Thursday, June 30, 2011

The recovery - pancakes

After almost a week of not eating, I was happy to hear the request for pancakes this morning. It means that the children must be getting better. Is it goodbye snuffles and sneezes? I hope so.

We eat pancakes for breakfast almost every Sunday morning. If I make a change to something different (eggs - perhaps) for variety, there is much protest. Here is the basic pancake recipe that I use.

I have been making this recipe for years, but I think you will find that it very close to the one written on the side of the buttermilk container!


serves 4-6

• 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour

• 2 tablespoons castor sugar

• 375 ml buttermilk (or soured milk - see below)

• 1 egg (lightly beaten)

• 1 tablespoon butter (melted)

Preheat oven to 100 degrees. Whisk together all of ingredients in a bowl until the batter is smooth. Heat a non-stick fry pan to medium heat. To make each pancake, spoon a couple of tablespoons into the center of the fry pan and leave to cook until bubbles start to form on the surface of the pancake. When they start to burst, flip the pancake, cook for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown. Continue this process until all of the pancakes are cooked. Keep the cooked pancakes warm on a plate in the oven.

We often add choc chips and either berries or diced banana to our pancake batter. Our standard Sunday morning pancake toppings are maple syrup, berry jam and thick cream.

Soured milk - if you don't have buttermilk at hand, and we often don't. Squeeze 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice into a measuring jug and then fill it with milk to reach 375ml. Leave to sit for 5 minutes before adding to the rest of the ingredients

Blueberry Pancakes - measure out 1 cup of blueberries but don't add them to the pancake batter or else it will discolour. Drop the blueberries into the pancake batter once it has been spooned into the fry pan, then proceed as normal, flipping when the pancakes bubble and cooking until brown.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Chicken soup to heal

We have been feeling poorly in this house this week.

I am glad I had the foresight to make a quick trip to the shops on Monday to buy the ingredients for this soup. Before, I got sick too.

Call it Jewish penicillin or a simple healing broth, this chicken soup is indeed restorative. I feel like a good mother when I make it for my sick children and I am truly grateful to receive a steaming bowl of it myself when I am ill.

Next year I will make a pot of this early in the season to freeze. For my family of four this quantity could be frozen in two separate containers. This way, it is on hand when the flu hits, a particularly good idea if it is the mummy who is sick. Any husband can defrost and reheat.

If you can, start making this the day before, as it easier to skim off all of the fat. If not, just let if sit for as long as time permits so the fat can rise to the surface to be skimmed.

Chicken Soup

serves 6-8

• 1 whole chicken (washed and trimmed of fat)

• 1 onion (quartered)

• 1 leek (roughly chopped)

• 1 large tomato (halved)

• 2 carrots (roughly chopped)

• 2 celery stalks with leaves (roughly chopped)

• 2 stalks parsley stalks
• salt and pepper

• 2.5 litres water

• 3/4 cup orzo (risoni) or broken vermicelli

to serve:

• finely chopped flat leaf parsley leaves (optional)

• grated
parmesan (optional)

Place the chicken, onion, leek, tomato, carrots, celery, parsley stalks, salt, pepper and water into a large stock pot, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 1/2 hours.
Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside to cool. Strain the broth and return to a clean stock pot. Cool the broth and refrigerate overnight. Once the chicken is cool enough, remove the meat from the bones. Shred 2 cups of chicken meat for the soup and refrigerate. The remaining chicken can be used for another dish.
The next day, remove the chicken broth from the
refrigerator and skim off the fat. Place the stock pot on the stove top and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes. Add the pasta and continue to cook for about 10 minutes or until the pasta is cooked. Stir through the cooked chicken and heat through. Season to taste and serve very hot.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Warning: this is not a traditional French recipe for ratatouille. This is the ratatouille recipe that we made were I worked, many years ago in London. I ate it often and after cooking it daily for almost three years, I found that the recipe stuck with me. I love it and really like the addition of extra vegetables despite not being traditional.

Leeks, carrots, mushrooms, how did you get into this pot?

Does it really matter? they add heaps of yummy flavour.

I know how much my Mum loves ratatouille, so I made this last week, when she came over for a barbecue lunch.

Scooped up with fresh crusty bread and sunshine, it was delicious.


serves 6-8

• 2 tables. olive oil

• 2 leeks (roughly chopped)
• 4 garlic cloves (crushed)

• 1 large carrot (roughly chopped)

• 1 aubergine - eggplant (roughly chopped)
• 2 red peppers
- red capsicum (roughly chopped)
• 2 courgettes - zucchini (roughly chopped)
• 1 1/2 cups mushrooms (roughly sliced)

• 2 x 440 grams diced tinned tomatoes

• 1 tablespoon tomato paste

• 1 bay leaf

• 1/2 teas. dried oregano

• salt and pepper

• 1 large handful of fresh basil leaves (torn)

Heat the oil in a large heavy based casserole pot and add the leeks, garlic, carrot, eggplant, capsicum and zucchini. Stir over a medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaf and dried oregano. Season to taste and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking for 30 minutes more. Turn off the heat and stir through the basil leaves.

This can be served warm, at room temperature or even cold. I prefer it to be served either warm or at room temperature. I often make it the day before to let the flavours develop.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Baba ghanoush

(this beautiful painting is from here. Unfortunately it is sold, but more beautiful work by Abbey Ryan can be seen)

I have been trying to make more of an effort for our after school snacks. I have been making some homemade dips and they have been a hit, with my son at least. He will happily eat the whole bowl if I'd let him, it is hard for me to get a taste, let alone take a photo.

This is the baba ghanoush recipe I have been making for the last 20 years. Please use the quantities as a guide only, and adjust the recipe to your taste. For instance, the other day when I made this, I had a small eggplant and two very large lemons, if I had not adjusted the quantities I would have made something that was inedible.

Baba Ghanoush

makes 1 cup

• 1 large aubergine
• 1/4 cup tahini
• 1-2 lemons (juiced)
• 1 clove garlic (crushed)
• 1/2 teaspoon cumin
• 2 tablespoon parsley (finely chopped)
• salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 220 degrees. Prick the aubergine with a fork and roast for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the flesh feels soft and the skin is black and blistered. Allow to cool slightly. Cut in half and scoop out the flesh. Squeeze out the bitter juice. In a bowl mash the aubergine with the other ingredients until well combined.

Serve with pita bread.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Roasted Chokos in Garlic Cream Sauce

It all started when I discovered life in our neglected vegetable patch.

Two bright green chokos hanging from our vine on the fence.

It was time to pull out the recipe for these yummy roasted chokos that I cook every year. Somehow we have always had a choko vine climbing over the back fence.... or at least knew of someone who did.

Roasted Chokos in Garlic Cream Sauce

serves 4

• 4 chokos (peeled and cut into eights)
• 10 cloves garlic (unpeeled)
• 1/2 teaspoon pepper
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1/3 cup dry white wine
• 1/3 cup cream
• 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Place the chokos and garlic in a enamel baking dish. Cover with the oil and season with pepper. Bake for 1 hour or until tender. Remove from the oven and keep the chokos warm. Put the dish on the stove top and remove garlic from their skins. Mash the garlic and add the wine. Reduce before adding the cream and sugar. Arrange chokos on a platter and pour over the sauce.

Please note: the photos above show the chokos with the skins still on - don't do this or else you will be cutting them off while you are eating. And this is an annoying way to eat your dinner.

The problem with this kind of seasonal cooking is that you only cook a particular dish a couple times a year. Therefore, it is important for you to read your own recipe carefully, and not to make this kind of mistake.

How do you eat your chokos?

Do you like them or detest them?

Perhaps your grandmother had a secret choko recipe?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lemon Sago Pudding

When my cousin and I lived in the same city (before my children were born) my husband and I spent almost every Sunday night at her place for dinner. We loved being spoilt by her fantastic home cooking: roasts, casseroles and shephards pie. There was always dessert too: apple crumble and custard, golden syrup dumplings and lemon sago pudding. Those dinners hold a very special place in my heart. I think of those nights with a happy smile, whenever I make this old fashioned dessert.

A few years ago, I started making it for my own family's weekend desserts. The kids love it.

As always, I have played around with the recipe a little. This is how I make it.

Lemon Sago Pudding

serves 6

• 1/2 cup sago

• 3/4 cup caster sugar

• zest of 2 lemons (finely chopped)
• 3 cups water

• juice of 2 lemons

• 1 tablespoon golden syrup

to serve

cream (optional)

Combine the sago, sugar, lemon rind and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Keeping stirring so the sago does not stick to the bottom. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir regularly for about 20 minutes or until the sago is translucent and soft and the mixture is thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and golden syrup. Leave to cool for 30 minutes before serving. This can be served warm or cold with cream.

After about 15 minutes cooling time I poured the mixture into individual serving bowls.

As always, there was a fight to 'lick the bowl'.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cooking Greek

I have had this book out from the library and it is due to go back. Instead of just enjoying the beautiful photography and dreaming of long hot summers in the greek islands, I have actually cooked some of the recipes from it this week.

Revithosoupa (chickpea soup)

Lamb Mastella

Gourounaki kokkinisto (pork casserole)

Bulgur, walnut and spinach pilaf

simple earthy ingredients for the chickpea soup

ready for the chickpea soup: finely chopped garlic, bay and sage leaves from the garden and roasted and freshly ground cumin seeds

A steaming bowl of revithosoupa, perfect on a cool winters day

a bed of carrots, onions, lemon slices, herbs and heads of garlic, is made for the lamb to sit on for the lamb mastella

diced vegetables and herbs ready to be add to the pot for the pork casserole

browning the pork shoulder

adding the tomato passata or tomato persati (if you have it) to the pork casserole

tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, ready for roasting, later they will be added to the pilaf

fresh herbs and spinach being tossed with the roasted tomatoes

the bulgar, walnut and spinach pilaf was thoroughly enjoyed and good news - leftovers for lunch.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Cooking with Oprah

Today on my other blog I did a post about Oprah, so I thought I'd do one here too.

Earlier on in the week I was feeling a little under the weather and decided to turn on Oprah (as she was on my mind) and sit with a cup of tea. I caught the tail end of the show in which she was recapping some of her favourite cooking moments over the years.

I was reminded of the funny segment when the gorgeous Paula Deen was demonstrating how to make her Grandmother Paul's Sour Cream Pound Cake and she dropped the glass dish into the moving Kitchen Aid bowl. You can watch it here. I only know who Paula Deen is because of watching Oprah. I could listen to her accent all day long. I am going to try out her pound cake the next time I am cooking for a large group. Filled with lots of butter, 3 cups of sugar and a cup of sour cream, this I something that has to be shared. I do not want this in my house.

I love what Paula said to Oprah when Oprah asks what she tells health conscious critics:

"I'm your cook, not your doctor"

Everything in moderation I say.
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