Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Eggplant Parmigiana

(sorry about the bad, out-of-focus, photo taken quickly before sitting down to dinner)

A few years ago we went on a family beach holiday for a week. I took one cookbook away with me. It was one of the Annual Italian Issue's of Delicious magazine. And what a delicious week it was. Many of the recipes that I cooked that week have become favourite recipes in this house. It was the first time I had cooked eggplant parmigiana, served with a big green salad and a glass of red wine out on the deck - the sea breeze in our hair.

Ahhh, holidays!

I have played around with that original recipe a little bit over the years. And as with some of my other recipes, you will notice that I have taken a few short cuts. Instead of dusting the eggplant in flour and pan frying it, I oven bake it. For me, I love this dish in summer, served, just as I mentioned it was served on our summer holiday and just how I served it last night.

Yesterday afternoon, while the eggplant baked and the sauce simmered, I was outside sitting in the shade with the kids, catching a late afternoon breeze - far away from the heat of the kitchen. It is so hot here right now. It is no fun spending time in a sweltering kitchen.

Hence the reason for my shortcut.

Eggplant Parmigiana

serves 8

• 3-4 eggplants (about 1 kilogram - sliced lengthwise into 5 mm wide slices)

• olive oil

• salt and pepper
• 3 cloves garlic (crushed)

• 2 x 400 gram tins diced tomatoes

• 1/4 cup basil leaves (torn)
• 1 1/2 cups (250 grams) mozzarella cheese
(grated or sliced)
• 3/4 cup parmesan cheese (grated)

to serve

• baby basil leaves

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease a 20 x 30 cm baking dish and lightly oil 2 large baking trays. Lay out the eggplant slices on the trays and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and bake the eggplant for about 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium size pan. Gently saute the garlic for 1 minute. Add the tinned tomatoes and bring to the boil. Season to taste. Reduce the heat to medium low heat and simmer for 30 minutes until the sauce thickens. Stir the sauce occasionally and watch it doesn't stick. Lay one third of the eggplant, slightly overlapping in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Spoon over a third of the sauce and sprinkle over one third of the basil leaves, one third of the mozzarella and one third of the parmesan. Repeat the layering two more times. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until bubbling and golden on top.
Sprinkle with baby basil leaves and leave for 15 - 30 minutes before serving.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Baby carrots and heirloom beetroot

If you are a reader of my other blog, you would know that we are trying (learning, failing) to grow our own vegetables. We have a lot to learn, but we did manage to produce a few meals from our recent carrot and beetroot harvests.

While some of you may have thought our baby carrots inedible, they were not.

Here is the yummy Jamie Oliver recipe that I made with them.

Roasted Baby Carrots

serves 4

• 500 grams baby carrots (scrubbed and trimmed)
• 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (crushed)
• 1 handful of thyme leaves
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 3/4 cup white wine
• salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Tear off 1 1/2 metres of aluminium foil and fold it in half to give double thickness. Place everything, except for the wine, into the middle of the foil. Bring up the sides of the foil and pour over the wine. Season to taste. Fold or scrunch the foil together to seal, place the parcel onto a tray and cook for 45 minutes or until the carrots are tender.

This recipe is basically Jamie's recipe from this book.

And with the last of our beetroot we made pink dip.

I call this dip, beetroot tzatziki, perhaps the beetroot should be grated and many people would argue that the beetroot should be roasted. Grate the beetroot or roast it if you prefer. This recipe is in our lives is because of my children. They were chatting away one day about the different types of dips you can eat.

When they mentioned 'pink dip' I quickly whipped some up for afternoon tea.

I puree the ingredients as there is a better chance of the children eating it. It's a texture thing and a little bit of a gimmick. However my daughter still won't eat it, even if it is pink!

Beetroot Tzatziki

(Pink Dip)

1 1/2 cups

• 400 grams beetroot (cooked and skinned)

• 1 clove garlic (crushed)
• 1 cup yoghurt

• 1 tablespoon lemon juice

• salt and pepper

Put all of the ingredients into a blender and puree. Serve with pita bread or pita bread chips.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Don't feel like cooking?

This week has been busy, I have been feeling a little unwell and very tired. I did not want to cook. I usually end up cooking easy pasta meals when I have weeks like this.

This tuna pasta recipe I have been cooking forever, and it is one of my favourite easy dinner dishes. But two other pasta dishes that I often make from ingredients I have at hand, are Fettuccine Cabonara and Fettuccine alla Putanesca.

This week we ate these two yummy pasta dishes. One night my husband cooked, I cannot remember the last time he has cooked anything other than breakfast or the barbecue. One night we went out for dinner, again, not a regular occurrence in our house, it has probably been six months (at least) since we last went out to dinner as a family. And last night we had Indian takeaway. This is only the second time that we have bought takeaway in the 4 years that we have lived in this house. Usually I cook. This week (like I said) I did not want to cook.

Spaghetti with Tuna and Olives

serves 4-6

• 500 gram spaghetti
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 onion (finely diced)
• 2 cloves garlic (crushed)

• 1 x 185 gram tinned tuna (drained and flaked)

• 2 x 400 gram tinned tomatoes (chopped)

• 1 tablespoon tomato paste

• 1 bay leaf

• 2 tablespoons kalamata olives (roughly chopped)
• salt and pepper

• 2 tablespoons basil leaves (torn)

to serve

• parmesan cheese (grated)

Bring water to the boil in a large pot and cook the pasta until al dente.
In a large frying pan, heat the oil and gently sauté the onion and garlic. When the onion is soft Add all of the remaining ingredients except the basil and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir through the basil and toss the sauce through the spaghetti. Serve immediately.

Fettuccine alla Putanesca

serves 4

• 350 grams fettuccine

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 2 red chillies (finely chopped)

• 3 cloves garlic (crushed)
• 1 x 440 gram tinned tomatoes

• 1/2 cup red wine

• 1 tablespoon tomato paste

• 2 tablespoons sundried tomatoes (diced)

• 2 tablespoons kalamata olives (deseeded and chopped)
• 1 tablespoon anchovies (chopped)

• 2 teaspoon oregano (chopped)

• 1 teaspoon thyme (chopped)

• 2 tablespoons basil (chopped)
• salt and pepper

to serve

• parmesan cheese (grated)

Bring water to the boil in a large pot and cook the pasta until al dente.
Meanwhile in a large pan heat the oil and gently fry the garlic and chilli. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and wine, bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Add the anchovies, sundried tomatoes, olives and herbs and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Season to taste. Toss the pasta through the sauce.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Butterscotch Buttons

I first tried these yummy biscuits on my cousin's farm. They were so delicious that I poured myself another cup of tea, grabbed a pen and paper and copied out her recipe on the spot.

"Not only are they yummy, but they are so easy" my cousin had said. She was right.

Last week I went looking so something quick to make for morning tea, I remembered her words when I rediscovered this recipe hiding at the bottom of the pile. They were whipped up in minutes. The perfect 'last minute' biscuit recipe to have at hand.

Butterscotch Buttons

makes 24

• 125 grams butter (softened)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
•1/2 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
• 1 tablespoon golden syrup
• 1 1/4 cup self-raising flour

Preheat oven to 160 degrees. Prepare 2 biscuit trays. In a large bowl, beat the butter, vanilla, sugar and golden syrup until light and fluffy. Stir in the flour. Roll the mixture into level teaspoon size balls and place on the baking trays 5 cm apart. Flatten slightly with a fork. Bake for 20 minutes or until firm.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Jordanian Chicken in Pomegranate Sauce

I have spent the last few days sorting through boxes in our garage. There was much excitement when I found a couple of folders filled with old recipes. Some are recipes that I have loved and thought I had lost. Another folder held a pile of recipes that I had printed out from the Internet, when I first discovered it.

I also found my first recipe book, neatly written out by hand when I was 17 year old. It holds a collection of favourite dishes that I cooked when I first left home. I can't wait to try some of these recipes again and am looking forward to the memories that I will find with each mouthful. I also wonder at how my tastes have changed over the years.

This recipe is not one that I have cooked before, but one I found in the pile of recipes printed from the computer. On first discovering the possibilities of the Internet I went a little crazy for a few weeks and printed out a lot recipes that (at the time) were unavailable to me. This was one of them, however last night was the first time that I cooked it.

I really love (love) pomegranate molasses, so my husband and I both loved this from the first mouthful.

Needless to say the the leftovers disappeared to work again today.

Jordanian Chicken in Pomegranate Sauce

serves 4

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 2 kilograms chicken pieces

• 2 onions (diced)
• 3 cloves garlic (crushed)
• 1 teaspoon paprika

• 1/2 teaspoon crushed chilli

• 1/4 cup coriander leaves (chopped)

• 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

• 1 x 400 gram can diced tomatoes

• salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a heavy based pot. Brown the chicken pieces in 2 batches and set aside. Add the diced onion and garlic to the pot and gently saute until soft. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the paprika and chilli and stir for a couple of minutes before adding the remaining ingredients. Return the chicken to the pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 - 40 minutes until the chicken is cooked.

You could add a little more chilli than this, I have halved the amount of chilli from the original recipe because of our children. Not that it mattered, they do not love (love) pomegranate molasses and did not eat the sauce anyway. I served this with plain rice last night, but a pilau would have been better. Or better still serve this as part of a large Middle Eastern feast. Delicious.

Monday, November 14, 2011

My first white loaf

After the immediate success of my first bread machine bread making experience, I decided I would wing it last week and attempted to make a rye loaf in my bread machine.

Despite the fantastic smells that filled my kitchen and a five hour wait, it was disaster. I used a different bread machine bread book and it just did not work. Today I went back to what I know and used the bread book that came with my machine to make a basic white loaf.

Now that's better.

Large Basic White Loaf

• 1 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast (I've kept mine in the freezer)

• 475 grams plain flour
• 2 teaspoons table salt

• 2 tablespoon butter
• 2 tablespoons raw sugar

• 350 ml water

Put the ingredients of your bread into the bread maker in the order of the ingredients list. Yeast first and water last. There is no need to mix. Press the menu button and select basic. Press the select button and select bake. Press start and walk away. When the beeper beeps to indicate that the bread is ready lift the lid immediately to remove the bread. Remember to wear oven mits and shake the pan several times to remove the bread. Place the bread on a wire rack to cool.


It was very yummy with my homemade strawberry jam.

As for the rye bread, I will try that again soon, but I will hand knead it instead.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

All hail, kale

One month ago, I had never eaten kale. I had certainly never cooked kale. And to be honest, I don't think I even knew what kale looked like. I new that it was a green leafy vegetable, but that was the extent of my kale knowledge.

But recently, every new recipe book I looked at contained recipes for kale. I thought it was about time I bought some kale and tried it for myself.

This is the recipe that converted us instantly to kale lovers. (by us, I don't meant the children) It also converted us to the delights of brown rice. I have eaten yummy brown rice in healthy salads in healthy salad bars over the years, but my memories of cooking it at home were very bad. Has brown rice changed or is it me? I don't really want to go on about organics here, but I do believe that the organic brown rice that I've been buying is no comparison to the supermarket stuff.

We truly cannot get enough of this dish, I have cooked it 4 times in the last month and each time my husband quickly whisks off any leftovers to work and I am left wondering; where has it all gone?

This recipe has been adapted slightly from 'Notes from my Kitchen Table'.

Fried Brown Rice with Kale

serves 4

• 225 grams kale (washed, stems discarded and shredded)
• 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

• 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
• 3 shallots (cut into 3 cm diagonal slices)
• 200 grams cooked brown rice (cooked weight)

• 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

Steam the kale for 7 minutes. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes before raising the heat to medium and adding the kale and shallots. Cook for 2 more minutes and add the rice. Cook for another 2 minutes, stirring. Add the soy and sauce and cook for another minute. Serve immediately.

Simple, quick, easy, yummy and healthy. What's not to love. My husband has been eating it cold at work with his salad and I'd like to try adding a poached egg on top, to make the perfect lazy night dinner.

Do you eat kale? How do you cook it?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Spooky Food - The Drinks

My cousin and I use to spend hot summer Saturday afternoons under the citrus trees in her backyard. With ginger ale or lemonade from the fridge we added freshly (and messily) squeezed oranges, mandarins and cumquat's. Picked straight from the trees that shaded us and hand squeezed directly into a large jug right there on the spot. It was always drunk immediately.

Pure bliss.

I am punch drunk on my 'carefree childhood in the seventies' memories. I'm sure we were wearing tiny floral hand sewn shorts and boob tubes!

But this has nothing to do with Halloween. Just a nice little story about my first punch making experiences.

The punch recipe (witches brew) that I make for Halloween is one I always use when making punch, usually for the kids birthday parties or school holiday treats. Hence the name 'go to punch' It has been adapted from a local recipe book.

The shrunken heads idea was discovered on Martha Stewart's website, while searching for inspiration for our first ever Spooky Dinner last year.

I double this recipe to fill my punch bowl.

Witches Brew with Shrunken Heads

Go-to Punch

(non- alcoholic)

makes 750 ml

• 1 1/2 cups cranberry juice

• 1 1/2 cups pineapple or orange juice

• 1 1/2 cups ginger ale

• 1 1/2 cups soda water

• ice cubes

Mix all of the ingredients together in a punch bowl and serve.

To make the
Shrunken Heads

• 1 cups lemon juice
• 1 tablespoons coarse salt

• 4 large granny smith apples (peeled, cored and cut in half lengthways)

• 16 whole cloves

Preheat the oven to 120 degrees. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Mix together lemon juice and salt in a medium size bowl. Using a sharp paring knife, carve a face, as desired, on the rounded side of each apple half. Place the apples in the lemon mixture for one minute, then transfer onto paper towel to drain. Put the apples, face-side up on the prepared baking tray and bake until the apples are dry and begin to brown around the edges. This will take about 90 minutes. Remove from the oven and press cloves into the 'eye sockets'. Make the punch in the punch bowl and float the shrunken heads on top.

And for the grown ups we serve Murky Merlot and Queasy Reisling.

Thanks again Martha

Sunday, November 6, 2011

More Spooky Food - Dessert

And for dessert at our Spooky Dinner we served: mud cake, eyeball jellies and snakes in slime

For the Mud Cake, I baked this recipe.

The jelly recipes have been adapted from Donna Hay's Kids (Annual #4) Magazine.

Eyeball Jellies

makes 8

• 2 x 85 gram packet red jelly crystals
• 4 white marshmallows (halved)

• 8 smarties

Make the jelly according to the
instructions on the packet. Divide the mixture into eight small cups or glasses and allow to cool for 5 minutes before putting into the fridge. Press one smartie into each marshmallow half to make an eye. When the jelly is half set (after about 1 hour in the fridge) gently place the eyeball on top of the jelly. Return to the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or until set.

Snakes in Slime

makes 8

• 2 x 85 gram packet green jelly crystals
• 8 snake lollies

Make the jelly according to the
instructions on the packet. Divide the mixture into eight small cups or glasses and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Gently place a snake into the jelly and put into the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or until set.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Spooky Halloween Dinner

New traditions have been started in this house. Our spooky dinner on Halloween is one that we hosted for the first time last year and again earlier this week . I know for sure, that I will be cooking the same food next year, so I thought I'd better write it down.

My children have been talking about spooky food for over a month. There was no way we were having Halloween without goblin pies and bandaged fingers.

Here is our 'Spooky Dinner' menu

• sticky bat wings
• bandaged fingers or severed fingers
• slime pie
• goblin pies with blood sauce
• ribcage potatoes
• salad

• witches brew with shrunken heads
• murky merlot and queasy reisling

• mud cake
• eyeball jellies
• snakes in slime

Today I give you the recipes for our main meal.

Sticky Bat Wings

Honey and Soy Chicken Marinade

serves 6 - 8

• 1.8 kilograms chicken pieces (use chicken wings to make bat wings)

for the marinade

• 2 tablespoons honey

• 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons light soy sauce

2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
• 2 tablespoons
tomato ketchup
• 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)


Mix all of the marinade ingredients together and marinate the chicken pieces overnight.

To make
bat wings, preheat the oven to 200 degrees and bake for 35 minutes. If you are using this marinade for other chicken pieces, I suggest that you cook drumsticks and thighs (with bones) for 45 - 55 minutes. If you are marinating chicken breasts or chicken thigh fillets I would cook them on the barbecue.

Bandaged Fingers

serves 4 - 6

• 12 chipolata sausages
• 3 tortillas (cut into 1 inch wide strips)
• tomato ketchup

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Oil a baking tray. Lay the sausages onto the tray and cook in the oven for 20 minutes. To serve, wrap the end of each sausage with a strip of tortilla and dollop a drop of tomato ketchup onto the other end.

This year we served severed fingers because I forgot to buy the tortillas.

Slime Pie


serves 6-8

• 3 tablespoons olive oil

• 2 leeks (chopped)

• 1 cup shallots (chopped – include some of the green tops)

• 800 grams spinach or
silverbeet (chopped)
• 1 cup dill (chopped)

• 1 cup flat-leaf parsley (chopped)

• 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
• 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

• salt and pepper

• 400 grams feta cheese (or 200 grams feta and 200 grams ricotta - crumbled)
• 4 eggs (lightly beaten)

• 16 sheets filo pastry
• 250 grams butter (melted)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease a 30 x 18cm baking dish. Heat the oil in a large pot and gently
sauté the leeks and shallots until soft. Stir in the spinach and stir until wilted. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add the dill, parsley, nutmeg, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the most of the liquid has evaporated and the spinach begins to stick to the pan. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Stir in the eggs and feta.

Line the baking dish with 8 sheets of filo pastry, brushing each sheet with melted butter. Spoon in the spinach and feta mixture. Top with the remaining layers of filo pastry, once again, brushing each sheet with butter. Finish by brushing the top with butter. Cut a small slit into the top of the pastry and bake for 40 – 45 minutes until golden brown.

Goblin Face Pies with Blood Sauce

Mini Meat Pies


for the filling

• 1 tablespoon olive oil

• 1 onion (finely diced)

• 1 garlic clove (crushed)

• 500 grams mince

• 150 grams mushrooms (finely chopped)

• 1/2 cup red wine

• 1/2 cup beef stock

• 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce

• 1 tablespoon tomato paste

• 1 bay leaf

• salt and pepper

• 1 tablespoon cornfour
• 2 tablespoons water

for the pastry

• 5 sheets of store-bought shortcrust pastry (thawed)

• 1 egg (lightly beaten)

to serve

• tomato ketchup

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and oil muffin trays. Heat the oil in heavy based pot and gently saute the onions until tender. Add the garlic and then the beef mince and mushrooms. Cook until brown. Add the red wine, beef stock, worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, bay leaf and season to taste. Bring to the boil, cover and reduce the heat to simmer for 20 minutes. In a cup, mix the cornflour and water until well combined. Add to the mince mixture and increase the heat. Stir through and cook until thickened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.

Use a small plate or cup to cut around for to make the pie shells. Line the muffin trays with the cut pastry and fill with the cooled meat filling. Using a smaller cup template, cut out the lids of the pies. Use a paring knife to cut out the eyes and mouths of the lids. Top each pie with it's goblin face lid. Brush the pastry with egg and bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until golden. Serve with tomato ketchup (blood sauce)

Editors note: I have updated this recipe (31/10/12) I found these were a little dry last year, so if you have made them, you might want to try them again. I think that this years batch of goblin face pies (much requested in this house) are an improvement.

Ribcage Potatoes

Hasselback Potatoes

serves 6

• 6 large potatoes (peeled and cut in half
• 50 grams butter

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Oil a large baking tray. Place each potato half on a chopping board, flat side down, ready to cut. Starting from one end of the potato, make slits in each potato by cutting almost all the way through the potato. Continue along the potato, making cuts about 4 mm apart. Carefully place the potatoes on the baking tray. Dot each potato with butter and drizzle with olive oil. season with salt and pepper. Bake the potatoes for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are golden and crispy. During the cooking time, baste the potatoes with the butter and oil and shuffle them about so they don't stick, but not in the first 15 minutes of cooking or they will break up. Serve
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...