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Rigatoni 3

I’m back!

My little boy is now eight months old and is a lovely, friendly smiling little boy most of the time (though we are teething at the moment so we have a lot of Jekyll/Hyde moments). I’ve recently found myself doing quite a lot of cooking that then gets pureed or mashed and frozen for him, but not so much cooking that involves trying new recipes for me.

However, I have been taking part in a cookbook club that I started with a few friends after we were inspired by this article (click here to read). What is a cookbook club? It is a group of friends (or a group of people who love to cook and/or eat) who meet up regularly to share food they have cooked. At each meeting, everyone brings along a dish cooked from the same cookbook (chosen in advance so you don’t replicate dishes). It is a great opportunity to try dishes you might otherwise not have cooked, as well as using the cookbooks you own (or discovering new ones). You also get to meet new people (friends of friends) who you already know have a shared interest in food, cooking and eating! click here to read more

Eggs with tomato and chorizo

I often find that at the end of a busy weekend, often involving cooking/baking,  rehearsals and all the household chores that need to be done, I just want something simply like egg and chips or similar for dinner. This is a great dish for those nights. It is really simple and quick to make, but has heaps of flavour and with the addition of the beans is very filling. It would also be great for breakfast/brunch as well.

Using chorizo is a great “cheat” to get a heap of flavour without having to add spices to it. These recipes often have capsicum in them, however I don’t actually like capsicum so I have left it out, but you could add it in with the chorizo if you wanted to use it.

Chick here for the recipe

 

Meatballs alla normaI just realised it has been a month since my last post! Where has the time gone? In my defence, when I haven’t been at work for most of the last month I’ve either been at rehearsal, travelling to rehearsal, working on my songs and lines or trying to recover from rehearsals for the local musical I am currently involved with that opens in a week and a half. It is the most challenging role I have played in my 15 years of involvement in community theatre and it has taken up a lot of my spare time. It is just as well Jerome is currently visiting his family in France as I haven’t been home much.

Before Jerome left for his trip, I was looking through one of my books by Jamie Oliver, Save with Jamie and his Meatballs alla Norma recipe caught my eye for three reasons:

  • it was quite stormy that night so I wanted to cook something warm and comforting;
  • I had never actually cooked with polenta before; and
  • I don’t cook a lot of eggplant and was looking for different recipes to use it in.

I have to admit that I didn’t really like this recipe. I found that there were too many fennel seeds in it for me (I don’t really like aniseed flavours), however Jerome really liked it so it wasn’t a failure. It was just that the aniseed flavours dominated a bit too much for me. The recipe also uses three different pans so it makes a bit of washing up. If I made it again I would make and cook the meatballs first, then reuse the same pan to make the sauce to save on a bit of washing up.

 

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Individual cakes class

I am very glad that it is a long weekend here in Western Australia. Some weekends are just so full of activities that I often feel like I need an extra day to just be at home, do all the chores around the house and recover from my weekend. This weekend has certainly been like that, although it has been very enjoyable.

In addition to a rehearsal on Sunday for a local musical I will be playing a lead role in that will be on in July, on Saturday I attended an all day class at the Sweet Artist Academy – Patisserie Training Centre in Joondalup Western Australia. It was my first time at Sweet Artist Academy, and I will certainly be going back again.

The Sweet Artist Academy is run by Patrick Vuaillat with a number of one day courses available on weekdays or weekends including chocolate work, sugar work, pastries, cakes, bread, cake decorating, macarons and even more. Patrick, originally from France and with over 35 years in the pastry industry, started an apprenticeship in pastry at the age of 15 and has worked as a pastry chef all over the world before falling in love with Perth and starting his on patisserie which he ran for 16 years before setting up the Sweet Artist Academy. Loving baking and patisserie as I do, I was thrilled to find someone with so much experience offering classes in Perth and was really looking forward to my class. Click here for more

Hot choc spoons

Happy (Australian) Mother’s Day! Just a very quick post as I have been baking most of the weekend so that I can spoil my Mum with high tea this afternoon, and I have to leave soon to get to my parent’s house.

My Mum has her birthday, Mother’s Day and wedding anniversary within the same week and I always try to make it special for her. Hopefully she will enjoy all my baked treats (I’ll update this post with links to what I have baked later…my Mum reads my blog and I don’t want to spoil the surprise).

However, these are not part of the high tea today. I actually made these for my Mum for Easter, however they make a great edible gift any time of the year and are great for chocoholics. It is more of an idea than a recipe. As such I haven’t given quantities, you can make as few or as many as you like based on the size of your moulds and the amount of chocolate you use. I first saw these in a magazine last year and have seen them in quite a few since then (too many to reference). I haven’t used them myself yet to make hot chocolate; however Mum has said they work really well, with the chocolate melting into the hot milk to make hot chocolate perfectly. So next time you are in search of a gift, why not give these a go?

Click here for the recipe

 Hot cross bun cupcakes

 

Happy Easter everybody! I hope you are all having a lovely relaxing long weekend and enjoying time with family, friends and good food (especially for all the chocoholics out there).

I remember how excited I would get as a child waiting for it to be light enough so my brother and I could get up and go on our Easter egg hunt. We would stay at our Nanna’s house every Easter. She lived in a small two bedroom unit and had an amazing courtyard garden, full of hanging baskets and pot plants that made great hiding places for Easter eggs. We had a great time, although our poor Nanna didn’t get much sleep with us up at first light and awake long before that.

These days, my favourite Easter food isn’t the chocolate eggs but hot cross buns. I love the smell of the spices when they are cooking (though I don’t like them with citrus peel in), and they are just delicious eaten warm with some butter/margarine and maybe some honey. Last year I had a go at making my own at home (recipe here). So this year I decided to try something different…cupcakes inspired by the spices I love in my hot cross buns. They turned out pretty good, although they don’t taste exactly like hot cross buns. But the spices and orange zest in the cake are lovely and the creamy tart cream cheese frosting makes a nice contrast. I left the sultanas/fruit peel out however you could easily add it in either to the cake mix, frosting or both. I was also going to drizzle the top with honey, but my honey was crystallised and honestly they don’t need to be any sweeter.

So here is my recipe for hot cross bun inspired cupcakes. Happy Easter!

Click here for the recipe

Thai chicken noodle salad

 

Even though I enjoy cooking and count it as one of my hobbies/passions I, like everyone else, have days where I just really don’t feel like cooking. Whether it has been a long day at work, my neck is playing up (which has been the case for the last few weeks), or it is just a stinking hot day (which we get quite a few of here in Perth), there are days where I just don’t want to spend much time (if any) in the kitchen.

So I love finding recipes like this one that are full of flavour but require very little time or effort in the kitchen. This is a great recipe for summer when it is hot and you don’t want to warm the house up by using the oven/stove top for too long (you can use the bbq instead if you want). You can even ‘cheat’ and use bought roast/bbq chicken or leftover chicken. I have made this recipe both ways and it was just as tasty with bought roast/bbq chicken as it was marinading and cooking the chicken myself. Although the marinaded chicken is beautifully moist and tender.

I have adapted the recipe to add some green vegetables, but you can omit them or replace them with any you prefer. I also like adding a small amount of the coconut milk to the dressing, however this wasn’t in the original recipe and you can omit it if you prefer.

This is a great, flavoursome recipe. Filling while also being light and refreshing. Best of all, it takes hardly any time or effort to make. 

Click here for the recipe

Banana and raspberry loaf As much as I love trying out new recipes, there are always times when I prefer to bake some of my old favourites. Especially if I’ve offered to bring dessert or cakes/baked goods to an event or a friends house. I want to know that I am making something that works and tastes great. This has seen me revisit a lot of my old favourites over the past few weeks including my citrus coconut cupcakes, chocolate and raspberry fudge brownies and raspberry crumble slice, meaning I haven’t had much new to blog about.

However, my freezer was starting to fill up with overripe bananas again. Never throw out an overripe banana. Place them straight in the freezer and they will be ready to use later in baking. They go black on the outside when frozen but inside they are still great to use for baking once defrosted. That way you always have very ripe bananas, perfect for baking, ready whenever you want to use them.

With that in mind, I was browsing through some Coles magazines on my iPad and noticed this recipe for banana, raspberry and macadamia bread. I’m loving having most of my cooking magazines on my new iPad. Most of them let me bookmark favourites to try and some like the Coles one (which is also free) let me email them to friends etc. The subscriptions are a lot cheaper than the print version and they don’t take up any space at home. I still much prefer to have actual hard copy cookbooks rather than digital versions on an ebook or tablet, but find the tablet perfect for magazines.

I was sure I had macadamias at home; however once I started the mix I discovered I didn’t so I just left them out (this is why I usually measure everything out before I start cooking, so I don’t get halfway through and discover a missing ingredient!). The result was still great, although the macadamias would add more texture. This is a really easy recipe to make and the end result is wonderfully moist, lightly spiced cake. A great breakfast or tea time treat! Click here for the recipe

 Crepes with rhubarb and raspberry compote 3

Here is my contribution for pancake day, although they are crepes not pancakes.

I still remember a few years ago when I decided to cook brunch at my parent’s house for my Dad for Father’s day. I told Jerome I was making crepes (very thin, usually quite large) and he kept insisting that I was making pancakes (thicker and fluffy). Once I cooked them and he saw the final product, he had to admit that I did actually know what I was talking about and that I had made crepes.

For my birthday last year I was looking for somewhere new to have brunch and I found Toast in East Perth. As soon as I saw crepes with rhubarb and raspberry compote on the menu I was sold. It is now one of my favourite places for breakfast/brunch and they also make a great juice called the ‘beach bear’ (pineapple, apple, ginger and mint). I’m honestly thinking about getting a juice maker at home just so I can try to make that juice!

So, inspired by my favourite crepes at Toast, I decided to see if I could replicate the flavours at home and make my own rhubarb and raspberry compote. I have to say that the final result exceeded my expectation. I was so happy with the compote that I could happily eat just that. I like very tart sweets, so you may want to add more sugar if you prefer things a bit sweeter. I’ve also included the crepe recipe that I have used for years, from The Beginner’s Cookbook by Family Circle.

Click here for the recipe

choc orange tart

As I’ve mentioned many times before, I’m not that fond of chocolate (strange I know). I will always bypass a chocolate dessert for something made from citrus or berries. If I am going to eat (or bake) something with chocolate, I need something added to it to cut through the richness of the chocolate.

When I saw the cover recipe of the March BBC Good Food magazine, with the classic combination of chocolate and orange, I knew it was something I wanted to try. And with a house warming to go to this weekend, it was the recipe for me.

The recipe in the magazine used store bought sweet crust pastry, with cocoa added to it in a food processor to make a chocolate pastry. I decided I had to make the chocolate pastry from scratch. Not the best plan when you only have a few hours to make the whole tart at the end of the week and the house/kitchen is boiling hot (it is a warm summer here in Perth). But I persevered. If you can give the pastry a couple of hours in the fridge it is much easier to work with and you can roll it a bit thinner. I had to make it a bit thicker as it wasn’t quite cool enough when I rolled it…but the end result was still good. I also wanted to make small individual tarts as I thought that would be easier at a house warming than a large one that needed to be cut.

The filling for these is almost like a cross between a curd and a custard. Don’t take your eyes off it when it is on the stove. I went to check the pastry and it started boiling and almost curdled. Thankfully it still worked and the end result was a good combination of the rich chocolate from the ganache drizzle and pastry, and the sweet tartness of the oranges. I used my favourite ganache recipe instead of the one in the magazine which had the addition of golden syrup as I thought this would be too sweet. The recipe below has more ganache than you’ll need to drizzle on top of the tarts. However I had extra pastry so I made more tart shells and filled the rest with the ganache for rich chocolate tarts with a hint of orange in the pastry and ganache.

choc orange ganache tarts

Click here for the recipe

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