Saturday, March 04, 2006

Day 33 - Picnic food

Yesterday was the welcome bbq at Felix's school - there were about 600 people there and I saw people I haven't seen in ages that made me feel part of a community and well, quite nice really.

But Ingrid* brought her chicken salad. Which is stupidly easy so naturally delicious.

1 bbq chicken, meat shredded
1 cos lettuce, chopped up
1 punnet tomatoes, chopped up
1 lebanese cucumber, sliced up
1 avocado, chopped up
1 bottle Paul Newman's Ceasar dressing

Combine all in a large plastic container. Eat.

Divine when sitting on a picnic blanket with friends, kids running around feral and a glass of wine in hand.

* Otherwise known as mother to Liam, Felix's best friend and partner in all manner of Star Wars recreations.

Day 32 - Lemon Sauce Cake

I've referred to this before, but here is the actual recipe

125g butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups SR flour
1/2 cup milk

1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup caster sugar

Preheat oven to 180C
Grease and line loaf tin

Cream butter, sugar and lemon rind
Add eggs one at a time
Fold in flour and milk
Pour into tin
Bake for 50 minutes

Mix lemon juice and sugar together in a saucepan, and cook until sugar is dissolved.
Pour over hot cake.

As easy and delicious as that.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Day 31 - Hokkien noodles w/ beef

This was very thrown together and considering how bare the cupboard was, delightfully tasty.

Steak. I can't remember what sort but it was lean.
When it was frozen I sliced it very finely then marinated it in some chopped up garlic, Chinese five spice powder, soy and worcestershire sauce.
If I'd had it, I would have thrown in some Chinese rice wine and sticks of ginger here as well.

Then I finely julienned carrot and onion and broke up some broccoli into little florets.

I seared the meat in batches in a wok, adding a dash of sesame oil here and there, and removed each batch after it was cooked.

I cooked the carrot, onion and broccoli
Oh yeah, found a tin of water chestnuts and added them as well
Then I added the steak back in
Added a 600g packet of hokkien noodles
and soy sauce.

See, by rights it should have tasted nasty. But the five spice and sesame oil added some nice flavour to it all and it was lovely.

So there you go.

Day 30 - this weeks version of spaghetti al'oglio

Spaghetti al'oglio is an institution in this household. I mean, pasta, oil and galic with loads of salt and pepper. Does it get any better?

Here is this weeks version:

1x500g packet Barilla Bavette pasta

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8 cloves (or so) garlic, smooshed* with loads of salt
1 head of broccoli, cut up into small florets
left over oven roasted tomatoes
250g ricotta
rind of 1 lemon
lemon juice

sea salt

Cook pasta and the broccoli together
drain, reserve some cooking water
in the pot you cooked the pasta, pour in a few good glugs of evoo
add garlic until nicely cooked - NOT brown on any level.
add the tomatoes
Toss through the spaghetti and broccoli that, being cooked that way, has broken up beautifully through the pasta.
add some of the cooking water to loosen.
Put the lid on and let sit for a minute or five.

Mix the lemon rind and juice to taste through the ricotta. Season.

Serve the pasta.
Put a big glob of ricotta on the pasta and mix through - it imparts a beautiful creamy texture without the calories and the lemon lifts it all in that lovely way lemons do.

When I say smooshed this is what I mean:
smack the clove with the side of a chefs knife - this breaks the skin off and breaks up the clove.
roughly chop
add a big pinch of good quality sea salt
keep chopping
then turn the knift on the side and press down and across the garlic - this makes the juices start to flow and makes a sort of crushed garlic paste that is divine. I've been known to just eat it raw on white bread when I'm sick in winter.

Day 29 - Make your own hamburgers

This is a B clan institution. I used to hate it because the hamburgers were overcooked by Chef's dad on the barbie and not very tasty. I don't know what's happened over the years, but they are now delicious, juicy and very tasty indeed. But this recipe is my own. A bastardised version of Jamie Olivers. Of course.

500g good quality mince (not too lean)
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, smooshed
good handful or two of fresh breadcrumbs
big dollop of mustard, I used dijon
a good squirt of tomato sauce
a dash of Worcestershire sauce
1-2 dill cucumbers, finely chopped
fresh herbs - whatever flavours you fancy
good handful grated parmesan
1 egg

Mix everything together (but not too much, the burgers will get tough. Trust me, I've overmixed burgers and they're hard word.)
If too wet add some more breadcrumbs
Shape into patties as big or as small as you like.
Put some breadcrumbs down on a sheet of baking paper on a tray, place burgers on tray, sprinkle some breadcrumbs over the top.
Cook for about 7 minutes on the first side and then about 5 on the other. Even though it's good quality mince, I'm not for a rare burger. Ever.

While someone else is (preferably) cooking the burgers on the barbie out the back, do a big platter or individual bowls of stuff you want to put on your burger. Our spread goes something like this:
- cheese slices (we've picked up the trick of putting these on the burgers in their last minute of cooking so it goes all melty)
- beetroot
- pineapple rings (I still can't bring myself to put it on a burger, but on the side makes for a very sunny plate)
- sliced tomato
- lettuce
- sweet and sour pickled cucumber slices
and a selection of sauces, mustards, pickles and chutneys
- breadrolls

It is great fun and has been one of those lovely things to watch as it went from a too-hard dinner for little boys to eat to one where they put their own ones together and eat two of them.

Chef's Mum has become more and more adventurous in her cooking as I've known her and we've even been known to have chicken burgers, made with chicken mince, loads of coriander and sweet chilli sauce. Delightful.

Day 28 - Chocolate Birthday Cake

I LOVE this cake because it's chocolatey but doesn't have that whole palaver of having to melt chocolate. I believe this is the perfect recipe for a child's first cake that they make on their own. It is a Royal Easter Show Award winning recipe that I got out of Delicious magazine a few years back. I can't remember it's owner, but I do know it was a bloke.

2 cups SR flour

2/3 cocoa powder

1tsp instant coffee powder

185g butter - v soft but not melted

2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup caster sugar

3 eggs

1 cup water

- Preheat 170C

- Grease a 26cm round tin, or a 9x19cm loaf tins or patty cake pans
- Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth and pale.
- Bake for 1 hour or until cooked.
Ice with chocolate butter icing or lemon icing.

Chocolate icing (quadruple for the cake in the picture you see above)

1 1/2 tblsp cocoa powder

1 tblsp milk

75g soft butter

3/4 cup icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine all together in an KitchenAid or equivalent and beat until pale, light and fluffy.

When the cake is completely cool, cut it in half
Put about half the icing in the middle of the cut cake, smooth but not right to the edge, put top half of cake on it, cover with icing and decorate according to your personal preference. I literally 'dropped' handfuls of Smarties, Jaffas and Freckles onto it.


Day 27 - Lynda's brekkie egg and sausage slice

The name makes it sound oh-so-seventies. The picture makes it look like vomit. I believe it's an American (Lynda is from the U S of A) thing called a strata, which from my understanding is like a quiche mix with bits of bread through it.

This is a showcase of how many forms of saturated fat you can consume in one dish, but my GOD it tastes good.

1 loaf sliced bread (I know I know, you could use an artisan loaf but really, its for breakfast people so who could be bothered), buttered and cut into 1cm cubes
12 eggs
4 1/2 cups cream (or 1/2 milk, 1/2 cream)
2 cups grated cheese
6-8 sausages, squeezed out of its casing into smallish bits (about half the length of your thumb) (use a spicy one to make it a bit more grown up or plain beef or pork ones to make it really 70s)

- Grease a deep baking dish
- Lay down half the bread
then half the cheese
all the sausage
the remaining bread
remaining cheese
- Pour over the egg and cream mixture (seasoned and also good with some fresh herbs through it)
- Sit for at least an hour or in the fridge overnight
- Bake at 175C for about 45 minutes or until the egg mix is set and the exposed bread cubes are nice and browned and crunchy.

Cut into squares and serve for brekkie/brunch.

Day 26 - slow roasted tomatoes

This is my latest craze. Make that obsession. I almost get a twitch if some aren't sitting in the fridge. Which they don't get to do because I stand at the fridge with chunks of fresh sourdough gouging my way through it.

Lots of Roma tomatoes - normally I do between 12 and 18 - cut into halves or quarters, depending on their size.
A few glugs of olive oil
A few cloves of garlic, finely chopped
A few slurps of balsamic vinegar
Lots of sea salt
Lots of freshly cracked pepper
Fresh basil

Mix the lot together
Bake in a 150-160C oven for as long as you like, but normally a minimum of an hour.

Is sublime as part of a brekkie/brunch spread but it has myriad applications:
- tossed through pasta with pan-fried prawns
- tossed through spaghetti al'oglio
- tossed with chick peas and tuna and served w/rice or a green salad

But is best with fresh sourdough to slurp up the oily juices and as an edible plate for the gooshy tomatoes.

Monday, February 27, 2006


I know, what has happened to Day 25, 26 and 27... I've been busy having breakdowns and kids parties people. Work with me.

Day 25 - happened to also be the 25th of Feb (I didn't even plan it that way but there you go) which happened to be Oscar's birthday.

I have to go to bed now, but these will be posted over the next few days to make up for my absence:

slow roasted tomatoes
brekkie egg strata
chocolate birthday cake

see - they sound so good I know you'll be back....