Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dip into it.....

Dips ~

~ they’re a simple & popular starter for when friends come ‘round, just add some crackers & vegie sticks

~ and very transportable – no need to worry about the carpets in your car being redecorated with them as you take that corner a bit too sharply.

But dips have come a long way from the French Onion classic. Now days it’s all about gourmet, organic, fresh; and as soon as you put these labels on packaging up goes the price.

So I took up the challenge and with a ready (read captive) audience (bookclub girls) to test my products on I prepared two lovely dips:

~ Lemon Hummus with Pine Nuts ~ Capsicum & Cashew ~

Lemon Hummus with Pine Nuts


400gm chickpeas (canned), drained & rinsed
1/2C pine nuts, toasted
1 garlic clove
1/2tsp ground cumin
1/2tsp ground paprika
1/4C olive oil
1/4C fresh lemon juice


In a food processor combine chickpeas, pine nuts, garlic, cumin & paprika until well combined.

With the motor running, gradually add the olive oil and lemon juice and combine ingredients until smooth.

Capsicum & Cashew


200gm marinated roasted red capsicum, drained
150gm unsalted dry-roasted cashews
1/4C parmesan, finely grated
2tbs olive oil


In a food processor combine all ingredients until well combined, but not smooth. This dip needs to have some texture/chunkiness.

Both recipes were sourced from the Australian Women’s Weekly

  • Both my pine nuts & cashews I bought raw and just dry toasted them in a non-stick frying pan.

  • Instead of Parmesan I used Romano just for a little extra bite

  • Both dips can be made a day ahead, just keep refrigerated in an airtight container

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Just check your pantry.

I was low on fresh ingredients and knew I probably couldn't do pancakes two nights in a row. So I started desperately to cast around for ideas. The september 2005 issue of Australian Table called to me. I found this baked polenta and beans recipe and was delighted to discover all but one ingredient in my pantry. I didn't have the mexican chilli powder so I turned to my CSIRO cookbook for the mexican rub recipe.

lemon zest
ground cumin
ground coriander
cayenne pepper (I used Piri piri)
I used equal amounts of each of these ingredients.

Just check your pantry.

Florentine Tarts

all I can say is YUM YUM YUM!

I'm glad that Kristie posted something that was healthy 'cause there is no chance of me doing that anytime soon.

I made these florentines on Christmas day and they turned out really well so I decided to make them again last weekend when my family all got together.

Rather than typing out the entire recipe I will just link to this page on a site appropriately called taste

The base is not sweet at all but it balances the pure sugar of the toffee on top.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Asian Coleslaw

There's no doubt that I just love fresh herbs....they just bring a dish to life. This is especially true for this dish.

There's nothing fancy about cabbage - it's pretty bland to look at and has a bland taste to match!

But....add some mint & coriander and a flavoursome sweet dressing and ..... ta-dah ..... you've got yourself cabbage that will have them coming back for more.

Now that's got to be a first!


1/2 savoy cabbage, shredded finely
1/4 purple cabbage, shredded finely
4 Lebanese cucumbers, halved length ways, seeded & sliced thinly
2 carrots, grated coarsely
1 bunch fresh mint, leaves picked
1 bunch fresh coriander, leaves picked
1tbs sesame seeds


1/3C grapeseed oil
1tbs sesame oil
2 1/2tbs light soy sauce
1 1/2tbs honey
1tbs mirin
1 lemon, juiced


Dressing: whisk together all ingredients
Salad: combine all the ingredients together and toss gently. Drizzle dressing over the salad just prior to serving.


  • Savoy Cabbage: If you can't find this at your local fruit & veg stall just use normal cabbage

  • Mirin: As this is sweet you could just substitute this with a little extra honey

  • Light Soy: I didn't have any so I just used normal soy but only added 2tbs

  • Without the dressing the salad will last for a day or two in the refrigerator in an airtight container

Sunday, February 14, 2010

and on the topic of love and all things sweet.....

lets talk about chocolate, and inparticular today Chocolate Torte.

Firstly,sorry about the overload of chocolate cake. You see, I wrote this post a couple of days ago and planned to post it today but my sister bet me to the punch line with her own yummy chocolate cake recipe, so I decided not to post my recipe. But I've had a little think and really, you just can't have too much chocolate or chocolate cake. So enjoy!

Otherwise known as "What-diet?-It's-my-birthday Chocolate Torte"

This week Hubby celebrated his birthday, and while age is not important, I don't mind reminding him that he is older than me.

Anyone that knows my hubby knows that he has a very dry sense of humour, loves his steak & LOVES chocolate. So each year I'm always on the hunt for just the perfect chocolate cake recipe, and this year I think I've hit the jackpot.

I found this recipe in the latest Christmas edition of the Australian Women's Weekly magazine. This light, moist cake is matched up to with a rich chocolate cream & ganache - a perfect marriage.

There are a few elements to this cake so you should allow yourself a little time to prepare it. Don't be as foolish as myself and try to make this cake between piano lessons & dinner reservations after working all day!!!

Chocolate Cake Ingredients

125gm dark chocolate, chopped
1C water
180gm butter, softened
2C brown sugar
4 eggs
1 1/3C self-raising flour
1/3C cocoa powder
2/3C almond meal

  • Preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius. Grease 2 20cmx30cm shallow cake pans and line the base with baking paper.

  • Combine the chocolate and water in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the chocolate melts. Set aside to cool slightly.

  • Beat butter & sugar together until smooth & creamy. Add the eggs one at a time. Sift together the flour and cocoa; stir in the almond meal. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in warm chocolate mixture.

  • Divide mixture evenly between the prepared pans & bake for 25mins or until cooked. Stand in pans for 10 minutes before turning onto cooling racks.

Chocolate Custard Cream

125gm butter, softened
2/3C store bought thick custard
75gm dark chocolate, melted & cooled
1tbs cocoa powder, sifted
2tbs icing sugar, sifted

  • Beat the butter until as pale as possible

  • Combine the custard, melted chocolate, cocoa & icing sugar

  • Gradually, beat the custard mixture into the butter until well combined

Chocolate Ganache

500gm dark chocolate, chopped
300ml cream

  • Combine the chocolate and cream in a large heatproof bowl. Place bowl over a saucepan or simmering water and stir until chocolate melts

  • Place in refrigerator for 30 mins, stirring frequently, or until thickened to a spreadable consistency.


  • Cut the cooled chocolate cakes in half lengthways. Place one half on a serving platter. Spread with 1/3 of the chocolate custard cream. Top with another chocolate cake half. Continue layering with the remaining chocolate custard cream and chocolate cake, finishing with the chocolate cake. Cover well with plastic wrap & place in the fridge overnight.

  • Spread the log with the chocolate ganche. Set aside for ganache to set before slicing and serving.


  1. Chocolate Cake - I placed the chocolate & water together in a microwaveable bowl and placed it in the microwave. On high power I turned the microwave on for 45secs, then stirred the mixture. Continue this until water & chocolate are combined.

  2. I placed all the chocolate cake mixture in a large rectangle cake tin, then once cooled I cut it lengthways to create the torte shape.

  3. Making the chocolate cake the day before is a good hint because I didn't and found that because the cake is beautifully light it crumbled when I was trying to slice it to serve.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

For the love of chocolate

Do you remember cake you had 12 years ago?
I do.
Aunty Gerry's chocolate fudge cake.
It was so good I asked her to give the recipe to me as a gift for my kitchen shower.
I've been sitting on this recipe for 10 1/2 years. Looked at it often yet never made it. Betty Crocker asks so little of me I have usually gone with her.
Aunty Gerry's Chocolate Cake with Fudge Icing

Friday, February 12, 2010

For the love of food

I don't know about you but food makes me happy.

It sets off some kind of endorphins that make me feel like nothing in the world, at that moment, matters.

And because of that, I like to see others happy when they eat something I've made.

I LOVE to be complimented, love it!

I won't show it, I'll politely say "thank you, it was just something I whipped up", but inside I'm River Dancing, Michael Flatley style.

So you can be sure that I'll be cooking my little heart out this Valentines Day, to show my true love that there's no one else I would rather make happy than him.

Almond Meal Cookies

125 gm butter, softened
1/3 C caster sugar
1/3 C brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 C plain flour
1/4 C self-raising flour
1/2 C almond meal

Beat butter & sugar together until creamy. Add the egg and combine well
Combine sifted flour & almond meal into creamy mixture and stir.
Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth.
Roll dough between sheets of baking paper until about 5mm thick and refrigerate for about 30 mins.
Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
With your chosen cookie cutter cut shapes out of the dough.
Place the shapes on a tray lined with baking paper and bake for about 12mins.
Cool cookies on a wire rack.

To Decorate

Icing sugar
Cold water
Food colouring
M&M's (or other confectionery)

Combine all ingredients, except M&M's, until you get a smooth paste.
You'll only need a tablespoon or so of water to about a cup of icing sugar.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I think comfort food can be a lot of different things to a lot of different people. On a week night my comfort food is anything home made with an absolute minimum of fuss. I get home just before 5pm and my kids need to be sitting at the table by 5:30pm otherwise the rascal possesses their little innocent bodies and shortens my fuse in one fell swoop. Last night we ate country sausages from the local butcher and frozen mint peas, a regular hit with all whom consume. But lets face it cooked sausages and frozen peas isn't really post worthy.
I looked for something quick, something new, something borro.....
and turned to my 4 ingredients cook book. this book should be a storage pantry essential as many recipes, with the help of some fresh ingredients, will help me move some close to best before items off my shelf.
Tonight I made Green Chicken Curry. In less than 40 minutes. And most of that time was spent doing the dishes as the sauce simmered.

4 chicken thighs sliced (I used 2 breasts)
1/4 cup of green curry paste
1 can coconut cream (I accidentally used coconut milk)
1 cup of green bean cut to 5cm (I put in a bit more so next time I'll put in a bit more coconut)

heat wok or nonstick pan then add green curry paste and heat till fragrant. Cook chicken til almost done and pore in coconut cream. Bring to the boil while stirring. Simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes and add beans. Continue to simmer til beans are to your liking and serve with rice cooked in vegetable broth.

No pictures as this meal was gastronomically appreciated in record time. Definitely recommendable.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Flour....the plain truth

For a few years now I've been making my own pizza dough and it's been a winner in my house.

The staple topping items include - mozzarella, ham, pepperoni, bacon (as you can probably tell we have a household of meatlovers). Lately on my pizza I've been enjoying semi-sundried tomatoes & buffalo mozzarella - I'm a bit of a gourmet pizza lover.

Of late it's come to my attention that along with Plain & Self Raising flour, great for cakes or pastry, there is also something called Strong Flour or OO, ideal for bread & pizza dough, which has a high gluten content. Read more here

So I thought I would give it a try.

Luckily I found Strong flour in my local grocery store and used it in my pizza dough last weekend. The result was noticeable. My dough was softer & lighter and had a superior stretchiness to it, if you know what I mean.

My pizza's just got that much s.t.r.o.n.g.e.r.

Give it a go, next time try using Strong flour and make this simple apple cake slice...

Pre heat oven to 160 degrees Celsius.

On top of a rolled out piece of dough place some sliced granny smith apples and sprinkle with ground cinnamon and a generous amount of caster sugar. Lastly drizzle a generous amount of thickened cream and place in the oven until the apples are soft.

A good dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream would just be the finishing touch that this dish needs.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ricotta and Spinach Cannelloni


Hmmmm, I think we may be Italian..... & while we ponder this, lets enjoy yet another pasta dish.


375g spinach
350g ricotta
3 egg yolks
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
1/3 cup grated cheese

2 tbls oil
600g canned tomatoes (pureed)
2tsp basil
3/4 cup grated cheese


Combine spinach, ricotta, egg yolks, garlic, cheese, nutmeg and salt in a bowl. Mix well. Fill dry Cannelloni tubes with mixture.

In a pan, cook oil, tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper until boiling. Remove from heat.

Pour half sauce in a dish then place a layer of the filled Cannelloni tubes. Pour over the remaining sauce and sprinkle with cheese.

Bake at 200 degrees (celcius) for 30 - 35 minutes.

Serves 5 (I fed 3 adults & 1.25 children)

this dinner was an absolute hit in this household with Olivia asking for more and Xander crying because I wasnt feeding him fast enough. But next time I may add a few veggies to the sauce (zucchini or carrots) just to get some more veggies into the kids without them knowing about it.
Related Posts with Thumbnails