Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Donna Hay Masterchef Masterclass

I haven't been watching much of the Masterchef series on TV, but I was very happy that I switched on just in time to see Donna Hay making this Classic Baked Cheesecake on Friday night.

I have just had a weekend away with family, this would have been the perfect cheesecake to have taken along.

I have highlighted Donna's top tips in red.

Classic Baked Cheesecake


1/3 cup ground almonds (almond meal)

• ¾ cup plain flour

• ¼ cup caster sugar
90g chilled butter, chopped


• 330g cream cheese, softened
500g fresh ricotta
4 eggs

• 1 1/3 cups caster sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

• ¼ cup lemon juice
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

• 1½ tablespoons cornflour

• 1½ tablespoons water

• strawberries and raspberries, to decorate


1. Preheat oven to 150°C.

2. To make the base, place the ground almonds, flour, sugar and butter into a bowl. Rub mixture with your fingertips until it forms coarse crumbs.

3. Line the base of a 20cm spring form tin with non-stick baking paper. (Flip the base of your spring form tin, upside down and then line with baking paper - for better presentation ) Place the base mixture in the tin and press gently with fingers until even and then smooth out with the back of a spoon. Bake for 15 minutes or until light golden, set aside.

4. To make the filling, place the cream cheese, ricotta, eggs, sugar, lemon rind, juice and vanilla in a food processor. Combine the cornflour and water until smooth and add to the cheese mixture. Process the mixture until smooth.

5. Grease the sides of the cake tin with a little melted butter and then pour the filling over the base. Tap lightly to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and stand the cake in the oven for 1 hour, leaving the door closed. Refrigerate until cold and serve with fresh berries.

Donna used a very luscious looking fresh ricotta, it may be worth trying to find some to make this cheesecake.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

When life gives you lemons......

What would you make?

Lemons from Grandma's lemon tree. I'm thinking:

• lemon tart
• lemon delicious
• lemon meringue pie
• lemon sago pudding
• lemon curd
• preserved moroccan lemons
• lemon pound cake
• lemon barley water
• lemonade

Any other suggestions. I love to hear from you.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Coq au Reisling

Coq au Reisling (pronounced cauk oh rees'ling)
I absolutely adore this recipe, for obvious reasons. It's full of butter and cream and homely frenchness.

This recipe came from a fantastic cookbook on Alsatian cooking that I borrowed from the library years ago. For the 3 weeks that I had the book I cooked only from it. It was like a taking french holiday. Unfortunately I don't remember the name of the book. To make Coq a la biere, substitute lager for wine in this recipe. I have never cooked Coq a la beire, but its just another option to try.

The leftovers make a great base for a yummy cream of chicken soup.

Coq au Reisling

serves 4-6

• 1 chicken (cut into serving pieces) or 1.5 kilo chicken pieces
• 4 tablespoon butter
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 4 eschallots (finely diced)
• 300 ml reisling
• 300 ml chicken stock
• 250 grams mushrooms (sliced)
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1/2 lemon (juiced)
• 6 tablespoon heavy cream
• 1 tablespoon parsley (finely chopped)

In a heavy based casserole, melt 2 tablespoons butter and the oil. Fry the chicken pieces until brown and set aside. Add the eschallots and gently saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and chicken stock and return the chicken pieces to the casserole dish. Season to taste. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 - 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. In a fry pan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and saute the mushrooms until cooked. Season to taste. Put the chicken and mushrooms into a serving dish and keep warm. Increase the heat on the wine and stock mixture, and continue to cook until the liquid is reduced to one cup. Stir in the lemon juice and cream and heat through. Pour the sauce over the chicken and mushrooms and sprinkle with the chopped parsley. Serve immediately with buttered noodles.

Buttered noodles

serves 4-6

• 1 x 250 gram packet fettuccine or pappardelle
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butte
• salt to taste

Cook the noodles until al dente. Drain and tip into a warm serving bowl. Add the butter and salt and toss well until the butter is melted.
Do not use salt if your butter is salted. I usually use unsalted butter.

I like to serve this with either steamed asparagus or green beans.


I don't know why, but I have just started to make this old favourite again recently. I think I took it to every party I went to during the 90's. When my son was about 3 years old he saw 'guacamole' being made on Play School. We had all of the ingredients in the fridge and made it that afternoon. He loved it and from that day on, when avocados were in season, the avocado dip I usually made was: avocado, tomato and philadelphia cheese. Play School's guacamole. Only this year for his birthday, did I decide it was time for some grown up guacamole and pulled out this recipe. It is loved just as much, has way more flavour and does not need philly cheese.

The avocados are cheap and plentiful in the area were we live right now. I am reminded, as I am every season of the 3 beautiful mature avocado trees that were in the back yard of our last home. Oh how I wish I could have packed them up and moved them with me.


makes 1 1/2 cups

make from march to august

• 3 avocados (roughly chopped)
• 1/2 red onion (finely diced)
• 1 tomato (finely diced)
• 2 limes (juiced)
• 1 1/2 teas. tabasco sauce
• ground pepper
• extra virgin olive oil (if needed)
• coriander leaves (roughly chopped)

In a large bowl mash all of the ingredients together except the oil and coriander. Add olive oil if the mixture is too dry, if not, do not use at all. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the coriander.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My recipe index

You may be wondering: why are there so many recipes in the side bar recipe index when this is only a new blog and you can find only six recipes on this blog?

I have linked to recipes on my other blog 'monkeemoomoo'. This is really just to make my life easier. I am constantly losing recipes, especially ones that are written on scrap paper or have been torn from magazines. I often find them months later stuffed inside another cookbook.

This should work better for me.

While we are on the subject of the recipes on this blog, if you cook a recipe, I would love to hear your feedback, more importantly if you cook a recipe and you find a mistake, please let me know. It is time consuming writing out recipes and mistakes can happen. A simple thing like 1 tablespoon instead of 1 teaspoon written in a recipe could possibly mean disaster. This I know from first hand experience, my own mistake, lead me to completely wreck a dish that could only be thrown out.

I would like this to be an interactive blog, after all two heads are better than one, three heads are better than two........

Monday, May 23, 2011

Le creuset love

(image is from here)

I thought that I would let you know that I basically cook with 3 pots in my house. If one of my recipes says, casserole dish, stockpot, or heavy based pan, this is what I'm using.

When I lived in London in my early twenties, I was house sitting a very nice apartment in Kensington. Even though the kitchen was smaller than my current ensuite bathroom, it did have gas and it did have a le creuset pot, one of the originals in bright orange (flame). I was instantly smitten - my life had been changed forever.

A great present giving arrangement came out of living so far from home. Everyone sent me money for birthdays and Christmases. I clearly remember walking in to Selfridges and excitedly purchasing my very first le creuset pot in azure blue. For a budget traveller, this was a strange purchase perhaps, with that money I could have flown to Turkey for a week. But no, I knew I really needed that pot.

That pot came home with me when I returned to Australia, and I bought another one with my first pay cheque here. Years later one of my blue pots came to an untimely demise. It was heart wrenching. All I need to say about the matter is: Do not try and make marmalade when you have a colicky newborn in the house. And if you do try jam making during a time like this, learn from your mistakes and DON'T DO IT AGAIN three weeks later. Fruit and sugar boiling away on the stovetop need constant attention, as do newborn babies.

Lucky for me, birthday money came to the rescue again and instead of purchasing a designer handbag, a knee length leather jacket or going on a weekend getaway. I bought myself two more le creuset pots in 'grown up' cream (dune). I have the 24 cm, 26cm and 28cm. Almost everyday, two out of these three pots are on the draining rack on the sink. There are two there now as I write. They are overworked and maybe a little taken for granted. They do their job so well, I couldn't live with out them.

Do you have a favourite cookware item you can't live without?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Red cabbage and sausages

I thought I would share my recipes for the bratwurst with apples and braised red cabbage that I cooked last week. I have made both of these recipes many times before.

I'm always looking for different ways to make sausages exciting. Everyone is happy, when I tell the kids that there are sausages for dinner.

Bratwurst with apples
serves 4

• 750 grams bratwurst

• 250 grams apples (peeled, cored and sliced)
• 2 tables. butter
• 2 tables. sugar

• 2 tables. raisins

Grill the sausages and keep warm. In a large frypan melt the butter and gently cook the apples, covered, for 15 minutes until soft. Add the sugar and raisins and cook for a few minutes. Lay the cooked sausages over the apple and cover with a lid. Simmer for 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

This braised red cabbage recipe was on the Christmas menu that I cooked for my first cold Christmas in London. Every time I cook it I am reminded of our cosy flat on that day. The apartment was decorated with colours of the season: a poinsettia sat on a side table, red parrot tulips spilled from a vase on the mantle piece, red candles lit the room, fresh holly decorated the hors d'oeuvres platters, mistletoe hung in the doorway and best of all, the room was scented by a Norwegian spruce, yes, a real Christmas tree. The day was filled with many friends far from home and lots of delicious Christmas food. Joy, laughter and merriment, as it should be. There was lots of red wine, champagne and mulled wine and an incident with a tea towel catching fire on the gas hob, but that is a whole other story. (too much wine I think...shhhh)

The original recipe came from a December issue of UK Country Living, but I think I have probably played around with it a bit.

Braised red cabbage

serves 4

• 1/2 red cabbage (shredded)

• 3 tables. olive oil

• 1 large onion (diced)

• 1 1/2 tables. red wine vinegar

• 1 large or 2 small green apples (peeled and sliced)
• 50 grams brown sugar

• 3/4 teas. cinnamon

• 3/4 teas. ground cloves

• 2 tables. red wine

• 1 bay leaf

• salt and pepper

• 2 tables. red current jelly (optional)

Heat the oil in a large pan and saute the onions until soft. Add the cabbage and cook gently for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until wilted. Add the vinegar and raise the heat to reduce the liquid. Once reduced, add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 2 hours.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Brussels Sprouts - are you for or against?

I think I have only eaten brussels spouts twice before. Both of my parents have bad childhood memories of brussels sprouts. I don't remember them ever being cooked in my childhood home.

The first time I tasted them, I cringed, what I was served was overcooked, tasteless and a little cold, if I remember correctly. They had completely lived up to the brussels sprouts reputation. The second time I ate them, they were delicious. When I saw Jamie Oliver cook them with bacon, chestnut and sage butter on his Christmas DVD, I knew I wanted to try cooking them myself. I am always inspired to get back into the kitchen after watching one of Jamie's cooking shows.

This weekend at our local farmers market, I saw these baby brussels sprouts, they were calling out my name, I had to buy them. I cooked Delia's 'brussels sprouts in riesling and with bacon' and they weren't bad, I'm almost converted. I definitely needed a little more salt, and I cooked them for a little longer than Delia did in her recipe.

How do you cook your brussels sprouts? Do you have any tips?

So... am I for or against? I'm not sure yet. But I will give it another try, maybe try Jamie's recipe.

I would love to grow my own, did you know that brussels sprouts grow like this? Now I bet they would taste good.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I don't think you could watch a German Eurovision on a cool autumn night without a warm glass of Gluhwein.

The very first time I made this was for a big family birthday party. A german friend, was there, we had adopted her as one of our own. When she tasted this, she looked at me and disbelief and said "I am home. This is exactly as it should taste."

I took that, as a pretty good compliment and have been making this recipe ever since.

I have a beautiful picture of my Nana on that night, a mug of warm Gluhwein in her hands, rosy red cheeks, a huge smile and a sparkle in her eyes.


(mulled wine)

makes 1 litre

• 1 bottle merlot
• 1/4 cup water

• 1/4 cup sugar

• 1 cinnamon stick

• 3 whole cloves
• 3 strips of lemon rind

• 3 strips of orange rind

Put all of the ingredients into a saucepan and slowly bring to a simmer. Do not boil. Simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

German cooking

Do you like to watch the Eurovision song contest?

We have been watching it ever since SBS started broadcasting it. Years ago we started a quirky tradition: on the night that Eurovision airs on TV we cook food from the host country.

After Lena's win last year, Eurovision was held in Germany. The contest is now held over 3 nights with 2 semi-finals and the final. Here's what I made this year:

night one:

Suss-saure Bratwurst
(bratwurst in sweet and sour sauce)

Wurzsaurkraut (spiced sauerkraut)

Steamed Green Beans

night two:

Konigsberger Klopse (poached meatballs in lemon and caper sauce)

Himmel und Erde ('heaven and earth' - potatoes with apples)

Brussels Sprouts braised in Reisling

night three:

Sauebraten (marinated pot roast in sweet and sour sauce)

Kateoffelklosse (potato dumplings)

Rotkohl mit Apfeln (red cabbage with apples)

marinating the beef for the Saurbraten

the meatballs being rolled and ready for poaching

the ingredients for the spiced sauerkraut

rolling potato dumplings with my daughter

The verdict:

• It is hard to make German food look good on a plate.
• I have made the bratwurst and red cabbage before, and as before they were delicious.
• I was dreaming of a German friends sauerkraut, and while mine was good, it just wasn't the same.
• the Heaven and Earth tasted good but it reminded me of baby food, something I am trying to move away from. Actually the kids did not eat it.
• this was my first pot roast and probably my last. The butcher didn't have the cut of meat that I had asked for and I bought the 'round' roast that he suggested with hesitation. I usually don't like the taste of round and I don't like beef well done.
• I really needed the potato ricer on my wish list for the potato dumplings. Yes, there were a few lumps, my German ancestors would have been horrified.
• even though my dumplings were a little bit of a disaster, especially the second batch, the flavour combination of the saurbraten, dumplings and braised red cabbage went really well together. It is the traditional way to serve this dish, I believe.
• it was a little ambitious to cook five recipes I never cooked before all in one weekend. It is definitely better to do this kind of thing when everyone is a school or work.
• I had a lot of fun trying new dishes, ingredients and techniques. I especially loved rolling potato dumplings with my daughter.

Azerbaijan next year. I can't wait.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Broccoli soup

I love making vegetable soups like this one for autumn lunches. Our days here at the moment are beautiful and sunny but the winds can be icy. Broccoli is just $1.99 a kilo at our local fruit shed, so it seemed like the perfect time to make this soup.

This is a recipe that I started making just last year. I have torn it from a newspaper, it is, I think, a Donna Hay recipe.

Broccoli Soup
serves 4

• 50 grams unsalted butter
• 1 leek (rinsed and sliced)

• 2 cloves garlic (crushed)

• 1 head broccoli (chopped)

• 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock

• 100 grams baby spinach leaves

• 1 cup single cream (pouring or pure cream)

• 1 tablespoons lemon juice

• salt and pepper

In a deep heavy based stockpot, melt the butter and add the leek and garlic. Gently saute until the leek is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli florets and stock and bring to the boil. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the broccoli is tender. Add the spinach and cook for a further 2 minutes. Puree the soup until smooth and return to the pot. Stir in the cream, lemon juice and season to taste. Once the cream has heated through, serve immediately.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Maggie Beers Masterchef Masterclass

I love Maggie Beer. How could you not? Her love and passion for food and life is infectious. What a dream to be invited into her beautiful Barossa kitchen like one of the family; to learn and to taste.

Some of the contestants in the new Masterchef series where that lucky. She taught them her secrets for her delicious chocolate and quince tart and her best ever roasted chicken.

No wonder Maggie loves cooking so much, she roasted one of her daughters 'happy' Barossa chickens, filled with rosemary and lemons from her garden. The quinces for her chocolate tart were from her quince orchard on the farm and the almonds, local and freshly ground.

From garden to plate. Bliss.

I will trying these recipes very soon and for those of you who would also like to try them, here are some of Maggie's top tips from the show last night.

For the sour cream pastry for the chocolate tart

• use cold butter, cut into small squares.
• pulse the mixture and work quickly to avoid the pastry getting hot
• don't add all of the sour cream at once, add two thirds and then see if it needs the rest
• tip the pastry mixture (still resembling breadcrumbs) onto a bench and squash it together with your hands before wrapping it to go in the fridge
• do not over handle the pastry
• Prick the base of the pastry just before it goes into the oven to blind bake
• this pastry will shrink, so make allowances for this

• for the filling you can use balsamic vinegar if you do not have vino cotto

For the chicken
• tuck the chicken wings under the bird
• cover the breast with foil for the first part of the cooking time and the legs for the second part of the cooking time.
• cover the the cooked chicken with foil and leave to rest for 40 minutes

Here's where I had a light bulb moment: my Nana always let her chicken sit covered on the stove top for about an hour. I don't know why I hadn't realised before that this was one of her best kept secrets for a succulent chicken.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Roasted Vietnamese Eggplant with Pork and Prawns

More Asian cooking at our house last night.

Well, I did buy a whole bag of limes!

Mr Moo has been asking me to make Vietnamese forever, so he was extremely happy that I had discovered this recipe torn from a magazine a while back. It is reminiscent of a meal we ate in a tiny
hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Hanoi - forever ago.

Roasted Vietnamese Eggplant with Pork and Prawns
(serves 4-6)

• 2 long thai eggplants or 1 small european eggplant (sliced)
• 1 tables. vegetable oil
• 250 grams pork mince
• 150 grams green prawns (peeled, deveined and cut into 4 pieces)
• 3 tables. garlic cloves (crushed)
• 1 tables. grated fresh ginger
• 2 shallots (sliced)
• 2 tables mint leaves
• 2 tables. coriander leaves

for the dressing:
• 1 red chilli (diced)
• 2 shallots (sliced)
• 3 tables. fish sauce
• 4 tables. lime juice
• 1 tables. palm sugar (shaved/grated)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Lay the sliced eggplant on a baking tray with some oil and roast for about 15 minutes until soft. Leave to cool and then dice the eggplant and set aside. Mix all of the ingredients for the dressing together and set aside. Heat the oil in a wok and add the garlic, ginger and shallots to the pan, fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the pork and stir fry for 3 minutes, then add the prawns and cook for a further 1-2 minutes until the prawns are cooked. Remove from the heat and stir through the eggplant, mint and coriander. Stir through the dressing and transfer to a serving bowl and serve.

We served this with jasmine rice.

As for the kids, I had defrosted some homemade chicken soup for their dinner.

Although they happily tasted our dinner and liked it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pork and Eggplant Thai Green Curry

Last night I cooked this thai green curry.

When our (once) thriving chilli bush was heavy with chillies a couple of months ago, I made a couple of batches of green curry paste and froze it in 2 tablespoon qualities. The perfect amount for this recipe.

I was a bit caught up with the excitement of it all and didn't really think that it would be to spicy for the children. I have cooked a few casseroles made with chorizo lately and that has been fine. But as we sat down to dinner, I realised it was too spicy. Never mind, I just gave the kids a cheese sandwich and a carrot for dinner instead.

We loved our curry. I think it has been at least a year since I last made a thai curry, maybe more.

Sorry, I have no idea which curry paste recipe I used to make the green curry paste. Another one of the reasons for this blog: a place to record and be able to find recipes easily, long after I have cooked them.
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