Lamb, mint and haloumi sausage rolls

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

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Thai coconut chicken and noodle salad

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

Meat free Monday – Mushroom Quinotto

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

My failed cookbook challenge and a meat free Monday recipe – Mushrooms and Pearl Barley with Macadamia Bread Sauce

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

The Great Australian Bake Off Technical Challenge – Week 4 Quiche with Layered Pastry

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

My cookbook library – Pancetta, mushroom and zucchini salad

The last book I bought before my self imposed ban on buying a new cookbook until I had cooked (and posted) something from 5 of the books I own was Rena Patten’s Cooking With Quinoa: the Supergrain. I like quinoa  but had only used it in a few dishes, so I wanted to learn more ways to use it

I liked the sound of this recipe, as it was fresh and light, used ingredients that I already had and sounded delicious and filling. I also thought it would be great the next day for lunch. It was quite time consuming grilling the vegetables, as I only have a small grill pan. I think next time I’ll cook them on the bbq. But the result was flavourful and filling, with the chilli adding a hint of heat, freshness from the basil and zucchini, saltiness from the pancetta and the wonderful earthy mushrooms and nutty quinoa. For a vegetarian option, just leave out the pancetta. It was great the next day cold as well. Yum.

pancetta, mushroom and zucchini salad

Book recipe number: 3

Number of cookbooks owned: 198+

New book credit: 0.6 (2 more to go before I am allowed to buy another cookbook)

Click here for the recipe