Egg & Cocoa

July 17, 2010

Short and sweet entry

I discovered some Van Houten cocoa at a local speciality store, which was I was quite excited about. It’s local and easy to access! And for those of you who don’t know C.J. VAN HOUTEN invented the process of manufacturing cocoa, in Amsterdam in 1828. This resulted in Van Houten’s cocoa and chocolate powders (and just cocoa in general) conquering the hearts of thousands of chocolate lovers around the world!

Further in my excitement of cooking and baking and what not this week I decided to give poaching an egg a go. What’s that I hear you ask? poaching an egg? but isn’t that easy! well I’d always done it in an egg poacher, but I wanted to give it a go in a pot! and I did! and it worked! I was very excited – silly I know, but its a basic cooking skill I now know I have.


Chicken Pie

July 17, 2010

Continuing with my desire to make pastry I decided I’d make my husband a chicken pie. Originally I wanted to make a Chicken & Leek Pie. However, I had no leeks, and actually I only had one onion. Terrible isn’t it? What’s a girl to do then? Improvise of course! That is of course what cooking is about isn’t it?

I used the recipe as a bit of a guide. A starting point so to speak. My improvisation consisted of a cabbage instead of leek. Bit of another way for me to get the Husband to eat more vegetables, which is very important to me. I also used some baby red capsicums that I had as well, they had been sitting in my fridge for awhile so into the food processor they went. The taste was surprisingly great! And it was sneaky enough that the Husband enjoyed it without any complaints and a healthy appetite.

I struggled a touch with the pastry as usual. I have a bit of pastry problem! I didn’t think about it completely, when assembling my pie. I followed the instructions, but obviously not properly. I put my lid on….after folding the edges down! Arg, these are simple things, but I don’t think of them until it’s all over red rover! So it didn’t look great, but it did taste good. So I guess perhaps I should focus on that? failures in looks aren’t really failures are they? The pastry was from How to be a Domestic Goddess

Chicken Pie

2 chicken breasts
¼ cabbage
3 baby red capsicum
1 bottle of dry white wine
1 can evaporated milk
70g feta – cubed
2 cloves garlic
1T dried onion (yes I know the horror)

250g plain flour
125g cold butter – cubed
2 egg yolks
2T cold water
1t salt
1T caster sugar

Slice chicken breast up. Put cabbage and capsicum in food processor and chop up. Pour wine into a saucepan and place all ingredients but the evaporated milk and feta in. Boil away until the wine is reduced. Once reduced, add the evaporated milk and feta, and reduce this. Allow to cool.
Whilst cooling make the pastry by putting the flour and butter in a dish and put the dish in the freezer for 10 minutes. Stir together the yolks, water and salt in a cup and put this cup in the fridge.
Then when the time is up tip the flour and butter into the food processor, add the sugar and pulse to combine – until it looks like something similar to sand. Bind with the egg yolks water and salt, and when it looks like its on the verge of coming together, tip the pastry out and work it together with your hands. Divide into 2 discs, one a little bigger than the other. Wrap in cling wrap and chill in the fridge for awhile.
Preheat the oven to 200C and butter a 22cm, springform tin. Roll out the large of the discs and place in the tin with an overhang. Sprinkle the bottom of this with some breadcrumbs and fill with the cold pie filling. Roll out the other piece of pastry and lay over the top, then fold the overhang and press down.
Glaze the pie with milk and egg and stab here and there. Cook for 10 minutes on the 200C before dropping it down to 180C for 45minutes.
Allow to sit for 10 minutes prior to serving.



July 16, 2010

I made this recipe from Nigella Bites before we went on our 6 week holiday. So it’s been waiting awhile to be posted, and sat here in my house watching soppy chick flicks, processing photos for the things I’ve done recently I thought I should probably work on some of the older stuff!
The original recipe was for Blackberry and Apple, but cooking for the Clan meant that I had to be mindful of tastes. And, blackberries do not comply with tastes. Now I have reached a point were I can be happy to put up a dessert that meats most people’s tastes instead of trying to comply with everyone’s. However in the case of Blackberries, we’d be split down the middle, half and half. So instead….I went with Pear. I had pears I needed to use before we went away and well, apple goes with pear yea?
I loved this! I think apple and pear go together, and well anything with apple is going to work for me. In terms of form, it wasn’t quite perfect. I will have to do it over again now that I’ve been reminded of its tasty goodness!

Apple and Pear Kuchen

for the cake base

400g strong white flour
½ t salt
50g caster sugar
3g yeast
2 eggs
½ t vanilla extract
Grated zest of half a lemon
¼ t ground cinnamon
125ml lukewarm milk
50g butter, softened

For the topping

1 egg beaten with a T of cream and a pinch of cinnamon
550g of stewed pear and apple
Zest of ½ lemon
50g SR flour
25g ground almonds
¼ t ground cinnamon
50g cold butter, diced
2T caster sugar
2 Demerara sugar (or dark sugar)
25g flaked or ground almonds

Put 400g of flour in a bowl with the salt, sugar and yeast. In another bowl, beat the eggs and add them, with the vanilla extract, lemon zest and cinnamon, to the lukewarm milk. Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients to make medium soft dough, being prepared to add more flour as necessary. Work in the soft butter and knead by hand for about 10 minutes or half that time by machine. When the dough is ready it will appear smoother and springier. Cover with a tea towel and leave till doubled in size (an hour to an hour and a half – or overnight) then punch down and press to line a tin 30x20cm. When its pressed out, leave it to prove for 15-20minutes then brush with egg and cream mixture.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Mix the apple & pear with the zest. Set aside for a few minutes and make the crumble top. Put the flour, almonds and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl, stir to combine, then add the cold, diced butter. Using tips of fingers, rub it into the flour. Stop when you have a mixture that resembles porridge oats. Fork in the sugars and extra almonds.
Tumble the fruit over the dough and sprinkle with crumble. Put in the oven for about 15 minutes then turn to 180C and cook for another 20 minutes or so until the dough is swelling and golden and crumble is set. Remove from the oven, wait five minutes, then cut it into slabs.


Two Giana’s sans photos

July 16, 2010

I’ve been a-hunting but do you think for the life of me I can find the photo’s for these two recipes? I’ve been searching and searching, and I know I would’ve taken them! Bit sad that I don’t have them too because both of these dishes were amazing in flavour. I could’ve devoured every single tiny morsel to myself!

I of course did not, I shared with the Husband, who also appreciated them as well. He loves pork in all its forms so the chops were always going to be a hit. I have a habit of always preparing the amounts the recipe asks for. It provides for leftovers – which isn’t always good as some foods just don’t taste better next time around. But, I don’t think these even made it to the next day. The Husband was making sneaky trips to the fridge through the night, so when I got up in the morning there was almost nothing left! not even enough for a full lunch. I shouldn’t complain though it means he enjoyed it, yes?

As for the veal….well it was me doing sneaky in the fridge visits, I love all good tomato based sauces. And this tomato based sauce packed a good punch in terms of flavour! I loved it, and it was fairly easy to make, didn’t take that long for me to whip it up, and it has featured on our menu a couple of times since I originally made it. Very happy!

Giada’s Kitchen – New Italian Favourites provides you two great recipes…again I really love this cookbook!

Pork Chops with Fennel & Caper Sauce
¼ cup olive oil
4 boneless pork chops
Salt and pepper
2 small fennel bulbs, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
2 large shallots thinly sliced
2/3 cup parsley
½ cup dry white wine
1 can of diced tomatoes
½ lemon, zested
2 T drained capers

Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Then brown for about 4 minutes per side. Set aside and cover loosely. Add the fennel, shallots and 1/3 cup of parsley to the pan cooking over a medium heat until the fennel is browning. Add wine and stir in the tomatoes. Then return the pork to the pan, making sure the pork is nestled and mostly submerged. Cook until the fennel is tender – about 15 minutes. Take out the pork and place on a plate, add in the last of the parsley, the lemon zest and capers to the sauce. Stir and combine all of this before spooning over the pork to serve.

Veal Saltimbocca
4 boneless veal cutlets
Salt and pepper, to season
4 thin slices of lemon
4 sage leaves
4 large slices of prosciutto
3T olive oil
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup low sodium chicken broth
1 can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
½ cup heavy cream

Season the veal. Place a slice of lemon on each piece and then top with sage and wrap in prosciutto. Warm a large pan with olive oil and place the meat lemon side up and cook for about 6 minutes. Turn this over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes until the prosciutto is beginning to caramelise. Remove from the pan and tent with foil. Add the white wine to the pan to deglaze over a high heat. Add the broth and reduce by half. Add the tomatoes, cream and some more salt and pepper. Stirring until it is all combined and hot. Pour some of the sauce over meat and serve the tomato mixture next too.


Lime Bran Muffins

July 15, 2010

I had some bran sitting around the house and a lime that needed to be used. So I figured I’d combine the two and make the Husbands favourite muffin. Can you believe that? his favourite muffin is bran? When there is a whole world of muffins out there you could have! Ach who am I to tell him he can’t have that as his favourite.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually quite like Bran Muffins. They are tasty and not too bad for you, but as a favourite? Nup, give me blueberry or banana walnut….mmm yum yum. Add the lime too it? Ick, I am not a lime person, however, for the person you love you create these things don’t you?

These were beautifully light as usual, I love the texture of them. The crust was something new for me to try out though, and it worked well. I could’ve just chopped off the top of the muffins and ate them all to myself. Love it!

Lime Bran Muffins with Pecan Crust

1 ½ cup wheat bran
1 cup butter milk
1 cup flour
1/3 cup oil
1 egg
2/3 cup brown sugar
½ t vanilla
1t baking soda
1t baking powder
Zest and juice of 1 lime

1 cup ground pecan
½ cup raw sugar

Preheat oven to 190C
Grease and line muffin tray
Mix together bran and buttermilk and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
Beat together oil, egg, sugar, vanilla and add to milk/bran.
Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and zest of the lime. Stir all together. Add the lime juice, mix again.
Put in muffin tray.
Mix together pecan and sugar
Add a spoonful of crust on to each muffin.
Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes.


Lamb Ragu Suet Crust Pie

July 15, 2010

I have been cooking up a bit of a storm lately I think, and will be popping it all up over the next few days if I can find the time of course! Not all from Giada though but that’s ok, it is the cooking that I am enjoying I am still working through the cookbook slowly though. This entry is from Giada’s Kitchen – New Italian Favourites though.

I did a bit of an adaptation thing with the recipe though. What I went with was the Lamb Ragu with Mint. Only mine was sans the mint! Let me explain. I had an urge of late, to be making some pastry I like pastry. It may not be my friend so to speak when it comes to the weight loss that I may be wishing to achieve, however I am pretty happy with a small sample. But to make a small sample, it requires me too make pastry and you can’t really do it in small amounts can you? So I decided to make a pie with the ragu as filling.

Now I didn’t make any old pastry, I wanted to do something a little different for me, a different kind of pastry one I’d not done ever. Come to think of it I’m not really good at pastry which is why I’m trying! So I “stole” this recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess from Nigella’s Steak and Kidney Pudding – the suet crust in fact. And for something a little more different, I steamed it in the slow cooker!

So in terms of what I think about the recipes…..I really liked the suet crust. I could have rolled it out a little thinner; I must admit that in fairness. I didn’t have a large enough pudding basin for my pastry and I just wanted to do it! Plus since I like pastry? The Husband even enjoyed it, just did say that it would’ve been greater if it had been thinner.

The Lamb Ragu….I was really excited about the recipe to begin with. But, once it was completed whilst it was tasty. And I enjoyed it, it seemed to lack the punch I was expecting from it in terms of flavour. I’d want to add some more herbs to it I think. Give it a bit more flavour. But, it’s definitely a good base! Maybe it was just because I was putting it with pastry – it wasn’t a strong enough flavour to cut through the pastry. Maybe if the pastry had been thinner? Who knows…….but I will give it another burl as a ragu sometime.

Lamb Ragu

2T olive oil
2 shallots
1 minced garlic clove
680g lamb mince
½ t salt
¼ t black pepper
1 cup red wine
2 cups Marina Sauce

Marina Sauce

½ cup olive oil
2 small onions
2 minced garlic cloves
2 celery sticks
2 carrots
½ t salt
½ t black pepper
2 cans of crushed tomato
2 bay leaves

Suet Crust

350g SR Flour
½ t salt
175g suet
½ t English mustard powder

Make the Marina Sauce. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the celery, carrots, and salt and pepper. Sauté until all are soft. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over a low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove the bay leaves and discard.

Warm the olive oil in a large pan. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until tender. Add the lamb, salt and pepper. Cook until the meat breaks down and is browned and all the juice is evaporated. Add the wine, scraping up any brown bits from the pan. Simmer until the wine is reduced by half. Then add the marina sauce and simmer over a low heat until the flavours blend and the sauce reduces slightly. Recipe suggested 10 minutes, but I did mine for a bit longer.

Remove from heat and cool whilst making the Suet Crust.

Mix the flour, salt, suet and powder in a large bowl. Then stirring with a wooden spoon, add enough cold water to make a firm dough. Roll out on a floured surface into a large circle about 5mm thick and cut away a ¼ segment from the circle to use for the lid. Ease the circle into a world buttered pudding basin with about a 3cm over hang.

Spoon the cold lamb ragu into the bowl, not letting it come up to higher then 2cm from the rim. Roll out the other segment into a small circle to fit the top and seal it with the overhanging edges. Clip on the lid, and place in the slow cooker. Cook for 3 hours on high, or 5 hours on low.


Almond Soba Noodles

July 14, 2010

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

It was a great challenge indeed, my instinctual leanings were towards sweet things, but then they always are. And, whilst that was an optional extra for the challenge I wanted to stretch myself. And, then my first thought was of course satay, but that doesn’t stretch me, I’ve done that before plenty of times. It’s a favourite dish for the Husband (especially in the form of a satay chicken pie…go figure). I liked some of the recipes on offer, especially the Chicken with Pecan Cream & Mushrooms but having provided a plethora of pasta dishes to the Husband of late I thought I’d go more noodley!

Having a huge stash of Almonds in my house ready for Cantuccio baking at all times I went there! I did an almond butter with soba noodle dish, I need to work on my photography and naming skills! Taste though? I think I got that!

Almond Butter

1 cup whole natural almonds, roasted
1/8 tsp. salt

In food processor with metal blade in place, grind almonds and salt until paste begins to form, I added about 1T of vegetable oil to mine as well.

Almond Soba Noodles

½ cup almond butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
8 tablespoons hot water
Dried soba noodles
150g good quality steak – diced
Baby Carrots
Green capsicum
Chilli Flakes
1 tablespoon Oyster Sauce

Mix Almond Butter with lemon juice and water, until quite fluid.
Cook the soba in rapidly boiling salted water just until tender, then drain and rinse under cold running water. Drain.
Caramelise the onions, remove from pan. Pan fry the steak quickly then add in the capsicum, carrots and oyster sauce and chilli flakes.
In a large bowl combine the noodles with the almond mixture. Toss briefly before adding the meat mixture, tossing to fully combine. Serve.