Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pumpkin Couscous with Coriander Mayonnaise

Pumpkin Couscous with Coriander Mayonnaise
This salad is one of my favourites and has on occasion been requested by family members when we get together... for tea tonight I am serving this with a pan fried fillet of salmon however you could choose a steak or a cold shredded chicken could be added... remember you are only limited by your imagination, adaptation is creation.  
  • Combine in a small bowl a couple of tablespoons each of olive oil and honey, 1 tablespoon each of ground cumin, cinnamon and cardamom. Toss through approx 1kg of 3cm diced pumpkin and bake on a flat baking paper lined tray, in a 180 oven, turning once for about 30mins.
  • While the pumpkin is baking... bring to the boil 1 cup of vegetable stock. Add 1 cup of couscous. Stir well. Remove from the heat and let it stand with the lid on for a couple of minutes then fluff with a fork and transfer to a large bowl to cool.
  • Stir in the cooled pumpkin, 4 thinly sliced spring onions, about 1/2 cup of pistachio nuts, a couple of large handfuls of rocket leaves or greenery of your choice and lots of coriander leaves picked off the stems.
  • Finally drizzle over the mayonnaise which is made up of 1/2 cup of your favourite mayo, (mine is Praise Whole Egg) 1 tablespoon of finely grated orange rind, 2 tablespoons orange juice, about 1/2 cup of finely chopped coriander including the crunchy stems and salt & pepper to taste.

Tofu & Sweet Corn Soup

Tofu & Sweet Corn Soup
Don't be frightened to try Tofu... I am convert and love the stuff now...you could make this soup without it if you prefer but give it a go just once and see what you think. 
  • Dice firm tofu into cubes and toss in a mixture of 2 tablespoons of cornflour and 1 teaspoon of vegetable stock powder to coat. This is a very delicate process, be gentle but still tastes great even if it breaks up so don't panic too much.
  • Heat a good splosh of vegetable oil in a good sized heavy based saucepan and fry off a finely diced onion, chilli and a couple of crushed cloves of garlic until soft.
  • Add the Tofu and fry until golden, 4-5 minutes... add a little stock from a 1 litre container of a good quality store bought product if it starts to stick mine did a little but still turned out great... Tofu takes on the flavour its added to so even though not really golden they still taste delicious.
  • Add the remainder of the 1 litre of stock along with 2 tins of creamed corn and a cup of either tinned or fresh corn kernels and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Bring the soup to a gentle simmer and cook for about 15 mins until the soup has thickened a little.
  • Serve with some natural yoghurt if desired and some fresh coriander leaves or chopped parsley. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Blini with creamed cheese and chive dressing

Blini with creamed cheese and chive dressing
These fritter type pancakes made with potato are delicious. Give them a try sometime maybe even tea tonight.

  • Boil, drain and mash 2 potatoes ... set aside to cool.
  • Pan fry 1/2 an onion and also let cool.
  • When all cool mix together with salt & pepper, a handful of chopped parsley, 200ml cream, the yolk of an egg and the whisked egg white...
  • Pan fry in vegetable oil 10cm fritters until golden brown on both sides.
Serve topped with a cream cheese and chive dressing (thinned with a little cream if necessary)and any thing else you desire. My choice for tonight is char grilled zucchini ribbons,chives and a drizzle of olive oil.

Other toppings could be *thin cucumber ribbons * a simple rocket salad dressed with oil and balsamic *thinly sliced smoked salmon.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mozzarella Cheese Making

Mozzarella Plait


My failed attempt :(
First and foremost I have to say that I loved, learned and have no regrets... even though I was the only one in the class of Mozzarella Cheese making today that failed. I will not give up stay posted, I have the equipment, the knowledge gained from the fabulous team at "The Cheese Maker" and I have a strong will to succeed. All is never lost I have made a "NEW" cheese because it is still cheese... loved the experience... loved the people... loved the location... loved the CHEESE...

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Tanya & Pamela "The Cheese Makers"

Final stage - Air drying

Today I have discovered the stylish art of home cheese making under the skilled business owners from "The Cheese Maker" Tanya & Pamela... The photo clips above were only  one of today's recipes "Fetta" we also made a very simple Ricotta and yoghurt cheese balls which we have marinated to suit our own tastes. The art of home soft cheese making, yoghurt making and sour cream (I will never buy this product again) is not at all daunting and can be achieved by just about anyone. The short courses provided by the girls at The Cheese Maker are a great way to get a basic understanding, purchase all of the necessities required to do this at home cheeses and best of all they welcome and encourage your follow up phone calls and gladly offer you as much ongoing support as you may require. I would highly recommend attending a class.
The Cheese Maker
Perth based, check out their web page for further detail
on course options available


Friday, February 24, 2012

Simple filled Mushrooms

Simple filled Mushrooms
This simple meal can be thrown together and served up in a very short time... faster than take away... so very nourishing and filling... can't beat that for tonight's tea...
Filled Mushrooms with salad

  • Remove the stems of field mushrooms, chop and pan fry the stems in a little butter and olive oil with chopped sage leaves, spring onion, coriander stems and pine nuts until softened. Add a handful of fresh herbs and a sprinkle of breadcrumbs to pick up all the oils and the flavour you have created.
  • Spoon the mixture onto the mushrooms which you have placed on baking paper on a tray.
  • Add some feta or parmesan, a sprinkle of smokey paprika and a drizzle of olive oil to the top and bake until cooked through about 10 mins in a mod 180 oven.
  • Served with a simple side salad that can be prepared while the mushrooms are cooking for a complete nourishing meal in less than 30 minute meal from prep to plate.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Watermelon & Quinoa Salad with a Thai dressing

Watermelon & Quinoa Salad with Thai dressing
Refreshing watermelon I can't get enough of it on hot summer days this salad is easily thrown together in a few minutes is wonderfully cool and healthy to boot... don't be limited by my suggestions/ideas create your own additions to suit you and your family...

Watermelon & Quinoa Salad with Thai dressing
  • Mix in a large saucepan 1 cup of Quinoa and three cups of cold water. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer gently for about 15 mins until all liquid is absorbed. Strain rinse and cool. This can be done ahead of time. I usually do a double batch and have quinoa on hand in the fridge to add to just about every salad concoction. This grain will take on any flavour you add to it so add about 1/3 of the dressing to it before refrigeration. 

  • Whisk all dressing ingredients together ...
  • 1 tbs fresh minced ginger
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/8 cup sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp light soy
  • Serve on a platter a layer of salad greens of your choice, lots of diced watermelon about 6 cups, thinly sliced fennel and spring onion, anything you fancy... sprinkle over the quinoa or serve separately as I have done and garnish with the remainder of the dressing and salted peanuts.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Watermelon & Beetroot Soup ...who'd of thunk it?

My local produce providers stall is currently offering watermelons from $1 each so why wouldn't I use this opportunity to utilise them in tonight's tea. I also sourced beetroot at 3 for $1. It's all about keeping an eye out for a bargain and then making tonight's tea from the available produce. 
Watermelon & Beetroot Soup
This is a simple soup to prepare but does take just under an hour to cook it and cooling for a few hours or overnight is the recommended method to serve. Very tasty and well worth the waiting times....Yum watermelon and beetroot what a combination.

  • Soft fry a sweet onion in a little oil until translucent.
  • Add 3-4  small roughly diced beetroot and cook on low heat for about 40 mins until soft stirring often.
  • Add 4 cups of vegetable stock cover and cook for about 15mins longer. Strain and reserve the liquid.
  • Add solids and 3 cups of diced seed free watermelon to a blender or similar and purée until smooth.
  • Combine again with the reserved liquid and cool for as long as desired. It is delicious warm as well as cold. Present with fresh chopped mint if desired.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Crepes/Pancakes - Sweet/Savoury - Both

Make a batter suitable for a thin crepe...below is my guide  and what I did for this batch...prepared ahead of time and reheated through when filled for tonight's tea.

  • 6tbs plain flour, 1 egg and the liquid portion is natural yoghurt, a dash of milk and water made up to 300ml...
  • I use a Bessemer pancake pan and bowl system but you can improvise if you aren't lucky enough to own these.Lime juice, sugar and cream... sweet crepe... what can I say other than today's lunch... yum!

  • Tea tonight are the same crepe served and presented in a square parcel with a mixture of caramelised onions & figs, pumpkin, mushroom,spinach and feta... topped with dressed salad leaves, avocado and icing sugar toasted heavenly almonds .
Pancakes are eaten today, Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent commences. Pancakes are made from staples that would spoil if not eaten; flour, eggs, cream the consumption of which is traditionally restricted during the self-denial, associated with the 40 days of Lent which starts tomorrow.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Zucchini & Cheesy Polenta Lasagne

Zucchini & Cheesy Polenta Lasagne

Simple with a little prep... 

  • Make up a quick tomato sauce by soft frying garlic, onions, coriander stalks and I added sliced fresh mushrooms..Here is where you can be creative with veggie choice or even chilli if you fancy some spice in your life.
  • Add a tin of crushed tomatoes, 1/2 tin water and a squeeze of tomato paste and lots of roughly chopped fresh herbs. I used tonight Italian parsley, basil and coriander.
  • Salt,  cracked pepper, a tsp of sugar and a dash of balsamic vinegar (these additions to any tomato base are in mine and my dad's opinion vital to a balanced sauce. Cook this down to a rich thick consistency. While this is happening make your cheesy polenta by
  • Bringing to the boil 4 cups of water with some vegetable stock powder in it for added flavour. Whisk in 1 cup of polenta and whisk until thick. Remove from the heat stir in some freshly grated parmesan cheese and let it cool for a few minutes. In the meantime grate a couple of zucchini and some tasty cheese.
  • Layer together in a deep casserole dish or similar starting with a polenta layer on the base, tomato sauce, grated zucchini then grated cheese ending with cheese on top.
  • Bake in a mod 180 oven until the top is golden brown and serve on its own or with side salad/veg...this can be a complete meal depending on your variations.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mushrooms with coriander on toast

Mushrooms with coriander on toast

  • Slice and dice many and varied fresh mushrooms. Tonight I only have buttons at my disposal but that wont stop me being creative.
  • Remove the leaves from the coriander for decoration later... chop finely the the stems and leaves of coriander and/or any other fresh herbs you have to hand. Jamie suggests that mushrooms go wonderfully with rosemary, which is also very simple to grow and will always be on hand once you have it established in the garden.
  • Heat (medium flame) in a frying pan, a large slosh of olive oil and a knob of butter. Quickly toss the mushies and herbs until softened and then add to taste: soy, salt, cracked black pepper, balsamic vinegar. This serves a double purpose of both creating flavour and a thin tasty sauce.
  • Serve with home made  multi grain seed bread and lashings of home made butter.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Jamie Oliver/Asian inspired Salad by me

    Jamie Oliver/Asian inspired Salad

  • This is a simple nutritious salad and takes no time at all to prepare chilli, mango, salad leaves, bean sprouts, cucumber, water chestnuts (because I had them in the fridge) honey nuts.
  • Mixed salad and herb leaves anything you like and bean shoots is a great crunch factor. Slice and dice as you choose everything up and combine in a bowl.
  • Smash up a handful of nuts, I use cashew, almond and macadamia (your choice) pan fry them till golden brown in a little olive oil. Take of the heat and add a splosh of honey. Add these to the salad and mix with your hands careful in case the nuts are hot. I choose a hands on approach it adds love while you are getting a visual of the finished product.
  • Dressing is simple but a perfect combination.... lemon juice, soy sauce and sesame oil. Mix together and taste for that wonderful sweet, sour, salt combination you will know when its right.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

  • Pick from the garden a whole Jap pumpkin. Improvise with this step if necessary however note that pumpkins are simple to grow don't need a lot of looking after and the bees do all the work for you.
  • Bake it whole slowly in 160 oven for about 3 hours then cut off the top and scrape out the seeds and discard them. Scoop out the wonderful warm flesh of the freshly baked pumpkin and put it in a food processor try not to eat too much of it at this stage because it will smell and taste divine.
  • You can make your own pastry for the base(this is my plan eventually I am working my way up to this outcome) or buy the frozen one I am using shortcrust. Line your prepared pie dish and blind bake until just golden brown while the pumpkin is cooking to economise on power. I am always wondering what else I can cook at the same time to conserve energy.
  • Add 1tsp vanilla paste or vanilla extract plus 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg & ginger to the pumpkin flesh and blend them all up in a food processor.
  • Beat together lightly 1 egg and 1 egg yolk, 1 cup of brown sugar,  and 1/2cup cream (if you desire). The cream can be left out if your feeling the need to be extra healthy today or served with it separately.
  • Stir the egg mix through the pumpkin mix and spoon into the cooled prepared pie crust. Then bake in a moderate 180 oven until set.
  • Serve with a dollop of double thickened cream (by leaving out both cream options you have made a dairy free dessert)and a sprinkle of cinnamon and pepitas for decoration.
Pumpkin and Cinnamon are best friends.