Friday, July 29, 2011

Pink Sour Cream Cake Cookies

Yesterday my daughter and I did some baking. 

I had some sour cream in the fridge and wanted to incorporate it. I also have some beetroot powder that I have been experimenting with to use as a colouring. 

And this was the result, very cake like pink cookies that were soft and slightly sweet. 

We topped them with a white chocolate drop or some magic fairy sprinkles!

Pink Sour Cream Cake Cookies
1/2 cup softened butter
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla paste
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp beetroot powder

Preheat oven to 180C. Mix the beetroot powder with the sour cream and vanilla. Cream the butter and sugar together. Mix in egg until combined. Fold through the sifted dry ingredients and pink sour cream mix alternately. Roll into balls, place on lined baking tray and flatten. Decorate with sprinkles or chocolate. Bake for 8 minutes, cool on wire rack. Makes about 30 and best eaten day of baking.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gang Bao Chicken

This recipe for Gang Bao Chicken was posted on Everybody Loves Ramen. Now I really love a stir fry but  I must confess they are not my strong point. But this one looked soooo good I just had to try. Fortunately the fantastic Shaun told me I needed a wok, and that I needed to season it (isn't twitter a wonderful thing!).

My new 'seasoned' wok
Otherwise words of advice were to be organised, so organised I was.

Check out my new knife thanks to TheIntolerantChef :)
The chicken is marinated in a mix of oyster sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil.

Then the cashews are toasted. I attempted to do this in my wok and it took about 2 seconds so watch them!

The chillies are soaked and then dried. Prepare garlic (I actually used fresh garlic - you can pick up amazing bunches of fresh garlic at the markets), spring onions and onion. Measure out the Szechuan pepper. Mix up the sauce of raw sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, and Shaoxing wine. Prepare a little cornstarch with warm water. And finally coat your marinated chicken in a little flour.

Then go go go. Add oil to the hot wok, throw in your pepper and chillies briefly. Remove the chillies and add the garlic. After a few seconds add the chicken separating out the pieces with some tongs. Once the chicken starts looking crispy add the sauce allowing it to deglaze the pan. Throw in your onions and chillies. Finally thicken the sauce with a little of the cornstarch and then add the cashews.

I was so happy, it was delicious. The chicken was melt in your mouth moist and tender. The sauce was so so tasty. I am so pleased, my first ever truly successful stir fry. I love my wok :) 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bean and Vegetable Stew

One of my good friends said they loved this recipe for Bean Stew found on Taste in her household so I had to try it.

The red onion is sauteed to soften. The recipe says very little oil but the moment I was pouring the oil in my baby distracted me (he was attempting to eat a 5c coin he found on the floor) so I actually used a good helping.    

In goes a garlic and middle eastern spices. I chose to use this spice blend Ras El Hanout that we found at the markets on the weekend. Usually we don't buy blends but toast and grind our spices. But we have never used this particular blend before and now we have bought it we know what goes in it and can experiment a little with our own blend. Plus the man who sells it is so friendly!

Next goes in diced tin tomatoes, tomato paste, zucchini, mushrooms and capsicum. I also half filled my tomato tin with water and added this. The whole thing is then simmered for about 15 minutes, I actually covered it for 10 minutes and then uncovered for about a further 5 minutes.

Add a drained and rinsed tin of cannellini beans and some pre-cooked pumpkin. Simmer this for a further 10 minutes. 

Remove from heat and stir in some shredded basil. Pour into a serving dish, cover with cheese and grill.

Serve with some crusty bread.

It was a really delicious and satisfying dinner. The spices add a depth to the dish but were not a prominent flavour. The basil really freshened it up and the grilled cheese on top was a great addition. And it was easy, quick and healthy.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Seared Tuna and Avocado Salad

This is an Ina Garten (or 'In a Garden' as we like to call her ;) ) recipe for Grilled Tuna Rolls. I have actually tried it a couple of times, the first being way too salty and that was adding much less salt then the recipe suggests. So now I just season the tuna and add no extra salt to the dressing.
It is the easiest quick tasty dish to prepare and we just buy one piece of beautiful fresh tuna to sear (only cost $5 for about 200g I think).

I give the kiddies the 'well done' end!
The dressing is oil, lime zest, lime juice, wasabi powder and soy sauce. The recipe also says hot sauce but because of the kidlets I leave that out (the sacrifices we make......).
You then mix the dressing with avocado, red onion, scallion (or shallot/spring onion), toasted sesame seeds and the seared tuna. Serve on some toasted bread with rocket. Delicious!
The wasabi hit is not as big as I would like so I'm not sure if you need to dissolve the powder in water before adding to the dressing?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cuban Street Tacos

This recipe for Cuban Street Tacos is from the amazing blog of Sweet Pea's Kitchen. It really caught my eye and I was keen to try it. I have been fortunate enough to do a little travelling but would love to do more. Fortunately due to everyone sharing such incredible recipes we can still experience a little bit of a different culture right in our own home.

In this recipe the pork is slowly cooked in the oven with a complex mix of flavours including stock, orange, lime, oregano, bay leaves, cumin, pepper, chillies, garlic and onion. It smelt incredible and once cooked was so incredibly soft. 

The pork is removed and the sauce reduced before recoating the pork and grilling it to a lovely brown. The pork is then broken up and served with warm tortillas, sliced red onion, cheese and coriander. We also scraped up the extra sauce and served that too!

It was so delicious, although a little salty (My stock must have been a too salty). But wrapped up in the tortilla it was so good.

I even cooked some Cinnamon rolls to make it a Sweet Pea day :) yum.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Nigella's Venetian Lasagne

I'm not sure if my brain is working properly, I just seem to keep stuffing up!
My daughter has requested a princess castle cake for her 4th birthday (as all little girls do!) and I had this great idea to buy a little princess and prince to put on top. In fact I saw a disney set that included a tiny Cinderella and her prince, and a horse and carriage. Can you just picture it, a pink castle topped with a prince and princess and a little horse and carriage waiting at the bottom of the stairs. Well it was quite an expensive set so when I saw it half price in the recent toy sales I took Evie to the shops and we were lucky enough to find it. 
But its not a happy ending as we stopped in the food court for a little snack but walked away leaving our brand new package on the table....realising quite quickly we did not have it we rushed back but alas it was gone. We asked everywhere but no one had handed it in. This resulting in one very sad little girl and one very upset mummy.
I'm not sure what to do now, should I see if I can find it again? I know in the big picture it really is not that big a deal, I just feel so silly for making such a stupid mistake.

Sorry to burden you with my sad story but that was my day yesterday, anyway we came home and I pulled out my Nigella Kitchen to cook Venetian lasagne.

The minced beef sauce is prepared with loads of finely chopped veges and porcini mushrooms, simmering away for an hour. The polenta is cooked and then spread out on trays to make the layers of the lasagne. And then assemble.

It was an interesting concept and it tasted nice but I prefer my 'normal' lasagne.
Hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rhubarb, Mandarin and Chocolate Tart

This wonderful recipe for Rhubarb Mandarin and Chocolate Tart I saw at Fudgy Goodness and was immediately sold. I really love rhubarb and my rhubarb loving Dad was coming to stay so I wanted to bake something nice.
Firstly I made a sweet shortcrust base that I pre-cooked and somehow managed to burn on one side (not a good start!). 

I used four mandarins off our little tree, deseeding every piece making sure the juice all went in the bowl. The mandarins and their juice were then mixed with an entire bunch of rhubarb (inch slices), 50g raw sugar and a dash of water. This was simmered on the stove top until nice and soft. I actually cooked it down further then I meant too. Then strain the fruit from the syrup.

The chocolate topping was a simple mix of eggs, butter, sugar, almond meal, cocoa powder and vanilla paste.
The tart case was topped with the rhubarb and mandarin mix, then layered with the chocolate filling and baked.
I served with the slightly reduced syrup and vanilla icecream. 
It was so incredibly delicious. It was a gorgeous balance between sweetness and tart with the rich chocolate.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Vegetable and Gouda Stromboli

My last few days have been so busy. We have had family staying, I had all my hair cut off, I was able to catch up with some good friends, you get the picture. Amidst all of this I have been cooking and baking and taking photos but not sure when they will make it here!
This dish for vegetable stromboli, which is essentially a rolled up pizza, I saw at Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice. Once again Reeni did not let me down :)
The pizza dough is rolled out and filled up with lots of delicious vegetables that are pre-cooked on the stove top. First the zucchini.

Then the mixture of onion, capsicums, silverbeet, garlic, olives and capers.

Topped with some delicious gouda cheese.

It is then rolled up, brushed with egg wash, sprinkled with sesame seeds and baked.

What a delicious dish, I loved the fresh tasting vegetables in the filling and the dough was cooked perfectly. 

My little nephew was staying and was not so happy to be served up so many vegetables. Often people say how lucky I am my family appreciates all the food I cook for them. I realise I am very lucky that my family is happy to eat so many different style meals and that my little girl loves vegetables, and all sorts of interesting ingredients such as goats cheese, olives and wood ear fungus.....

Friday, July 15, 2011

Leek, Carrot and Goats Cheese Tart

This winter tart was posted by The Kitchen of Oz way back in April but I was immediately in love with it and knew I would make it when the weather was cold. It is such an attractive dish and does not let you down on flavour.
Firstly I made a basic shortcrust pastry and rested it in the fridge before rolling out, putting in the tin, lots of patching ;), and then resting again.

The pastry is then baked for about thirty minutes. 

I prepared some purple potatoes to roast.

After caramelising the leeks and slightly precooked carrots I added a little vegetable stock and allowed them to braise and really cook through.

The goats cheese (my favourite Willowbrae) is mixed with eggs, rosemary and milk (I used soy).

Then simply top your cooked base with the vegetables.

Pour over the goats cheese filling, sprinkle with some extra rosemary and bake for about 30 minutes.

I really loved this. The crisp buttery pastry with the smooth custard like filling and the delicious soft vegetables. The goats cheese flavour was there as a perfect balance.