Friday, September 30, 2011

Chicken Cheese Empanadas - cooking with Evie

One gorgeous present my daughter received for her birthday was a "Cook with Dora" set.
I let her choose a recipe for us to cook together.

Not a bad choice hey.

First we made pastry by crumbling butter with flour, then adding cold water to bring it together.

While the pastry rested we headed off to the garden to pick some fresh herbs for our filling.

The filling called for cooked chicken so I diced up a chicken breast and browned it before deglazing with white wine. I reduced the juices down to make a tasty sauce for our filling.

The chicken was mixed with the sauce, some grated cheese and our freshly picked oregano and parsley.

The circles of pastry are filled with some filling and sealed with egg wash.

Evie loves 'painting' with the egg wash!

And while they were baking we made a strawberry banana smoothie.

They were delicious, though a little more browning would have been nicer - I had hungry tummy's waiting for them to be cooked.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chocolate Quinoa Cake with Rosewater Ganache

Can you believe it - we had another birthday in my household, this time my husband.
I decided to cook him this rich gluten free chocolate cake made with quinoa, the recipe from the Better Homes and Garden magazine. It is covered in a rosewater chocolate ganache.

Birthdays become such a special occasion again when you have children, the joy it brings having a beautiful cake with candles.

I filled the cake with whipped cream and sliced strawberries.
The cake itself was so rich and yummy. It was quite dense and sticky yet soft. 
The strawberries worked well with the rich cake.

I wasn't sure about the rosewater ganache but tasting when freshly made I was very impressed, it was gorgeous with the subtle background of rose.
But I poured it over and refrigerated the cake overnight and the next day the ganache was much stronger in rose flavour and although still nice it was not as good as when first made.
I would suggest pouring the warm ganache over the cake just before serving. 

Rich Chocolate Quinoa Cake with Rosewater Ganache

3/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup milk
5 eggs
1 tsp vanilla paste
3/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups raw sugar
1 cup almond meal
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb. soda
pinch salt

1 cup cream
sliced strawberries

1/2 cup cream
1 tbsp glucose syrup
1 tsp rosewater
100g 85% dark chocolate
100g milk chocolate

halved strawberries

Grease and line two cake tins . Preheat oven to 180C.
Put quinoa in saucepan on high heat and add 1 1/3 cups water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and cover for 10 minutes. Remove from heat leaving covered for a further 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Combine milk, eggs and vanilla and use a stick blender briefly to combine. 
Add quinoa and butter and puree mixture until smooth.
Combine sugar, almond meal, cocoa, baking powder, bi-carb soda and salt in a separate bowl.
Pour in the quinoa mixture and combine well.
Divide mix into the two prepared tins and bake for 45 minutes. Should be cooked when skewer is clean.
Leave to cool in tins.

Once cakes are cool whip cream. 
Spread over one cake, add the sliced strawberries and top with second cake.

Finely chop the chocolates. 
Combine cream, glucose syrup and rosewater over heat and bring to a boil.
Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Leave for twenty seconds before whisking until smooth and thick.
Pour and spread over cake, top with halved strawberries and serve.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Evie's 4th Birthday Party

We celebrated my daughters 4th birthday last weekend and as promised here is her castle cake.

I made the towers from milo cake (Raspberri cupcakes) with white chocolate ganache made pink with beetroot powder. The middle of the cake was lemon yoghurt cake (Donna Hay) covered in a lemon cream cheese frosting. We used white Arnott's Tim Tams for the steps and found the purple wafers in an asian supermarket.
And of course the cake was finished with a real prince and princess complete with horse and carriage - makes one very happy little girl. 

I love craft and made many aspects for the party but sadly did not spend the time capturing them beautifully with my camera.
As well as this bunting I decorated paper cups, made paper weaved lolly bags filled with shortbread and had prepared a make-your-own crown table.

I have to share some of the food we had, this one being salted caramel peanut popcorn (Anna Olson).
I've made this many times and it is always tasty.

Lemon jelly yoghurt cups, the bottom layer was made from condensed milk, lemon juice and zest and gelatin.

We ordered a tray of Sushi by request from Evie, she loves it!

And what party is complete without fairy bread! 

Buttermilk scones with strawberry jam and whipped cream.

The make-your-own-crown table.

Evie and her completed crown.

Of course there was dancing.

And even a song performed by Evie with her brand new birthday guitar!

She had a fabulous day and so did I.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chicken Wonton Noodle Soup

For those of you who watched Masterchef Australia you would know Dani, one of the top eight contestants. 
She posted this recipe for Chicken Wonton Noodle Soup on her blog and so I thought I would try it out.
Whilst watching the show I often questioned her cooking abilities compared to some of the other contestants, but I now need to eat my words - because this was an amazing meal.

The soup stock is prepared quite simply simmering softened onion, garlic, and ginger with star anise, cinnamon, sugar, fish sauce and chicken in water for an hour and a half. I actually used some of my homemade chicken stock as well as water.

The wonton filling is prepared with chicken mince, sesame oil, sugar, fish sauce, spring onion, soy sauce, coriander roots, lime juice and white pepper. It is marinated for an hour before making your wontons.

The soup is then served over fresh egg noodles and the cooked wontons. 
Top with mint, coriander and chilli.

We loved this meal and I will be cooking it again. 
My daughter asked shortly after we started eating "can we have this for my birthday mum?"

That, by the way, is the reason for my absence, we had my daughters 4th birthday on the weekend. I will have to post some of the photos, including the castle cake!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Homemade Bagels with Smoked Salmon and Lemon-Herb Schmear

These lovely bagels were featured in the new edition of SBS feast to celebrate New York Jewish deli classics.

The recipe was quite similar to a basic bread recipe except it called for barley malt syrup, I did not have any so I substituted with treacle.

After the dough rises you shape them and let rise again before cooking them one minute each side in boiling water. I was amazed as I plopped my bagels in and watched them instantly double in size!

Brush with egg, sprinkle with seeds and bake. Maybe not quite as pretty as ones you find in the shops but I was really pleased.
 Until my husband came home and asked me if I'd cooked donuts!

Schmear is apparently the deli slang used for something spread onto a bagel. 
This schmear was delicious made from cream cheese, dill, chives, spring onions, lemon juice and zest.

I loved them. 
The bagel had that chewy crust with a soft but dense filling, and it had that slight sweetness.
Spread with the schmear, smoked salmon, capers and spring onions it was delicious.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Stuffed Mushroom & Zucchini

Tonight my husband cooked dinner, and what a delicious dinner it was!
He is an excellent cook, much better palate then me. I rely (as you all know!) on recipes.

The mushrooms have a filling that is cooked onion, garlic, mushroom stems, parsley, and white wine, mixed with dried oregano, grated cheese and sourdough breadcrumbs. Top with a piece of cheese and bake.

The zucchini is partially cooked and then stuffed with the zucchini middle, garlic, onion, sourdough breadcrumbs, parsley, tomato paste and dried oregano. Cover with grated parmesan and bake.

Both were delicious but the mushroom was my favourite. The stuffing was loaded with flavour that perfectly complimented the juicy mushroom. I will be making sure it is cooked again very soon.

Stuffed Mushrooms

5 large mushrooms (We used swiss brown - I think!)
1/2 onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
couple sprigs parsley finely chopped
1/4 cup white wine
handful breadcrumbs (we used frozen sourdough grated)
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup grated cheese (aged cheddar) + slices for top

Preheat oven to 200C. 
Remove mushroom stems and chop finely.
Cook the onions in the butter until soft. 
Add the garlic and cook for a minute.
Add the mushroom stems, a little olive oil and the parsley.
Splash in the white wine and reduce by half over medium heat.
Stir through the breadcrumbs, oregano and cheese until melted.
Season to taste.
Fill the mushroom cups and top with a slice of cheese.
Bake for 20 minutes.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Beef, Spinach and Peanut Sudanese Stew

The latest edition of Feast, the new foodie magazine by SBS, arrived in the mail last week.
It has some delicious recipes, this one a stew from south Sudan.
Not only a simple dish it was full of flavour. 

The beef is browned and then slow cooked along with the softened onions, garlic and tomato paste in beef stock. Sweet potato is added until tender and then add in cooked spinach (I used silverbeet), fresh tomatoes and ground peanuts. Serve with couscous.

I loved this dish, the taste was amazing. The peanut added a really interesting flavour and made it quite unique.