Archives for posts with tag: dinner

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

Chicken leek and mushroom 2

The last four months have just flown by in a blur of recovery and sleeplessness, but more importantly complete joy and love for my little boy. There hasn’t been a lot of time to cook although I’m starting to get in the kitchen a bit more now, and using my slow cooker for the first time (recipes to come soon). It is hard to believe my little boy is almost four months old. I have to say having my freezer stocked full of ready to eat or ready to cook meals was really handy. I ended up having to have a C-section and it took me a while to recover from that. We also moved a few weeks ago so it has been all go here. I’m much happier with the kitchen in our new place, I actually have a gas cooktop for the first time in about 8 years and a pantry! Makes things so much easier (and quicker).

This is one of the recipes I cooked for my freezer before my little boy arrived. I hadn’t cooked this for quite some time, but in the colder months it is a nice warming/filling recipe and it is one of my favourites. It is also a great recipe when you have guests over, as most of the cooking time is spent in the oven.

Leftovers are also great the next day with the chicken shredded up with pasta (which is how I froze it). Or it would make a great pie filling.

Click here for the recipe

Pork cider and parsnip casserole My freezers are now full with lots of pre-cooked (or ready to cook) meals that I have made in the last few weeks preparing for the arrival of my first baby, including this recipe. I love cider but even before I was pregnant, I couldn’t drink alcohol as it always gave me a migraine no matter what I drank – even one glass. The drink that I miss most is cider, so I’m always interested in new recipes that include cider as an ingredient. This is a great dish for winter, it takes a little time but the oven does most of the work for you. Depending on the size of your pork and vegetable pieces, it could take a bit longer to cook than the recipe states. The original recipe results in a very thin sauce, even after I reduced the amount of liquid in it. So if you want a thicker sauce add more flour at the beginning or a bit less liquid. However I didn’t mind as it was soaked up in my mashed potatoes. Potatoes were one of the few things I could eat during the first four months of my pregnancy. You’d think I’d have had enough of potatoes after that but they are still one of my favourite things to eat. Click here for the recipe

Sausage rolls 4It is hard to believe that almost nine months have passed since I discovered I was pregnant, yet here I am counting down the days until I welcome my first child to the world. Despite the pregnancy symptoms and constant fatigue, time really has flown by surprisingly quickly.

Part of the reason for that is that I did over commit myself during my pregnancy (first timer mistake). Before I found out I was pregnant, I had applied for an online postgrad university course which I was accepted into and decided to start the first unit in my second trimester. So during my second and most of my third trimester, not only was I working full time while pregnant, I was also studying at home. To say I found it difficult (writing reports all day at work then coming home to uni reading and writing assignments) would be an understatement. But I have finished my first unit (with pretty good grades on all my assessments) and have finally slowed down to prepare for my new life as a mum (besides all the appointments that seem to fill up the week).

Part of my preparation has included filling up the freezer with lots of ready cooked (or ready to be cooked) meals. I think winter is a great time to be in the later stages of pregnancy. Besides not melting in the Australian heat, it is quite mild but also a great time for soups, casseroles and oven baked foods that freeze really well. Some of the recipes I have made have been some old favourites, but I have also tried some new ones so there will be a few new posts to follow with those recipes.

But first here is the recipe for some very tasty sausage rolls that were made for me for my baby shower. They were so good I begged the recipe off my friends and made a batch for last night’s dinner (with half the batch going into the freezer and the rest as leftovers for today). I would have liked trying to freeze half of the batch before cooking, then defrosting and cooking later, however as I was using lamb mince that had already been frozen, I couldn’t do this. I may try this another time and will update the post then.

If you don’t like mint, this isn’t the recipe for you, but mint is one of my favourite herbs and I really like the combination of flavours in this recipe, something a little bit different from your usual sausage roll. However you could try replacing the mint and mint jelly with another herb and chutney or jelly. That is the great thing about recipes, you can experiment and adapt to your own taste.

Click here for the recipe

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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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

mushroom quinotto 3

Risotto is one of my favourite dishes, especially in winter. I actually find the process of cooking a risotto (the repetitive action of adding the stock and stirring) quite relaxing, almost meditative. However, because Jerome doesn’t like risotto, I rarely cook it at home anymore and I usually only get to eat it at restaurants.

I was looking for a recipe to cook at a friend’s house this week for a cooking/DVD night when I found this recipe for mushroom quinotto. Although the method of cooking is quite different, the end result is reminiscent of a risotto, although the nutty quinoa adds a completely different flavour.

As usual, I changed the recipe quite a bit. My friend doesn’t like parmesan so we used goat’s cheese instead. I love mushrooms so I doubled the amount of mushrooms as well as adding in baby spinach for some more green. We also found we needed to add more liquid so we added some chicken stock as well.

The end result was surprising, satisfying and delicious. It was also great the next day for lunch. The creamy goat’s cheese went really well with the nutty quinoa. I will definitely be making it again.

Click here for the recipe

The books I have bought in the last 6 months

The books I have bought in the last 6 months

I have a confession to make. In April this year I set myself the challenge of not buying a new cookbook until I had cooked a recipe from five of my current cookbooks. It was going quite well for a few months and I also discovered the huge cookbook collection at the library next to my work, so I could borrow and look through as many cookbooks as I wanted, without buying them.

Then a couple of things happened. First, I went to France in June, and told myself a couple of very small regional cookbooks in French didn’t count as they were “souvenirs”. But that was only the beginning.

Then I went to the Perth Good Food and Wine Show in July, and I just couldn’t resist the chance to meet the cooks/chefs there and get a book personally signed (I owned some that I could get signed, but there were a few I didn’t have). Plus there were a few books on sale at the show (I mean, $10.00 instead of $50.00! What would you do?). And you never know what might happen, a few words with Maggie Beer about music/singing while she was signing my book (thanks Mum) and the next thing you know, she is calling up “Sarah who sings” to cook with her on-stage an hour later, and sending me home with a big box of her products!

Thanks Maggie!

Thanks Maggie!

I bought a few books over the next few months (always on sale), and then came the Margaret River Gourmet Escape a couple of weeks ago, where there was the opportunity to meet more incredibly inspiring and creative chefs, including Heston Blumenthal (who’s book I actually won in a competition a few months back, or I would have been buying one of his books too – you should have seen how excited I was when I found out I’d won a cookbook! Then actually getting it signed by Heston!!!).

So I have to admit that I failed my challenge completely. But I do now have another eleven signed cookbooks in my collection, more inspiration and hundreds of new recipes to try, as well as the memories of meeting these amazing Australian and international cooks and chefs that inspire me.

But moving on, it is time to try again. I think I have bought enough cookbooks to last me quite a while, so let’s see if I can cook through five of them before I even think about buying another cookbook. I can do this. After all, it’s almost Christmas and it doesn’t count if it’s a present…right?

So back to cooking. This is the recipe that convinced me to buy The Blue Ducks cookbook. By 5pm on the Saturday at the Gourmet Escape, I was starting to fade after a day in the sun, but looking through this book again (which was the last book signing of the day), I gave in and bought it. This recipe for Mushrooms and Pearl Barley with Macadamia Bread Sauce just jumped out at me and I had to try it. I have since found the recipe is on the SBS website here. But having discovered other recipes in the book I also want to try, I have no regrets.

I’m not sure about the bread sauce, I found it a bit too heavy and if I was to make it again, I would thin it down even more. But I liked using pearl barley instead of rice or couscous for a change, it was very filling and had a nice nutty flavour. I think I’ll try using it more in salads for work lunches.

pearl barley and mushrooms

Click here for the recipe

Quiche

As I posted last weekend, for some silly reason I decided to try to recreate the Week 3 (Brandy Snaps) and Week 4 (Quiche) GABO technical challenges at the same time. As I’ve said previously, all was going well until I started to get a migraine.

Normally when I make quiche, I use a shortcrust pastry, so I was intrigued with the idea of using rough puff pastry instead. Quiche is a great portable meal, perfect for work lunches or picnics, and great for using up leftovers from the fridge. You don’t have to stick to the fillings in this recipe. I used to make a cheat’s all in one quiche, without making the pastry (you just add pastry mix in with the filling, and it forms a base – I will post it in the future), but in more recent times I have always made it with the short crust pastry, as previously posted here.

The rough puff pastry worked quite well and was a nice change to the shortcrust, but required a lot more effort and I think is more at risk of the dreaded “soggy bottom”. You do have to make it by hand though. This isn’t a pastry you can make in the food processor. I also found mine needed a bit longer cooking time, as the very centre of the pastry was not quite cooked enough.

I had planned to take step by step photos of the pastry making process and folding, unfortunately when I went to use my camera its battery was flat, so there is only the finished photo. Sorry, I’ll try again next time.

On the whole, the fact that I managed to finish a reasonable quiche while fighting a migraine (and without burning or cutting myself) I think was an achievement, although the edges of the pastry were a bit rustic. It still tasted nice and provided a great lunch/dinner on the run before rehearsals. However, I don’t plan on making it with this pastry again if I’m making a large sized quiche. I might try it with canapé sized ones next time though.

Next technical challenge? Coffee scrolls.

Click here for the recipe

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