Friday, August 20, 2010

Whatever's in the pantry

Can I just say that I threw this baby together this afternoon with just a few ingredients that had been sitting in my pantry. I was impressed.

All I had was rice noodles, pineapple and some nuts - who knew that could make for a seriously good meal? Just add whatever sauces you have, I used fish sauce, soy, lime juice and peanut oil, and whatever veggies you want (I only had onion and coriander) and there you go. Done!

What meal have you thrown together by just using whatever you have left in the pantry? Read more...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tofu Pad Thai

One of my lovely fellow bloggers gave me this recipe and it is definitely a one-pan wonder. Prepare all your ingredients beforehand, chuck everything in and bob's your nana, done! Super easy and really delicious.

{ Tofu Pad Thai }

200g rice stick noodles
1/4 cup (60ml) peanut oil
2 eggs, beaten lightly
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 small fresh red chillies, chopped finely
1/2 cup (45g) packaged Asian fried shallots (or onion)
150g marinated Thai-style tofu
150g snow peas, trimmed, sliced lengthways
1/4 cup (35g) roasted peanuts, chopped
3 cups (240g) bean sprouts
6 green onions (green shallots), sliced thinly
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander

Place noodles in a large heatproof bowl; cover with boiling water, stand until noodles just soften, drain.

Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a wok; pour in egg, swirl wok to make a thin omelette. Cook until egg is just set. Remove from wok; roll omelette, cut into thin strips.

Heat remaining oil in wok; stir-fry garlic, chilli and fried onion until fragrant. Add tofu and snow peas, stir-fry for 1 minute. Add half the nuts, half the sprouts and half the green onion; stir-fry until sprouts are just wilted.

Add noodles, soy sauce and lime juice; stir-fry, tossing gently, until combined. Remove from heat; toss through omelette strips, coriander and the remaining nuts, sprouts and green onion.

Serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Two Dudes One Pan

Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo are the two dudes. They worked as chefs in Los Angeles before creating their own catering company Carmelized Productions. "We never really planned on becoming caterers," Vinny says in the book. "But the catering business took off." They were only 20 and 21 when that happened and then they quickly became known as the go-to guys when it came to throwing a dinner party. "We've cooked for every event imaginable, form all-out celebrity bashes to backyard pig roasts and making grilled cheese sandwiches for a family dinner!" Jon says. And in the beginning the pair cooked out of their clients' kitchens with produce they picked up at their local supermarket. And it seems their ethos comes from the simple yet delicious food they prepared for their clients. "Why use three pans (or more) when one will do?," Vinny says. And Jon agrees, "You don't need a a tricked-out kitchen to make a nice meal. The idea is to keep cooking easy. That's why the premise of this book is that you only need one pan for each dish."

Use three dudettes are going to give Jon and Vinny's recipes are go this week. We're thinking beef hamburgers and coffee cake. Just one pan? Stay tuned to see how it all pans out. (Get it?! Pans?!)


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Our Greek Dinner - Thanks George

{ Lamb and Olive Lady’s Fingers with Beetroot Tzatziki }

Serves 4


½ onion, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
Vegetable oil, to fry
200g lamb mince
¼ cup madeira
Pinch salt
½ cup chicken stock
30g green olives
100g butter
4 sheets filo pastry
1 tbsp icing sugar, to serve

Preheat oven to 180C. Finely dice onion and garlic. Add oil to saucepan and heat. Add onion and garlic, cook till translucent. Add lamb mince and cook until browned. Add the Madeira and cook for 2 minutes. Season with salt. Add chicken stock and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Finely dice olives and add to lamb mixture. Melt butter by placing in a microwave for 1 minute or melt in saucepan. Take a sheet of filo pastry and brush with melted butter. Place a tablespoon of lamb mixture in the middle of the filo and roll to resemble a finger. Repeat with remaining mixture and filo sheets. Place fingers on a greased baking tray and cook for 8 minutes. Dust with icing sugar and serve whole with the beetroot tzatziki.

{ Beetroot Tzatziki }

4 large beetroots
200g thick greek yoghurt
½ garlic clove, minced
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon

Individually wrap beetroots in foil and bake on baking tray in a low oven, 120C, for 2 hours. Allow to cool, remove foil and peel the skin off. Dice beetroot into small cubes. In a mixing bowl combine yoghurt, beetroot, garlic, zest and mix. Season with salt.

{ Roasted Pork Cutlet, Dodoni Feta Crumble, Greek Coffee Jus }

Serves 4

4 x 300g pork rib eye
50g butter
1 tbsp sage leaves, chopped
1 tsp thyme leaves, chopped
4 portions dodoni feta crumble
¾ cup greek coffee jus
Pinch of salt

Season pork with salt then seal on the chargrill on either side. Cook to medium (approx 4 minutes each side, no oil) and allow to rest. Heat the butter, sage and thyme until it turns golden brown. Add the pork and coat for 30 second. Spook feta crumble evenly on top of the pork and place under grill until golden brown. To serve, place pork on serving plate and drizzle with greek coffee jus.

{ Dodoni Feta Crumble }

100g dodoni feta
300g baked beans
¼ red onion, diced
100g fresh breadcrumbs

Combine onion, feta and baked beans in a bowl. Mix well. Toss through breadcrumbs and refrigerate until ready to serve.

{ Greek Coffee Jus }

1 ½ tbsp sherry vinegar
30g brown sugar
15g greek coffee
1 ¼ cups lamb jus
20g butter

In a small saucepan combine the vinegar and sugar and heat over a low heat. Whisk in coffee until dissolved and the consistency is smooth. In a medium saucepan heat the lamb jus gently. Combine the liquids and finish the sauce by whisking through the butter to thicken.

{ Baklava Souffle, Smoked Chocolate Ice Cream }

Serves 4

¾ cup low fat milk
20g cornflour
45g caster sugar
1 egg
2 egg yolks
6 egg whites
100g caster sugar
4 portions smoked chocolate ice cream

In a small saucepan bring milk to boil. While milk is warming, in a medium bowl mix the cornflour, sugar, eggs and egg yolk together to form a smooth paste. Pour the milk onto the paste and blend together. Return mixture to the saucepan, bring to a gentle simmer whilst whisking continuously for 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl, cover with cling film and allow to cool. Once cooled, beat in an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy and gradually add the sugar, whisking continuously until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the egg white mix into the cooled milk mixture and whisk vigorously then add the rest and gently fold in. Pour into buttered and sugared soufflé moulds (rameins) and bake in preheated moderately slow oven, 175C for 13 minutes or until the soufflé has risen to 2.5cm above the rim of its mould. Serve immediately.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


I'm a bit obsessive with food. Once I like something I have to have it again and again until the obsession has turned into a repulsion. This can get really annoying as the foods I love often turn into foods I can no longer stomach. During summer I was addicted to a spinach salad I got from my local deli, but now that we're in winter I can't get my regular salad fix as I'm just too cold to munch on anything that isn't going to warm me up. I was craving something healthy the other night and found this vegetable casserole recipe which sounded pretty tasty. I gave it a go and was pretty happy with the outcome. I think I added a little too many liquids but see how you go. The egg makes this dish really hearty and great for winter. Enjoy!

{ Vegetable Casserole with Simmering Eggs }

1/2 cup olive oil
1 onion, peeled, chopped
2 potatoes, peeled, chopped
2 carrots, peeled, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
500g zucchinis, cut into 1cm pieces
1 1/2 cups tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
3-4 free-range eggs
4 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
Crusty bread, to serve

Place oil in a frypan over low heat. Add onion, potato and carrot and cook until vegetables start to turn golden. Add the garlic and zucchini and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, oregano, vinegar and 3 cups of water. Season. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally or until thickened. Make 3-4 small indents in casserole and break in 3-4 eggs. Partially cover and cook for 10 minutes or until eggs have set. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve from pan at the table with lots of crusty bread. Serves 4.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Greek Month

The Greeks gave us more than democracy - they're also responsible for spanakopita, galaktoboureko and honeypuffs - those gloriously gooey honey-soaked balls of goodness. It's Greek month, so to prepare for 30 whole days of Greek-inspired cuisine, we headed to Paniyiri - Brisbane's annual Greek Festival. It's better than Christmas. Really.


Thursday, June 3, 2010


For all you cupcake lovers, here is a bit of a treat for you.

{ Magnolia's Vanilla Cupcakes }


1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Vanilla Buttercream (see below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.
In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing. Ice the cupcakes.

{ Vanilla Buttercream }

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food colouring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pasta alla Norma

Nothing compares to my Nonna's pasta. She grows her own tomatoes and makes her own sauces from scratch and even makes her own mince with the family once a year. One of my earliest food memories comes from my Nonna's backyard. There was a carcass hanging from a steel hook and the whole family was mincing and lending a hand to make the food we would eat for dinner. Chickens and children were running around, music was playing in the background and we laughed as we poured sauce into glass bottles. 

Needless to say, I love my pasta and while I didn't have Nonna's sauce on hand over the weekend, I made this dish called Pasta alla Norma after seeing the recipe on an Italian cooking show, which unfortunately I have forgotten the name of. But thanks Norma, whoever you are, it's not a pasta alla Nonna, but it's not bad at all.

{ Pasta alla Norma }

2 large eggplants
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 brown onion
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
Large bunch of fresh basil, stems finely chopped, leaves reserved
2 cans of tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Penne pasta
Parmesan cheese, grated

Cut your eggplants lengthwise then across so their cube-like pieces. Add a little oil to a pan and fry the eggplant in two batches. I was lazy and did it all in one batch and it was still good. Add extra oil if you need to and sprinkle with a bit of the dried oregano. Slosh them around until the eggplant is golden on all sides. Remove and place on a paper towel-covered plate. Saute the onion and garlic and turn heat down to a medium heat. Stir then add the eggplant again. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Season to taste. Cook your penne. When it's ready, drain and put back into the pot. Pour the sauce over the penne, chop up the basil then stir through. Once served add your Parmesan. Enjoy!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sorrows and bread

Miguel De Cervantes, the guy who wrote Don Quixote, was right, "all sorrows are less with bread" and I found that out for myself last week. I quit my job last Friday, yep that’s right I’m officially unemployed. I don’t know where my next pay cheque is coming from, what my next step is going to be, or what I’m really doing with myself. But while munching on this sweet loaf courtesy of Bill Granger and his Every Day cookbook, I realised it would all eventually fall into place and that felt great.

Now I’m focused on saving my pennies. I’m not using the heater so I can save money on electricity, I’m cooking soups and stews in bulk for lunch and I’m baking bread because I could probably make ten of these for the price I pay for my favourite loaf.

You can pretty much use anything you want in this recipe. I opted for apple and rolled oats but next time I'm going to throw in some extra seeds and grains. Give it a try and let me know how you go! I felt pretty good after eating it and my apartment had a sweet smell that lingered for a couple of hours. Bliss!

{ Apple Dried Cherry and Almond Loaf }

50 g rolled oats
300 ml Milk
240 g Self Raising Flour you can use wholemeal
1 teaspoon Baking powder
125 g Dried Cherries
50 g diced dried apple
75 g soft brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
3 tablespoons Honey
1 lightly beaten Egg
3 tablespoons roughly chopped Almonds plus 2 tablespoons extra

Put the oats in a bowl, pour the milk over them and leave to soak for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).
Lightly grease and line a 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) loaf tin with baking paper.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and stir in the rolled oats, dried fruit, sugar, cinnamon, honey, egg and almonds. Mix together well.
Spoon the mixture into the tin, level the top and sprinkle with the extra almonds. Bake the loaf for 45 minutes, or until it is golden brown on top and cooked through.
Leave it to cool a little in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Toast and serve with ricotta and honey.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Made with Love

Three things of which I am certain:

1. Joy the Baker is a genius
2. Cookie dough for dinner is not always bad, and,

3. Chocolate chip cookies wrapped up with string will always put a smile on a friend’s face

When said friend* was particularly crushed, I hit up Joy for inspiration and whipped these up in my pajamas. Friends, I ate A LOT of dough. And, a word of warning: love heart cookie cutters may create nice shapes to begin with, but its a fact that they’ll spread and come out looking like this:

Here are Joy's.

{ Chocolate Chip Cookies }

125g unsalted butter

2 1/4 cups bread flour

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup raw sugar

1 1/4 cups brown sugar

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons milk

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups milk chocolate chips

Heat oven to 160 degrees C. Melt the butter in microwave. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside. Pour the melted butter into large bowl. Add the raw sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Chill the dough, then scoop onto paper-lined baking sheets. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

* Said friend would like to say thank you so much for putting a smile on my dial and biccies in my belly. Lots of love pretty lady! Read more...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

Dear Mum,

Thank you for finally selling the newsagency. You get your life back and I get my Mum back. Thank you for letting me boomerang in and out of your home when I’ve needed somewhere to live. And for making the rent next to nothing! If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have been able to travel the world like I have. Thank you for not completely disowning me when I wrote off your car. I cringe when I think about that now. Thank you for putting up with me through those horrible teenage years. I’m still cringing.

Thank you for always making us birthday cakes. They were the best. And thanks for making the cats birthday cakes too because it meant more cake for us! Thank you for being one of those Mum’s that worked full time yet managed to cook for us every night and pack our lunch box everyday. We whinged about not having coke or cordial or lollies like everyone else but I certainly thank you now. Thank you for waking us up to the smell of pikelets cooking. We couldn’t wait till little lunch. Thank you for making me fairy bread for lunch one day when I was 16 and thought I was way too cool for school. I was ‘like totally embarrassed’ when I pulled out my lunch box but everyone wanted to swap sangers with me that day.

Thank you for being the best sewer I know. I think you missed your calling. You can make anything. I did love those rah-rah skirts. Thank you for always getting up in the night when I yelled at you from down the hallway because I had cramps in my calves. Shit they hurt. Thank you for all those times when I was sick and you had to take me to the hospital or sit with me during the night while I had my ventilator. Asthma’s a bitch. Thank you for hockey. What a great sport. I still miss it. Do you? How many Saturday’s did we spend at Downey Park! Thank you for always telling it how it is. Good or bad. Not enough people do that.

Thanks for being my Mum. xx

{ Chocolate and WeetBix Slice }

Dear Mum,

A thousand pennies of thanks for being you. For always listening, no matter how dull or melodramatic the topic (or the talker). For being so present in our lives - giving up a job you loved, moving to a town you hated, baking Dolly Varden birthday cakes, packing our lunches, making time to sit front row at dance concerts, singing esstedfords, swimming carnivals and even a recorder concert (whopee). For always offering a shoulder to cry on, getting up at the crack of dawn for swimming training, sewing elastic on ballet shoes and being our biggest cheerleader and supporter.

Thank you for being so brave in the face of frightening illness - simply because you didn’t want your daughters to know you were afraid. Thank you for being a friend as well as a parent, and a person as well as a mother. For being so enthusiastic about spending time with us and creating mother daughter traditions that will last a lifetime - Australian Open tennis, movie nights, dinner dates, trips to see the latest shows and the latest shoes. I can’t think of a better way to see Paris for the first time than with you mum. Plus, who else would hang out in Chanel for two hours?

Thank you for holding together a family in times of immense hardship, and for always putting yourself last. I hope you can take the time to put yourself first as the years go on - but rest assured, we always will.

Thank you for living with such joy and adventure, for being patient, kind, irrevocably devoted to your friends, family and complete strangers in need. Thanks for never being shy to laugh (and cry when you laugh) or to say I love you.

You’re not just a wonderful mum, but a wonderful person and a truly good lady.


{ Pecan Pie }

Dear Mum,

Thanks for always making me feel special. Even when I went through puberty and my face bubbled into a red pimpley mess, you always said I looked beautiful.

Thanks for being patient with me - I was a bit of a terror. Do you remember when I came home from a friend's house after dying my hair bright orange, the day before the school photos were taken? I do. Thanks for driving me to the 24 hour supermarket to buy a packet of hair dye at 10 o'clock at night because I decided I hated it and wanted to dye it back straight away.

Thanks for cooking spaghetti at least twice a week during high school. My friends still tell me how much they loved your pasta. Thanks for giving me cuddles even though I'm really not the cuddling type. Thanks for telling me stories about when you and dad were young and broke and in love. Thanks for calling me five times last week just to make sure I was ok.

Thanks for making the move from Melbourne to Brisbane a little less traumatic and for letting us keep Roxy, she was an amazing dog hey? I bet you miss her.

Thanks for encouraging me to dance and play music and write. Thanks for encouraging me to do drama classes, even though I wagged with a friend to make prank calls at the pay phone down the road. Thanks for giving me your smile, your love of life and your big heart. I love you for it.

I don't tell you enough but I really admire and respect you and hope I am half the person you are.

I love you.

{ Pumpkin Scones }