Thursday, April 26, 2012

ANZAC day breakfast

On ANZAC day mornings, I always set the table as if we are in the 1940's, the war time of my grandmother. A full fry-up breakfast, a pot of tea, Anzac biscuits and a simple tea loaf.

Until the children were born, we always went to the dawn service. When we came home (often with friends and family) we were always very hungry. So large a breakfast soon became a tradition. Most of the time now we go instead to the street parade and mid-morning service (sometimes both). Yesterday the children marched with their school in a local parade, although if I can, I try to make it back to my home town for the service.

This year I cooked something different to the usual full English breakfast. A recipe I love to cook when the weather turns cool. I have no idea where this recipe came from, I have been cooking it for over 15 years.

I also served up poor soldiers cake (tea with hazels version) and the requirement of the day: Anzac biscuits.

Irish Country Breakfast

serves 4

• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 bacon rashers (diced)
• 1 onion (finely diced)
• 4-6 potatoes (peeled, cooked and cubed)
• salt and black pepper
• 4 eggs
• 3 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese

In a large frying pan, heat the oil and sauté the bacon and onion until soft. Once cooked, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside and keep warm. Add the potatoes to the pan and season to taste and cook until lightly browned. Make 4 dents in the potatoes and crack an egg into each one. Cover and cook until the eggs they are cooked to how you like them. Sprinkle over the bacon, onion and cheese. Replace the lid and heat through until the cheese has melted. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

* The original recipe used 6 potatoes, it's an Irish recipe after all, but I used only four when I cooked this yesterday. It's up to you, I might have used 6 if more people where sharing breakfast with us.

* In the past I have served this with tiny pork sausages, extra grilled rashers of bacon and tomato ketchup. It just depends how many people are coming for breakfast.

* After this picture was taken, I easily slid the potatoes and eggs onto a serving platter. I thought it would be better than damaging my new scanpan with the knife. It transferred to a serving plate easily.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Share your table

I have been doing a lot of cooking already this week.

Most of it has been made to be stored in the freezer for cooler months.

But with such big quanities of food being made and piles of dishes and pots in the sink. I have been thinking of this poster.

Tell me is there anything nicer than sharing your table?

I think not.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pear, Chocolate and Ricotta Cake

About a year ago Mum went to a dinner party where this cake was served. The next day, she rang the host for the recipe and immediately e-mailed it to me, telling me: I must make this cake.

But I never had.

As she was our only lunch guest for Good Friday this year, I decided to make it. It was so easy, it makes a huge cake and is very impressive. Did I mention easy? And yum! We served it, as is with coffee, but mum's friends had served it warm, with thick cream as a dessert - divine!

I made it again this week when friends came for morning tea.

You must try it.

Pear, Chocolate and Ricotta Cake

makes 1 large cake

• 250 grams castor sugar
• 3 eggs
• 250 grams ricotta
• 300 grams self raising flour
• 2 tablespoons melted butter
• 150 grams dark chocolate (chopped)
• 4 ripe pears (peeled, cored and chopped into large chunks)

• raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Grease and line a 26 cm spring form cake tin. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the ricotta and mix well. Add the flour, a little at a time and then the melted butter. Gently fold in the chocolate and pear. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until cooked.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I first cooked this Koulibiaca (koo-lee-BYAHKA) recipe for a Good Friday lunch that we hosted not long after we bought our first home. It was 11 years ago.

It was the first family gathering in that home. A home of much entertaining.

It was a magical day filled with sunshine and laughter. Filled with family and friends of all ages, newborn to grandparents. Most of our family had driven long distances to be there that day. It was the first Easter that my cousin and I had spent together in years. We had missed many family Easter celebrations during our early twenties, as we had been off travelling our own paths. I cooked a large Easter Buffet on this day, but the only thing that I remember well is this dish.

Be prepared, it does fall apart when it is sliced, but all will be forgiven when you taste it. After making it again, I remembered that when I originally made it, I halved the recipe. This made it not so wide and easier to cut.

I have written the recipe here as I cooked it on Friday, but next time I think I might half the recipe. I guess it depends on how many people are coming for lunch.


serves 8

• 1 kilogram salmon fillets

poaching liquid

• 1 onion (roughly chopped)

• 1 stick celery (roughly chopped)

• 1 carrot (peeled and roughly chopped)

• 2 stalks parsley

• 10 peppercorns

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 2/3 cup white wine

• 4 cups water

for the filling

• 100 grams butter

• 1 onion (finely diced)

• 500 grams mushrooms (sliced)
• salt and pepper
• 125 grams long grain rice

• 250 ml vegetable or chicken stock

• 4 hard boiled eggs (diced)
• 2 tablespoons parsley (finely chopped)
• 2 tablespoon dill leaves (finely chopped) for the pastry

• 4 sheets puff pastry

• 1 egg (lightly beaten)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease a large tray or serving dish* Add all of the poaching liquid ingredients to a large stockpot and bring to the boil over a high heat. Carefully add the salmon fillets to the pot and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 3-5 minutes or until the fish is firm to touch. Remove the fish with a slotted spoon to a bowl to cool. Once cool enough to handle, remove the skin and any bones. Separate the flesh into small flakes and set aside.

Melt the butter in a frying pan (with a lid) and gently saute the onion until soft but not brown. Add the mushrooms and fry until cooked. Season to taste. Add the rice to the pan and stir through. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Cover and reduce the heat. Cook until the rice is done, this will take about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Once cooled, add the eggs, parsley and dill to the rice mixture and mix well.

Overlap 1½ sheets of puff pastry onto your greased tray. Put half the rice mixture onto the pastry, then half the salmon, then the remaining rice mixture and the remaining salmon. Put the other 1 ½ sheets of puff pastry on top and seal the edges together. Cut a slit into the top. Use the remaining piece of pastry to decorate the pie and brush with beaten egg.
Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

•* I cooked the koulibiaca on a tray in the oven and later transferred it to a serving platter - not so successfully. Next time I might cook it in my large lasagne tray or get a helper to help to transfer it onto a platter. No one really likes a pie with the bottom fallen out of it!

• My "Food of the World: Time Life: Russian Cooking" cookbook tells that: koulibiaca is usually served with a jug of melted butter or sour cream - we did not do that.

• My recipe is an adaptation on a Reg Livermore recipe that I saw on TV ("Our House") many years ago.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hot Cross Buns

On Easter Sunday, the kids and I made hot cross buns.

This was only the second time that I had made them.

Seven and a half years ago, when my son was just 2 weeks old, I set to work to make my first ever batch of hot cross buns. I made two big mistakes:

(1) I mixed two recipes together (you know how I like to do that), but this is not always such a good idea with baking and yeast cookery.

(2) I set the timer, asked my husband to watch the buns in the oven and went for a rest (read: deep, deep sleep)

I woke to the smell of burning buns and to find my husband out in our driveway washing the car, oblivious to my hot cross buns. He hadn't heard the timer.

This time I had a basic recipe torn from a thrifted Family Circle magazine. I thought that this would be a no fail, after all, it's Family Circle. But they didn't turn out quiet how I wanted. Despite having lots of fun making them, they were a bit too dry. I have a few theories as to why:

(1) The recipe said to use bread flour. I didn't have bread flour and I used tipo oo flour. I didn't think that this was such a good idea at the time, I wondered if it would make a harder bun? But I didn't want to drive to the shops either. I found a recipe on line that had used tipo oo flour, so I went with it. I don't think that it was such a good idea.

(2) I thought that the recipe used too much yeast. I wondered if this was a misprint? Again, back to Google and I found that the quantity should be right. I have since read that too much yeast can cause dry bread that will go stale quicker.

(3) My oven was maybe too hot. Baking in my oven has always been a bit hit and miss. It is a very hot oven (fan forced) and I find that I must reduce the temperature by 20 degrees when I am baking. I'm not sure that I did that this time. It was a little crazy around baking time, family and friends coming and going. I'm not sure I paid the proper attention to my buns.

I am very new to yeast cookery, if you have any ideas on why my buns were a little dry, I would love to hear them.

Next time I think I will try my cousin's recipe. I have tasted her hot cross buns and they were delicious. I had forgotten that she had posted her recipe on her blog last year. I know that her advice would be: "You should have used my recipe". And as always, she would have been right.

However all was not lost. Our hot cross buns this year were homemade with love, they contained no nasty preservatives or additives

......and have they tasted great toasted, with homemade strawberry jam.

P.S. for my mother (who is begging me for the recipe) and for anyone else who is interested, I will post my recipe for Koulibiaca tomorrow.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Let the Easter feasting begin

Anyone who knows me, knows that; were there is tradition, there is food.

Easter is no different.

Yesterday we had a quiet Good Friday lunch at home. I like to cook a more formal lunch on Good Friday, usually with our parents and grandparents. The table is set with a linen or lace tablecloth and the good china gets dusted off. We always eat fish. I like subtle flavours and wine wine on this day.

Easter Sunday
is always a more casual lunch, an open house for anyone who wants to come. Friends, family, kids and mayhem. I usually cook a roast lamb, served with a table filled with large salads, dips and bread. There is usually red wine and loud music, easter egg hunts and way to much chocolate.

Our menu yesterday:

koulibiaca (a Russian fish pie)

polish potato salad

shaved fennel and watercress salad

a simple salad plate

And for dessert, pear, chocolate and ricotta cake
What do you like to eat for Easter at your place?

What are your favourite Easter celebrations

Monday, April 2, 2012

Going bananas

We have been waiting ages for this bunch of banana's to ripen and now, as always, they have all ripened at once. The kids are sick of them and I am ready to freeze the remaining bananas for future baking and smoothies.

I made this quick banana bread this morning. It was the perfect morning tea treat. I wish that I had doubled the recipe, I don't think it will last long.

I have been making this recipe since my teens. It is a Jamaican recipe and I love the addition of the lime juice and nutmeg.

Banana Bread

makes 1 loaf

make during the autumn months

• 95 grams unsalted butter (softened)

• 2 eggs
• 3/4 cup caster sugar

• 1 3/4 cups plain flour
• 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate soda

• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

• 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1 1/2 cups banana (mashed)

• 1/2 cup walnuts (chopped)

• 1/2 lime (juiced)

• 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

• 1 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 190 degrees. Grease and flour a bar tin. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Sift in the flour, baking powder and soda. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour the mixture into prepared bar tin and bake for 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.
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