Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pancakes with Caramelised Pear, Mascarpone and Maple Syrup

There isn't really a story behind this... other than sitting on the lounge after dinner one night REALLY wanting some dessert. So I checked the fridge and put together a few things I happened to have around.

First make some crepe-like pancakes and set them aside somewhere to keep warm.

In a pan gently melt some brown sugar with a little bit of butter.
Add some chopped walnuts, stirring them until they are warm and golden.
Add a few slices of fresh pear, frying on each side until warm (not too long or they become a bit mushy).

Stack a couple of pancakes on a plate, top with some pear, walnuts and caramel, a scoop (or two, or three) of mascarpone then drizzle lovingly with maple syrup.

Monday, May 30, 2011


For a long time Mama has had a beautiful speculaasplank (a wooden cookie mold) that she and I used to look at and talk about using some day to make some traditional Dutch speculaas.

And the end of last year, while flipping through the Canberra Times Food and Wine I saw a picture that gave me an idea for Christmas - a ginger bread tree. It looked beautiful! Golden biscuits, silver cashous and dusting of icing sugar 'snow'.

So, while getting ready to make my 'Christmas Tree' at home at Williworld on Christmas Eve, I saw the speculaas mold and decided to make the biscuits using speculaas dough.

In a bowl mix:
200 g flour
100 g brown sugar
100 g butter
2 Tbs milk
orange zest
1 tsp baking powder, and
4 tsp speculaas spice (dutch cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamon and pepper)

Mix well until well combined and rest for half to one hour.

I then rolled it out and punched out a few sets of five different star sizes.
Bake at a low heat for about 10 minutes, or until golden.

Allow to cool and decorate the tops with snow white royal icing (egg white and icing sugar) and a silver cashous on each star point.

When the icing is dry, stack the stars, slightly turning them on themselves to create a tree.

I made these biscuits again yesterday for a farewell afternoon tea for a colleague going on maternity and expecting a baby boy. However, instead of white icing, I got 'creative and narrow-mindedly sexist', and used bright blue icing!

So, I've still not used the beautiful mold but I have learnt to make the dough... and thats a start.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tamari & Pesto Tofu

An amazing lunch at church yesterday!

Tofu, Chinese Noodle Salad, Turkish Bread and Kristel's Mixed Dahal (mine isn't as good as hers so wait for it from her!).

Mum made an adaptation of Sandi May's great tofu.

Cubed tofu with plenty of pesto, sunflower seeds and drizzled with Tamari & olive oil. Grill or bake in the oven til crispy.

Mum added an antipasto mix (with chickpeas and sundried tomatoes in it) then fried it rather than cooking it in the oven.

Mum, Dad, Vicki & I sat outside in the sunshine at a small cosy table, "very alfresco" said Dad! We had a very nice lunch.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tom Kha Gai

I think I first made this soup with Stellie at Kooba Street.
Since then, it has become a true favourite. Light, fresh and super tasty.

Using 3 cups of chicken stock, add
20g fresh galangal,
4 kaffir lime leaves,
1 stick of lemon grass
2 Tbs coriander roots and stems

This is best left to soak overnight or for a few hours, but if you dont have time... Boil for at least 10 minutes before straining out the leaves etc.

Using the strained broth, add
500g chopped chicken
200g straw mushrooms
1 tsp raw or brown sugar
1 Tbs fish sauce
1 Tbs lime juice
1 kaffir lime leaf finely shredded
1 tin coconut milk

Simmer gently until chicken is cooked
Add 1/4 cup fresh coriander, a fresh red chilli and some fresh spring onions.

Serve on a bed of steamed rice in a pretty little bowl; or own its own as an entree.

Mmmmmm delicious wonderful soup...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Vegie Pies.......

Remember a favourite of ours the envelope Pasties?
Well the Pullinger house often make Pies with the same mixture!
I really like that I can put a few vegetables in that would often have small noses turned up at!
Tonight while Mark was out ( having pizza & beers watching Origin) the girls and I had Pies.
The standard start for most of the meals that I cook, onions & olive oil, (which Mark loves the smell of)
carrots and potatoes diced on the V slicer
sliced cabbage, frozen peas & corn
packet spring vegie soup
TVP mince / (beef mince can be used)
Puff Pastry
Tonight I was able to disguise Brown Mushrooms and even 1/2 a choko in the filling.
After cooking the first 4 pies a cut one to take the photo, I noticed it was a little runny so before making the rest of the pies, the cornflour came out of the cupboard (all by its self) and I made the mixture into a great pie filling.
Holly, Lilly & I all had our pie with TS of course!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

My first memory of cooking these was when I was about 11 years old. I'd eaten the batter long before that though, while helping mama with them. The recipe is from a great book of her's from when she and dad first got married. One that when you hold it just so, falls open to this recipe.

I'm not sure I have ever enjoyed another choc chip cookies as much as I enjoy these. Try them and see if you feel the same...

You will need:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 eggs
320g choc chips
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 Tbs milk
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder

Mix the butter and sugar until light and creamy then add the eggs and vanilla and combine well.
Add the chocolate, nuts and seeds, then the flour, milk and baking powder.

Once well combined, spoon onto a lightly greased tray and bake at 180C until golden (about 10-15 minutes).

Lookout, they are very more-ish!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lemon Curd Tarts

While relaxing with Luke, Sal and Uncle Tihamer on the lawn at Williworld this afternoon, I noticed the lemon tree, which made me think of yummy food, and then talk about it - between us we decided some lemon tarts were in order to accompany our afternoon coffee.

So, off to the kitchen went Sarah and I...

We used Stephanie Alexander's short crust pastry recipe, except used wholemeal flour and lemon juice instead of water, and made lemon custard for the filling (which we rightly presumed would curdle as we used milk instead of cream). It didn't matter though. They were still delicious and became curd tarts, instead of just lemon tarts.

In a saucepan mix 6 egg yolks with a 1/2 cup of sugar, mix well to combine.
Add a splash of vanilla, zest of 2 large lemons, a squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of salt and 300mls of milk or cream.
Slowly cook custard on a low heat, gently stirring so it doesn't stick, for about 10 minutes or until thick.

Pour custard into blind baked shells (we used a standard 12 hole muffin tray) and bake at 180'C for around 15 minutes.

Allow to cool before gently removing from tray.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Nachos with salad

We have friends who would be happy to eat this for every meal of the rest of their life; while other friends... regard it as some kind of torture.

I love it due to the flavour, the freshness of all the salad, the number of toppings you can add, the combination of food groups etc. etc.

Gently fry onion, add garlic, tomato paste, sweet paprika, a few ground cloves and plenty of ground cumin.

Add massel beef stock powder, cooked borlotti and or kidney beans, a large tin of crushed tomatoes, a chilli, fresh oregano, a bit of salt and pepper and a square or two of plain dark chocolate (yes, chocolate).

For a nice thick sauce you may also like to add a tin of refried beans, otherwise you can mash some of your cooked beans.

Its great if you can leave it on a very low heat for a while to let the flavours really meld together.

We eat this with corn chips, cheese, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, sour cream, guacamole and some tabasco sauce or jalapeno peppers.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wild Pumpkin and Fetta soup (she once was a true love of mine)

I found some wild pumpkins growing at the side of our school property (I love teaching in the country) and in typical Willi style I foraged them immediately.
Stellie obligingly cooked up a storm and made pumpkin soup.

No real ground breaking recipe here, just fried onion and garlic, lots of cumin and turmeric add pumpkin and stock and water.
Boil for ages.
Add leftover filling for Pumpkin & Fetta pies from the freezer (you may not have this ingredient readily to hand)
Serve with fresh green stuff, we used coriander in this regard. Parsley, Sage, Rosemary or Thyme would be equally pastoral.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fettuccini with creamy pesto and white wine

This is a creation I made for friends last weekend. It's inspiration is from two dishes I saw, one in a Woman's Weekly and the other while flicking through the menu of a local restaurant.

Mushrooms (about 4 medium sized)
Peas (about a cup)
Spring onions (half a bunch)
Garlic (2 cloves)
Pesto (2-3 tablespoons)
White wine (about a cup)
Cream (about a cup)
Pepper (maybe a teaspoon)
Salt (a few good grinds)
Shaved parmesan to serve

In a pan, fry mushrooms with a little butter until golden brown
Add garlic and spring onions, stirring a few times before adding wine
Simmer for about a minute then add the pesto, cream, salt and pepper
Bring to a simmer and add the peas

Pour over cooked fettuccini, combine well and serve with parmigiano

Easter nests

Get creative with themed cakes...These were my easter themed cupcakes:
It was difficult to come up with an easter flavour for a cake but I decided that paralleling the cinnamon of hot cross buns and with Dan adoring all things pear, that a Pear, Maple and cinnamon cake was the perfect choice.

Atop was a nest of orange blossom persian fairy floss and speckled chocolate eggs.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Winter Chai

This is perfect on a cold winters night. Actually - any time of day really.

In a saucepan place about 1 - 2 cups of water
2 lightly crushed star anise
6 - 10 bruised cloves
a cinnamon stick or two
a few bruised cardamon pods
and a few grinds of pepper

Gently simmer for 10 - 20 minutes (or as long as you like, just keep an eye on the water level)
Add 2 tablespoons of dandelion tea (or black tea or rooibos) with 1 - 2 tablespoons of honey, 1 - 2 cups of soy milk (or cows milk if you prefer)

Keep on low heat, stirring until honey is dissolved and milk is warm/hot

Drink from your favourite mug, accompanied by a cookie, speculaas, cake or ... another cup of chai.

Tofu and salad wraps with 'Greenhouse Tapenade'

This is a super quick, delicious and pretty healthy lunch or dinner.

In a pestle and mortar combine the following chopped ingredients: kalamata olives, garlic, fresh basil, fresh chilli, tomato paste, salt and pepper - combine well to form a rustic 'Greenhouse Tapenade'

Dice a block of firm tofu into medium to small cubes and shallow fry until golden brown

Add massel chicken stock powder (about 2 - 5 teaspoons, depending on how strong you want it an how much tofu you have)

Continue to fry on low to medium heat until combined well, golden and little crispy

On a wholemeal wrap, spread a little tapenade and sour cream

Add tofu, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, etc... whatever your favourite salad ingredients are.

Wrap and enjoy...

Drunken Cherries

This is a creation I made after a discussion over coffee with Debbie, a friend and true foodie, who was thinking of ideas for her column in the Canberra Times Food and Wine magazine.

Debbie's recipe is a little different, using fondant rather than marzipan, and at least 70% cocoa chocolate rather than normal dark chocolate.

You will need:
Large fresh cherries with no marks and stalks attached
Dark chocolate

Wash and dry cherries
Cover each cherry with a thin to medium layer of marzipan - you may need to experiment on the best way of doing this, either rolling it out or pressing little pancakes with damp (clean) fingers
Once covered, allow to dry while you melt chocolate in a double boiler
Carefully dip cherries into melted chocolate, making sure to cover the base of the stalk
Rest on a clean sheet of baking paper until chocolate is set
Dip cherries a second time ensuring the whole cherry is covered (I did this the over complicated way and hung them by the stalk with pegs to create a pretty tear shape - but as I said, over complicated)

Once the chocolate is completely set, place cherries in an air tight container in the fridge for 1 - 2 weeks
1 week gives a beautifully combined flavour; 2 weeks allows for the natural fermentation of the fruit with sugar creating a delicious cherry fizz...

Perfect with an espresso or glass of pyjama vino

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Slow cooked shank and bean ragout

What to do with a Sunday afternoon? What better than to slow cook something until it crumbles at the touch of your fork?

Seal off some shanks in olive oil and set aside. Sweat off a chopped onion, some garlic, diced carrots and 2 celery sticks. Add a large tin of crushed tomatos, a splash of wine (If you're glass hasn't taken it all already), 2 cups of stock and a tin of cannelini beans.

That's pretty much it as long as you've got a couple of hours to let that caramelise and the meat to become tender. Just keep an eye on the amount of liquid in your roasting dish and turn your temperature down if it browns too much.

We enjoyed this with a 2009 bottle of Coolengatta Estate Chambourcin.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Osso Bucco with truffle infused mash

This is a great recipe for winter.

I found osso bucco on special at the local super market. Fantastic.
taste.com (i think) had a recipe for osso bucco but my iPhone was out of range so I only got half the recipe before the reception dropped out completely

Never mind!

Ingredients purchased for osso bucco
Celery I stick
Can of tomatoes
Some beef stock cubes (about an empty tomato can's worth)
4 small cloves garlic
Squirt of tomato paste
Lemon thyme for garnish
1 case of White Wine for me (I mean the stock)

Fry onions and garlic in a generous glug of oil
Brown osso bucco
Deglase with the wine
Pop all ingredients in the birdy boiler for four hours

The potatoes are cooked and ready for mashing
Mash them
Add some butter and olive oil but don't let either of them know (one at a time)
Also add some truffle oil should you have some "lying around"

When the slow cooked meat is done (if you have any mash left at this point)
Put them together in the logical order and enjoy!