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Showing posts from September, 2013

Meatballs

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You will need...
500gr beef mince 2 whole eggs 1/2 cup breadcrumbs 1/4 brown onion  1 clove garlic Sprig basil 1 sprig oregano Salt & pepper Olive oil for frying 1 cup red wine 2 400gr tins diced Italian tomatoes 1 Tbs tomato paste
Method... 1. Finely mince the onion and garlic. Chop the herbs. Add to the mince with the eggs, salt and pepper and mix well using your hands. Pour in the breadcrumbs and combine all together. 2. Roll into about 10 balls (more or less depending on what size you prefer).  3. Heat about 2 Tbs of olive oil in a non-stick pan and seal the meatballs on a medium-high heat. Remove the pan from the burner and use some paper towel to mop up any excess oil or fat in the pan. 
4. Return to the heat and add the cup of wine to deglaze** Add the tomato paste and mix around to combine with the wine.  5. Add the tinned tomatoes and refill ONE tin with water and add that to the pan.  6. Season the sauce and turn the burner to low. Allow to simmer for about 20-30 minutes. The sauce should …

Catching up...

I've been a bit quiet on the blog-front this week! It's school holidays and I've been a busy little bee catching up on all my chores that I don't get a chance to do while I'm working, hence not much cooking.

I'm pretty exhausted after the last couple of weeks, I was hoping no one would notice that I didn't post Sunday's cupcakes. That's because they didn't happen. I'm not a quitter, I just CBF making one more batch of cupcakes, and to be honest I can't even remember what I did instead.. Seriously... Mind Blank. I reckon I was probably hangry.

AAAAAANNYYWAYS... Off topic it's Matt's birthday next weekend and we're going out for dinner to The Hungry Duck in Berry. Pretty excited for some yummy locally-sourced food... And to have a nice meal that I don't have to cook or eat out of a takeaway container. I'd take photos and blog about the food but I think I'd rather just sit back and enjoy it and hang out with my husba…

CUPCAKE WEEK... Day 6: Fairy floss

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I think I'm getting a little bit tired of making cupcakes... And even more tired of eating them... I decided to do something a bit different...

I decided to cheat! I know- Shame on me. But seriously. I'm one woman. And it's Saturday. And I've had quite a busy day. So I used a packet mix!

To be honest though- I thought it through, and decided a packet mix would be better. I wanted that artificial strawberry flavour, that was only obtainable through fake flavouring and I thought why not go the whole hog and use totally sugary, food coloured packet mix? Thanks Betty Crocker!

The topping I used was just a plain buttercream and I just spread it on to give it that kiddy-cupcake look. Then to floss-it-up I put a pinch of pink sugary-delight on the top! Then- as if that wasn't enough, I gave it a sprinkling of edible glitter! Wowza! Looks fit for a 5 year olds birthday party!



Meg, I'm pretty sure if you show Penny this she's going to want you to make it for her ne…

CUPCAKE WEEK... Day 5: Pumpkin with Cream cheese icing

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Ummmm... So this would have to be my favourite cupcake recipe ever. I'm not even kidding. This is the biggest win I've had all week.

Again, I made up the recipe, and I'm going to toot my own horn but I'm seriously proud of myself. You guys need to make these at home because they're that good.

You will need...
100gr pumpkin, peeled and cut into small cubes
100gr butter, unsalted
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 a nutmeg, grated (I did this instead of using pre-ground nutmeg to intensify the flavour)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp mixed spice
1/2 a vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
1 drop of yellow food colouring if you wish
For the Frosting...
Use my basic buttercream vanilla icing and mix it with some Philadelphia cream cheese. Or you can cheat and just use Philly with some brown sugar mixed in if you like!

Method..
1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius and line a 12-hole muffin tray with patty pans
2. …

CUPCAKE WEEK... Day 4: Apple Streusel

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I wanted to do a cupcake without icing just for something different. I'm not sure if this qualifies as a cupcake but I'm going to pretend ;-)



I just made up this recipe... So yeah.. I'm awesome. (Actually I just adapted the chocolate cupcake recipe to omit the chocolate and add apple and cinnamon instead)

You will need...
For the batter....
125gr unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar (lightly packed)
3 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla essence (or real vanilla pod)
2 apples, small granny smiths work well
3 drops lemon juice
1 tbs caster sugar
For the topping...
1/3 cup plain flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
60gr butter, room temperature, cubed.
2 tbs cinnamon

Method...
1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius, line 2 x 12-hole muffin trays with patty pans.
2. To cook the apples, core, peel and chop into 1cm cubes, then add to a small pot with the caster sugar and lemon juice. Cook over a lo…

Garden Update

Thought I'd take a little break from cupcaking (don't stress I haven't given up- I'll be posting Apple Streusel cupcakes later today), and just give a quick update on my other ventures!

Ok, so my herbs have gone mental... It's either the organic fertiliser, the spot on the window ledge down the side of my house or something, but they're loving it! I've never had any luck growing basil before which made me sad but now it's growing really well so I'm happy. I'll probably have to repot them in the coming months into a bigger receptacle. I like that word. Receptacle.

I mixed a cup of the fertiliser pellets with water to make a tea and I've been adding it to all my plants. My wine barrel with the lavender, succulents and rosemary is very happy indeed and the succulents have doubled in size over the last couple of weeks. I decided to plant some nasturtium seeds in there so we'll keep an eye on those and hopefully they'll take off soon!

My …

CUPCAKE WEEK... Day 3: Chilli Chocolate Cupcakes

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I like this cuppy! I used a chocolate cake recipe that I had used in the past from taste.com Then added some chilli and cinnamon. I tasted the mix after I baked it and couldn't really taste enough chilli so I then sprinkled extra chilli on top and adjusted the recipe for future reference.



You will need...
125gr unsalted softened butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup plain flour
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
150gr dark chocolate chips (good quality makes a better cupcake)
3/4 cup of hot water out of the tap
1/2 tsp chilli powder (adjusted recipe)
1 pinch cinnamon

Method...
1. Preheat your oven to 160 degrees celsius and line 2 x 12-hole muffin or cupcake pans with patty pans.
2. Add 100gr of the chocolate and all the water together in a microwave-safe dish and microwave on medium-low for 1 minute, remove and stir. If the chocolate has not dissolved, microwave on medium for a further 30 seconds.
3. Using and electric mixer, blend the butter, su…

CUPCAKE WEEK... Day 2: Earl Grey Cupcakes with Marmalade Frosting

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This one was interesting! I decided to use Earl Grey rather then English Breakfast because it's definitely more fragrant- also the hints of Bergamot in Earl Grey pair really well with orange (which is what the marmalade is made out of!) Gem requested this flavour- and in her honour I decided to make it an homage to the English- Hence the Union Jack flag! (PS. I made it myself!)

For the cupcake I used a basic vanilla mix, and then steeped 3 teabags in the milk, which I heated up and then allowed to cool to room temperature before adding to the mix... I got this trick from ohsweetday.com

The marmalade icing, I used a basic buttercream, and then folded in the marmalade which I chopped to give a smoother consistency. I decided to pipe up high as if the flag was in a mountain- looks quite triumphant I think!! Gem you should be proud for picking this flavour-its delicious!


CUPCAKE WEEK... Day 1: Lavender Scented Cupcakes

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It's all planned out now! Today I'm making Lavender Scented Cupcakes requested by Hayley...

I've done a lavender base with a vanilla & lemon buttercream icing. I've used food colouring to tint the icing a lovely light purple colour, and used fresh lavender to decorate.

The recipe I followed was a basic vanilla cupcake recipe, but I infused the sugar with fresh lavender by pounding it in a mortar and pestle, then leaving it in an airtight container for 3 days. I only used the flowers, but I guess you could use the leaves too.

For the icing, I used the same icing I always do (it's in the vanilla cupcake recipe also), and I grated some fresh lemon rind and a bit of fresh vanilla- then I put a splash of milk in to make it a bit softer. I used a small star tip to pipe little stars on top of the cupcake.

Overall I think it turned out quite nicely!



Pumpkin & Brown Rice Salad

Delicious and healthy!

You will need... 1/4 butternut pumpkin
1 Tbs olive oil 2 cups cooked brown rice 1 brown onion
Pinch dried chilli flakes
1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger 1 clove garlic, crushed 1/2 cup salted peanuts 1/2 bunch chopped coriander
For the dressing...
1 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp brown sugar 5 drops fish sauce 1 Tbs soy sauce 1 Tbs olive oil, extra
salt and pepper to taste

Method...
1. Remove the skin and seeds from the pumpkin, and dice into small, evenly sized cubes. Place on a roasting tray with 1 Tbs of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper and roast in the oven at 200 degrees celsius for about 20 minutes or until just soft and lightly coloured
2. Thinly slice the onion and sweat off in a non-stick pan with a small knob of butter for 10 minutes to soften, then raise the heat to high and colour to a golden brown. Throw in the garlic and ginger at the last minute to release the flavour.
2. Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and mix well.

Duck Breast Salad with Pear, Pumpkin and Hazelnuts

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It's tasty and we can just pretend its healthy by adding the word 'salad'....

You will need... (for 2 serves)
2 duck breasts
1 clove garlic (I used smoked garlic)
1 sprig thyme
1 star anise, broken up
salt & cracked black pepper
200gr of chopped pumpkin
1 pear
1/2 cup hazelnuts, roasted and peeled
1 tsp caramelised balsamic
1 tsp red wine vinegar (I use Forum)
2 Tbs olive oil
2 cups peppery rocket

Method..
1. Marinate the breasts for an hour with the thyme, garlic, star anise, salt and pepper.
2. Par-boil the pumpkin. Then remove from the water and leave to steam dry.
3. Preheat oven to 220 degrees celsius
4. Remove the duck from the fridge, heat a non-stick pan on low and place the duck skin-side down in the pan. Cook for about 20 minutes like this or until the fat under the skin has rendered down by about half. Carefully pour out the excess fat liquid into a pan, and flip the duck to cook for a further 7 or so minutes on its flesh side. Remove and rest for 10 minute…

Duck Duck Goose! (Minus the Goose)

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Matt felt like eating something a bit different last night, and we are big duck lovers and hadn't cooked it at home before, so he picked up a whole duck and I set to work on it.
As you can see below- You can use every part of the duck. I won't go through the process of deboning, you can YouTube that if you like. But I will let you know what you can use all the parts for...
1. The Neck; The skin is awesome for making duck neck sausage- use the skin as a casing, fill it with mince (pork and veal is good, meat from the duck is good too), aromatics, apple, nuts and breadcrumbs, then sew up the ends and bake it or confit it. The delicious flavours of the duck will infuse the meat-yumm! The actual neck is good for adding flavour to soups and stocks... As well as giving to your dog to eat (which is what I'll be doing!) just make sure its not cooked if you do that!
2. The Wings; Not too much meat on those bad boys, but you can still cook them as you would cook chicken wings, mari…

'Daintree Dough' still going strong

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My sourdough now lives in the fridge and I feed it once a week... I received a banneton (proving basket) from my bother-in-law and his girlfriend as an early birthday gift, alongside our Truffle Tree which was very thoughtful!

Yesterday I fed it and took out some dough for a nice loaf, I added some thyme, rosemary and a teeny bit of smoked garlic we got from Kiama Markets


I look about 100gr of the starter out of the fridge, placed it in a bowl and fed it a tbs of flour and water and let it prove overnight. The following morning I mixed it with about 150ml of tap water, a pinch of salt and sugar and the flavourings.  Then rained in the flour (I'm still using a mix of spelt, rye and bread flour) as I mixed it together until it formed a slightly sticky dough. I put a good amount of flour on the bench and kneaded it for several minutes, while adding just enough flour to stop it sticking to my fingers and the bench. I popped it in the banneton, lined with cling wrap and covered it with…

Baked Eggs

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My friend made these for me one morning after a big night out. They're the best because they're easy, tasty and don't require much washing up!

You can add whatever ingredients you like and cook them to your liking- if you like a soft yolk then just watch them and take them out earlier.

You will need (for 2 people)...
4 free-range eggs
4 bacon rashers or chopped bacon (streaky bacon or tail bacon is best)
1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
3 cherry tomatoes
1 tsp roughly chopped parsley
cheese, if desired
cracked pepper and salt
canola cooking spray

Method...
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius and grease a non-stick muffin pan with the canola spray
2. You can do this two ways, line the muffin-tray with the bacon and crack the eggs into that, or line it with the baby spinach and use that as a base, either way is fine.
3. Top the eggs with quartered cherry tomatoes, cracked pepper, parsley, cheese and chopped bacon if you are using them.
4. Place the tray in the hot oven for…

Cupcake Week

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It's Cupcake Week next week!

It's come around so quickly!

So far I've had a couple of recommendations;

Lavender Cupcakes - Hayley

Earl Grey Cupcakes with Marmalade - Gem

Chilli Cupcakes - Maddie

Bacon Cupcakes - Matt

So I need 3 more cupcake ideas from you guys... Get creative!!


Truffles!!!!

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It's Matt's birthday coming up and his brother and girlfriend bought him (and me too) an English Oak Tree inoculated with Truffle. What a cool gift!

For those of you who don't know what a truffle is, they are a fungus that grow underground around the roots of trees. They are edible and extremely aromatic, if you've never had tried it, the closest thing to the truffle flavour is a porcini mushroom, they are really pungent and earthy tasting.
They are definitely an acquired taste, and are a delicacy going for around the $2000 a kilo mark, but you only need a couple of grams per meal as the flavour is quite intense!

So needless to say, having our own tree is quite an exciting prospect, I will be researching as much as I can to make sure that we care for it properly and hopefully can cultivate some of our own home-grown truffles in the next few years- it can take up to 5 years to have any edible truffles, if your lucky!!

I have already learnt that truffles (which are not …

Strawberry Jam

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For some reason strawberries are ridiculously cheap at the moment... I'd say there is a surplus of them because of the unusually warm weather. At some stores you can buy 4 punnets for a dollar which is crazy because usually its $4 for one punnet!

Having about 5 punnets in my fridge and knowing I wouldn't be able to eat them all before they turned yucky I decided to make some jam out of them. It's super easy and you should do it now while strawberries are cheap!



You will need...
4 punnets of strawberries, washed and hulled
3/4 cup of caster sugar
1 vanilla pod (split in half)
1-2 drops of lemon juice

Method..
1. Chop your strawberries up roughly and place them in a pot with the sugar, vanilla and lemon juice, give them a mix to coat.
2. Turn the heat to low, and slowly cook for 45 minutes. Jam is ready when it is thick and gelatinous.
3. To store, sterilise a jar by placing it in boiling water for 30 seconds, remove with tongs and spoon the hot jam into the jar. Seal with …

Lentil Burgers

I'm a huge fan of the hamburger. Just beef, nothing fancy. In a white crusty bread roll with all the usual suspects- lettuce, tomato, beetroot, onion, tomato sauce (sometimes I get fancy and go for BBQ sauce, bacon and cheese, maybe some pineapple but rarely do I get an egg!)

So obviously the first time I was offered a lentil burger I was like 'hell no' but I'm now converted. If it's done the right way I reckon a lentil burger can be something quite special! Don't knock it 'til you try it!

You will need....
For the patties
1 carrot
1 small brown onion
1 celery stick
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 bunch chopped coriander
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbs olive oil
1 cup cold mashed sweet potato
400gr can brown lentils, rinsed and drained well
1 large egg
1 cup breadcrumbs (you can use wholemeal if you wish, or fresh, doesn't really matter)
salt and pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
To assemble
4 hamburger buns (your choice!)
some tomato relish
yog…

Cured Salmon

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Oh man I love cured salmon. I also love just straight raw salmon sashimi. Something about the fresh, clean flavour of raw or cured salmon and soft, silky texture just gets me so excited. And then you cook it and its heavy and oily and fishy, there's a time and a place for cooked salmon-like when its hot-smoked and put into a pasta with dill, lemon and cream and that's about it!

Incase you didn't notice I prefer salmon in its natural state-not swimming in the ocean- I mean, thinly sliced on a plate with some extremely light seasoning and maybe some equally light and not overpowering accompaniment. Salmon should be enjoyed for the majestic creature it is, not cooked within an inch of its life and served with mashed potato, it needs to be treated with respect and have little if nothing at all done to it!
You will need... (for enough to do about a 10 person dinner party... OR for you to eat by yourself if your hangry)
For the cure
500gr Salmon (or Trout) fillet, pin-boned, skin…

Tips and Tricks of the Trade # 5

I thought I'd share this one today, something chefs do without thinking but people at home wouldn't normally do and it can save you time and money (as well as making things a bit more neat in your fridge and freezer)

1. Buy your meat in bulk.
2. Portion it out in serves that you would generally use (it's just me and Matt at home so we do portions of 2, with meat normally around the 200gr portion mark depending on what it is), into zip-lock bags or sandwich bags.
3. Use a permanent marker and write on either masking tape or on the bag- what it is, weight and date.

That way when you dig through your freezer you know whats in there and how long it's been there, this works for almost anything- chicken, fish, sausages, bread, butter... Anything and everything.

Me and the Garden Part II

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It's now the beginning of Spring and we've just had one of our driest and warmest winters in a number of years, I've been peaking out the bedroom window every morning for the last few weeks wondering when winter was going to have its last gasp but it never came, fading away into unusually warm weather for spring.

We're happy now, but give it 3 months and we'll be wishing for winter back while sitting out the back sweltering with a warm beer, only hoping the summer bushfires don't get too close to our homes. It's a worry. There's no denying global warming now.

I'm just hoping we get maybe a little rain so that my water tank (that's been bone-dry 3 times since the beginning of winter) can fill up enough to water my plants! And speaking of plants I'll get to the point- I've done what I promised in my previous Garden post and revved myself up about planting. I've got my organic herbs that I bought from Kiama Local Produce Markets the oth…

Tips and Tricks of The Trade # 4

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When you make a stock, refrigerate it overnight, then skim any excess fat off and strain it through a sieve again. Put it back on the stove, and bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook it until you have about 500ml of concentrated liquid left. Let it cool and pour it into ice cube trays and place in the freezer. Once frozen solid, remove and place into sandwich bags and label. Whenever you need stock for anything you can take out one cube and add it to 500ml of water to have instant homemade stock.

Freezing in ice cube trays also works for leftover wine. If you don't finish off a bottle, pour the remainder into the trays, once frozen, place into freezer bags, and pull out a cube every time you need to cook with a bit of vino...


Tomato Relish

This is a pretty basic recipe, so we were talking about what we could add to it to make it a bit more interesting. I suggested making it a mexican-flavoured relish, by adding about half a tsp of ground cumin, paprika and coriander with a squeeze of lime and some kidney beans.

You could also chuck in some chopped capsicum, raisins or fresh herbs if you like! I'll also let you in on a little trick when cooking with tomatoes**...

You will need... for 2 jars worth!
4 large (organic if you can) vine tomatoes
2 large brown onions
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp mustard powder
2 tsp mild curry powder
2 tsp plain flour
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (or malt vinegar)
1 tsp olive oil

Method...
1. Cut out the core, and score the bottom of the tomato with an x. Drop in boiling water for 15 seconds and remove with tongs, drop into a bowl of iced water. Skin should peel off with a small knife. If it's not coming away easily, repeat the process if necessary.
2. Slice the onions thinly, a…

Weekend Shenanigans

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Sorry for being a bit slack on the blog-front lately! I've been massively busy over the last week doing catering jobs, and over the weekend had a trip up to Sydney to spend some hard-earnt cashola on some new outfits for the warmer weather... YAY FOR SPRING!

I know I've talked about it before but I love the Pitt St Mall Food Court, and we ended up there again on Saturday for some yummo Guzman Y Gomez Mexican lunch, followed by spending up big at the Becasse Bakery, which is now actually owned by Jones the Grocer which is unfortunate for Justin North, but doesn't affect me too much as long as they keep making their delectable desserts and artisan breads...



I didn't do too much cooking over the weekend, aside from a prawn pasta and making my Daintree Dough into a really yummy garlic, rosemary and thyme bread. But I did stock up on a whole heap of T2 teas like Pumping Pomegranate (a new line they're doing), Just Cinnamon and Gorgeous Geisha, as well as investing in a …