I’ve been taking some photos of little domestic pleasures. A warm, flourless orange cake, a new fruit bowl full of lemons and home-grown mandarins, a baby quilt made from scraps, a couple of zippered pouches I made thanks to Kristen Link’s (of Sew Mama Sew) free Craftsy course – Bag making basics, a pile of ironed, quilted goodies etc. Anyway here they are and I hope you enjoy them too.
As you can see I’m on a salad kick at the moment. Here’s one I made last night to have with the leftover roast lamb.
2 cups couscous
2 cups of water
Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
A little butter or margrine
1 red capsicum
1 yellow capsicum
1/2 bunch of fresh coriander roughly chopped
1 large Roma tomato diced
1/2 cucumber diced
Your favourite French salad dressing. I cheated and used Praise fat free French dressing.
Slice the eggplant into thick slices, brush with a little of the olive oil and place on a griller pan. Turn regularly so you don’t overdo the char. You want the eggplant cooked and with a little of that nice caramelisation. Slice the capsicum sides so you have wide strips, probably 3 or 4. Char grill these too.
While the vegetables are grilling cook the couscous. Use whatever instructions come on the packet. The one I used is very simple. Bring 2 cups of water to the boil, add a little salt and a splash of olive oil. Remove from the heat and stir in 2 cups of couscous with a fork. Put the lid on the pan and leave OFF the heat for 5 minutes. After that time fluff up with a fork, add a dollop of butter or margarine and stir over a low heat for 2 minutes.
In a large bowl or on a large platter place half the couscous. Slice the cooled, cooked eggplant and capsicum into thin strips and then fork through the couscous.
Add the rest of the couscous and then the chopped tomatoes, cucumber and coriander. Mix the whole salad well. Then sprinkle over your French dressing to taste and gently mix again.
Yesterday I roasted a rolled loin of lamb and some new potatoes and a little pumpkin and I rustled up this yummy salad to go with it.
Ingredients for the salad
5 small beetroot
1/2 punnet of rocket/aragula
1/2 a small cos lettuce
A large handful of mung bean sprouts
6 spring onions
Ingredients for the Dressing
1 tablespoon of Pukara Estate Fig Balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
1 tablespoon of water
Method for the Salad
Scrub the beetroots, rub a little oil on them and roast for 40 minutes at 180C. Turn them every 10 minutes. Check they are done with a sharp knife. While warm, being careful not to burn yourself, peel the skin off and chop off the ends. Cut the beetroots into eighths and place in a bowl. Make the dressing while the beetroots are cooking and pour all of it over the cut, warm beetroot.
While the beetroot is marinating wash and drain the rocket, mung bean sprouts and the lettuce. Chop the lettuce. Chop the spring onions. Place the Rocket, lettuce, mung bean sprouts and spring onions on a serving dish and mix up. Then place the beetroot on top and spoon over the rest of the dressing. It’s lovely warm or cold.
Method for the dressing
Add all the ingredients to a small bowl and whisk with a fork until the ingredients are emulsified.
This was a bit of an experiment but I’d thought I’d share it with you anyway. If I were to make it again I would use 3 eggs instead of 4 and 1/2 a cup of sugar in addition to the honey. Anyhow this is what I did this time:
4 eggs (it is preferable for these to be at room temperature. However, if you’re like me you want to make a cake on a whim and all your eggs are in the fridge. No problem, just separate your eggs – whites in one bowl and yolks in another and leave them on the bench while you assemble all the other ingredients. We’re going to whip them before we do anything else so they’ll warm up any way.)
1/2 cup of fragrant honey. ( What I mean is a honey with a characteristic smell and flavour not your common or garden, in-house-label el-cheapo honey. I used Tasmanian Leatherwood honey which has a unique flavour.)
1/2 teaspoon Bicarb soda (baking soda)
1 3/4 cups of almond meal
1/2 to 1 tsp saffron fronds
1/2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
1/3 cup of water
1/4 cup of the same honey
1/4 to 1/2 tsp saffron
1 tsp rose water
Separate the eggs. Beat your egg whites until frothy but not completely stiff. Add the saffron to the milk and warm in the microwave for 20 sec. Beat the yolks and then add the honey and beat until well mixed. Then add the saffron/milk mixture and beat some more. Add the baking soda and the salt and mix in well. Then add your almond meal and beat until thoroughly mixed. Then, with a plastic spatula, fold in the egg whites until well mixed and no lumps of white froth are visible.
Pour the mixture into a greased spring-form cake tin that has the base lined with baking paper. Bake on 150C 300F for 35 minutes or until the centre springs back or a skewer comes out clean. I have found the cooking time of this sort of cake a bit hit and miss. My fan-forced oven tends to brown the outside very dark and the inside isn’t cooked with these type of cakes so after 30 minutes I lowered my oven 120C for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes then run around the edge with a round-bladed knife before removing the ring on the spring-form pan. When it’s cool remove the base and the baking paper and set on a plate ready for the syrup.
Add all the ingredient sot a small pan and bring to the boil, while stirring continuously. Once it boils stir for a couple of minutes so that it thickens slightly then take it off the heat and leave to cool.
Prick the surface of the cake with a toothpick or fork and then pour the syrup over the top. Serve with ice cream.
I’ve finished knitting my Japanese Feather scarf and the other day my ultrafine blocking wires arrived so I’m hoping to get it blocked this weekend so I can show you the finished product next week.
I bought these from Inspinknity and I notice at the moment they have free US and Canada shipping and $5 international shipping until the end of the 31st March. If you’re in the market for these then you better be quick.
2 ply Cashmere Yarn
I also bought a ball of the finest Cashmere 2ply I have ever seen from Knitters’ Addiction.
It’s so fine (100g = 1000 yards!) that I really gave up on knitting lace with it because it looked so unstructured. It is no exaggeration to say that I knitted and undid at least 15 or 20 different patterns trying to find one that looked good with yarn this fine.
The photo doesn’t really show you how fine it is. A friend actually thought it was single ply it is so fine.
I ended up opting for a 6 stitch rib which is light and airy and classic. I’ll show you soon.
I have found what I believe to be THE BEST chocolate cake recipe I have ever tasted. I found the recipe on the Cadbury site here.
You know me though, I had to tweak it a little. My tweaks were: I substituted Flora ProActiv Buttery margarine for the butter and I added 1 cup of frozen raspberries to the final batter. I didn’t make any icing/frosting as I didn’t have icing sugar in my pantry but it really didn’t need it.
The cake was rich and moist and light and it really didn’t leave you feeling weighed down. It was so moist and the raspberries just took it to a whole other taste sensation! What’s more as the cake aged it got moister and tastier not drier. A real winner!
I’ve had a few requests for the recipe for my Banana and Blueberry cake so I’m posting it here. Just a few things to note: as I make it, the cake contains no added sugar, I use Splenda™. This is an artificial sweetener that you can use measure for measure like sugar. So if you prefer sugar just substitute the same quantity. Also you can make this cake using sultanas instead of blueberries if you prefer. I also used Flora ProActiv, a cholesterol lowering margarine but you can use any margarine or butter if you prefer.
2 tbsp melted margarine/butter
3/4 cup Splenda™/sugar
1 1/2cups of self-raising flour
2 ripe bananas roughly mashed (not a complete mush, you want it to be chunky)
1/2 cup frozen blueberries (or sultanas)
2 Extra Large Eggs (weigh more than 73g each)
1/2 cup milk (I used low fat A2 milk but you can use your favourite one)
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste.
Place the dry ingredients (flour, Splenda™, cinnamon in a bowl and mix well. In another bowl add the melted margarine, then the vanilla paste, then the milk and finally the eggs and mix well.
Add the frozen blueberries to the dry ingredients and mix so they are coated. Make a well in the centre and add the mashed banana and then add the wet ingredients to the bananas, stirring all the time. When these are mixed, gently stir the well mixture so that it picks up the dry ingredients and incorporates them into the mix. Do not over mix or the cake will become tough. Mix it just enough so that it is thoroughly mixed and no more.
Grease a silicon loaf tin and pour the mixture into it. Cook in the middle of a fan-forced oven for 40 – 45 minutes at 180deg C. The cake is cooked when a skewer placed in the thickest part comes out dry. Let the cake stand for 2 or 3 minutes once you take it out of the oven then loosen the sides with a knife and turn out onto a cooling tray.
I hope you enjoy it. I like it sliced with a bit of margarine or butter on it.
I’ve been watching Jamie Oliver do his 30 minute meals on TV and they look lovely so I decided to buy his book. As usual I got it from The Book Depository for about half of what it would have cost me in Australia and that included postage! I know bookshops here are closing but it’s because they keep book prices artificially high. If this book was around the same price here I’d buy it here but I’m not about to give them a $30 subsidy for nothing.
The book arrived the other day and it’s full of really appetising food and I’m looking forward to trying some of the recipes. Take a look at these:
I thought I might challenge myself to see if I could do them in 30 minutes. However before I do I need to buy some of what he calls “essential pieces of kit”, most importantly a food processor. I’ve owned food processors before and found them useful, if a bit of pain to clean and difficult to store. However, at the moment I don’t have one and haven’t for several years. I’d be interested to hear any recommendations you may have. Jamie use a Magimix but there is “Jamie Olive Tefal processor” – who knows which of those is better but I suspect it’d the former which is very expensive.
This recipe is really easy and, though I do say so myself, the stuffed parathas are really, really nice. I hope you enjoy the recipes.
Ingredients – Chickpea curry
A handful of green beans
1/2 can coconut cream
2tsp Massel chicken-style stock powder
1 squeeze Gourmet Garden Mild Chilli
1 squeeze Gourmet Garden Garlic
1 squeeze Gourmet Garden Ginger
1/2 sweet potatoes cut into dice
salt to taste
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil gently and add the chopped sweet potato and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the washed, shredded spinach (or silverbeet) and put the lid on for 2 minutes. Top and tail the beans and add. Stir in the chilli, garlic and ginger and add the drained chickpeas. Stir well for a couple of minutes. Add the coconut cream and a similar amount of water. Cook on a gentle simmer with lid on, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potatoes and beans are cooked. Serve with potato stuffed parathas.
Ingedients – Potato stuffed parathas
2 sheets of frozen puff pastry
5 medium potatoes
A bunch of fresh coriander
Salt to taste
Peel, cut and boil the potatoes in salted water until they are soft enough to mash but not so soft they are water logged. Take the pastry sheets out of the freezer and allow to thaw slightly while you prepare the filling.
Chop half the bunch of coriander. Mash the potatoes and then stir in the coriander. Taste the mixture and season it with salt and pepper if you think it needs it. Cut each sheet of pastry into quarters. Take one quarter and spread the warm potato mixture over it almost to the edges. Then place a second pastry quarter over the top and seal the edges by pressing with a fork all the way around. Put this one on to cook while you prepare the others. To cook, you need a non-stick frypan and 1/2 a teaspoon of oil. Heat the frypan to moderately hot and place the potato stuffed paratha on it. Lift from time to time to ensure that it isn’t getting burnt. The oil in the puff pastry together with the tiny amount you’ve added will be enough to make it crisp up. Once it is browned flip it over and cook the other side.
If you like you can add chilli to the mash for an extra boost of flavour.
I love dhal. It’s one of my comfort foods just as much as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding is. Sometimes I serve it along with a main dish, salad and rice and sometimes just with rice. I made this one last night. It took less than 30 minutes from start to finish. While it does a have little midl chilli added it is not spicy, more piquant and really tasty.
Tasty red lentil dhal
1 cup red lentils
1 can of chickpeas, drained
1 medium sweet potato cut into chunks
1 medium onion finely chopped
handful of green beans, topped and tailed
bunch of coriander
10 cherry tomatoes
2 heaped tsps of Massell Chicken-style stock
1 squirt of Gourmet Garden mild chilli
1/2 squirt (you know what I mean) of Gourmet Garden garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
25-30g of butter
salt to taste
Put the red lentils in a bowl and cover with cold water. Swish them around so the water becomes cloudy and then decant the water off into the sink. Repeat this two more times. If you don’t wash the lentils like this you will get an unsightly scum on your dhal.
Place the oil and butter in a heavy saucepan and heat on medium heat until the butter is melted and foamy. Add the onions and cook until they start to turn opaque then add the lentils and stir well. They should become opaque and buttery coloured. As they begin to change colour add the garlic and mild chilli. Stir constantly so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Then add the chickpeas, stir through and add enough water to cover. Add the sweet potato chunks and the chicken-style stock and give it a good stir. When the stock boils turn it down to a simmer and add the green beans. Cook with the lid on until the sweet potato is cooked.
While the dhal is cooking cut the cherry tomatoes in half and roughly chop half of the bunch of coriander. When the dhal is cooked pour into a large bowl and stir in the raw tomatoes and coriander. Add salt to taste. Serve with steamed or boiled rice for a simple meal. Or add a salad and/or a main such as chicken curry for a more flash meal.
Last night we had smoked chicken and leek quiche and I thought you might like the recipe so you can try it for yourself. It really was tasty.
Quiche pastry ingredients
260g plain flour
40g self-raising flour
8-9 tbsp water (depends on the flour as some are drier than others)
pinch of salt
Quiche pastry method (for an 11 inch quiche dish)
Mix the flours, salt and herbs in a bowl. Cut the butter into the flour and then rub in until the mixture looks like coarse bread crumbs. Add the water and mix in with a round-bladed knife. Knead the pastry gently until it forms a ball and leaves the sides of the bowl clear. The less kneading the better as the more you work the dough, the more you will develop the gluten and the pastry will become tough. Turn it out onto a lightly floured board and roll out to fit your quiche dish. Grease the dish lightly and line with the pastry. Don’t cut to size until the filling is ready. Set aside and leave it to rest while you make the filling. Turn your oven on to preheat it to 200C.
Smoked chicken and leek quiche filling ingredients
1 small pack of smoked chicken (you won’t use all of it so some will be left over for sandwiches)
2 medium leeks
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small carton of sour cream
4 large eggs
Smoked chicken and leek filling method
Cut the dark green tops and the roots off the leeks, remove the outer layer and then split lengthwise. Wash under running water to remove any grit that is between the leaves. Slice the leeks and sauté in the olive oil until the leeks are slightly caramellised then remove from the heat. Remove the skin and any fat from the smoked chicken breast and slice. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk lightly then pour in the sour cream and whisk gently until homogenous. Don’t be too vigorous here you just want the sour cream mixed in thoroughly.
Place the leeks in the bottom of the pastry case and then trim the pastry. Layer the smoked chicken on top of the leeks. You need enough chicken to cover the leeks. Pour the sour cream/ egg mix over the chicken. Sprinkle either a little paprika or a little oregano on the top. Place the quiche in the middle of the oven for around 40 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve with fresh salad.
Note about seasoning: I don’t add salt to this recipe because the smoked chicken is fairly salty and I think if people want it saltier then they can add it themselves.