Wednesday, 29 June 2011

※ Chocolate Muffins


  • 1 3/4 cups self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup brown
  • 125g butter or margarine, melted, cooled
  • 2 eggs
  • 185ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dark chocolate bits
  • 1/2  cup Hersheys cocoa

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line twelve 1/3-cup capacity muffin pans with large paper cases. Sift flour and cocoa into a bowl. Add sugar and stir until well combined. Whisk butter, eggs, evaporated milk and vanilla in a large jug.

Add milk mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold through chocolate bits (see tip). Spoon the mixture evenly into prepared paper cases. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.


Tuesday, 21 June 2011

※ Crème Brûlée

50 ml Milk
300 ml Cream
3 Egg yolks
15g Sugar
20 ml Honey
1/5 Vanilla bean

Cream egg yolks & sugar
Add cream to milk in small saucepan, slit vanilla bean & pop into pot, bring mixture up to about 80 C (below simmer) to infuse flavours. 
Slowly whisk this mix onto the egg yolks & sugar.
Fold honey into mix, and pour into ramekins. 
Place in a PREHEATED water bath, cover and bake at 140C for 35 - 40min until custard is formed, chill well for 3 hours

To Brulee, sprinkle sugar onto brulee and caramelise with blow torch. If you don't own one a very hot grill will work.
Works best with a demura sugar that is unrefined.

※ Caramel Popcorn with Nuts

2 cups Peanuts; dry-roasted
1 cup Brown sugar; packed
1/2 cup Unsalted butter
1/2 cup Corn syrup
8 cups freshly popped corn
1/2 ts Salt
1/2 ts Baking soda
1/2 ts Vanilla extract

Place popcorn in large roasting pan. 
Mix in nuts. Set aside. 
Preheat oven to 125 degrees. 
In heavy saucepan, mix sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt. 
Over medium heat, stir until boiling. Continue to boil, without stirring, for 5 minutes. 
Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla, then baking soda (it will foam up). 
Pour over popped corn and nuts; mix well to coat. 
Place in oven for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. 
Stir every 15 minutes while baking. 
Cool, break apart and store in a tightly sealed container.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

※ Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks

Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2-3 lamb shanks
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste or 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3-4 cups diced vegetables: carrots, potatoes (scrubbed, skin on), parsnips, turnips, celery, capsicum, peas
  • 3 litres stock
  • 1 tablespoon dried mixed herbs
  • Salt and pepper

Heat oil in a large frypan. Add shanks and cook over a medium heat until browned on each side.
Put shanks in the slow cooker and add remaining ingredients. 
Cover and cook for 4-6 hours on ‘high’ setting or 8-10 hours on ‘low’ setting. Add herbs. 
Taste and season, adding more tomato paste and Worcestershire, if required.
Garnish with parsley stems or chopped fresh chives.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

※ Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

Served with buttermilk pancakes with caramelized banana & cinnamon.

For a richer custard, you can add up to 3 more egg yolks. For a less-rich custard, substitute half-and-half for the heavy cream, realizing that the final texture won’t be as rich or as smooth as if using cream.

1 cup (250ml) whole milk
A pinch of salt 
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, then add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour.

2. To make the ice cream, set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2l) bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream into the bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Rewarm the milk then gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.

4. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.

5. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool, add the vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight.

6. Remove the vanilla bean and freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Note: Used vanilla beans can be rinsed and dried, then stored in a bin of sugar. That sugar can be used for baking and, of course, for future ice cream making.

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop (Ten Speed Press)

※ Last Night's Dinner - Entrecote

Entrecote (Scotch Fillet) with a baked potato.

Salad: wild rocket, Reggiano Parmesan, truffle oil, truss tomato, bocconcini.

Red wine jus and shallot compote (with fresh thyme & rosemary) 
Finished with a dash of fig vin cotto. (recipe below)

Pinot: Apsley Gorge 2008 Pinot Noir
Spicy and charry oak evident initially but then the sweet, sweet fruit insists its way to the front. Young pinots, not long bottled, all benefit from a good dose of air so decant or pour a smidgen into a big glass.

The nose is abundant in dark berry fruit and plums, leading into a full flavoured palate of spicy cherry and blackberry. These characteristics are true to the terroir of the region. Careful cellaring of this wine is a must for the aged pinot drinker. All the gamey, earthy flavours should develop over the next few years. Great food match would be wild Venison roasted with rosemary and garlic.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon Butter**
2 cups sliced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
4 cups beef broth
2 cups red wine
A dash of Fig Vincotto

* Salted Lescure French Butter, gives this dish a new dimension. AOC cultured butter, from Poitou, France. Made as butter should taste, not full of water and frozen for years before being sold.

Heat oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic; sauté until golden, about 15 minutes. Add flour and herbs, and stir one minute. Pour in broth & wine. Mix well and boil the sauce until it is reduced to 2 cups, about 20 minutes. Add a dash of Fig Vincotto (Can be made 2 days ahead. Refrigerate.)

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

※ Home Made Taco Seasoning


As a lover of Mexican / spicy food, the store bought variety (seasonings) have a ton of flavour enhancers such as MSG and other nasty additives that make me feel unwell. I can eat the salsa from El Paso, but their seasoning packets make me very thirsty. Hence I make my own seasoning.

* 1 Tbsp. Chili Powder
* 1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
* 1/4 tsp. Onion Powder
* 1/4 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
* 1/4 tsp. Dried Oregano
* 1/2 tsp. Sweet Smoked Paprika
* 1 1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
* 1 tsp. Sea Salt
* 1 tsp. Black Pepper

Now for the easy part: mix all the spices together and store in an airtight container. 
Thanks Eric for the inspiration, I hadn't had Tacos for quite a while. 
Wasn't the same as #tacothursdays but was a good Saturday night feed.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

※ My New Obsession- Panko

A coworker told me about them, when we were taking about my Elli Fried Chicken aka EFC
So the last few times I have made it I have used them. The result, delicious crispy and light.

Panko is the Japanese word for “bread crumbs.” Panko are the Japanese version of bread crumbs, and they tend to be lighter, crispier, and crunchier than Western bread crumbs. They are excellent for breadings, and make an excellent filler in things like crab cakes. Many Asian specialty stores carry panko, and panko are also available in some conventional grocery stores, especially those in urban areas.

Several things set panko aside from regular bread crumbs. The first thing is the coarse grind, which creates bread crumbs which are more like flakes than crumbs. The flakes have a large surface area, which absorbs seasoning well. They tend to stay crispy longer than regular bread crumbs, and they also absorb less grease.

In Asian cuisine, panko are often used to create a lacy outer layer of breading. The flaky structure of panko ensures that the crumbs do not compress, but instead form a layer of airy breading on the exterior of fried foods. Grease drains readily from foods dredged in panko, making the resulting food taste less heavy and oily than it might otherwise. Seafood, in particular, fares very well with a coating of panko.

If you can get your hands on some I higly recommend this ingredient.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

※ Spaghetti Bolognese

• 2 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
• 2 medium onions
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 2 carrots
• 2 sticks of celery
• olive oil
• 2 heaped teaspoons dried oregano
• 500g good-quality minced beef, pork, or (even better!) a mixture of the two
• 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• a small bunch of fresh basil
• 100g Parmesan cheese
• 400-500g dried spaghetti or penne  
• 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
• 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
• 1 cup red or white wine

The classic pastas to serve this with are spaghetti, tagliatelle and penne, but this sauce can also be used for many other things, like filling cannelloni or layering up a lasagne. With so many options, it’s well worth bagging up any leftover sauce and freezing it for another day. 

Finely slice the bacon
Peel and finely chop the onions, garlic, carrots and celery – don’t worry about technique,
just chop away until fine. Place a large pan on a medium to high heat

Add 2 lugs of olive oil, your sliced bacon and the oregano and cook and stir until the bacon is lightly golden. Add the veg to the pan and stir every 30 seconds for around 7 minutes or until softened and lightly coloured.

Stir in the minced meat breaking it up with your spoon and brown
Add the tinned tomatoes.
Fill one of the empty tins with water and add to the pan
Stir in a good pinch of salt and pepper, 
paprika & Worcestershire sauce & wine.
Pick the basil leaves and place in the fridge for later Finely chop the basil stalks and stir into the pan. Bring to the boil
Turn the heat down and simmer with a lid on and slightly askew for 1 hour, stirring every now and again.

Take the lid off and cook for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Keep an eye on the sauce as it cooks, and if you think it’s starting to dry out, add a splash of water 
Remove the Bolognese sauce from the heat.

Finely grate the Parmesan and stir half into the sauce.
Tear and stir in any larger basil leaves, keeping the smaller ones for sprinkling over before serving
Mix up, have a taste, and season with a little more salt and pepper if needed – congratulations! You now have a beautiful Bolognese sauce. At this stage you can allow it to cool, bag it up and freeze it, or keep it warm while you cook your pasta.

source for the sauce (I have very slightly changed it.)

※ Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

Balsamic vinegar comes from the provinces of Modena and Reggio in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.  It is traditionally made from white trebbiano grapes which are picked late to maximise sugar levels, then crushed and the must run off.  Unlike wine vinegars, which are made by a two-step process where the sugar is converted to alcohol then to acid, balsamic vinegar is made by converting sugar to acid only.  The proliferation of imitations of balsamic vinegars has led to the formation of guilds in Modena and Reggio, with legislated rules of production and standards of taste required for a vinegar to be classified as aceto balsamic tradizionale. source

* Balsamic Vinegar
* Sugar (to taste)
* Hot Saucepan
* Whisk

Drizzle on salads, bread, delicious on fish, this sauce is sweet, tart, and a must have in the kitchen!

Pour the balsamic vinegar into the pan. Use enough so that you allow for it to reduce by half--I like to reduce a whole liter of vinegar and keep it on hand.

Heat the pan to high.

Whisk briskly, even prior to boiling. Once it starts boiling, keep whisking constantly to prevent burning.

The vinegar naturally sweetens when reduced, but if you like a very sweet reduction, sprinkle in a tablespoon of sugar.

Reduce by half, or until the vinegar takes on a syrupy quality. 

Allow to cool.

Is also great on chicken:

Pan roasted chicken breast stuffed with feta roast capsicum and oregano, served on sweet potato chips and buttered brocollini topped with a balsamic reduction.

※ M&M Cookies

1 cup Butter (room temperature & soft)
1 cup Brown sugar, Light, Packed
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
2 large Eggs
3 tsp Vanilla extract
2 3/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder*
1 tsp Salt
1 cup  mini  M&M's

COMBINE flour and baking powder in a small bowl and mix with a fork. Set aside.

MIX  butter  add granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla and beat well. Add each egg separately beating until creamy.

ADD flour mixture (1/2 cup at a time) while beating. Add chocolate chips and and M&Ms.

REFRIGERATE for 1-3 hours in covered bowl. Pre-heat oven to 375°F 15 minutes prior to first batch. Drop onto a waxed paper* lined (see below), room-temperature, air-bake cookie sheet in large rounded tablespoonful size (or small ice-cream scooper).

BAKE 10-12 minutes checking every two minutes after 8 minutes for golden brown appearance. Remove sheet from oven and let stand 5 minutes before transferring to a cool/flat surface. Rinse and dry cookie sheet between batches.

STORE in an air-tight container for up to one week. Makes about [5] dozen cookies.

※ Stuffed Peppers. (capsicums)

  • 6 green bell peppers (capsicums) 
  • 1/2 kg mince (king Island beef),
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint chopped finely
  • 2 spring onions,
  • Cracked pepper,
  • Pinch of chili,
  • Basmati rice (I used Orzo (pasta), a rice-shaped pasta also known as risoni this time)
  • shallots diced fine,
  • Few fresh basil leaves.
  • breadcrumbs with garlic infused olive oil
  • Parmesan to taste.

Cut tops off peppers; remove seeds and membranes. Chop edible part of tops and set aside. Rinse peppers under cold water. Place peppers in a large pot; cover with salted water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain peppers and set aside.

Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Sauté chopped onion, and chopped celery for about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, crushed garlic, oregano, basil, mint 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine egg with remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Gently stir to blend; add ground beef, chilli, cooked rice (or pasta), and 1 cup of the tomato mixture. Mix well. Stuff peppers with meat mixture and place in a 3-quart baking dish. Pour remaining tomato mixture over the stuffed peppers. Bake at 350° for 55 to 65 minutes. If desired, top stuffed peppers with a little shredded Cheddar cheese just before peppers are done; bake until cheese is melted. Some times I don't feel like much cheese so (As pictured) I use breadcrumbs infused with garlic an olive oil & grate some fresh Parmesan to finish.

Garnish with chopped spring onions.

Recipe for stuffed peppers serves 6.

Monday, 6 June 2011

※ French toast with crispy bacon

  • Olive oil
  • 2 bacon rashers
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tbs milk
  • 2 tbs caster sugar (I added a pinch of cinnamon to mine)
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 2 thick slices white sourdough bread
  • Maple syrup, to serve
  • Few drops of vanilla extract

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat and cook bacon for 1-2 minutes on each side or until crisp and golden.

Whisk eggs, milk and sugar & vanilla extract in a shallow dish. Heat a frying pan over medium heat, add half the butter and 1 tbs oil.

Dip bread, 1 slice at a time, into egg mixture and turn to coat. Allow excess to drain. Cook for 3 minutes each side or until golden, adding remaining butter and oil as required.

Arrange the toast on a serving plate top with the bacon and drizzle with maple syrup to serve.

※ Spicy Beef Stir-Fry

I felt like something super spicy, so before serving i sprinkled with dried chill flakes.

* 1/2 to 1 lb. (0.45 kg) beef steak or other cuts
* 1 red pepper, sliced into thin strips
* 1 green pepper, sliced into thin strips
* 1 shallot OR 1/4 cup purple onion, finely chopped
* 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
* 2 thumb-size pieces ginger, thinly sliced into matchstick-like pieces
* 3 Tbsp. sherry (or cooking sherry), or red wine
* 1 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 3 Tbsp. cool water
* 1 tsp. sesame oil
* 2-3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

* 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
* 1 tsp. brown sugar
* 1 tsp. cornstarch

* 1/2 cup good quality chicken stock
* 3 Tbsp. oyster-flavored sauce
* 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
* 1 to 2 tsp. brown sugar, to taste
* 1-2 red chilies, minced, OR 1/2 to 3/4 tsp. dried crushed chili (chili flakes), to taste

1. Cut steak on the bias (on an angle) into thin 2-3 inch long strips and place in a bowl. Combine marinade ingredients in a cup, stirring well to dissolve the cornstarch. Pour this over the beef and toss. Set aside.

2. In a cup or small bowl, combine the stir-fry sauce ingredients together, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.

3. Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and swirl around, then add the shallot/onion, garlic, and ginger. Stir-fry 1 minute to release the fragrance.

4. Add the beef together with its marinade. Stir-fry until browned, 4-5 minutes. Add the sherry as you stir-fry to keep pan moist.

5. Add pepper plus stir-fry sauce. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened but still retain some crunch.

6. Stir together the cornstarch and water mixture. Push ingredients aside in the wok to reveal the stir-fry sauce. Add the cornstarch-water mixture and stir to thicken the sauce. Then stir-fry everything together.

7. Switch off heat and drizzle over the sesame oil. Taste-test the dish. If not salty or flavorful enough, add more fish sauce until desired taste is achieved. If too salty for your taste, add a squeeze of lime or lemon juice. If not sweet enough, add a little more sugar. Add more chili for more heat. Serve with plenty of Thai jasmine rice. Thai chili sauce can also be served on the side for those who like it extra spicy. ENJOY!

※ Pumpkin Soup

If I have have the time I roast the pumpkin in the oven for 40 minutes or so at 160 degrees, gives the soup a new dimension and richness of flavour.  If doing this I also roast the garlic cloves whole.

* 2 tbs olive oil
* 1 onion, finely chopped
* 1 leek, white part only, finely sliced
* 4 garlic cloves, crushed
* 1/2 tsp ground coriander
* 1 tsp ground cumin
* 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
* 1kg peeled pumpkin, diced
* 1 large potato, peeled, diced
* 1L chicken or vegetable stock
* 1/2 cup (125ml) thin cream

Heat oil in a large saucepan over low heat, add onion and leek and cook for 2-3 minutes, until softened but not coloured. Add garlic and spices and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add pumpkin, potato and stock and bring to the boil. Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then blend in batches.

Return soup to pan, stir through cream and reheat gently. Season and add a little more nutmeg if desired. 

Serve with warm crusty bread & butter.

※ Apricot Chicken

Easiest recipe ever, and super tasty. 
Great when you are feeling lazy but want to eat well. I used to make this a lot back in my uni days and have not had it for years. Decided to make it this weekend & wasn't disappointed. 
I served over steamed basmati rice, you may prefer couscous, to each their own. 


* 1/2 cup plain flour
* 1kg (8 pieces) skinless chicken cutlets or drumsticks, trimmed
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 large brown onion, peeled, cut into thin wedges
* 2 garlic cloves, crushed
* 405ml can apricot nectar
* 1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped / Coriander if you prefer. 
* 1 small capsicum

Place flour and salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Lightly coat chicken pieces in seasoned flour, shaking off excess.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a deep, large, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Cook chicken, in batches, for 2 to 3 minutes each side or until golden. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining chicken and oil. Cover and set aside.

Add onion and garlic to frying pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes or until tender.

Stir in apricot nectar. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Return chicken to frying pan. Cover with a lid or double piece of foil. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove cover and add apricots, pushing them into the sauce. Cook, uncovered, for a further 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened. In the last 5 minutes of cooking I added I chopped small capsicum, I like it crispy so I didn't cook for long. (you can add any vegetables you like such as carrot, snow peas, beans)

Spoon over chicken and sauce and sprinkle with parsley/ coriander. Serve.

※ Devils Food Cake

* 175g butter, softened
* 1 3/4 cups caster sugar
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 3 eggs
* 1 1/3 cups self-raising flour, sifted
* 2/3 cup plain flour, sifted
* 1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
* 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
* 3 drops red food colouring
* 3 teaspoons instant espresso coffee powder
* 3 drops read food colouring
* 1/3 cup water
* 1/3 cup milk

Chocolate frosting
* 400g milk chocolate, chopped
* 1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease a 6cm-deep, 22cm round cake pan. Line base and side with baking paper, allowing a 3cm overhang.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until combined. Stir in flours, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda, coffee powder, food colouring, water and milk. Pour mixture into prepared pan.

Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean (cover cake with foil if over-browning during cooking). Stand cake in pan for 10 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting: Place chocolate in a double boiler and melt.Cool for 10 minutes. Stir in sour cream.

Cut cake into thirds horizontally. Place cake base on a plate. Spread one-quarter of the frosting over base. Top with cake layer. Spread one-third of remaining frosting over cake. Top with cake top. Spread remaining frosting over top and side of cake. Serve.