Friday, 28 September 2007

Strawberry Strudel

This recipe was pointed out to me by the gorgeous Megsie, with the message, that I must make it, and that she had received marriage proposal in return.

After that, how could I not!

And so, I made it in celebration of my friends returning from the US, and brought the leftovers into the office. Its not too heavy, with a gorgeous tangy fruit centre and a crusty golden topping.

Everyone has not stopped raving about it. Its my best work yet I think. Between you and I, this has nothing to do with me, it’s the recipe, so try it.

3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
320g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
240 g chilled butter, in cubes
1 cup (240g) sour cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp brown sugar

Strawberry puree
2 tsp cornflour
2 tsp vanilla extract
225g strawberries
3 tbs strawberry jam

Start with the puree, make a paste with the cornflour and vanilla. Puree the strawberries, jam and paste in a blender and keep separate.

Preheat oven to 170C and grease a spring-form pan (23cm).

Mix the sugar, flour, baking powder and bi-carb in a large bowl.

Using your fingertips, rub the cubes of butter till its like crumbs. Remove 1/2 a cup of this mixture and then add the sourcream, egg and vanilla to the large bowl and mix well.

Use a little over half the batter as the base and spread over the bottom of the pan spreading up the sides of the pan.

Next pour on the strawberry puree, making sure its even.

Cover with the remaining cake mixture.

Now back to the reserved crumble. Add the brown sugar and mix through lightly with a fork and sprinkle over the cake.

Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and firm.

Allow to cool and serve.


Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Summertime Pavlova

Pavlova is another dessert that is very big in my family. Mum used to make them all the time when I was a little girl; and decorate them to look amazing. I always assumed they would be very difficult to make, but as it turns out they are so simple. I wish I knew as they are one of my favourite desserts and I'd have been making a lot more if I knew how easy they are!

The pavlova does sink when it is finished cooking, but I was let in on a little secret. If your oven is electric then do open the door slightly as it cools. But if your oven is gas, leave the door closed and let it cool inside the oven.

I was very happy with my first attempt at Pav. It was crunchy outside and chewy inside. And it all disappeared in five miuntes flat!

3 egg whites
4 tablespoons caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon cornflour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
whipped cream, to serve
2 passionfruit to decorate
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Beat teh egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, then the vinegar, cream or tartar, cornflour and vanilla extract and continue to beat until soft peaks form.
Spoon the meringue onto the centre of the tray then spread it out to form a 20cm circle. Put into preheated oven for 15 mins, then reduce the heat to 120 degrees and cook for a furter hour.
Turn the heat off and leave the door slightly ajar and allow the meringue to completely cool in the oven.
Serve topped with whipped cream and passionfruit.


Chocolate Stuffed Donuts

One of the first food blogs I discovered and became addicted too was by Heidi over at 101cookbooks. I love the style, look and feel she oozes from her gorgeous site.

I check her site religiously in anticipation what she has discovered next and this recipe is one I have been holding out to make.

The perfect opportunity arose on the weekend. Last year I went to a music festival called Splendour in the Grass with a few friends. One of the highlights was the discovery of donuts stuffed with chocolate. Hot spongy dough with cinnamon sugar and oozing rich chocolate in the middle. Heaven if you ask me!! I couldn’t join the trip to Splendour this time around, but talk of chocolate donuts was back. A few of my darling friends who went this year came over for dinner on the weekend, so I grasped the opportunity and made donuts.

Tony loves working with dough, kneading especially, so I think we were a little cocky, as we’d had some huge successes with yeast lately. This time, not so much. We couldn’t get them to rise. Much.

We tried everything.

After many hours, and a cranked up heater they rose and were eaten with glee.

1 1/3 cups warm milk
1 packet active dry yeast
2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
5 cups flour
Pinch nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 large block of dark chocolate, broken into pieces

Place 1/3 cup of the warm milk in a bowl. Stir in the yeast and set aside for five minutes or so. Make sure the milk isn't too hot as it can kill the yeast.

Add the butter and sugar into the remaining cup of warm milk and add it to the yeast mixture. Stir in the eggs, flour, nutmeg, and salt until the flour is incorporated.

Knead the dough until it is supple and smooth, not sticky. Shape into a ball and put into oiled bowl and cover and put in a warm place. Let rise for an hour or until the dough has roughly doubled in size.

Next, pull off small pieces and flatten a little with your thumb, pop a piece of chocolate into the dough and close it over itself and pinch to seal the edges. Roll them a little to make them round and place a tray lined with baking paper. Cover with a clean cloth and let rise for another 45 minutes.

Bake in a 190C/375F oven until the bottoms are just golden, 8 to 10 minutes - start checking around 8. While the doughnuts are baking, place the butter in a medium bowl. Place the sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl.

Remove the doughnuts from the oven and let cool for just a minute or two. Dip each one in the melted butter and a quick toss in the sugar bowl. Eat immediately if not sooner.


Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Nigella's Slow-cooked Lemon Chicken

Our home welcomed a a gorgeous new dining table and chairs and on the weekend we had our first dinner party on it with lovely old friends. I love a good dinner party and always have hundreds of ideas of what I can make. Unusually this time I couldn’t set my mind on anything. Wow it was stressful.

Finally on Friday night after much tossing and turning I told myself to stop being silly, to go to sleep and I would sort it out in the morning.

I woke up even earlier than usual and delved into the cookbooks. Nothing was coming to me.

The difficulty was I knew exactly what I wanted to make for dessert (yep, next post) and it was a heavy one so I had to have something not too intense.

As I was about to give up and get a pizza for them all I remembered my trusty note book with all my favourites. It opened up to the page with Nigella’s lemon chicken and all was well.

It’s all very easy and delicious in true Nigella style. Its crispy, golden brown chicken with tangy caramelised lemon and garlic, you can eat it all. I like to serve it with a nice green salad. I’ve also made this and added a few potatoes which is great.

1 chicken, cut into 10 pieces
1 whole garlic, separated into unpeeled cloves
2 unwaxed lemons, cut into chunky eighths
small handful fresh thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil
150ml white wine
black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 150C/300F.

Combine the chicken pieces, garlic cloves, lemon chunks, oil and thyme (leave some thyme intact for strewing over later). Mix everything together, its easiest to use your hands.

Spread all this out in a roasting tray, trying to keep the skin side up.

Evenly sprinkle over the white wine top with freshly ground pepper.

Cover tightly with foil and put in the oven for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, remove the foil and turn up the oven to 200C/400ºF and cook, uncovered chicken for another 30-45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining thyme.


Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks

I went back to my parents fabulous olive grove in the Clare Valley... again, on the weekend. Had a wonderful, relaxing, rather drunk time. I was on cooking duty on Friday night and dad and I decided Lamb Shanks would be the go. I had taken all my cookbooks with me and we went through them and searched for the lamb shank recipe we fancied the most! In the end dad won out as he wanted the shanks with the most spice and flavour. Mum wanted veg and I wanted sauce! In the end I think we all got what we wanted.

The smell, flavour and texture of these shanks is unbeatable. Mum has decided to cook the same meal for all of her friends who are coming over for a dinner party this weekend; and I bought a few extra shanks when I was purchasing these, so Andy will be having shanks for dinner tomorrow night. And I truly can't wait!

4 lamb shanks
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons dried chilli
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 large carrot, quartered & finely sliced
5 sticks of celery, quartered & finely sliced
2 medium onions, quartered & finely chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
170ml dry white wine
6 anchovy fillets
2 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes
1 handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Season the lamb with salt & pepper. Smash up the coriander seeds & dried chilli & mix with rosemary & dried oregano in a mortar and pestle. Roll the lamb in this mixture, pressing it well. Dust the lamb with the flour.

Heat a thick bottomed casserole pan, add the oil, brown the meat on all sides & then remove from the pan. Add the garlic, carrot, celery, onions & a pinch of salt and sweat until softened. Add the vinegar & allow it to reduce to a syrup. Pour in the wine & allow to simmer for 2 minutes. Add the anchovies & tinned tomatoes, kept whole. Shake the pan & return the lamb to it. Bring to the boil, put on a lid & simmer in the oven at 180 degrees for 2 hours. Remove lid & cook for a further half an hour. Season to taste & stir in the fresh parsley.


Monday, 24 September 2007


Houmous is one of my favourite dips. I discovered that its not one of Tony’s – he says it reminds him of saw dust. I made this on the weekend for friends to nibble on while we waited for dinner.

I thought there was way too much, but it all went and everyone said they loved it (although, that could have been because dinner took a little longer than I expected).

Sorry for the bad photo, I forgot to take a photo before I put it out.

The next morning, as we were walking to the shops, rambling about the night before I said ‘ye, the houmous the yum wasn’t it’ and Tony couldn’t believe it was houmous, so that’s a good sign for you!

400g can of chickpeas, drained and well rinsed
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
3 tbs of tahini
The juice of 2 lemons
1 tbs of olive oil

Put the chickpeas, garlic and tahini in a blender and puree a little. Season with salt.

Add the lemon juice and process again until smooth.

Add the olive oil and process for a second more and adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve with whatever you like, I did carrot and celery batons and corn chips. Mmm.


Friday, 21 September 2007

Golden Syrup Dumplings

You cant get much more Australian than Golden Syrup Dumplings! They are so delicious and so naughty! In our family they were only served as a very very special treat, generally on our birthdays. It was the one day of the year that we could request whatever we wanted for dinner! So nine times out of ten it would be KFC for dinner and Golden Syrup Dumplings for dessert. They are most definitely in my top five favourite sweets!
And so last night was the first time I have ever made them. I've come up to Clare for a few days to stay with my parents and nana. So under mum and nana's guidance I made my first Golden Syrup Dumplings. I always believed, as did my sister, brother and father, that mum and nana never made enough syrup. You can never ever have enough syrup. So I tripled the syrup. The recipe below is the triple syrup version, and by far the best.
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup milk approx
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
4 tablespoons golden syrup
2 cups water

Rub butter and flour together with your fingertips until it resembles bread crumbs. Add the egg yolk and mix. Add dashes of milk until it forms a dough. Roll balls with the dough mix. About half the size of a golf ball.
Mix the syrup ingredients together and heat over medium/high heat until bubbles form around the edge then turn down to medium and add the dumplings. Let them cook themselves, no need to turn them or poke them. After about fifteen minutes when they have doubled in size and are golden brown, serve with cream.


Gingerbread Men

It's my nephew Louie's 6th birthday today! And so there is a big birthday party at his house this Saturday. I was placed on gingerbread man duty which I was very pleased about! I hadn't made gingerbread men since I was a little girl with my nana. I did drink a bottle of wine, and then some as i made them, so the icing is a little skewif! But I'm sure Louie and his friends will devour them! I was lazy (and drunk) so instead of making up my own icing I used the colourful, premade icing in the tubes. It did make it a lot quicker and easier. However, the premade icing tastes like musk. I believe a true gingerbread man should have home made icing. But overall they were really fantastic! I was very proud!

Melted butter, to grease
125g butter, at room temperature
100g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
125ml (1/2 cup) golden syrup
1 egg, separated
375g (21/2 cups) plain flour
1 tbs ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Plain flour, to dust
Icing, to decorate
Smarties, to decorate

Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush 2 baking trays with melted butter to lightly grease.
Use an electric beater to beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add the golden syrup and egg yolk and beat until combined. Stir in the flour, ginger, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Press dough into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.

Place the dough between 2 sheets of baking paper and roll out until about 4mm thick. Use a 9cm gingerbread man cutter to cut out shapes. Place on trays about 3cm apart. Repeat with any excess dough.

Bake in oven for 10 minutes or until brown. Remove from oven. Transfer to a rack to cool.
Pipe icing over gingerbread men to decorate. Finish with Smarties.


Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Gulab Juman

This past weekend we were invited to go to a friends place for Sunday afternoon Indian feast. I finally convinced the hostess to let me bring dessert as the menu was huge.

Gulab Juman had already been planned, so I thought I'd fit in. I rang a dear friend, Padma, who makes the BEST Gulabs I've ever had. Generally I am not a fan, cos they're too sweet and too mushy, but Padma's are perfect.

I got the low down over the phone but she said do a practise run. When Padma originally said that I have to admit, I arrogantly thought 'oh I'll be fine'. But that night when I bought the ingredients as I knew I might not have another chance, I thought I might as well. I'm so glad I did 'cos I let the sugar syrup cook for to long and it set like toffee. After another phone consult and I decided I'd better do another practise run and this time my oil was too hot and they got brown to quickly so when I added the sugar syrup they went mushy.

On Sunday morning, we tried again. Tony was by now a pro with the dough and the rolling process and I had the oil and the syrup just right. They were purrrrfect, if once again, I may say so myself.

Something else I learnt is that the Northern Indians make their sugar syrup with rose water and in South India they prefer cardamom. Cardamom is one of my favourites, but you could probably easily adapt this recipe or add both!

1 cup self-raising flour
2 cups full cream powdered milk
300ml thickened cream
sunflower/canola oil for deep frying
1 kg sugar
water to cover the sugar
10 cardamom pods,
(break open the pods and remove the black seeds inside and grind in a mortar and pestle. Sometimes a little sugar helps with the grinding)

Mix the SR flour and the powdered milk together.

Add the thickened cream and mix to form a dough. You may need a little less than 300ml cream, the dough shouldn't be sticky and shouldn't be that dry that it breaks.

Pull off small amounts of the dough and roll into small lime size balls (makes 40-50).

Heat the oil in a large pan until very hot. Turn the heat to low and add approx 10 balls at a time (depending on the size of your pan) and fry till golden brown.

Fry off all the balls.

Whilst you are doing all this you can put the sugar and water in a separate pan and bring to a simmer. When all the sugar has melted and this a a nice syrupy consistency remove from the heat and add the cardamom.

The best way to judge if the syrup is the right consistency is when you put a little on your index finger and press you thumb and finger together and when you pull them apart its a little stringy. It shouldn't hold the string, the stringiness should fall away. If you're not sure, its better to take the syrup off the heat earlier rather than later.

Pour the syrup over the fried balls to cover. Note - the syrup MUST be hot. After 15 minutes, turn the balls in the syrup and serve.


Tuesday, 18 September 2007

The Risotto Relay!!

Sathya & Liz would like to invite all fellow bloggers to be part of our Risotto Relay! We luurve a good risotto and we want to accumulate as many fantastic recipes as possible! So put on your aprons and get chopping, stirring and garnishing!

Email us your name, blog name, link to your risotto and a photo, with the subject Risotto Relay, at . Mention the Risotto Relay in your post with a link to our site by the 20th of October and we will choose the winner for the most tantilising risotto of all!

As we are Australians, we would like to present the winner with a delicious packet of Tim Tams! Australia's most famous and delicious chocolate biscuits! So get cooking and let Australia see your talent...

Monday, 17 September 2007

Turkey & Spiced Coconut Balls: Novel Food

Fellow food bloggers are holding yet another “blogging event” called Novel Food which I couldn’t resist. I’m an avid reader and went into overdrive trying to think of all the fun things I could do.

In the end, I went with my first idea which is from my all time favourite author, Lily Brett. Lily Brett has made me howl with laughter and bawl my eyes out over several of her books. She’s inspiring and so real the way she tells us readers the most open and honest things about herself.

Its possibly not my favourite of all her books, but it’d be up there – “You’ve Gotta Have Balls”. Or should I say Bolls as Edek would say. This book is the story of her father moving the NYC and taking over her life to a certain extent. His new Polish girlfriend, who Lily finds difficult at times as she is only wearing her lingerie underneath her apron when Lily comes over makes the most amazing meatballs.

And so I go into the spirit of things, got down to my lingerie, put on the apron like Zofia and made meatballs. They were super easy to prepare and absolutely delicious.

100 grams coconut flakes
900 grams turkey/chicken mince
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 heaped tbs breadcrumbs
2 eggs, whisked
2 teaspoons hot curry powder (I used garam masala)
1 tsp ground cardamom
1½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground pepper
700ml of tomato passata (or 2 tins or crushed)
2 cloves of garlic
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp garam masala or curry powder

Preheat the oven to 190C

Using a food processor, pulse the coconut until ground.

Put the mince, coconut, onions, breadcrumbs, eggs, curry powder, cardamom, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. It should be firm.

Form into balls and put on a well greased baking tray. Spray with oil (or brush) and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.

In the mean time, heat a little olive oil in a saucepan and quickly fry off 2 garlic cloves. Add the tomatoes and the spices and bring to a simmer. Season.
When the balls are ready serve with the tomato over the top with toasted coconut.


Spinach, Polenta Lasagne with Goat’s Curd

Here is another attempted recipe from the recent Australian Gourmet Traveller. The more I use their recipes the more I realise, I find the way their recipes are written too much and more complex than necessary. I guess that shows a lot about my cooking skills. Chuck it in mate! Haha.

The recipe says to make you home-made goats curd and pasta, but I just bought some good quality goats curd & fresh lasagne sheets. If anybody is interested in either of these, just leave a comment and I’m happy to add it.

This recipe interested me as it was so different from any lasagne I had made or seen as well as the combination of the traditional tomato, with the curry leaves, lentils and the goats curd and the polenta. During the making and building I didn’t think I’d enjoy it but when I sat down, popped a little in my mouth I was surprised by the complexity and subtlety of the flavours. It’s worth a try if you’re looking for something different.

So here is my adaptation.

80grams lentils
2 bunches of spinach, trimmed
50grams butter
20 curry leaves
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tsp coriander seeds, roasted
¼ tsp ground mace
4 large ripe tomatoes
Olive oil
180 grams polenta
750 ml boiling water
250grams goats curd
375 grams of fresh lasagne sheets
Salt and pepper

For spinach filling, put lentils in saucepan and cover with salted water. Simmer for an hour or until tender.

Reserve a little of the water the lentils have been cooked in.

Blanch the spinach in a large pot of salted water for 30 seconds, then refresh in cold water. Drain, squeezing out all the excess water and roughly chop.

Heat the butter until brownish and add the curry leaves, 3 garlic cloves and onion and cook until brown and soft. Add the cooked lentils and spices and season. Add the spinach and set aside.

For the tomatoes, preheat the oven to 200C. Remove the cores of the tomatoes and score the bases with a cross, drizzle with olive oil and put them in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Peel and coarsely chop. Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan and the remaining garlic. Add the tomatoes and stir occasionally for 10-15 minutes. Season and set aside.

Put the 750ml of boiling water into a stainless steel bowl over a pan of simmering water (bain-marie). Whisk in the polenta and stir over a low heat for 10-20 minutes until thick. Add ¼ of the goats curd and mix thoroughly.

Oil your lasagne tray and lasagne tray and cover the bottom with lasagne sheets. Then put the polenta on top, and indent with fingers to hold the tomato sauce.

Then put on half the tomato sauce and cover with more lasagne sheets.

Then top with the lentil and spinach filling, reserving 2 tablespoons of spinach mixture for the end sauce.

Top with more lasagne sheets and pour over the goats curd as top layer and sprinkle with a little extra polenta. (My curd was quite firm so I made it a little liquid-y by mixing in some milk).

Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes.

Combine the leftover tomato sauce and the tablespoons of spinach mixture and simmer. Serve lasagne drizzled with the tomato, lentil and spinach sauce.


Sunday, 16 September 2007

Tomato & Prosciutto Risotto

Risottos are one of my favourite dishes. However, when it comes to cooking them I always have a phobia of the "constant stirring" part; that I will somehow burn it and ruin it. Thus, the only risottos I have ever made have been the "bake in the oven" type. I decided it was time I moved past this fear, as it surely couldn't be that hard! And it wasnt!

It was the prosciutto that drew me into this one. It asked for four slices, but being the greedy guts I am, when it comes to prosciutto, I bought 8 slices. In the end though, it didn't need it. The flavour of the risotto is so lovely that too much prosciutto makes it a bit sickly. So I do recommend sticking with the recipe and not being a glutton like me!

It was very easy, only a few ingredients, but fantastic subtle flavours. I'll definitely be doing this one again... and again.

1 litre chicken stock
4 large slices of prosciutto, cut in half crossways
2 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large leek, finely sliced
1 1/2 cups risotto rice
3 ripe roma tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons dry sherry
4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
extra virgin olive oil, to serve
rocket, to serve

Bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan, then reduce to a low simmer.

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add the prosciutto. Cook on both sides until golden and crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels. Add the butter, garlic and leek to the saucepan and saute for 4-5 mins, or until the leek is soft and transparent. Add the rice and stir for a minute until the rice is well coated and the grains are glossy.

Ladle 250ml of stock into the pan and simmer, stirring until it is completely absorbed. Add another 250ml of stock and the chopped tomato. Cook, stirring, for a further few minutes until the stock is completely absorbed, then add another 250ml of stock. Cook until all the liquid has been absorbed, then test the rice to see if it is al dente. If it needs more cooking, add the remaining stock. Splash in the sherry and add half the parmesan, then lightly fold it through the risotto.
Spoon into four warmed pasta bowls and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan. Crumble the prosciutto into smaller pieces and scatter over the risotto. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and serve with a rocket salad. Serves 4.

Passionfruit Shortbread Biscuits

This is another recipe from the Stephanie Alexander book. My nana gave me a good quality piping bag for my birthday so I wanted a recipe for which I could use it. These biscuits were very easy and ready to eat in no time. They taste like a summers day. I love shortbread but sometimes it can be a bit much, but these are light and quite refreshing...
According to the recipe they store really well and taste better if freshly iced. So they suggest only icing them as you need them and storing the rest in an airtight container.

180g softened unsalted butter
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2/3 cup pure icing sugar
pulp of three passionfruit
100g cornflour, sifted
180g self raising flour, sifted

50g unsalted butter
1 cup pure icing sugar
pulp of 2 passionfruit
Briefly cream butter, zest and icing sugar in a food processor (be careful not to over process). Mix in passionfruit pulp, cornflour and flour. Scrape mixture into a bowl and chill for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 220 degrees. Pipe rounds or fingers of batter onto baking trays lined with baking paper and bake until golden brown, 5-8 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before icing.

To make the icing, melt butter in a bowl over simmering water. Add passionfruit pulp to butter and then stir in icing sugar. Beat hard for 1-2 minutes until the icing is really shiny. Dip each biscuit into icing and place on a wire rack with baking paper underneath to catch the drips.


Friday, 14 September 2007

Gordon Ramsay's Malaysian Chicken Curry

This recipe came highly recommended and intrigued me as the spice combination was different to any curry I have made. Which if I may say so myself, is a few. That and the fact our household loves a good Sunday afternoon curry.

It was relatively easy and fool proof and came out creamy, tangy and spicy. Mmm.

Curry Paste:
5 garlic cloves, peeled
4-5 long red chillies, trimmed
2 lemon grass stalks, trimmed, outer leaves removed and sliced
5cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and chopped
4 shallots, peeled and chopped
1 tsp ground turmeric
2-3 tbsp groundnut oil

For curry:
800grams chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
2 tbsp groundnut oil
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
400ml coconut milk (I used coconut flavoured evaporate milk)
100ml chicken stock
1 tsp palm sugar (or soft brown sugar)
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
400g green beans, trimmed
Salt and pepper
handful of coriander leaves, roughly torn

To make the curry paste. Put the garlic, chillies, lemon grass, ginger and shallots in a food processor to form a paste. (Or you can use a pestle and mortar).

Next, heat the groundnut oil in a large heavy-based pan. Tip in the curry paste with 1 tsp ground turmeric and stir over a medium heat for a few minutes. Add the onions and cook, stirring for 5 minutes.

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and add to the pan, stirring to coat in the paste. Add the lime leaves, cinnamon stick, star anise, coconut milk, stock, sugar, soy and fish sauces and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook gently for half an hour to an hour until the chicken is tender.

Skim off any excess oil on the surface of the curry. Taste add salt and pepper if you think its needs. Add the beans and cover for another few minutes until the beans are tender.
To serve, scatter the coriander leaves over the curry and serve with rice and roti.


Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Orange Cake

It was my birthday last Friday and I was absolutely spoiled!! Everyone gave me cooking foody stuff which was fantastic!! Best birthday for presents EVER I reckon!! And one of the presents I received from Andy was the Stephanie Alexander cookbook which I have had my eye on for a very long time. He also gave me a deep fryer (like my thighs need it!)

This Stephanie Alexander book is amazing. It is an encyclopedia for any cook, especially Australians!! It is divided into chapters based on the ingredient! So if you are looking to cook with limes for example, then head to 'L' for lime and it will give you a complete background on limes, how to store them, how to cook them, how to peel them, ideas and tips and information one would never reaslise about limes; plus a whole bunch of fantastic recipes which main ingredient is lime!
It has an amazing range of recipes for all the standard ingredients like beef, chocolate, cheese, olives etc; but also goes as far as kangaroo, pheasant, yabbies and rabbit, to chesnuts, tarragons, pommegranates and figs! I am going to have a fantastic time making my way through this book, all 1,126 pages!!!
So tonight I decided I would bake a cake! Also because Andrew's brother Dave and his fiance Monique gave me a gorgeous cake tin for my birthday. And so the orange cake seemed like the best choice...
It is delicious! The icing is like the glaze on Krispy Kremes! It has just enough orange flavour to not be overpowering. I couldn't wait to cut myself a slice!

250g softened unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups castor sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
100mg orange juice
250g self raising flour

1 cup pure icing sugar
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon orange juice
40g butter, melted

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and greace a 22cm spring form tin or round cake tin with a little butter.
Blend butter, sugar, eggs and orange juice in a food processor for about 1 minute. (I used an electric mixer). Add flour and mix again until smooth and creamy, about another minute. Spoon into tin and bake for 50 minutes or until skewer inserted into the middle tests clean. Transfer tin to a wire rack for 5 minutes, then turn cake out. Cool completely before icing.

To make the icing, combine all ingredients into a bowl and warm over a saucepan of hot water. Pour icing over cake, allowing it to run down the sides.

Roast Halloumi Stuffed Capsicums

One of my colleagues mentioned this dish is one of his favourite mid-week dinners and since then I have dying to try it. I don't know if this happens to anyone else though, but somehow halloumi and red capsicums were never in my fridge at the same time to make it.
Finally I got around to and he was right, they were tasty, although I would use a little less balsamic next time.
2 red capsicums, cut in half with seeds and cores removed
180 grams halloumi, diced
4 tbs pine nuts
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
4 tsp pesto
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Rub the inside of the capsicums each with 1 teaspoon of pesto and fill with the diced halloumi.
Pour into each a tablespoon of balsamic and sprinkle with pinenuts.
Put in a tray in the oven for 30 minutes and serve with a green salad.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Lime & Banana Cupcakes

As Liz mentioned, we noticed the new cupcake event over here at Quirky Cupcake, and knew we just had to contribute! I managed to find a recipe for these cupcakes as I had overripe bananas which had to be used. The original recipe was for a sticky lime syrup which would be delicious but I like the idea of frosting much more!

This recipe only created 7 largish cupcakes, which we sponge-y and tasty

2 small bananas
50g soft butter
110g (3/4 cup) self-raising flour
75g (1/3 cup) sugar
1 egg
2 tbs milk
1 lime, rind finely grated

Lime Frosting
100grams Philly cream cheese
50grams stick butter
1 ½ cups sifted icing sugar
1 lime, rind finely grated
1 tablespoon lime juice

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Mash the bananas. Place the bananas, soft butter, flour, sugar, egg, milk and lime rind in a medium mixing bowl and beat combined. Do not overbeat.

Spoon the banana mixture into the patty pans and bake in the preheated oven for 15 - 20 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.

To make the frosting, bring the butter and cream cheese to room temperature.

Combine the icing sugar, butter, cream cheese, lime juice and rind in a bowl and beat butter and cheese at medium speed until creamy.

You can add more sugar/lime juice until you get to the consistency you like.


Saturday, 8 September 2007

Lime Curd Cupcakes

It has been over a month since I have added anything to the Baker Curry Maker and I have missed it so much! But the diet is finally over and I am ready and rearing to get back into the cooking! Sathya pointed out this new monthly cup cake event and I thought it was a perfect way to get back into the baking! And what a fantastic ingredient to be using, lime!!

It was my 28th birthday this weekend and so Andrew and I decided to spend it at my parent's olive grove in the Clare Valley. Clare is one of South Australia's most well known and beautiful wine regions. One of my many wonderful gifts was a Donna Hay cookbook, which is where I found this recipe which I have adapted to make two delicious cupcakes using the key ingredient, Lime!

125g butter, softened
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup milk
icing sugar for dusting

Lime Curd
1/2 cup lime juice (approx 3 limes)
125g butter
1 cup castor sugar
3 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

To make the lime curd, place the lemon juice, butter, sugar and eggs in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of rapidly simmering water for 6-8 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened. Refrigerate until cool.

Place the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy. Gradually add the eggs and beat well after each addition. Add the flour, baking powder and milk and beat well.

Spoon the mixture into twelve patty cases and bake for 15 mins or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Set aside to cool.

Cut a circle out of each cupcake and fill with the lime curd. Top with the cupcake circle and dust with the icing sugar.

Fluffy Lime Cupcakes

Make the cupcakes as above but instead of cutting a circle out of the top, ice them generously with lime vienna icing!

1/2 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 drops vanilla essence
90g butter

Mix the above ingredients together and ice the cupcakes. Sprinkle lime rind over the top.