Archives for the month of: April, 2013

This post is a double up, being my second recipe from ‘My Cookbook Library’ as well as a vegetarian ‘Meat Free Monday’ dish. Jerome has decided that the ‘My Cookbook Library’ posts (cooking my way through all my cookbooks, one recipe from one book at a time) should be renamed ‘Jerome’s pick’, as he quite enjoyed being given the cookbook index (on eat your books) and getting to pick what I cooked.

The second book I chose to cook from is Rachel Khoo’s The Little Paris Kitchen: 120 Simple But Classic French Recipes. I love this cookbook and related cooking series. After studying patisserie at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, Rachel started testing recipes for a cookbook in her tiny apartment with just a mini oven and two gas rings.  She also opened the smallest restaurant in Paris in her apartment, serving just two people for dinner. This is one of those rare books where when I look through it, I want to try at least every second recipe. If you want to give French food a try, I certainly recommend this book. If Rachel can cook these recipes in her tiny apartment with limited equipment, I think most of us should be able to replicate them in our own kitchens. I certainly try to remember what Rachel cooked with whenever I start complaining about my own kitchen!

This is a very light dish, and would make a nice light lunch or side salad at dinner. Dill isn’t my favourite herb, but it went quite well against the earthiness of the beetroot and lentils and the creaminess of the cheese. We had the salad as a light dinner with some crusty baguette. Simple, only a few ingredients, but they all work well together.

Beetroot and goats cheese salad with lentils

Book recipe number: 2

Number of cookbooks owned: 198+ (198 now logged in my eat your books library, however there were quite a few that weren’t in their database that I now have to count)

New book credit: 0.4 (3 more to go before I am allowed to buy another cookbook)

Click here for the recipe

quicheIf you have read my blog before you will know that I love going to baking classes run by Sarah Brigden from babyCakes. Classes I have  previously gone to include cupcakes, decorative chocolate, desserts and high tea. This year, Sarah is only running classes through Tuart College, with the classes being held at the Mirrabooka Hospitality Training Centre. Her second series of 6 week classes (one night a week) this year is on pastry making, something I really wanted to learn more of, and after enrolling in the class last year (and convincing my friend Kelly to come along with me), I was really looking forward to going to the first class. 

The Mirrabooka Hospitality Training Centre is located at Mirrabooka High School and was only recently constructed to provide students with the opportunity to complete certificates in hospitality while still at high school. The centre includes a café/restaurant, barrista/bar area, seminar/function space, commercial kitchen and ancillary support and storage facilities. It is the commercial kitchen where the after hours short courses take place, with 16 individual work stations, commercial equipment and a demonstration area at the front. It is a great place to be learning and cooking.

Our first class was on savoury pastry, making a quiche. I have made quiches before, both with and without pastry (you add a pastry mix to the quiche mix instead). I have used both shop bought pastry and made my own pasty in the past. I have to say that the pastry we made with Sarah was the best I have ever made for a quiche. The pastry had a lovely savoury flavour and crisp, crumbly texture. It was also quite easy to work with. As always, a big thank you to Sarah for allowing me to share her recipes on my blog.

I made the quiche again at home and the pastry worked just as well as in the class. The great thing about quiche is you can use whatever filling you want. It is a great way to use up ingredients from the fridge (ham, roasted veggies, small amounts of cheeses – the list is endless). I have included the recipe for a bacon and leek quiche here, however I also made some with mini roma tomatoes, asparagus and goats cheese.

Mini quiches made in class

Mini quiches made in class

Click here for the recipe

Today here in Australia (and New Zealand) is Anzac day. Anzac day falls on the 25th of April and commemorates the first major military action fought by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) at the Gallipoli peninsula during the First World War on the morning of 25 April 1915.

The action was not a victory and both sides suffered heavy casualties. The event had a significant impact on Australians at home. In Australia and New Zealand today, Anzac day is one of the most important national occasions and is a day where we remember the sacrifice of those who died in military operations.  Lest we forget. One of my great grandfathers was one of the first on the shore at Gallipoli and while another was with the field ambulances. My family was lucky – they both survived.

Dawn commemorative services are held on Anzac day across Australia, at the time of the original Gallipoli landing. Later in the day, from big cities to small towns, commemorative marches are held across the nation. I remember going to school Anzac day services and local marches with my family, wearing the service medals of grandparents.

Also associated with Anzac day is the Anzac biscuit. These biscuits do actually have links to World War One. Family, friends and communities would send food to the soldiers fighting in the war. Due to the time it would take for the food to get to the front, the food had to be long lasting without refrigeration while retaining nutritional value. Thus the Anzac biscuit (originally called the Soldiers’ Biscuit, with the same basic ingredients then as today) was born.

Instead of Anzac biscuits (see here for recipe), I decided today to make an Anzac slice. The basic ingredients (and the smells that filled the house while it was baking) are the same and the result tastes the same as an Anzac biscuit. The edge of the slice has the crispness and chewiness I usually associate with an Anzac biscuit, while the centre of the slice is softer and moist.

Anzac slice

Click here for the recipe

versatileblogger11

I started my blog for me, as a way to keep track of everything I cook, the classes I go to, recipes I modify and to keep me inspired to cook. And maybe also to justify my growing cookbook collection. I thought my Mum and a few friends would read it. 

I wasn’t expecting to have people from all over the world reading and following my blog. I still write the blog for me, but I am continually excited and inspired by the fact that people are reading my blog, and liking what they read. So I was thrilled when The Peckish Kiwi nominated my blog for The Versatile Blogger Award. 

The rules for this award are as follows:

Thank the person who gave you this award (done – thanks again).

Include a link to their blog. Here it is http://thepeckishkiwi.com/

Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.

Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

Click here for my nominations and 7 facts about me

When I started this blog, one of the things I wanted to do was work through my Nanna’s handwritten cookbook, which is full of recipes she collected throughout her life. Her handwriting however is quite difficult to decipher and there are minimal instructions, so it is quite a big task.

Nanna's cookbook

Nanna’s cookbook

I was reminded of this the other day when I was browsing through other people’s blog posts and came across a recipe for lemon and lime coconut slice by Daisy and the Fox. Instantly I thought of my Nanna’s lemon slice and knew I had to make her recipe this weekend.

My Nanna was a very important part of my life and one of my first cooking memories is making pikelets with her. She also taught me how to spin, knit and crochet. I am so lucky to have had her in my life and I often think of her and miss her.

After she retired, she moved to be closer to us (my brother and I were her only grandchildren). We often stayed with her on weekends and over the holidays. She also often picked me up after school, and looked after me when I was home sick. For my first two years of high school I went to a private school that was about 45 minutes from home (longer with public transport). Often the bus wouldn’t pick us up and I was having issues with my health. Nanna started driving all the way there and picking me up. She always had an afternoon snack waiting for me, like this slice.

I was thinking about this and other memories of my time with my Nanna while I was making the slice. Isn’t it wonderful how food can remind us of the people we  love and evoke memories of them and our time with them?

Nanna's original handwritten recipe

Nanna’s original handwritten recipe

Click here for the recipe

It is Monday again, so time for another meat free dish. I had half a large sweet potato sitting in my fridge, so I went looking for a healthy, vegetarian dish to use it in. I went straight to www.healthyfoodguide.com.au rather than my cookbook collection for this one, as I wanted to find something that I knew would be healthy and vegetarian.

Unfortunately in the end I didn’t have quite enough sweet potato (I only had 300g) for the recipe, so had to buy another on. Which meant once again I ended with half a sweet potato left, defeating the purpose of finding a recipe to use it up, but at least I had a nice healthy dinner! I’ll use the rest of the sweet potato in a roast vegetable salad, frittata or soup later in the week.

The addition of the ground coriander and cumin really added a nice depth of flavour and complimented the sweet potato, while the mint and tzatziki added some freshness. The leftovers also make a great lunch.

Sweet potato fritters

Click here for the recipe

I am a fan of pineapple as an ingredient in both sweet and savoury dishes. I’m not ashamed to admit that my favourite pizza topping is simply ham, cheese and pineapple, and any sweet and sour dish has to have pineapple in it for me.

So when I saw this recipe, I instantly wanted to try it. Added to that, my freezer is starting to fill up again with overripe bananas, so it was a great way to use up a few of those. The recipe also uses oil instead of butter, which I prefer as I find cakes cooked with oil are always moist without any buttery aftertaste.

I liked the idea of the coconut crust on top. However, it made the cakes a bit too sweet for me. Next time I think I will put only a very small amount on top to retain the texture element, but reduce the sweetness.  Although on tasting these again the next day, they tasted less sweet so it may have just been because they were a bit warm, and I prefered these the day after cooking. This is a very moist cake, due to the bananas, pineapple and oil, with a caramel sweetness from the brown sugar both in the cupcakes as well as on top and a hint of spice from the ginger and cinnamon. There wasn’t quite enough pineapple evident in the final cake for me, so I may add some pineapple pieces next time rather than just crushed pineapple.

Hummingbird cake with coconut crust

Click here for the recipe

As I’ve mentioned a few times before, I own quite a few cookbooks and continue to buy more (I can’t resist a good cookbook on sale). However, when you have more than a few cookbooks, it can be difficult remembering where certain recipes you wanted to try are, and therefore get the most out of your books.

So I recently signed up to the website Eat Your Books to give it a try. Eat Your Books is a website that indexes cookbooks and allows you to create a catalogue (your bookshelf) of the books you have and then search them through an on-line database. It doesn’t actually give you the recipe, you need to go to your book for that, but it does give you the ingredients in the recipe.

So far I have added 149 books to my ‘bookshelf’, with a few books that I couldn’t enter (they were quite old ones) and I haven’t finished adding them all yet. I’ve found so far that only half of my books have been indexed, but I do have quite a few older and Australian books, so that may account for it. Most of my newer books were already indexed. The site allows you to “member index” one book at a time, so I have started adding one of my books already. The site also catalogues magazines, blogs and other on-line recipes.

This got me thinking about making better use of (and even rediscovering) my books. As a result, I have decided  to cook at least one recipe from one of my books every one to two weeks, and try to work my way through all my books (this will take a while to get through).  I also am not going to buy a new cookbook until I have cooked something from at least five books that I already own.

When I decided this, I had The Hairy Dieters book in my bag, so I have started with that book. I know I’ve cooked a dish from their book before, but this is a new ‘challenge’ and I have to start somewhere.

The slow cooking makes the lamb lovely and tender, and the chickpeas develop an almost creamy texture. The spices added just the right amount (for me at least) of heat. Definitely a dish I will be cooking again.

Book recipe number: 1

Number of cookbooks owned: 149+ (still counting)

Lamb Tagine

Click here for the recipe

I like filled pastas such as ravioli, tortellini and angolotti but I don’t like buying the pre-made versions of these as I have no control over what has gone into the filling, and I often find they are too salty for me. So I was really looking to going a class at Matters of Taste to learn how to make these types of pastas.

My first attempt at tortellini at home – Mushroom and goat’s cheese tortellini

This was another technical class where we learnt how to make the pasta and the three different filled shapes, and we each got try making each of these shapes. I was a bit nervous about trying the tortellini but found it easier than expected. As a group, we also made three different fillings and sauces (with each group of three responsible for one sauce and filling). I had a lot of fun and left filled with confidence about trying these at home.

Spinach and ricotta ravioli from the class.

Spinach and ricotta ravioli from the class.

The next night, I decided to make the mushroom and goat’s cheese tortellini that I had recently seen on Masterchef – The Professionals. I used the pasta recipe that I learnt at Matters of Taste rather than the one from the Masterchef recipe, as I am now familiar with that recipe. However, as that isn’t my recipe to share (having received it at a class) I have included the Masterchef recipe for pasta below (the only real difference was my recipe used three whole eggs only and slightly more flour).

Another dish from the class - Roasted pumpkin agnolotti

Another dish from the class – Roasted pumpkin agnolotti

Making pasta at home by yourself is quite time consuming and is definitely not for every night. I found this filling a bit difficult to use as it didn’t hold together well, but that may be because I added the goat’s cheese at the end as I’d seen on TV rather than mixing it through as the recipe stated. I was still happy with the results and loved the creamy goat’s cheese with the earthy mushrooms and silky soft pasta. I’m not a huge fan of the brown butter sauce however, so next time I think I’ll try a different sauce.

Chicken prosciutto tortellini from the class.

Chicken prosciutto tortellini from the class, my favourite of the three we made.

Click here for the recipe

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