cream and crispy bacon bits are a pretty popular addition.

This week we had minestrone. My wonderful husband had it ready when I got home from 3 days away. We weren't sure how the kids would go with soup with chunky vegetables, so we just pureed theirs, adding some cooked pasta afterwards. Again it was a hit with them and me.
This is probably my favourite soup. You can make it with whatever vegies you have on hand, I have included my favourites in the recipe. My Mum used to include a small piece of stewing beef in the soup which she would shred into the soup before serving, I prefer the addition of chorizo but you might like to try this.
1 chorizo, diced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion
1 leek, chopped (optional)
3 sticks celery
1 carrot
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
handful fresh herbs eg. parsley, thyme, sage, marjoram, oregano; chopped
4 bacon rashes, chopped
½ C red wine
2 L stock, chicken or beef
800g tin tomatoes, chopped
1 parmesan rind
2 zucchini, diced
½ cauliflower, cut into small florets
½ bunch silverbeet, stems removed and shredded
handful soup pasta or spaghetti, broken into short pieces
handful basil leaves, chopped
parmesan, grated
Heat a drop of oil in large saucepan or stockpot. Fry chorizo until golden, turning to cook all sides, set aside.
Heat remaining oil, cook onion, leek, celery, carrot, garlic, herbs and bacon over low heat until soft, at least 10 minutes. Turn up the heat and add red wine and allow to sizzle. Add stock, tomatoes, parmesan, zucchini and cauliflower and cook until vegetables are almost cooked. Add silverbeet and pasta and cook until pasta is done.
Serve with basil and parmesan. and buttered toast for dipping.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Homemade and Homegrown Barbecue Sauce

With our bountiful crop of tomatoes this year I made a barbecue sauce. I couldn't find a recipe that I liked so I looked at about 10 and made up my own. Most of the recipes were based on bottled ketchup, not quite sure if this qualifies as making your own sauce and it wasn't what I had in mind. I started with a large colander full of my tomatoes and added a whole range of spices, sugar, herbs and other flavourings.

Lots of recipes also included Liquid Smoke. I didn't run out and buy some but I was tempted, maybe next time...
The sauce is great! it has a slight spicy kick so if you want to share it with your kids leave out the chilli (we are quite happy to be selfish and keep it to ourselves). We eat it on egg and bacon rolls, lamb steaks, chicken burritos, pulled pork... Know I think about it I don't think I made enough.

Homemade and Homegrown Barbecue Sauce
5 C tomatoes that have been peeled, seeded and chopped (I started with a large colander full of whole tomatoes)
dash vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 chillies with seeds, chopped (optional)
3 tsp paprika (2 tsp smoked, 1 tsp hot)
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp cumin
5 thyme sprigs
2 tbsp coriander leaves
1/2 C brown sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 C cider vinegar
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
In a large heavy based pan sauté the onion, garlic and chilli in the oil until soft. Add dry spices and continue to fry for about a minute, until fragrant. Add the remaining ingredients including the tomatoes and stir over heat until the sugar is dissolved then simmer for an hour or two until thickened.
Puree in your best pureeing appliance. I am a big fan of the stick blender but this is a time to pull out the blender from the cupboard and wear the washing up. Puree as well as you can then return to the pan through a sieve.
Taste! Adjust for sugar, salt, flavour and spice.
Return to the boil and pour into sterilised bottles. Store in the fridge.

It's been awhile

It's been 11 months since I posted. How did that happen? It wasn't a deliberate break I just got caught up in the busyness of life and lost a bit of motivation in the kitchen. My middle daughter Ava was on the Failsafe elimination diet all last year so that took all the head space I had for cooking. Thankfully she is done with it so we have been enjoying eating family favourites altogether this year but I haven't been very adventurous.

During this time my youngest daughter Willa has doubled in age! She is now an adorab1e 20 month old who runs around, demands "bickies" and" nanas" and loves her big sisters. Here is a photo of her, just because she is cute and a post can't have no photo!

So I will be back shortly to share some new and old favourites...