Archive for the 'Recipes' Category

Home made meat pies

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

I LOVE meat pie, back from school days buying them in their little plastic bag and foil tray heated in the pie warmer from the canteen for a treat from the usual sandwich.  I love them at morning tea at work, and the best ones are the ones topped with mash potato and gravy – yuuummmm.   But obviously, to maintain your figure, you can’t have them EVERY day.  And what about all those A Current Affair segments on how foreign snouts tails and even rats make it in the slurry?? yuck!  The solution?  Home made meat pies!   OK, fair enough, it’s not a weeknight meal, but it CAN be if you have some leftover beef casserole lingering around which I did.  Then all you need to do is make the pastry.  I couldn’t be bothered buying some and defrosting only to have another 4 sheets hanging around my freezer.  I found this terrific recipe that required only 250g plain flour, 125g butter and an egg.  You put the flour and butter (I used low fat margarine) in a food processor and blend until it resembles bread crumbs.  Then, drizzle in the beaten egg and a tablespoon of water until the mixture comes into a ball.  Kneed it a bit and form into a disc and put it in the fridge to rest.   Then, roll out a disc the size of your tin (I used a mini spring form tin) and line the base and sides.  I put my filling in – I didn’t even bother reheating it – and then rolled out a lid and pleated it.  30 minutes at 200 degrees, voila!

I was soooo happy with the result.  The top and side were crispy and “short”, and the filling was JUST hot but not burn your mouth hot. Next time maybe I’ll take it out of the tin to finish off in the oven, because the base wasn’t as brown as the rest.  But nevertheless, pat on the back.  To save time, I’m now going to use the rest of my pastry and line the springform tins and put them in my freezer for next time :) (more…)

Brunch for friends: 3 courses – bircher muesli, english breakfast and french toast

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

I’ve probably mentioned it before, but Sunday brunch is my most favourite meal of the whole week.  I love enjoying my lazy day as Saturday is usually when I have stuff on – you know, birthdays, errands, dinners – each with its own required prep – and Sunday is my slow day to catch up with friends.  I also love being outside in the sun – as opposed to the artificial neon cylinders of an enclosed drying office.  And of course, Sunday brunch has mandatory bacon.  Yum!   This week I decided to bring my brunch home, and instead invite 6 friends over to eat, hang out and get to test out some recipes.   Why not a 3 course brunch?  Obviously, since brunch is on the early side of midday, one course must be prepared beforehand – I’m cooking, not sacrificing sleep after all ;)  And what better dish than bircher muesli, which is supposed to be made the day before!  I have a confession – I decided to make it even though I’d never even eaten it! Who wants a healthy option for breakfast when you can have a fat option? ;)  Well, it sounds relatively easy…. and can I just say- I totally fell in love with it since!!  It’s sooooo easy.

Take 3 cups of rolled oats, and soak overnight in 1.5 cups of apple juice.  Then in the morning, stir through a cup of yoghurt – any flavour – I’ve used vanilla or strawberry.   Let it continue to sit in the fridge and let the oats get softer, and then when you’re about to serve, stir in some chopped roasted almonds, some grated apple and some honey.  I garnished it with more almonds on top of a dollop of more yoghurt; and some apple which I grated with my finger slicing device otherwise known as a mandoline.  *shudder*.  Well, off to a healthy start, it must mean that you’ve earned the right to a fry up.  cooking bacon and eggs and sausages for 7 people could mean a morning of slaving away at the stove, rather than entertaining – a definite no no.  And that’s where my tray bake english breakfast comes in.

You can have it all prepared and put in the oven and all you’ll need to do is cook the eggs, and delegate someone to make your toast!  Turn on your oven to 200 degrees, put in as many sausages as you need, cook for 10minutes.  Then, put your mushrooms in, and drizzle with some oil, and layer your bacon on top.  Bake for a further 10 minutes until your bacon is cooked to your liking and the mushrooms are soft. How easy is that??  I served it with sunny side up free range eggs and woodfired italian toast.  With my 3 course breakfast, one sausage and one piece of toast was enough!  My tomatoes were gorgeous – sweet and rose red, so i opted to serve them au natural and simply seasoned.  They tasted amazing!  And if your guests still aren’t stuffed, serve them what was regarded as the favourite of the day – french toast with poached pears and caramel sauce.  Again, really handy because you can make both the poached pears and the caramel sauce before people come!

I poached some buerre bosc pears in a syrup of half water, half sugar with a cinnamon quill chucked in.  I boiled them til i could poke a knife in.  Then chill in the fridge.  For the caramel sauce, mix butter, cream and brown sugar in a saucepan on low heat until combined.  For the french toast, beat eggs with some sugar and milk, and soak the bread in until it’s all soggy.  Then panfry in a little butter.  Plate up and enjoy warm and you’ll forever have your friends banging on your door for more :)

Healthy Spicy Eggplant

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

It’s really annoying, because my cravings for food are not just triggered by smells or by sight. They are also triggered by SOUND!  The pfffssttt of a can of diet coke opening makes me run for the vending machine. The crackle of a chip packet… and today – my friend talking about eggplant made me change my dinner plans from fajitas to eggplant.  Here’s the way I make a healthy version of spicy sichuan eggplant.  It’s usually sitting in a pool of tasty yummy oil from the eggplant being deepfried.  But instead, what I do is steam the eggplant!  A medium sized eggplant – chopped.  While you steam it (it takes 15minutes-ish), you can prepare the aromatics:  2 cloves of finely chopped garlic, a knob of ginger, a sprig of spring onion sliced and a handful of chopped coriander.

You can use pork mince or chicken mince.  Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a hot wok. I say a couple of tablespoons because you do want to make it a bit more yummy since you saved on the deep frying ;) , then saute the ginger and garlic.  Add the mince and cook the mince.  When the mince is almost cooked, add the spring onions and stir fry until cooked.  Add the now ready eggplant plus 1 tablespoon EACH of spicy bean paste sauce,  hoisin sauce, soy sauce.  In a small bowl, mix a teaspoon of cornflour in some chicken stock and pour into the wok and simmer until thickened.  Now you can put a dash of sesame oil and then stir in the coriander at the last minute.  Serve with steamed rice.  YUM!

Slow cooked beef ragout – it’s winter time! bbrrrr

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

It is WELL and TRULY winter in Sydney!  The temperature can be in the single digits even during the day – and I am soon going to be dragging out my heater – I’ve done so well so far, as most of my friends have succumbed!! :)  Winter food means slow cooked, warming your home and your heart.  And red wine of course ;)  I just made a huge batch of slow cooked beef ragout, it’s so easy, as you just prepare it and leave it on the stove or in the oven and forget about it!  First, I took 500g of chuck steak and cut it into little pieces.  I browned off the beef in some olive oil, then added diced carrot and celery and onion, and three cloves of garlic.  When the veges were almost soft, I poured in a cup of red wine and let the water evaporate.  Chuck in a few bayleaves, basil and oregano, and a 700mL bottle of passata.  I also added a beef stock cube.  Cover, boil on low for an hour.  Snuggle up with a magazine and hot chocolate in the meantime :)

When it’s done, I should have made my own pasta, but I was too hungry and lazy, so I just used spaghetti.  I drizzled it with truffle oil for a special luxurious touch, and served with parsley :)    There’s so much left for my freezer for a few more dinners :)