Sunday, August 28, 2011

An old fashioned dessert

I love this dessert, a bit like a thick custard.

In my twenties when I was saving money to go overseas, I took a second job in a little Caribbean takeaway. This dessert was on the menu. Not a Saturday night went by that I didn't leave with my pay cheque and a takeaway container of this yummy dessert.

I like to eat it plain. You will often find me in the kitchen, both before and after serving, eating it straight from the saucepan. You can sprinkle it with cinnamon or the children like it with either a dollop of berry jam or a spoonful of stewed fruit.

Simple, nourishing and warming on cold winter nights.

Semolina Pudding

serves 6 - 8

• 4 tables. butter
• 2/3 cup semolina
• 3 1/2 cups milk
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 teas. vanilla

Heat the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the semolina and continue to cook on low for 15 minutes. Stir frequently until the semolina is lightly browned. In another saucepan, heat the milk and sugar and bring to the boil. When the sugar is dissolved, add the vanilla and pour slowly into the semolina. Stir constantly. Simmer until very thick. Spoon into individual serving dishes and serve immediately.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I feel like chicken, leek and mushroom pie

Now if only I could find the recipe for that yummy, chicken, leek and mushroom pie that I have made in the past.

The weather is perfect: cold, bleak, windy and raining. I even have a new pie dish.

I am dreaming of a chicken, leek and mushroom pie that I cooked for friends when they came to visit my son for the first time. That was nearly 6 and a half years ago. We are still talking about that pie and I can still hear the chorus of "Hmmm" and "Yummm" from around the table on that cold wet day in June.

Do you think I can find the recipe that I used?

Of course not. There was a newborn in the house, I definitely wouldn't have put it in any logical place.

Do you have a best ever chicken leek and mushroom pie recipe I could try?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lets leave it to "The Colonel"

Did you watch the Masterchef episode when this years contestants went to the iconic Harlem restaurant "Sylvia's" in New York?

After that episode, I couldn't stop thinking about the 'southern fried chicken with cream gravy' recipe that I used to make when I first left home. I went through a southern food phase - gumbo, jambalaya, creole, peach pies: you get the picture.

I couldn't find my recipe, but I knew that I had soaked the chicken in buttermilk and tabasco. I also remembered that I had oven baked the chicken. After a bit of google searching, I had a new recipe and inspiration to cook the best fried chicken ever. Going against my better judgement, I decided to shallow fry the chicken.

It was a disaster.

1. I don't like the flavour of fried food, we hardly ever eat it

2. I don't like the smell of fried food, especially throughout my entire house!

3. despite taking extra steps for the perfect crispy coating - it all fell off

4. and..... it stuck to the pan, in fact the pan is still soaking

5. I was so cranky, I didn't bother with the cream gravy.

6. from now on, I plan to only eat southern fried chicken when in 'The South'

7. maybe, just maybe, I might oven bake the same recipe and make the cream gravy. If I do and if it's good, you will be the first to know.

But please remind me, that I am never going to fry southern fried chicken again!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sometimes you just want quick and easy

Here are some of the yummy (easy) recipes that have been cooked in our kitchen over this last week.

Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup

I'm not a real lover of corn, I do like it, I just don't love it. I have always been against tinned corn and creamed corn. I guess, in a snobby kind of way really. It goes back to my childhood and dinners at my aunts house. My aunt cooked dishes with creamed corn, tinned tuna and frozen vegetables. At her house we ate rissoles and pasta bakes, dishes that I'd never eaten at home. (we ate meat and three veg at our place: lamb chops, roast chicken and steak with mushroom sauce) I just didn't like that style of cooking.

I have found my peace with tinned tuna (although, not that long ago) and this week I made this soup with creamed corn. I had bought creamed corn to make a savoury muffin recipe that I never got around to making. Every time I cleaned out my pantry that tin of corn sat taunting me.

I have been walking around with the cookbook "Hopscotch and Honey Joys" under my arm all week. I had read Lisa's words from the recipe introduction:

"When my kids are home from school with a cold, a bowl of this and some fingers of buttered toasted followed by an afternoon sleep on the couch under a fluffy blanket works a treat"

She had me, it sounded delicious and there was only four ingredients, all of which I had at hand. I quickly made this soup at 5:30 one night before heading out to my craft night. The next day, after being out all day, we came home to this. It was late, it was cold and this soup was so good. In a simple, comforting kind of way.

You could do as little or as much as you like with this base recipe. I threw in about 70 grams of Chinese egg noddles that I had sitting in the pantry. I had also thought of adding bacon, grated zucchini, spinach and chopped parsley. And if you really don't like creamed corn, you could make it with fresh corn if you had more time.

I will definitely be playing a little bit with this one.

Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup

serves 4

• 1 tablespoon of olive oil
• 1 brown onion (finely diced)
• 2 chicken breasts (cubed)
• 1.5 litres chicken stock (hot)
• 420 gram tin creamed corn
• salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan and gently saute the onion. Add the other ingredients to the pot and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat to simmer and continue cooking for 45 minutes.

This recipe is from "Hopscotch and Honey Joys"

Lemon 'Tray Bake' Cake

I have made this cake twice this week. Once at 4:30 in the afternoon before going out to my craft night and again yesterday. I put it in the oven before school, ready for morning tea visitors. It has been very well received by all, with just two piece left!

Lemon 'Tray Bake' Cake

makes 12-16 pieces

• 200 grams butter (softened)

• 1 cup caster sugar

• 3 eggs
• 1/2 cup milk

• 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour

• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

• zest of 2 lemons (finely chopped)

for the top

• 1/3 cup lemon juice

• 1/3 cup caster sugar

Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Line a 20 x 30 x 4 cm slice tray with greaseproof paper. Beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the milk, beating until creamy. Sift the flour and baking powder into the butter mixture. Stir in the lemon zest. Pour into the tray and bake for 30 minutes. Meanwhile in a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and sugar. When the cake comes out of the oven, prick the cake with a skewer making little holes over the top of the cake. Spoon the lemon and sugar mixture over the cake and allow to cool in the tin before removing and cutting into squares.

This is another recipe from "Hopscotch and Honey Joys". The book suggests that the cake can be eaten plain or with thick cream. We ate ours plain, although one night as a treat for dessert, I heated it a little in the microwave, poured over the last of some homemade custard and topped it with blueberries. Delicious!

Zucchini Slice

I have made zucchini slice for picnics a few times before. My kids were not interested. Perhaps it's an age thing, but on Wednesday, I crawled out of bed 15 minutes earlier than usual and put a zucchini slice in the oven while we ate breakfast and got dressed to go out. We took it to a friends house for our morning tea and later the kids asked for a piece to eat with their dinner. I sent the last two slices with them for their school lunches. It is a happy day when I don't have to make another vegemite sandwich!

They have been asking all day if there is any zucchini slice left?

Zucchini Slice

• 2 medium size zucchini's (grated)
• 1 onion (finely chopped)
• 4 bacon rashers (finely diced)
• 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
• 5 eggs (lightly beaten)
• 1 cup self-raising flour
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• salt and pepper
• 2 tablespoon dill or parsley

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease a 20x30cm baking dish. In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together until well combined and pour into the baking dish. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes or until golden brown and firm to touch. This can be serve warm or a room temperature.

Cooks note: If you have the time, you can gently saute the onions and bacon in the oil before adding it to the rest of the mixture. I'm not sure if it makes much of a difference.

This recipe is from my Kinder Kooks cookbook, I have added the dill, which I love, it was suggested in this book.

Easy Apple Pancakes

I photocopied this recipe from a friends book, "Jamie's America" and made them last weekend. The topping of yoghurt and honey and the freshness of the apple was a nice change from our usual Sunday morning pancakes that are liberally dolloped with thick cream and homemade jam.

Easy Apple Pancakes

serves 6

• 1 apple (cored and grated)

• 1 egg
• 1 cup self-raising flour

• 1 cup milk
• a pinch of salt

• 1 tablespoon honey
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

to serve

• natural yoghurt

• runny honey

Preheat oven to 100 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together until well combined. Heat a non-stick fry pan to medium heat. To make each pancake, use a soup ladle to spoon the mixture 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.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Minestone Soup

Before my children were born, I was lucky enough to be invited to an Italian friends holiday house in South Australia for Easter.

There was a lot of Buona Pasqua (Happy Easter), so much delicious food and many visitors over the four day holiday. Family, friends, friends of friends, neighbours and acquaintance's. Everyone was invited.

I will never forget sitting at the kitchen table and watching four generations of Italian woman effortlessly produce a seven course Good Friday lunch. Aunts, cousins, Nonna's and daughters seemed to dance and sway around the kitchen, gossiping and laughing as they made the most delicious chicken lasagne I have ever eaten, before or since.

When the lasagne came to the table, I proclaimed that it was the best thing I had ever eaten. My friend looked at me as if it say "you shouldn't have said that" and soon another healthy portion was passed to me from her mother. "Mangiare, mangiare!" "Eat, eat!" My friend leaned in to me and told me that their would be five more courses.

Oh no, I come from an Australian family where lasagne and salad is a meal. Nothing could have prepared me for that feast or the amount of food that we continued to eat over the next couple of days.

When we returned to Adelaide, I was to stay one more night with her family. My friend cooked me a delicious fettuccini ai funghi, while her parents sat down to a bowl of minestrone soup. Her mother had made 2 large stock pots of minestrone and my friend told me that her family would eat the soup for the next two weeks. This was their way of cleansing their bodies after so much rich Easter food.

I always think of them whenever I make a pot of minestrone. This is the recipe that I have been cooking long before that Easter and my only adjustment is that I have made the addition of meat (bacon) optional. I think of my friends who did not add meat to their soup when they were detoxing.

Minestrone Soup

serves 8

• 1 cup dried haricot beans (soaked overnight)

• 1 tables. olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
• 2 leeks or 1 onion (chopped)
• 2 carrots (sliced)

• 2 stalks celery (sliced)

• 2-3 rashers bacon or pancetta (diced) - optional
• 1 teas. rosemary (finely chopped)
• 1 tables. parsley (finely chopped)

• 2 potatoes (peeled and cut into 2 cm cubes)
• 2 zucchinis (sliced)

• 1/2 small cabbage or 1/4 large cabbage (shredded)

• 1/2 cup macaroni

• 2 litres chicken stock
• 2 x 445 grams tin tomatoes

• 1 tables. tomato paste
to serve

• crusty bread
• grated parmesan cheese 

Heat the oil in a large stockpot. Gently sauté the garlic, leeks, carrot,celery and bacon is using. When slightly softened, add the herbs, haricot beans and potatoes. Cook until the leeks are soft. Add the stock, tinned tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour. Add the zucchini, cabbage and macaroni and continue cooking for 20 more minutes. Add more stock if needed. Season to taste. Serve immediately with crusty bread and grated parmesan cheese.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pikelet memories

Pikelet memories

My earliest memories of making pikelets are of a little me standing on a stool in my Nana's cottage kitchen. It was my job to beat the farm fresh eggs and sugar. I stood eye level with the white glass bowl with large grass green spots. I struggled to keep the wooden handled egg beaters upright, I think they were orange. I wasn't very good at this job, I got frustrated as my arms ached and the beaters slipped around the bowl. I could not beat fast like my Nana could. I remember the sizzle has she put the first pikelets into the pan.

Pikelet memories

My second memory of making pikelets during my childhood was with my cousin, I was maybe about eight years old. I clearly picture the two of us hovering over the frying pan, pikelet batter everywhere. We were both standing on chairs pushed hard up to the large freestanding stove. It was all burnt butter, bad pikelet flipping and giggles. I have no idea where her mother was, I don't think she was home (it was the olden days - her older brother would have been home) We were bored and my cousin, suggested "let's make pikelets". Making pikelets and making mess was something that we would never dream of doing at my house. I remember this day as good old fashioned, children of the seventies, fun. A freedom that our children don't have today.

I guess that's because we could have burnt down the house!

Pikelet memories
Not long after my daughter was born, when we lived in our old house, my Dad started a tradition of pikelets being made whenever he came to visit. One day when he arrived he asked "What have you got to eat?" He always asks that. With a new born in the house, I told him nothing. He said "What about pikelets" So pikelets it was. I hadn't cooked pikelets since high school, but it soon became routine, I would make pikelets whenever Dad came to town for a visit. For some reason we didn't bring this ritual to our new home. So I haven't cooked pikelets in some time.

I pulled some recipe books from the shelf and started cooking. I tried the pikelet recipe from this book, it contained cream. My children found these too floppy, which meant that the pikelets ended up all over the floor and inevitably, there were tears.

I cooked the 'pikelets in a hurry' from this book, but I found this mixture a little thick.

I cooked pikelets 1, pikelets 2 and pikelets 3 out of this book - still not right.

So I came back to my old favourite recipe in my pre-school cookbook. This is the recipe I had cooked during high school and for Dad.

So now I have created new pikelet memories: for my children. They are asking for them often: for afternoon tea or to take along when visiting friends. I love the way their little faces light up with a smile, "how about pikelets mum!"

Beautiful lasting memories of food, love, laughter and sharing.

After flipping and eating many, many pikelets I finally realised why I could not get my pikelets to taste of my memories. It all as to do with the non- stick pan. I have not been cooking my pikelets in butter as I did when I was a child.

So it is your choice to have perfect looking pikelets or ones unevenly brown and tasting of almost burnt butter.


• 2 eggs
• pinch of salt

• 1/2 cup sugar

• 1 1/2 cups self raising flour (sifted)

• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

• 1 cup milk

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt and sugar until well combined. Add the flour, baking powder and milk and mix until smooth. Use a dessert spoon to drop spoonfuls of the mixture into a hot frying pan (non-stick or greased). When the surface starts to bubble, flip and cook on the other side.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fettuccine Carbonara

I'm sure most of you have eaten 'carbonara' pasta dishes that have had the pasta swimming in cream. Or would that be drowning in cream? Years ago I stopped ordering this misunderstood dish when I ate out. Being left with a bowl of garlic cream sauce after my dinner was finished was not what I'd call appetising.

You can imagine my excitement when I received this gorgeous book, "Salute!" as a Christmas present one year and discovered how a true carbonara should be made. Here is the recipe from the book, adapted slightly because I like to eat carbonara with fettuccine and not spaghetti as is used in the book.

I'm not sure how Italians will feel about me changing the pasta choice, but, that's just how I like it. If you prefer spaghetti, you can substitute the 250 grams of fettuccine for 500 grams of spaghetti.

Fettuccine Carbonara

serves 4

• 250 grams fettuccine

• 1/4 cup olive oil

• 150 grams pancetta or smoked bacon (diced)

• 2 cloves garlic (crushed)

• 2 large eggs

• 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (grated)

• 1/2 cup pecorino (grated)

• 2 tablespoons cream

• sea salt

• cracked black pepper

Bring water to the boil. Cook the fettuccine until al dente. Meanwhile fry the pancetta and garlic over a medium heat to remove the fat from the pancetta, be careful not to burn the garlic. While the pancetta is rendering, mix in a bowl, the eggs, half of the cheese, cream, sea salt and pepper. Drain the pasta but do not rinse. Transfer to a serving bowl and stir in the pancetta and egg mixture. Toss through the remaining cheese and finish with a generous grinding of black pepper. Serve immediately.

If you like, you can sprinkle with finely chopped parsley.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hopscotch and Honey Joy's - Greek Meatballs

Yes, more meatballs.

I cooked another recipe from the 'Hopscotch and Honey Joy's' cookbook last night. It was an instant hit with the children and had them begging for more. Just like the introduction to the recipe in the book says:

"a fun alternative to good old 'spag bol'"

I think I have mentioned before how much my kids love rolling meatballs for dinner. This recipe ticks all of the boxes for a family meal: family bonding time while preparing dinner, everyone enjoying dinner - no complaints and leftovers for Daddy's work the next day. As my son says:

"thumbs up!"

Greek Meatballs

Serves 4-6

for the meatballs

• 400 grams lamb or beef mince
• 1/3 cup basmati rice
• 1 tablespoon plain flour
• 1 small onion (finely diced)

• 1 egg (lightly beaten)
• 1 tablespoon butter (melted)

• 2 tablespoons water
• 1 1/2 tablespoons mint leaves (finely chopped)

• salt and pepper

for the sauce

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 1 garlic clove (crushed)

• 1 small carrot (finely diced)
• 1 stick celery (finely diced)
• 1 x 700 gram bottle tomato passata

• 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1 cup beef stock (hot)

• 1/4 cup red wine

to serve

• grated parmesan cheese
• finely chopped parsley

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs. Mix until well combined and roll into ping-pong size balls. Set aside.
To make the sauce, heat the oil in a large heavy based pot (one with a lid) and gently saute the garlic, carrot and celery until soft. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Carefully drop the meatballs into the simmering sauce. The meatballs should be almost fully covered with the sauce. Cover and simmer for 4o minutes, gently turn the meatballs half way through the cooking time.
Sprinkle with cheese or parsley (if using) and serve.

We served our meatballs with macaroni and a large green salad on the side.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Swedish Meatballs

A few weeks ago, you may have read on my other blog about the 'Christmas in July' dinner that I went to. Our host planned the delicious menu and asked each of us to pick what we wanted to bring. As I was to be out all day on the day of the party I chose to make Meatballs in Vodka Dill Sauce from the beautiful cookbook "Snowflakes and Schnapps". I thought I could make it the day before.

However, things did not go according to plan. It turned out that Friday was busy too, so I ended up making the meatballs at 4:30pm on the day of the party. Here are some things that went on behind the scenes, the things the that the girls at the party did not know.

• 5:15pm - Panic - when I realised I had forgotten to buy the dill. I didn't think that the sauce with vodka, but without dill would taste any good. I decided to make a different sauce.

• While I was thumbing through my recipe books in search of a different sauce, the meatballs were in the pan. They did not have enough time in the fridge and were sticking to the bottom and falling apart. I turned on the oven, perhaps a little higher than I should of and put the remaining raw meatballs onto a tray. In the oven they went.

• I found a recipe for Norwegian goats cheese sauce, that I had made in the past. However the past was very long ago, had I really loved it? I decided I would serve the meatballs with two sauces on the

• I 'googled' Swedish Meatballs.' This Jamie Oliver recipe came up first on my search. I completely trusted Jamie, I don't think I had ever cooked a recipe of his and failed. Perhaps I should have stuck to the recipe!

• Because I had chosen, at 5:45pm to make two sauces, I didn't add my meatballs to the sauce as Jamie suggested in his recipe.

• We don't live anywhere near Ikea and there was no lingonberry sauce in the house. I wondered could I use quince paste??? Not bad, but not great either. There was no choice, quince paste it had to be. I had to get in the shower.

• Oh no! the meatballs were overcooked - not burnt - thank goodness. I probably should have been paying attention and not gone off for my shower without checking them first.

• Half an hour later, I was showered and dressed in semi-formal. I took one look (and taste) of the Norwegian goats cheese sauce and left it behind. It was goats cheese/sour cream overload. I had no intention of eating it.

I arrived at the "Christmas and July" with my slightly over cooked meatballs and (after sitting a while before serving) my now gluggy sauce. All I could do was smile and pour myself a glass of wine.

Of course the lesson learned here is: If you want to cook beautiful looking, delicious tasting, food - do not rush.

As they say on Masterchef "It shows on the plate" Yes, Gary it does!

To prove to myself that I can actually cook Swedish Meatballs, I have played a little bit this week and come up with my own version of the dish. One I would be happy to serve my friends and family.

I have combined many recipes, however the meatball recipe is almost entirely the one I was given in London many years ago. I had lived with a Dutch woman who had lived in Sweden for many years. One night I was heading out with friends and she was frying her meatballs in pan. The smell coming from the kitchen was amazing. She gave one of the meatballs for me to try. It was the yummiest meatball I could remember tasting. For me, the cream and nutmeg were a revelation. The next day I asked her for her recipe. She spoke and I wrote.

I did not get her recipe for the sauce. I don't think I asked because at the time, so long ago, I did not know there was suppose to be sauce. Last Saturday night, I really wished I had gotten the second part of her recipe.

Here's what I have come up with. It's a simple recipe, just remember to take your time and make it with love.

Swedish Meatballs

serves 4

• 300 grams beef or veal mince

• 300 grams pork mince

• 1 egg (lightly beaten)

• 3 slices stale white bread (crusts removed pulsed into breadcrumbs)

• 1 tablespoon cream

1 tablespoon butter
• 1 onion (finely diced)
• 2 tablespoon parsley (finely chopped)

• pinch of nutmeg

• salt and pepper

for the sauce

1 tablespoon butter
• 1 tablespoon plain flour

• 350 ml beef stock (hot)
• 2 tablespoons cream

• salt and pepper

to serve  

• lingonberry jam

Soak the breadcrumbs in the cream for 1/2 hour. Meanwhile in a frying pan, saute the onions in the butter until soft. Add the onions to a bowl with the other meatball ingredients and mix well. Roll into small balls about 1 inch in diameter and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

To cook the meatballs: fry the meatballs in 1 tablespoon of oil for about 10 minutes until cooked
or spread out onto a greased baking tray and cook at 200 degrees for 10 - 15 minutes. To make the sauce, add the butter to the pan and once it is melted add the flour. Gradually whisk in the hot stock and cream. Whisk continuously until smooth and slightly thickened. Season to taste. Add the meatballs to the sauce and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Serve with lingonberry jam, mashed potato and green beans.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Would you like a slice of passionfruit slice?

I got this cute book from the library a couple of weeks ago, I knew that the first thing I wanted to make from it was the passionfruit slice recipe.

My mother did not bake, well, not this kind of old fashioned baking. She was a young, working mum, not like the older, stay-at-home mother of five who lived across the road. As a child I always envied our neighbours and their large tupperware boxes filled with cornflake biscuits and chocolate slice.

I want to make more slice, to be that kind of baking mum. So after only recently buying myself a decent slice tray, here is the first of many.

Very simple, quick and oh, so yummy.

( I couldn't wait!)

Passionfruit Slice

makes approximately 24 pieces

for the base

• 1 cup self-raising flour
• 1 cup desiccated coconut
• 125 grams (melted)
• 1/2 cup caster sugar

for the filling

• 1 x 395 gram tin condensed milk
• 1/2 cup lemon juice
• 5 tablespoons passionfruit pulp

Preheat oven to 165 degrees and line a 17 x 25 x 4 cm slice tin with greaseproof paper. Combine all of the base ingredients in a bowl, then press firmly into the prepared tin. Bake the base in the oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine all of the ingredients for the topping in a bowl. Remove the base from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before pouring over the passionfruit mixture. Return to the oven and bake for a further 15 minutes. Leave to cool for about 15 minutes before using the greaseproof to help you lift the slice from the tin. Cool on a wire rack before cutting in to squares.

I think next time I might put this in the fridge for an hour or so before slicing it into squares, as the picture in the book of the sliced squares looked a lot neater than mine. I think that is their styling secret.

This recipe is from the book "Hopscotch and Honey Joys"
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